As the weather turns cooler and we push our iced cocktails aside, it's time to go straight. Straight for neat whiskey (or, whiskey, if you're talking Scottish), and the timing couldn't be better.
We have a wealth of whiskey/whiskey tastings this fall on into the winter, everything from informal yet educational sippers with Brooklyn's new Camp Whiskey to the indulgence that is the Whisky Advocate's annual festival. Here are some of your best bets for getting to know the increasingly popular spirit a bit better in New York.
CAMP WHISKEY (campwhiskey.com)
Founded in August, the Brooklyn-based group started as a summer-only offering but quickly evolved into groupings of seasonal tastings. Co-founder Jeff Galli described CW as “more of a club” with two primary goals: keeping the sessions affordable and fostering the burgeoning local whiskey community. Each gathering features about five whiskeys, with the fall sessions under way and a winter one in the works.
The spaces rotate, with the following held in Williamsburg's The Counting Room: Single in America samples American malts (Oct. 10, $40), A Cask's Strength: Sherry finds sherries paired with sherry-rich Scotches (Oct. 17, $65) and the fall season rounds out with Rising from the Ashes: Campbeltown Whisky (Oct. 24, $40).
ASTOR CENTER (212-674-7501, astorcenternyc.com)
From meet-the-winemaker events to a primer on Hemingway cocktails, Astor Center covers a wide swatch of spirits. (It offers cooking programs as well.)
Educated Eater Rye: One What, Many Ways is less a tasting than an instructional, though you will enjoy a rye whiskey cocktail after hearing about the many uses of rye from a farmer, a baker and a distiller (6:30 p.m. Oct. 15, $15). The Origins of Flavor in Scotch whisky facilitates an investigation into ingredients, regions and processing styles (6:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 4; $79).
BRANDY LIBRARY, 25 N. Moore St. (brandylibrary.com)
The Manhattan bar houses a spirits school, where you'll find tastings for the brandy in the name as well as for Scotch, bourbon, tequila and beyond. Brandy Library does a lot of private tastings that include a lecture, food and drinks for $125 (for 6 to 14 people). Also, look for the school's upcoming seminars; the new schedule is expected soon, with classes ranging from $90 to $120 per person.
SINGLE MALT WHISKY: THE ISLAY 8 (thefoodfilmfestival.com)
Opening the NYC Food Film Festival is an evening of movies (including “Whisky: The Islay Edition”) and tastings of eight whiskeys from the island that produces some of the most favored in the world: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. At The New York Distilling Co. in Brooklyn, the night includes Scottish foods as well. (7 p.m. Oct. 17, $125)
Whisky Advocate's weekend-long event includes two grand tastings (6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 and 7:30 on Oct. 27, $175 each) with 250-plus varieties to sample at each. And, for six hours on Oct. 27 (9 a.m., $335), submerge your senses by sampling rare and new whiskeys, talks by Whisky Advocate writers and panel discussions with distillers and blenders.