So my wife and I had finally made it to the whisky bar, Helvetica, for the first time after months of trying and suffering setback after setback.
We'd had a very good evening so far, enjoying a Glenfarclas 12 yr old over dinner, then a Yamazaki 12 yr old, Hakushu 12 yr old, Glenmorangie Nectar D'or together at Helvetica, after which my brother and sister joined us at Helvetica for Amrut Fusion, Glenmorangie Astar, Aberlour Abunadh batch 35, and our last dram being the vaunted Old Potrero 18th Century Rye.
Now it was time for the last dram of the night.
As I get up to get the last dram I happen to see a couple of guys who are looking quite far into their drinks eying us, but think nothing of it.
I go up and order my Corryvreckin and when I come back I see my wife, brother and sister in law looking VERY uncomfortable as the two guys I'd seen sitting next to my wife and talking to her.
"You look uncomfortable, maybe we can help with that."
I sit down next to my wife and put my arm around her waist.
"Hi guys, can we help you with anything?"
"Christ he's a yank"
Great, this is going to go well.
They continue talking.
"We were just noticing how your friend here is looking very uncomfortable" they say as they point to my wife.
"Ahh my friends I think you'd be wrong about that, considering that she just told you she's fine"
I hand the glass of Corryvreckin to my wife after a brief nose.
She noses it, trying to ignore the two guys, one sitting next to me now, and the other sitting next to her.
They make a few cracks about Americans. This could go well or bad, so I decide to start making jokes.
They comment that Americans are fat. I inform them that they're wrong. Aussies are fat, Americans roll down the street since their legs no longer support them.
This causes everyone at the table to blink and laugh.
"You said that dude, not us."
"I know! Do you know how you can tell an American apart from everyone else? They're the ones who needs the floors strengthened and the doors widened before they come into the building"
They start laughing harder and harder as I continue to crack jokes.
They then look at the glass that my wife has handed back to me as I give it a nose.
"Man, we've been seeing you smell those glasses all night, you can't tell me that you're getting anything different from it. It all smells and tastes like Chivas. Now gin, gin is a mans drink."
I laugh at them real quick and inform them that you each whisky has it's own different odors and flavors.
I nose the glass as I inform them of what "gin drunks" mean. I then start talking about what often goes into the distilling of gin and the way that it's done.
I then start calling out flavors in the Corryvreckin as I hand it back to my wife.
Nose: Definitely an Ardbeg with smoke and peat, but it's not so overpowering that nothing else shines, some phenol nuts, almost like rubbing alcohol, fruits mainly oranges, and seaweed notes come in through quite strongly.
The guys look at me and laugh as my wife noses the glass and looks at me and suggests that she thinks she gets a little bit of cherries in it.
The guy closest to me, the gin man, snorts and informs me that there is no way anyone could tear apart any drink like that and then hands me his drink and dares me to do just that.
I nose his drink, not quite sure what all has gone into it, but the smell reminds me obviously of gin, but he has some mixers in there, specifically lime and cucumber and pretty darn sure soda water.
So I start calling out flavors as I take a few small sips.
"Citrus of some sort, I'm say lemon, because your lime is coming through too strong as part of your mixer, there is some juniper and a hint of ginger in it. I have a strong flavor of cucumber which is quite unpleasant, but my friend you've damaged your drink by having it watered down so much with all that ice which is killing alot of the flavor that is supposed to make gin a pleasure to drink."
The guy blinks at me, looks at his friend and we all hear what we've been waiting to hear
"Come on, let's go"
We all look at one another quite relieved. This has caused a low point of the evening.
We finally get to take a taste of the thing we're there for, the whisky!
The flavors are awesome!
Smoke, peat, seaweed, some spices, the citrus comes out strongly but not overpowering the whisky and a follow up of the medicinal notes.
This is Ardbeg at it's finest!! And so well worth the wait.
There is a definite alcohol kick. But not so much that it was unpleasant.
The finish was long with the smoke, peat, seaweed and some pepper hanging onto my tongue.
Awesome Islay whisky!
This retails for roughly $150 AUS when you can find it, but it's worth it!
Now this was supposed to be the last whisky of the night, but as I go to pay the bill I see a new updated whisky menu as I'm paying and two things pop up.
Ardbeg 1998 Renaissance and the glory of all glories: Ardbeg Lord of the Isles for $50 bucks a dram!
I look over to my wife and make puppy dog eyes and being the awesome wife that she is, she nods. The night isn't over yet!
Next on the block after MUCH palate cleansing will be Ardbeg 1998 Renaissance.