Finding Whiskey in Santa Clarita and Beyond
With whisky – single malt Scotch whisky, single malt whisky from outside of Scotland, blended whisky, rye and bourbon whiskey – quickly becoming the most popular category I thought it was high time that I reached out to some local restaurants to find out what they’re serving. Beyond that, I will share a whisky event that we’ve attended the past three years, which brings all of these fabulous whiskeys together at one time and in one place. (A note on spelling whisky vs. whiskey: Whisky from Scotland and Canada are referred to without an e in the name, whiskey from everywhere else – like the United States and Ireland – is referred to as whiskey, as is bourbon and rye.)
Old Town Junction
Whiskey has a special place at The Old Town Junction (OTJ) as it occupies half of the back bar. Finding whiskey at OTJ is not the problem but it’s deciding which one to try: ranging from Bourbon, Scotch, Rye, Blended, Irish, Japanese and highly allocated rotating whiskeys. They always find the way into the hearts of every whiskey lover. The Old Town Fashioned has become a staple and their number one selling cocktail. Some other fun whiskey cocktails have been the Winter Gold Rush and Railroad Sour. The bar team is great and all have their favorites to suggest. They invite you to come to see and taste for yourself.
Speaking with bartender Eric Ramelli I learned that there is a heck of a lot of whiskeys – bourbon, rye, Canadian whisky, Kentucky whiskey, and Irish whisky – being ordered at Rattlers Bar-B-Que this past winter. Ramelli said that this time of year drinking choices are often made based on the season – and so many guests are choosing whisky. At the bar at Rattlers you will find Jameson, Makers Mark, Knob Creek, Barton 1792, Slow and Low Rock and Rye, Angel’s Envy, Bookers, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Seagram’s 7, Canadian Club, Crown Royal…and popular cocktails they create include the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Jameson, and Ginger Ale, Crown Royal and Coke, as well as on the rocks and by the shot. If you love a good Old Fashioned – you’re in luck as it’s on their Happy Hour menu with all wells drinks.
Salt Creek Grille
“Salt Creek Grille has been a staple in the Santa Clarita community for over twenty years now. I have been fortunate enough to be part of this journey for sixteen plus years. I came from being a high school intern to bar manager at the best restaurant in the valley,” began Kenneth Speed. “Our bar has gone from specializing in wine and Martinis to craft cocktails, and an extensive bar of brown spirits. Our Old Fashioned is probably one of the best if not the best in the Santa Clarita Valley. Using rye and finishing it off with an amazing Luxardo cherry makes all the difference. We also have a unique upside-down Old Fashioned: This is a fantastic, fun take on the classic Salt Creek recipe where we invert the original concepts of the cocktail, for a one of a kind experience.”
Jefferson Reserve is one of Speed’s all-time favorite bourbons, not too costly with an amazingly smooth flavor. Speed said, “It’s a great sipping spirit with maybe one ice cube during a cold night. But if you want some high-octane whiskey you’re going to want to head up the shelf and find yourself with a great 120 proof bourbon such as Bookers or George T. Stagg.” If you want something a little more unique, then check out their Pappy Van Winkle or Blantons. Speed adds, “Both have remarkable flavors and fun stories behind them.”
Salt Creek has a variety of whisky specials throughout the month, such as their whiskey night on Sundays where Buffalo Trace and Templeton rye are discounted all evening. Rounding off their offerings they have a monthly whiskey flight for people that want to try new spirits but don’t want to commit to one. So next time you want to try a new drink or find something new come in and ask for Ken or any of the knowledgeable bar staff, and they will find something perfect for you.
“We have a zillion single malt scotch whiskeys” began Juan Alonso, owner of Le Chene, “including – aged between 10 to nearly 40 years old – Oban, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Craigellachie, Talisker, Highland Park, Springbank, Glenfarclas, Benromach, Famous Grouse, Dalwhinnie, Tomintoul, Macallan…”
Finding more single malt whisky at Le Chene – than probably any other restaurant in Santa Clarita – is a bit of a surprise if you assume a French restaurant is all about French wines. Alonso said that most of his whisky-loving guests enjoy a single malt whisky before dinner as an aperitif, during dinner, and after dinner as a digestif. “With so many brands there are so many choices,” Alonso added. “Guests now drink more single malt than the Cognacs they used to order.”
Beyond Scottish single malts, Alonso also offers single malt Irish whiskeys, American whiskeys, rye whiskeys and bourbon such as Tullamore Dew, Old Forester, Teeling, Johnny Walker (red, black, blue and green labels), Wild Turkey 101, Sazerac rye, Templeton, Whistle Pig, Woodford Reserve, Rock Hill Farms, Angel’s Envy, Bookers, Knob Creek, Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, Gentlemen Jack, Southern Comfort and Bowens.
At the bar the Old Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails are popular. And everything is 25 percent off all bar menu items during Happy Hour, including a fabulous food menu to pair it all with. https://lechene.com/
The Nth, aka The Universal Whisky Experience
This is the pinnacle of whisky events, and I can say that as I’ve been to many as a member of the LA Scotch Club and So Cal Whisky Club that not only hold their own events, they promote others. It was probably through one of my club friends that I first heard about the Nth, an annual multi-day and multi-experience event in Las Vegas every April. This year, the tenth anniversary, the party is set for April 24 and 25 at the Wynn. In the past I’ve enjoyed classes with brand ambassadors where we learn, taste, and sometimes create cocktails. Then comes the main event, the grand tasting, where not only whisky vendors take center stage – many with rare and pricy spirits to share – but other spirit vendors and even a little wine for the guests that prefer it. Their website says it best, “…we are the world’s premier luxury whisky and spirits experience, a master event that showcases the best brands and bottles of whiskeys and spirits from all over the world. We are the only event in the world where you get to sample the most premium, rare, unique and expensive whiskeys from all the major houses worldwide.”
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