April 4, 2014 Whiskey 101 and Tasting at Saloon
This was my first event with Boston Bloggers, and I have to admit I was a little nervous, like first day of school nervous. But good thing I had my spirits expert Mark with me! We both have always wanted to learn a little more about whiskey. The other bloggers at the event couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive of each other. And who doesn’t like to swap stories about favorite places to eat and drink? The whiskey tasting was held at Saloon, the second venture for David Flanagan and Ken Kelly (owners of Foundry on Elm – also in Davis Square).
Beverage Director Manny Gonzales takes us through the whiskeys – we are blind tasting and he reveals the brands after we have talked about each drink. He encourages everyone to participate, people call out what flavors and smells they are experiencing.
Thank goodness there are some delicious snacks on the table while we are doing the tasting! They had this amazing bread, challah like in texture, with some sea salt sprinkled on top that was absolutely delicious. Above is a really nice meat board with crispy baguettes, mustard, pickles and pickled onion.
So starting at the top left, we later found out that it was Willett, a Kentucky bourbon, barrel #7674. Bourbon is an American whiskey, made primarily of corn (at least 51%). Bourbon is aged in oak barrels with a heavy char inside, they call the char “alligator skin”. The toasting of the wood gives brings out the wood flavor in the barrels, giving the alcohol an earthy quality. This particular bourbon is 72% corn and 13% rye. It was medium in color – Manny suggested that we keep the bourbon on our tongue for some time to get all the flavor notes. The alcohol was “sweet” (not girly drink sweet, ’cause it still burned on the way down) and had caramel and vanilla notes.
The second drink we tried was High West whiskey, a rye whiskey. Rye whiskey is at least 51% rye. This brand was a blend of a 2 year old whiskey and a 16 year old whiskey and made from 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% barley. This had a dry flavor, with notes of cocoa, cinnamon and licorice (a lot of spice – a characteristic of Rye) and was sweeter than the Willett.
On the bottom right, we have the Highland Park, a single malt Scotch whisky. Scotch must be aged for at least 3 years, this one has been aged for 12. A single malt whisky is made with malt from one distillery. This Scotch has an almost medicinal quality to it, with tangerine notes, pear and honeysuckle. It was fruity and earthy with a smoky flavor. To be honest, all I got was the smoke, thank goodness I had Mark there with me.
Bottom left was the Irish Whiskey, the lightest in coloring. Irish whiskey is made in…Ireland. It must be aged at least 3 years and is usually distilled 3 times (as opposed to Scotch that is usually distilled twice). This was the sweetest of all, with a smoother finish than the Scotch whisky. There are currently only 9 distilleries in Ireland.
Overall, it was a really great night. I learned a TON about whiskey and met some great people. Looking forward to more Boston Blogger events in the future!
*This event was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.
255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA