While I’ve hosted many-an-event at the Bookstore Bar, earlier this week I had the pleasure of being on the other side of the table and listening to someone talk about whisky – Jason Johnstone-Yellin.
Jason was born in Scotland and has been living in the US for the last many-many years, and has a decade-and-a-half of whisky-presenting experience. He writes a very well-regarded blog on whisky – Guid Scotch Drink. Today, Jason is one of the partners in the Jewish Whisky Company (formerly the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society. Disclosure: another venture of The Whisky Guy is hoping to make the JWC a client).
Jason tasted the group through a collection of both distillery bottlings and some independents from the Single Cask Nation – one of 3 legs of the JWC. Distillery bottlings included Arran’s 14yr and Kilchoman’s Machir Bay; the SCN added their independent bottlings from both and added a BenRiach. Look for tasting notes on the individual bottlings from The Whisky Guy soon.
For a first tasting of the company’s liquid in Seattle, it showed very well. In a side-bar with Jason, he let on that the company is going for a noticibley different style in it’s products. Truth be told, while I appreciate the effort, I think there’s too much emphasis placed on being ‘different’ and ‘new’ in the universe of whisky today, but in it’s first 3 bottles SCN has selected lesser-known distilleries – a great move on their part, I believe. Membership in the Single Cask Nation is available at 3 levels (and 3 price points) and includes access to the company’s exclusive bottlings in addition to a welcome package containing whisky, a membership card (the “finest piece of laminated plastic you’ve ever seen” and other accoutrements. Look for whiskies that range in price from $90 to $140 (and up) from the SCN.
The Bookstore Bar (at the Alexis Hotel in Seattle) has been hosting similar events for years but has recently been on hiatus. This very welcomed not-at-all holiday themed event was a nice ‘welcome back.’ With a mix of guests from know-nothings to know-it-alls and everything in between, the room sometimes felt a little stagnant, but Jason’s Scottish wit and banter kept the room alive. Set-up in a modified-classroom setting, guests had an easy time listening and learning – and Jason had an easy time speaking and presenting, not to mention ease of the staff to serve food and drink. Speaking of – I was a bit dissapointed in the food. It was not designed as a ‘pairing’ per se, and the amount served certainly seemed like a value, but the flavors were uninspired and showed no effort. Now in December, the Pumpkin Soup has been over-done already this season, the salad was little more than greens on a plate and Shepherd’s Pie was a blatant attempt to say ‘Scottish fare.’ I prefer a caramel sauce on my bread pudding, so the chocolate missed the mark for me too (tho was the best thing on the table).
The Jewish Whisky Company was started roughly 3 years ago by Jason and another blogger, Joshua Hatton (JewMalt.com), and mostly exists to help you experience and interact with whisky in unique ways. Of it’s 3 divisions, The Whisky Jewbilee (a whisky festival), whisky tours (which Jason was decidedly tight-lipped about) and the Single Cask Nation, SCN is the most public-facing with over 100 members and only 40% being Jewish – all of age are welcome.
In Bookstore Bar fashion, this tasting was fun, interactive and educational. I look forward to more events there and tasting more special bottles from the Single Cask Nation. Won’t you join me for a dram?