Sunday, October 30, 2016

Whisky/Whiskey: our first tasting at The Auld Rogue!

Several weeks ago, Bill and I went on an AAFES run and decided to stop at The Auld Rogue, a popular Irish pub in Vaihingen.  After we'd had our lunches, the ever present Nick, who is always running things whenever we stop by, asked us if we'd be interested in attending the next whiskey tasting.  Although Bill and I very much enjoy whisky (and whiskey) and are keen to taste as many as we can, we had never been to a tasting at The Auld Rogue.  Bill had been wanting to go to a beer or whiskey tasting at the much beloved Irish pub for as long as we've been back in the Stuttgart area.

The Auld Rogue always inspires good memories.  The last time we lived here, The Auld Rogue was first a Greek restaurant and then a dance club (which we didn't try).  When it was still Taverna Faros back in 2007, I ate my very first dorade at the place that is now called The Auld Rogue.  It's kind of a special venue for Bill and me for that reason, although I also love The Auld Rogue for its good food, excellent music, and friendly service in English.  Even though we knew yesterday would involve a lot of drinking potent spirits that might bring on temporary amnesia, we figured we could make even more good memories.

So Bill told Nick we'd be happy to attend his tasting, a special one that pitted Irish whiskeys against Scottish whiskys.  The official title of yesterday's tasting was Uisce or Uisge-- Battle of the Giants!  It promised a selection of interesting spirits from Ireland and Scotland to taste.  The price was 55 euros a person-- 110 in total for us-- and included food.  Bill paid Nick; he gave us our tickets; and we waited for the big day to arrive.

Meanwhile, our beagle Zane had some urgent veterinary issues.  Friday morning, he had a little minor surgery to flush out one of his ears and remove a cyst that kept troubling him (and me).  I was worried that maybe we wouldn't make it to the tasting because I wasn't sure what kind of shape Zane would be in on Saturday.  I see now on The Auld Rogue's Facebook page that, had we needed to cancel, we could have transferred our tasting tickets to a future tasting.  That's good to know, although I didn't know that before Zane went under the knife.  He's doing fine, though and was no worse for wear when we got home last night.

Nick advised us to arrive at the restaurant by 1:30pm to ensure that we'd get a table.  Since we knew there would be lots of booze at the tasting, Bill and I opted to take the train from Herrenberg to Vaihingen.  Fortunately, we had decent weather yesterday for the walk to the restaurant.  

Once we got to the Auld Rogue, we took a table at the back of the room.  If we do another tasting (and we probably will), we'll try to get a table closer to the bar.  That makes it much easier to get to the bathroom!  I must have let out a frustrated sigh after a noticed the tight obstacle course to get to the toilet.

Then Bill took a look at me and noticed I was also getting a little hangry.  He said, "You're hungry, aren't you?"  He can always tell!  I nodded and asked him if there was going to be food; I remembered that the initial announcement said there would be, but didn't remember what it included.  The other guys sitting with us also wanted to know.  The information about snacks was not in the handout Nick gave us when we first arrived, so people were a little confused.

I noticed other people ordering lunches.  They didn't know that there would be pub food offered at the tasting.  One guy had ordered food before the tasting started and ended up sitting alone after the first round.  The couple who had been sharing the table with him left early.  He was totally inundated with snacks he couldn't eat!  Although I was tempted to get a sandwich, we just ordered some Guinness as we waited for the tasting to start.  Unless you have a huge appetite, I would recommend the same.  

Yesterday's tasting was very well attended and we were packed in.  Bill and I shared our table with four young men working in Stuttgart temporarily.  They turned out to be great company, even if they did make me feel old!


Here's a first shot of the first whiskey samples we tried.  This was the Hyde No. 2, 10 year old Caribbean Dark Rum Irish Single Malt.  I was in the back of the room and it was a bit too crowded to easily come closer for inspection.  I opted to make use of the zoom lens on my digital camera instead.

Nick passed out the samples and asked us not to start drinking yet.  He told us to hang on to the glasses and rinse them with the water he'd placed on our tables for diluting the spirits.  Also, he explained that if he had to wash the glasses in the dishwasher, they'd come back to us hot and that would evaporate the alcohol.  We certainly didn't want that!  Nick then showed us three different ways to get the most out of the tasting.  One method involved using your hands, which I opted not to do.  

