Sept 23rd Whisky Tasting Tickets on Sale Now

Sept 2014 Flyer JpgIt’s nice to see that Summer’s hot weather has finally arrived, just in time for Fall. Which means it’s Whisky season (although to be fair every season is Whisky season.)

I’m pleased to announce that our next tasting will be Tuesday Sept 23rd at New Harvest Coffee & Spirits in the historic Arcade building. We will be tasting and learning about the whiskies from Single Cask Nation and the Jewish Whisky Company. It will be moderated by Single Cask Nation founder, Joshua Hatton.

If you are a serious whisky fan you’ve probably read Joshua’s blog – Jewmalt – or heard about the famous Whisky Jewbilee, which he founded in NY.  Regardless, you are definitely in for a treat because Joshua not only knows a lot about whisky, more importantly he knows how to pick a good cask of whisky.

We’ll be tasting 6 whiskies – 2 from Scotland and 4 from the US. All the whiskies are cask strength whiskies bottled from single casks chosen specifically by Joshua and the team from Single Cask Nation. This is a rare opportunity to taste these whiskies before they are sold out.

The lineup:

  • 18 Year Old Glen Elgin Bourbon cask- 54.9% ABV –
  • 7  Year Old Glen Moray Fino Sherry Cask- 58.8% ABV –
  • 2 Year Old Westland American Single Malt (with heavily peated Scottish barley) – 60.0% ABV
  • 11 Year Old MGP/LDI Light Whiskey – 66.3% ABV –
  • 13 Year Old MGP/LDI Light Whiskey – 55.8% ABV –
  • 2 Year Old Catoctin Creek Rye – 61.55% ABV

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased today at Bottles Fine Wine, and don’t delay because our tastings typically sell out very quickly. As usual we’ll hold our post tasting raffle to benefit Operation Stand Down Rhode Island – an organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans. Hope to see you there. -t

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June 24th Island Whisky Tasting Tickets On Sale

June 2014 Flyer jpgWarm weather and sunshine are enough to make a person think that Summer might actually soon be here.

And Summer means Island Time can’t be far away. Can you think of a better way to get ready for Island Time than an Island Whisky Tasting?

Tickets are now on sale for our Island Whisky Tasting June 24th at New Harvest Coffee and Spirits in the historic Arcade building. It will be moderated by Adam Maur, Northeast District Manager, ImpEx Beverages. We’ll feature whiskies from the the Isle of Skye, Isle of Arran and Isle of Islay.

While Islay may be the best known of the Scottish Isles, Arran and Skye deserve serious consideration as well. Especially the whiskies they produce.

Our lineup for the evening:

  • Isle of Skye 8 Year
  • Isle of Arran 10 Year
  • Isle of Arran Amarone Cask Finish
  • Smokehead
  • Kilchoman Machir Bay 2013
  • Kilchoman Loch Gorm

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased today at Bottles Fine Wine, and don’t delay because our tastings are selling out quicker than ever. As usual we’ll hold our post tasting raffle to benefit Operation Stand Down Rhode Island – an organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans. Hope to see you there. -t


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Seriously. Let me say it again slowly in case you missed it – THERE IS NO BEST WHISKY!!!


This might be the best whisky in the world, or not.

The most common question I’m asked is: “What is the best whisky?” After that the 2nd most common question would have to be:  “is Pappy Van Winkle really that good?”

I’ll answer them both starting with the first.

Everyone has their favorite whisky – sometimes lots of people’s favorites are the same whisky, but that doesn’t make a particular whisky the best. It is merely the best whisky for them, but who knows if it will be your favorite.

And this may be heresy, but sometimes your favorite whisky isn’t necessarily the whisky that you think is the best. And my favorite whisky probably won’t be your favorite whisky, which probably won’t be the next person’s favorite whisky either. Sometimes your favorite whisky happens to be the whisky you have in your glass right now.

Personally I’ve been privileged to taste some amazing whiskies – whiskies way beyond what I could realistically even think about buying – like the 1973 Ardbeg tasted at last year’s WhiskyFest NY. Beyond description. But it’s not my favorite. It was a special whisky that I got to taste just the one time, but I can’t reasonably expect to drink it again in the future so it isn’t one of my favorites.

Price is not a great guideline quality, nor is age. I have favorite whiskies that cost $12 a bottle and $200 whiskies that I wouldn’t drink even if given a free taste, and I’ll leave for another time the new unfortunate trend of multi-thousand dollar whiskies. I have favorite whiskies that are only 5 years old and ultra old whiskies that were awful. Somewhere in between those price and age extremes there is a plethora of choices, many of which are amazing whiskies. Some are great, some are my favorites, and some might even be your favorites.

