Whiskeyed Away to Isle of Skye

05/22/2013 4:00 AM |

Isle of Skye
488 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg
4 L’s

“Check out our beautiful 21- and 25-year-olds behind the bar,” read the sandwich board outside. But the lecherous can lower those raised eyebrows—they’re talking about bottles. Sit down here and flip through a book-length menu of whiskeys categorized by place of origin: Islay, Speyside, Lowlands, Highlands, etc. It’s an intimidatingly thorough selection, each priced $9-$35 for two jiggers dumped into a small tapered glass, though most fall in the $11-$15 range. Each name on the list sports an accurate (in our experience) and helpful flavor description: some are poetic—like the $17 glass said to taste like “bonfire”—while others could catalog a brunch: “creamy vanilla, honeycomb, banana bread, melon.” I would tell you which whiskeys were my favorites, but somewhere along the tasting odyssey I lost track. I recommend non-connosieurs do the same. As beer nerds have their Tørst, whiskey drinkers now have a Mecca in Brooklyn. Go get lost there. (A sister bar, the Duke of Montrose, is supposed to open any day now in North Slope.)

The space could be called medieval chic, all wood and rock and darkness: save one of gray stone, the walls are colored the same ebony as the bar, and not much sunlight or streetlight enters. (It’s just below street level, like Cheers.) A long communal table cuts the room in half, separating the bar from several classy black-leather couches. It’s a little underwhelming, but you’re not really here to enjoy the interior decoration—you’re here to drink whiskey. The selection is the only point.

Our bartender that evening had a bit of a brogue and a good handle on pronunciation, schooling us on the vowels in Glenmorangie. But when we asked if we were saying Tomatin correctly, he smiled and shrugged. “There’s so many here, it’s hard to keep track.” There are other options, too: several varieties of Bellhaven on draft, plus a few other beers like Sixpoint; many more in bottles; and even a few wines. But so what? Suffice it to say that whiskey drinkers can bring along the whiskey indifferent without making their guests miserable. For the timidly whiskey-curious, there are special cocktails ($10), delicately mixed to respect the flavor of the Scotch. The Laphroaig Project’s fruity flavors clashed with the smoky 10-year, but the Glasgow Dram was something special: an autumnal, sylvan-flavored drink whose earthy apple cider served as the perfect complement to the creamy Auchentoshan Classic. Go enjoy a glass of it before it gets too summery outside.

Photo Austin Mcallister

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