Grind Time: Harlen Wheatley at the Halekulani

Dec. 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

The whiskey poured at the Halekulani on Wednesday, Dec. 11, included, from left: Buffalo Trace, Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, E.H. Taylor Jr. Straight Rye, E.H. Taylor Jr. Single Barrel, E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch, George T. Stagg Jr., W.L. Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique and W.L. Weller 12-Year. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

The whiskey poured at the Halekulani on Wednesday, Dec. 11, included, from left: Buffalo Trace, Sazerac Rye, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, E.H. Taylor Jr. Straight Rye, E.H. Taylor Jr. Single Barrel, E.H. Taylor Jr. Small Batch, George T. Stagg Jr., W.L. Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique and W.L. Weller 12-Year. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

BY JASON GENEGABUS / jason@staradvertiser.com

It was a fun afternoon of whiskey tasting with Buffalo Trace master distiller Harlen Wheatley at Lewers Lounge on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Wheatley is in town for a series of public appearances, private events and industry training sessions this week, and the appearance at the Halekulani for “Whiskey Makes Me Frisky” was an opportunity for an exclusive group to taste a variety of Buffalo Trace products.

Local band Discord & Rye provided live entertainment as guests arrived. Predictably, the Lewers Lounge bar staff had prepared Old Fashioned cocktails using Buffalo Trace bourbon. They didn’t disappoint.


Wheatley arrived in Hawaii on Sunday and has spent time on Oahu and Maui attending public bottle signings and dinners; he also met with members of the Hawaii chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild on Tuesday, Dec. 10, during an educational seminar at the Mercury Bar in Chinatown. Wednesday’s event at Lewers Lounge was sandwiched between, you guessed it, a bottle signing at Don Quijote Kaheka and a sold-out whiskey dinner at 12th Ave. Grill.

Because he’s a hands-on master distiller, Wheatley can’t afford to be gone too long from the production line. This leads to trips like the one he’s currently on, where a week’s worth of events are packed into four or five days. He joked that his wife, who accompanied him on the trip and doesn’t have to maintain the same busy schedule, was out shopping at the mall and sunbathing at the beach — and messaging photos from her adventures to his cell phone while he worked.

Still, it’s not that rough when this aspect of his job entails hanging out with whiskey aficionados and liquor industry members, sipping on a little bourbon and sharing stories about Buffalo Trace’s history, products and manufacturing processes.

Buffalo Trace master distiller Harlen Wheatley, right, with Young's Market Co. of Hawaii's Joey Gottesman. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Buffalo Trace master distiller Harlen Wheatley, right, with Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii’s Joey Gottesman. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

In addition to the whiskey, Halekulani executive chef Vikram Garg provided a variety of small plates for guests to enjoy.

Here’s what we ate:

Honey Walnut Shrimp atop a graham cracker. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Honey Walnut Shrimp atop a graham cracker. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Foie gras with orange sauce. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Foie gras with orange sauce. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Seared sea scallop with lemongrass curd. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Seared sea scallop with lemongrass curd. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Steak tartare with quail egg. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Steak tartare with quail egg. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Salmon with roe and horseradish cream. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

Salmon with roe and horseradish cream. (Star-Advertiser photo by Jason Genegabus)

While Friday’s public dinner at Pint & Jigger is sold out, some seats are still available for “Whiskey and the Man Cave” today at Vintage Cave at Ala Moana Center. Tickets are $150 and include a whiskey tasting similar to the above with food by Vintage Cave executive chef Chris Kajioka and his staff. Call (808) 441-1744 for reservations; the tasting starts at 5:30 p.m.
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“Grind Time” is always looking for the latest places to get your grub on. Email Jason Genegabus with restaurant, bar or any other food/drink-related item at jason@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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