Monday, November 12, 2012

Women Who Whiskey: Ward III Monday Night Whiskey Tasting

At the beginning of October my friend Samantha and I took a little trip to Ward III to check out their Monday Night Whiskey Tasting, which was a splendid evening.

So last week I planned an official wWw Monday Night Whiskey Tasting at Ward III for the rest of the ladies to come check out the event. 

We got there around 7pm to enjoy the requisite cocktail at the bar before the tasting started at 8pm. 

I had my signature spicy ginger bourbon bespoke cocktail, which is always a delight.  

Amanda had them whip up a bourbon apple cinnamon version, with a twist of orange. 

And Mary wanted something similar to Amanda's, but with a bit more citrus and fruit.

All our bespoke cocktails were quite delicious, and I even indulged in a Maker's Mark Manhattan before we moved on to the tasting.

This time there were two tastings set up--both whisky--each sampling four different kinds, so we were quite spoiled! 

Compass Box Whiskey Co. 

The first was Compass Box Whiskey & Co, a boutique Scotch Whiskeymaker & Craft Blender. 

Compass Box isn't a distiller, so they don't make their own whiskey, but they produce a variety of whisky blends. 

Great King Street Blends: Artists Blend and New York Blend
The first two were the Great King Street Blends: the Artist's Blend and the New York Blend.  Normal blends are about 70/30 grain/malt, but Compass Box uses a 55/45 ratio, which gives the whisky a much smoother more palatable taste. 

Both were extremely drinkable and almost a bit fruity. 

Flaming Heart, Peat Monster, Flaming Heart

Next up were two single malt blends: Peat Monster and Flaming Heart, which won the blend of the year award with a score of 95.5/100.

Neither of these uses caramel coloring or chill filters--steps taken to improve the aesthetic of whisky, often at the cost of taste. 

The result is a clean, smooth, rich taste, both neat and with a bit of water, which is how it's meant to be had. 

Myself and Robin, posing with giant bottles of whisky

Robin Robinson, the Compass Box brand ambassador who curated the tasting, gave us some excellent advice about how to properly savor a good whisky.

You pour it onto the "dead spot" of the tongue, letting it slowly spread over the rest of the tongue, "chewing it," as the Scottish say.

He also explained that to really taste the different layers of flavor, diluting it with a little water is ideal, as the higher the alcohol content, the more the alcohol numbs the tongue to the flavor nuances. 

Bringing it down to 25% alcohol--about half water, half whisky--allows you to perceive the balance and flavor of the malt. 

Lark Tasmanian Whiskey

Lark Tasmanian Whisky--which not being produced in Scotland, can't be called Scotch--is a single malt from Tasmania. 

Though regulations now prohibit many new foreign whiskys from calling themselves Single Malt, Lark, being over 20 years old, was grandfathered in.

Lark is produced in three strengths: 86 proof, 92 proof, and 116 proof. It's aged in Port barrels sourced from the producer of Grange wine.

Scott's Selection

We also tasted three rare single malts from Scott's selection. 

We started with the 1977 Bunnahabhain (right), a 92 proof Single Islay Malt with more of a briny than peaty taste. There are only ten cases of this whiskey left in the world.

Second we had the 1989 Macallan (center), an 104 proof Single Highland Malt, aged in bourbon barrels, of which there are only 3 cases left in the world.

Finally we tried the 1978 Glen Mhor (left), a Single Highland Malt from a "silent distillery," no longer producing Scotch. There are only two cases of this left in the world.

All three has distinct textures and flavors, and among the group we all had different favorites. But as Richard, the brand ambassador, put it, "Whisky is all a matter of taste. Like the company you keep, the music you listen to, even the people you marry."

Well said, Richard. 

11 Reade St.
(corner West Broadway)
Monday Night Whiskey Tastings
Mondays 8-10pm
Free with the purchase of a cocktail at the bar

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