A hotel bar at Far North Dallas' mothership of shopping isn't necessarily the first -- or fifth -- place you'd peg for a whiskey lovers' library. But that's what the Second Floor at the Westin Galleria is.
Two hundred bottles populate the shelves of the generic-modern bar. Scotch, Irish and American bourbon and rye are represented in breadth and depth, along with a few white whiskeys and international curiosities.
Beverage director Gina Gottlich considers the emphasis a success. She says the Second Floor bar has become a destination, not just a way station. "Business travelers tend to know their whiskey, and we're drawing locals who love it, too."
Gottlich and bartender José Meléndez pulled together a private sampling last week to spotlight some under-known labels. The theme was American craft whiskeys, and taste profiles ranged from mild to brawny:
Michter's Unblended: She identified this as a "hand sell" that the staff evangelizes about enthusiastically. It's an elegant, citrusy spirit from Kentucky, but the 50-50 corn and rye mash means it's not classified as a bourbon.
Stranahan's Snowflake: A special release from the Denver distillery better-known for rye-heavy whiskey is "more middle of the road," Gottlich says, with notes of stone fruit and cinnamon.
Willett Pot Still Reserve: This wheated bourbon is better-suited to cocktails than the first two. "There's a sweetness to it that would lend itself to an Old-Fashioned," she says.
Herman Marshall Texas Rye: Gottlich likes the way the Garland distiller "plays with wood." She can imagine subbing this into a margarita using charred lime.
McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt: This is "as Scottish as it can be and be made in the U.S.," Gottlich says. The grain, 100 percent barley, and malt are imported from Scotland to Portland. She recommends it in the traditional scotch cocktail the Rob Roy.
The Second Floor offers eight whiskey flights. They include a Big Tex edition (TX Blended, Witherspoon's bourbon, Balcones Texas Single Malt) for $15 and a premium scotch sampling at a breathtaking $100.
One promotion that works like gangbusters is the Father's Day special: half-off all scotches. So that $120 glass of Macallan 25 becomes a more manageable 60 smackeroos.
The Second Floor runs a regular happy hour, weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., that includes $5 specialty cocktails. The choice changes daily. Seize the opportunity if the Muzzle of Bees is offered. It's a peppery takeoff from a whiskey sour that would be a great opener before dinner.