Umami Mart Registry

I have allowed an unsuitable amount of time to pass before writing about our Fragrance of Whisky evening at Wingtip nearly three months ago. So I’ve dumped all of the evening’s artifacts around me. It’s a mound, quite literally. One Women & Whiskies branded tote, two W&W t-shirts (sorry Lucia), two W&W gift guides, a tasting journal, another tasting journal that is not my own, three fragrance mustaches, four samples of Yosh’s u4eahh! (sound it out), five business cards, one Umami Mart spherical ice tray, a scattering of dutifully labelled sample strips that had been sprayed with their corresponding essences but have now lost their distinction. (Pink peppercorn resembles aloe vera, aloe vera is now pear-ish. The one stick I forgot to label is definitely seventh grade boy anti-perspirant.)

I want the night’s narrative to illuminate amongst these souvenirs, like a connect-the-dots that takes shape despite an insistence of chaos.

View from the exclusive Club member bar at Wingtip, where our event took place.

Wingtip logo napkins

Women & Whiskies swag

The tasting journal is the navigation tool I must now rely on, two pages of notetaking on our six-whisk(e)y tour, guided by Women & Whiskies’ Lucia Gonzales and independent perfumer Yosh Han.

Lucia (standing, left), West Coast Ambassador for Campari's Whisky & Whiskies program, and Yosh (standing, right), perfumer extraordinaire, led an informative and interactive tasting session.

We tasted six kinds of whisky that night, which Yosh had paired with specific scents.

Here's what you missed (from left): Hibiki (12 years), Glen Grant (16 years), Yamizaki (12 years), Russell's Reserve Rye (6 years), Wild Turkey Rare Breed (barrel proof!), Bowmore (15 years).

Reading back through my notes, many strike me as worthy of repetition. For example, the Hibiki 12-year we sampled, a blend of three Japanese whiskies, is partly rested in plum liqueur barrels giving it a stonefruit-y top note. Glen Grant’s unique tall still allows for more copper exposure (copper removes unwanted sulphur) giving it a refreshing lightness. Yamazaki, one of the components of the Hibiki blend, has an oak moss/sandalwood-like earthiness that lifts the longer it sits in a glass to reveal a chocolate base note. The charring of American Oak barrels (a legal stipulation for both rye and bourbon) produce vanillins, lending the curry-heavy Russell’s Reserve rye it’s vanilla finish.

Six tastings at each table.

Each whisky was paired with two single note essences (one top, one base) that allowed us to identify the whisky's "chord"

We were all encouraged to smell the whisky, then the particular scent, then the whisky. Our olfactory senses hard at work.

And then, the dutiful notetaking starts to devolve as whisk(e)y no. 4 begins to pronounce its effect and I find myself increasingly distracted by my sister and my mom’s debate on the philosophy of #YOLO.

Group-wide, conversation has also taken a turn as the discussion shifts to the personification of whisky (“I want to date this man”), catfishing and sex. Around this time I have written the nonsensical “not aged = four years” and enigmatic “1 year ---> fennelic”. The words “high rye bourbon” appear twice in my notes, consecutively, likely in reference to Wild Turkey’s Rare Breed barrel-strength bourbon, which otherwise goes unmentioned. Our last scotch, Bowmore, I have annotated with Yosh’s romantic anecdotes. The final word for the night: a solitary and isolated “Tinder”.

Maybe it’s a good thing these notes lose their focus. It locks the night away as a tight-fisted secret, shared amongst newfound whisky friends. And maybe it means you’ll be curious and unsated enough to attend the next Women & Whiskies event?

Here’s what I know: I have loved whisky since my first nip. It makes me feel a part of something right, something somehow both noble and punk. It’s a piece that fills the void, I theorize, that an absence of religion has left in my life. That being said, I have always been suspicious of my own taste buds, their unwillingness to cooperate/perform.

But in this way Lucia and her Women & Whiskies program has been a revelation for me, a young lady whisky drinker. Her approach is honest and encouraging and inclusive. She genuinely wants us ladies to feel more confident in our choices. What remains is a thrill in distinguishing a note, even if Lucia is not there to confirm my suspicion. And while I might not be able to immediately detect the difference between American and French oak barrels, I feel more encouraged to stop and focus and at the very least make an attempt at untangling the whisky's mystery, a patience that could use replication in more aspects of my life.

So cheers to you, Lucia!

Afterwards we dined like kings or, um, like you do at a place like Wingtip.

Nothing like a little bubbly to end the night.

Late-night mingling

From left, Jennifer (Wingtip), Lucia (Women & Whiskies), Yosh (Y O S H olfactory sense) and Kayoko. Rumor has it these ladies hung around the club to polish off the bottle

Thank you to Jennifer and Christina of Wingtip for hosting such a stellar event, and for Lucia and Yosh for their deep knowledge about whiskies and fragrance. Let's do this again soon!

*Photos by Yoko Kumano