Photo by Mary Powers

Originally located in the upstairs addition of the Freakin’ Frog, the Whisky Attic was a quick climb out of one bar and into a room full of board games and bookshelves chockfull of whiskies most had never seen before. The atmosphere was different and alluring and complemented by Adam Carmer giving everyone a personal recommendation based off of their flavor preference. He created a memorable experience with a simple suggestion, and people caught on. Flash forward to 2018, a newer location in a quiet unassuming business park takes the original Whiskey Attic to a new level (ground level). JD, the newest addition to the whiskey educating duo invites us in to the waiting room to browse their collection of relics and vintage bottles while he finishes hosting a tasting for a group of out-of-towners. We are eventually led into the tasting room (cue Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory music) and behold over 4,000 unique expressions of whisky from around the world stacked floor to ceiling with that same eerily familiar suit of armor display off to the side (we may be speculating, but there’s probably a nanny cam in there). 

Guests can choose several different packages that include exclusive rare finds, or just have the guys pick one out for you. “It’s not a sales pitch, it’s a preference. We aren’t sponsored by anyone and are completely unbiased,” he says as he pours our glencairn glasses with a surprise offering. One of the main goals of The Whisky Attic is to take the pretentiousness out of whisky tasting. “We want people to leave happy, but smarter than when they came in.” He elaborates on how wine tastings leave people feeling dumb and out of place when in reality it’s just a way for the people selling wine to make more money. These guys are in it for the pure enjoyment and education of the spirit, and they truly love to share their knowledge in a fun relatable way. Taste is also completely relative. One person might pick up fruit and honey, while another might get Sharpie and tacos. Eventually we all discover specific types that we enjoy and there shouldn’t be judgment attached to that. JD will be the first to tell you that he still prefers a good old shot of Jack Daniels over most high priced whisky offerings. It’s consistent and regardless of where he is in the world, Jack Daniels tastes the same (he’s also partial because they share the same initials).

The tasting initially starts off with JD asking each of us a few questions about our taste preferences (we won’t spoil it for you), but the guys are able to select whiskies that will target and expand tastings. JD elaborates that “there’s a whisky out there for everyone, and we’re happy to help you find it,” and he certainly does a great job of it. One of the major bonuses of the tasting is learning how to utilize the CSTEM (Carmer Spirits Tasting Enhancement Method) from the guy who created it, which is a complete game changer. JD is well versed in the method and very easily walks us through what we should be doing in order to get the best possible sipping experience from our whisky. It’s a pretty simple method that allows your olfactory system to acclimatize to the spirit you are drinking so that you are able to pull flavors that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to pick up. The usual way is to smell the spirit before you sip, and that just won’t fly around here. We’ve learned a few other ways to drink whisky, and this was the only one that actually made sense. Instead of taking one to the dome and reacting to the sweet burn, you’re taking in small sips and allowing yourself to taste the several different levels of flavor. We’re not going over all of the steps here, that’s what google is for. We’d actually recommend learning it in person from the pros since they’ve educated master tasters and distillers all over the world. This is definitely a great group experience and if you’re looking to expand your whisky knowledge these are the guys to talk to. Check them out at: http://www.whiskyattic.comwww.whiskyattic.com.