Location: U Street
Summary: With an event focusing on American versus Scottish whiskies, everyone wins
Thanks to an invite from Gilt City DC, we were able to attend a whiskey and mixology event hosted in the upstairs of Marvin on U Street. Though usually this kind of event takes place in The Gibson, the next door speak easy-style bar of the same owner, the popularity for the event outgrew what that location could hold. Although most of the drinks and whiskies offered at the event were one’s we’ve had before, the presentation and interaction at the event easily proved why Gilt City DC was seeing such a tremendous swelling of eager and thirsty participants.
Our first drink of the night, Dik Punch, was explained to us by the GM of The Gibson, Frank Jones. A mix of George Dickel whiskey, homemade cranberry syrup, lime juice, allspice, and a splash of tonic, we made a note to get the recipe of the punch for our own recreation. Lucky enough for our readers, you can find the recipes of all of the mixed drinks we enjoyed at the bottom of this post.
Our true whiskey ringleader of the night was Ewan Morgan, Whiskey Ambassador for Diageo North America and a man whose knowledge of the “water of life” goes as far back as to being the son of whiskey distiller in Scotland. While all of the different varieties of whiskey were from the same parent company, Ewan assured us that each had its own character and that we were some of the lucky few to try one of their newest creations, the George Dickel Rye.
Anyone’s preferred whiskey (if you like it) of those featured at the event will largely depend upon one’s own taste. Some American bourbons tend to be sweeter and have a more vanilla-ish accent in the liquor, thanks to virgin oak barrels used in the maturing process. The ryes have a much louder personality and, because of their naturally bold flavor, aren’t aged as long as their counterparts. Another important fact to consider is that bourbon can be made anywhere, as long as it follows some crucial guidelines, like the high percentage of corn in the preliminary grain mash. While we have enjoyed Bulleit before, we had never heard of George Dickel prior to this event, but were thrilled to learn of it and did like the new rye version.
After we finished our tastings of bourbon, we were served our 2nd mixed drink, a classic Manhattan made with Bulleit rye. Frank explained simply that if you aren’t using a rye, it isn’t a Manhattan. The other usual ingredients are a small amount of dolin rouge and a few dashes of agostra bitters. With a mixture of bitter and sweet, this is a classic bourbon cocktail that one can order at almost any bar, but few have prepared it as well as The Gibson’s Frank Jones.
Setting this up as an American versus Scottish whiskey comparison from his introduction, Ewan then presented us tastings of three different scotches and explaining the difference between the two different whiskey types. One of the main differences in scotch is the flavor of peat, tightly compacted and aged earth that gives the whiskey its unique taste. Because of the different distilleries across Scotland, different companies naturally use different peats, allowing for a wide selection of flavors and degrees in the use of the ingredient. As an example, the 14 year old Clynelish we tasted had little peat incorporated into the whiskey and the 10 year old Talisker that had significantly more, giving it a much more distinguishable taste (apparently a teaspoon on oysters will “blow your mind”).
Finally (as if we hadn’t had enough already), we were served our final mixed drink of the night, a Rob Roy Manhattan. Although similar to our previous Manhattan in nearly every way, this incarnation used scotch instead of rye, a crucial difference that we were glad to be made aware of so we could avoid making the mistake of ordering it. Although Talikser was our favorite whiskey of the night, the scotch mixture made our table’s collective faces squint in horror. “Just order it neat”, we noted.
If you have the chance to attend either another event hosted at the Gibson Lab or given by Ewan Morgan, be sure to take advantage of it. Besides the great location and the exceptional whiskey we were offered, Ewan was a tremendously engaging presenter and perfectly catered to an audience that slowly became significantly intoxicated. We are eager to come back to the Gibson and Marvin in the future to see what else they may have in store for DC in 2013.
Click here to find out more information on this event, possible admission to the next installment, and info on other Gilt City DC events.
Below are the recipes for the mixed drinks that we were served:
Rob Roy2 oz clynleish1 oz dolin rouge2 dashes agostura bittersStir. Strain in cocktail glass__Manhattan2 oz Bulliet bourbon1 oz dolin rouge2 dashes angostura bittersStir. Strain in cocktail glass__Dik punch3 bottles George Dickel16 oz cranberry syrup16 oz lime juice8 oz allspice dram32 oz tonic(Will serve 50-60 people)