Photo credit: Aria
Sage is a farm-to-table restaurant by Chef Shawn McClain inside the Aria in Las Vegas. For me, the food is good but very heavy. The best part is the bar. In my opinion, they have the best American whisky selection in Las Vegas. The whole of Aria gets a lot of liquor, and much of the good stuff is allocated as to how many cases of other drinks you get. Sage gets a very large share of the limited whisky releases and also shops for other interesting drinks.
It is hard to get a good picture in this dark restaurant, but here is their whisky rack. On the top shelf is the Buffalo Trace Antique collection, then just about all of the Pappy Van Winkle products. They have a vertical tasting of the Weller Antique Collection. On the second shelf the highlights are some of the Heaven Hill Parker’s Heritage Collection, the Black Maple Hill bourbon and rye, a full run of the Jefferson Presidential collection, all of the Orphan Barrel products, the Four Roses limited edition small batch, and the second release of the California hops whisky (look this up). On the bottom shelf the highlight is much of the nicer Michter whiskies. I’m sure I am missing a lot of good stuff as the picture is not good and my memory is not perfect.
They have a great selection of flights. It may be expensive, but there are not a lot of places where you can get a Pappy or Antique Collection flight. And perhaps nowhere else in the world can you get a Weller vertical flight. The Antique Collection includes Sazarac 18. All other bourbons are aged as time goes on. But Sazarac 18 is held in a steel vat as it is so perfect they don’t want it to change. Sazarac 18 will ruin all other ryes for you!
Sage: European Blanton’s
There are a few other things which are not out, but can be had for the asking. The head liquor nerd bartender is Aaron. They have the European release of Blanton’s. It is in a silver bottle. The proof is 98 and it is very hot compared to the American version. Perhaps some people who live in Amsterdam can hunt a few bottles down! Blanton’s is what I recommend for the new person to bourbon. It was one of the first premium bourbon products and sets a high bar. Not well known is the collection of caps. Each cap has a letter on it. You can get a B, L, A, N, T, O, N, or S. A few people probably have a set of the American caps. But I doubt there are any complete collections of the European release caps.
Sage: Taylor’s Cured Oak
The famous Taylor bourbon is the Tornado Surviving Warehouse C. I have a bottle, and although this is very popular it does nothing for me. You can try it for $500 a shot here. However, the Cured Oak is fabulous! The oak is very pleasant. On the bottle it says they have notes of vanilla, toffee, and fig. I’m not the best at picking out flavors blind. But after those notes are put in your head the vanilla and toffee are obvious. And I sweat something that is like fig! The whisky coats your throat like a good bourbon does, and you could take 45-50 minutes to finish a full 1.5 ounce pour. Americans have been experimenting with finishing whiskies in different bottles. The Scots are very good at this. But many of the American versions are horrible. They are just bad bourbon with a cask finish. But this is one of the highlights of this type of drink.
Sage: Midwinter Night’s Dream
I believe High West sources their products from Indiana, but they excel at making blends of various whiskies. The Double Rye is a combination of a young and an older rye. You can pick them out. This is my preferred Manhattan whisky at home. The Midwinter Night’s Dream is Double Rye finished In a port cask. It is wonderful. They charge $20 a shot, and is a bargain at that price.
I’m not into Absinthe, but they have a beautiful Absinthe display and a fairly large selection.
If you are into American whisky and are in Las Vegas, you owe it to yourself to stop into Sage. The worst thing about the place is they don’t open until 6 PM! See you at the bar!