Since National Scotch Day is July 27, we figured it was highly appropriate to check in with Beverage Director Brahm Callahan of Grill 23 & Bar. The restaurant, which reopens soon, has one of the largest scotch menus in Massachusetts. Here, Callahan gives us a look into the curation of that list, and why the Scottish liquor is so special.
Grill 23 & Bar has one of the largest scotch menus in Massachusetts. How did you curate the list? Can you highlight some of the best options on it?
It has been a multi-year process to build the list, but we took our inspiration from our Grand Award winning wine list. We look for not just the most expensive selections, but also for unique, one-off items from defunct distilleries where we are likely to only ever see one bottle. It’s significantly more work to manage a spirits list this way, but it means that we have the most interesting list in Boston, and that it’s constantly changing—which is why a number of our guests have become such loyal patrons as there is almost always something new.
We lay out our scotch selections by production region and also list what type of wood the scotch was aged in as that significantly impacts the flavor. Best is a relative term. For me, I like the spirits with a story—Linkwood and Glenesk are some of my favorites.
What makes scotch so special?
It’s whisky that’s made in a very specific way regulated by the Scottish government, and it’s unique to the areas where it’s produced. It can't be replicated anywhere else in the world.
What is your favorite scotch?
I don’t have a favorite—I’m an equal-opportunity drinker. With this said, I do drink a lot of Balvenie. It’s a great value across the board—whether you’re drinking a 12- or 40-year-old bottle—and I really like how they play with various wood-aging to get different expressions and flavor profiles.
Photography by: Courtesy of Grill 23 & Bar/ Himmel Hospitality; Carousel image by Adam Jaime on Unsplash