They say that whisky is meant for sharing. For imbibing with friends. For indulging in over an even more indulgent conversation. For times of laughter, times of sadness and times of meaning.
And that’s just the situation that I found myself in recently.
Having spoken to so many people over social media over the past three years of doing this site, there were a few members of the #whiskyfabric that I’d felt I’d come to know really well, despite never having met in person.
And so, during a recent trip to New York to take in the sights and check out New York Whisky Fest, I managed to arrange to meet up with a number of those people for a night of whisky sharing.
The idea was simple: we’d gather at the Morgan Library in Manhattan where Josh ‘Coopered Tot’ Feldman works, and everyone would bring some whisky to share with the group.
For my part, I’d managed to carefully wrap-up and transport a few of this year’s Special Releases from Diageo that I was kindly given samples of. I wanted to be able to share these with the group and luckily my packing skills are such that they arrived safe and sound on the other side of the pond.
That evening is one that will go down for a long-while in my memory. By the time I’d arrived in New York (via Toronto, Texas and Kentucky) I was thoroughly worn out and coming down with a cold. I was staying with fellow Whisky Woman and Brenne Whisky founder Allison Patel and between her vitamin doses and cups of tea, and the excitement that was meeting the group at the Morgan, I managed to pick myself up and get ready to make some whisky memories.
Our group included Allison and Josh, Linh Do (a spirits specialist at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in California), Angelo G-LO Veneziano and Aaron Krouse (of the BoozeDancing blog), Susannah Skiver Barton (a fellow whisky woman), Sarah Baumberger (a new convert to whisky & friend of Allison’s) and John Maxwell (a whisky lover and birdsong whistler).
The evening was epic with dozens of whiskies tried, lots of laughs had and #whiskyfabric friendships cemented. What it showed most was that in today’s age of Twitter and Facebook – where you can connect with people around the world so easily – you can also become friends with people from all walks of life, simply because you share a love of whisky.
We also, of course, tried a few of the aforementioned Special Releases from this year – always a hotly anticipated and sometimes controversial set of whiskies from Diageo, which include everything from rare Broras to Benrinnes, Port Ellen and Lagavulin. You can read about my thoughts on previous year’s releases here and another post will follow in a couple of days with my thoughts on the releases not detailed in this post, so do stay tuned.
I did my best to capture as many of this group’s responses as we went along through them, so without further adieu, here are some of the #whiskyfabric’s collective thoughts on five of this year’s releases in the order in which we tried them that evening in New York City.
Number of bottles: 2,700
(n): Floral and honeysuckle notes lead, with additional heather and then Raisin Bran
(p): Warm and cereal, with a creamy touch and a grassy back-bite.
Josh: “I just had a new religious experience with that first sip.”
Number of bottles: 3,372
(n): Floral and honey notes also come through on this, along with tinned Dole pineapples and cream, brown sugar and something slightly sour that verged on butyric acid.
(p): Concentrated and earthy, almost smokey, plus cotton candy and tangerines.
Allison: “It’s an intriguing one. I’d want to be quiet and study it, and really try to figure out what’s going on there.”
Sarah: “I just want to place what’s there a bit better. It puzzles me.”
Number of bottles: 2,892
(n): Big, bold dark chocolate and red berries lead, then liquorice and herbs, cough drops and, with water added, honey and candlesticks.
(p): Brown sugar, coffee, caramel, then a bit of smoke and eucalyptus. With water, becomes much more waxy and grassy with a big vanilla bean finish.
Josh: “That’s really good. I’m really impressed with that.”
Caol Ila 15: – Unpeated: 60.39%: £75:
Number of bottles: Limited Global Availability
(n): Light liquorice and vanilla sugar, yellow fruits and bonbons, orange peel.
(p): More acidic than expected – nice and hot with dried grass, celery bitters and oak spice. With water, it becomes lovely and creamy, with a sweet front palate and big, grassy kick mid-palate.
Sarah: “I like it. I like it a lot.”
Number of bottles: Limited Global Availability
(n): Smoky and fruity – lovely sweet tobacco (pipe tobacco was the consensus), clovers and meadow flowers.
(p): Chocolate and smoke, slightly ashy and a good dash of black liquorice.
Allison: “It has a fast transition on the palate. It goes through all the notes quickly but in good structure, like a great song.”