When we stepped into The Whisky Room at Kelowna’s Hotel Eldorado, memories of The Stag’s Head pub in Dublin rushed back. The warm wood, weathered tin ceiling panels, gold light dancing off the dark fixtures and the twinkle in the bar manager’s eye, but instead of a healthy headed Guinness, a flight of Scotch whisky waited.
Certified Whisky Ambassador Patrick Parker has been at the resort since 2013 and knows a thing or two (or a 100) about whisky and has the knack of making newcomers to this world comfortable.
Our first flight consisted of three Scotch whiskies from three different Scotland areas that have distinct variations in flavours.
The first scotch was a Glenkinchie 12-year old is known as Edinburgh‘s scotch. “Lowland scotches are much lighter and approachable for the novice whisky drinker.”
The second scotch was the Tomatin Legacy from the Highlands. Parker explained, “highland scotches are slightly more flavourful with fruity notes, a lovely sweetness, and is gentle on the palate.”
The third scotch presented was the Jura 12-year from the Isle of Jura. With this whisky, Parker wanted to introduce us to the flavour and smell of peat.
“The islands of the west coast offer the whisky drinker the aroma of peat which comes for the peat used to dry the barley. This whisky gives off a gentle scent and taste of peat to once again introduce you to this other unique flavour of Scotch.”
When Patrick began at the Eldorado Whisky Room, he knew that some education into the world of whisky would be a great benefit. So, he researched and found the Whisky Ambassador Course out of Glasgow. They teach this course around the world, and there was an opportunity for him to complete the course in Vancouver.
Needless to say, he aced the course scoring perfect marks in theory and tasting, which only whetted his appetite to dive deeper into the world of whisky. He has studied Canadian whisky, bourbon, and international single malts adding to his knowledge base since then.
The first cocktail crafted was a New York Sour. Parker likes to give traditional cocktails a bit of a twist and make them unique. Our plant-based version consisted of Wild Turkey bourbon, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and a spritz of Eldorado Red wine.
The second cocktail, which is the one in the decanter, is a Grand Old Fashioned. This has Wild Turkey bourbon, Forty Creek whisky, and Grand Marnier. It also has brown simple syrup, orange bitters, and angostura bitters. It is aged for 5 weeks in an oak cask to bring out the oak’s vanilla and caramel flavours to smooth out the cocktail.
“What makes a great whisky sour is balance,” Parker explained, “You have to balance the sweet and the sour to excite your palate.” Excellent addition to the Grand Old Fashioned is the Amarena wild Italian cherry that he prefers over Maraschino.
Over the final sips of a Grand Old Fashioned, I asked Parker ‘why whisky?’ He responded, “Whisky is my passion because the world of whisky is about stories. Every whisky has a unique story all its own.”
The characters, locations, history all add to a whisky’s story. I also find that whisky lovers are often either very knowledgeable about the golden dram or very curious, which makes for great conversations.”
“My focus in The Whisky room is to provide our customers with an experience. It is more than just having a cocktail. It is about the stories and being entertained. Learning and exploring, tasting and discovering this great world of whisky.
It is a noble libation that deserves the attention that it gets. I really enjoy the sparkle in someone’s eye or that jaw-dropping moment when we have a tasting, and they discover something new, or I dispel the myths about whisky, and we have a new convert to the world of whisky.”
Having someone as passionate as Patrick Parker at the helm made the tasting experience so educational and enjoyable. Slainte!
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues. [email protected]
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