At around 2AM Monday morning, a young college student in Philadelphia (we’ll call him AR) sent the following email to The Hip Flask and I:
Hello, I am a university student living in Philadelphia. I am trying to learn what I can about single malt scotch whiskey, and came across your blog. I was wondering if you had any resources on learning how to taste scotch? Ideally recommendations of places to go and do a whiskey tasting that is appropriate for a novice, or an individual from whom I could learn, either officially or unofficially.
The Hip Flask responded to the email first and offered the following advice:
I don’t know too many places to go in the Philly area to do tastings, etc. I could make a few book recommendations – you can’t go wrong with anything by Michael Jackson – but that doesn’t sound like what you’re looking for.
So, to really get you sauced in a hurry, I’ve copied a friend of mine who blogs and has far superior knowledge than I, especially on all things Philly.
G-LO, Take it away!
And here is my response to THF and AR’s emails:
The Hip Flask (THF) is too kind. I don’t know about having a “far superior knowledge”, but I do know a good bit, and am very happy to pass along some information.
I guess the first question is, what have you had so far, and what do you like as far as flavors? Like most things in life, drinking Scotch is very subjective and personal, so I don’t want to steer you down the wrong path. Compared to my colleagues at “It’s just the booze dancing…”, I think I have the widest range of “likes” when it comes to whisky, so knowing what you do and don’t like would be very helpful. The last thing I would want to do is turn you off to Scotch by recommending something that you would have never liked in the first place.
As THF said, reading anything by Michael Jackson is a great start. There are also numerous resources on the web, and they are all free. If you scroll down to the Blog Roll on our website, you will find numerous links to other blogs and websites devoted to Scotch and whisky in general. Here are a couple links to get you started:
And here’s an extreme video example (yet VERY amusing) about whisky tasting:
Drinking whisky in Philly is a bit of a challenge. Although we’re more of a beer town, there are a couple places in Center City that have a respectable whisky selection. Here are a few:
My biggest complaint about drinking whisky in bars is the price. The younger stuff is somewhat reasonable, but once you get into something older, I feel like the prices get truly ridiculous.
If you have the time, some spare cash, and the desire, then I HIGHLY recommend attending the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Extravaganza event at The Union League on October 28th (click here for a discount code). Although you are pretty much on your own, it’s a great way to try a broad range of whiskies (Irish, Japanese, Scotch mostly). I will definitely be there!
Hope this helps to get you started. Let me know what you like and I’ll give you some recommendations. I’m sure THF will chime in as well.
Thanks for reaching out!
AR reached out to us, and now I’m reaching out to you. What advice would you give to someone that wants to learn about the wonderful world of whisk(e)y? Let us know in the comments below.