My meetings continued with a rare opportunity to meet with Desmond Payne, the master distiller for Beefeater gin. He lives in London and while his appearance may give the impression of a mild-mannered fellow, his personality is the opposite. He has a wonderfully dry wit, loves the Negroni (as do I) and gets excited for good parties. We talked at length over lunch at Town Hall, where I had the excellent fish and chips in honor of Payne's hometown.
Whiskies of the World took place on two floors. On the ground level was the main tasting hall which involved dozens of tables set up around the perimeter, each manned by a different whisky brand pouring its stuff. It was a great showing, but I just can't deal with the crowds. After fighting through people piled up at each table just to get a pour, actually tasting, concentrating on it and taking a note is not easy to do. Which is why I spent most of my time up on the second floor, where in small meeting rooms, guided tastings and seminars devoted to various brands were running almost full time.
The annual Whiskies of the World tasting was last weekend, my first one to attend. This is a pretty big deal, as evidenced by the line of people waiting to get in, which stretched from the Palace Hotel meeting hall where the whiskies were being poured through the lavish main hall of the into the glittering lobby and down another hall. Almost as impressive as the several hundred people who paid over $100 a ticket to taste whiskies was the number of people willing to pay over $100 a ticket to taste whiskies in a kilt.
If you look closely at this photo, you'll notice that each of the bottles has something in common. That's right, they're either empty or well on their way. The reason they got that way also has a common factor—my wife. She's a wine expert and her taste in wine is exceptional. So I was surprised to discover—well before we were married—that Christie's taste in after-dinner drinks runs to the sweet side of things.
As baseball season approaches we’re all aware of the myriad places around the ballpark to drink Vodka drinks (e.g. Paragon), stand and chatter in claustrophobic throngs (Momo’s), etc. But just a block down from where you can guzzle margaritas (Tres Agaves), there is now a place to sip Sauvignon Blanc, munch on risotto balls and rhapsodize about Pinot Noir. The name of the place is District and it brings a touch of sophistication to a neighborhood that needed it.