The call was put out about a newly discovered location in The Joiners hotel in Hindmarsh. The owners had delved deep into the foundations and created their very own Whiskey Den. The minimum number for a booking is 4 with a maximum of 12. Targeting all whiskey lovers, it’s designed to be a place to hang out and appreciate some great whiskey with guidance. Also, bucks nights, bachelorette parties, birthdays and special occasions we’re looking at you.
We were upstairs being welcomed with introductions and polite conversation from Dan the owner when it came the time to descend into the den.
The original use for this hidey hole was a storage cellar but looking at it they had bigger and better plans. A few custom pieces made out of pallet wood like the whiskey shelf and the bar made their way in. Not to be missed is a very old vintage collection of unopened beer bottles and cans that are showcased. Clearly somebody’s grandpa was a very disciplined collector. Unopened!!!
The stairs are quite steep and we were told to step down backwards so as not to tumble down like a stuntman. Maybe a fireman’s pole would be fun but I think they would need to increase their public liability insurance! My feet hit the ground and the eyes adjusted to the dim lighting where I beheld the Whiskey Den. A very intimate enclosure was evident, it looked like something that would have been alive in the prohibition era. The walls were adorned with unusually dressed animals and old canvas maps. I am now convinced I need a rhino in a suit on my wall. For some reason the movie ‘A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ popped into my head. The place had a secret organisation feel to it.
We were seated on vintage chairs that once belonged to Dan’s grandparents so they held some sentimental value. A brief introduction was given explaining the order in which the whiskey was set up according to flavour profile. This started at sweet and fruity ending with smokey. The shelf was the UN of whiskey with representatives from Netherlands, India, Scotland, USA, Australia and more. Our first tip of the night? When you smell whiskey you should keep your mouth open as this will reduce the alcoholic punch that stings the nostrils leaving only the aroma that is desired.
The first whiskey to wet the lips was the Swedish Mackmyra whiskey. The flavours were that of spiced apple with a smooth start and spicy back kick. On the night this was possibly my favourite as the flavours were quite pleasant. Helping us also was a trio of cheese with pear and dried currants which broke up that strong flavour from our delectable whiskeys.
After we had all savoured and discussed the notes and history of the previous drink we moved on to the Glengoyne 14 year old whiskey. I picked up some blackberry and coffee hints and even a golden syrup flavour running through it. The sweetness was because it had been finished in a sherry cask we were told, and this is how many whiskeys develop their unique flavours, by using different casks. After draining what was left in my glass and sniffing the escaping fumes we were told by Dan that the Whiskey Den was never meant to be a serious affair. It is a more relaxed place to just appreciate fine whiskey with fine banter and laughs.
Reggie the co-host and spirits expert took over the night and poured the next bottle. This one hailed from Campbeltown and no, not north of Adelaide but from Scotland. This bottle of Springbank was a 12 year old whisky and probably the stronger one of the night. I picked up an almost minty flavour and I think this would definitely put hair on your chest!
The chefs have been experimenting in the kitchen to match up some food with what we have been drinking and thus they enter the den. We were treated to espresso cooked lamb with a mocha sauce which was amazing. Also a tea smoked duck with cauliflower puree which was very tender. The last of the dishes was fried enoki and oyster mushroom which, like the previous two, extremely delicious. These dishes are not readily available but there are thoughts to add them in the future. This is one of those times it’s good to be the guinea pig!
We had an unexpected addition to the night with some Melbourne Moonshine. I would have loved to see that old jug with the xxxx on the bottle! It was not as rancid as you would imagine and was quite smooth and fresh. It is not a drink I would have ever ordered but I was very happy to try it and finally know what it is like. The course shifted back to the whiskey with a Netherlands dutch rye from Millstone. This was aged for 100 months and was extremely smooth. I would say this was a close favourite on the night too.
The price tag on the bottles sampled are all around the $100-160 a bottle mark so you know it is something worth having. The range is quite rare too so it’s not the kind you can just hop to the local bottle shop and take home. There were three left to try and we had the peaty 8 year old whiskey from Hellyers Road and the Pinot Whiskey also from the same distillery. Out of the two I preferred the peaty one but if you like a cherry flavour to your drink then the pinot one would be to your liking. These whiskeys both hail from Tasmania and we were told that whiskey proves faster there compared to Scotland. It is the little bites of info like this from Reggie (who goes by Man of Spirit on Instagram) that makes for an interesting night.
We finished on an unusual country to get a whiskey from – India! This was from the Paul John distillery and is best had with spicy food. I would have never guessed coming from India! Our night came to an end as we stretched our legs and checked our balance after an awesome session. I did wonder if I needed to climb back upstairs on all fours but I made it up safe and sound. If you are interested in such an experience, be sure to call and book ahead.
Thank you Dan and The Joiners staff for such a great night and inviting me into your Whiskey Den. Also big thanks to our expert Reggie from Connect Vines for all the info on the night.
Disclaimer: Foodie Ling was invited as a guest of The Joiners courtesy of Mcfuzzlebutt’s Manchen
9 Manton Street
08 8340 3044