I know there are a lot of whisky connoisseurs out there, individuals who love to sip on Macallan or Aberlour (or Balcones and Garrison Brothers), and some of them were at Reserve 101 earlier this week to meet a whisky-world legend, Dave Broom. He was on his way to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail and was finally accepting a long-standing invitation from Reserve 101 owner Mike Raymond to visit the “best little whisky bar in Texas” and lead a tasting. (As it happens, Broom, who has been involved in whisky for a long time and who writes for, among other publications, Whisky Advocate and Imbibe, was on a book tour and was selling copies of “Whisky: The Manual” and “The World Atlas of Whisky,” both of which I recommend highly.)
Broom, who has an engaging and gracious manner and clearly loves whisky, told me that he has been on a mission to make people understand that there is nothing wrong with mixing whisky with, say, coconut water or ginger ale, mixtures he enjoys often. Indeed, “Whisky: The Manual” is full of great drink recipes that include whisky and mixers, such as The Padovani: 50ml (1.75 fluid ounces) Glenmorangie Signet and 15ml (.5 fluid ounces) St. Germain liqueur; stir ingredients over solid rock ice in a tumbler; drink. I concur with his opinion.
About 40 people attended the tasting and enjoyed whiskies from five different regions, including Japan (Nikka Coffey Grain); Ireland (Jameson Black Barrel); and Texas (a Garrison Brothers single-barrel that is available only at Reserve 101). Raymond and Broom, who is from Scotland, spoke of their love for whisky and answered questions from the audience.
My favorite taste of the evening? The Nikka. It was elegant and restrained, and seemed confident, not needing to boast with an outsized amount of bravado. I drank a lot of Japanese whisky in Tokyo when I was there, and like to keep a bottle or two in my bar at all times. It is quality stuff.
Reserve 101 hosts tasting and guest speakers often, so sign up for the bar’s newsletter, and drink well. (Reserve 101, 1201 Caroline Street, Houston, 77002)