Sharing a Glass

The Whiskey Gentlemen was founded on curiosity and a desire to share what we learn. That spirit and sentiment persist to this day. As we investigate as many avenues of interest in whiskey as we can find, we have uncovered some unexpected treasures.

I could easily be talking simply about some of the many amazing drams we’ve had or the events we’ve attended, but that would fall far short of our experience.

What we’ve found is something that goes beyond the product itself – a community of producers and enthusiasts that revel in new production techniques, inventive flavor profiles, clever cocktails, secret stashes, prized finds and the fun in just sharing a drink among friends.

The social aspect of participating in the whiskey culture has been among the most rewarding discoveries in the journey, as we realize the connections that would otherwise not be made.  As we add more Gents to the group, we look forward to expanding on that circle of interest and sharing recent finds such as those below.

The Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Small Batch release Colonel EH Taylorfrom the Buffalo Trace distillery is bottled at a potent 100 proof and was the recipient of two awards (Gold and Double Gold metal) in 2015 according to the maker’s website.

A generous pour of this delicious bourbon debuted its way into my glass at a relative’s house and represents yet another fine addition to Buffalo Trace’s repertoire of quality products.

Whether in a cocktail, with a bit of water or poured over an ice cube to level out the higher alcohol content, this bourbon makes a flavorful and satisfying beverage.

Hakushu poursAnother occasion allowed for a bit of grilling while the weather was still mild.  A few drops of rain weren’t enough to prevent outdoor dining and a couple drinks.

Ruben and I joined Mike for our first tasting of a Japanese whisky. Japan seems to be overlooked in Chicago as a whisky producer, as the country’s distilled products are rarely featured in bars and other venues. Such an apparent oversight bears deliberate remediation…

Keep an eye out for a future event!

In the meantime, however, we made our own opportunity and poured ourselves a 12 year aged single malt from the Hakushu distillery, which (as the bottle reveals) is situated “surrounded by forest at the foot of the Southern Japan Alps.”

HakushuGentle, balanced and smooth, this single malt is one of the most delicate whiskies we could remember tasting. It is oily enough to bring a pleasant mouthfeel, and flavorful enough to invite careful consideration… pour after pour.

Hakushu is a delight to drink, presenting its grassy and fruity notes in a way that coaxes more careful attention, no one flavor being overpowering in any way. A clean, bright whisky that is, without a doubt, a bottle to pick up for prolonged consideration.


Another single malt brought a more familiar profile upon sampling it. Edward & Mackie Craigellachie 13 year aged Scotch was ordered as a must-try by a fellow enthusiast of the finer libations. He wasn’t wrong.

CraigellaichieA brief and subtle opening yields as an avalanche of flavor sweeps across the palate. A long pause and an inhaled breath provide the moment needed to appreciate a smoky sweetness that follows the robust peak.

My friend and I watched a Blackhawks game on the bar’s several televisions, and while most patrons satisfied their thirst with beer, we slowly exhausted the bar’s only bottle of this particular Scotch. (No, it wasn’t full to begin with.)

While there are older, pricier and (one assumes) even tastier expressions, nothing would prevent me picking up the 13-year, starting at about $50. This entry-level offering is complex and robust enough to keep my eye out for more.

Crown Royal RyeTo close out the virtual world-wide whisky trip, we return to Canada for the 2016 Whisky of the Year, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, so-named by The Whisky Bible author Jim Murray.

I imagine I was not the only person caught a bit by surprise by the $30 bottle’s accolade, but upon tasting it (again, outdoors, but this time alongside a Thanksgiving turkey being deep fried…), it is an understandable recognition.

Crown Royal produced an excellent whisky with this 90% rye mash bill that is delicious consumed neat, though like other Crown Royal varieties, would be equally good in a mixed drink.  Rye does not generally rank highest on my preferred whiskies, but this is an easy exception.

The rye was smooth, easy on the opening and long on the finish. While I was not compelled to rush through the glass, this is in no way indication of boredom. It’s true that the overall profile was not particularly complex or “new,” I don’t believe that’s the purpose of this offering. And to be honest, not every sit-down with a glass of whisky needs to be solely about what’s in the glass.

Sometimes, a favored whisky simply enhances the present moment without taking center stage. Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye respectfully supplemented an already enjoyable evening by providing moments of smooth and lasting richness with every sip.

The enchantment that comes with discovering a remarkable spirit is what no doubt drives the most passionate innovators of the craft to develop a premium product and the most enthusiastic consumers to find them. Even so, I find that the opportunities to share those gems with friends and family are even more rewarding.

So until then, pour yourself, and your companions, another glass.

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