A few weeks back, myself and Michelle Pinchev of City By Heart, celebrated Hump Day by hosting Toronto’s inaugral Whisky Crawl, bringing together whisky aficionados Matt Jones, Mark Bylok, Jamie Johnson and lifestyle blogger, Caleigh Alleyne to learn, drink and enjoy whisky.
We jumped things off at Jump (pun intended) which has been a long standing whisky institution in the heart of downtown Toronto, currently serving 69 whiskies. We each enjoyed a different bourbon cocktail where the bar put their spin on classics such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Bourbon Sour. However, the highlight and whisky “nerd”, Matt Jones’ favourite was the Guilt & Honey made with Knob Creek.
Fun Whisky Fact: In 1964, the United States Congress declared bourbon to be a distinctive product of the United States, however about 95% of bourbons are still made in Kentucky.
Then off we went to Miller Tavern on Bay, which serves over 75 whiskies on an average day. Rob graciously greeted us with a Jack Daniel’s tasting – which is actually a bourbon (the more you know), followed by a twist on an old favourite, the Old Fashioned, made with a walnut bittered banana syrup to highlight the banana undertone flavour profile in Jack Daniels.
After cleansing our pallette with an espresso/tonic water mix, we moved onto a Bullet Bourbon tasting. After a quick taste, we mixed it with a cherry beer to showcase the versatility of bourbon. You typically wouldn’t expect them to go together, but it was a perfect mix. My favourite however was Miller Tavern’s signature dessert cocktail, their Brown Butter Swizzle – bourbon infused in house with brown butter mixed with lemon juice and simple syrup.
Fun Whisky Fact: Ever wondered if it’s spelled whisky or whiskey? Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskEy (plural whiskeys). Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies).
We finished things off at where many would consider as a cocktail institution in Toronto, The Spirit House. We were greeted with one of Spirit House’s signature drinks, an Old Fashionista, inspired by the staple bourbon cocktail and the growing trend of female whisky drinkers.
After a tour of their extensive bar which is home to over 300 whiskies, I challenged one of the bar managers, Ray, to give me his top 3 bourbons and scotches they have on hand.
Rounding out the Top 3 Scotches are Auchentoshan Three Wood, Bunnahabhain 12 Year and Glenmorangie Lasanta. The Top 3 Bourbons that made his list were Blaton’s Single Barrel, Maker’s 46 and 1792 Ridgemont Reserve.
The tour was followed by a whisky tasting of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, served with a Canadian favourite…poutine of course.
Fun Whisky Fact: Whisky is an umbrella for spirits made of fermented grains, where Bourbon is made of fermented corn.
It was a fun evening enjoyed by all. I learned a lot about whisky and made some new friends in the process who enjoy whisky as much as I do! Stay tuned for more posts where I share recipes on whisky cocktails and other posts that will help heighten your whisky experience!