Tuesday, June 14, 2016

MIT Madeira Tasting

I'm happy to finally say we're expanding our repertoire!

We're hosting an MIT alumni tasting of Madeira wine this Thursday, 6/16/16, at Gordon's Fine Wines and Liquors in Waltham, MA. I became interested in fortified wines (of which Madeira is a type) due to my interest in whisky, since a lot of whiskies are matured in casks that previously held fortified wines. Of all the types of fortified wines (sherry, port, Madeira, marsala, and vermouth are the notable ones), Madeira struck me because it has a lot of the rich, oxidative flavors found in some of my favorite whiskies...

...and it can be really freaking old! The oldest whisky I ever had was 50 years old (that's 50 years in cask, and just a few in a bottle), so it was distilled in the late 1950s or so. It turns out there are Madeiras that are much older than that, and we're tasting one at this event.

Here's the lineup:
  • Rare Wine Company Charleston Sercial
  • D'Oliveira 1937 Sercial
  • Rare Wine Company Savannah Verdelho
  • D'Oliveira 1973 Verdelho
  • Rare Wine Company Boston Bual
  • D'Oliveira 1977 Bual
  • Rare Wine Company New York Malmsey
  • D'Oliveira 1875 Malvasia

You read that correctly - one wine from 1937 and another from 1875. That's only ten years after the end of the U.S. Civil War! I've never tasted anything this old. I had a chance to nose both the 1937 and the 1875 recently and they smelled absolutely sublime.

Very much looking forward to sharing these historic wines with our fellow MIT brethren.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tastings are back!

I finally got the right things lined up to start hosting whisky tastings again!

Currently, I'm hosting a series for MIT alumni in which we bring 10 folks to Gordon's Liquors at Downtown Crossing in Boston for a seated tasting of single malt scotch. Here's the lineup:
  • Balblair 2003
  • Balblair 1999
  • GlenDronach 15
  • Highland Park 15
  • Gordon & MacPhail Highland Park 1999 Cask
  • Port Charlotte Islay Barley
...plus a few other treats :)

This is a great lineup to showcase single malt scotch. It starts with the 100% ex-bourbon Balblair 2003, then introduces a bit of sherry with the 1999, a 15-year. Then we hold the age constant and go full-sherry with the GlenDronach. We then hold the age and the sherry constant and introduce some smoke with the HP 15, and then hold the age and the distillery the same but bump up the oompf with the cask-strength G&M bottling. Finally we round it off with a relatively young malt from Islay that has completely changed my view on the effects of terroir in single malt. (Compare the PC Islay Barley to the PC Scottish Barley and the difference is striking).

It's been great fun getting to know folks, and I'm looking forward to expanding my events repertoire to some corporate tastings and other private functions I have lined up!

The early arrivals at one of the MIT alumni tastings.

With some whisky friends (L to R): Sean (MIT alum), Bill Lumsden from Glenmorangie, David Blackmore from Glenmorangie, and Nick Taylor from Gordon's.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Getting back into the swing of things

Since we returned to the Boston area over a year ago, it's taken me a while to get back into whisky. First, there was the recovery from the punishing heat we endured in Arizona. Takes a while to get back into the warming effects of whisky after that. Then there were the headaches, which I think I've pinpointed as being due to a lack of proper hydration prior to consumption. I now gulp down two to three full glasses of water prior to any dramming.

Then there was just my general lack of ambition to restart what we had going in the 2010-2011 time frame. For anyone who attended our tastings, you probably remember that they were intimate, with Eileen and me doing all of the manual labor (setting up tables, pouring samples, putting out food and water, breaking down, and washing all the used glassware). Five years later, with a young child and a career, I'm too old for all that.

So I've gone looking for appropriate venues that can take some of the manual labor out of the equation, and have narrowed the field to a few front-runners. Keep your eyes peeled for some announcements, oh two readers of mine!

In the meantime, as I've been scouring the greater Boston area, I've run into some legendary characters from the world of whisk(e)y...like this one, Dave Pickerell!

Just happened to meet Dave Pickerell at The Hawthorne Bar in Boston!
(Thanks to fellow MIT alum Jared Sadoian for connecting us.)