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Your Guide to This Year's Whiskey Obsession Festival

The man behind this month’s Whiskey Obsession Festival explains the dark spirits.

By Susan Burns March 29, 2017 Published in the April 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Sarasota financial adviser Turner Moore discovered whiskey in the mid-’90s when his roommate brought home a bottle of Glenlivet. Five years ago, he launched his own whiskey festival with Michael’s On East. It attracted 30 vendors and 400 people: this year, he expects this month’s four-day festival to draw 50 whiskey makers and 2,500 attendees. 

How to Taste

Don’t put your whole nose into the glass or you won’t be able to smell anything for the rest of the night. Keep the glass at least an inch away with mouth open, smell, and then close your mouth and smell again. When you taste, keep the whiskey in your mouth and move it around (“chew”) before swallowing to activate all the sensors on your tongue. In between samples, rinse your glass and drink water. Water cleanses the palate and also helps to keep you sober.

Whiskey includes Scotches (barley), bourbons (corn) and ryes (made from rye). 

In the Mix

Making whiskey is an ancient process of mixing grains, water and yeast. From those ingredients come thousands of results and flavor profiles. Every country in the world makes some kind of whiskey. Even the isolated island of Tasmania is home to eight distilleries.

To “e” or not to “e”

Whiskey is sometimes spelled without an “e.” According to Moore, it’s a simple tradition: Countries that have an “e” in the country name put an “e” in the name of the whiskey (that’s why a Scotch is called whisky).

Whiskeys are at least 40 percent alcohol.

“Balance defines what makes a good whiskey, just like a symphony orchestra,” Turner says. You can add ice or water, but whiskey is elegant and pure enough to drink on its own. And please don’t ruin a $5,000 bottle of Scotch with a mixer.

Women outnumber men as “blenders,” who decide which whiskeys should be combined to made a final product. “They have better noses,” says Turner.


The tulip-shaped Whiskey Obsession glasses are the industry standard glasses, which focus the aroma at the top. But Moore says standard rocks glasses are part of his glassware at home. Store your whiskey out of sunlight and away from a heat source. Whiskey lasts for years as long as there is more whiskey in the bottle than air; once the air dominates, whiskey gets heavier and oilier.

The 2017 Whiskey Obsession is March 29-April 1 and includes tastings, classes, lunches and dinners at Michael’s On East and a free grand finale bourbon and blues-themed party April 1, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Moore has partnered with the Gator Club and the Harvey Milk Festival to bring in five bands, food trucks and, yes, whiskey. “There’s no other event like this in the country,” he says. 


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Food & Drink

Whiskey Obsession Festival Grand Tasting

$45-$195 Michael's On East

he Fifth Annual Whiskey Obsession Festival will be held from March 29 to April 1, 2017 in Sarasota, Florida.