ABX Whiskey Testing

Marvel Bar’s Pip Hanson is obsessed and skeptical, and that’s a wonderful thing if you’re fond of whiskey:

Since then they’ve been quietly growing their whiskey collection, which now exceeds 150. As they’ve done with all of their spirits, they’ve only added a whiskey to their list based on its performance in blind tastings. “As it turns out, some of the stuff we like is very obscure and some of it is very mainstream,” says Hanson.

The list is currently heavy on bourbon and scotch, with a dozen ryes and a few Japanese single malts in the mix. The trick for Hanson became how to present them all with the same thoughtful and detailed manner they use for mixed drinks. So he undertook an excruciating quest to catalog all of his whiskeys’ manufacturing details.

It has resulted in one of the most data-rich spirit lists we’ve seen anywhere in town. Marvel now chronicles each whiskey along with details including how long it was aged, the grains in the mashbill, the toast level on its barrels, its proof, and who distills it. They’re attempting to strike at the heart of connoisseurship: to give people enough information to help them figure out what they like and what they don’t.

“It’s hard to understand whiskey if you don’t know how it’s made,” says Hanson. “We wanted to cut through the marketing stories where they aren’t relevant, instead focusing on what goes in to them and how that affects them… mashbill information, sherry finishes or peat levels, or if it’s chill-filtered. That’s the info that helps us wrap our heads around these whiskeys, not a label note that says it tastes like honeysuckle.”