Tag Archives: Scotch


Highland Park Valhalla Collection Dinner [THIS Friday. Public Seats Available.]

We are thrilled to invite you to this Friday’s Valhalla Dinner, hosted by Highland Park’s Brand Ambassador, Martin Daraz.

Let’s just say, this is a BIG deal for scotch drinkers and foodies, alike.

For this one special night, eat like valkyries, gods and goddesses as we toast to Thor, Loki, Freya and Odin, the four rare expressions of the Highland Park Valhalla Collection. In fact, three of these expressions are no longer available for purchase, making this an extraordinary opportunity to be in the presence of greatness.

The night would not be complete without Brand Ambassador Martin Daraz leading us through each expression while we indulge on a Norse feast.


When: Fri, Apr 3rd at 6:30pm
Where: Wingtip 550 Montgomery, 11th floor
Ticket: $250/person – 2 spaces available.

RSVP: jennifer@wingtip.com

Highland Park Valhalla Collection


Highland Park Valhalla Collection: OdinHighland Park Odin represents a single malt Scotch whisky worthy of its namesake – the formidable and commanding ruler of Asgard. Its intense complexity ensures this final release is deserving of its rightful place at the head of the Valhalla Collection.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Vivid burst of sunlight
Nose: This intense whisky possesses a fierce spice; cinnamon bark and nutmeg rise from Odin’s spirit. Behind the spice, toasted walnuts smoulder with pulsating explosions of smoke. Odin cuts an ominous figure and this whisky is no different.
Palate: A huge, powerful palate draws on the complexity of Odin’s character. Layers of peat uncover thousands of years of wisdom. Dense oak and still smouldering away are the rich charred walnuts.
Finish: Throughout is a subtle sweetness, sharing the knowledge of well-seasoned sherry wines. Plums and soft fruit disappear into the dark as the peaty embers glow into a smoky finale.


Highland Park Valhalla Collection: FreyaFor the third release in the acclaimed Valhalla Collection, Highland Park has turned its attention to the mesmerising Norse Goddess of Love, Freya.
Continuing the tradition of reflecting the character and qualities of the Norse Gods in the whisky itself, Freya’s intriguing allure and feisty personality has inspired a full, rich and complex single malt with a lingering beguiling finish.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Almond and Madagascan vanilla. White chocolate followed by candied cherries makes way for a vibrant wave of mango and melon, riding upon a cloud of cream soda.
Palate: Orange peel, butterscotch and rose petals provide the sweetness along with orange blossom and ginger. Lively popping candy, lemongrass and tropical fruits are lightly shrouded in peat smoke.
Finish: Complex and beautiful, the finish gives lingering spice and soft peat smoke intertwined with soft orchard fruits, toasted coconut and a light char, providing a rounded depth and allowing this whisky to soar.


Highland Park Valhalla Collection: ThorHighland Park Thor has a natural strength like its namesake, drawing influence from the environment unique to Orkney, to create a truly elemental spirit. Distilled where sea turns to ocean, this 16 year-old single malt is a meeting point of nature’s forces, exuding a dynamic and bold character on the surface, but with an unexpected softer side at its heart.

Bottled at a robust 52.1% abv this limited edition whisky comes housed in a unique wooden frame, which echoes the fearsome contours of a traditional Viking long ship.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Concentrated and forceful, with an explosion of aromatic smoke, pungent fresh ginger, antique copper, stewed plums, and golden syrup. With water, earthy notes emerge, like a garden after a heavy rain shower.
Palate: Thor’s high strength grabs the palate and refuses to let go. Initially dry, with fiery gingerbread then vanilla, blackberries, fresh mango, peach and hints of cinnamon. As its big flavours swirl around the mouth, some softer, sweeter notes develop, giving Thor and unexpected layer of complexity and depth.
Finish: The finish thunders on, leaving behind lingering notes of sweet vanilla and an intense spiciness.


Highland Park Valhalla Collection: LokiOne of the most complex characters in Norse mythology, Loki constantly challenges the gods, questioning their order and hierarchy within Asgard. Yet with every treacherous situation he engineers, his actions ultimately create heroes amongst the other gods.

