We’ve been to whisky tastings and wine tastings, beer tastings and port tastings, but all as singular exercises on deciding the tongue’s favourite flavours within a specific drink category. What about a tasting experience that extends across the tipple varieties? Or at least all the hard stuff.
And that‘s what Victoria Chow has created at The Woods’ Annex, an angelic little library of spirits with perfectly accommodating box shelves for each unique bottle that reaches from gins and rums to tequila and mezcals and everything in between. Her evening tasting sessions allow discerning drinkers and exploratory imbibers to try a tempting taste of several across the board to expand their drinking palate and engage with her extensive knowledge of the spirit world (not the supernatural variety, but who knows what any particular evening will hold?). Victoria expertly walks you through each liquor, with tasting notes and the stories behind the batch, bottle and how she acquired it. This intimate tasting room is capped at eight for space reasons, but Victoria can do several each evening. They vary in pricing depending on the spirits chosen.
For our particular experience, we chopped and changed across the gamut of liquors, starting with a dram of No 209 Californian gin that was tinted from ageing in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel against a very unusual beetroot-based Letherbee Autumnal limited-edition gin and one with a honey base from Barr Hill. Then came a few sips of indulgence in a blended scotch whisky by Utah-based distillery High West before leaping over to sample two types of Bozal mezcal. This was up against a 2013 Tequila Ocho, which was a very dry year, so the agave flavours were incredibly concentrated and divided our table of drinkers in preference.
Guests are invited to build their own flights to sample what interests them or what they have never tried before. You can point to a pretty-looking bottle to have a taste or you can go with the recommendations from Victoria on some of her favourites – and even not so favourites that she still finds intriguing.
Rare spirits come with a library card listing all those who have sampled the goods. It’s an all-round fun and interactive experience that provides something new for those who appreciate both a great tipple and having a great time.
Swoon for KWOON
The new tasting library at The Woods’ Annex is also where they produce the beautiful new range of six canned cocktails called KWOON (Cantonese for ”can“). We were bowled over by the intoxicating flavours of the Tom Yum Cooler ($78), which combines vodka with Thai chilli, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, and the High Tea ($88), made with gin and chrysanthemum. The cocktails are crafted with choice ingredients, contain no artificial additives and are packaged in gorgeous designs that promote ever-changing collaborations with different artists. Think junks, picnics and anywhere you want to transport impeccably made cocktails ready-made for drinking.
64 Staunton Street, SoHo, Central, book online (minimum spend of $300/person for a 90-minute session)