Whisky tastings are always fun, but they are even better when paired with a sensorial experience, dinner at Casa Tua, and a little scotch 101 from one of our favorite barkeeps turned The Glenlivet brand ambassador Rob Ferrara. Such was the case during our Sensology scotch dinner party where a group of our 20 closest epicurean and spirited friends got to do some hands (and drinks) on learning of the king of whisky, which in case you weren’t paying attention is—wait for it—scotch.
Exhibit A: did you know that there are laws of scotch, especially when tasting said scotch? The first and foremost is to be gentle. As Ferrara eloquently put it, “you want to ease your nose into it and then open your mouth.” Can you say sensual?
Also, make sure you take the first two sips without any interference (i.e. food) to get a good and unadulterated feel for the way the scotch drinks. Should you want to give your scotch some breathing room, add water; H20 to whisky is like oxygen to wine. Hence why purists opt for drinking theirs neat with just a hint (to open up the flavor). Ice cubes, even big beautiful handcrafted ones, are blasphemy. And most importantly of all the laws of scotch, perhaps, is how to use the term “whisky” itself accordingly.
Contrary to popular misconception, scotch, whiskey, rye, and bourbon are not created equal. Scotch is the blanket term for whisky (not to be confused with whiskey) that comes from Scotland, but also from Japan and Canada. Whiskey on the other hand, is all bourbon that comes from Ireland and the United States. And most bourbon in the United States comes from Kentucky.
As for The Glenlivet, a single malt scotch (meaning it comes from one distillery and is aged for a minimum of three years in any kind of oak) in drinking existence since 1824, it hails from the oldest legal distillery in the parish of Glenlivet in Scotland and is made from three simple ingredients: water, malt, and barley. (Side note: bourbon is made from distilled corn rather than malted barley.)
What’s more, The Glenlivet is not made with just any water, but a holy water of sorts that comes straight out of Josie’s Well, a natural spring with rich layers of limestone and granite that founder George Smith purposely and strategically built his distillery next to. Cool, huh?
After all this education came the fun(ner) part: tasting.
We explored three of The Glenlivet’s whisky’s—18 year old, 21 year old, and XXV—with our nose and palate, discussing each one’s unique notes collectively. Ferrara’s favorite, in case you’re wondering, is the 18-year-old because of its smooth and balanced finish yet complex profile that includes a burst of spices and bitter oranges. As for us, we’re sort of equal whisky opportunists. What we can tell you, however, is that the XXV pairs exceptionally well with duck confit. And that the 21, gives you a syrupy mouth feel. And, speaking of food and syrupy mouth feels, there was lots to savor besides whiskey, namely a Brie amuse-bouche that had everyone’s senses titillating; Risotto with peas and prosciutto; and Pear and Chocolate Tart with cinnamon ice cream. Because is there anything better than whisky and ice cream? The Glenlivet and ice cream.