Whisky and Gin Tastings Make for a Great Weekend
Ever try a $350 whisky? I hadn't either
This past weekend I attended the Kohler Food & Wine Experience. While the entire weekend was a blast, the highlights were two alcohol tasting sessions: gin and whisky. I'm not terribly versed in either of those libations, so it was eye-opening to get to try a variety of gin cocktails and aged whiskys that I may not have tried otherwise.
Macallan, a Scottish brand, sponsored the whisky tasting. It took place in a small lecture hall. Each seat had four whiskys already poured and arranged when the doors opened, and the smell of the whisky filled the room. If you ever need a holiday air freshener and you just happen to have a bunch of whisky sitting around... You know what to do.
After a few short, predictably hokey videos from Macallan, we were able to start tasting. Our first was the 10-year single malt, followed by 12- and 15-year varieties. Having never tasted varying degrees of aging side-by-side, it was an interesting experience to note the differences in taste and aroma. Unsurprisingly, they got more mellow and, in my opinion, better the longer they were aged.
The final, and crowning sample, was of Macallan's Rare Cask. Certainly not the most prestigious whisky in their arsenal, but by far the best whisky I've ever been able to taste. The aroma was strong vanilla and caramel, with a flavor dominated by oak and raisin with a bit of citrus. If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind dropping $350 on a good bottle of whisky, I recommend trying it.
Switching gears completely from whisky, a session sponsored by Hendrick's gin allowed me to taste their gin in a number of different cocktails. The standard gin and tonic started the session off, really allowing the strong cucumber, juniper and coriander to shine through. That was followed by a cucumber lemonade, a black tea and blueberry cocktail, and finally a punch.
The punch was my favorite, and it was incredibly simple to make. It combines gin, tart lemon and a strong cinnamon-spiced tea for a drink that's great for fall and winter. I never would have thought that gin and cinnamon go so well together, but there you have it. This drink may make an appearance at my holiday parties.
Hendrick's Winter Toe Tickler Punch
3 parts gin
2 parts lemon juice (using fresh makes all the difference!)
2 parts simple syrup
2 parts sparkling water
4 parts cinnamon-spiced tea
Bitters to taste
Build in a punch bowl over a block of ice and add bitters to taste. To make the cinnamon-spiced tea, combine a couple black tea bags and a few cinnamon sticks with warm water and let steep 20+ minutes to infuse. Serve over ice.
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