The older I get and the more I watch drama series catered to my age, the more I see characters drinking, and the more I wish to immolate them. I long to find a spirit that I too can sip on without making a face at. That is why I am happy that I got to attend the Macallan whiskey tasting and find just that bottle to do the above with.
My guest got an invitation to their tasting event and brought me along as her guest. I wondered how I would be able to get on such a mailing list? She didn’t even know how or why they contacted her, but we both went along with the opportunity, happily. I suspected she got chosen because she likes whiskey and has had enough whiskey sours to tell a good spirit from a bad.
The evening was hosted at the “Railway Club”. Not exactly what I pictured when I read “club” and walked through the building’s lobby with pine garlands, shiny baubles, and glowing lights. Winter was in full swing. We weren’t the only ones attending this function so followed the crowd, making note of the signs. I felt under dressed in my business causal attire of jeans and button up dress shirt, where a few guests were in gowns and suits. They offered a coat check by donation. So after making a contribution and relinquishing our layer we checked in at their reception table. There our RSVP-ing was acknowledged by the scanning of an email attached QBR code. We then moved on to the adjacent table where we were given rubber wrist bands and a metal token to redeem for a cocktail. I would later figure out the bands were option and more to endorse their brand, as a posed to their intended use as entry markers.
We were then ushered in to a room on the second floor to mix and mingle. The carpeted stairs to climb were like the ones you would watch a debutant make her debut on. At the entrance of this reception area we claimed a “gold n’ apricot sour” cocktail in exchange for our token. There we waited for the main event to begin, building tolerance by snacking on appetizers like seasoned chicken on sticks and crispy spring rolls with a sweet and sour sauce for dipping. Around the room were tables to lean against and posters advertising their brand. They also had a handsome bar display with their various whiskeys on promotion.
When time we were invited to a banquet room, back on the main floor. It was beautifully done with a vaulted ceilings overhead, red and gold regal-printed carpet underfoot, crystal chandeliers, and crisp clean table cloths under polished stemware. The bright lights were the only thing distracting from a more intimate and sophisticated evening.
Each seat and every table was set with a specially created plastic sheet signifying all the Macallan brands. Each bottle’s name and its photo, paired with its scent and taste notes listed in a circle. Over each description was its corresponding beverage. Two to three sips served in a wine glass. We cleverly chosen a table that wasn’t completely seated and reaped the benefits in extra sample servings that went unclaimed.
This was the first spirits tasting I have been to, but I recognized the process and parafilnelia as it related to wine tasting. Like the bucket to spit the liquor into after you tasted it, in order to not get too intoxicated. Though looking around everyone did as I did, swallowing every last drop and shooting a few down in one gulp.
I appreciated the presentation and the walk through of each of the five Macallan whiskeys we would try. First a quick presentation played and showed the use and advertising of Macallan on television shows. I was sold when I saw “Harvey Specter” of “Suits” sipping on some golden brown Macallan. It was a good hype up to the tasting. On a podium, in front of a microphone, one of the brand ambassadors spoke to the label. He joked how his job is to drink on the job and get others to join him. Our host began to walk us through the process of drinking to taste. First you breathe your drink in with mouth, doing so with lips apart, just over the rim of the glass. You savour the scent and take your time with it, before you let it further linger on your tongue.
As we sipped we learned that we were having a single malted barley whiskey from Scotland. And tonight we were tasting the 1824 series that was made with small stills for a heavier liquid. They are so exclusive with their spirit that only 16% of the cut is used, where typically it is closer to 23%. Their goal is to bring you the best of the best with help from some of the finest barrels. After the first glass I wasn’t able to keep up with the speed of presentation to my the speed of my sampling. Luckily we were allowed to linger after and converse about what we liked and would want to buy.
I would like to attend more tastings like this. Not only did it gave me a new found appreciation for whiskey, but it gave me a new name to order at the bar. As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to find a good spirit that I can just sip straight up. I think I have found it in the “Macallan Amber” with notes of raisins, apples, vanilla, toffee, candy floss, caramel, etc. If you randomly get an invitation for a similar tasting, I highly suggest you take advantage of it. Not only was it informative, but I left with a good buzz. Don’t deny your cravings.