Whisky Wednesdays at Hare and Copper.
A catchy and pretty self-explanatory event title – What, Where, When and, to a certain extent, Why.
Hare and Copper is a delightful Eatery & Bar, located just outside Turangi at the southern end of Lake Taupo on NZ’s North Island. Both the Eatery and Bar and its Whisky Wednesdays are the brainchilden of entrepreneurial owner, Andrew Wood and his wife Liliana.
The name Hare and Copper initially conjured up an image of a large rabbit taking a nice warm bath in a large shiny cauldron, in the company of a selection of chopped carrots, onions and potatoes.
A nice concept, although maybe naming the kids’ pet rabbit Stuart was a little thoughtless!
But this Hare and Copper is not a recipe suggestion – at least not for rabbits. The Hare and Copper is a species of fishing lure, used locally to invite trout to dinner.
Three Whisky Wednesdays have been held at Hare and Copper this year, one each on the first Wednesday is July, August and September.
The first featured three NZ whiskies.
Very high interest in the event resulted in 30 attendees booking seats.
The event was sponsored by Central Otago’s Cardrona Distillery. who generously provided their Territory Manager, Jonnie Cocks, to the event. And they equally generously provided bottles of Cardrona Solera plus another as a door prize. (The prize was won by Neville, who had travelled to Turangi from Havelock North especially for the event – a well worthwhile trip!)
Winner was Solera, followed closely by the Divergence.
August’s event was Japanese whisky focused. Chosen drams were:
- Nikka’s Rare Old Super, a 43% blend with a lot of colour,
- Matsui’s Kurayoshi. An 8yo “pure malt” at 43%, and
- Matsui’s Mizunara (Japanese Oak) cask, bottled at 48%.
The Nikka Rare Old Super is described as “an entry level premium blend” – whatever that is! It is a good easy-drinking, simple, inoffensive blend. It lacks a bit of character beyond the faint hints of peat and nuts.
The Kurayoshi from Matsui Shuzou is also a blend, this time made from whiskies sourced from Scottish distilleries blended with Japanese whisky and “volcanic-stone-filtered water”. A big (and seemingly impenetrable) question is which Scottish distilleries were involved – no-one is saying!
The Mizunara is named for the Japanese oak used in the expression’s maturity. At the end of World War II, Japan faced shortages of medicine, food and other daily necessities. Against this backdrop, the lack of imported casks in which to age whisky was the least of the country’s problems.
However, whisky was popular with the occupational armed forces, so whisky makers had to do something. Local distillers began to use the native oak, mizunara.
Mizunara-aged whisky is known to impart distinct sweet and spicy flavours with unique aromas reminiscent of sandalwood and incense. Coconut and vanilla are also pronounced characteristics.
The Islay Tasting
The last event for the winter season was September’s 5-dram Islay tasting.
A record 36 people turned out for this one, including Mike and his bagpipes.
The dram selection was pretty much what you would expect, but with a couple of odd ones thrown in for interest and variety.
The starter was the standard Laphroaig 10 yo, 40%, 45ppm phenols (may as well get The Peat in first!).
Second was a new entry from Kilchoman – Sanaig, named after a local bay just north of the Kilchoman distillery. I am generally a bit ambivalent about Kilchoman expressions, but this one is rather nice.
Then the old Standard, Bruichladdich Classic Laddie Scottish Barley in it’s striking turquoise tube.
Next came Ileach, which I’ve not had before. 58% abv and around 40 ppm of phenol, the genesis of Ileach is a bit obscure. Suspicion is that it is either a teaspooned Lagavulin or Caol Ila. Either way, it’s totally drinkable, if a little youthful.
Last was the latest Port Charlotte, PC10, 59.8% abv and 40ppm. I vividly remember my first introduction to the PC ranges – someone gave me a glass of PC7 and the peat in it nearly blew my head off! PC10 is not like that – a wee bit underwhelming when you’re expecting a blast!
Group scores for the evening:
- Classic Laddie 8.75
- PC10 8.48
- Sanaig 7.88
- Laphroaig 7.86
- Ileach 7.67
It’s an informative title, if a bit bland.
It really doesn’t cover the essence of the events.
It doesn’t cover the roaring fire, the bonhomie of whisky tastings, and it specially missed out the extremely critical bit of the fantastic platters and service provided by hosts, Andrew & Lili.
Whisky Wednesdays are sadly parked now for the summer months. But look forward to them resuming again next winter! I’ll be queuing up to be there!
I have always liked the skirl of bagpipes.
I used to sit on a summer Sunday in Wellington’s Botanical Gardens and listen for as long as my parents would let me.
For future reference, hearing the bagpipes played outdoors on a hillside is one thing. Having them played indoors and a metre from your ear is a whole other matter entirely.
By quite a few decibels!