Like its namesake, this whisky is unpredictable and impulsive, echoing the formidable weather of the Orkney Islands. It is a single malt which is both dynamic and energetic, with constantly evolving flavours and a fiendish inner complexity.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A spirited lift of dried bitter orange, which quickly turns into lemon peels. Cardamom notes trick then tease the nose, before an enticing hit of gingerbread develops. With water, liquorice and aromatic smoke are both unleashed.
Palate: The true shape‐shifting ability of Loki springs to life on the palate: its waxy texture is amplified by an intense smoke that doesn’t appear on the nose, shattering the light citrusy illusion of the aroma. All is not what it seems. The smoke fades as liquorice and rich spiced apple flavours come out to play. Lemon and grapefruit are consistent throughout this elusive, yet intriguing character. With a touch of water, lingering notes of melted dark chocolate over spent embers leave a soft smoky impression.
Finish: As Loki departs, he leaves behind toasted cloves, hickory smoke and soft vanilla. It is constantly changing, from appearance to finish. Loki is an enigma and truly another whisky of the gods.


Whiskies Of The World (Tentative Pour List Announced!)

We have reserved a limited number of seats for public, non-members, at this month’s Whiskies Of The World tasting. Beam Suntory hosts this international extravaganza Friday, March 27th, from 6-8pm, on the 11th Floor at Wingtip. To save your spot, RSVP to jennifer@wingtip.com. Tickets are only $40 and there are only five seats available, so you may want to email Jennifer, and then read the pour list. (It’s a long list.)

Simon Brooking, Laphroaig Brand Ambassador
Laphroaig 18 Year Old
Laphroaig Triplewood
Laphraoig Select
Laphraoig 25 Year Old

Iain McCallum, Global Master of Malts/Scotch Whisky Ambassador
Bowmore 18 Years Old
Auchentoshan Three wood
Auchentoshan 18
Glen Garioch 1994
Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

Dan Tullio, Godfather of Whisky/Brand Ambassador Canadian Club
Canadian Club Reserve
Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 Year Old

Gardner Dunn, Suntory Brand Ambassador
Hakushu 18 Yr
Yamazaki 18 Yr
Hibiki 12 Yr

Michael Egan, Irish Whiskey Ambassador
Greenore Single Grain
Tyrconnell Port
Tyrconnell Sherry
Tyrconnell Madeira
Connemara 12 Year Old

Chuck Hwang/Jennifer Sobb, Beam Suntory Gurus
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
Distiller’s Masterpiece
JB Single Barrel


Breaking: Whisky Bundles and Whisky Club

We here at Wingtip love whisky. Nay, love is not a strong enough word. We obsess over it, we read about it and drink it every day, and as soon as we can grow gills, we will breathe it. We drink it young, old, neat, and over ice; and whether its lineage is Scottish, American, Japanese, or some other whisky-loving nation, we will give it a fair shake. I think you get the point. We love the Golden Elixir that is the nectar of life–and we want to share it with you.

To that end, Wingtip Bank Of Wine And Spirits manager Kyle Nadeau and myself have worked diligently putting together whisky bundles that will allow you to explore whisky regions from around the world. Each month will feature a three-bottle bundle of whisky for around $200, which will give you the chance to build an amazing whisky library. At the end of the year, if you choose to purchase each month (and if you still have some elixir left in each bottle), your home bar will be better stocked with whiskies than many bars in SF.

The first month only costs $185 (down from a combined retail value of $220), and will feature three whiskies from the Speyside region. There are more distilleries per square mile in the Speyside region than anywhere else in the world, and we chose these to highlight the diversity of the region.

First up, the lovely Glenrothes 2001, owned by the good people at Berry Brothers and Rudd. Ronnie Cox, Global Brand Ambassador for the distillery, describes it thus, “It was selected from a variety of casks to deliver soft but stimulating and conversational properties. It combines the maturity of oaky vanilla, with the fullness of ripe black cherries and has a lingering, typically Glenrothes finish of soft spices.

