Alcohol tastings – wine, scotch or other spirit – are always a good time. Well at least that’s my opinion having attended multiple wine tastings and most recently 2 scotch tastings in Hoboken. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a tasting is usually a couple (2-3) hour event where you are sampling a specific spirit (ie: Pinot Noir, Macallan scotch) with the help of a host/expert in that area. They are a great opportunity to try different varieties, increase your knowledge and learn cool new things about your favorite alcohol.
My Love Affair with Scotch
I love scotch. Absolutely love it. I started drinking it in college when I had an upperclassman buy me a $7 bottle of Scorsby scotch (which is super gross). It was always on the rocks and my housemates easily mocked me because what college kid drinks scotch on the rocks instead of stale, warm beer from a keg. I have become somewhat infamous within my circle of friends for ending a long day with a large glass of scotch on the rocks. Well thanks to my Dad’s ridiculous variety of scotch at home and proclivity to drink the good stuff, my tastes have significantly improved. It also helped that I graduated from college bartending to a fulltime job that allows me to budget more than $7 for a bottle of scotch.
So when my awesome wine-loving girlfriend (aka Snowflake) surprised me with a Maccallan scotch tasting a few weeks back I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning (and it was also cool because I met her at wine tasting). Macallan is my favorite scotch variety and the tasting was in Hoboken. In what was a cool coincidence Madison’s was hosting a “Dads and Grads” scotch tasting and meal the Monday after Father’s Day. I easily pulled the trigger on that one and made it my Father’s Day gift to good old dad. With 2 scotch tastings in the span of a few days I couldn’t resist sharing the experience/doing a mini-review…
Macallan Tasting at Zylo
If you have read any of my previous columns you can probably guess I don’t easily frequent places like Zylo – the bar/restaurant in the W Hotel – but I was excited to check it out for the first time. The interior is gorgeous easily matching the W’s ornate style. Macallan is one of the most popular single malt scotches because of its widespread availability, but also because it is a high quality scotch with many different flavors. They hosted the tasting ($49/person) which was going to be a sampling of 5 different flavors – 3 from their Fine Oak line and 2 from their Sherry Oak line. The tasting wasn’t actually in Zylo, but outside in the porch seating area which was great. While Snowflake and I sampled a variety of scotches and snacked on an awesome trail mix, we got to sit outside with a cool breeze and view of the Hudson. We were given a new 1oz of scotch every 20 minutes or so with a few quick lines from the host bout what flavor to expect. It was more relaxing than anything else and I liked the laid back atmosphere.
Dads & Grads Tasting at Madison’s
Taking a different angle than the Macallan tasting was the Dads & Grads scotch tasting paired with food courses at Madison’s. I had never had scotch paired correctly with food courses before so I was quite intrigued to see how it worked. Our host, Kevin, was a Master of Whisky from Fedway – a big distributor in NJ. Right off the bat Kevin proved he was a Master of Whisky indeed. He gave, without notes, a very detailed 10 minute talk about how they make whisky which was paired with some humorous anecdotes from his many trips to Scotland distilleries.
After our scotch tutorial we were served our first course (oysters and Laphroaig Islay) I learned a cool trick – a few drops of water in single malt releases tons of the flavor within the scotch (similar to how you let wine breath). As the rest of the evening progressed (Glenmorangie with cranberry & goat cheese salad), (Oban with herb crusted lamb chops), (Dalwhinnie with lavender crème brulee) I was blown away by how well each single malt paired with its course and what flavors I could taste. Even better my Dad had a blast and even learned a few things about scotch even though he is a quasi-expert.
Because we do more than just 60 second reviews for our awesome Boken Online readers, I had the chance to speak with our host Kevin about some more info for those interested in scotch:
- He recommended that if you’re looking to learn more about scotch to check out the scotch producer’s website as they have great information.
- Best places to get a variety of good scotch in Hoboken – Sparrow (126 Washington or 1224 Shipyard)
- Tasting opportunities galore! – wine, scotch and others – happen regularly in Hoboken and the Boken will post details regularly so you can enjoy.
Any good ideas for the next review Bokenites?
The Drunken Polar Bear.