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Issue 6 - Toasting New York

Whisky Magazine Issue 6
October 1999

 

This article is 14 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Toasting New York

The Big Apple has some star whisky bars as tried and tasted by Dave Broom

Not surprisingly, rock singer Jim Morrison's refrain: "Show me the way to the next whisky bar" kept raging in my head as I tramped the streets of New York searching for that very thing. Actually, it's a ridiculously
easy task.

Trying to find the best whisky bars in Kabul would be a test, but New York? This place is drinkers' heaven.

So thumbs up to P. J. Clarke's, Sweet & Vicious and some dim place down a back street in SoHo. I asked the name, but the Knob Creek Bourbon was so large I forgot.

These were great bars, but my mission was to find ones dedicated to whisky. That's how I ended up outside a scruffy door on 2nd Avenue, peering at a tiny brass plaque that read, ‘Malt Whisky Club'. I rang a bell, was let into a corridor... rang another bell... and was allowed in. By this time I was thinking I'd stumbled onto the set of a Scorcese movie; that upstairs would be a red plush room with goodfellas laughing around tables, listening to opera or The Rolling Stones.

Instead there was silence and a golden glow. Behind the low bar that snaked around the far wall were 280 bottles of malt. The owner, Koichi Hiraiwa, smiled, bowed and said: "Welcome to the Hole in One."

It still remains the strangest bar I've ever been to. To be accurate, it's not a bar. It is a shrine to whisky, known only to a few expatriate Japanese businessmen – and the odd Scottish distiller.

As Mr Hiraiwa talks of how, in 1986, he started business, I scan the gantry. For every well-known brand, there...

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