Since Reserve 101 opened eight years ago, its whiskey collection has grown to more than 340 kinds. Its status as a serious whiskey bar (recently named as one of America’s Best Bars For Whiskey Lovers) means Reserve 101 gets opportunities to land some very rare bottles. The bar made national headlines when it received the Glenmorangie Pride 1978 — so rare that it sold for $750 a shot. Now, Reserve 101 has been able to have a hand in creating an exclusive 25-year-old whiskey blend called Annasach 25 from William Grant & Sons — and at $35 a shot, this one is much more affordable. It will hopefully be available for purchase at the end of this month at Reserve 101 by the shot and at Tony K's by the bottle. Raymond says as of now, it's in customs.
Getting a custom blend from William Grant & Sons is an opportunity afforded only to significant whiskey sellers, and Reserve 101 is the only bar so far that has been included. About a year ago, retailers Binny’s, BevMo!, Total Wine and Spec’s Liquors were part of the first release; Reserve 101's is the second release.
Owners Steve Long, Mike Raymond and his wife, Emily, recently traveled to the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, to try their own hands at blending single malt whiskeys. Ultimately, though, the second phase of Annasach 25 was blended by William Grant & Son's master distiller, Brian Kinsman. None of the whiskeys selected are less than 25 years old.
Only 600 bottles of Reserve 101's Annasach 25 blend were produced. That said, Raymond says that's more than Reserve 101 or Tony K's will go through, so retailers, restaurants and bars can still secure their own bottles from Republic National Distributing Company.
Houstonians were the first to try the Reserve 101 blend of Annasach 25, at a special class and fundraiser for Lucky Dog rescue. The tasting also marked Ian Millar’s final journey to the United States as the global ambassador for William Grant & Sons before retirement. Millar led the group through the tasting and coached attendees on the best way to prepare their snifter, suggesting they warm it in their hands a bit to “soften the fragrance and flavor for the palate.”
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The nose is deceptively sweet, like maple syrup, but this old blend still has a bite. Taking it straight, there’s a touch of heat, but a few drops of water make it blossom. The vanilla and baking spice notes, like cinnamon and nutmeg, become quite rounded and there’s a luxuriously silky mouth feel. The finish is long and lingering, as with sherry. It’s the ideal kind of whiskey for having a dram during a quiet moment, like with a good friend or in the midst of a good book.