Is it "Whisky" or Whiskey?"
I was pleased that she asked me to accompany her - again - for the unveiling of new distilled spirits by Crown Royal.
Once before I had joined her when Crown Royal had held an advance tasting of its new maple flavor.
Joan has an enormous audience - and responses - to her popular blog.
Me? I write every now and then on items that interest me.
Don't get a lot of invites to fancy events so I looked forward to taking Joan downtown to the rooftop setting at Stars Restaurant Rooftop & Grill. on Upper Kings Street.
We gathered on the deck and enjoyed a late afternoon breeze and an appreciated drop in the humidity.
Our host Master of Whisky Stephen Wilson quipped that on his next visit to Charleston, he would pack some short-sleeved shirts.
We were encouraged to have the bartenders concoct several cocktails made with the new Northern Harvest Rye and the hand selected Barrel.
Joan asked for the Holy City Brunch Punch, made with the Rye, Charleston Distillery Tolerance Liquor, Plantation Tea infused Honey Syrup, sweet tea and whole milk.
Yes, an afternoon shake with attitude.
Others were The Light Dimmer with maple syrup, the Wildflower Whiskey Sour and the Royal Shandy made with the Hand Selected Barrel, peach puree and topped with a Westbrook White Thai.
I decided not to get a cocktail with lots of ingredients.
The Hand-selected Barrel was new so I wanted to taste it alone rather than with additional ingredients.
Later, it was pointed out that when doing a tasting, I really should not have had even ice in it.
Asked for it on-the-rocks but the glass kept filling more while I was taking his picture.
"No problem," I told the bartender.
The breeze felt good but the chance for air conditioning was even better.
My ice was melting quickly, diluting the exploratory taste I was trying for.
We all trooped inside, down a flight of stairs and entered the blissfully chilled room set up with rounds of four.
He had removed his coat but Wilson was the only one there wearing a vest.
And he did.
We had tall glasses of iced water to clear the palate between tastes and started with their prize and long-time champ: the familiar Crown Royal.
It had been a special blend of 50 different whiskies, developed for a king (literally) and sold in it's distinctive "royal" purple draw-string bag.
An aside was the way fans collected and sewed together those brightly-colored bags to create a variety of clothing items, seat covers and even a truck bed cover.
One person at the tasting said he was working on a cape!
Meanwhile we held the glass to our nose and inhaled the aroma. Shook it gently and from side-to-side to release more of the many spices involved in its evolution.
Others described the smoothness and, when prompted, called out the different flavors, spices and accents that were perceived.
We found that the first sample was 80-proof and the next - the Rye - was 90-proof.
As anticipated, the third raised the ante even more, to 105-proof.
Then our attention was drawn to a special cake which had been made to resemble a bottle of the new Rye.
The unanimous decision was made to cut it and pass around slices.
But, first, its existence was well-documented by the invited guests.
Joan and I had to leave so she darted around for a few more shots and then we left the group and headed to our homes.
Earlier, my windshield had been severely damaged by a rock thrown up by a passing cement truck on my drive downtown, so I drove carefully.
Tomorrow I would see what's involved in replacing a windshield, but, tonight, I was feeling good and thankful Joan had invited me to tag along.
(Click on the photos and links for details.)
Labels: #Crown Royal Rye Brunch Punch, #hand selected Barrel, #Master of Whisky Stephen Wilson, #Northern Harvest Rye, #Stars Restaurant, #Tyler Chavis, 80, 90 and 105-proof whisky, approachability, bottle-shaped cake