Grind Time: Master distiller visits Honolulu

Dec. 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Whiskey from Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection will be among the bottles poured at events hosted by master distiller Harlen Wheatley. (Courtesy photo)

Whiskey from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection will be among the bottles poured at events hosted by master distiller Harlen Wheatley. (Courtesy photo)

BY JASON GENEGABUS / jason@staradvertiser.com

Bourbon fans will have a rare opportunity to meet — and eat! — with Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley, who arrives on Oahu next week for a series of public events.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Wheatley holds degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering and joined Buffalo Trace in 1995. He worked his way up the ladder from distillery supervisor to distillery manager in 2000 and Master Distiller in 2005. He is the sixth individual to hold the position at Buffalo Trace since the Civil War; the distillery is now owned by New Orleans-based Sazerac Company.

buffalo traceAlong with Buffalo Trace’s namesake bourbon, Wheatley also oversees production of more than a dozen types of bourbon, rye whiskey and vodka, including Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, George T. Stagg and Sazerac. His company’s distillate is also used to produce Pappy Van Winkle, one of the most-hyped and hardest to find bourbons in the United States.

Wheatley will make appearances at three Oahu retail locations, where he will sign bottles for customers and pour samples of Buffalo Trace, E.H. Taylor Small Batch, Eagle Rare Single Barrel and Sazerac Rye.

He’ll be at Foodland Aina Haina from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10; Don Quijote Kaheka from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11; and Tamura’s Waialae from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.

In addition to the in-store appearances, Wheatley will be the featured guest of the whiskey club at O’Toole’s from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10. Ticket information is available by calling the bar at (808) 536-4138; samples scheduled to be poured include Buffalo Trace, E.H. Taylor Single Barrel and Small Batch, Eagle Rare, Sazerac Rye, Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique.

For those who need to eat something with their whiskey, three food-related tastings have been announced.

From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Wheatley will join forces with Vintage Cave executive chef Chris Kajioka to present “Whiskey & The Man Cave” at the Ala Moana Center restaurant. Guests will be treated to tastes of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Sazerac Rye, George T. Stagg Jr., Weller Reserve and E.H. Taylor Single Barrel, Small Batch and Rye. Tickets are $150, with priority given to Vintage Cave members; call (808) 441-1744 for more information and reservations.

The next day, Dec. 13, Fujioka’s Wine Times will host a whiskey dinner at Pint & Jigger, 1936 S. King. St. from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $80; call 739-9463 for more info about the night’s menu. Seating is limited to 30 guests.

A third dinner planned for Dec. 11 at the new 12th Avenue Grill in Kaimuki is sold out.
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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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