This month marked a big event for us at the AWS. Instead of holding the event at a member’s home as we have in the past, we partnered with Astoria restauranteur, George Rallis, of William Hallet and Hell Gate Social. William Hallet had been on our list of places to approach about hosting an event with the AWS. Hallet has by far the most refined menu we’ve seen in the Astoria area and an ever-changing menu of fresh and seasonal ingredients. In a neighborhood where there are countless cafes that do nothing to impress, William Hallet had us at “fois gras”. Also, it’s literally around the corner from our apartment. As if the location alone wasn’t enough to warrant holding the upcoming events for our ever-expanding whiskey empire there, the fact that William Hallet consistently has the most interesting whisky selection in the hood really sealed the deal.
The whiskies featured at this month’s tasting were The Bowmore 12, 15 and 18 year expressions. They are Islay single malts with a range of smoke and peat to them. I am generally not a huge fan of peaty/smokey Scotches, so this was a tasting I was looking forward to. I was really hoping for a chance to get a little deeper into the subtleties of the Islay Scotch qualities. For me, most things with a smokey quality to them instantly overpower my pallet and I find it hard to recover from that enough to discern any other flavors or characteristics. Brand Ambassador, David McNicoll, walked us through the three expressions starting with a brief, but thorough and entertaining history of whisk(e)y. The 12 year was by far the most smokey, and after my palate had grown accustomed to the initial burn, the smoke lingered and turned into a more vanilla/caramel flavor that surprised me. A little water really opened it up and changed it’s character entirely, and for the better. Mr. Rallis had chosen a lobster dumpling to pair with the 12 and what a perfect pairing it was. The two complimented each other completely. Our second expression, the 15, was considerably less smokey and had quite a bit of dried fruit and toffee flavors going on. I found this one to be the most enjoyable of those we tried, and many others seems to be of that opinion as well. A dark chocolate truffle was chosen as the perfect match for this whisky and boy was it a delicious duo. Our final taste of the evening was the 18. There was hardly any smoke to this at all and it had almost a soapy quality to it that I couldn’t put my finger on. I liked it, but for me, for the money, I’d stick with the 15.
Finally, I designed a cocktail for the evening using the Bowmore 12, which was a bit tough given it’s very smokey quality. I decided to play with the somewhat vegetal/grassy qualities of the Scotch by paring a lavender honey simple syrup with it, some lemon juice and a bit of egg white. It turned out quite nicely and seemed to be a big hit. I call it, Islay Be Seeing you. Recipe is below for those of you that would like to try it out at home.
Local photographer, Francine Dominguez, of 1gsphotos.com was on hand to capture some great photos of our event. A big thanks to her for the wonderful moments she caught with her camera. And thanks to all of you that turned out last night to enjoy some whiskey, some fun and some neighborhood pride. We hope that you’ll join us again. For those of you that couldn’t make it, please sign up for a membership and we’ll keep you posted about upcoming events.
Islay Be Seeing You
1 1/2 oz Bowmore 12 Single Malt Scotch
3/4 oz 2-to-1 Lavender Honey Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake without ice) until the egg whites emulsify. Shake with ice and serve in a coupe or martini glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender.