The early evening crowd at a whiskey bar in Brooklyn can be very unique. Today it was me at one end and a poet with his 4-week-old strapped to his chest at the other. If I had a 4-week-old strapped to my chest, I can imagine how a glass of whiskey would hit the spot.
I had my biggest tasting challenge today – two aged bourbons. While the other days, I have chosen whiskies that were distinct from each other, today, I had two traditional bourbons and it was a little bit like sitting down with twins. I really had to try to tell them apart and delighted in each little mole and freckle. They were both well balanced and not either particularly syrupy or necessarily very spicy. As an added bonus, I was handed a couple of sips of an Irish whiskey called Greenore, which made for a tasty little detour.
It occurred to me how different life would be if I spent as much time savoring other moments as I have each ounce of whiskey. To be fully present, listening to each flavor and feeling every drop. I think there’s a saying that you shouldn’t look for life’s answers at the bottom of a glass, but now I’m not so sure. I seem to be becoming quite a firm subscriber to the Tao of whiskey.
Now to meet the twins: Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 and Evan Williams Single Barrel. And a very distant Irish cousin, Greenore.
Evan Williams Single Barrel
What I knew: Traditional bourbon, aged 10 years, 86.6 proof.
What I learned: The first sip reminded me of butterscotch with lemon juice. This whiskey had some layers and left a woody aftertaste. Rather than specific flavors, it brought up particular images: walking in a forest or a wooden A-Frame cabin in the rain. My grandpa built an A-Frame cabin and it was in Oregon, so no doubt got quite a bit of rain. For some reason, it brought me back to an afternoon there.
Elijah Craig Small Batch 12
What I knew: Traditional bourbon, aged 12 years, 94 proof.
What I learned: It had a good balance, a little sweet, a little spicy. Robust flavor. The barrel taste was strong, but the taste got sweeter the long it stayed on my tongue, leaving me with an impression of honeycomb and an aftertaste of coffee. The last smell of the glass was pure syrup, but the last taste kept it a very nice balance.
Special Treat: Greenore
What I knew: Irish single grain whiskey, aged for 8 years, 80 proof
What I learned: This whiskey is a soft little pillow. I instantly wanted to cuddle with it. This whiskey is made from corn and aged in ex-bourbon barrels, but is most definitely not a bourbon. It has a delicate taste with a touch of honey, and leaves a happy little candy spot on the tongue. In fact if they made suckers out of this, I would have one in my mouth all day.