Sommelier to lead whiskey tasting at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Havdalah event


Attendees of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation’s Aug. 21 Havdalah service can expect to be ignited both by the flame of Havdalah and of whiskey, as the evening’s event will feature an outdoor whiskey tasting.

“We wanted to do something a little bit out of the ordinary,” said Amy Mallor, executive director of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation. “So we thought, ‘Wouldn’t a whiskey tasting be fun?’”

As Mallor put it, whiskey “seems to be the present day enjoyable drink of young and old.”

The event, Havdalah Happening – Whiskey Tasting, Wisdom and Word, is partly intended to help introduce the congregation to the shul’s new clergy, namely Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi and Cantor Alexandra S. Fox, said Mallor, who lives in Mt. Washington.

[New senior rabbi to begin at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom this summer]

Tim O’Hare
Tim O’Hare will lead the whiskey tasting. (Courtesy of Tim O’Hare)

One of the synagogue’s congregants, Jason Savage, had connected Mallor to Tim O’Hare, a resident of Towson and a certified sommelier who will be guiding the event, Mallor said.

O’Hare will lead participants through tastings of four separate whiskeys and go over the different nuances in their sight, aroma and taste. The whiskeys will include Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch from Scotland, Green Spot Irish Whiskey from Ireland, Angel’s Envy Bourbon from Kentucky and Crown Royal Special Reserve from Canada.

During the hour-long event, O’Hare plans to run the participants through a “Systematic Approach to Tasting,” or SAT, he said.

“This takes some of the subjectivity out of the tasting [of] spirits,” O’Hare said. “There is a, basically, a roadmap to this systematic approach to tasting. … The Systematic Approach to Tasting takes in really all the senses.”

Nonalcoholic beverages will also be available, including sodas and water, said Mallor. The no-cost event will be held under an outdoor tent near the synagogue building. While the shul is hoping that masks will not be necessary, they plan to comply with whatever the guidelines happen to be on that day.

As of Aug. 11, a diverse group of around 20 attendees of different ages had signed up for the event, said Mallor, with still room for more. Both members and nonmembers of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom are welcome to attend.

“To say why do I prefer whiskey over other products, first and foremost, is because of the complexity of whiskey and really the hands-on labor it takes to produce whiskey,” O’Hare said. The long history and heritage of whiskey, which goes back to the 13th century, was also a reason O’Hare preferred it over many other beverages.

Today, whiskey is produced in nations as far flung as Japan, Korea and India, and whiskey clubs have sprung up all across the United States, much as wine clubs have done, Mallor said. However, whereas a beverage like wine is commonly meant to be consumed during a meal, whiskey is often consumed prior to a meal, she added.

“[I hope attendees] have a lovely time getting to know each other and getting to know our new clergy,” Mallor said.

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