New Whiskey Club at Cree Wine Company in Hunterdon NJ

When New Jersey’s only Master of Wine, Christopher Cree, opened Cree Wine Company at the old Perryville Inn in Union Township in November, he knew wine connoisseurs would flock to the wine bar.

He did not anticipate whiskey connoisseurs.

As Cree learned, if you build it, they will come. And with an ever-changing selection of 60-70 international whiskeys available daily at the bar for tastings, they did.

“We tend to focus on rarer, low-production, high-quality whiskey brands,” Cree said. “Some of them are new to the market and some of them are very limited, so it was really an eclectic collection of hand-selected whiskeys that we tasted. We tend not to care about the big ones. well-known brands.We are rather small artisanal distilleries around the world.

Some current brands in this selection include Michel Couvreur, which makes scotches aged in barrels sourced from various countries, all in a cellar in Burgundy, France; Teitessa, a 25-year-aged Japanese whiskey made primarily from rice and bottled using snowmelt water from Mount Fuji; and Killowen, which is an Irish whiskey aged for 10 years that is finished in an old Txakolina wine cask with virgin acacia heads.

This selection, which ranges from $35 to $300 a bottle, developed its own fan club in March: the Cree Whiskey Collective. The group meets at the bar once a month. For $45, members enjoy four 1-ounce glasses of whiskey paired with charcuterie according to a set theme.

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Although non-binding meetings are open to the public, those who join the club as members – membership is free – get a 10% discount if they also buy a bottle of one of the whiskeys they have tasted . The group has 25 members. Visitors can register for events on the wine bar’s website. To join the club, email General Manager and Director of Spirits Tom Anderer at [email protected] to be added to the booking list each month.

Whiskeys being prepared for a Cree Whiskey Collective event.

“It’s a great way for people – from beginners to collectors – to discover and expose themselves to new whiskeys because the world of whiskey is so vast,” Anderer said. “As long as we can get people into the room, we want people to join us.”

Past meetings have focused on hidden bourbon gems, Anderer’s favorite single malt scotches and Japanese whiskeys. The next meeting on July 21 will focus on rye whisky.

The Cree Whiskey Collective meets at Cree Wine Company once a month.

In the future, the collective hopes to purchase its own casks from various distilleries, allowing members to create their own whiskey blends.

Cree is also looking for more opportunities to pair whiskey with wine bar food, such as creating pairings like a bourbon reduction sauce on duck breast alongside bourbon, or desserts paired with whiskies.

“Our clientele is very foodie and interested in new and different things,” Cree said. “We give them the opportunity to taste so many things…so you can really explore. It seems to fill a curiosity that so many of our customers have about food, wine and spirits. »

Go: 167 Perryville Road, Hampton; 908-200-7772,

Jenna Intersimone.

Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member of the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, having become a blogger-turned-journalist after founding her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her food, drink and fun stories, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or @JIntersimone.

Shirley M. Pinder