Last Friday evening I stopped by Lillstreet Art Gallery for the opening of its new show, “Neat: The Art of the Whiskey Vessel.” It’s hard to imagine an event that more perfectly fits my interests: like anyone with good taste, I love whiskey, and I’ve been doing pottery for years (and, full disclosure, used to be a teaching assistant for classes at Lillstreet). In a ceramics class I took in college, the professor brought in several sake cups of different shapes and materials—mostly ceramic, but there were one or two wooden ones—and had us taste the same sake from the various cups. Drinking from the different cups really did make the sake taste noticeably different.
I don’t know whether same would hold true for whiskey, which is much stronger in flavor (though the shape of vessel can certainly affect the smell, which is a big part of taste)—but given the number of people at the reception, trying it from different cups it wouldn’t have been very practical anyway. Though there was whiskey to be had: Koval Distillery, which is located just up the street, was there offering samples. My favorite was the 47th Ward, a single-barrel overproof whiskey I’ve had before. Made from rye, wheat, oat, and malted barley, it smells a lot like honey and, at 94 proof, has a strong alcohol burn, but a little water smooths it out and makes it open up beautifully.