In wintertime, Scotch, Irish, and Japanese whiskeys each deserve their own section on your bar, but with the sun closer, there’s less need to warm your insides; you can roll with one well-chosen representative from each. The Japanese are now producing hooch to rival the Scots, and the Yamazaki 12-Year is a lovely ambassador (and great value), aged in bourbon barrels, sherry wood, and Japanese oak. Lots of Jameson fans jump from the 12-Year to the 18, forgetting Jameson Gold, the brightest and creamiest of the range (and the only one to use virgin American oak). And though the snow has melted, and we can extinguish the peat fires, make an exception for the subtle, dry smoke in Highland Park’s 25-Year Old single malt. If you’re gonna splurge, do it here. Taking in the summer stars, cigar in hand, tongue abuzz with rich toffee and salted chocolate. You’ll be glad you did.
Go-To Cocktail: Japanese Manhattan
For an elegant, light-footed variation on a Manhattan that’s pitch perfect for spring, try this creation from Julie Chang, Eladio Huitzil at the cigar-friendly Bar and Books (where the emphasis is decidedly on bar).
2 oz Yamazaki 12-Year
¾ oz Dry Vermouth
½ oz St. Germain
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Prepare all ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Cocktail (Martini) Glass