world whisky day – the aftermath…

I reckon that there were a few sore heads on Wednesday morning, given that a few cars were left in our car park when I was leaving late on Tuesday night! World Whisky Day arrived after months of anticipation from enthusiasts the world over.  Vine & Table was flying the Indiana flag by hosting our own celebration of the nectar of the gods. Over 130 hardy souls joined us to sample American Bourbons & Rye’s, Single Malt Scotches, Blends, Irish whiskies and even a malt from Japan. And for this we say ‘Thank You’.I could be biased but I think that we had a great selection to choose from and good representation of the different styles of whisky or whiskey! Here are some of my own personal standouts from the night. I hope you will share your highlights with us.

Black Bull 12 year old Blended Scotch is hands down one of my go to blends and I was delighted when Kevin my Carroll Co. sales rep suggested he pour it. My wife will kill me when she reads this as she also loves this whisky, (in fact she has her own bottle stashed at home!!) but alas she couldn’t make it to Carmel that night. But before you turn your nose up at this wonderfully complex blend you should take note that it has an equal measure of malt and grain in its makeup. That means that 50% of the whisky is malted barley, which is an unheard of amount when it comes to blended Scotch. Speaking of 50%’s, it comes in at an ABV of 50% which I realize can intimidate some people but to them I say add a drop of water or an ice cube and you will be set. Black Bull is a well sherried whisky with berry and cocoa on the nose. The palate is where it shines though. The mouthfeel is rich and rounded in texture, with notes of nougat, chocolate and hazelnut that leads into a lovely creamy finish. This is a whisky for people who like sherried Highland malts such as The Macallan, Dalmore, and Aberlour or for people who appreciate good whisky.

Glen Garioch 1797 Founders Reserve Single Malt Scotch attracted quite a lot of interest on the night, so much so that we sold out of it. Glen Garioch has a tough time here in the US as many people find it difficult to pronounce, so instead of feeling foolish and butchering the name, they opt for something else on the shelf. And being true to Scotland (and Ireland) for that matter, the spelling has nothing in common with the pronunciation! So to save face, here is how you say it, ‘Glen-Geery’. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the whisky. The 1797 above refers to the founding of the distillery which makes it one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. This is a no age statement malt that is true to what we would associate with the Highland character. It has cereal on the nose, with Granny-Smith apple, and a little spiciness. On the palate it coats your tongue, has sweetness and hints of dried orange peel. The finish is clean. I am told by one of my good whisky customers that it pairs perfectly with mature cheddar. I will take her word on that and am excited to try the pairing.

Jeffrey Topping aka the Wild Scotsman was the clear winner of the night, if we are talking about most bottles sold. I have been preaching and supporting this local Independent Bottler of seriously good Scotch for a few years now. This guy is more passionate about his whisky than many a distiller or brand ambassador from Scotland that I have met, and he hails from over the border in Ohio! So it is good that quite a few of you have been listening and kept him busy on the night. I love his 15yr Vatted Malt, which I think is one of the best malts on the shelf. There I’ve said what everyone always asks me! The nose is aromatic and floral, with lively fruit. Subtle grassy, hay notes add some complexity. One cube of ice and I am conjuring up images of a sunny afternoon in spring. And when the last case of this is gone, it will be gone forever!

Jeff also introduced us to a single cask of GlenRothes that has not arrived at the store yet, but keep an eye out for it; I would expect it to land in the next 4 weeks or so. He certainly managed to get the cream of the crop when he selected this particular cask. It’s a Speyside on steroids! News of his exclusive Bunnahabhain 38 year old (which I have a several bottles pre-ordered for customers) should be coming soon. Jeff poured this secretly under the table at our last Whisky & Fine Spirits Expo! This will be a bargain when it lands, coming in at way under the price of the distilleries own bottle of Bunnahabhain 25 year old. So if you want a bottle (there aren’t too many) then get in touch with me sooner than later.

Glenmorangie 15yr ‘Artein’ Limited Edition Single Malt Scotch was another hit. Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie is an expert in cask finishes and the Artein didn’t disappoint. Both 15 year old and a 21 year old make up the batch with the whisky having been ‘finished’ or ‘extra matured’ in exclusive ‘Super Tuscan Sassicaia’ Italian red wine casks. The result is an extremely smooth malt with honeysuckle, red berry fruit and lovely sweetness. My advice is don’t hang about waiting for a bottle of this to appear in your Christmas stocking, it will be gone long before then!

E. H. Taylor Bottled in Bond Limited Edition Bourbons and Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project stole the show in the bourbon category. I had not tasted the Warehouse C Tornado bourbon until Tuesday night. It blew me away. No wonder it disappeared from our shelves in a matter of days. This was wonderfully rich, complex bourbon that hit all of the right buttons. The layers of vanilla and tobacco spice and stewed fruit just kept coming. We are expecting more soon so keep an eye out, though you may have to fight me for a bottle!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a taste of the Single Oak Project bourbons from Buffalo Trace Distillery, but there was a ton of interest in them. We just received our next release of the 375ml experimental bottles. They are not cheap at $60 for one but the idea behind it is to find the best tasting bourbon that has ever been produced. And to do that Buffalo Trace has developed a website where you can log your comments and thoughts with all of the other Single Oak Project heads in the US. Clever really if you think about it.

So there you have my personal standouts from World Whisky Day. Now I would love to hear what were the whiskies that stood out for you and why?

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 Vine & Table #301