I͛m a sucker for a good suit and it would be just plain rude to turn down an invite for a casual drink in December. So when the offer to combine the two came up, I just had to say yes. I wasn͛t quite sure what I should be expecting, after all I was attending a whiskey-tasting event in a men͛s fashion store. Initially I thought I was the only one who had turned up, but after being ushered down the grand staircase of Henry Bucks Collins Street store I was met with the most amazing, candle-lit, table.
Forget the long tabled lunch, this was the long whiskey table.
Already laid-out with a beautiful arrangement of cheeses, fruits, nuts and of course those whiskeys. It wasn͛t long before we were all welcomed by Henry Bucks Managing Director Tim Cecil. Tim quickly handed the evening over to Beam Suntory͛s wonderful ambassador Brendan Rogers. What this man doesn͛t know about Whiskey and the history of Henry Bucks just isn͛t worth knowing. The smell at the table was simply intoxicating, whiskey fragrances filling the room with an air of anticipation. The tasting consisted of 5 peated single-malt whiskeys.
Brendan provided a quick lesson in tasting whiskeys, which left all wondering why no one knew this before.If you͛ve ever done a wine tasting you͛ll remember the process involves sipping the wine and then sucking in air before swirling it in your mouth. And this is how most of us began tasting the whiskeys too. But according to Brendan, and after last night I would have to support him, the best way is to sip, swirl and then breathe out, not in. Using this method you actually get to taste more of the whiskey and less of the alcohol.
In another of Brendan͛s tips which had us all amazed, he taught us to sit the whiskey glass under our nose and instead of breathing in with our nose, he encouraged us to breathe in with our mouth. All of a sudden, instead of breathing in heavy alcohol fumes, the soft and subtle notes of the whiskeys became apparent.
The whiskey master class continued with Brendan explaining that single malt whiskey, like the ones we were tasting, can only come from malted barley and must be barreled at a minimum 40% alcohol.
In his last tip or should that be trick for the night, Brendan asked us to take a large sip of water and swirl it around our mouth to warm it up. Still holding the water in our mouth, we then sipped a Laphroig Select Cask Whiskey. Swirling the two liquids in our mouths, Brendan asked us to close our eyes and think of dark chocolate before letting us swallow our concoction. Amazingly, it had the same mouth feel and taste as does really good dark chocolate.I strongly encourage you to try this at home.
The other whiskeys we tasted were a Bowmore (my personal favourite of the evening), an Ardmore, a Connemara and a second Laphroaig. The second Laphroaig, was the Maple Wood variant, which at 48% alcohol had the same affect as chilli – it simply got warmer and warmer before releasing its oaky flavours.
Now a note for young players. Unlike at a wine tasting, it is seriously frowned upon to ͚spit͛ your whiskey.
So be prepared to either sip your whiskey very, very, very slowly or download the Uber app before you arrive because there is no driving home from an event as good as this.
Thanks to Beam Suntory, Brendan and the team at Henry Bucks.
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