It started with a Rosebank 1991 Connoisseurs Collection. At 43%, this triple distilled, silky smooth whisky rolled onto the tongue. Rosy, with hints of vanilla, sweet and delicious.
Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar is located in the newly done up Fenway area of Boston. My bartender was a cool guy with hipster glasses and a solid knowledge of whiskey. Citizens is clearly an American whiskey joint – they have about 50 bourbon and rye options, all at reasonable prices. The Scotch is a bit on the high end. That said, if you aren’t turned off by the inflated prices, they have about 20 selections, including a number of interesting bottles: Mortlach 15, Longmorn 1989 Signatory, Bruichladdich 20 and the one that had me from the start, Dalmore King Alexander III. But we’ll get to that later.
I sat, enjoying my Rosebank for quite sometime. The aroma lifted off the gold liquid and whisked up the curved sides of the glass into my nose. A straight hit of malt and elegance. The whisky speaks well. With 17 years in sherry and bourbon casks at a no-longer-in-existence Rosebank distillery in the Lowlands of Scotland, it has come into its own and is a mighty tasty treat. My take, 91 Points (DrinkInsider Rating).
My first course was a a skillet of smokey mussels with a side of clarified butter, lemon and parsley. An amazingly perfect selection for the first Scotch. I polished off the Rosebank and moved on. At the bartenders recommendation, two American whiskey’s were put in front of me – a bourbon and a rye. Specifically, the Van Winkle 13yr Rye and Black Maple Hill, a small batch bourbon from Oregon. It wasn’t a tough decision, I selected the Van Winkle.
Old Rip Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 13 year Rye is a whiskey that comes ready to fight, packing a punch and with hair on its chest. Compared to the tame Rosebank, this Kentucky juice came out swinging and hit me with pepper and spice all the way down.
Really terrific stuff. 90 points (DrinkInsider Rating)
After the mussels, I went on to a sweet ricotta and honey crostini and a Farm Vegetable and Polenta Torte. The torte had a soft layer of Massachusetts Chevre cheese, al dente vegetables and a side of mushroom puree. I was feeling good. I must admit. I was relaxed, full and ready to cap the meal off with something perfect. I had no choice. That Dalmore had been staring at me all night, its gold antlers shimmering in the dim bar light. I asked my bartender if he might be able to offer me a half pour for half the cost. No matter how good it looked, I just couldn’t justify the $45 price tag. He agreed, and we had a deal. I got 1oz of the Dalmore King Alexander III. $22.50.
I sat there and drank in the smells of the whisky for a minute or two. The aroma, intoxicating. The nose: citrus, vanilla and a hint of chocolate. The mouth is a beautiful balance of spice and a wonderful show of the six wood barrels that conceived of it. The finish, pepper and oak. 91 Points (DrinkInsider Rating).
In retrospect I’m glad I only splurged for half. The Dalmore – as delicious, unique and complex as it was – should have been enjoyed without a meal and two other whiskies behind me.
All in, a worthwhile experience, a great new restaurant to add to the list of Boston regulars and three whiskies that took it to the next level.