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Willard Intercontinental Opens Scotch Bar With 100+ Whiskies


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Has anyone been? How many are independent bottlings? Like it or not, the prime directive for distillery-branded bottlings is consistency above quality or excitement. The best independents (Scott's, Duncan Taylor, Gordon & Macphail, among others) are much more interesting.

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I assumed from the linked article that this was in the Round Robin, but it doesn't appear to be... Although that may be a misunderstanding with our waitress, a lovely woman, but a new hire, and a non-native English speaker with whom it took me several minutes to order a rye manhattan--seriously, several minutes. I offered to write it, to tell it directly to the bartender who could explain it to her, but she kept refusing and insisting that I was saying "red mat." There's an impressive, extensive scotch list, different from the regular bar menu at the Round Robin, but it doesn't have any of the special cocktails listed in the article, but I eventually just gave up on investigating further because my questions weren't getting any answers and I actually wanted to have a conversation with my companion.

That said, the Round Robin manhattan was, as always, lovely.

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Has anyone been? How many are independent bottlings? Like it or not, the prime directive for distillery-branded bottlings is consistency above quality or excitement. The best independents (Scott's, Duncan Taylor, Gordon & Macphail, among others) are much more interesting.

always enjoyed the Signatory Isle of Skye bottlings, and also all the items from Auchentoshan, and Ledaig

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They're off to a good start if they want to emulate Room 399 at The Scotsman in Edinburgh, when I was there right after they opened the hotel in 2001, they had already gone well beyond the 399 whiskys they started with, and were up to something like 425 even then. Nice touch...a small pitcher of water served so that you could cut the spirit and not burn out your sense of smell/taste right off the bat.

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DC hotel opens bar inside a bar

In Washington, DC, there is something new besides an administration.

The prestigious Willard Intercontinental Hotel's Round Robin Bar is now featuring its own bar, The Scotch Bar.

It's a special alcove with its own intimate bar, small seating area and a very broad selection of newly compiled Scotch whiskies, including dozens of labels and ages from each of the regions of Scotland.

You can get all the details on The DCist.

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We visited briefly this past Monday (yes, during pre-Inauguration craziness). It's in a little alcove to the left as you head into the Round Robin Bar entrance. The scotch selections were visually impressive, but it was difficult to procure a list to peruse at length as people had been making off with them as souvenirs that day. I had a Port Charlotte, which apparently is a new Islay, produced under the auspices of Bruichladdich. It was only six years old (!) but surprisingly complex and very enjoyable. The spouse had a Caol Ila, but memory fails me as to the year/aging. The space is essentially a "pocket bar", with about four/five seats at the bar proper and a handful of low round tables with chairs. I should have taken a photo, but the alcove was packed to the gills with excited revelers and harried bar staff. I look forward to returning on a very quiet night (a Sunday or Monday, perhaps?) and settling in for multiple ounces of peaty, smoky goodness!

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On The Scotch Bar and Jim. Enjoy!

Jim Hewes

Educated Drinking: Lessons on Scotch Flavors

SCOTCH MAY BE associated with Grandfather's coctkail hour, but the amber libation is no longer inaccessible. The Willard InterContinental recently opened the Scotch Bar at Round Robin with more than 100 malt whiskies.

Bartender Jim Hewes, who developed the menu, says, "There's a mystique to it, but [understanding it] isn't rocket science."

The menu, divided by region of Scotland, includes a range of ages — the youngest is 10, the oldest more than six decades.

"I tried to create a collection that has what people expect to find and also what you can't find anywhere," he says. "Those aren't necessarily the top end, but whiskies that are 10 to 12 years old that they don't make anymore."

The "expected" list includes the Glenlivet, while a "prestige" list includes the Johnnie Walker King George V Blue Label, which re-creates the Johnnie Walker blending style from King George V's era.

There are four flights of scotch on the menu, but Hewes says he doesn't encourage people to order them. He and the other bartenders can help people figure out which scotch they'll like by asking what other types of liquor they prefer.

"I like to let people sip, taste and experiment on a one-to-one basis," he says. "I can tailor a flight for someone based on their tastes."

Scotches are available in quarter-ounce ($3-$20) and ounce servings ($10-$75), which gives patrons a chance to try several whiskies at a time. The menu also includes cocktails, such as the Rob Royale, a combination of champagne, malt whiskey and honey.

With only a few tables and several seats at the bar, the Scotch Bar is a cozy spot to settle in for the evening and pretend you're taking a vacation to Edinburgh. It's open daily from 4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.

» Willard InterContinental Round Robin, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-637-7348. (Metro Center)

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