It had been 5 years since I had attended my last Whistler Cornucopia weekend and it was time to get back for another festival of tasting.
I started off by attending The Life of a Barrel of Whistler on Friday November 18 at the Whistler Conference Centre. At this Whiskey tasting Betty Cooper of Legacy Liquor talked about each of the whiskey’s that we were all about to taste, describing each one in detail. She was extremely versed in whiskey culture which provided us all with good education. The Tasting featured these spirits; Tito’s vodka that was 51% corn based, Jack Daniels bonded that was 50% alcohol, Makers Mark bourbon, Makers Mark 46, Jim Beam devil’s cut, Blackened American whisky, and the Angels Envy bourbon which was my favourite, followed by my 2nd favourite the Jack Daniels barrel select.
Stayed at the beautiful Crystal Lodge Hotel, centrally located across the walkway from the Whistler Conference Centre where many of the Cornucopia events were taking place.
I had a well appointed room with a couple of Queen beds, sitting chair, mini fridge, tv, bathroom with shower, and tub. I went for an exploration walk around the hotel and found a games room that featured a ping pong table on one floor, and a dry sauna on another.
In the evening, I attended Taste the World which was a wonderful event that featured tasty appetizers, dishes and a dessert served to seated guests throughout the night aturing 3 chefs representing Latin America and Spain. Guests then had a chance to explore the room trying all sorts of different spirits, cocktails, beer, wine and some zero-proof cocktails.
My favourite dishes were from Chef Luis Valenzuela with his Stuffed Piquillo with Braised Oxtail, pine nuts and cream of corn; as well as the Duck Confit sopes with beans and salsa verde served with tepache.
Other tasty dishes were from Chef Neil Harkins with my 2nd favourite, the Grilled Squid ceviche; he also served the Pan Con Tomate, Prosciutto.
Chef Juan Eduardo Sanchez Glez served up a tasty Chorizo Roulade along with some desserts, a Strawberry lemon tart and chocolate cream puff.
There were several drink stations scattered around the room serving up everything from beer, cocktails with spirits as well as zero-proof and more.
It was great to see Edna’s Cocktails who makes some refreshing zero-proof cocktails, I loved the Paloma. I also loved The Barrel Aged Gin from Rain City Distillery which was divine, enjoyed this. Lastly, The Blood Orange Gin cocktail was very refreshing with Whitley Neil Gin.
On Saturday, the Beauty and the Bane seminar was incredible lead by Darryl Lamb of Legacy Liquor where he featured many rare whiskeys that were all 62 % alcohol and some of the best around.
With an average bottle run of less than 300 bottles for the entire world, the beauty and the bane of these exclusive whiskies is the flavours are unlike anything you get from the big distilleries, however once the bottle is finished you never get to taste it again.
Here we had a chance to try six single barrel whiskies, carefully paired with plates by Whistler’s Chef Bruce Worden in this blind tasting.
1st dish: Beignets with vanilla chantilly; Paired with A Multiplex of Lush
2nd dish: Tuna poke; Paired with Dancing & Duet (cask 59-57) an incredible pairing, the caramel is so good and works so well with the whiskey.
3rd dish: Apple cobbler and honeyed fruit medley; Paired with Worm Silk (Belmwnic distillery)
4th dish: Chicken and waffles; Paired with Light-Hearted Memories (tasty dish, but the whiskey comes out spicy on the palate).
5th dish: Chai crème brûlée; Paired with Ringo George (whiskey from Goa) loved the whiskey and it’s Smokey and goes well with the dish
6th dish: Coconut Chocolate bites and cheesecake; Paired with the Luscious Crumble.
The destination of Whistler is exceptional and it is always nice to go for a walk through the village before or after the seminars and other events of the festival.
On Saturday evening, I attended “Poured” and that is what it was all about, many producers and vendors offered up tastes of almost anything that could be poured for guests to enjoy. The event saw a packed room of enthusiastic foodies and people who just wanted to have fun.
Some of the standout eats included: Jamjar who served Lamb Kefta on pita crisp; Cold Comfort Kitchen served a Squash soup, Berry Foam and Halibut tostadas; and Center Plate, Whistler Conference Centre served a delicious Chickpea curry with basmati rice and samosa and Pulled pork and corn bread.
On Sunday morning, I attended my last Signature event, the Drag Brunch and this was a fun event that featured a full brunch buffet with everything you would want including waffles, berries and whipped cream, eggs, hash browns, sausages, breakfast pastries, juices and more catered by Milestones Whistler this entertaining event also featured 3 Drag Queens performing on and off the stage which had the crowd on their feet dancing by the end. Featured Drag Queen performers included Jerrilynn Spears, Mina Mercury and Gia Metric.
After a 5 year absence it was wonderful to return to Whistler to attend this exciting Whistler Cornucopia festival, watch for next year’s festival that will take place in November 2023.
By: Richard Wolak
Disclosure: Tourism Whistler provided me with complimentary accommodation at the Crystal Lodge as well as a media pass to attend Whistler Cornucopia and it’s related events.