Located on an assuming street on the edge of the infamous Chelsea district in NYC, you’d be hard pressed to find this hidden gem of a place… well mainly because if you went there about a week ago it wouldn’t have existed yet. For those familiar with New York culture, the idea of a “pop-up anything” is far from new. As a result of ever increasing rental prices and seasonal shifts in business income, it only makes sense that the idea of transforming a normally unused, unprofitable piece of property into rent-able event space, is a marketable business (kudos to you Patrick Courrielche). But anyway I digress, let’s start over…
Located on an assuming street on the edge of the infamous Chelsea district in NYC, you’d be hard pressed to find this hidden gem of a place. It’s only when the sun begins to set that you might be able to spot the smallest hint of red neon glow seeping through the doors and windows. Red Light District? Not quite, at least not yet anyway. Instead, you would bear witness to The Glenmorangie House, a pop-up luxury speakeasy hosting a bevy of “Glenmo expressions” just in time for WhiskeyFest NYC. Walking in you are greeted by a host who proceeds to check to see if you belong, and luckily I did. Soon after you are handed a glass of what seems to be a twist on a classic Old Fashioned (made with Glenmo spirits of course).
Just to ensure you are aware of what you are getting yourself into, they were kind enough to even brand Glenmorangie onto the lemon skin for good measure. Oh, and that red neon glow I mentioned before? It’s actually a sign hypnotically drawing you closer to the main bar, which is flooded with a team of bartenders anxiously waiting to refill your glass (or glasses at this point) with your choice of either The Original, the Lasanta, the Quinta Ruban, or the ever so sweet Nectar D’Or.
Behind the bar is a wall of orange hued bottles, in front a lounge area framed by two carefully orchestrated custom wood displays hosting an army of Glenmorangie Signet bottles. So why was this particular bottle the star of the night? Well because not only is it blended with one of the oldest whiskies in the Glenmorangie family at a ripe old age of 40 years, it was also the winner of “Best Single Malt Scotch” at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2013. Endless servings of this, as well as the 18 and 25 years old expressions, were available at a smaller, more intimate, semi-hidden serving area near the back of the house.
So enough about the ambiance, there was whisky involved after all so there had to be some drinking done and opinions made with a selection this vast in one place. Let’s begin with the true star of the evening (for me at least). The Glenmorangie 25 Years Old Single Malt Scotch.
Winner of the “Best Single Malt Scotch” 2015 International Whisky competition, it’s very full-flavored with aromas of cherry, sweet plums and chocolate. Being from an island, I immediately appreciated the hints of coconut and spices making their point subtly with every sip. Fellas, you can give your significant other this and she may not even make her usual “What did you just make me drink!?” stare, or “And it cost how much?!” face. The Signet on the other hand, as its bottle might suggest, is a little on the darker side. The taste of mocha and charred oak dominate throughout but once your taste buds become cordial to the idea, a rich sweetness tends to take over and you find yourself paying attention to that red neon glow just a little more than before.
So for those who were lucky enough to get a VIP Access Pass to the Glenmorangie Pop-up Luxury House this week, beware of the level of envy that’s about to come your way. Most importantly, fully take in the moment because just as the name entails, this beautiful oasis of whisky will be gone just as quickly as it popped up. Probably replaced by a fashion boutique or nail salon nonetheless. But for now… Bravo Glenmorangie… Bravo. I’ll be on the look out for that red glow again next year.