For the day after WhiskyFest New York, fellow Malt Maniac Peter Silver invited me to a special event in Brooklyn: A concert of his Blue Nitrous Big Band at the tiny Spike Hill Club in Williamsburg with a joint tasting of Laphroaig held by distillery manager John Campbell and brand ambassador Simon Brooking.
The club is pretty small, so the band had a bit of trouble to squeeze onto the tiny stage, but any doubts if this setting might have a negative impact on the performance were wiped away as soon as the concert began. Music and sound quality was excellent, only the constant chatting of some people was a bit disturbing. Waitresses served some tasty bite-sized appetizers, larger meals were available to buy during intermission.
John Cambell only appeared at the beginning and at the end of the show, Master of Ceremonies was Simon Brooking who took the audience through the largest part of the current Laphroaig bottling range, providing information about the whiskies, the distilleries and tasting notes as well as giving humourous toasts for each dram.
1 – 10 yo
2 – 10 yo Cask Strength Batch 1
3 – Quarter Cask
4 – 18 yo
5 – Triple Wood
6 – 10 yo bottled in 1969
The 1969 Laphroaig was without a doubt the star of the show, completely different in taste because of some sherry casks that were also used for the 10 yo back then and the fact that only floor malted barley was used at that time. It was far less peaty than expected, the character was very oily with fruity and slight herbal undertones. Today’s 10 yo is still an excellent whisky, but I have to say that the old bottling wins hands down in direct comparison.
At various occasions, Simon Brooking could not resist the urge to grab the microphone and prove his singing talent in conjunction with the big band. Although his vocal expertise only almost but not quite compares to that of Frank Sinatra, with the performance of New York, New York alongside the 1969 Laphroaig the evening definitely entered goosebump territotry.
It was a clever decision to followup the huge WhiskyFest with an intimate event like this. Once again it was proved that whisky and jazz get along very well.