“It has wonderful length and depth, hugely satisfying and an excellent demonstration of the Malt Master’s skill and dedication to the art of wood management.”

The second whisky comes from a distillery that laid silent for many years, but has seen a revival as of late. So welcome back, the Tamdhu 10 Year, a real beauty. From its enticing hue of golden brown (cue the classic Stranglers song), to its elegantly redesigned bottle, it will satisfy the most picky of whisky drinkers. Fully matured in second-fill sherry casks, it shows notes of dark fruit and baking spice. The finish lingers and leaves you wanting more.

The third whisky is very near and dear to me. When we built our collection at the Wingtip club, BenRiach is one of the distilleries that really jumped out at me. We stock many of their whiskies, and this, the BenRiach 16 Year, is one of my favorites. It is finished in Sauternes Casks that lend it a beautiful straw-blond color, as well as a great mouth feel and a full palate experience. With a slight note of passion fruit, this warm and inviting whisky is truly seductive.

This is my last rambling whisky note for today. But it’s a biggie. We are getting ready to launch (Wait for it) (Do you see it coming?) (Okay, well here it is) The Wingtip Whisky Club!

Kyle will be selecting the bottles for this club, and I can tell you with complete confidence that he has an amazing palate and sources the finest whisky this side of the Atlantic.

We are going to offer two different clubs. The first will cost no more than $200 a bottle, and you will receive a bottle every two months. If you fall in love with a bottle, you can always buy more.

The second club is going to cost $500 a bottle and will be available 2-3 times a year. This is a club reserved for those special bottles Kyle finds, the ones that can’t be passed up.

If you are interested in either club (or both clubs!), please email Kyle at kyle@Wingtip.com. We will launch the first club as soon as we get 100 people signed up–both WIngtip members and non-members are welcome to join. The sooner we reach that number the sooner we all get our whisky. So what are you waiting for?

Stay tuned for next month’s bundle offering and more ramblings from this whisky lover.


Stocking Your Home Bar For The Holidays

So you’ve got your man cave turned into a turn-of-the-century saloon, replete with spittoons and period-specific American flags. But the only booze in the place is drips and dregs of parties bygone, you know, some oxidized vermouth, triple sec, and a full-bottle of grenadine. Well, have no fear, I am here to lend a hand in the stocking of your liquor cabinet–before your holiday guests arrive. And, yes, any of these spirits can be picked up at Wingtip’s Bank Of Wine & Spirits.

These are the basics of stocking a bar with spirits only (we’ll have to deal with tools and accoutrements another time). These are the essentials in each category:


One bottle. I feel as if you should alway drink local when you drink vodka, to help reduce that carbon footprint a little. Just choose one local vodka from whichever region you live in. With the massive amount of micro-distilleries that exist out there this should not prove to be very challenging. For San Francisco, our current fix is Spirit Works ($29.99).


Unless you live in the great state of Wisconsin and drink Death’s Door Gin, which only contains ingredients from Washington Island, you’ll be emitting a few more carbon particles in this category. The gin will likely come from the UK, and, in my opinion you need three or four. Before I continue, I have to say I am a classicist; I was raised in a house hold that drank Tanqueray and that is still my gin of choice. I think every home bar should have a bottle of Tanqueray, at least Tanqueray 10 ($25), if not also the London Dry. You have to have Plymouth gin ($34.99), no question about it. I have been to the distillery, met Sean Harrington (the man who makes it), and drank from their water source, the town’s reservoir, which lends the gin a unique minerality. Third: Beefeater ($18.99). In all of our blind taste tests we have done here at Wingtip, Beefeater comes out ahead more often than not.


Rum is a conundrum of spirits, a real noodler. Do you want rum just to make cocktails with? If so, what kind of cocktails? If you want to make tiki drinks, you’ll need a few just to get started, as most tiki drinks call for at least two types of rum, and are so nuanced that there is no a blanket combination that works across the board. We’re going to call in the master of all things tiki, Martin Cate, creator of Smuggler’s Cove, for a further exploration of this topic. For now, keep these three on hand for a mixture of styles that will start to line up your coverage: Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum ($34.99), Diplomatico Exclusiva ($38.99), Barbancourt 8 Year Rum ($27.99). And for a rum that you can sip neat and smoke a cigar with, I love Brugal 1888 ($55.99); it’s aged in bourbon cask and sherry casks, a real stunner.


