St. Patrick’s Day may have come and gone, but at Andre’s at the Monte Carlo you can pretend it’s March 17 for the next two months.
On March 12, Whiskey Wednesday—the venue’s bimonthly whiskey celebration using Andre Rochat’s massive whiskey reserves—introduced Jameson’s newest product, Jameson Black Barrel, and for the next two months the property will be offering a flight of Irish whiskeys, including Black Barrel, Redbreast 12 and Powers, along with the Black and Stormy cocktail, using Fever Tree ginger beer and Black Barrel.
Patrick Trundle, beverage director at Andre’s and Alize, Rochat’s restaurant at the Palms, says Whiskey Wednesday is designed to introduce the average consumer to as many whiskeys as possible at once with a very attractive price point of $35. At the same time, the event is intended to give them a spirits education in a relaxed, social setting.
Andre’s Cigar Lounge—the only one of its kind attached to a Strip resort—lends itself perfectly to that kind of experience, small and intimate with a small bar tucked away in the corner. The lounge contains five small tables and plentiful padded-bench seating, although for the purposes of Whiskey Wednesday, you’re not confined to just the lounge.
All whiskey is served in a room just adjacent to the Cigar Lounge, where you can stay and mingle with your fellow whiskey drinkers or adjourn to the lounge, relax and perhaps order a cigar or food with your drink.
At this particular event, the tasters were educated by Sean Kim, portfolio marketing manager at Pernod Ricard (the producer of all three Irish whiskeys) at Southern Wine & Spirits, and Peter Yaskin, territory manager at Southern Wine & Spirits.
Kim spoke lovingly about Jameson Black Barrel, which recently became available in the American market. Pot still whiskey is prevalent in Irish whiskeys, and Jameson Black Barrel uses a combination of pot still whiskey and a rare small-batch grain whiskey, maturing it in flame-charred barrels.
As Kim talked, I marveled at the Black Barrel’s character—the richness of an Irish whiskey and the vanilla embrace of ... a bourbon? “Am I crazy, or is there a bourbon character to this?” I asked. Kim nodded, explaining, “It’s Jamesons’ version of a bourbon. Eighty percent of it is going to be aged in a bourbon barrel, and 20 percent is going to be in French oak.” Jameson fans should be very excited to taste this.
Next up was Powers Irish Whiskey, a classic expression of Irish whiskey. It was originally pure pot still, but, like Jameson, is now a blend of pot still and grain whiskey. There’s certainly nothing wrong with staying true to what you do best, and Powers is understandably one of the best-selling Irish whiskeys in Ireland. I thought it was solid, but my heart has long belonged to Redbreast 12 Year Old, the third whiskey offered.
I discovered Redbreast several years ago, and really haven’t looked back. I find it to be one of the most sublime whiskeys I’ve ever tasted, and it’s understandably won several major awards during its lifetime. It’s one of only two whiskeys on the market made exclusively in pot stills (Green Spot is the other one), and it’s a whirl of flavors from the first sip—honey, maple, banana ... I got more enjoyment seeing everyone’s reaction to this whiskey than I did actually drinking it!
Trundle says there will be many more Whiskey Wednesdays to come. On May 7, he will be offering a flight of whiskeys from India (including Amrut), and July’s offering will feature bourbons. The rest of the year is “up in the air,” although don’t be surprised to see a Japanese whiskey flight before the end of 2014.
Oh, one quick word of advice: While you’re enjoying Whiskey Wednesday, be sure to check out Andre’s nearby display of amazing whiskeys. Cognacs, armagnacs, ports and madeiras are all for sale, some by the bottle, some by the glass. The oldest bottle is a Hardy cognac from 1777, which will cost you $35,000 if you’re interested.
Space at Whiskey Wednesday is limited, so reserve your spot by going online to Andrelv.com or calling 798-7151.