I have to say that being able to spend 20 minutes to get to the location sure beats driving all the way to St. Paul or Minneapolis where most of the beer dinners are held! School Of The Wise II, (or simply School II based on their sign,) is located right next to the movie theater in Chanhassen. Entering the building, one is struck by a pleasant and homey feel. Dark woods, low lighting and warmth are comforting, especially after coming in from the winter chill. Our tasting was set in one corner of the bar side, with a film screen set up for power-point. Seating was at our choice and several folks sat with strangers and made friends. Sj and I both ordered a Big Eddy Baltic Porter to start and soon after were poured some scotch. The restaurant had some appetizers set up at the back of the seating area.
Ed Kohl, the distributor of the spirits, was there to do a presentation. Unfortunately for him, his microphone wasn't working and the restaurant became louder (the other end of the bar and music from the other dining room mostly,) as the evening went on. Voice getting rougher from talking loudly, he was a trooper and got through his presentation. I actually learned a great deal about the process of scotch making, and what factors change the mouthfeel, flavors and aroma of the final product.
|Sweet Cheesy Scotsman!|
Our scotches were served in a Riedel scotch tasting glass that really accentuated the aromas in the spirits, and at the end of the night we were able to take them home with us. I am pleased. Most of the scotch was from the Isle of Arran off the Western edge of Scotland, and were not peaty at all due to the grains being toasted with gas fires instead of coal and peat. The 10 year was a bit rough, but the 14 was much nicer. There were versions finished in Sautern, Port and Sherry casks which really added some different character to the base scotch. My favorite of those was the Port. One from the Isle of Skye was a blended Scotch (the horror!) and was a fantastic blend of the smokiness of a Talisker and the sweet vanilla of a bourbon. It was the cheapest and our favorite...that never happens! I was also a fan of the over-the-top peat in the Kilchoman, but Sj was making so many gagging expressions that some of our fellow tasters had to stop their drinking in order to laugh at her. Mark from Haskell's was there to answer questions and we talked at some length about beer and booze. He was offering discounted rates on bottles of the scotches we tried that evening and I ordered the blend and the peat-beast. I know Sj won't be drinking that!
The dinner portion of the evening was not quite what I had hoped for. They had a nice spread of cheese, crackers and meats as appetizers and a salad and chicken alfredo pasta, all served buffet style. Having lactose intolerance and no lactaid with me made this a tough meal for me. Not the restaurant's fault, but I would have liked options.
Over all a nice way to spend a cold evening. I could tell that this was a first time event, as things were a little disorganized, but not in a way that ruined the fun. I think some more dinner options (or a plated three course dinner) would do wonders for this type of higher-end event, and a working PA system. I would certainly go to another of these, and would really like to see one done at Terra Waconia.