With an expert staff and a copious selection of spirits, Carmel's
Vine and Table market has long been one of Indy's go-to authorities on
all things alcoholic. The specialty store hosts a variety of educational
tasting events each year, but the crown jewel is surely their annual Whisky and Spirits Expo
Spirits Expo, which returns to Indianapolis this Friday.
Held at the scenic Montage at Allison Pointe, the event will
feature over 250 varieties of specialty spirits for sampling, accompanied by
educational forums with liquor experts from around the globe. This year's event
places particular focus on single malts and blends of whisky from Scotland,
Ireland and the states.
You don't have to be a connoisseur to enjoy the Expo; the
evening's activities are aimed at advancing the palette of both novice and
aficionado. Visiting specialists will present three master classes on the
intricacies of whisky tasting and production. Two of the speakers, distilling
experts Simon Coughlin and Andrew Hogan, will travel from Scotland to discuss
their methods. They'll be joined by Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris
Morris, among others.
Behind the night's festivities is organizer Denis Lynch,
Vine and Table's beverage manager.
"I hope people will garner a true appreciation for the
distiller and their craft method," Lynch says. "I also hope that they
will broaden their palates, try products they wouldn't normally, and gain an
appreciation for flavors."
As far as tasting goes, the Cork, Ireland-born Lynch says
that the nose always knows.
"People need to understand that much of our ability to
taste comes from our sense of smell, so people should take the time to nose the
spirit before tasting it," Lynch says.
Maximum exposure is also key.
"People need to taste many different types of spirits, compare and
contrast them, and use those experiences to determine what they like."
Among the crafters featured at the Expo is Jeffrey Topping
of Cincinnati, Ohio, who's earned attention for his
Wild Scotsman line of whiskies. Since traveling to Scotland's Bladnoch Distillery in 2002, he's been bottling a unique
mix of scotch whiskies.
To craft his blends, Topping samples casks from independent
single malt distilleries throughout Scotland before choosing his favorites to
mix, creating what's known as a vatted or blended
malt scotch. His selections feature
whiskies that might otherwise not be sold in the United States.
"Blending whisky can be like mixing paint,"
Topping says. "You know yellow and blue make green - well, sometimes
flavor profiles interact with each other in the same way."
Topping's awards include a gold
medal at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Awards for his Black Label
blended malt scotch.
"Keep an open mind, don't evaluate a brand based on its
name," he says. "What separates a good scotch from a great scotch at
the end of the day is how it's made."