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Photos By Tam Sackman, Words By Brandon Wetherbee

Scotch is having a moment. The popularity of the peaty beverage always rises during the holiday season but it appears to be taking a little more of the light than usual. In past years we’ve been bombarded with bourban dinners and tequlia tastings. This year it’s scotch. Earlier this week we wrote about a Glenmorangie tasting at Jack Rose. We also wrote about the new Gibson cocktails. And the Bar Dupont cocktails. And scotch is becoming more and more popular.

After bartending for 5+ years, I know what scotch is good based on price and popularity. Actual knowledge of how a certain scotch is supposed to taste is nonexistent. My ‘expertise’ comes from listening to people like Rachel Ewing of RiRa and whoever is behind the bar at Dram and Grain. Eric Rohleder of Cordial Fine Wine & Spirits and scotch expert Jared Card are hoping their knowledge can become your expertise with their upcoming Slainte! The Cordial Scotch Series at Codial in Union Market.

The first class is this Thursday, November 6 and will feature tastings from the Speyside region. The six bottles (Tamdhu 10yr Single Malt, The Arran Malt Sherry Private Cask Single Malt, The Arran Malt Bourbon Private Cask Single Malt, The Arran Malt Devil’s Punchbowl Single Malt, Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay Single Malt, Kilchoman 100% Islay Single Malt) are all different from the December 4 class. According to Card, the Devil’s Punchbowl will be the first time the D.C. general public will get to sample the scotch.

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If you’re a novice, no need to proceed with caution. Card has programmed a class for all levels of drinkers. “We’ve developed more of a classroom style tasting, where we do presentation, teach people how single malt is made, what makes it different from bourbon, how come something aged in a bourbon cask tastes different than something in a sherry. A lot of tastings they just hitting you with one distillery. We do more of a general education type of tasting where we’re actually trying to educate the consumers and get them a little more involved with what’s going on in the process, and it seems to help them form an attachment to the whiskeys a little better as they’re learning.”

One benefit to having a class like this at a space like Cordial is the size of the space. It’s small. Because it’s small, Rohleder has to ensure that his selection is quality. It’s not possible to carry all 15 different types of Jim Beam when space is limited. This means more types of liquor, more small batches, more variety from a qualified connoisseur. Other connoisseurs may be interested in the December classing, according to Card.

“The one we’re doing in December is going to be the exclusive malts, which is one of our independent bottlers, so these are going to be all single-cask bottlings,” said Card. “They’re maybe 180-250 bottles that the cask yields, and once that’s gone, that whiskey is gone forever.”

Slainte! The Cordial Scotch Series at Union Market is Thursday, November 6 and Thursday, December 4. Tickets for both small classes are currently available. Use the code ‘SCOTCH’ when checking out and receive a 50% off.

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