Head two and a half hours north of Edinburgh alongside a particularly slim street and also you’ll come throughout a quaint Scottish village referred to as Braemar, inhabitants 500-ish. Right here, at the back of a tiny boutique resort referred to as The Fife Arms, you’ll discover an intimate bar that’ll change your notion of whisky.
At Bertie’s Bar, you’ll meet Angus Upton, a city native who’s difficult the perceptions of how we discuss our favourite brown spirit. “The entire idea for me is that you just come into this room, and also you’ll have an expertise you could’t actually replicate wherever else,” he says. A number of nights per week, Upton guides visitors via a library of almost 500 bottles from across the globe in a means that few different bars have tried.
“I’ve this outlook on alcohol and drinks — it’s one other department of tradition and artwork,” Upton says, who’s hung out in each the whisky trade and creating music (together with some stuff that acquired picked up by Grownup Swim). “It’s a factor individuals make to signify one thing.”
Whenever you enter Bertie’s Bar, it’s okay to ask for a favourite Scotch. But it surely’s higher to return in with no preconceptions about areas or most popular manufacturers. As a substitute, you’ll begin to have a dialog with Angus about music, movie, meals preferences or different spirits you want. From there, you’ll attempt a whisky that you just’ve virtually definitely by no means tried earlier than or heard of and that makes you reassess all the things you suppose concerning the water of life.
Once I visited in early Might, Upton requested me for a most popular taste profile, and I went with “candy barbecue,” primarily based mostly on some mesquite-smoked American Single Malts I’ve loved. After a little bit of forwards and backwards, he requested if I needed to attempt one thing extra akin to teriyaki. I ended up tasting a Bramble Whisky Co. Single Cask Ardmore, a 2008 distilled single malt that was aged in a bourbon cask that beforehand contained an Islay whisky. And sure, “teriyaki” was oddly an excellent description of what I ended up with (it was fairly tasty, if funky). It was similar to how I’d order a cocktail at NYC’s Milk & Honey (or, at present, Attaboy) in lieu of a drink identify or spirit.
Upton received’t essentially suggest a Scotch. “Scottish whisky is nice, however individuals suppose it’s an enormous trade,” he says. “It’s 150 or so distilleries. There are different flavors and kinds on the market.”
After my go to, I requested Upton how the bar staff at Bertie’s prefers to categorize whisky. Listed here are his ideas.
You Can Divide Whisky by Taste As a substitute of Area
Whenever you sit down at Bertie’s Bar, they’ll ask you first in order for you one thing aromatic, fruity, wealthy or smoky. “I all the time felt like whisky areas imply nothing,” Upton says. “That’s one thing the trade developed. I feel it limits us on who we will communicate to and what we enchantment to. It doesn’t matter the place the distillery is. It’s the standard of the spirit.”
For example, Upton notes that they place Laphroaig 27 in the midst of the bar’s tropical fruity part. “It’s the one Islay that’s in the midst of all these wealthy, fruity Speyside bottles,” he says. “Go in and scent it. It smells like diesel-fried mango. It breaks out of the heterodoxy of what the trade is used to promoting and speaking about.”
It Doesn’t Matter The place Whisk(e)y Hails From
“Something we like, we’ll take,” Upton says. “Considered one of our favourite whiskeys on this room is Rampur from India. There are some American Single Malts which can be world-beating. Australian whisky — I spoke with Margot Robbie about this not too long ago — it’s thrilling stuff. There’s a single barrel excessive coast Swedish whisky that’s on the bar in the meanwhile. I’ll even permit English stuff.”
You Can Describe Whisky Like It’s One other Spirit (or Even Wine)
Upton knew a whisky collector whose spouse wasn’t into the spirit in any respect. “I requested her what she favored, and she or he mentioned mezcal,” he says. “So we gave her a Torabheig that was 5 – 6 years outdated. Dry fruity distillate, salty, oily. And he or she was like, ‘Oh, I actually like this.’ He hadn’t considered giving her a smoky whisky. Individuals get caught in packing containers.”
Probably the most attention-grabbing problem? “Champagne,” he says. “Individuals say there’s no means a whisky tastes like Champagne. However that effervescent, sharp, lemon curd factor…I discover you get that on younger bourbon casks with very excessive energy or a cask-strength, seven-year-old Speyside whisky. Odor it and there’s a commonality there”
You Can Stump the Bar, however It’s Troublesome (Except You’re Being Troublesome)
“There are individuals who need to be the individual within the room who is aware of greater than anybody,” Upton says. “I can’t do quite a bit with that. However for those who say one thing like, ‘I need one thing stuffed with lavender,’ I can get you one thing — one thing delicate and perfume-y. We will meet within the center.”
You Can Describe Whisky in Non-Whisky Phrases
Speaking with Upton, you’ll hear him describe a whisky like umami vegetable mushroom funk and even “like ingesting in a shed.” At Bertie’s, you possibly can even ditch conventional tasting notes and go along with emotions, motion pictures, music or artwork.
“I may match a movie like Grasp and Commander with one thing that’s salty and gritty and woody,” he says. “I’m good at interlinking one thing to one thing else.”
And Sure, You Can Pair Taylor Swift and Whisky
Our little group requested Upton to pair whisky with all the things from The Conflict to Coldplay. However what about one thing a little bit extra fashionable? I put forth Taylor Swift.
Upton didn’t miss a beat. “So it’s the strongest craft and powerful songwriting doable to the broadest…when was the final time you had a Glenfiddich 15?,” he says. “Just like the world’s greatest whiskey that’s commercially obtainable. You don’t need to be uber hipster about this, however it’s a must to determine what’s the factor that you just get out of this. For one thing like Taylor Swift, it’s like an emotional honesty and there’s a craft to it.”
As you possibly can see, you probably have a most popular Lagauvilin or can’t even comprehend the thought of ordering a whisky that’s not a Scotch when you’re in Scotland (otherwise you don’t care to play music affiliation), Bertie’s might not be the bar for you. However for those who throw off each preconceived notion and belief Upton and the bar staff, you’ll be delightfully shocked.
“If somebody needs to have interaction with what we’re doing, that’s after they’ll have essentially the most enjoyable,” Upton says. “If somebody’s simply are available and ordered a whisky that they know, I really feel like they’re not getting essentially the most out of the room. And we’ve been listening to this suggestions, that on some nights that is the very best bar on Earth. And we really feel like that is the final word place to return and drink the very best stuff on Earth.”
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