Next, Nick explained the basics of whiskey/whisky, which starts out as beer before it turns into liquor.  He told us that "whisky" is the Scottish spelling, while "whiskey" is how the Irish spell it.  Then he went into rather lengthy, yet entertaining speech about the differences between the way Irish whiskeys are made as opposed to Scotch whiskys.  Irish whiskeys tend to be smoother because they are triple distilled in copper pots.  Scotch whiskys, by comparison, are usually a bit less refined because they are double distilled in wood, stainless steel, or copper pots.  Bill and I learned a lot about the process of making whisky/whiskey last spring, when we went on a whisky themed cruise in Scotland and visited quite a few distilleries.  I thought Nick's explanation was especially useful for those who haven't visited half a dozen distilleries within a week of travel!


It wasn't quite full at this point.  By 2:00pm, we were cozy!


The list of boozes...  The last one had to be replaced with a different whisky because the supplier sent the wrong one.  The replacement whisky was supposedly similar-- it was simply aged in both oloroso sherry casks and Pedro Ximenez casks instead of just Pedro Ximenez casks. 


Full house!

After the first tasting of whisky, Nick paused and we were given our first round of snacks.  I was actually very pleased with what they offered us.  This is great bar food, especially if you're feeling hangry!


Onion rings, chicken wings, cheese sticks, carrot sticks, and celery sticks, served with an interesting dip that tasted kind of like chili without the beans.  I was less hangry after we shared this with our young companions.

After we tasted the first scotch whisky, a lovely fourteen year old Balvenie Scottish single malt aged in a Caribbean cask, we took a vote to see which one was more popular.  On the first round, I was partial to the Scottish offering, though Bill preferred the Irish whiskey.  


More food was brought out...  We had to explain to our young friends what was being served.  Basically, it was a round of tiny "gemischte" hamburger patties (pork and beef) and pieces of Fleischkaese (pork meatloaf) with tortilla chips, hummus, and a spicy red chili sauce. 

The next two selections were the eleven year old Teeling White Burgundy Single Cask from Ireland and a twelve year old Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or Sauternes Cask from Scotland.  That time, I preferred the Irish offering.  I would have liked to have purchased a bottle to bring home with us, but Nick said he didn't have many to sell.  It was also priced at 86 euros, which was the most expensive bottle we tried.  I'll check MasterofMalt.com to see if they have it in stock (ETA: They don't. :( ).

We lost one of the guys sitting at our table because he needed to get to the movies.  He missed the last two selections, the Connemara (sherry) Distillers Edition of an Irish Single Malt versus the BenRaich (Sherry) Scottish Single Malt.  Again, the last Scottish whisky we tried was a substitute for what had been planned.  Although I enjoyed it very much, Nick was a bit put out that he'd gotten the wrong whisky and said he was going to kick his supplier's ass!


The final round of food.  A nice bowl of chips.  I wish we'd had plates or ramekins so I could have used the ketchup!


This video was taken toward the end of the tasting.  Nick tells a good story.

The tasting was finally over after almost four hours.  Bill purchased a bottle of the Connemara whiskey, which gave me a thrill since prior to yesterday, all I knew about Connemara was that it's the source of some wonderful ponies.  Now I know there's also fine whiskey made there.  Maybe we'll visit when we go to Ireland in a couple of weeks!

Anyway, now that we've done our first Auld Rogue tasting, I will offer a few tips to those who want to try one in the future.  

1.  Get there early to score a seat.  

2.  Dress in layers.  I wore a sweater and was a bit too warm because the place filled up with people.  I might have preferred something lighter or maybe even a t-shirt!

3.  Consider your seating location's proximity to the restroom.

4.  Plan on spending several hours.  We noticed a number of people hadn't expected the event would last as long as it did.  They ended up leaving early.  

5.  Because of the amount of alcohol you'll be tasting, consider how you will be getting to and leaving the event.  We took the train, just to be on the safe side.

6.  Note ahead of time whether or not there will be food offered (and I'm sure most of these events include food).  If there will be food, you might not want to order food before the event starts.  Portions at The Auld Rogue can be very large and filling!  You might even want to show up hungry for the snacks.

7.  This may not be the best time to bring anyone with you who might be offended by off color language.  Nick dropped the f bomb a few times.  I was, of course, delighted by that, but other people might not be.  But then again, it IS an Irish pub.  Use your best judgment!

8.  If you need to cancel your reservation, let Nick know.  It's possible to transfer the ticket to a future tasting.

We really enjoyed our first tasting at The Auld Rogue.  I'm pretty sure we'll do it again.  The next one is a beer tasting that, I believe, is already sold out.  As it will occur on November 12th, we wouldn't be able to attend anyway.  We will be in Ireland celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary!  Stay tuned for posts about that trip!



    

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