I assume that like most hobbyists, whenever I go to a bar I have never been before, I check out their whisk(e)y and beer selection. I haven’t been going out to many new places lately (or going out for that matter, I guess), but I recently went to Bloodhound in San Francisco to watch the end of the Cal Stanford game.
The funny thing about trying to scope out whisk(e)y behind an only somewhat lit bar is that you become the reason brand and product managers stay employed. By virtue of bottle shape and bottle label, even in a dark and noisy bar you can do a pretty good job of playing “name that whisky.” This is where I found myself on that Saturday night after dinner.
On my initial pass, I did not notice anything out of the ordinary. I ordered a Blood and Sand (side note: it wasn’t an amazing cocktail, Alembic makes a killer one). On my second pass, I did another look, and saw something out of the ordinary. I asked the bartender if I could see the bottle (which I’m sure he loved on a busy Saturday night).
The picture accurately displays my vision at this point
On the shelf was a small, slim 200ml bottle carrying some clear liquid and Japanese text. The bartender took down the bottle, looked at it strangely, and poured himself a glass.
Hitachino Nest White Ale White Dog
The bar had a bottle I had never seen before! The “name that whisky” brought out quite a surprise. The whisky was a white dog version of Hitachino Nest White Ale, brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan, imported by a B. United International in Connecticut. After the bartender poured himself a dram he poured me one and I took it back to my seat.
The taste? Umm. Well. I wasn’t in any position to be accurately tasting anything. It was extremely fruity (perfect for SF - hey!) and tasted like a really sharp (not smooth) white dog. I didn’t love it. I went back to the bartender after to discuss and he said he thought it tasted like ’grappa’ - at the time I agreed.
I haven’t been back yet to retaste, but will do so at some point. Even though I didn’t love the whisky, I loved the find. So keep your eye out when you’re in a bar, you too might find a new bottle that instructs you to “PLEASE ENJOY RICH FLAVOR AND TASTE.”