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Carnival Vista Whiskey Master Class Review (SPOILERS!!)

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SPOILER WARNING!!!!
I will be giving some details on the Whiskey Master Class we took that are specific to the class on the Carnival Vista.
Since it was our first time taking this course, I have no way of knowing if they are all the same, or if there are differences.
So if you want to go in completely surprised, then stop reading and just know that we LOVED the class and HIGHLY recommend it!

Well worth the money!!!



If you don't mind some spoilers, then here we go!!!

 

On our recent cruise on the Carnival Vista(10/05/2019 - 10/12/2019), G and I decided to take the Whiskey Master Class that was offered at the Alchemy Bar.

There were about 6 other people there and others showed up while we were waiting.


We went down for the Sign-Up only to learn that the class is actually the next day.
This is due to the amount of prep necessary for each student.
And the class is actually a lot more than we thought it would be.
 
Aleksandar explained that rather than a simple "tasting", we were informed the class would include a history on Scotch Whiskey, as well as a tasting of 9 different whiskies and at then end of the class, we would blend our own whiskey to take home in a 100ml bottle.

We were warned that we should make sure to eat before the class, since we would definitely not want to come on an empty stomach.
At this point Aleksandar looked us all in the eyes with great seriousness and intensity and stated "I'm not even kidding. You do NOT want to show up not having eaten!"


The cost of the class was $29, with gratuities so it came out to $34.

 

We show up for class and our "Chemist" Aleksandar (from the sign up) led us into the "secret area" the class would be held, which turned out to be the back dining room of the 555 Fahrenheit Steakhouse (conveniently located right next to the Alchemy Bar on the Vista).

There was a long table with what looked like laboratory setups. Each chair had a white lab coat draped over it, emblazoned with the Dewar's Whiskey and Carnival logos.
It was at this point we realized that the class was sponsored by Dewar's.

At each place setting, there were 4 small snifters each filled with a different Scotch Whiskey, behind which was a rack filled with test tubes.
Each test tube also held a different whiskey.
Next to the rack was a tall beaker filled with water (important to stay hydrated!), a small beaker for mixing our blend and a stirring spoon.

There was also an empty 100ml bottle with a label, cap and a black sharpie so that you could write the specifics on the label.

 

Having made plans to meet Cupcake for Afternoon Tea at 3pm, and G was meeting his wife D for Disco Dance Lessons at 2:30pm, we asked how long the class would take.

Turns out the class lasts 1-1/2 hrs!

The class was less a lecture and more discussion, as Aleksandar led us from the purpose of alcohol itself (medicine), when Scotch was invented (around 1494 was the first distilled Scotch Whiskey) and on to the differences in Scotch Whiskey - single malts, double malts and blends.
It was very interesting and informative since I am what you might call a basic scotch drinker (I prefer an inexpensive Speyside). I now know the difference between a single malt and a blend, how long a scotch has to be aged before they can print the "years" on the bottle and many other facts I wrote down because I knew I would forget.

We were asked who mixed their scotch with Coke Zero ( I do), who mixes it with Dr. Pepper or any other soda (a good portion of the class).
We were then informed that we were wrong, since that is apparently an unacceptable way to consume whisky.
Water or ice. But it is never to be mixed with sugary drinks.

After much Q&A, where most of us were fruitlessly trying to ignore the buffet of whisky laid out in front of us, we were finally led into the sampling portion of our lesson.

We began with the four small snifters, moving from left to right.
The first snifter we swirled around like wine to see the way it glistened in the light and to watch the body and legs slowly drain down the sides to pool at the bottom of the glass.
Then we held it to our noses and inhaled the rich aromas.
Aleksandar quizzed us on what we could smell. Other students noted hints of spices or fruits or vanilla. I just smelled scotch.
We were instructed to take a drink, swishing it around our mouth. Let it sit on one cheek and then exhale.
This actually did improve the scotch flavor, helping it to develop (in my mind, at least).
More questions about what we could taste (fruits, spices, vanilla, oak from the cask, etc.)
At this point, I realized my palette must be pretty unrefined since I couldn't taste any of that other than the oakiness.
My ego was soothed a bit when G leaned over and said "I don't taste any of that. I just taste scotch".
Good to know we were on the same level!

I tried another drink, which drained glass 1, trying to taste these elusive "notes" and "flavors".
Maybe it would get easier to discern as we progressed.
It was revealed that we had been sampling Cutty Sark.

 

Our instructor then had us raise both glasses so we could compare the difference in their coloring.
Uh-oh! I didn't have anything left in glass 1 to compare to glass 2!
Fortunately, the student across from me was in the same boat and said as much while raising his empty glass.

