Universal Whisky Experience Creator Mahesh Patel
If you consider yourself a lover of fine whisky and have yet to get your tickets for the Universal Whiskey Experience on April 4th 2014, don’t put it off any longer. The Universal Whisky Experience is a special event designed to bring together the world’s best distillers of fine and rare whiskies and the whisky consuming public with the intentions of delivering the greatest collection of most refined and nearly impossible to locate spirits the world has ever seen. Combine that with the opportunity to speak with the people responsible for creating them and you truly have a once in a lifetime experience that every weekend connoisseur should allow themselves to indulge.
We recently had a chance to talk to the creator and host of Universal Whisky Experience, C.E.O. Mahesh Patel, in order to learn a little bit more about how the UWE came to be and what the public can expect to see while attending the show.
CigarBrief: You have managed to assemble the crème de la crème of alcohol distillers the world over. What drove you to create the Universal Whiskey Experience and what obstacles have you had to overcome in order to get to this point?
Mahesh Patel: The whisky passion has been in my blood for the last three decades. As a whisky connoisseur and collector I have been attending whisky events and visiting distilleries during this period, and have made tremendous contacts in the industry as well as with fellow connoisseurs. Many of these people have become lifelong friends.
During my travels I found that the popularity of whisky in general has been exploding world-wide for the past six (6) to seven (7) years, and the thrust to try, new, rare and unique whiskies is growing rapidly. With growth, I and the other connoisseurs noticed that the majority of the whisky events were catering to the entry and middle level products, and I was hearing from others that these events were getting boring, “The same old same old”. So I saw an opportunity to produce a super luxury event focused around Top-tier whiskies.
I have to say that the support from the industry has been fantastic overall, as they see a need for something like ‘The Nth – Ultimate Whisky Experience’ to show case their premium expressions to the right focused audience. The one obstacle I have to be honest about is the reaction from a number of self proclaimed whisky experts/bloggers, who with even attending the first event or taking time to learn about the event branded us as just another whisky event that is overpriced and elitist. All I can say to these people is don’t judge a book simply by its cover, read it and experience it before commenting on it.
CB: Obviously you have a passion for fine spirits, but what made you want to organize and host such a large event and what ends did you hope to gain by it?
MP: Due to the boredom of the existing events, my friends and I started getting together four to five times a year, where we would all bring rare and premium whiskies and host our own private tastings. This got me thinking, why do this privately? Why not create a luxury whisky tasting event, where others can come along and experience whiskies, which normally they could not afford the high retail/bar sticker price individually. So I set about creating a super-Luxury whisky show.
Obviously there is a business angle to this, but my passion is to host the world’s most luxurious whisky tasting event, and for connoisseurs to come around the World to enjoy the best of the best the industry has to offer.
CB: Due to its enormity, the average consumer might view this event as more of a trade show rather than a public expo. What can the general admissions purchaser expect?
MP: First and foremost each show attendee will be able to taste from each exhibitor their range of premium and super-premium expressions of whiskies, which are not available at most events, together with gourmet cuisine and set in the world capitol of entertainment (Las Vegas).
CB: Will there be any owners or company executives there to meet with the public?
MP: Yes of course! There will many whisky principles present. Just to name a few; George Grant seventh generation owner of Glenfarlas distillery, Michael Urquhart managing director of Gordon & Macphail, Richard Patterson master blender for Whyte and Mackay and many more.
CB: With so many amazing distillers all gathered in one place, have you noticed a sense of camaraderie amongst the participating companies or is there going to be a fair amount of healthy competition between booths?
MP: What you have to understand is that the whisky world is very small; most of the competitors know each other and have good personal relationships. They are also very protective about their industry in general. I have seen this directly over the years, many whom have become my good friends too.
Of course there is competiveness between them, but in most parts it is conducted with civility.
CB: In your opinion, what takes a whisky from great to exceptional?
MP: In my opinion for a whisky to become exceptional there are multiply factors. First of all it depends upon the production of the spirit. Each distillery and region has its style of production, which includes the material (malted barley, corn or other cereal), the water source, and the type of copper still and general production method of the distillery. This determines the style of the distillery or as I call it the ‘DNA’ of the whisky. Then its maturation process, and the type of oak cask the whisky matures in. I think personally that this is probably the most major element in how the whisky develops. Finally it is the period of time it spends maturing and the magic that occurs during this process between the wood and spirit, not to forget the constant nurturing by the warehouseman.
CB: Okay, this is it. You’ve been sentenced to die and are to be executed in just a few short moments. What’s your last drink going to be?
MP: An ice-cold glass of ‘diet Coke a Cola’ mixed with a shot of Dalmore Trinitas……!!!! Just kidding, if I did this then I think that Richard Patterson would personally execute me.
Seriously I would have to be given a range whiskies, which would include; Ardbeg Provenance, Dalmore Trinitas and Sirius Fettercain single cask 1966.
We would like to thank Mr. Patel for his thoughtful answers and the entire staff for facilitating this interview.