In following trends in both wine and spirits I sometimes will accept an invitation to try something in a new way. Lo and behold some companies do these free pop-up type bar events for a week or so at a secret location, the address of which is divulged once you sign up.
The one I was headed to was from Chivas, titled “Mentoring”, held Mar. 27, 2013, second seating (there were three 90-minute session in all that night) at the Chivas 1801 Club located that night at 6314 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles:
Here’s to exploration…to discovery…to awakening the mind and senses.
Friendship improves with age….and so does great scotch.
The Chivas Brotherhood celebrates the finer things in life, like friendship, success and the Perfect Serve of Chivas Regal 18.
Please join us at the Chivas 1801 Club as we explore the PERFECT SERVE through a scotch tasting designed to take your senses on a journey to discover the unique and rich character of Chivas Regal 18.
Palate whetted as usual, I made the trek to Hollywood, got the last free parking spot, stood in line with mostly men, and then had my ticket scanned. Sent up a staircase, and not expecting more than a scotch time-share presentation, I was more than pleasantly surprised at what I found:
A large room with several seating areas, a high-tech bar on one end and the center area devoted to a dozen or so tall tables set with scotch tasting glasses, water, and stands for…test tubes?
Before the tasting class we were given two coins to exchange for two mixed cocktails made with Chivas: The Fix and The Sandy that incorporated the Chivas 18 year old, fruit juices, green or yellow chartreuse and a “spanking” of fresh mint leaves. (I joked with our bartender that his style was akin to 50 Shades of Bartending.) Attractive female servers walking around with plated appetizers and sweets equally matched the attractive male bartenders.
Within 30 minutes, Christian Oleve entered, the brand ambassador for the evening, entered to lead us through our tasting.
Now here is where I learned something: Each of the three vials we were to taste was served at a different temperature. The first was frozen, the second refrigerated, and the third one was served at room temperature. To me this mimicked having your scotch served with ice or neat (no ice); but what I learned was that for the novice, having the scotch served ice cold reduced some of the initial burn for them, a little of the burn was introduced in the refrigerated vial, and then they were ready for the burn in the last taste. It was a very smart way of tasting. Just like going from light to heavy in a wine tasting; we start with whites and then move on to reds, etc.
Christian didn’t explain why the tasting was presented this way, and he confirmed my feelings about it after. In his presentation he talked about how the Chivas 18 year-old blended scotch was a blend of whisky – all aged a minimum of three years and each was 18 years or older.
When we tasted the second vial in glass, Christian instructed us to taste it only with the tips of our tongues – the tip being where he said sweetness was most easily detected. I knew this trick but I tried it for fun anyway; and it worked.
“We did not make a smoky scotch at Chivas,” continued Christian, “instead we went for a rich, sweet and floral flavor.”
In my own notes, on all three I got plenty of vanilla and sweet hazelnuts in what Christian dubbed the “Trilogy” tasting. I think that some of those new to scotch, once prompted by Christian to look for flavors, were able to detect them; proving once again that thinking about what’s in your glass produces favorable results – not just a buzz.
I want to mention that I came to the tasting with my friend Claudia Sheridan, who has generously offered to be our volunteer and event coordinator for A Toast and a Wish wine tasting event on April 13 in the Old Town Newhall Library. Claudia is my wing-man/go-to-girl for events. We have the same Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level Two certification and so we always have plenty to write about at these events.
We met a lovely man on the way in, Joe Poe, as well as several women at our tasting table. The group as a whole was very interested in learning. And, with the two free cocktails at the start and the small vial tasting, you could, if you drank everything offered, get a slight buzz on. We noticed that the mood wasn’t one of drunkenness but rather, the way an event could be run, for education, and, for fun.