I finally found it! No not a whisky bar but instead a small residential alleyway street about 70m long, gated at one side, hidden away from passerby’s, cars, and almost my persistence. I went out looking for a whisky bar tonight to honor and recognize “Monday Night, Whisky Night.” Instead, or rather, when I gave up on hunting for a whisky bar, I had two on my list to find, I decided to find a “secret” street I had been hunting for numerous times since I was already in the neighborhood.
I walked up and down, back and fourth, and in circles on numerous occasions looking for this little street, and again the same tonight, and that’s with my phone’s GPS mapping! Now I’m wondering if it’s just a matter of time, more back and fourth, GPS assistance and persistence that will reward me with a nice whisky bar or two in this beautiful city I’m happily calling home now, Brussels. The first whisky bar (L’Absolu) I headed to was one that I found advertised as carrying 102 whiskies, nice. I arrived to find it dark and obviously closed. Peeking through the window did nothing as the darkness stared right back at me due to black window coverings. This made me wonder if it was closed for good or just on Monday nights? The people smoking outside of the tattoo shop across the street probably thought I was odd, watching me trying to figure out why the place was closed on such a night. They’ll see me again. And on to the next place on my list.
The next whisky bar (Café Merlo) I was also quite excited about since it was in an area I knew well and liked. Also because, though they offered fewer, about 30 whiskies, they hosted tastings. I arrived and found it a place I wondered about previously, just in an alley from this main square, a place I was tempted to visit in the past due to its obvious local feel. I went in and as I peered at the back shelves of the bar while leaning onto someone else’s vacant bar stool, I found fewer than 10, maybe only 5 whiskies. I’m now wondering if I left too quick from disappointment and maybe missed others, on some hidden shelf? I’ll have to go back and look a bit closer.
At least on Friday night we did visit a whisky bar! La Porte Noir was the first whisky bar I visited here in Brussels. It’s a cool, underground, brick, cave-like, somewhat alternative, slightly rock and Celtic bar with a good variety of both beer and whisky. A huge drawback of the place immediately experienced when entering: smoke-filled. A huge plus of the place immediately experienced when entering: a sincere and friendly welcome by one of the staff, so we stayed. I ordered an 11y Highland Park 1995-2006 single cask #1559 for Belgium. Highland Park stopped bottling these specific country or shop or bar single casks about 4 years ago now I believe. I had seen this particular bottling in a shop a few weeks prior and figured with its obvious abundance of sherry influence it may just pierce through all that smoke. Well it did luckily, but it wasn’t easy, especially when smoke has a keen sense of finding the non-smoker, even in a sea of smokers. Sadly and surprisingly the European capitol still has yet to quit. It will be soon I hope.
And so the hunt continues. Where to next? I’ve got a few ideas and places so we’ll just have to wait and see what I find.