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Drink Mon Feb 24 2014
Steadfast wino that I am, I don't know a ton about whiskey, except I like it in cocktails and Hot Toddies. Luckily, Fountainhead (1970 W. Montrose) has put together a series of whiskey classes, part of their "School of Spirits," running now through March.
I missed their first class earlier this month, an Introduction to American Whiskeys. It covered the basics of whiskey tasting and terminology, among other topics, and featured five tastings from different producers, like Knob Creek, Bulleit, and Koval. I did make it to the following week's class, "The Whiskeys of Heaven Hill," which featured four tastings from the Bardstown, Kentucky-based distiller, the third largest producer of American whiskey.
Over twenty students attended the sold-out class, which was held in Fountainhead's barrel room behind the bar. Sections of old whiskey barrels decorated the space above the seating area, blessing the class. The chatter of the restaurant provided a lively, if at times loud, atmosphere and reminded me of how much fun it can be to hangout at a bar with friends.
The class suited the curious whiskey-enthusiast because it provided an opportunity to learn and rub elbows with others who enjoy whiskey, who want to learn a bit more about the history of the product and won't judge you for commenting on the smoky notes of the Evan Williams Single-Barrel Vintage Bourbon.
Tasting four whiskeys side-by-side helped me understand the range of flavors possible in whiskey and provided a practical context for the differences between bourbon and rye and wheated bourbon. I could smell the sweetness, like caramel candy, in the Larceny Bourbon when it was juxtaposed with the sharper Rittenhouse Rye.
Also, Chuck Cowdery was a stellar teacher. It's been my experience through taking multiple wine and cocktail classes that the best ones are when the teacher shares stories about the drink with you to help you learn, not ones when you're talked at the whole time. Plus, Cowdrey knows pretty much everything (I got the impression he's tasted every whiskey there ever was).
All include tastings of four-five different whiskeys and cost $30, except the Scotch class which is $40. Click on the class name for tickets and the tasting lineup.
Tuesday, February 25: The Whiskeys of Wild Turkey presented by Chuck Cowdery
Tuesday, March 4: The Whiskeys of Jim Beam-Basic presented by Chuck Cowdery
Tuesday, March 11: Irish 101: Intro to Irish Whiskey presented by Martin Duffy
Tuesday, March 25: Scotch 101: Intro to Scotch Whisky presented by Martin Duffy
1970 W Montrose