Sunday, January 18, 2009

I love Scotch, Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch ...

So yesterday was quite a Scotch day for me, imbibing nine different varieties over the course of the afternoon and evening. As I am rapidly sliding down the hill toward full-fledged Scotch collectors addiction, the tastings were a real treat. The context, or excuse for this tasting was that some friends of ours, Dan & Karla, were in town for the weekend, actually on their way through to Obamas' inauguration in DC. They, like 5 million other crazy people, all way to freeze together on Tuesday standing on the mall while Obama makes a likely profound but inaudible speech on the Washington mall. I have heard that the crowd at the inauguration will be the largest gathering of people in human history ...

Anyway, Dan & Karla got in around 9 am, starving after a red-eye, and I picked them up around 11 am because I am a dick ... and because traffic in Brooklyn kind of sucks, sorry guys. I did have bagels for them in the back seat as a peace offering. We met up with Aviva and her friend Ilana, who I absolutely adore, at the Chelsea Market. Dan and Karla are serious foodies and wanted to visit because Dan had seen it on the food network.

The market is a great space, kind of long tunnel between 9th and 10th lined with interesting sculpture, waterfalls, lights, pillars and most importantly a variety of fancy food shops and restaurants. After persusing the place, drooling over interesting salts, fig sauces and mustards, we settled on lunch at Chelsea Thai wholesale, delicious and very cheap. After lunch we gawked at seafood and ate some cupcakes and split up, Aviva, Karla and Ilana heading to Lohmans to shop and Dan and I walking to St. Andrews in mid-town. My uncle, who knows my love for Scotch, recommended this place to me a couple of weeks ago and I have been dying to go. I was not disappointed. An unassuming Scotish pub on 44th, you can tell these people are serious about scotch drinking because the walls and bannisters are lined with scotch bottles and packages, and because waiters wear kilts. St. Andrews boasts the 2nd largest collection of single malt scotch in the city, more than 200 varieties. And most importantly, they understand the importance of tasting scotch and allow you to order one ounce tasters of each scotch you want to try !!! I did not know this going in and almost danced a jig (which would have been terrible since I cannot jig) in joy when I saw this.

Over the next, wonderful 2 1/2 hours, Dan and I each tried four different scotches, sampling each others as well. Isle of Jura "Superstition" was very smoky, much more so than the Jura 16 year that I adore. Edradour 10 was quite plain, a bit of fruit and peaty, but very light. Springbank 10 was warm, the vanilla and bite only appearing in your mouth after a minute or two. For me, the hands down winner was the Aberlour a'bunadh, a delicious cask strength (around 60%) Aberlour matured in sherry casks that was so smooth and sweet it tasted like it was filled with alcoholic molasses. Amazing. Tomintoul 12, is a like a lighter, slightly sweeter Macallan, and was delicious. Talisker 10 and Clynelish 14, both among the classic single malts, were too smoky/peatly and with a bit too much bite, respectively. I actually like Clyneish but tend to drink it on the rocks. The last of Dans' tastes, the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, was exceptional, a rich, smooth and round finish with a nutty sweetness that comes from aging in ruby port pipes. Really wonderful.

A phone call around six led Aviva and Karla to pick us up, and after we dropped Dan and Karla off we went to my bosses holiday party, where we had excellent food and good company. It is also here that I had the last of my Scotches, when my bosses husband offered me a glass of Macallan 18 to finish off the evening ... who can say no to that. I drank it slowly with Juan, whom you last saw hiking Norvins Green with me in November. I finished the scotch as we watched the Knicks get beat down by the 76ers, not an entirely unsurprising result. About an hour after the game I braved the frigid temperatures, the scotch helped with that, to go and get the the car and Aviva and I picked up Dan and Karla and headed home.

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