When drinking whisky I find the ambiance of my environment plays a significant role in my overall experience. The local dive bar, with the weathered old man sitting next to you, insisting on sharing stories of how he’s frequented the same bar for the last thirty years. Maybe it’s the front porch of your house with Dad overlooking the season's yield of corn. Or just swapping jokes and sitting by a slow roasting fire with friends in the mountains. No matter where I find myself, I almost always remember the fond moments and the bottle we shared from each experience.
I recently attended a private whisky tasting at the luxurious Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. It is a beautiful venue, rich in history. The tone is instantly set the second you step foot inside. The ranch style décor, fire pits glowing, immaculate tile work artistically laid into brick walkways, and a breath-taking backdrop of the hills of San Diego come together beautifully in this glamorous inn. Then you venture into the courtyard curiously looking for the exclusive Huntsman.
What is the Huntsman you might ask?
The Huntsman is a quaint, but character rich lounge and bar nestled into the hotel. The Huntsman has private lockers for one’s personal collection of high-end wine or spirit, more beautiful slabs of tile, comfy big leather chairs, and a crackling fireplace right next to it’s small, but well-curated whisky selection. Tom, is the bar manager here. And he belongs here. He possesses every bit of character the inn does. Tom is a dapper elder gentleman, soft-spoken, yet full of whisky knowledge and endless stories.
This particular evening was a special one. It happened to be the evening of their monthly social, where a guest speaker or whisky educator guides the members of the club through a whisky-centric journey. On this night, the charismatic Single-Malt Specialist from Whyte & Mackay, Craig Bridger, graced us with his passion for The Dalmore distillery. We were guided through a delicious and memorable tasting of their flagship 12 year, newly released Port Cask finish, and mighty King Alexander III. The evening came to an unforgettable close when he broke out the rare Dalmore 45. Just a taste, just a splash, and the icing on the cake.
Check out The Huntsman for yourself: