We’ve all heard the love affair we Seattleites have with our coffee – we drink more of it per capita than any other U.S. city. With the grey, dreary weather we get nine months out of the year, we need our “upper” in some way, right? Recently we learned that Seattle is also a top quaffer for another beverage – Scotch whisky. That’s right, this distilled beverage evidently has some prudent followers in Seattle. And it makes sense, too, since it helps warm the body and soul on cold, wet nights.
El Gaucho has always been proud to offer many fine Scotches and whiskies, for what is better than sipping on a dram after enjoying a nice big steak? But now, guests to El Gaucho Seattle will be able to try some of the rarest whiskies in the world: single cask, single malt Scotch whisky. Why is this so special? Let us explain.
According to “Mental Floss,” the main difference between Scotch, whisky, and bourbon is geographic, but there’s also a difference in ingredients and spellings. Scotch is whisky made in Scotland, while bourbon is whiskey made in the U.S. (notice the spelling differences?). Scotch is made mostly from malted barley, while bourbon is distilled from corn.
Now that we understand what Scotch is, let’s dig deeper. There are five distinct categories for Scotch:
1) Blended Scotch Whisky (Dewar’s, Johnnie Walker Red, Cutty Sark brands) are produced and matured in Scotland for at least 3 years and made from one or more single malts combined with aged grain whisky.
2) Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (Johnnie Walker Green) are a blend of single malts, from more than one, single malt Scotch distillery.
3) Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmoranglie) are blends of casks of single malt whisky, from one distillery in Scotland, and are made from only one grain – barley. They are aged in Scotland for a minimum of 5 years and bottled in Scotland.
4) Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky (independent bottlers – Gordon & McPhall, Signatory, Old Malt Cask) are produced from the contents of one single cask of single malt Scotch whisky. Most independent bottlers are whisky brokers – their main business is to sell and trade casks or whisky used to make blends.
5) Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky, bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. These whiskies are produced from a specially selected single cask or single malts, bottled at cask strength, without dilution or chill filtration, and are selected by an independent tasting panel.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMSW), offering these rare single cask Scotches, was founded in 1983 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has grown internationally, with more than 25,000 members. Until last week, the 6,000 society members living in the United States only had access to Scotches through annual extravaganzas produced by the U.S. Society Branch. Society members had only the panel’s descriptive tasting notes to rely on when making a purchase decision. Not any more! We are thrilled that El Gaucho Seattle has been chosen to be only one of three locales in the country to be a SMWS “society spot.” (The other two locations are in Drumbar in Chicago and Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C.) SMWS Society members and El Gaucho guests alike will now be able to taste these exclusive Scotches.
Currently, eight SMWS Scotches are on the menu at El Gaucho Seattle. What are you waiting for? Whether you are a discerning Scotch connoisseur, or just dipping your toe in the water, come explore the