Ah, my not-so-secret lover. Where do we start? You need one bourbon for cocktails: Elijah Craig 12 ($27.99) is a no brainer. It makes great Manhattans and boothbys, makes great sour drinks, and it won’t break the bank. You need one bourbon for sipping. Four Roses Single barrel ($38.99) is the way to go. If you can find the 2014 Limited Edition ($99.99), even better. You need one rye for cocktails, and for this I love the High West Double Rye ($36.99), a blend of 2 year old and 6 year old rye. It makes for great sazeracs and old fashioneds. For a sipping rye, check out Whistle Pig ($65.99). It is a 10 year old rye that has 100 percent rye mashbill and comes in at 100 proof. It’s worth every penny.


For every whisky and soda you will ever make for the rest of your life, get Hibiki 12 ($69.99) blended whisky. You will never need another whisky ever for this drink, that is it. As far as the rest of the category goes, everything from the two major distillers, Nikka and Suntory, is spectacular. But if you have to choose one, I have to give it up to Yamazaki 12 ($66.99). Easy on the pocket-book, but highly complex, with notes of sandalwood and incense.


Redbreast 15 ($79.99) takes the cake for the storied Emerald Isle. It is a single malt whisky that comes off of a pot still and is bold yet refined at the same time. If you want to make Irish Coffees for people this winter, trust the source, the Buena Vista here in SF. They use Tullamore Dew ($24.99), and so do we.


I have a special place in my heart for brandy, being from the great state of Wisconsin and all. [Editor’s Note: There is actually something to this dubious-sounding statement.] I must say there are two that stand out to me for two different reasons. The Lepanto brandy line is amazing and is some of the best price-performing brandy out there. I am especially partial to the PX line ($64.99). It is aged 10 years in used bourbon casks, and then finished in Pedro Jimenez casks. It is dry and dusty with a touch of fruit. Love this bottling. For making cocktails, like the sidecar or vieux carre, reach for Marie Duffau Napoleon ($34.99).


For your everyday margarita, do as Julio does at Tommy’s and go with Arette Blanco [Editor’s Note: Currently out-of-stock, but on order]. I know this may be a cop-out, but, hey, the man is an icon and knows more about tequila than anyone I have ever met, so I think we can all trust him on this.


I’m saving the best for last here. The problem I encounter is that I want to grab them all, like a kid in the Video Power velcro-suit maze. But if you want a well-rounded collection for your home you should look to buy one bottle from each region. It can get pricy, not going to lie, but here are the ones I have to have around.

Speyside: Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask ($69.99). Highlands: Glenmorangie Lasanta ($49.99), finished off in both PX and Olorosso sherry. At first I was bummed that they were changing the process on this, but after trying out, I love it. The Island: Highland Park 18 ($104.99), or anything they make, they can do no wrong in my book. Lowlands: Auchentoshan Three Wood ($73.99), one of the most diverse single malts out there and on of the most unique in that every drop of the whisky is distilled three times. Campbeltown: Springbank 15 ($119.99), a perfect blend of peat and malt. Isay: All of them. Or if that’s not an option, and this is really like choosing your favorite Star Wars Toy, there are so many that I love and keep near and dear to my heart, but if I could only have just one readily-available Islay single malt whisky, it would have to be Laphraoig 10 ($49.99). The peaty green pepper and spice of this malt is emblematic of the region. Takes me back every time.

Now that the bar’s stocked, we need to talk more about what to do with these fine elixirs. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on a few easy-to-make holiday drinks.

Glenrothes Tasting [Members Only]

Come join Brian and your fellow lovers of Single Malt Whisky to listen to a living legend talk about our favorite spirit! Ronnie Cox, who has been working in the Scotch Whisky Game since the mid 70′s will be leading us through a tasting of 5 different expressions of The Glenrothes, a distillery he has worked closet with for over a decade. If you have any questions regarding the scotch whisky industry Ronnie Cox will be able to answer them. Hope to see you there.

