The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2017

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20  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2017 TOTC T his year marked the 15th annual Tales of the Cocktail, for which spirits industry professionals, mixologists and enthusiasts alike descended upon New Orleans from July 18–23 for a week-long calendar of tastings, seminars and epic parties. It's nearly impossible to whittle down the extensive list of incredible events and presentations to just a few favorites, but nevertheless, we tried. Many folks head to the tasting rooms for their first experience of a liquor, and a standout for us was the William Grant & Sons Chef's Garden spread, where we sipped on Hendrick's Gin, Drambuie liqueur and Glenfiddich Scotch whisky. A display of fresh herbs for pairing included staples like thyme, mint and basil, as well as more uncon- ventional garnishes like borage, Queen Anne's lace flowers, tomatoes, beets and tiny cucumbers with their blooms still attached. At the Auchentoshan installation, participants heard from four of the 12 bartenders selected to collaborate on a limited release of The Bartender's Malt, a single malt blended from aged whis- kies spanning five decades. Winners of the New Malt Order competition explained their oak choice and process to create their elixir, "made by bartend- ers for bartenders." We were among the lucky few encouraged to make our own blend to use as a cocktail base in the next activation stage, which featured a wall of fresh herbs and shelves of handcrafted bitters from Hella Cocktail Co., plus a few backbar standards to build our own signature drink. Citrus-tinged cocktails from Uncle Val's were the perfect afternoon pick- me-up, and at the Indie Spirits tasting, Bluecoat gin, Hayman's gin, Pig's Nose whiskey and Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur were our top picks. Education and first tastes aside, TOTC is nothing without its endless parties, afterparties and after-after- parties. The Fernet-Branca Mod Party at the historic Marigny Opera House featured three Fernet-based cocktails to choose from, an impressive spread of cheese and cured meats, and a DJ spinning beneath a silent screening of Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria. On Friday evening, rapper Snoop Dogg brought the house down with a much- anticipated performance. Grand Impressions at Tales of the Cocktail 2017 Fresh fruits and vegetables were the garnishes and ingredients of choice at William Grant & Son's tasting room during the 15th annual Tales of the Cockail. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM GRANT & SONS by Amy Collins

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