The Boston Shaker is a shop that is dedicated to outfitting and educating everyday people…
Adventure Boston – Liquid Assets – Saloon
We need a drink but not just any drink. We are on a quest to find the most epic spirits in Boston.
Enter Saloon and you’ll feel like you’re in a time warp, being sent back to the speakeasy days of prohibition. Note the understated single bulb street sign and the entrance that I probably walked by 100 times before I even knew it was there. Once inside, This dark wooden room offers a brooding ambiance like few spots in the entire city and makes us thirsty for a drink that is equally dark and mysterious.
Tonight I sat down with Tom Hardy, Bartender extraordinaire and whiskey expert, to try 5 of his favorite bottles that will run the gambit from origin to age and make some of the most delicious and darker drinks you’ll find.
First there’s a few rules regarding Whiskey:
Whiskey is a blanket term referring to all Bourbons, Ryes and Scotches and a good way to think about it is to compare it to bread. If it’s called Bourbon it has to be at least 51% corn and it’s similar to cornbread, it’s soft and sweet. Rye must be 51% rye and it is spicy and sharp. Lastly, Scotch is made with malted barley so it’s richer similar to oat bread.
With regards to the age statement on a bottle, this refers to how many years it spends in the barrel and older doesn’t always mean better. Not all bottles have an age statement as it is the discretion of the distiller unless it has been aged less than four years, then it is required. So if there is an age statement then the distiller is proud of it.
By law bourbon or rye must be aged in a brand new american oak barrel with a charred inside. Scotch uses second run barrels or barrels that can no longer be used for bourbon or rye. Because distilleries have exploded recently and the wood is limited and expensive, there is actually talk of a bourbon shortage in the near future. The barrel adds color as all booze enters completely clear. The wood also imbues a chemical called vanillin which adds the flavors; caramel, toffee and vanilla. The longer it’s aged the more concentrated the flavor.
Bullet Ten Year Bourbon
When drinking this very popular high rye bourbon expect vanilla and caramel with even a hint of pecan pie. It’s great in old fashions and it’s very versatile. I love old fashions and yes, I also love this Bourbon.
Balvenie Caribbean Cask Scotch
They season their barrels with Caribbean Rum through a process called finishing. This really rounds out the scotch with cream and vanilla flavors which makes it a go-to scotch for most bourbon drinks. This scotch spends 14 years in the cask.
A Ron Burgundy favorite, this scotch is also finished with Rum but spends another 7 years in the cask for a total of 21 years to give it a leathery oak and tobacco finish. It’s a rare treat and you may want to drink it surrounded by many leather bound books.
Connemara Irish Whiskey
Often misunderstood to mean Jameson or other spirits often drunk out of shot glasses, Irish Whiskey is much more diverse than it is given credit for. Connemara is peated which means it is smoked with peat moss fumes and it is one of the few distilleries to still use that process. I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth yet smokey this one was.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye
Hailing from the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery this is an homage to the legendary New Orleans bartender. It is one of their antique bottles which are known for being “overproofed” or over 100 proof alcohol content. A big inhale of this stuff would definitely burn a few noose hairs off and typically requires some sort of dilution. It is super spicy with a tremendously long finish. It’s on the very high end and Saloon only goes through about one bottle per year.
Tom’s suggested Whiskey drinks:
Red Hook: Rye Whiskey, a bit of Punt e Mes Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur and Bitters ~ Herbaceous and sweet Whiskey Drink.
Vieux Carré: Rye Whiskey, Cognac, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine Liqueur and Bitters ~ Think of a very smooth Manhattan.
Sazerac: Rye Whiskey, Sugar, Bitters, Absinthe and Lemon Peel ~ A delicious classic that Saloon does very well.
To try off of Saloon’s Cocktail Menu:
Rye’s Big Adventure ~ sweet and citrusy with a rye base and
Strong Hand ~ sweet and citrusy with a bourbon base.
Saloon is at located 255 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144