I've made reference to my trip to NYC and going to Keens for their tasting flights, but I'm finally getting around to writing my Chowhound review.
Keens is a traditional old boy kind of establishment, but it has a relaxed feel. Service was a bit spotty. Our first trip there the bartender was indifferent to the point of being rude. He knew very little about whisky or its manifestations (for example when we asked for water to add, he gave us NY tap water, and when we told him that it wouldn't work, he didn't tell us that they had bottled water - we found out on our second trip that they did). The second night there we had this joyously enthusiastic kid who knew little about scotch, but who was willing to learn.
Their single malt menu is a sight to behold. It is three pages long, organized by regions, and contains quite a few interesting options. Keens offers four tasting flights. We were privileged to sample all four.
The Rockefeller Flight: Glenmorangie 18 Margaux Finish, Balvenie 30, Highland Park 30 and Bunnahabhain 35. ($140)
The Great Scotts Flight: North of Scotland 40, Port Ellen 21, Baldnoch 20, and Glen Grant 26. ($52)
The After Dinner Flight: Bruichladdich 20, Macallan Cask, Edradour Ballechin, and Talisker 25. ($44)
The Dinner Flight: Tobermory 10, Springbank 10, Glenlivet 18, Glen Garioch 21. ($29)
As expected, the Rockefeller flight was magnificent. I am ruined for life. All of the whiskys were smooth and had a depth of palate. Despite the cost, I am so glad I ordered it.
However, for a little over a third of the cost, the Great Scott's Flight was pretty darn good too. It too had single malts that were smooth and complex. It was a fantastic scotch experience for a more reasonable price.
The fatal flaw of the After Dinner Flight was the Edradour Ballechin - just wasn't very good. I very much enjoyed the Bruichladdich 20 Flirtation, the Macallan Cask, and the Talisker 25 (not peaty like its younger sibling at all).
And the Dinner Flight had two weak links: a truly terrible scotch (Tobermory 10) and one that just didn't have much character (Glen Garioch 21 - one would think that it would show some maturity, but it didn't).
If I had to chose one flight, and I get myself to plunk down the money on the Rockefeller flight, I would definitely go for the Great Scott's option. For just 8 dollars more than the After Dinner Flight, one gets some truly magnificent whiskys.
We've got full reviews on our site (with pictures). The general Keens review and Rockefeller and Great Scott's flights reviews are on June 11th and the Dinner and After Dinner Flights are on June 13th. I also did a short review on Keens' service and on a Middleton Irish Whisky 2007 the bartender gave me on June 14th.
CA Scotch Chick
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