I am a director, playwright, and theatre critic with a Masters in Writing for Performance. You can check out my my portfolio and musings at www.samsaradunston.blogspot.com.au
A vaudeville history of American whiskey
Are you feeling cold this winter? What better to warm up than some quality American whiskey and some seriously frisky vaudeville? Ren Butler of Whiskey Social, and burlesque artist Sophie DeLightful understand this and together they combined their talents to bring Frisky Whiskey: A Vaudeville American History to the Greenwood Loft.
Frisky Whiskey was a 5-course whiskey tasting with a 5-course vaudeville chaser, both of them all-American in flavour. The important thing was to sip slowly and savour every moment of the experience and to get the juices flowing we were all indulged with a delightful amuse bouche Manhattan, maraschino cherry included.
The journey began with the Knob Creek Rye. With a 50% ABV this whiskey was a great one to kick things off. The tale began with Irish and Scottish migrants who emigrated to America. They discovered the soil was not suitable for barley, but rye grew very well indeed. Daveonfire came out in a kilt and to a range of Celtic airs he wowed with fire twirling and manipulation which was close enough to singe our nostrils. I have to say with the peaty Knob Creek Rye on my tongue, the flame fumes in my nose and the warmth flushing my skin I was in sensory heaven and I really was taken back in time to a tradition and experience which is almost primaeval.
The second course was the Booker's Bourbon. This whiskey has a deeper, grainy flavour. Booker's Bourbon comes straight from the barrel and is uncut and unfiltered and you can just feel it's journey to your stomach as it warms you from the inside. Born out of the speakeasy era of the 1920's Booker Noe (Jim Beam's grandson) chose this whiskey as personal gifts for friends and family and thus a brand and legend was created. To complement and titillate the internal experience created by the whiskey, burlesque star Maple Rose performed a fan dance which reminded us that it was at the start of the 20th-century strip tease became a hallmark of American vaudeville.
I had never heard of Australian whiskey but the next course showed me though we are young in the market we are well worth the tasting. Whilst the Melbourne Moonshine Sour Mash Shine is young the corn liquor tradition dates right back to the prohibition days in the USA when speakeasies were the only place to get drunk and white lightning moonshine was being made in everyone's back room. A clear whiskey, this sour mash has a butterscotch flavour which perfectly suited DeLightful's slightly more humorous strip tease and fire manipulation. A little more down-home and playful, DeLightful teased the audience unmercifully as does the whiskey.
Moving forward to the 1960's we come into the flower power era and celebrate it with the Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof (also known as the 'distillers reserve' Roundstone). This whiskey creates a warm ball of fire in your throat that lingers to keep the chill of winter at bay. Settling into a rosey glow, we sat back and enjoyed the belly-dancing stylings of Miss Honeybea. Fusing bellydance with folk, she whirled and twirled her new found freedoms as DeLightful got us all singing along to Janice Joplin's iconic song 'Mercedes Benz'.
To finish off the evening we came back to Melbourne to cleanse the palette with the Great Southern Distilling Co. Tiger Snake Whiskey. As a classic sour mash mix of corn, barley and rye this whiskey rounded out the evening perfectly. Supposedly smooth and creamy don't be fooled because this tiger snake has a real bite! Elle Indika also brought the performance to a beautiful close with a ring of fire in the form of a LED hoop dance.
Butler and DeLightful created a perfectly curated evening of fun, relaxation, great entertainment and amazing whiskey. The night was educational and fun. Everyone left with a warm glow in their hearts and stomachs and made a lot of new friends on the way. The pair have hinted there will be another Frisky Whiskey night in the future, but in the meantime why not check out the upcoming events for Whiskey Social and get on board the whiskey lovers train. I am certainly a passenger now!