Saturday was cold and eventually, the snow had to come. Four of us made the trek to Worcester to have lunch at the Armsby Abbey. This was my second visit and I wrote about it last year so this year I was looking for a repeat visit. We were not disappointed as the Abbey was featuring a brunch menu with recipes that contained bourbon in some form or fashion.
We started off brunch with cocktails and I chose the Barbecue Bloody; hands down the best Bloody Mary I've ever had. Ingredients included charred hickory infused bourbon, house Bloody Mary mix, smoked sea salt rim garnished with dill pickle, pickled carrot, and housemade bacon...that's right bacon. While I ordered one and moved on the the next cocktail; the Bourbon milk punch, my lunch friends continued with the Bloody Mary's to the tune of 4 or 5 apiece.
Cigar Masters Cigar Lounge. If you could picture a quintessential New England cigar lounge in your head, this would be it. Old building, tile floors, brick/wood walls, tin ceiling, great bar stocked with a nice range of whiskies and well worn club chairs. The four of us purchased cigars and whiskey and sat down for a couple hours before heading back to Westborough.
At 7:00 that evening we made our way over to Julio's for the Meet and Greet. This is a smaller, more intimate event where you can taste through a sub-set of whiskies that will be presented on Sunday at the Grand Dram. Each distiller or rep is present giving you and opportunity to chat it up and ask questions. I had a very nice conversation with Dan FitzHenry from Virginia Distilling Company. Dan poured me their latest offering, a Virginia Highland Malt Whiskey. It was young but rather tasty and I liked it overall. They source there whiskey at present but have installed two pot stills and have plans to fire them up this year and begin distilling.
I tried a number of whiskies that were good but didn't inspire. One that got me scratching my head was Son's of Liberty Uprising. This is an unaged whiskey made from a stout beer base and has staves placed into the holding tanks to add influence. Very young so lots of grain on the nose and palate. The distiller kept talking about dark chocolate notes which were present if you tried hard enough. I appreciated the fact that they distilled to 130 proof but then bottle it at 80 proof chill filtered.
Two whiskies got my attention that evening; Suntory Hibiki 12 year and Nikka Yoichi 15 year. The Hibiki is a blend of three whiskies from different distilleries and then aged in Plum liqueur casks. I enjoyed both so much that I ended up buying both on Sunday.
Craft distilleries had a good presence on Saturday among the big dogs; Son's of Liberty, Hudson Whiskey, Balcones (shout out to Winston and Chip), Angels Envy and High West. It's an exciting time for whiskey, especially for those that venture out past bourbon and into world whiskies. I really enjoyed the evening and for those within driving distance to Westborough, I would encourage a visit next year. $20 for two hours of drinking great whiskey is a steal.