P.S. It’s not every day you get listen to a legend speak, but seems to happen more at Wingtip than another place.


Independent Whisky Bottlers

In the world of Scotch whisky there is a subsect of producers known as independent bottlers.

These are companies that buy either new-make spirit from distilleries or barreled spirit from brokers, and then treat the whisky however they see fit. They can continue to age the whisky as long or as briefly as they want. They can put the whisky into another type of barrel to finish it and give it new flavors that the distillery didn’t think of. They can bottle at cask strength, or any strength (as long as it remains above 40% ABV/80 Proof). They pretty much have carte blanche to do whatever they want to the whisky, and this can be a great thing. It expands the possibilities of Scotch creation, and gives us–the consumer–more unique expressions of existing whiskies. Some of my favorite whiskies have come from independent bottlers.

Now, you might have seen some of these bottles on the backbars of your favorite watering holes or retails shops. And, as I am a long-time supporter of these products, you have seen a bundle of them here at Wingtip. Some of the names you may recognize are Gordon MacPhail, Signatory, Exclusive Malts, Duncan Taylor, and Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Some of the standouts that we have at the club are the Dave Stirk’s Exclusive Malts, which aim to be the pure essence of the spirit. Mr. Stirk offers this comment:

“Working at the fringes of the industry, I get to pick out casks of obscure whiskies that, for the most part, have been overlooked by blenders. Being able to bottle, almost exclusively, single casks, means I am able to pick quite extraordinary and different examples from several different distilleries. In other words, I am not interested in a ‘house’ style, but rather, those casks that make me go ‘Wow!’ This style of bottling also means I don’t need to do anything to the whisky when I bottle it; no colouring, no chill-filtering, and as often as possible, cask strength. I am trying, as best I can, to replicate the experience of tasting straight from the cask.”

These whisky business pioneers are changing how we think of Scotch, of how it should taste and how it can taste. These individuals are not bound by corporate standards, so they can blaze a trail of new flavors and ideas that few others can.


SIA Scotch Whisky Tasting [Public]

SIA is a new, fresh and exciting Scotch Whisky created specifically to appeal to a modern palate. This delicious Product of Scotland is a blend of Speyside, Highlands and Islay malts. SIA is a welcoming, and delightfully easy-to-enjoy Scotch, whether sipped neat, on the rocks or mixed in a curious cocktail.


The color of clover honey, SIA awakens the nose with citrus and spice and opens the palate with the smokey vanilla crunch of a creme brulee. The finish is long, smooth and refreshing with hints of hazelnut and toffee. SIA is an ultra-premium blend with a high malt to grain ratio (40% : 160%). Regional breakdown is Speyside (50%), Highlands (40%) and Islay (10%).


Big Bottle Night: Macallan M [Members Only]

Join Macallan’s west coast brand ambassador, Kieron Elliot, as we open the Maccallan M! This is a majestic, rare, and precious whisky. Space is limited; RSVP to brian@wingtip.com.

About Macallan M

Colour: Rosewood


Nose: Dried fruits ripen, then soften showing off velvet sateen. Vanilla accompanies green apple hand in hand, neither taking the lead. Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon create an ensemble in the background, with polished oak offering to overstate, yet never does, but plays with a depth of resinous, juicy oranges.

Palate: The palate opens rich in wood spices, slowly showing all their viscosity. Wood smoke flits in and out.

Finish:The heavier raisin and sultana flavours take over, meandering to a long full finish.


New Scotch Malt Whisky Society single malts

The Club just received its second shipment of whiskies from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and as always, their names will pique your curiosity.

  • You Gotta Love This One
  • Watching the Monaco Grand Prix from a Roof Terrace
  • Clean and Innocent
  • Sticky Apricot Tarts at an Indian Market (23 Year)
  • Thai Noodle Stir Fry
  • Peat Smoke Infused Peach Posset (4 Year)

These whiskies are available exclusively to members of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and to members of the Club at Wingtip by the dram.