The folks at de Vere’s Irish Pub in downtown Sacramento pride themselves on knowing their Glenlivet from their Glenfiddich. In fact, the bar boasts the largest and most varied collection of fine whiskeys in the metro area.
“We try to find things that are a little bit random,” says co-owner Henry de Vere White.
The bar’s bourbon menu, for example, includes everything from respected standards including Woodford Reserve to cult brands such as Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, which reportedly markets just 7,000 cases of the good stuff annually. De Vere’s also carries a Japanese single malt whiskey—Yamazaki—as well as a rye whiskey—High West—that’s distilled in Utah, of all places.
“We even have a Bunnahabhain 25-year-old Scotch that’s in its case unopened because it’s so hard to get,” says de Vere White. “We’ll crack it open for somebody, but I think there’s just six other bottles of it in California.”
Discovering new whiskeys and appreciating their nuances are passions of de Vere White’s—and a more difficult task than it sounds. “My brother and I are reading blogs and magazines all the time,” he explains, adding that it’s been challenging to train staff on the finer points of the spirit. After all, you only can sample so much before you have to call it a day. “And we carry 170 to 190 whiskeys at any given time,” says de Vere White.
The pub has established a whiskey society as a way to educate customers and create a sense of camaraderie among whiskey connoisseurs. A one-time fee of $50 buys a lifetime membership and discounts on select whiskeys during Tuesday tastings and throughout the week. The society has 145 members and is “gaining momentum,” according to de Vere White.
“We find that wine drinkers really appreciate it because they have a palate that’s already geared toward tasting and discovering things,” says de Vere White. “Same with the craft beer drinkers; they’re getting into the whiskeys as well.”