There’s only one thing better than getting invited to eat amazing food, and that’s being invited to drink amazing whiskey.  Luckily, we got that memo, and off to a Crown Royal Vanilla tasting we went!  One of the interesting parts of this adventure was the location of the tasting.  We arrived at the Highland Park Soda Fountain, a unique venue rich in history and tradition.  Only at this 100 year old Soda Fountain can one find soda jerks, lunch counters with spinning stools, and world famous shakes served in frosty glasses.

We started off the event with the Pecan Old Fashioned, a newly created drink for the event.  It was Crown Royal Vanilla, Crown Royal Deluxe, Dark Karl Syrup, and Pecan Chickory Bitters.  The pecans were fresh from the drink creator’s very own trees, and he had made a special pecan bitters for his concoction.

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There were hint’s of vanilla bean and creme brûlée amidst the oak and spice.  It was a very smooth old fashioned, with the pecan bitters adding that extra touch for an amazing overall smoothness.

Next on the drink list was The Yard Boy, another fresh creation for this event.  Crown Royal Vanilla, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Mole Bitters made up this dreamy dessert concoction.

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While it admittedly had a funny smell to it, it tasted amazing.  Something about vanilla ice cream with vanilla whiskey that just hit the spot.  It wasn’t overly sweet, nor was it overly strong with the stronger tastes of the whiskey.  An incredible mixture of ingredients for a refreshing after dinner drink.

Last on the agenda was the Vanilla Fizz.  Crown Royal Vanilla, Orange Juice, Cream, Simple Syrup, Egg White, Lemon, and Orange Bitters made up this unique and outrageously different beverage.

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Unlike The Yard Boy, the Vanilla Fizz was a very thin drink, but topped with the egg whites.  The Orange Juice and lemon were the dominant flavors, but there was that underlying hint of whiskey and vanilla that the Crown Royal brought to the table.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I liked best about it.  Each sip seemed to change slightly, almost as if the drink was intentionally trying to keep you guessing.

We did a sampling at the very end of the Crown Royal Vanilla.  Our host attempted to teach us the proper way to sample real whiskey.  We turned the glass sideways, breathing in the whiskey to get a sense of the aroma of the whiskey.  We took a small sip, allowing it to hit the roof of our mouths before swallowing.  We breathed in through our mouths, and out through our nose, allowing the fullness of the whiskey to permeate our lungs and to allow the aromatic molecules to stimulate the sensory receptors.   This is called a retro-olfaction process.

Overall, it was an amazing experience, not just with the Crown Royal Vanilla whiskey that we were able to try but the historical location that they held the event at.  Thanks to everyone involved for the invite, and a special thanks to Steven Wilson, who flew in from New York City to share his knowledge of whiskey with us.