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Whiskeys To Drink Before Spring Arrives, While You’re Stuck At Home

You might not realize it because all everyone is talking about is the coronavirus, but the start of spring is only a few days away. With the changing season comes the hope for warmer days to spend outside (in a socially safe distance from others). But for right now, many of us are stuck in our homes and apartments with a fair bit of boredom ahead of us.

We need to pair the hours of euchre, home cooking, and Netflix + chilling with something to calm our nerves. That’s where whiskey comes in. Hector Ortiz, beverage manager at Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve in Puerto Rico likes the finish off the winter strong with a classic Scotch brand.

“The one whiskey that I will drink one more time before the spring season comes would be The McCallan Rare Cask,” he says. “Why? From my point of view, it is a very, very good product, and I also love the aroma of ripe fruits, honey, berries, and creamy vanilla and palate that it has.”

Scott Lackman, general manager at Ellington’s in Nashville goes even more high end when it comes to his late winter whiskey mid-pandemic. “I would probably choose Van Winkle 12 Year, only because it’s typically allocated over the winter and is very hard to get right now. It’s a high-dollar whiskey and always a treat to have when you can.”

Other bar professionals have their own opinions on the topic. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one whiskey they want to drink before spring arrives (especially if they’re stuck at home).

Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond 15 Year

Zach Stout, beverage manager at Clark & Bourbon in St. Louis

Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond 15 Year. Old Fitzgerald is a wheated bourbon. Wheated bourbons offer something different than rye-based bourbons. There is a sweeter note with wheat, and when it is backed by 50% alcohol, the balance you get packs a full-flavored punch. This is one of my personal favorites and it won’t be around for long. Old Fitzgerald is releasing one batch of these Bottled in Bond series a year and they sell very quickly.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Justin Simko, bar manager at The Bar at Husk in Charleston, South Carolina

I’d say on a cold night by a fire pit that a good smoky scotch is appropriate. The Ardbeg Uigeadail or an older expression of Laphroaig would be good because they are super smoky, but much more complex and well-rounded than younger peat bombs. Once spring hits, I’m usually onto Irish or American whiskies, until hurricane season.

Nothing like standing in a wind storm with a bottle of scotch.

Blanton’s Bourbon

Ian Campbell, assistant general manager at Gansevoort Hotel Group in New York City

Blanton’s Bourbon. The presentation of the bottle is beautiful and distinct, which reminds me of something you’d give as a Christmas gift. There are great notes of caramel and toffee that give the spirit a warm finish before spring.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Abraham Millett, beverage manager at Plunge Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Buffalo Trace always reminded me of the winter and sheepskin-lined denim jackets. Before you head onto the Woodford Reserve, have another Buffalo Trace.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked has such a full flavor that is perfect when the weather is cold while also being a deliciously balanced pour before spring gets here.

Lagavulin 16-Year-Old

Andres Velasquez, lead bartender at Honey Salt at Parq in Vancouver

Lagavulin 16-Year-Old. Before Spring arrives and gives way to the lighter whiskeys, Lagavulin 16 is a great drop of Scotch whiskey. Heavy on the peat, with hints of cherry and orange. Best enjoyed indoors, which makes right now a solid time.

The Macallan Rare Cask

Kayla Grogan, mixologist at Monarch Rooftop in New York City

The Macallan Rare Cask tasting notes are quintessential for a winter Scotch, with a spicy balance of ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, raisin, and oak. Add in a drop or two of water to further expand those aromas and flavors. The drink, unlike the current situation, is easy to savor.

Springbank 15 Year Cask Strength

Scott Kollig, beverage manager at The Rye Street Tavern in Baltimore

Springbank 15 Year Cask Strength. I struggle with heavily peated whiskey in the warmer months, so this one is a great send-off to the season. Intense, complex, high proof. Enough said.

Kentucky Owl 11 Year Rye

Thomas Nesselhauf, manager of Datz Restaurant Group in Tampa Bay, Florida

Kentucky Owl 11 Year Rye. I can’t afford it but I was lucky enough to receive a bottle for my birthday. It has made me wish all other whiskeys were as full and complex.

Westland Peated Whiskey

Colin Stevens, bartender at Thyme Bar in New York City

Westland Peated. Smokey peat done right, yet completely different than the flavor profile of any peated scotch. Perfect for the last dregs of the cold weather.

Michter’s American Whiskey

Michael Przybyl, beverage manager at Hilton Orlando

Michter’s American Whiskey is my favorite whiskey of choice. While Orlando doesn’t get too cold, a glass of American whiskey is the perfect warming companion.

Monkey Shoulder

Patrick Dennis, director at Solé in Miami

Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch. Great orange, vanilla, and spice holds up beautifully on its own and works wonderfully in cocktails, as well.

Suntory Toki

James Shearer, global beverage director at Zuma in Las Vegas

Suntory Toki Whisky. As Japanese whisky continues to take the U.S. by storm, you’ll notice the non-traditional whisky offering on more and more cocktail menus. The Suntory Toki is a blend of three of Suntory’s whiskies and makes for a great highball-friendly option this season.

Whistlepig 12 Old World Cask Finish

Will Moriarity, beverage director at BLT Steak in Washington D.C.

I strongly feel that whiskey is a year-round drink, but I’d recommend Whistle Pig’s line of Rye whiskeys for the intensity and spiced finish it provides. Using a variety of barrels and mashbills they make a product for every occasion. Lately, I have really been enjoying the 12-year rye, which is finished in old-world sherry casks, giving it a longer sweeter finish than most ryes.

FEW Bourbon

Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at The Dorsey in Las Vegas

I’m a year-round whiskey drinker, so the weather or the seasons are not a deterrent for me. Neither is a quarantine. But this time of year I want to shout out Few Bourbon from Illinois. It is spicy, complex, and rich. Everything you want to warm the soul.

High West Campfire

Pete Bauer, bartender at Giulia in Minneapolis

High West Campfire. As much as I enjoy High West’s suite of blended whiskeys, I have to move on from their Campfire when the Midwestern tropics come a-callin’; the smoke and warmth of this delightful sipper is just a bit too much of a good thing on top of hotter temperatures. But I could still go for one more tipple before I don my flip-flops for the season ahead.

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