Guest Post: Matan Gütwaks
This year I approached the Whisky Jewbilee with a different view than last year. Though I readily admit that I may maintain a slight wetness behind the ear when it comes to the many varieties of whiskey, scotch and spirits out there, I have spent this year enjoying many a dram attempting to refine my palate and ascertain my specific preferences. My thirst to learn more greatened my anticipation for this years show and I’m glad to report that Jewish WhiskyCompany did not disappoint.
I shall start with the food because it is what I know best! Chef Ari White and his Gemstone Caterers, once again presented a fantastic feast, such a smorgasbord of delicious dishes that I could spend the rest this of the post discussing. I started off with some fine caviar and herrings and slowly made my way over the course of the evening through the salads chulents, and kugels. The highlight, I must say, was the hard salami topped with Chef Ari’s awesome chopped liver. My only disappointment was that the homemade jerky went so fast that I only managed to taste it when a friendly member of the tribe shared some; it was delicious and paired nicely with the Bowmore Small Batch Reserve we tasted.
Besides for fine food, whisky has been enjoyed alongside a good cigar for countless years. Keeping with that long standing tradition, the folks at De La Concha Smoking Lounge and Tobacconists presented a fine sampling of cigars to be smoked with ones drink. I enjoyed the Churchill style Hoja De Flores. Its Dominican leaves provided quite a nice medium to full bodied smoke and was great with the FourRoses bourbon I was drinking at that moment.
I must point out before I continue, that there were so many great tasting whiskys at the show that it saddens me I can’t write about all of them. It is really an event that you must experience for yourself. I will share with you some of the things that peaked my interest.
This year I was introduced to the delicious tastes of Islay, which literally means island and as its name implies is an Island located off the western coast of Scotland. It is a region of Scotland with, I believe, eight distilleries and a distinct type of peat. One of the fantastic Scotches from this region is Laphroiag, with its excellent peaty flavor reminiscent of the sea. This I learned comes from the layer of seaweed that is in the peat and when burned transfers its aroma into the barley. We actually got to taste some of this barley at the show; its taste provided a flavor much like the scotch it would eventually produce. However one of the major flavoring components is the wood it’s aged in, which was evident in one of my favorites of the evening, Laphroig’s Triple Wood. It starts of in bourbon casks, moves on to a quarter cask, and looses its ruff edges in a sherry cask, giving it a splendid woody and smooth flavor, a definite must have!
|Smoking the Islay Peat
I have come to have a great respect for scotch, but at the end of the day still fancy my self more of a bourbon drinker. I therefor found myself moseying of to Four Roses for a treat of bourbon. I myself am partial to the Small batch and it was a great treat and surprise to try Four Rose’s 125th anniversary 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch. A beautifully spicy bourbon truly exquisite with hints of vanilla and cherry, slightly woody mixed with all that the classic four roses flavor topped with hints of maple and a delicious long finish. It was awesome to be poured a glass because it as of yet has not been released in New York and like I mentioned before it was great along side my cigar.
A few of my other favorites from this year were:
Brennne single malt whiskey from France, an elegant and charming whiskey, with hints of toasted caramel, spice, and fruit combining a complex array of flavors experienced quite subtly on the tongue, a true testament to the French culinary legacy.
Koval one of my favorites from last year was there again this year, this time with a sleek new rebranded bottle.
Highland Park featured Loki, part of their Valhalla Collection. Fittingly named for the Norse god of mischief, this Scotch has out of this world flavor, with hints of sweet and sour apples, cinnamon spice, and some smoked hickory in the finish.
Last, but certainly not least, the hosts of this show, Single Cask Nation, showcased there own new and delicious line of scotches. First, I revisited the Arran 12, the BenRiach 17, and the Kilchomon 4. They were just as good as they were last year. New this year was the Laphroig 6 which captured that sea breeze aroma that I now have come to expect of anything with Laphroig on its lable. It had some slowly building flavors that climaxed with hints of smoked citrus and fruit. The other two of the new bottles from this Jewish Whiskey Company are both delightfully sweet and fruity. The Dalmore 12 was relaxed and creamy, with flavors that traveled from hints of cherry and black berry transverse into a warm finish that made me quiet content. Lastly, I will finish off with the Glen Moray 12 because if there is anything that made me feel like I was enjoying a great dessert it was this Scotch. This golden nectar, starts off as a decadent sweet bread pudding, transforms into a spiced berry compote and ends off magically as a Crème Brule.
As you might have guessed by now, I had a remarkable evening with my wife at my side. I look forward to great things at next years event.