John Lindquist has been the General Manager of the Tam O’Shanter for nine years. Since the installation of the spectacular whisky display in the restaurant’s lobby five years ago, he has overseen the growth of its whisky collection into one of largest and most varied in Southern California.
We talked with John about the collection and the ways guests enjoy the spirit playwright George Bernard Shaw called “liquid sunshine.”
First off, is it spelled “whiskey” or “whisky”?
Actually both. The American and Irish spelling is “whiskey,” while the rest of the world uses the Scottish spelling of “whisky.” When writing about it generically, I like to honor our nearly 100-year-old Scottish themed restaurant and go with the latter.
A couple naïve questions: Just what is whisky and how is it made?
In the very simplest terms, by distilling a fermented grain mash, a “new make” (meaning a clear alcohol rich liquid) is created. Each whisky’s distinctive flavor comes from aging this liquid in different types of casks for varying lengths of time.
Tell us about your whisky collection.
We’re really proud of it. We now have over 600 different labels from around the world with a focus on independent bottlers and hard to find whiskies. Our list changes constantly. For example, we’re currently awaiting new releases of US Bourbon from Pappy Van Winkle, Whistlepig and Elijah Craig, just to name three. We also have bottlings from lesser-known producers.
So, an aficionado would recognize the depth of your collection?
Definitely. Our shelves are filled with “holy grail whiskies”– like Dallas Dhu, Port Ellen, North Port, Pittyviach, Little Mill and Rosebank – that most people only read about.
How about folks who don’t know much about whisky?
We love introducing the novice to the expansive world of whisky. Like with beer and wine, developing a discerning palate for whisky can be a lot of fun and become something to share with others.
What’s the best way for guests to take advantage of the Tam’s wide-ranging whisky collection?
We offer different whisky flights daily so they can compare and contrast flavors and styles. We also offer a custom-curated experience for those who want something educational and uniquely pleasurable. For instance, a guest might organize interested friends and tell us about their experience and preferences. Then we’ll construct whisky flights for them and discuss the fine points of the spirits as they enjoy them.
In addition, we co-sponsor four or five whisky dinners during the year with various distillers. We pair whiskies with each course of a multi-course meal specially created by our chef. These events have become very popular.
We almost forgot to ask: What about whisky based cocktails?
The Tam is a craft cocktail house. Our mixologist Alberto Castillo applies his expertise and creativity to come up with a well-balanced list of cocktails based on all the spirits. That list features two bourbon or whisky cocktails that change every other month.
Whether you’re a neophyte or a connoisseur, or just feel like having a good drink, the Tam O’Shanter’s whisky collection has some “liquid sunshine” for you.
2980 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039