26 Hours In Vegas

How does one break down a short trip to Vegas for a whisky show?

6:00 AM Wake up, perform the Triple S.

6:30 AM Mosey across the street for coffee and head to the Bart Station.

7:00 AM Hop on Bart to SFO.

8:30 AM Realize no else is sitting around me at the gate, and there is no sign for my flight. Run over to the help desk and find out they changed the gate on me. Scramble for the new gate and nod off as soon as I get on the plane.

10:00 AM Land and check in to Steve Wynn’s Encore after paying too much for a cab. Upgrade to a nicer room and find myself on the 63rd floor overlooking all of Vegas. It is a sick ass room.

11:15 AM Head down to the bar to meet Glenmorangie people, have some time to kill so try my luck at craps. It turns out I have no luck at craps.

11:18 AM Order a cup of coffee and run into the West Coast Brand Ambassador for Macallan.

12:00 PM Head over to Delmonico’s with Jon Trainier, the west coast BA, for a steak lunch and some rare Glenmorangie.

1:45 PM Get the meat-sweats from devouring a massive bone-in rib eye. It was totally worth it.

2:45 PM Sip drinks with a member and laugh a lot.

3:30 PM Deal with a major glassware issue back at the Club. While mediating, I run into a brand manager and have a glass of wine. Once I hang up, I start talking to a dude at the bar who is from the great state of Wisconsin, and we discuss the difference of how to manage each market, and how Wisconsin differs from California. Absolutely fascinating.

3:45 PM Glass of wine with Josh from Dalmore, catch up about our family lives and talk shop.

4:30 PM End up talking with Jon, who works for Bacardi, and is from the great state of Wisconsin. Learn how hard it is to work as a sales person in the badger state.

4:45 PM One of our fine members brings me a glass of Craigellachie 23 from the VIP lounge. It is sublime.

5:25 PM Get in line to head into the show.

5:30 PM Enter what is the best whisky show I have ever been to.

5:45 PM At the Glenfiddich table, I taste through nothing but cask-strength barrel samples. This is one of the best tables of the night. Talk with some old friends who work for the brand.

6:00 PM Meet the legendary Fred Noe, the man behind all of the Jim Beam whiskies, including the new Jim Beam Distillers Select. It is rich, silky, spicy, and spectacular. He is honest, he is kind, he deserves his status as a legend.

7:00 PM Talk to Gardner Dunn from Suntory, try some Yamazaki 1984. Yup, it is that good.

7:25-9:30 PM Meander through the show, talking with brand managers, brand ambassadors, shaking hands, having a laugh, all finished off by sharing some jokes with Dr. Bill Lumpsen, the master distiller from Glenmorangie.

10:00 PM Head out to dinner with the William Grant team. This is truly an amazing dinner. We crowd into a steakhouse and I eat my second rib eye of the day–not a good idea. I am seated next to Sam Simmons, the global BA for Balvenie; Ian Miller, the global BA for Glenfiddich (previously he was the Distillery Manager at Glenfiddich for 20 years; amazing); sitting across from me is David Stewart, the man behind Balvenie, who has worked for the William Grant and Sons family-run business for over 53 years; next to him is Lorne Cousin, the West Coast BA for Balvenie; and next to him is Kirsten Grant Meikle (Yes, of the same Grant family, amazingly kind and funny and sweet for a person of her position; in short, another legend). In fact I was surrounded by legends at this dinner, I was a simple pauper among royalty.

11:30 PM Lorne departs the dinner table, only to return playing his bagpipes. He is a world class piper, and he takes us through a song he has written in honor of David Stewart’s birthday. We all stare, in awe of his musicianship. Then we erupt in applause and laughter. It felt so good!

12:00 AM Return to the hotel lobby to continue to defile my liver, run into Ricky Edwards and Tom Turner, two people who have known each other their entire lives and work for different whisky companies and are at the top of their game.

2:00 AM Collapse in my hotel room and nod off with a smile on my face.

10:30 AM Wake up for a cup of tea, a greasy breakfast with Johnie Mundella and Martin Daraz, two people who have shaped my whisky life.

12:00 PM Jump in a cab, barely make my flight home at 1:30.

4:00 PM My wife and daughter walk down to come to pick me up at the Bart station. This is the best part of the entire trip.

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Brian MacGregor

Wingtip Bar Director Brian MacGregor has tended bar in San Francisco for over nine years, learning his trade from such local legends as Jeff Hollinger, Jonny Raglin, and Thad Volger. Although he credits his cocktail crafting skills to these fine practitioners, he learned the art of hospitality at a very young age from his father, a career bartender in his childhood home of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brian has, for three years, creating award-winning drinks and building an extensive collection of rare and fine spirits at some San Francisco’s most acclaimed bars and restaurants such as Jardiniere, Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen, and Absinthe Brasserie and Bar. Currently, Brian resides in San Francisco with his wife, Carey, a bartender herself, their two cats and their greyhound, Pooka.

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