The idea of holding a whisky tasting event at an airport initially struck me as off-key, but given that it was being held during a government shutdown in which TSA agents were walking off the job and air traffic controllers were moonlighting as Uber drivers, it struck me as par for the course; that and the fact the airport is no longer operational.
Last week, Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport hosted L.A.’s second annual The WhiskyX, a multi-city tour that includes Brooklyn, Denver, Chicago, and Austin, bringing together into a party-like atmosphere whisky brands, live music (St. Paul & The Broken Bones), food trucks (including The Woke Truck, White Rabbit Food Truck, Street Kitchen LA, The Taco Cartel, and Chinese Laundry) and local chefs. The gala also offered free beard shaving and hair trims from Blind Barber, as well as a cigar lounge.
“The WhiskyX was created for new whisky drinkers, while still a lot of fun for the whisky connoisseur,” says Brandon Baptiste, vice president of The WhiskyX. “The medling of great whiskies with music, interesting food, and some fun things you don’t expect… make for an amazing night of discovery.”
Boozehounds rideshared from all over the Southland to sample Bourbon, blended and single malt Scotch, American Whisky, and Rye from more than 60 distillers both domestic and international. Majors, such as Crown Royal, Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey set up booths alongside small-batch newcomers, vying to woo guests with their product, as well as their pedigree.
I was especially impressed on both counts by the good folks at George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. The company’s #12 Recipe is essentially liquid heaven, with notes of buttered popcorn and pepper. Owen Lansburg, an apprentice at the nearly 150-year-old Tullahoma-based company, dropped some knowledge on me, which I’ll now pass along to you.
You see, Mr. Dickel was a German immigrant who enjoyed the taste of Scotch. In 1870, he began distilling whisky (and spelled it without the Americanized “e”) in a place called Cascade Hollow, about an hour south of Nashville. Owen described visitors’ first sight of the 36-employee distillery as a “religious experience,” adding that it’s “like going back in time.” Everything is still done by hand, the old-fashioned way. Speaking of old-fashioned, Owen poured me a cocktail of the same name, demonstrating how well Dickel plays with others.
He also shared his favorite three-ingredient recipe, which, again, I’ll share with you.
Boulevardier: Equal parts George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Stir vigorously and serve in a rocks glass over a big-ass ice cube.