I don’t think I’ve ever been so satisfied squeezing a tiny syringe of whiskey into an Old Fashioned mini doughnut. When I say, old-fashioned doughnut, I don’t mean an old style buttermilk-glazed treat, but rather a classic cocktail-inspired ring of dough made by Miss Mini Donuts, complete with a cherry on top.
Feeling a bit Ferris Buellerish amongst many “choice” classic cars at Crevier Classic Car Museum, I pop back one last Simpsons-esque pink sprinkled doughnut and skip several familiar whiskey brands to visit my most anticipated table: Cutwater Spirits from San Diego.
Cleansing my palate with Cutwater’s batch 03 Devil’s Share is something I’ve looked forward to for a hot minute, noting a nice barrel expression for such a new distillery. All of the notes are laid out like their distiller followed a hit song how-to guide. There’s deep-barrel baselines, auto tuned corn, wheat, and barley harmonics, and a catchy chorus finish. I can’t wait to taste more California booze, especially at this quality.
Third on my list is a tip from The Whiskey Scout: Whistle Pig Rye 15. Although I would have gone through the entire flight, after a handful of cask-strength offerings, a peanut butter cup Chunk & Chip ice cream sammich, and a tray of house-made chips and guac from The Stand, I wanted to sip on something a bit more mature. After 15 years in a barrel, a virtual quinceanera breaks out in my mouth with big bold wood and rye dance. So spicy!
Kikori is another liquid that caught my eye with its delicate wine-like blush. Rice whiskey, as it were, is effortless on the palate. There’s some nice vanilla barrel character wrapped up in stonefruit and citrus. If you’re looking for a whiskey to pair with sushi, this is your jam. “It’s available at Hi-Time Wine Cellars,” noted the brand representative, Brandy.
With so many whiskeys and other spirits to choose from, I tend to focus more on trying things I haven’t tried. But I happened to catch Wil Dee from Haven Gastropub (and Chapman Crafted Beer) mixing a round of amaro and whiskey-laden drinks called “the Hand Shake.” Several tables had cocktails served with plenty of flare, yet Dee’s simple Old-Fashioned won the best in show for me with its pure whiskey expression. Urbana and Bosscat had some delicious cocktails that were bright and fruity, which isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but they were also spectacular.
If you missed out on this year’s Whiskey Classic, make sure to check it out next year!
All photos by Greg Nagel