Bottoms Up! My First Whiskey Tasting
Have you ever been to a proper whiskey tasting event? And no, passing bottles of Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey around the bonfire does not count. I was invited to one a month or two ago and I have to say that I found it more interesting and enlightening than I presumed I would. To be honest, I thought I’d probably just drink a little too much whiskey and then regret it the day after. I’d have a vague recollection of one of them tasting better than another, but I probably wouldn’t remember which was which. I also incorrectly presumed that I’d have at least one embarrassing story to share. After all, that’s what I do. However, for all of you untrained connoisseurs of things such as Scotch or Bourbon or Irish Whiskey, let me first let you know that even though we are all aware that they have different flavors and aromas and alcohol levels, I didn’t quite realize the how much difference there was until I tasted them properly and until I tasted them side by side.
The way the whole thing worked was the host read us a paragraph on each of the samples before we tasted them. He told us where they were made and generally how old each one was. He also explained some of the more unique ingredients that I had no idea were part of the recipe’s. Then he described some of the unique processes that were used by various distilleries. Once he filled us in with all that information, we tasted each drink, we discussed how we liked or disliked them, and we explained what we thought our overall rating of each of them was. After that, we rinsed with water and repeated the process for the next one.
The bottles we drank came from all over the world, from Japan to Scotland to the United States and other locations. And their flavors and aromas varied as much as the places they came from. The one I enjoyed the most was the Jameson 18 year old Irish Whiskey. It goes for somewhere around $160.00 US per bottle, but is probably worth every penny.
My next choice was a U.S. distilled product called Two Bitch Small Batch Bourbon that I believe goes for somewhere around $100.00 US. In my opinion, it was the best of the night for the price and second best overall, close behind Jameson. It was a tossup between Jameson and Two Bitch as to which one was the smoothest.
There were a couple that I didn’t care for. One was The Chita Single Grain Whiskey from Japan. It’s high end, and folks who know about this stuff tell me that it’s very good, but I didn’t care for it. It had a strange flavor to it that I just couldn’t put my finger on, not that it mattered to me what the flavor it was that I did not like.
Not surprising, given my lack of expertise and possibly my lack of taste, one of my least favorites was the Laphroaig, 1815 Legacy Single Malt that goes for around $200.00 US per bottle. As it turns out, Laphroaig has been creating whiskey since 1815, so they probably know more about it than I do. With that said, it didn’t do it for me.
Overall I think the biggest surprise to me was how much difference there was from one whiskey to another. I dare say that the differences were as stark as the difference between a Guinness Stout and a Schneider Weiss beer. For those non-beer drinkers who are reading this, just imagine the difference between provolone cheese and sharp cheddar. That’s how much difference there was from one whiskey to the next.
So, I went to my very first and possibly my very last Whiskey tasting, and just when I was getting warmed up enough to begin being irresponsible, my son-in-law, who had taken me to the tasting, told me we have to leave. I hate it when there’s a grownup in the room. So, you can blame it on him that I have no shameful tale of overindulgence to share with you.
If you ever want to put one of these tastings together, this is what you do. First, you get someone else to buy a whole bunch of very expensive whiskey. There was somewhere around a thousand dollars of whiskey on the table. And if possible, get them to host the event in their house, just in case things get out of hand. You can’t count on my son-in-law to be there to keep things under control. And then, take your time and enjoy the whiskey and the evening. It really was a pretty interesting and enjoyable time.