Jennifer Blair by Bianca Alexis
Having studied theatre at the University of Texas in Austin and trained at the Atlantic Film Company in New York, Jennifer Blair began her early adulthood as an actor. Landing roles in a handful of films and television shows (including an episode of the award-winning Friday Night Lights), Blair decided against making the move to Los Angeles, citing a liking for the New York City lifestyle as a reason to move to the East Coast instead. Around that time, she started working as a journalist, including writing about dive bars in Austin and the nightlife scene. Blair’s love affair with whisky began at Drammers Club in New York, which she was introduced to through mutual friends. Blair soon found herself working at Kings County Distillery, running tastings and the bottling line, and she has since advanced through the ranks to become NYC sales facilitator, a position she holds today.
10 Years Old
Everyone has one drink that’s open on your bar all the time. For me, that’s Talisker 10. It tastes like the ocean, so I may as well take it to the island. I seriously drink it all the time, and I would be sad to be without it. I found it early on in my whisky interest, so it’s sentimental. I know I’ve been drinking it for 15–20 years now. We used to go as a group for a few drinks after acting classes, and there was one bar that I remember always going to that had a garden. I have memories of drinking it there – though it’s not the typical drink you’d pick for a sweaty bar in Texas!
4 Years Old Custom Blend
I’d be remiss not to pick a King’s County. This is a custom blend that we did for Drammers Club during the pandemic. It’s a four-year-old blend of four different smaller casks, and a high-rye bourbon, which is unusual for us. We did a series of casks for Drammers Club during Covid, around May 2020. I remember talking to [Drammers Club president] Charlie Prince, and we set up a tasting panel on a Zoom call with all the samples. It was before everybody was tired of Zoom, and we enjoyed chatting and having a drink with each other. They ended up taking this custom blend, which is something we get enquires for every now and then. We have a big emphasis on blending at King’s County, and it’s a very old-school blending operation. A lot of time and energy is devoted to this process.
1970 Rare Cask Sample
The Balvenie malt master David Stewart brought this to a Drammers Club in New York the last time he was in the States. It’s one of those drinks where, over the years, you wish you could go back and revisit it. Everything was special: the weather, the line-up and the environment. It was perfect. Its cask number was #13250, it was distilled in 1970 and from a sherry cask. I’m not sure which type, but it was a very OTT sherry bomb. It played into my tastes in all the right ways. If you were to ask Drammers Club people which drink they wish they could revisit, they’d pick this one.
This was a store pick for Astra Wines and Spirits in New York. I’m a huge
nerd for Sauternes casks, and I have a whole cupboard of them. I picked this because of the New York connection. It’s fully matured in the Sauternes cask, which is rare and cool. I’m not connected enough to this distillery to know which winemaker it was from. I remember I had a party pre-Covid that was Sauternes themed, and we had a whole line-up of drams with meats and cheeses, too.
Black Art 4.1
This is a sentimental pick, and there’s a couple of reasons why I love this dram. It was one of the lightbulb moments for me when I first started digging deeper into this industry, when you realise what blending is all about and the highest good of what it can be. The bottle is one of the best luxury packages I’ve ever seen in my life aesthetically. Just because something is aesthetic, it doesn’t mean it needs to be thin or unintellectual. I like how it plays on the alchemical history of distillation. I just think that the whole product is a really tight idea.
Notoriously, I don’t pack light. It’s like in the movie Spaceballs, where the princess brings the industrial-strength hairdryer. In reality, I’d need a magic bag of holding so I can take everything I need to survive. So that, or maybe a really big hat.