I’ll admit Sherry Sips took a back seat as I consciously uncoupled from my ex-husband at the end of 2017 and writing has not been a priority. Instagram is my outlet to stay connected. Posting images is the best I have to offer while establishing a new norm post divorce. Once out of habit, it’s been hard to take it up again and not become paralyzed by perfectionism. Time to start fresh. These are my experiences with amazing people, amazing wines and I want to share them with you!
Let me start with a recent opportunity I had right in my own neighborhood. North Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon has some of the best people working hard to bring good food, fun fashion and support to local artisans. One key person is my optometrist at Optik PDX. Dr. Ezra is a reminder that people do enjoy my writing and support me in this obsession. He’s also the one who first introduced me to John, the owner of Sidecar 11, a unique whiskey bar nuzzled in the middle of Failing and Shaver.
Portland has a growing affinity with distilled spirits. Two years ago, I shared with John my desire to do an event featuring sherry and whiskey aged in sherry barrels. I wanted to teach about the making and aging of sherry and see if whiskey lovers could taste the nuances. I loved his enthusiasm and interest in partnering together using his bottles of Tomatin Whisky, each barrel aged in a separate sherry style. He was not going to let me give up on this vision.
This September, he pulled me out of my shell to do an intimate industry education tasting before his doors opened to the public. He created the line up and all I had to do was share my knowledge, experience and excitement. Not only was it a success, but also exactly what I needed to confirm that Sherry Sips wasn’t just a phase or a passing season in life.
I was happy to see he chose a line up that included sherry styles from Chipiona as well as Montilla-Moriles wines. It gave me an opportunity to further explain about the region and designation. Sherry can only be aged in Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria. The other fortified wines can be labeled by the sherry style but technically cannot be designated as Sherry.
We also threw in the amazing vintage Añada 1997 Oloroso from Lustau and the PX 1988 from Toro Albalá. John loves using these vintage sherry styles to elevate classic cocktails. The Añada 1997 makes an amazing Manhattan when blended with old granddad bonded bourbon and orange bitters. If you want to try something a little smoother, ask for the Working Man’s Manhattan that uses the PX 1988.
As we tasted through the styles from dry to sweet, I did my best to drive home the importance of the soil, grapes, aging process, the influence of yeast, known as flor, the solera blending system and recommended pairings. There’s so much to share and it’s hard to keep it concise especially as I get excited telling stories.
It was good to pass the baton to John to talk about the Tomatin Whisky. I personally am not the expert on single malt Scotch but I loved how each had it’s own character just like the varying styles of sherry. The Tomatin Cuatro Series was matured for nine years in traditional American Oak casks and was then transferred to four different types of Sherry butts of Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez for over three years. For me personally, the Oloroso was my favorite.
As International Sherry Week comes to a close just as Portland Cocktail Week kicks off, please be sure to go visit Sidecar 11! It’s cozy, it’s inviting, and they’ve got some really special bottles to share at decent prices. Tell them Sherry Sips sent you.