My cousin Patrick Chu is in town, just in time to celebrate the day that he was born. Yes, as with all good Irish families, he was named after St. Patrick since he popped out on March 17 (my Aunty Irma never made it to her own baby shower due to the labor).
Since he’s been away for many years in Tokyo, the first thing he wanted to do was eat — something Hawaiian, something American, maybe? I figured 12th Avenue Grill would be a good choice, since they serve American food with local ingredients.
As it turns out, they’re prepping for St. Patrick’s Day, um, weekend, themselves. Bar manager Mike Hall said they have a special, Irish ala carte menu on March 16 and 17, and a few Irish-themed late night bar bites March 14 through 17. On top of that — bonus! — they’re offering a late night flight of Irish whiskey this weekend, after 9 p.m. for $15.
If you recall, Ed Morita has been trying to help me appreciate whiskey, so I asked to get an early taste so I can tell you about it. Here’s a video of Mike explaining the whiskeys they’ll be serving, and the characteristics of each. And, since it’s for St. Patrick’s Day, of course I had to have my cousin taste and describe it.
Here’s the funny thing about the whiskeys, or just alcohol in general: I have a theory that men tend to like manly spirits, whereas delicate blossoms like me like more feminine touches. I got some funny looks when I explained this as I talked about my preferences for these three whiskeys, but they were all from guys. So, here’s my take on each of the three we tried.
Powers John’s Lane release single pot still: This single pot still releast of Powers whisky is matured in a combination of bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. It’s named after the distillery it was first made. This was my favorite of the three because of the very soft, silky feel on my tongue. You definitely get the vanilla notes throughout, but also dry spice, chocolate and coffee. There’s a hint of dark fruits, like raisins, but it’s very subtle. The guys think I liked it because it’s higher in alcohol, but it wasn’t the alcohol content I tasted.
Redbreast: This was preferred by all the guys over the Powers whisky. It’s very full-bodied, and there is a nutty, caramel flavor throughout the palate, from nose to finish. It’s also a bit spicy with a citrus pucker (for me). Although it was good, I found it to be too manly for me. Note that it was named “Overall Irish Whiskey of the Year” at the 2013 Irish Whiskey Awards.
Tyrconnell: This was definitely the most complex of the three — you can taste the character change in your mouth as you sip it. It starts off fruity and light, but gets stronger with a fuller flavor, and finishes with a lingering sweetness. (You’re supposed to be able to taste the oak, but my palate isn’t there yet.) This whiskey is aged in American oak and finished in Port wood, which is probably what gives it the complexity and jammy-ness. I liked it; it stood apart from the other two, so if you appreciate good whiskey, this will probably be your favorite.