Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spirit in the Machine? An audit/census of RP's Whisky

If anyone wishes to eventually chime in, I am curious what I am missing. It has been five years of SMWSA. Although I may think that I have a more developed hobby, there may be others in RP who have equal interest. I am glad that I still appreciate a reasonably priced bottle like Bowmore Legend, among others. However, I don't plan on going above $500 a bottle without another buyer. Ridiculous as it sounds, some hobbyists go to extremes; I hope that I will be the one imbibing rather than necessarily buying. I'd rather invest and store.

The collection has grown. I have also grown more accustom to taste, but my tastes vary depending upon my mood. I still enjoy what Murray in his Whisky Bible calls 'fisherman's friend,' but I will drink a few Arbelours, Dalmore, Glenrothes, the right Rosebank, single cask Macallan, or Balvenie. What is it that makes many single malt hobbyists eventually veer more for the more peaty and smoky single malts? Does peat and smoke from Islay really make single malt the unique drink that it is? Or is it aging, cask, location, and the luck of the draw?

I have tried to look to what is best. I have often found that distinct bottlings from G&M, Signatory, or Murray McPhail does the trick. Berry and Rudd may have a few, but some may be overly critical of B&R. Yet, I hope to find that one unique Whisky Doris Bottle that is lauded and take it home from Germany. Does anyone collect Whisky Doris in Chicago? The Midwest?

It has been a few years of on and off blogging on single malts. I will attend my sixth Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America Event in Chicago. I finally decided after years of aversion to attend John Hansell's Whisky Fest last April. It was worthy and Hansell got into that world at the right time. However, what do we have here in Rogers Park post Morse Theater? What ever happened to its stock?

What bars reasonably stock single malts, not just the blended J&B, Johnny Walker, Dewars, or Chivas Regal?

This is what I have found:

Liquor Stores -
1. Taste - (on Jarvis) - An Islay Signatory Select Cask, a few selected distillery bottlings.

2. North Shore (on N. Clark) - The best selection of single malts in RP; Springbank selections and a lock box of the more exotic bottlings in its stock.

3. Extra Value Liquors - 7300 N. Western - Correction, just as good as North Shore. Found an old 17 yr. Old Bowmore in Stock. What you need if you are in town, on the Northside and don't want to travel to Binny's in Skokie.

Note: Although I have walked into other liquor stores, the stock tends to cater to the Malt liquor or semi-exotic beer crowd with the typical brands nestled in.

Bars - Night Clubs


1. Lamp Post - Only blended scotch - No single malts (I fear Macallan will be the one, but hope for Talisker Distillers Edition or Bowmore Legend)

2. Candlelite - I have to take a closer look at its stock.

3. Heartland - It has been a while, but I saw a bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Its not scotch but for those who know Bourbon is a spirit and scotch is often, but not always, aged in either bourbon or sherry casks. BT and the Frankfort distillery that it comes from has gotten more credit in the last six years. What about Eagle Rare?

3. Morseland - Any comments?

4. The Ho - I'll have to walk home to check out the small haunt. I fear more Lamp Post on a smaller scale with less premium brands. Has anyone else walked in and bellied up to this bar that has any idea what single malts are? You don't have to be particular!

5. Common Ground - Glenfiddich, Balvenie, but note Death's Door. The reason for pointing this out is that DD is an unique Midwest made aged whiskey from Door County Wisconsin. Has anyone tried some of the more exotic local gins and vodkas, among other spirits? What are your favorites?

Yes, Death's Door cannot be considered Scotch since is not produced and aged in Scotland. It is also made from Red wheat rather than barley. DD has a unique taste, but I tend to favor others until DD comes up with a unique bottling, which I expect Mr. Ellison will do after ten years of aging. It costs a bit to store your stock, but it also takes some time in business.

Are there any other thoughts on spirits?