The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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Page 56 of 119

{ }  57 Sure, Las Vegas is an ostentatious spectacle of imitation, but not everything is an ersatz Eiffel Tower or the merchandising of Venice. Sometimes, there are spectacular examples of the authentic and original – and they don't require an extra trek to Old Vegas. A recent extravagance in Sin City had this kind of purity blended in – although no one imbibed anything blended. It was a "spiritual" event of sorts, and it seemed to require a leap of faith at the outset, but at its conclusion, was nothing less than an epiphany. What transpired was a marriage of the finest single-malt Scotch whiskies with the impeccable Greek/ Mediterranean cuisine of Milo's. True, at first glance, the pairing menu seemed sacrilegious: Raw oysters and smoky Islay Scotch? But the evening was in the hands of a Master – and not just an ebullient emcee with great one-liners, but a Master of Malts: Iain McCallum. Both McCallum, of Morrison Bowmore Distillers, and Johnnie Mundell, Morrison Bowmore's West Coast Brand Ambassador, held a room of discerning beverage managers, mixologists and sommeliers spellbound with scintil - lating Scotch sensibility. "Our most important senses are smell and taste," McCallum told an audience that rigorously tests these senses on an almost daily basis. "These different whiskies today, will (deliver) slightly different stimulations on your palates." Prior to the serving of Milo's grand five-course dinner, McCallum went through the history of distillates, the effects of European and American oak aging, and a thorough explanation of how to properly acclimate the nose and palate to Scotch Whisky. It was a microcosm of what unfolded that evening: A passionate teacher; a lively master of his craft; and a non-scripted storyteller. The first course to arrive was hummus, fresh herb cous cous and grilled vegetables. As this was plated, the ever-convivial Mundell poured the first single-malt Scotch of the night: Auchentoshan American Oak, from the Scottish lowlands near Glasgow. "Auchentoshan has a natural acidity on the palate derived from the production process," McCallum explained. "This natu - ral acidity allied with the oaky character of American oak, cuts through and balances the richness of the hummus and enhances the texture of the cous cous. Auchentoshan is the only truly triple-distilled Scotch whisky, using a wash still, an intermediate still and a spirit still." McCallum went on to explain the main differences between American and European oak. The former grow vigorously upward; in Europe, the oaks develop wider branches to help withstand the assault of the Gulf Stream. So, American oak produces a stimulation more toward the front of the palate. The DRAMS Morrison Bowmore Master of Malts Iain McCallum (along with West Coast Brand Ambassador Johnnie Mundell, background) addresses a group of spirits buyers. Chad Wiltgen, Western Regional Manager for Morrison Bowmore, with SOMM Journal Publisher/Editorial Director, Meridith May.

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