The Deal is a column in which SmartBeijing revisits a few restaurants around town and highlights just one specific deal worth taking advantage of. It's all about BJ bang-for-your-buck options.
It was a bright and balmy evening...
The deal: Every Wednesday in among the shelves of The Bookworm, Beijing's central locale for cultural and literary happenings, the venue hosts a whiskey tasting promotion designed to impart knowledge on the various varieties of the brown alcohol, along with a pretty decent buzz. There are 15 themed flights to choose from -- i.e. "Introduction to Scotch", "The Highlands", "Taste of Japan" -- and prices range from 130rmb to 300rmb. The sampling flights consist of three varieties of the good stuff, and they get going at 8pm.
Note: You've got to reserve 24 hours in advance (anthony AT Beijingbookworm DOT com).
Sounds lovely, eh?
Pray tell, what was it Goolge said James Joyce said about whiskey again?
“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass -- an agreeable interlude.”
So. We rolled on to The Bookworm last Wednesday, as the laptop crowd was transforming into the dinner crowd. The Bookworm is a bit of a mix -- part cafe, part restaurant, part bar, and invariable there's some heady literary, musical or social event on in one of the adjoining rooms. When we did the whiskey tasting thing, it was just in the main room, taking over a few tables by the bar.
Out of the 15 tasting flights available -- view them all right here -- we went with "Introduction to Scotch". Seemed like the logical choice, not being very well-acquainted with even the general classifications of the stuff. (Single malt? Double malt? Whut?) My rule for choosing whiskey is the same as my rule for choosing wine: always order the second cheapest and change the subject as soon as you can.
My "Introduction to Whiskey" flight consisted of Glenfiddich 12, Cragganmore 12, Laphroaig 10 -- all very "whiskey"-sounding words.
My drinking buddy was up for little liquid tourism and his "Taste of Japan" flight consisted of Miyagikyo Non Age, Hakushu, and Yoichi 10.
Here they are lined up all pretty-like. I've seen some of these on bar shelves before, but my experience with them is pretty limited and that's where out tasting leader came in...
...one Anthony Tao of The Bookworm Literary Festival and webmaster across the internet aisle at BeijingCream.com.
For the past few months or so Anthony's been involved with a few of the literary events that happen pretty frequently at The Bookworm, and the Whiskey Wednesdays are organized and led by him, taking advantage of The Bookworm's sizable stock of scotches and malts from far-flung lands. In terms of selection, The Bookworm is one of the better stocked bars for whiskey, and in addition to covering the standards that you see around town, they've got several that come from Anthony's own cabinet as well as some that have been carried in. Again, you can check that link above to see the list.
By his own admission, Anthony is "not an expert" in the subject but he "likes it a lot". Fair enough. Seems like he's done his research.
So they set you up with three glasses on your paper there, with a healthy shot pour and then it starts flowing.
For my "Introduction" we went over the origins of the drink, the different classifications, its heritage and cultural context in Scotland, and approaches to tasting and what to look for. For my friend's Japan-themed flight, we talked about the Japanese context for whiskey, its rise in international acclaim, and general characteristics. Pretty interesting stuff.
Here are my own tasting notes. I'm obviously an expert.
Glenfiddich 12: "Tastes rich. Tastes important. But also celebratory. Tastes like it should be reserved for university graduations. It tastes like the distilled pure essence of a university graduation."
Cragganmore 12 "Smooth. Honey. A bit oily. Pretty tasty. Tastes really pricey. Like precious gems dunked in magician potion. Tastes like wizard sweat. Try to steal this bottle."
Laphroaig 10: "Tastes like blowing a burning pirate ship."
There you have it. Good times. Would repeat.
Last bit of business. This Wednesday, Antony is hosting a special whiskey tasting for one night only, featuring three Aermican craft whiskey labels from Oregon. These three in fact: Henry Du Yore’s Bourbon, Whipper Snapper, and McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt.
That's at 8pm Wednesday, August 26, 150rmb all-in, and they're also knocking 50% off whiskey cocktails afterwards. Good deal. Email anthony AT beijingbookworm DOT com to book your spot.
Whiskey Wednesday is every Wednesday at The Bookworm. RSVP required.