I’ll let you in on another secret – you are allowed to have more than one favorite.

Whiskies are not like women. My Scottish grandfather once told me this story – all you need in life to be happy is to find two things.  You need to find the right woman and you need to find the right whisky. But remember to stay happy, never cheat on your woman and whisky doesn’t care if you cheat on it with another whisky. So never feel guilty about having more than one favorite whisky.

As to the 2nd question – is Pappy Van Winkle really that good? Hard to say – it might be for you, and it might not. I will say that Pappy Van Winkle is one of my favorites for several reasons – only one of which is because of the whisky inside the bottle. A bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old was my first serious whisky purchase – I paid what I thought was a ridiculous price of $105.00. I couldn’t believe I was spending so much on mere bourbon. But when I tasted it that night with friends and family I was blown away by how good it was. It is a special whisky and now that people are paying $1,200 or more for a bottle, it’s whisky that I probably won’t get to enjoy very often because the demand is so much higher than the availability.


The Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old is a special bourbon, but it isn’t the best bourbon.

Now back to the original questions – is Pappy Van Winkle that good? They say you’ll always remember your first love and Pappy really was a first love. But as much as I love it, I’m not willing to pay ridiculous prices for it. I wouldn’t pay $500 for a bottle of the 15 year old or $300 for a bottle of 12 Year old – all prices I’ve seen on craigslist in the last month. If I have a chance to buy it at retail I will, but there are plenty of other great bourbons out there that also taste great. They aren’t Pappy, but they are tasty and they are a whole lot more affordable and much easier to come by.

I confess that price is part of the equation for me in what makes a favorite whisky. If I pay $12 a bottle for some Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond – I’m happier than a pig in fresh mud, but if I paid $70 for the same whisky with a fancy label I’d feel disappointed.

Whisky is a commodity and if I pay too much for a commodity it changes my perception. I’ve tasted some very expensive whiskies that just didn’t do anything for me – some I doubt I’d try again even if given a free taste. They just aren’t for me – not because of the price (although that is part of it) but because the flavor of the whisky just didn’t push any of my flavor buttons. And different people have different flavor buttons.

And that brings me back to the original point – There is no best whisky but there are many great whiskies. Remember, there is only one way to find your favorite whiskies  – and that is to taste the whisky yourself. Good luck and have fun. -t

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May Tasting & Book Event – Now on Sale

May 2014 Flyer jpgBourbon – almost as many words have been written about it, as barrels have been filled with it.  We’ve decided to combine the words with the whisky for our next tasting.

Tickets are now on sale for our May 13th Bourbon Tasting and Book event at New Harvest Coffee and Spirits. We’ll be tasting bourbons and it will be moderated by Clay Risen, author of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit.  All attendees will receive a signed copy of Clay’s book.

We’ve put together a lineup of bourbons that is pretty special, many of which are either uncommon, discontinued, rare or limited editions, at least here in New England.

  • Ancient Age
  • Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year Old
  • Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2012 edition
  • Eagle Rare 10 Year Old
  • Eagle Rare 17 year Old
  • Willett Family Estate Single Barrel 12 Year Private Bottling

Tickets are $45 and can be purchased today at Bottles Fine Wine, and don’t delay because with this lineup, we will sell out. Hope to see you there. -t

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April Blind Tasting of Highland Park Whisky Tickets on Sale

April 2014 Flyer ScreenshotIt may say Spring on the calendar but the forecast calls for snow, again. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of talking about the weather. Let’s talk about Whisky.

Specifically let’s talk about Highland Park whisky. Orkney Islands’ northernmost distillery. Tickets are now on sale for our Blind Tasting of Highland Park Whiskies April 22nd at New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, at the Arcade in downtown Providence.

So many people commented on how much they liked the blind tasting format from our January Budget tasting, that I thought we’d do a blind tasting with the whiskies from the Edrington Group’s Highland Park Distillery. It will be led by Jacqueline Connetti, Innovation Manager, Edrington Americas. This is a great chance to taste some great whiskies and let your palate, and not a number, decide which is your favorite.

Tickets for the tasting are $25 and are available today, as usual, at Bottles Fine Wine. Buy your tickets with celerity because this tasting will sell out, as usual.

We’ll have our usual post-tasting prize raffle to benefit Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, an organization dedicated to helping homeless vetarans – so bring your cash and a generous spirit.  So far we’ve raised over $1,600 for OSDRI and I hope we can raise even more this year. I hope to see you at this tasting – it should be a fun night with some interesting whiskies. -t

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