Whisky Week Night One: Fountainhead's Single Cask Whiskey Night
The crowd was light at the bar. The commuter rush from the brown line was yet to trade in their khakis and laptops for a pair of Levis and a dram. My fiancé and I pulled up the to the corner spot of the bar. A curated list of single casks hunted throughout the States and across the Atlantic rested between our fingers. Our palates were peckish, and we were ready to indulge on Fountainhead’s small batch, single barrel collection.
Fountainhead is one of the top whiskey bars in Chicago. The Ravenswood neighborhood tavern is dressed in the ornate style of a London pub; and shelves a vast collection of American, Irish and Scotch whiskeys. Their Single Cask Night was our commencement to a week of sipping on pours from friends across the international line of distillery row.
Beverage director Bob Zacharias led us through their showcase of 29 rare casks selected by him and the Fountainhead team. My eyes scrambled across the double-sided menu. I was tempted to begin overseas, but my American heart directed me to Zacharias’ initial suggestion. So I raised a glass of Russell’s Reserve, clinking it with my fiancé’s pour of Arran 10-year-old Single Cask. The Kentucky Straight Bourbon overwhelmed my palate with a delightful sensation of spicy, oaky flavors and fading tones of toffee and vanilla.
The barstools were occupied with patrons as our second drams arrived. Next up was the recently awarded Best Bourbon and Best in Show at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. A pour of Henry McKenna 10-year-old Bottled-in-Bond lifted a refreshing brilliance to the roof of my mouth.
Upon delivery, Zacharias informed me that this was Fountainhead’s last bottle from their McKenna cask pick. Consequently, I paced my sips, and relished the Bourbon’s savory, nutty tones and spearmint elegance.
A trail of Glencairn glasses formed in front of us as we approached our last glass from the menu. I chose Old Weller Antique to conclude the inaugural night of Whisky Week. The collision of caramel sweetness and a persistent taste of oak paired perfectly with the good company around bar.
Fulfilled by a fine selection of whiskeys and cheerful conversation, we left Fountainhead, and ventured home towards a nightcap of Balcones True Blue Cask Strength Straight Corn Whisky. Because, well, you know, it was a 25-minute gap without any whiskey.