By Sarah King, GLOB Guest Correspondent
EDITOR's NOTE: Sarah King is currently a stay at home mom, a technical writer, and the GLOB's guest whiskey tasting correspondent, who enjoys learning, tasting, and discovering the finer attributes of excellent whiskey. Whiskey tasting images are by Jana Sanford-Heller.
What is the best thing to do at 10 am on a Monday morning? Gather with a group of whiskey-loving strangers for a whiskey tasting, of course. Who needs coffee in the morning when the day can start with "The Water of Life"?
A group of diverse Gainesvillians, three women and five men, gathered for the first ever Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog whiskey tasting at Mojo's Hogtown BBQ. They prepared to sample the bold taste of several whiskeys from Mojo's 'wall of whiskey' collection, so expansive that a tall rolling ladder is required to reach those shelves. The room was perfumed with the intoxicating scent of meat slow cooked in a wood-burning smoker. The dim light, brick walls, and exposed wood beams transported the eight tasters back to an earlier America and creating an environment of concentration yet relaxation. CLICK TO VIEW WHISKEY TASTER PARTICIPANTS.
Whiskey-tasting expert, John Preston Moore, and Mojo managers Mark Janasik and Aaron Helmer (image above, left to right respectively) hosted, and Moore started the tasting off with a pour of the rare Single Oaks Project's Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Moore, discussing proper tasting techniques, pointed out that, unlike wine, whiskey shouldn't be swirled because that will cause important aromatic vapors to escape.
Giving the history of each whiskey, Moore served the tasters a wide range of unique flavors in the bourbons, ryes, and scotch, including WhistlePig, Michter's, and Ardbeg. Some were bold and spicy, while others were smooth and mild. Flavors of vanilla, caramel, citrus, and charcoal presented differently with each selection.
The overwhelming group favorite was Michter's 20 Year, a smooth bourbon, and no wonder at $500 a bottle. This whiskey held up to its hype. It had instant notes of vanilla and caramel throughout with just a hint of fruit. It flowed like silk down the throat, very palatable.
A few tasters preferred the Ardbeg Scotch, the most flavorful and bold whiskey of the tasting. It had a very earthy and smoky flavor from its distillation with high quantities of peat, putting one back into the nostalgia of sitting by a campfire. Based on one of Moore's side notes, this scotch is a fan favorite among some astronauts.
The whiskey tasting at Mojo's BBQ was nothing short of spectacular. It was educational, allowed whiskey-loving aficionados to experience rare, unique whiskeys, and generated lively conversation among great company. Everyone enjoyed tasting the sweet water of life.