A Whisky Mavericks Tasting
March 11, 2014
Personally I’m very partial to whisky. Some other people, not so much. But for those who do appreciate the Uisge Beatha, a good tasting taste class is a hard idea to resist.
And informal wine and spirit tastings are something of a boom industry all over the country. The Drinking Classes is an umbrella group that co-ordinates teams of experts delivering sessions on whisky, gin, vodka, rum tequila and cocktails and me and my pal Kevin turned up to their Leicester session at Will’s Bar at 6pm last Saturday. Run by young mixologist Will – not of the said Bar but of Drinking Classes’ subset the Whisky Mavericks – this was a very pleasant way to start a Saturday night.
Looking at the publicity, Whisky Mavericks seems to be based on the premise that whisky is seen as boring and needs rescuing from stifling tradition. A curious idea that I never really bought when it was first ran up the flagpole by someone wearing red glasses over 30 years ago. It’s even stranger when you realise that Will doesn’t try too hard to be modish or wacky in any way and in fact just delivers a perfectly mainstream tutored tasting.
It’s entry level stuff, starting off with a fruity punch and moving on to half a dozen drams, representative of some major styles. We started with my favourite Tomintoul, a creamy Speyside single malt, and then moved to the peatier 12 year old Bowmore from Islay – enjoyed with a plain chocolate digestive. Then there was Grants, Jim Beam Bourbon and a 15 year old Genfiddich Solera.
While he confessed he was more of a gin enthusiast, Will was pretty well informed and kept up a steady supply of historical and cultural background information. Things I learnt included the origin of the name Monkey Shoulder, that Grant’s triangular bottle was designed to prevent “breakages” in the dockyards and that age-statement whisky may soon disappear as the burgeoning Chinese middle-classes buy up everything available. Also that the world’s biggest selling whisky is called Bagpiper, featuring a bekilted man in a turban on the table, and strictly speaking is not even whisky as it involves molasses.
So a very convivial hour and half. Can’t say I’d be pulled in at the advertised rate of £65, but there seems to be plenty of Groupon offers around at around the £25 mark – which makes it a pretty good option for a present or just a great activity for a group of mates. More details here. An alternative in Leicester is the monthly spirit tastings run by The Urban Alchemist (who many will know as Roop from Leicester’s Manhattan 34 bar) at Taps bar near the Cathedral.