Warm firelight, an elegant atmosphere and hushed satisfaction greeted us when we walked into the ’World Whiskey Tasting’ at The Chophouse on Oct. 29. Our host, manager Charlie Eblen, made us feel extremely welcome as we were seated in a private section on the landing.
Tasting whiskey is completely different than tasting wine. Whisky tasting is done principally with the nose’a far more acute organ than the tongue, although the two interrelate as the sample is swallowed. The three major elements of tasting whiskey are the nose (smell), the palate (taste/texture) and the finish.
Horizon Wine and Spirits representative Nathan Way presented seven different whiskeys. Note that whiskey includes Bourbons, Scotches, blends and ryes. We began the night with *Jameson Irish Whiskey’aged six years. The nose was floral and leafy; the palate was light and slightly citrusey with a smooth finish. The *Special Reserve Jameson was aged for 12 years and possessed a much more assertively complex nose which consisted of oaky caramel and butterscotch. It was mildly woody on the palate and the sweet flavor that came from the sherry casks it was kept in was prevalent. The finish was rich and lasting. Wiser’s Very Old is an 18-year-old Canadian blend and is Canada’s favorite whiskey. The nose was estery, with fresh figs and hazelnut. The palate was a good balance of dry and sweet with a combination of woody vanilla and cr’me brulee and the finish was long and silky. The *Glen Livit Archive Scotch, aged 21 years, was a real treat and my personal favorite. The nose was clearly void of peat and was replaced by a cidery mixture of apple and oranges. The palate was light and tingly with a medium honey finish.
One should be cautious when tasting Wild Turkey special rye because alcohol at 101 proof can have an antiseptic, almost numbing effect. Once past that, I could smell robust molasses and feel a deep, dry palate. Slightly peaty and medicinal, Wild Turkey finished powerfully. *Four Roses single barrel bourbon is the official drink of The Kentucky Derby. Aged nine years, the nose was woody with toasted vanilla and almonds wafting into an almost winey palate. The finish was sweet and lingering. *Makers Mark Bourbon uses up to 80 percent new charred American oak to rest in. It must be aged at least two years by universal standards. The nose was rich in spice and cherry-wheat. The palate was light with a charred wood and mint finish.
I have to say that most of this information is from my own (limited) knowledge and research and our tablemates, because our presenter had his back to us most of the time and we could not hear him. Luckily, what he lacked in information he certainly made up for with bravado. This was in complete contrast to Manager Charlie Eblen, who offered his guests generous tastes and beautiful hors d’oeuvres, including scallops rockefeller, crab and shrimp stuffed Portobello mushroom caps and melty cheese sticks with marinara.
The Chop House will be hosting monthly tasting events in the future so look for them in The Pulse. Many thanks to Mr. Eblen and the fabulous staff at the Chop House. Throughout the holidays, let us all eat, drink and be merry.
*Available at The Chop House