Alan, the UK sales manager for Glengoyne whisky, unpacks the crystal clear bottles and lines them up, their golden-, amber-, and walnut-colored liquids almost radiating warmth. The room grows silent and it’s time to begin.
The Anise bar staff is here for training purposes this morning, and not only are they excited, they are in fact giddy; it’s time to learn about whisky. Scotch Whisky. Glengoyne: a world-class whisky since 1833, made in the slowest stills in Scotland.
As always, I am impressed by the Anise mission—the dedication to learning one’s craft, the commitment to growing, the dynamic sense of family in the room—as well as the ease with which I am included in this tasting venture.
Tasting the Difference
Alan and Ben fill tiny cups with what looks like liquid sunshine—golden yellow and bright—and the tasting begins. I watch as the bar staff gently nose the whisky first, discussing the slightly nutty aromas of the 10-year old Scotch and then sipping it gently.
We learn as we go, moving from the 10- to the 12- to the 15- and then the 18-year old Scotch. It’s okay Alan says, in this,“the land of ice in everything,” to put ice in the 10-year old whisky, but anything older should only be enhanced by a bit of water. The water, he explains, opens up the flavors, while ice only serves to shut them down. The people sipping whisky around me slowly add drops of water from the tips of straws and continue the tasting.
We learn that Glengoyne is a single malt whisky, made completely in one distillery—and when we get to the 15-year old, Alan has us drop a bit of whisky on our hands, rubbing them together until the alcohol dissipates and we are left with slightly sticky hands full of flavor. Now we smell lemon and toffee, even a bit of pineapple. This is a whisky Alan says, to be enjoyed any time of day.
The 18-year old whisky is more complex and robust. This is an evening drink, with dried fruit and apple undertones. The 21-year old Scotch we’re told is for after dinner, with a cigar. Drew, wearing Christmas pajama pants, ironically agrees with Alan, who points out the dried fruit and Christmas cake taste of the Scotch. “Yes!” he exclaims, “Christmas in a glass.”
And finally we are gifted the taste of the 25-year old Glengoyne, which retails for $420 a bottle. Its amber color smells like dessert—part flan, part biscuit, part spice. The room grows silent as the group appreciates the fine flavoring of this exquisitely amber liquid. It is the fitting close to a lovely tasting session and learning experience. And soon there is talk again, as the bartenders buzz with the excitement of bringing this new whisky experience to Anise Global Gastrobar. Already the energetic discussion moves to food pairings and special cocktails.
A Perfect Partnership
This partnership, the marriage of Anise and Glengoyne, is not happenstance. The bar staff here is committed to excellence and learning. And while only three years old, Anise is just as focused on building tradition as this 200-year old whisky distillery is focused on maintaining it. Both are focused on family, on quality and on investing the time and care it takes to get it right. These family-run businesses empower their employees and give back to their communities. It is a pleasure to see them connect this morning. Learn more about Glengoyne whisky at www.glengoyne.com