This would have been pretty heady even without the whiskey, or let's say the whiskey would have been heady without the trimmings, because the five served were top Irish whiskeys, ranging from $60 to $270 a bottle.
Redbreast 12 year ($60) appeared first, in a welcome cocktail combined with concentrated black tea, Madeira wine and tea syrup, then finished with a dash of smoke (above).
After that, the whiskeys were served straight, one at a time, with a five course dinner. As a whiskey newbie, my head was soon reeling, not from alcohol, but from attempting to grasp descriptions of the technology involved in making them.
Pot still--that term was easy, because I've seen those at mezcal distilleries in Oaxaca. Single pot still--means produced in one distillery; malted and unmalted barley--Irish whiskey uses both types; Scotch does not. Triple distilled--these whiskeys were all triple distilled. Scotch is double distilled. Chill filtering--four of the whiskeys poured were non-chill filtered. More than that I cannot say.
The first pairing was Green Spot ($65) with roasted kabocha squash soup. The friend sitting next to me said "green apples" as she sniffed and tasted the whiskey. Green apples would be fine with squash soup, but Fraser (above) had put in duck confit, bacon, pumpkin seed oil, apple vinegar and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Yellow Spot 12 Year ($109.99) followed. The color spots, I learned, were employed to enable workers unable to read to know what barrels should be aged. This whiskey acquired darker color and rich flavor from Malaga casks that had been previously used for the sweet Spanish sherry Pedro Ximénez,
Its companion dish was quail grilled over white oak and accompanied by Swiss chard mixed with Umbrian lentils and a huckleberry gastrique. A lovely dish that inadvertently turned out like food porn--this is the most flattering of the photos I took.
Powers John's Lane ($70) went with grilled wild boar tenderloin with white carrot puree, wild mushrooms and pepper cress. This whiskey was named for the street on which the Powers distillery was founded in 1791.
The climax of the evening was tasting Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy, a $270 whiskey named for the man who was Midleton's master distiller from 1980 to 2013. The other whiskeys poured were matured in bourbon and sherry barrels. This one was aged in new American oak, known for imparting vanilla nuances, as well as bourbon barrels.
Here is the Barry Crockett Legacy so you can at least see what a luxury whiskey bottle looks like. Its contents could be 10 to 22 years of age--non vintage, in other words. And it is strong as well as sublime--46 % alcohol, or 92 proof.