There’s an easy joy I find when writing about whisky. I’ve often said that while there might be disagreements in the whisky community (NAS vs age statements, labeling, etc..), our debates are not profoundly important—they’re the definition of first-world problems. On the other hand, many of the whisky people I know are fortunate well adjusted intelligent contributors to society that take that same zest for their careers and place it into their passion for whisky. As I said in my book, if someone wants to get drunk, there are lots of cheap options. Whisky drinkers are in it for the experience. While it’s rare that whisky drinking brings me greater clarity in life, the whisky community certainly does.
I raise this, because I was asked to represent Powers Whiskey at TEDx Toronto 2015. TED talks continue to be a favourite past-time of mine. “Ideas Worth Spreading” is a simple theme that has grown tremendously since its inception in the 1980s. TED talks have featured speakers like Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, and Bill Gates. TEDx is part of an affiliated program that TED offers, and both TED and TEDx Toronto are non-profit organization engaged for the purpose of enlightenment.
This year’s theme was thresholds. Drew Dudley was the day-long host. He enlightened the crowd with a wonderful sense of humour, but also shared personal experiences that bound the topics together.
Speaker topics ranged from science, to design, to life experiences. Nina Arsenault is a wonderful artist that challenged the audience around gender and the treatment of transgender women. Hostage negotiator Paul Nadeau spoke of empathy and finding the humanity within people when dealing with the realities of a harsh world. Talli Osborne was born without arms and legs, but determined it was her attitude that dictated her life. She’s now a punk rock star. Tarek Ibrahim is the founder of Airvinci—they’re working on personalized helicopters that can transport people with little effort and maximum safety. A full list of speakers and videos can be found at the TEDx Toronto website.
The after-party was featured at Toronto’s iconic Steam Whistle Brewery where the audience had the opportunity to experience a Powers Irish Whiskey tasting. Powers Gold Label briefly made an appearance in Ontario, and seems to have quickly sold-out. It’s a pot-still Irish whiskey (combining malted and unmalted barley), and blended with grain whisky. The nose is bright, and while similar to scotch blends, this Irish whiskey is generally zestier. On the palate, vanilla and dark fruit notes are complemented with cinnamon spice. The finish is a touch bitter, but a pleasant oiliness is quite satisfying.
Powers Whiskey, from a marketing point-of-view, is tackling controversy. The twitter account celebrates knowledge, embracing controversial topics that push the conversation forward:
On the Powers website, front-and-centre is Powers Knowledge—a series of videos intended to highlight craft. The first video is about ice, and if you listen to The Whisky Topic Podcast, you know that’s a topic I’m quite curious about. I appreciate Powers Whiskey for providing me an experience I wouldn’t have otherwise had in the TEDx Toronto talk. I’m also glad to see this carries beyond a sponsorship, and into a philosophy behind the brand. It leads me to conclude they understand the best part of the whisky community that I appreciate.