This afternoon the WHISKYdotcoza team is off to Cape Town’s whisky mecca, the Bascule Bar, for a photo shoot. Bascule manager George Novitskas has kindly agreed to let us do our thing at his venue, which is reputed to have the largest whisky collection in the southern hemisphere. It should be perfect for the atmospheric images that we’re after. One of my favourite magazines, Drinks International, recently commissioned an authoritative (I say this because they call it “The most authoritative bar industry survey ever”, so its authoritativeness cannot be overstated) survey to rate the world’s 50 best bars, and whilst South Africa is well represented – Café Caprice and Planet Bar crack the nod – for my money the Bascule can feel hard done by. The supplement was published in November last year and if you’re inclined to do so it can be downloaded here: http://www.drinksint.com/files/Supplements/2010/Bar-Supplement-2010.pdf. I’ve written to them to see if there are any plans to feature the world’s best whisky bars, whereupon the Bascule, and Katzy’s in Johannesburg, will I’m sure keep the flag flying.
I’m also going to be taking the opportunity of this afternoon’s visit to remedy a glaring omission in my whisky repertoire. I have tasted and enjoyed all the significant types of whisky bar one – pure pot still Irish. I can’t drink in Irish company again – and what better drinking company is there – until I set this right. For those of you unfamiliar with it, this is the definitive Irish style of whiskey, much as single malt is to Scotch. Pure pot still must be made in a pot still and, by convention (there are no regulations, as there are for Scotch, defining Irish whiskey styles), from a mixed mashbill (i.e. recipe) of malted and predominantly unmalted barley.
The unmalted (or “raw”) barley is what gives Irish whiskey its distinctive flavour. Most of the Irish whiskey available – for instance popular brands such as Jameson and Tullamore Dew – are blends, made of pure pot still, single malt, and grain whiskey, or any two thereof. Most of these blends would contain grain whiskey (I only know of 1 pot still-malt blend, known as a “pot still blend” because both components are distilled in a pot still), which, unlike Scotch grains, are distilled close to neutrality, and intended only as a lightening agent so as not to interfere with the flavour of the “master” component…which is more often than not the pure pot still. So whilst I’m familiar with the flavour from drinking these blends, I’m really looking forward to tasting the real thing. Now I’m just hoping that the Bascule has it in stock…
Check in tomorrow for excerpts from our shoot and (hopefully) my impressions of pure pot still. Until then – may the dram be with you.