Scotch: The Grand Scotch tour, a quick and dirty guide, Scotch cocktails


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This Friday is the annual Grand Scotch Tour at The Willows, featuring 20 different Scotches from Chivas and Glenfiddich to the lesser known Aberfeldy and Caol Ila.

Scotch connoisseur? Go.

A newbie, like me? Go, still, to taste the breadth of Scotch. Prior to a recent tasting by Dewar's, my impression of Scotch was of fire and Band Aids (that's peat to scotch lovers). After a flight which included Dewar's 12 and Dewar's Signature, I was more convinced of Scotch's range, from sweet to smoky. To me, it still doesn't attain the sweet roundedness of bourbon, but I love a challenge.

A quick primer on Scotch whisky, as gleaned from the tasting.

First: Scotch whisky, everywhere else—whiskey, with an "e"

There are four major Scotch regions: Highland, which produces whisky with a honeyed character; Speyside, fruity; Lowland, vanilla notes and a dry finish; Islay, that distinct peatiness.

Single malts versus blends: single malts are made from only malted barley, water and yeast at a single distillery, whereas blends can source from various distilleries and incorporate other non-barley grain whisky.

Scotch purists may disagree, but I find trying Scotch in cocktails helps ease one into Scotch waters. In San Francisco, I tried a classic cocktail with Scotch: Blood and Sand, with an alluring mix of Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice. Brighter and refreshing was a drink with Scotch, sloe gin and honey, topped with bitter lemon soda.

Over at The Modern, Tim Rita makes poolside-worthy cocktails with Dewar's White Label, lemon juice, coconut, soda water and mint; and Dewar's White Label with ginger beer and an orange slice.

Grand Scotch Tour: $70 pre-sale/$80 at the door, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, March 23. Call The Willows (952-9200) for reservations.

 

 

 

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