Photo credit: Whiskey Bar & Museum
At the tail end of Whisky Live I was really lucky to be able to attend a tasting of Glenmorangie whiskies for the press and blogger community with Hamish Torrie, the global brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. What really made this event special though was where it took place, the Whisk(e)y Bar & Museum in Tel Aviv’s Sarona complex. That’s right, we’re getting a Whisky Museum!
The venue is opening its doors to the public in the coming weeks, and while I did get to see it while it was still being set up, this was the first time I got to see it fully laid out and in all its glory. And it was glorious! The bar is located underground in a an old Templar Tunnel, and as one descends the stairs and goes through the main door the massive vaulted roof opens up and the breathtaking and spacious bar is revealed, shelves packed with 1200 different bottles of whisky, the vast majority of which are not available anywhere else in Israel.
The furniture, lighting and massive amount of open space create the air of a classic bar, with ambient jazz music and just the right amount of lighting, this is a breath of fresh air compared to the standard Tel Aviv bar which is dark, loud and cramped (and often full of cigarette smoke). Everything here from the decor to the music to the lighting just screams “This is where you come to relax and drink whisky”
Another difference here is that the prices will be calculated according to bottle price not demand, and the idea here is for people to try the whiskies, not to have them look pretty on the shelves for 2 years without being touched.
As for the tasting, we were treated to the standard fare namely the Original, Lasanta, Quinta Ruban and Nectar d’Or, and in addition we also had the Companta, which was my favourite, and the 18 year old, and something special for dessert, more on that in a bit. What really made me happy was that as we were going through the whiskies, people were asking Hamish a lot of questions. The general attitude of the Israeli press to events like this is that they’re an excuse to drink good whisky and all the other details are irrelevant (I was very upset to see a piece just before Whisky Live that was meant to talk about the event but instead just showed two reporters drinking expensive whisky with zero information about the whisky or the event), so the fact that they were engaged and interested is a good sign.
As we were going through the whisky tasting we were treated to a 4 course meal that was essentially a test run of the kitchen (which is Kosher). We had oven-baked bread with an olive oil, tomato and garlic dip, a salad based on cherry tomatoes with baby and spearmint leaves, lamb ribs and a steak with roast potatoes. The food was all cooked to perfection and was delicious, and in portions that will go perfectly with a whisky.
After the whisky tasting and the food we were invited upstairs to the lounge area for a special treat. We were given earphones and poured a glass (a tumbler, but oh well, beggars can’t be choosers) of the Glenmorangie Signet, a special NAS release, using some chocolate malt (a roasted malt typically used for darker beers such as porters and stouts). In front of us was laid a platter of dried fruits, dates, nuts, candied orange peel and ganache filled chocolates. Through the earphones we were guided through a whole schpiel of nosing and tasting with the foods. It was a bit cheesy but it was well put on.
Photo credit: Whiskey Bar & Museum
The real jewel of the evening though was the huge range of desserts offered after the schpiel with the headphones as we were sipping away at the signet. The Whisky Museum’s dessert chef had whipped up a stunning array of desserts, all dairy free, and all containing whisky. I usually hate desserts with alcohol, but these, these were perfect, the amount was just enough to be present and add to the taste, without being overpowering. The desserts were all bite sized and somehow just dissolved on the palate into an explosion of flavour. This was not food, it was art.
I had an amazing time and can’t think of a better end to my brithday. I cannot wait for this place to open. I have a feeling I’ll be there quite often.
I’ll be uploading the tasting notes from the Companta and Signet in the coming days.