n Latin, it’s called aqua vitae, or the “water of life.” In the U.S., we call it whisk(e)y if it hails from across the Atlantic and bourbon if it’s made here. Distilled from fermented grain mash by Scottish and Irish monks beginning in the early 1400s, whisky was the Gaelic response to Europe’s abundant vineyards and wine trade. Colonists brought it to North America some 200 years later.
Regardless of the name or the spelling, there is no better complement to sophisticated relaxation than this elegant spirit and, with the “World of Whisky” program at The Resort at Pelican Hill,® no better reason to pay a midday or evening visit to Pelican Grill.
Beverage Manager James D’Arcy offers locals and Resort guests a rare peek at the surprisingly global production of distilled spirits. “World of Whisky” flights have featured Japanese, Scottish and American versions; Taiwanese and Irish labels may soon be added to the menu. Guests visiting Andrea can also join in by asking the bartenders to create a whisky experience based on their own personal preferences.
“There is great whisky coming out of France, Sweden and England as well,” says D’Arcy. “We want our patrons to explore the whole world’s offerings.”
To expand the horizons of local and visiting whisky lovers, D’Arcy shares the history of labels from across and even above the globe. Last year, the BBC reported on an experiment by the Ardbeg Distillery in which single malt Scotch whisky was sent to the International Space Station to mature. After aging it in zero gravity for three years, tasters back on Earth described the alien aqua vitae as unlike anything they had tasted before and “akin to cherries, prunes, raisins and cinnamon.”
The allure of space-aged whisky aside, D’Arcy notes that even afficionados tend to stick with the better-known single malt or blended Scotch, bourbon or Tennessee (mostly Jack Daniel’s) types. Most Irish whisky available in the U.S. is blended rather than individual.
D’Arcy is curating a list for the Resort that focuses on bottles that offer exceptional experiences, often at a more attractive price point than larger named, high-demand brands that are either overpriced or unavailable. He invites discriminating guests to visit Pelican Grill, order a glass of whisky and devote a bit of time to pure pleasure. “Sniff, smell and investigate what’s in the glass,” he advises. “That intangible quality, that series of elements coming together to produce something that explodes on your palate and transports you to somewhere else? That’s the true whisky experience.”