Cape Town - Novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler set the record straight when he said 'there is no bad whisky.
There are only some whiskies that aren't as good as others'. While perhaps true, that doesn't mean that whisky connoisseurs should ever settle for the mediocre. At The Davinci Hotel and Suites’ new MAXIM Lounge you'll apparently never have to.
Toted as the only Whisky Bar in Sandton, the opulent and exclusive MAXIM Lounge serves the rarest, most coveted whiskies on earth in an exclusive and private setting - including the Johnnie Walker Green Label, which has just been brought back into the country in small quantities and will retail at approximately R85 a shot.
"Whisky has a rich and captivating history but in the last decade or so we've seen whisky culture take a turn, from the different ways the spirit is served and enjoyed, to the huge variation of flavours and the ever-growing “elite segment” the spirit captivates," says Robert Hodson, General Manager of The Davinvi Hotel and Suites.
"Whisky used to be perceived as 'an old man's drink' (chugging direct from the bottle) but the status has certainly changed to become the choice of drink for the elite and established few. While there is arguably no right or wrong way to drink it, nor a right or wrong place to enjoy it, and equally no right or wrong 'nose' or 'palate' preference, but by giving consideration to all the above, the experience of drinking whisky can be heightened and made even more pleasurable."
According to Hodson, this is the thinking behind the new MAXIM Lounge.
"We wanted to not only create a highly personal and unique experience for each whisky aficionado, but help you find the serve that's right for you, and perhaps even induce you to try a blend you wouldn't necessarily be drawn to."
Previously a cigar lounge, the Davinci re-launched it as a Whisky Lounge, adding a few subtle changes to the decor and music says Hodson.
"New whisky keeps and softer lighting has been installed in the venue. Barmen uniforms are branded with Johnnie Walker, with the iconic 'Striding Man' on the cuffs and chest of the uniform. MAXIM has collaborated with the most widely distributed blended Scotch Whisky in the world, Johnnie Walker- dedicated to enhancing the experience for all whisky drinkers and lovers, distributed through Diageo, as well as passionate whisky retailers, Whisky Brother in Hyde Park Corner to consult regarding the whiskies, and to provide their staff with extensive training in the art and science of drinking this beloved spirit.
"A subject sure to come up among whisky lovers discussing their favoured tipple is the question of how it is best enjoyed. Gone are the days when the debate centred between whether the spirit tastes better mixed with water, neat, or on ice. Today whisky has also become a base in many well-loved cocktails and long drinks too," says Hodson. "Some of the 'classics' include the Rusty Nail, in which equal measures of Scotch and Drambuie whisky liqueur are poured over crushed ice; the Whisky Mac, made from whisky and ginger wine; and the Highball, with the classic recipe calling for a shot of whisky in a tall glass topped up with soda or ginger ale."
These, plus a few rare finds including Draymans, Draymans Solera, Nikka From The Barrel, Scotch Irish American World Whisky, Jim Beam White Label, Makers Mark and Woodford Reserve will be on offer at The MAXIM Lounge, served in a tulip shaped glass that allows you to smell the full aroma of the whisky.
The senses - a combination of smell and taste - play an important role when it comes to whisky preference and Hodson says you'll find the easiest way to distinguish the nose and palate of whiskies before opening the bottle is by nationality.
"Some prefer a 'nose' with plenty of sweetness, others prefer those with hints of dry spice, toasty oak, espresso beans, pepper and oily nuts, and then there are those who enjoy notes of cut flowers, honey, vanilla and fresh fruits and spice. Some favour whisky that's light on the palate, while others like their whisky mature, full-bodied, punchy and mouth-filling. American whisky tends to be sweet, Scotch whisky tends to have smoky and earthy flavours, Irish whisky tends to be light-bodied, and Canadian whisky tends to be fruity.
"The best way to go about choosing a whisky, in my own experience, is to pick a style, and try a few different whiskies from that style. Before you take a sip you want to really get your nose in the glass and take a hearty whiff. Your nose will 'educate' your palate, so to speak, and you'll be able to pick out the different flavours of the whisky. Savour your first sip and roll the golden liquid around in your mouth, instead of just swallowing right away. From there, enjoy your drink in the company of like-minded individuals, many of whom you'll find at MAXIM Lounge."
Fans of other kinds of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages can still enjoy soft drinks, beers on tap and a vast wine list allowing for a choice of only the best wines and champagnes. In addition, MAXIM Lounge offers an opulent selection of cigars. As for the food, a canapé menu will be served, prepared using only the finest ingredients.
The Lounge opened its doors at the beginning of June and is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 till late.
Whiskey lovers can also check out the following up and coming 2016 Whiskey Festival
Where: Sandton Convention Centre
When: 9 - 11 November 2016
Times: Opens 17H30
Tickets: on sale at www.ticketpros.co.za from 1 October 2016:
What to expect: organisers say you can expect a Festival Tasting Hall showcasing innovation both in the products sampled, their packaging and the experiential platforms from which they’re presented – Whisky may be an age-old drink filled with heritage and promising status to aspirant drinkers; however, the multicultural diversity of the visitors to the Festival and the spectrum of age groups represented at the event are testament to its consistent reinvention.
Contact details: email or Facebook Whiskey Live SA
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