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2013 Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival
Friday, November 1, 2013
David S. Abel
AllEars.Net Guest Reviewer
One of the new events at this year's Food & Wine Festival was Spirits Confidential. This event followed the same format as Party for the Senses and 3D Disney's Dessert Discovery.
Prior to 8 p.m., we were admitted into the first room of the World Showplace building in Epcot. Here we were registered, given our wristbands and program for the event. Those with the Premium Reserved Seating (which cost $95 vs our $80 tickets) were apparently admitted into the main room and shown to their reserved tables. The rest of us waited until just moments before 8:00 when the grand curtain was drawn and we could proceed into the main room and find ourselves a table.
Unlike the other similar events, this one appeared to have plenty of seating available for everyone. I'm not sure if they just had more seating, or if the event wasn't as popular as Disney had hoped. Although, since we had heard the event promoted at two culinary demonstrations a few days earlier, I'm leaning toward the second option.
The light attendance may have been due to its ambiguous description in the early event announcements. When the event was first announced, it was described as, "Master Distillers and Mixologists will disclose 'confidential' tales while you get in the 'spirit'! It's an evening of fun food, stories, and cocktail concoctions!" Only this week did I find it described in the festival schedule as, "Discover the world of Jim Beam as told by a team of ambassadors, master mixologists and Master Distillers. Enjoy master crafted cocktails and savory appetizers while learning the secrets of great entertaining." I began to worry about a focus on whiskey.
The spirits represented were Rum (Cruzan), Cognac (Courvoisier), Tequila (Sauza), Vodka (Effen, Pinnacle), Beer (Boston), Wine (Skinnygirl) and of course, Whiskey (Jim Bean, Kilbeggan, Maker's Mark, Laphroaig, Canadian Club). Personally, I felt the event was a little too heavily represented by the whiskeys, and thought there could have been another rum and vodka represented.
There was a nice variety of "finger foods" to soak up the spirits being tasted and consumed over the course of the evening. They ranged from make-your-own Sliders (including beef, seafood and vegetarian options), wings, potato skins, quesadillas, empanadas, sweet potato fries, potstickers, and even two types of penne. The food selections were replicated on each side of the room, however, the spirit selections were unique completely around the room.
For our listening pleasure during the evening, a jazz trio played classic standards from the '20s through '40s. Midway through the evening, we were treated to introductions of executives or ambassadors of the various companies (primarily the whiskey labels) who spoke about their products and company history, often sharing "secrets" about their prohibition days. Highlights of the evening were Simon Brooking (Master Ambassador, Single Malt Scotch) who touched on the traditions of wearing a kilt, and Freddie Noe Jr., the great-great-grandson of Jim Beam, just one year out of college now in training to continue the [Jim Beam] family legacy.
Overall it was a nice event, and it gave an opportunity to try other spirits I wasn't familiar with. I'm still not a fan of whiskey or tequila, as noted by the number of visits I made to the vodka table! Although, the Jacob's Ghost White Cosmo by featuring Jim Beam's Jacob's Ghost whisky was enjoyable.
As is typical with these events, we were handed a gift bag as we left. The gift bag included three small boxes of Guylian Artisanal Belgian Chocolates, and a handful of assorted Werther's Caramel candies.
It's hard to say whether Disney will offer this event again based on its light attendance. Personally, I'd like to think the attendance was due to the unfamiliarity of the event, and see it offered more often during the festival as it's a nice alternative to the Party for the Senses. But then I also fear it could climb in price as it grows in popularity.
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