Great Drinks and a Great Cause: The Distiller's Showcase of Premium Spirits

The fifth annual event benefits the Animal Rescue League

Picture this: it's a chilly fall evening, and, within the friendly confines of Manchester's Radisson hotel, representatives of 140 distillers wait to warm you up with their finest spirits. Some of the state's best restaurants serve you their top-notch eats while you sample the distillers' 400+ varieties. You learn the back-stories of Lagavulin Scotch and Tito's vodka. You pick up recipes and pairing suggestions to wow friends with at your next holiday party. At the end of the night, a limousine pulls up to escort you home.

Still not sold? Then get this: all of it goes to helping New Hampshire's cats and dogs find medical attention and loving forever homes.

This may sound like something you conjured up in a dream, but it's real — and it's happening on November 9 at the Fifth Annual Distiller's Showcase of Premium Spirits.

"People are so excited for this event," says Monica Zulauf, president of the showcase's beneficiary, the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. "They literally wait all year, and they travel. It's a big annual thing for a lot of people."

Even if you're just traveling a few blocks to the event, though, you can take advantage of a world tour of offerings. The showcase features tequilas from Mexico, whiskeys from Ireland, and products from nearly every other corner of the globe, along with samples from local producers like New England Sweetwater and Flag Hill. All told, the fête is one of the largest spirits tasting events in the country.

But it's not just about the alcohol; it's about the animals.

New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets and the event sponsors (of which New Hampshire Magazine and McLean Communications is one) put on the showcase for the sake of the Rescue League. All of the money cleared at the event goes straight to the league, which makes a major impact on their work.

The Animal Rescue League provides services to more than 2,000 animals each year, and 85 percent of their budget comes from events and donors.

"So events like this are really critical for us maintaining our level of services," says Zulauf. "We go all out for animals."

You could call the Rescue League a full-service shelter, but as their slogan — "we're more than a shelter" — says, that doesn't quite capture all that they do for the New Hampshire community. While sheltering animals and facilitating adoptions are among their services, the Rescue League also assists with pets' one-time medical needs or adoptees' behavioral issues, offers low-cost spay/neuter and health clinics, and operates pet-food pantry for people struggling to afford food for their furry friends.

So if the chance to sample more than 400 spirits isn't enough incentive, you can rest assured that your ticket money really is helping a great cause.

"And there's great food!" Zulauf adds.

If you're ready to strap on your sampling hat, organizers recommend wearing comfortable shoes and planning ahead. The Radisson has onsite parking (and plenty of Pepsi products) for those planning to drive, and Grace Limousines will be on hand giving free rides to anyone who plans not to. You can also make a night out of it: the hotel has rooms available in association with the event if you book in advance.

This November, jump-start your holiday philanthropy and find the booze you'll stock up with for your holiday buzz at one unforgettable event.