Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scotch Tasting in Ann Arbor, MI

Before meeting my husband, the thought of drinking scotch never crossed my mind. Since then, I've been trying various types when he orders them and have started to develop a taste for the drink. When I heard that the Stadium Market was having a Scotch Tasting at Bab’s Underground Lounge, I knew we had to go.

Bab’s Underground Lounge is a surprisingly large space, considering the tiny sign it has on Ashley Street. The tasting seminar happened on the lower level and was led by Cheryl Alagna, Master of Whisky. Complete with a video presentation, barley to taste, peat to smell and barrel pieces to handle, we learned about how scotch is made and why scotches taste different from each other.

We were encouraged to put a drop or two of water in the little plastic cups. This changed the taste of the scotch. Cheryl noted that “water is to whiskey what air is to wine.” She also cautioned that if we smelled the spirits first we’d, “nuke the flavor.” Her knowledge and sense of humor kept everyone engaged throughout the twenty minute presentation.

The key to tasting a spirit is to put a little under your tongue, warm it for a moment, breathe vapors out and then drink. This helps to keep your taste buds alive and ready to untangle the flavors.

Our favorite was the Lagavulin 16 which has a deep, smoky flavor and smooth finish. Cheryl described this flavor as a “peat bomb,” which is where the smoke flavor originates. It is an island whiskey and the water it is made with has both tannins and peat components.

On the second level, Stadium Market catered tables of treats, from deviled eggs to shrimp cocktail. I ate entirely too many eggs since they were delicious and something I don't tend to make at home. There were rows of scotch and a few other drinks, such as sipping rum, to taste. Everything was available for sale.

After we had tasting everything at least once (we had to confirm we’d decided on our favorite scotch!), we slowly walked home and collapsed into bed.

All in a day’s work.

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