A night of Japanese whisky tasting and ice carving
The Hollywood Arms in Chelsea
The prospect of trying some Japanese whiskies on top of learning some traditional ice carving skills was too much for me to pass over. What a party trick! I imagined that this would be an absolute game changer for my social life. We turned up at the Hollywood Arms a bit late as I’d had to take Joe to the pub next door for some warm up drinks. He hates whisky so needed a few beers before he could even consider drinking it straight. He was purely in it for the ice carving and, I suspect, has dreams of us going pro.
The tasting was held in the upstairs room, where our host was ready and waiting with a couple of high balls and a Power Point. Just my kind of thing. Our charming teacher explained, and demonstrated with pictures, how, in 1923, the founder of the Suntory distillery began his journey to create a Japanese whisky that, whilst inspired by Scottish whisky, was subtle and refined enough to suit the delicate Japanese palate.
Our first foray into the single malts was with Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve. It was really light, refreshing and zesty. However, I much preferred the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve which we tried next. It was quite sweet and fruity. I looked over to see how Joe was getting along and he was holding his nose, downing the last one. The Habiki Japanese Harmony was also really nice. Very ‘woody’, a term that I’ve only recently fully learnt the meaning of.
The Hibiki 30 year is infamous for winning the coveted title of “World’s Best Blended Whisky” at the World Whiskies Award in 2007 and 2008 and has recently become one of the worlds most expensive whiskies, going for £2500 a bottle. So it seems that Japanese are able to churn out whiskies every bit as impressive as the Scotches.
And then, the finale! We learnt how to cut perfectly frozen ice into all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes with an eye watering array of chisels and saws. Joe was finally in his element! I reflected on the importance of keeping the designated ice carver away from all of the whisky.
The Hollywood Arms itself is a really nice pub. Lot’s of cosy seating and a diverse selection of draft beers and back bar spirits. They have two more masterclasses coming up, a Little Bird Gin Cocktail Masterclass on 12th May and a ‘Meet the makers of Warner Edwards Gin’ evening on 9th June which look to be equally entertaining.
All in all it was a really fun evening and a great introduction to Japanese whiskies, which, I at least, will definitely be trying again.
£10 which included a complementary high ball cocktail and three whisky tasters.