Alcohol Appreciation: Bourbon + Scotch
About a month ago our friend DD Google-shared a link to an article about Ransom Old Tom Gin and when the usual suspects started salivating Elizabeth* suggested, “You guys need to start a fancy booze tasting crew. Each buys one bottle and y’all get together and sample.” Within 24 hours the Alcohol Appreciation club was born.
For each gathering a theme is chosen and participants bring a favorite or an interesting-looking bottle, with a sign-up spreadsheet used to ensure there are no duplicates. We have gotten together twice so far. Are we now booze experts? No. But it’s a worthwhile experience to sit around with some friends and put a few different bottles up against each other. I wholeheartedly recommend starting your own Alcohol Appreciation chapters (We are the AAoA, technically).
Alcohol Appreciation Meeting 1: BOURBON
The first meeting we tackled bourbon. It was a rather quick, free-form gathering: four of us simply standing around the bar and tasting sips post-brunch. We tried Basil Hayden’s, Elmer T. Lee, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, and from Tuthilltown Spirits we had Corn Whiskey, Baby Bourbon, and the Four Grain Bourbon. The favorite was the Four Grain from Tuthilltown, but at $38/.375L it was fairly pricey. The next favorite surprisingly was also one of the cheapest: Elmer T. Lee, available $25/750mL.
Alcohol Appreciation Meeting 2: SCOTCH
The second meeting, held this past weekend, was a bit more of a production. We chose single-malt scotches this time around, and our original crew was joined by K8 from of monkeys and cupcakes and her husband R. The selected bottles were:
Now, it’s important to make sure you’ve got some hearty food to eat if you’re drinking straight-up alcohol. I went to the Albany Coop and asked the cheese guy to make some picks to accompany a scotch tasting, and keep it around $30. He turned out to be an afficionado himself, and chose the following cheeses for us to try.
- Gruyere Cave Aged
- Moliterno (it’s like Romano)
- Castellano (6 month aged goat cheese)
- Smoked Gruyere
- Aged Gouda (amazing)
The others kindly brought along a sampling of other tasty things like fresh fruit, bread, sausage, everyone’s favorite garlic paste and Oscar’s Applewood Bacon. So, we fried up some bacon sandwiches (topped with the Moliterno and garlic paste on a hardroll), started slicing into the cheese and sausage, handed out pens and post-its for taking notes and got down to business.
The scotch was tasted neat and with water (dropper provided). The next few hours were spent sipping, eating (at one point K8 had the brilliant idea of using the leftover bacon grease to make bacon-y popcorn. SO GOOD), and posting increasingly blunt tasting notes on the living room wall.
The verdict? Well, here’s what some of the notes say:
“Macallan / Sweet. Has more Bite. Awesome”
“Smelled Jameson / But couldn’t actually smell it due to the Scotchness / Can still smell Scotch”
“Oak Cross / Not very smoky. Tastes like Scotch.”
“Benromach / Not as good as Oak Cross / More complex, but whatever”
“Talisker / Thank you Talisker for finding the creating the cut on my tongue – all in all good stuff.”
and the Laphroaig turned out to be wildly divisive:
“Laphroaig / My favorite booze basically ever”
“Laphroaig / taste like hate. Still going to drink it …”
“Laphroaig / I am not enjoying this”
“Laph / Fuck You”
In the end, no clear winner. It may be we are just not scotch people. But we did have a great time finding that out.
* For the record Elizabeth is not in the tasting club, but she gives it a hearty thumbs up. And offers to give sober rides. But not to Queens, Isolda, so don’t even try.