FINE and RARE New York | A Taste of Whiskey Culture

The owner of Fine and Rare, Tommy Tardie, developed his passion for whiskey when he realized that his first venture, The Flatiron Room, was going to be very whiskey-focused, and wanted to learn more about it. He heard many stories, visited many places and met with whiskey-makers, becoming more involved in it. For him, it turned from just a social experience into a hobby and finally a business that people have come to know and love.

Tommy Tardie – Owner Fine and Rare & The Flatiron Room | Photography Ben Hider

Underneath whiskey, there is bourbon, rye, single-malt scotch, all of which contain rich history, heritage and folklore. If you understand the distillation process, it is actually quite fascinating. If you were to present it to someone who knew nothing about the time, nothing about the watches, with a Rolex watch and a Timex watch and you ask: ‘Which watch would you like – one costs 5000$ the other one costs 50$.’ The person would look at you and say: ‘Well if they’re both telling time, I think I’m just going to go with a 50$ watch.’ But, if you can pause and tell the person more about the history, the heritage, the complicated moving, the precision and all the people involved in making them, suddenly that Rolex watch is going to look more valuable. Then they might say: ‘Wait a minute, maybe I don’t want something that just runs on battery, by the movement of your own hand.’ It is the same way to explain whiskey. If you can explain to somebody that a particular whiskey had been sitting in a barrel untouched for 40 years, made with only 3 simple ingredients, water, yeast and 100% malted barley; they will realize how captivating it can be.

Although Fine and Rare is not whiskey-centered, but also brings some agave spirits, tequila, rum, brandies, they love the idea of simplicity and craftsmanship that whiskey brings.

Tommy says,

“At the Flatiron Room, there are 1200 kinds of whiskeys. In Fine and Rare there are 400 different kinds of whiskeys and the number will continue to grow. As you become more and more specialized in any spirit, your consumers begin to look at you as an authority in that field. You have an obligation to consumers to carry  on with things that might be coming up.”

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Whiskey is a single ingredient cocktail and is a mature drink. ‘Drink less, taste more’ is the mantra for drinking whiskey. Purchasing a bottle of whiskey at Fine and Rare means that you are buying the whole experience. It begins with guidance from dedicated staff members, who received specialized training in the science of whiskey and helps guests to find the right bottle that suits their palate. There is also a unique process of hand-lettering a bottle with a custom tag around the neck. The staff hand-stamps the name of the guest into the bottle,  a great way of prominently having your name on it and a picture on the wall, shelved above the fireplace. When the client comes back, they simply show their loyalty card, which contains the guest’s information and the bottle is brought directly to the table.

Also, Fine and Rare organize two different types of classes for whiskey aficionados – one that is available for the general public, and the other that is catered to corporates who are looking for something different and more engaging. Some don’t want to do a steak dinner with a bottle of wine, choosing rather have something more interactive. Often, spirits tastings leave an impression on guests by challenging their senses along with their colleagues and friends, bringing them closer to one another.

A part of drinking whiskey is appreciating everything it has to offer. The aromatics of whiskey that come with the glass is a part of a sensory experience in itself. Although it is considered mostly a ‘men’s drink’, the flavors that develop on the tongue are something that is in many cases much more appreciated by women, rather than men.

Fine and Rare Interior | Photography Ben Hider

You can have whiskey all day. There are certain ones that have different aromatics, some that are very light, very soft, some that lend themselves well after dinner, others go well with a steak or seafood – so it is a good argument that whiskey can be consumed at any time.

Photography Ben Hider