Jared Meisler, co-owner of The Pikey on Sunset Boulevard, is a very generous soul. Very. After five years of collecting rare vintage whiskey, most of which he bought off auction, he’s going to share his special stash with the world. His current list of rare bottles is 35 whiskies long. Its oldest resident is Catto’s 12-year-old, Highland from 1942 (!) and its priciest is Johnnie Walker Black Label 1954 at $100 a shot. If you’re a hard-core whiskey fan, this should be your next stop. Where else can you say you say you drank Scotch made before WWII ended?
The whiskies are now available, but whiskey flights as well as cocktails made with the vintage whiskies will debut on the upcoming late summer/early fall menu. Look for a Gold Rush cocktail made with 1941 J&B Blended Scotch and a Perfect Manhattan with 1955 Canadian Club ($16 each).
What would possess such a whiskey fan to give up his cache? “I’d rather it be enjoyed here or at my house instead of just sitting on a shelf somewhere,” said Meisler. Still, it seems a bit crazy to part with such liquid gold. I mean, if it were my stash I’d grip it like Gollum’s precious. As Meisler puts it, “the reason somebody made that bottle is so that somebody would drink it. So to me we’re doing the right thing by drinking it. Carpe diem.”
That still wasn’t of any comfort until he also explained that whiskey can actually go bad. “Anything I’m opening here, I want to pour it out within the next six months at the most. Because the oxygen hits it and it starts to lose its luster,” he said. It’s definitely better to enjoy it now than let it go to waste.
So what are Meisler’s top five favorites off his list? Five that you must try now before they disappear?
Laphroiag 1988—bottled in 1999, Islay, aged in bourbon cask, 92 proof
“A lot of companies try to do that sweet, smoky thing. This one really worked. It’s a smoky scotch, slightly high-proof. They age it in a bourbon cask. It’s got the sweet bourbon notes, the vanilla, caramel, and wood notes. A lot of time with this stuff it’s science and luck. Like the Glenmorangie has a sherry cask whiskey which is really nice and smoky and sweet but, not to disparage those guys, it’s good. This stuff is great. Smoky and sweet just really fell in love.”
Johnnie Walker Black Label, Highland, 1954, 86.8 proof
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, 1964, 90 proof
“It’s like stepping in the time machine and you really have this thing to compare it to. Which is super cool. What does it taste like now and what did it taste like then? The Jack is cool. There’s a guy who comes here five or six days a week and drinks Jack Daniel’s on the rocks. He’s been drinking it since the ‘60s. He didn’t realize the difference until he had them side by side. He said there are notes in the current Jack that he didn’t realize were there. Almond and apricot that is really present in the ‘64 Jack that’s barely there in the current but it’s there and it made him appreciate that more.”
Hickey Riggs, Highland, 1968, 80 proof (closed distillery)
“I never heard of it before I bought it. I can’t find it. I’ve done Google searches. The only thing that comes up is a trademark in the ‘70s. It’s like a ghost bottle. Other than reading the bottle, I know what it is, I know where it’s from, it’s a blend. And I just really like the name. I bought it in auction and was like ‘f*ck, we should have just named this place Hickey Riggs.’ It’s just a really strong, kick-you-in-the-nuts blend. I really like that. And I also like that it’s this strange, mysterious bottle. I know that after we finish it, no one is probably going to ever have Hickey Riggs for the rest of their life.”
The Pikey, 7617 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-850-5400