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Drinking in a museum at the Lively Water Whiskey Festival

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

How often do you get to drink whiskey under a gigantic Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton? Probably not too frequently, unless you regularly sneak a flask into natural history museums and unwittingly become the drunk person screaming at the remains of extinct animals. On Saturday night, attendees at the inaugural Lively Water Whiskey Festival had the chance sample various types of brown liquor while enjoying several of the permanent exhibits on display at the Field Museum.

Upon arrival, visitors were given a tasting glass and released into the museum's Stanley Field Hall where they could sample whiskeys sourced from the US, Scotland (where it's spelled "whisky"), Ireland and even Australia. Nearly 30 distilleries served various expressions (a fancy term for the different versions of a whiskey) at tables set up throughout the hall, while bartenders and whiskey experts hosted cocktail demonstrations on a small stage situated in the back of the venue.

As the crowds packed into Stanley Hall, the lines got longer and it became impossible to sample every offering, but we did come away from the event with a few favorites. One of the evening's highlights was Journeyman Distillery's Corsets, Whips and Whiskey, a barrel-aged version of the Michigan-based distillery's wheat whiskey that clocks in at 120 proof. Another notable expression was New Holland Artisan Spirits' Beer Barrel Bourbon, a bourbon that is aged in barrels that were formerly used to age beer (it's confusing, but delicious). We were also impressed with the number of local distilleries that were represented at the festival, including FEW Spirits, Koval and Chicago Distilling.

While there was plenty of whiskey to sample and chasers to wash it down with, we were a little disappointed that we only had two hours to sample booze and explore the museum. Next year, organizers might want to consider placing some sort of limit on samples and extend the hours of the event so that attendees can enjoy the venue without spending the majority of the evening standing in line. Another welcome addition would be some sort of food, because it's never a good idea to sample whiskey on an empty stomach. Nevertheless, we enjoyed having a drink with Sue and look forward to another slightly tipsy trip through the Field Museum next year.

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