No Problem!
Aleksandar said anyone that needed a refill could just let him know and he'd take care of it!

With 9 different whiskies to sample, I'm sure you can see why they told us to make sure we ate ahead of time.
I'm very glad they gave the warning, since the class started at 1PM and it would have been easy to skip lunch.

Armed with 2 glasses to compare, we held them either to the light or against our white lab coats.
Glass 2 was definitely darker, with a richer color.
We learned this was due to the amount of time it had spent aging in the barrels.
More swirling, sniffing and swishing, more proclamations of fruitiness, woodiness, etc. and more of me just nodding along and "trying" to smell or taste it.
This one had less bite and tasted a bit smoother. I like it pretty well.
Revealed to be Chivas Regal. 
 

"Learning" from our first glass, most of the class had Aleksandar come refill our second snifter so we could proceed to comparing it to the third (this became something of a ritual because, why not?).

The third and fourth were both Dewar's products (the sponsor) - White Label and Dewar's 12 yr respectively.
 

Having exhausted our supply of snifters, we moved on to the test tubes.
Before sampling, we were informed that we would be using the contents of our test tubes to create our own blended scotch whiskey in the 100ml bottles.
Of course, no worries if we emptied the test tube while sampling because we had free refills!

 

The first test tube was filled with what Aleksandar generically labelled "Grain Whiskey".
My favorite of the class was the 3rd Test Tube, which was Macallan Quest Highland single malt and then the 4th test tube which was a Speyside 12 yrs single malt (not sure why I didn't find out which one)
The last test tube in my opinion tasted like drinking Liquid Smoke, however G declared that to be his favorite. It was an Ardbeg 12 yrs.
I generously gave him the rest of my test tube to finish it off.

While I blended my bottle from test tubes 2 and 3, I also managed to get a refill on Snifter 3 and put a good bit of Dewar's White Label in there as well.

Sealed the cap, named my blend after myself (because why not) and then drained the rest of the test tubes and snifters (so there would be less clean up for Aleksandar, of course!)

We were presented with snazzy black certificates that Certified Hereby that we had completed an introductory Master Whiskey Class.
Aleksandar had us line up outside the Alchemy Bar and we took a group photo in our lab coats with our certificates and blends, which he says he will post to FB later.
Sadly, we had to return the lab coats (I kind of enjoyed it and G looked pretty sharp in his).

 

Since a few in the class had gotten chatty, and there was a bit of cutting up (blame it on the free refills) the class wasn't actually over until about 2:45.
We found out that D wasn't feeling well and had gone back to the room, so G accompanied Cupcake and myself to what was a very fun and hilarious (to us at least) Afternoon Tea.

Cucumber sammies, smoked salmon crusties, scones and pastries really hit the spot after that class!!


Overall this was a fun, informative and tasty class and I would highly recommend it!
When you take into account the amount of alcohol you "sample" as well as the 100ml you get to take with you, it is an excellent value.
I plan on taking it again next cruise if it is offered.

In the attached photos, the scotch whiskies are (left to right):
Snifters:
Cutty Sark
Chivas Regal 12 yrs
Dewar's White Label
Dewar's 12 yrs

 

Test Tubes:
Grain Whiskey
Aberfeldy Highland 12 yrs infused with honey

Macallan Quest Highland 
Speyside 12 yrs
Ardbeg 12 yrs

 

The final photo shows my own blend "Chervil" made from a secret proprietary proportion of Aberfeldy Highland, Macallan Quest and Dewar's White Label.
I have not yet opened it, since my father is a scotch drinker and I will share it with him.
Hopefully it tastes as good as I think it will!

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Thanks for the comprehensive review!  I took this class on Victory and it was identical to what you described so it must be pretty standard.  I loved it as well, and would definitely do this class again on another cruise.

 

EAT FIRST!! :classic_biggrin: 

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Excellent review! Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely gonna see if it's offered on our next cruise. Glad you had a great time.

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3 hours ago, EllaDuChien said:

Thanks for the comprehensive review!  I took this class on Victory and it was identical to what you described so it must be pretty standard.  I loved it as well, and would definitely do this class again on another cruise.

 

EAT FIRST!! :classic_biggrin: 

You're welcome! 
We actually thought about taking it again, since it was held twice on our 7 day cruise, but we had too many other things going on.
 

Just now, Joe817 said:

Excellent review! Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely gonna see if it's offered on our next cruise. Glad you had a great time.

You won't regret it!
It is well worth the money and time and a fun diversion!

