Thursday, October 3, 2013

:: whisky live (boston) ::

Wednesday night, I attended the Whisky Live event at the Park Plaza Castle. I was quite surprised at the number of types of spirits represented there since I expected a mostly whisk(e)y evening. In fact, it was not until my third booth that I actually tried a grain distillate. I was impressed with the number of Boston bartenders, bar managers, and booze celebrities that lined the booths along side the regular cast of brand ambassadors and distillers. In that way, it made approaching some of the booths more accessible. Here are some of the highlights of the evening:

• When someone asks if you want to taste some really weird stuff that is not on display, definitely agree! Indeed, Arik Torren after showcasing the Fidencio Mezcal lineup, he brought out a trio of bottles that my notes say were "La Venenosa Jalisco." These spirits are made in Jalisco, the land of tequila, but with non-Blue Webber agave; therefore, they are not tequilas and since they fall out of the regions that produce mezcal, they are not that either. In fact, I had never even heard of these agave types. One used Maximilian agave with a single pass over the still to yield a high acidity spirit with vegetal and anise spice notes. The Rhodacantha agave spirit saw two distillation runs through a partially wooden still that had a tree trunk in the middle. It yielded mineral, herbal, and cedar notes. Finally, the Inaquidens, a big agave nicknamed "el bruto," provided a curious root vegetable and cheese aroma with glorious vegetal notes and high acidity after a single pass over the still.
• Ed Hamilton of the Ministry of Rum represented his Caribbean Spirits line. Of note was their Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum that had a delightly complex flavor without being overbearing like other Jamaican rums like Smith & Cross or J. Wray. There is also a gold rum under the same label but that was not available to taste.  Another rum series of note was ones made in St. Lucian on a pot still with Guyanan molasses; out of the 5, 7, and 9 year ages, the 7 was the sweet spot in this series.
• I previously mentioned the Sons of Liberty distillery in Rhode Island last year at the Origin tasting event around the time of the Boston Cocktail Summit. Last time I was impressed by their unhopped stout beer distilled into a whiskey. This time despite my skepticism, I was drawn in by their winter seasonal Pumpkin Spice Whiskey. Roasted pumpkins mixed with American single malt whiskey came across as elegantly as some of the finer pumpkin beers out there.
• The Sam Adams booth had two noteworthy items. The first was their 2012 10th Anniversary Utopia beer that was aged in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels, tawny and ruby port casks, and rum barrels from Nicaragua that finishes out around 29% ABV. The end result is very rich with nutty, port, maple, and caramel flavors. The other was Berkshire Mountain Distillers' Bourbon aged four years in Utopia casks.
• My favorite single malt Scotch was Oban Distiller's Edition secondarily aged in Montilla Fino sherry casks. The whisky displayed elegant oxidized apple and dry white grape flavors on top of the grain and smoke.
• I was also impressed by Diep 9 Genevers made in Belgium with the old style being the winner with its sweet, malty, and earthy notes that did not come across as aggressively as say Bols Genever. Yes, Genevers can be made in both the Netherlands and Belgium.
GrandTen Distilling showcased their collaboration with the Cooley Distillery in Ireland. It is a "South Boston Irish Whiskey" made in Carlingford, Ireland, and bottled here in South Boston.
• Finally, I got to re-taste Butterfly Classic Absinthe based off of a 1905 recipe that was produced here in Boston (although the current spirit is made in Switzerland). The ingredients mentioned are grande wormwood, petitite wormwood, hyssop, melissa, peppermint, anise, star anise, fennel, and citrus. Overall, it came across as licorice, mint, and citrus and rather accessible.

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