Drink Up Spirits Education at Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library in Portland

Whiskey, whisky, risky. However you want to spell it, source it, sniff it, taste it, you can find your fancy at the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library in Portland. We missed coming here on our first visit to the city but my next venture out there pushed this to a top priority. I have just been recently learning (past handful of years) about the spirit but once I walked into the Library, I was floored by the volume showcased and the quickly-crushing realization that I knew absolutely nothing about whisky. And these walls only featured the types that made their quality control cut! It was undoubtedly impressive, and I'd rather liken their whiskey menu to a tome than any menu.

Before one walks into the main room, a few steps of dimly-lit wooden, creaky stairs set the mood. Will you soon step back into time a la Hollywood style? I timidly opened the large door to find brick walls, hushed conversations, plush leather booths, and bottles and bottles of captivating spirits lining shelves along more than one wall. A slide ladder had been installed to allow the bartenders to scale the many choices to select from - a library indeed. As a single adventurer, I got a seat at the bar under the knowledgeable care of Kyle and spent the next who-knows-how-long flipping through menu pages to see what was offered. A crisp, balanced, Old Fashioned ($11 - Old Forest Signature, Demerara, angostura bitters, and Peychaud's bitters) was tiding me over as I explored the selections - the best I've ever had actually.

When I finally arrived at a decision, it was really not my own but my confidence in Kyle's expertise. He suggested a flight and gave a varied selection to expose my palate to comparisons between styles from which I made an additional choice thereafter. I also followed my drinks with food as the library does offer a menu put together by Chef Ben Grossmann. Beef Tartare ($16 - anchovy, dill, mint, flax seed, and potato cracker) was a veritably fine starter, properly fresh and balanced by the pungency of salty fish and strong herbs. Knowing that I was intimately involved with glasses of alluring spirits, I had to add on a rich order to combat alcohol content - the Mac & Cheese with Braised Oxtail ($15 - three aged cheese and strozzapreti) did the trick and was luxuriously savory in its own right.

The poisons of choice that evening were Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Sour Mash Bourbon Whiskey, and Glenfarcas 12 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. A proper analysis on each, you will not find here as I am still a beginner explorer of whiskies but know that Kyle made fabulous choices to demonstrate stylistic differences and shared detailed information about each pour. It is an experience you have to immerse yourself in on your own, and it was apparent that this will be a frequent Portland stop whenever I'm in the area.

If you are heading that way and have more than yourself in your party, I'd recommend a reservation. Find Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library at 1124 SW Alder St. Portland, OR 97205.

Main photography sourced from Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library.

Multnomah Whiskey Library Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato