By Robin Alberti
Justin Tiedemann, of Liquid Art, pours fire during the drink contest. He won.
Celebrating 25 years, the Jack Daniel’s Taste of Tennessee swept through Killington
By Polly Lynn
KILLINGTON — Jack Daniel’s Taste of Tennessee took over Killington Feb. 25-28. This year marked the event’s 25th anniversary in Killington. For four days attendees enjoyed tastings, bottle signings, promos, fun games, contest and awards.
Local chefs and bartenders competed for bragging rights in the drink and recipe contests as well as with artistic statues of Jack. “Fire on the Mountain” was a common theme this year, featuring Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, a cinnamon liqueur blended with JD whiskey.
Great-grandniece of the legendary Jack Daniel, Lynne Tolley, even made an appearance at Killington’s liquor store, Cordially Yours, to sign bottles of Jack.
Local DJ Dave Hoffenberg, one of the drink contest judges this year, said “It was my 20th JD party but my first time being a judge in the contest. I was always a big part of them in my Wobbly days so I was honored when Bob Kelly asked me. It was a fun experience because my friend and Team Canada Captain Peter Whittier was alongside me plus one other judge,” he said, adding, “You have to have strong stomach for all the different cocktails you’ll be drinking. My days as an Iron Chef judge came in handy for this… There was a lot of flair and a lot of fire throughout the night.”
Bartender Emma Harvey from the Lookout whipped up a very tasty ice cream cocktail, Hoffenberg recounted, while Jason Evans from Choices told a very amusing story to go along with his drink. Heather Rice, the defending champ from the Wobbly Barn, made a drink she called “S’more Jack,” which Hoffenberg described as “quite possibly the tastiest cocktail I’ve ever drunk.” But it was Liquid Art’s presentation that ultimately won over the judges for the top spot this year. Liquid Art bartender Justin Tiedemann poured fire back and forth between the mixing cups. “You’d have to see it to believe it,” Hoffenberg said. Tiedemann called it “The Lynchburg Blazer.”
Though not an official award winner, the funniest drink of the night, according to Hoffenberg, came from Paco from Fuzzy’s Cafe. He took a rocks glass, dropped two ice cubes into it, poured in Gentleman’s Jack, then dropped the mic. He said too many people make drinks that hide the JD — they get too fancy. Hoffenberg gave Paco’s drink a 10 of 10 for taste. “How could I not?” he asked.
Clay Canfield and the Big Heart Band played throughout the night and the Jack Daniels statues were on display for all to see. Choices won the statue contest this year, followed by the Long Trail Pub at Snowshed, then the Summit Lodge in third. The Summit took home first place in the culinary contest.