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Along the Rivers of Whisky


There is one common problem with many whisky drinkers when they go to a bar: the longer the drinks list, the more difficult it is to choose from. At the end, they may just resort to their familiar brands or styles. The famous British whisky bar, Black Rock, introduces a new way of dram selection and popped up last month at Foxglove. Is this going to break new ground in the local whisky bar scene?

From London, Black Rock’s collection is backed by the huge Diegeo library. Rather than grouping whiskies by region, Black Rock organises its whisky selection around six descriptions: balance, fragrance, fruit, smoke, spice and sweet. “Say smoked ham or creme brulee, they make it easier for the novice to choose a whisky, or for malt masters to find a new dram,” said Tom Aske, founder of Black Rock. As in London, this limited time shop in Hong Kong has all the whiskies lining within customers’ reach, from The Singleton, to Johnnie Walker King George V, Lagavulin, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore and the extremely rare Brora and Port Ellen. This encourages customers to try new things.

The centrepiece of Black Rock is not the whisky but a cut in half, seven tonne trunk of a 150-year- old oak tree, 12-foot long and housing two “rivers” of whisky. On one side, the ‘river’ is lined with French Limousin oak and holds an infused cocktail of Bulleit bourbon, Morello cherries and biaos, and on the other side in American oak rests a “Table Whisky” containing a blend of various malts, that showcase the impact of oak on the whisky and showcases a unique house style. “Here whiskies have plenty of contact with the oak and the evolution happens so fast, that in the afternoon they already taste different from what they had been in the morning. So we need to taste them constantly to make sure the oak isn’t overwhelming,” said Tom Aske.

Complementing the whisky range is a selection of three cocktails and three whisky highballs, such as “Spice” with Dalwhinnie whisky and Gancio Bianco, and “Fruit” that is made up of Johnnie Walker Black Label, Quince Liqueur, citric acid, and oleo saccharum.

走進一間威士忌吧,到底飲甚麼好?酒單越長,越不知如何入手,是最多人面對過的問題。結果只好選回自己熟悉的品牌,甚至熟悉的酒款。英國著名威士忌吧Black Rock卻找出一個選酒新法。上月酒吧在Foxglove裡作期間限定方式試業,會否為本地威士忌酒吧界帶來新衝擊?

來自倫敦的Black Rock當然也有非常豐富的收藏,不過不像一般的威士忌吧般以產地分類,而是以威士忌的六種描述來分類:平衡、芬芳、水果、煙燻、香料和甜味,「例如煙燻火腿,或法式焦糖燉蛋等,這樣,無論是初飲威士忌的人,或者是經驗豐富的飲家,也能輕易地發現陌生而有趣的威士忌。」Black Rock創辦人之一Tom Aske說。香港這家期間限定酒吧與倫敦的都一樣,所有威士忌都放在客人觸手可及的櫃子裡,客人可以隨便每瓶拿來看,除了一些常飲威士忌如The Singleton,還有Johnnie Walker King George V、Lagavulin、Glenkinchie、Cragganmore和極罕有的Brora和Port Ellen等。這種親切的展示方式也輕易令客人飲更多。

而酒吧最矚目的其實是位於正中央的老橡樹檯。這是一棵來自法國橡木林、樹齡達150年的老橡樹,就這樣斬下一截來當檯。檯面是兩道「河」,裡面是烘烤過的橡木層和威士忌。一邊的「河」以法國利穆贊(Limousin)橡木,放了用Bulleit波本酒、Morello車厘子和香料調配而成的雞尾酒;另一邊是美國橡木,放了「常飲威士忌」,由多款不同威士忌調配而成,為的就是讓客人親眼觀看和親自體會威士忌在橡木裡的熟成過程。「這裡威士忌與橡木的接觸面非常多,因此陳釀發生得很快,就是早上與下午的味道已經不一樣了,所以要不斷試飲,以確保橡木味不會過重。」, Tom Aske說。

飲家享用威士忌系列之餘,Black Rock的雞尾酒也很出色。例如由Dalwhinnie威士忌和Gancio Bianco配成的「Spice」,和由Johnnie Walker Black Label, Quince Liqueur, citric acid和oleo saccharum調成的「Fruit」,味道也很精彩。