Raise the MacAllan, a whiskey lovers dream

Raise The MacAllan 1First stop on a great visit to Chicago and what better way to catch up with friends than enjoying a favorite…MacAllan Whiskey. Over the years I have become a huge whiskey fan and The MacAllan is definitely one of the best of the best in the world of single malt Irish whiskeys.  While some back away from whiskey because of its strength (40% alcohol by volume), The MacAllan proves that you can indeed really enjoy all aspects of the whiskey experience.  The brand does a great job of balancing power and style with a rick flavor and a smooth finish. Raise the Macallan 4

The secret to this delicate balance for The MacAllan is their curiously small stills.  Famous enough to make the face of Irish currency these stills are proof positive that The MacAllan puts quality over quantity in every step of the process.  The small still and individual batches are just the first step in a long process that produces an exceptional spirit.  From beginning to end The MacAllan has its hand in every part of their creation process and yes this even includes sourcing barrels in which to age the spirit.  Instead of grabbing up bourbon or sherry casks The MacAllan does something unheard of, they grow the wood that makes the cast.  That’s right, when you can pick up a bottle of The MacAllan in a local store, the process of creation actually started 100 years previously when the seeds for their oak trees are first planted.  Through growing, harvesting, sherry creation, and drying the wood you are talking about a very long and very expensive quality all just to guarantee quality.  Raise The MacAllan 5Raise the MacAllan 2The MacAllan spares no expense, even small details such as allowing the wood to dry naturally in order to maximize their color and flavor which come from the wood, in bring something great to whiskey lovers everywhere.

The process truly demonstrates their craft and their passion for producing exceptional whiskeys. With only 16% of all productions ending up in bottles you can see why their finest cut becomes one of the finest whiskeys.  With such a painstaking process it’s easy to see why The MacAllan appeals to such a wide audience and is a great way to bring people together with the fun, laughter, and memories that really makes life great.

 

 

Passage of the Guardians with The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet passage of the guardians with Master of Scotch Craig Vaught

The Glenlivet passage of the guardians with Master of Scotch Craig Vaught

“Fruity or Floral, Spicy or Smoky?” No, you are not choosing your favorite perfume, in the world of whiskey these questions determine which path you will follow to meet your match in the many flavors whiskey has to offer.  For many the thought of whiskey is a big leap for their palette, instead choosing to play it a little safer with drinks on the more mellow side of the street.  The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (1)When you jump with both feet into the world of whiskey, however, you find that whether your focus a drink’s balance, smoothness or flavor you can probably find something you love on the whiskey aisle.  I had the opportunity to attend the Guardians event by The Glenlivet yesterday and got not only some great insight into the world of Scotch Whiskey’s but also a reminder as to why The Glenlivet is one of my favorite Scotch Whiskey’s.

The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (6) The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (11) The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (22)

 

 

 

 

Set in the elegant Parador in the Museum District, the Nights of Passage The Glenlivet event transformed the venue into a museum for the history, fashion, and fun that has risen out of The Glenlivet brand since its inception.   Craig Vaught, the Master of Scotch, was on hand to share his insight on why the brand has become such an amazing staple in the world of whiskey.  The often imitated but never duplicated recipe and history that lead to the branding of The Glenlivet speaks to the craftsmanship that makes this spirit so exceptional.

The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (13) The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (12)For the Night of Passage with The Glenlivet we received an expert tour guide into the world of whiskey by Craig Vaught.  One of the first doors you will face when entering the world of whiskey is the choice between Single Malt and blended whiskeys.  For Craig this crossroads is similar to choosing the balance of a fine violin that comes from a single malt versus the smooth boldness that comes from the whole orchestra you can find in a blend scotch.  Each choice may be difficult but equally rewarding and we followed the smoothness route to the range of The Glenlivet products.

Following that decision we were presented with the question that really divides and conquers for a preference for drinking whiskey:

Aroma – Choosing between the fruity, floral, smoky or spicy bouquet of each whiskey

Palette – How does the whiskey sit on your palette

Finish – After the drink is done, what notes of flavor remain

The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (5)The aging process having a powerful effect on the answer to these questions. When you pay attention, though, you can find your perfect fit all within the same brand by narrowing down your answers to the tough.  The 12 year offers a smooth finish with fruity undertones that are universally popular while the 15 year offers a bolder, and spicier version with more of a kick to your palette.  For the best of both worlds, the 18 year version gives you all of the smoothness found in the 12 but some of the more bold favors and finish you find in the 15.  All in all there is no better way to find your fit than trying them all out side by side and the Nights of Passage Guardian event by The Glenlivet gave the perfect opportunity to do that.  Try out all the versions including some of the newer favors such as Nadurra or Guardians and experience the history, taste, and enchantment you can find with The Glenlivet.  The Glenlivet passage of the guardians (16)

 

 

Irish and Scotch Whisk(e)y 101

WhiskeySometimes we get stuck so much on what we know we like, we forget to explore the new things we may like as much or even more.  Whiskey is one of those liquors that some people drink exclusively and others stray away from.  The truth is, however, that whiskey provides a wide range of taste profiles that can complement an equally wide range of pallets once you learn some basic rules to whiskey drinking.  I was able to attend the Whiskey Boot camp at Spec’s that featured some of the best in Whiskey and have my mind blown in not only the taste but history of making whiskey.

The basics. 

Think of whiskey as a much stronger virgin cousin of beer.  Like beer whiskey is main from grain and barley, however the distillation process produces a much higher alcohol content and oak aging adds complexity of flavors.

Types of grain

  • Pot stilled: made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley completely distilled in a pot still
  • Grain: continuously distilled from unmalted grains so resulting favor is much lighter and neutral.
  • Malt: Occurs when barley is soaked in water and tricked to grown.   Once germination begins hot air infused through peat smoke is added.

Blend or no blend

  • Single malt: Produced at single distillery and aged in oak casts (often used bourbon barrels) at least three years
  • Blends: these products come from whiskies from two or more distilleries.  The result can produce a wide range of flavors and alcohol content depending on the manufacturer, aging process and time.

Finishing

  • Recycled oak casts is the incubator for whisk(e)y
  • The resulting products takes on a lot of flavor from the type of cask it is aged in.  The types can range from port to madeira, rum or wine.
  • The longer the whiskey matures in the cask, the darker the color becomes

 

And the winners are…

For my flavor profile there were three strong winners for the night:

Glenfiddich Single Malt, 15 year old: This is in line with my expectations of whiskey.  The aging gives it some great depth but the favor additions of honey and vanilla ensure it is not overwhelming.

Tullamore Dew Special Reserve, 12 years old: Great for someone easing their way into whiskey.  It starts a little spicy but quickly some real floral notes flood in and make the overall drink very smooth.

The Balvenie, Caribbean Cask: Aged in rum cask it takes the best of both worlds with the heat from the whiskey and the smooth favor from the rum casks.  Adds some variation appreciated from anyone from a novice to a pro.

You don’t have to take my word for it though.  There is a great big world of whiskeys out there so why not hop in and discover which one is for you.  To assist with a celebration here is a great toast to celebrate your exploration with:

I’ll drink to your health with you,
I’ll drink to your health alone,

I’ll drink to your health so often, I’ll damn near ruin my own.  CHEERS!

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