May 16, 2013

Cece's Single Malt Sweet Tooth

Glenmorangie Lasanta, Scapa 14-Year

Cece's Sweet Tooth for Single Malts

This week we were fortunate enough to sit down for a special tasting with Cece Smith-MacKenzie of Walker's in TriBeCa.  Cece has been a waitress at Walker's for 17 years, always with a smile and a lovely dram to brighten your day.  While not a smoke head like your trusty authors, Cece is something of an expert when it comes to rich, honeyed, Highland malts.  

"I first discovered whisky, like most young kids, when I stole some from my grandfather’s liquor cabinet. I did not enjoy my first encounters with Scotch. He had a taste for really smoky whisky. Then in my twenties there were many hapless meetings with blended whisky. Which, I barely survived, or at least that is how it felt.

It wasn’t until 16 years ago, Leonard, who is still a bartender at Walker’s, talked me into trying Balvenie 12. My love affair with single malt had officially begun. It is still one of my favorites today.

I tend to like Highland Whisky the best, but I love The Orkney Isles. Scapa is now one of my all time favorites and I also love Highland Park, both from Orkney. Glenmorangie is my favorite Highland and they have so many to choose from. Right now I am very partial to the Lasanta. I like Single Malts that are complex, with a peaty earthy flavour and very little to no smoke, with a vanilla, plum finish and a hint of spice. I don’t add ice. I do however add a splash of water to open the flavour. Old school. My grandfather would be proud!"

A Gem of a Pub

While the tourists are across the street gawking at the Ghostbuster's firehouse, locals flock to Walker's for the best happy hour in TriBeCa.  Walker's is one of our all-time favorite pubs. They sport a great, well-poured draught beer list (amongst our favorites are: Lagunitas IPA, Southampton White, Bluepoint, & Palm), a hand-picked selection of malts and whiskies, and very solid pub food at prices that won't make you weep like most TriBeCa restaurants these days.

Most importantly the staff is awesome and deeply authentic.  Walker's could be the Cheers of New York, if Cheers was a real place and not the most awful tourist trap in Boston. 

Contestant #1: Scapa 14-Year

From the Orkney Islands, north of the northern Scottish Highlands, comes Scapa.  Self-described as "sweet and velvety with flavours of sweet clementine and heather honey, a tang of ginger, and sweet baked apples," Scapa is a sweet treat that's off-the-beaten-path and was a very pleasant surprise.

SmokyBeast's notes:  "On the nose: A bouquet of flowers and fruits - dandelions, spring meadow, apples, and dew.  The body opens up with sweeter fruits: heavy apricot, peaches, white wine.  The finish is lightning fast, just a pop of fruit with absolutely no burn."

Cece's notes:  "On the nose: Salty, Floral, Oak, Ocean Brine.  Body: A hint of spice, vanilla, caramel, chocolate.  Finish: Very short, vanilla."

Scapa was delightful.  We could see this as a perfect after-lunch scotch, or to be paired with salads, fish, or fruit.

Contestant #2: Glenmorangie Lasanta

The Oloroso Sherry barrel version of the 12-Year Glenmorangie is noted as "Smooth chocolate covered raisins, honeycomb, and caramel toffee.  Deliciously sweet sherry flavoured sultanas, orange segments, walnuts, & butterscotch."

Cece's notes: "Nose: Spice, vanilla, caramel, banana fruitiness.  Body: sweet & spicy with peat coming through followed by a long finish of peat and spice.

SmokyBeast's Notes: "Nose: overripe bananas, caramel, Nutella.  There's a little funk on the nose here, maybe those bananas have gone a bit brown.  It opens up with herb garden and a hint of smoke.  Body: Sweet start, then little hints of lemongrass and thyme.  Herby and medicinal behind the sweetness.  Finish: Much longer finish when compared with the Scapa.  The finish is probably its best feature, the smoke is apparent along with a heavy dose of leather (saddle oil) and fresh oak.


While we remain dedicated to the beastly smoky delights, Cece introduced a new favorite.  The Scapa is truly unique.  It leaves you craving another pour, the stone fruits and honey still rolling on your tongue.  Think about a romantic evening with Scapa and chocolate-covered strawberries.  Think about a delicious malt that wouldn't ruin your palate for a light summer meal.

Thanks to everyone at Walker's for a great time.  Stop by next time you're in TriBeCa around happy hour (it's on the corner of N. Moore & Varick) and ask for Cece!



  1. The Lasanta is certainly not bad at all but I feel the standard Original and the cask strength Astar really showcase the distillery style. The sherry finish of the Lasanta pretty much buries the citrus notes of the Original.

    1. Just saw this comment for some reason Eric. The Astar is definitely unique and gives a clean virgin oak take on the brand. It has some die-hard fans who are crushed that it was discontinued. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we think the Signet is fantastic. Happy new year! Cheers/SB

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