October was a long month for Katie and I as we both had some business travel that kept one or the other of us away for most of the month. Katie and I decided to make up for this by doing something we hadn’t ever done… attend a scotch and bourbon tasting at Adelle’s in Wheaton IL.
First of all, if you live in Chicago’s western suburbs and haven’t heard of Adelle’s, you should. It’s a moderately priced fine dining restaurant right by the Wheaton Metra station. Their American dishes are generally priced $15-$35 and come with some of the best service in the area… but more on that after a drink or nine.
Katie and I decided to go to Adelle’s after getting an email inviting us to a $7 per person scotch and bourbon tasting. I called a week before to make reservations and it wasn’t an issue since only a handful of people had signed up. I was a bit surprised us given the low price and the restaurant’s reputation. When I hung up, I was wondering if there was as reason these events weren’t popular. Still, we figured it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon learning about some of our favorite spirits.
A week later, the fall colors were in full force during our half-hour drive and we arrived to find easy parking. We got inside, paid, and got our glasses in just a few minutes. Along the way, Miley, our favorite waitresses, recognized and treated us despite the fact we hadn’t visited in at least eighteen months!
At that point, the bar was already full of a dozen or so folks so Katie and I settled in to a side table and watched as the room filled up. By the time we started, there were almost seventy attendees. Later, we found out they turned away another thirty or more people. That is a huge turnout!
As the liquids started flowing, our guide Monique Huston started educating us on the many facets of modern spirits. Her knowledge and passion were obvious from the moment she started. We heard about where spirits come from, what they are made from, how they are produced, what kind of stills are used, who is involved in the process, and, of course, great details about each product we tasted. I can’t say enough good things about Monique. I certainly understand why she is the National Spirits Education Ambassador and Elite Spirits Portfolio Manager for the Marsalle Company. How they got her away from the Dundee Dell in Omaha is beyond me, but they are lucky to have her.
The tasting format was simple… about a 1/4 or 1/3 ounce in a tumbler, about five minutes of description, and another five minutes of talking with other attendees. I like this format as it let me make an opinion before hearing all the details behind the drinks. Meanwhile, the Adelle’s staff made sure everyone had water, crackers, cheese, and fruit. Monique worked with Cabernet & Company in Glenn Ellyn to help us try nine different offerings Which I’ve listed below with our tasting notes.
After about two hours, things wrapped up in the bar. We decided to purchase a couple of bottles and were able to take one of them with us thanks to a simple transaction with the Cabernet & Co folks.
Seeing that we had tried nine different (small) drinks, we opted to have a bite in the restaurant rather than head out right away. Adelle’s gladly got us a table where we picked out a couple of small plates: a charcuterie plate and a fruit tray. Just what we needed to cap off a terrific afternoon and evening.
Tasting list in serving order:
1) Benjamin Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon - Kelso, TN 45% alcohol. $67.99 per bottle http://www.prichardsdistillery.com/whiskey/double-barreled-bourbon.cfm Very good start. Sweet but not sugary like so many others. Much more like a traditional bourbon. We opted to buy a bottle and were told: "If you like this, look for their Double Chocolate Bourbon."
2) Michter's US*1 Single Barrel Rye - Louisville, KY 42% alcohol. $41.99 per bottle http://www.michters.com/selections/us1-single-barrel-rye Buttery smell. Very good rye flavor having been made from 70% rye. This comes from the oldest continuously distilled spirit starting in 1753. It’s predecessor was served by George Washington to his troops when distilled in Virginia. Now in KY. Katie thinks she may have snitched this from her father… so we bought a bottle.
3) Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey - Cognac, France 40% alcohol. $71.99 http://drinkbrenne.com Some would say this would be a scotch if it came from Scotland, but the creators set out to make a French whiskey that draws from the from the area it’s made: Cognac France. Made in alembic stills, it has a slight fruity nose and taste. I found it had a vanilla aroma. It’s aged 5 yrs in fresh oak barrels then 4 years is a used cognac barrel. What we tasted came from one of only six barrels brought to the states.
4) Tomintoul 14 year old Speyside Glenlivet single malt - Speyside, Highlands Scotland. 46% alcohol. $73.99. http://www.tomintoulwhisky.com/tomintoul/products/tomintoul-14yo Great scotch. Not very much peat. Pronounced "Tom-in-towel". It’s very easy to drink and is very approachable for those new to single malt. Aged in used bourbon barel. Given it’s alcohol content, it is not chill filtered which is a sign of quality.
5) Arran 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch - Arran island, Scotland 46% alcohol. $55.99. http://www.arranwhisky.com/arran-10-year-old Traditional scotch experience. More peat than #4. It would pair great with seafood.
6) Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky - Waco Texas 53% alcohol. $64.99. http://www.balconesdistilling.com/singlemalt This is a very deep and rich drink despite aging only 2 yrs. It has the color that many think comes from many years in the barrel. The taste very strong both in flavor and from the high alcohol content. I found it had some nice chocolate notes and think it would make a great manhattan. #1 rated whiskey in 2012.
7) Lismore 21 Year Single Malt - Speyside, highlands Scotland 43% alcohol. $114.99. Aged in sherry barrels. Very mellow. Great bottle. Certainly the best scotch I’ve ever tried which is too bad since it is so expensive. It’s also not likely to last since the Lismore name implies it is a bit of a “leftover” barrel who’s profile, while tasty, didn’t work for one of the bigger blended brands.
8) Scott's Selection , Bruichladdich 1990 - Islay, Scotland 58% alcohol. $107.99 http://www.speysidedistillery.co.uk/tasting.php?cat=scotts&bottleID=91 Single barel. Cask strength. More peat than others tonight but not overpowering. Earthy but not too far down that scale. Strong, tasty mouth feel. Both Katie and I liked it quite a bit.
9) Benjamin Prichard's Sweet Lucy liqueur - Kelso, TN 17% alcohol. $26 http://www.prichardsdistillery.com/whiskey/sweet-lucy-bourbon.cfm It is a creamy bourbon done the way a desert should be. It’s not as sweet as others and you get the bourbon notes. $1 of every bottle benifits fund charities
Adelle’s Fine American Fare 535 W. Liberty Dr. Wheaton, Illinois 60187 (630) 784-8015 http://www.adelles.com
Cabernet & Company 434 N. Main Street Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 (630) 469-2644 http://www.cabernetco.com
Facilitator Monique Huston National Spirits Education Ambassador and Elite Spirits Portfolio Manager Marsalle Company Purveyors if Fine Wine & Spirits 11550 King St Franklin Park IL 60131 @whiskysommelier Previously, she ran a bar in omaha: http://www.dundeedell.com