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Just read this to my husband. We did the beer tasting at the Red Frog on the Vista...now he's off to see if this is available on our next cruise lol!

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I hope this is available on the dream in march - sounds like a perfect time for me to bond a bit more with my son in law. 

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Would love to see this on the Horizon when we sail at the end of the month.  My husband would love that.  I will need to keep an eye out and make sure I see it.  Does anyone know if they just announce it the day before for signups?  I know on Disney cruises we went on  people  were signing up for the different drink things the first day of the cruise (our first cruise and we didn't know), by the time we saw them in the daily papers they were already filled.  

 

If anyone has done the 6 day Horizon sailing and seen it please let me know what day it may have been on.  

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44 minutes ago, pooksma said:

Just read this to my husband. We did the beer tasting at the Red Frog on the Vista...now he's off to see if this is available on our next cruise lol!

Glad to hear it inspired him!
You should join him, it was great fun!

Alas, the brewmeister was on vacation during our cruise so they did not give a tour of the brewery or the beer tasting😥
I told the bartendar at the Red Frog to let the brewmeister know he is a chump when he gets back😁.
Otherwise we would have done that as well!

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20 minutes ago, mom2tcdx2 said:

Would love to see this on the Horizon when we sail at the end of the month.  My husband would love that.  I will need to keep an eye out and make sure I see it.  Does anyone know if they just announce it the day before for signups?  I know on Disney cruises we went on  people  were signing up for the different drink things the first day of the cruise (our first cruise and we didn't know), by the time we saw them in the daily papers they were already filled.  

 

If anyone has done the 6 day Horizon sailing and seen it please let me know what day it may have been on.  

It was listed in the Fun Times and on the Hub App as: Whiskey Class Sign Up.
Just look under "What's Happening" and the afternoon section should have it.
On our 7 day cruise the sign up was on the 2nd day at 4pm (first sea day) and the class was on the third day at 1PM (also a sea day).
They had a second class that was held on Friday, with sign ups on Thursday.
The class is limited and fills up pretty quick, so make sure to get there for the sign up right as it happens.
Also, since they have to prep, they generally don't accept any "walk ups" for the class. You "have" to sign up the day before.

We seriously considered taking the second class, since we had so much fun. But ended up busy with other things.
But we will definitely do it again on our next cruise! I may even make Cupcake join me next time!

Edited by Chervil

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31 minutes ago, dianecruising said:

I hope this is available on the dream in march - sounds like a perfect time for me to bond a bit more with my son in law. 

It would be a perfect bonding moment. The class was informative but informal enough that there was plenty of cutting up and many laughs were shared.

What was interesting to me was the difference in people's tastes as well.
The whiskey that I thought was best, only a few others enjoyed, while some of the ones I couldn't stand were favorites with some of the other students. It just showed the variety of style and taste people have.
It also exposed me to several brands and styles I wouldn't have paid to try. But at least two of them will definitely find their way into my cabinet now!


My favorite turned out to be $80 a bottle. Something I never would have spent to just try, but now that I know for certain I like it, I may splurge!

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Does anyone know if this is offered on the Glory?  My hubby is in the alcohol business and would probably love to take this course!

 

I will be sure to look for it in the Fun Times!!

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This sounds right up my husband's alley, we'll have to watch for it on Breeze in December. 

 

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Thanks for the review.  We saw it on our last cruise but sign-ups were full.  If they have it on our next one we will definitely try it (even if we do have to suffer through Chivas Regal - we usually prefer single malts).

 

Interesting Whisky/Whiskey trivia: if made in Scotland (Scotch), it is Whisky (no "e" in Scotch or Scotland); if made in Ireland (Irish Whiskey) it is Whiskey ("e" in Eire/Erin/IrEland).

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3 hours ago, pacruise804 said:

Thanks for the review.  We saw it on our last cruise but sign-ups were full.  If they have it on our next one we will definitely try it (even if we do have to suffer through Chivas Regal - we usually prefer single malts).

 

Interesting Whisky/Whiskey trivia: if made in Scotland (Scotch), it is Whisky (no "e" in Scotch or Scotland); if made in Ireland (Irish Whiskey) it is Whiskey ("e" in Eire/Erin/IrEland).

Just another tidbit for me to add to my repository of knowledge. Thanks!

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Anybody know if this is offered on the Breeze?🤞

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On 10/14/2019 at 2:34 PM, Kri1970 said:

This sounds right up my husband's alley, we'll have to watch for it on Breeze in December. 

 

will be on the breeze also in december. hope they have this. it will be a blast.

 

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