Raising the Bar

Heather Tapper is reinventing the Scotch drinker

Scotch whiskey may carry connotations of smoky lounges and old men, but Heather Tapper, the assistant director of food and beverages—and the resident Scotch aficionado—at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is out to change that. Tapper, a self-professed “huge Scotch hound,” who wears her hair in playful pigtails on busy days, is as much of an unexpected find as the suburban hotel’s selection of fifty-two fine Scotches. “If you learn how to taste Scotch like you taste wine, you learn to understand spirits,” says Tapper. “It’s definitely an art. I fell in love with it and got into bourbons and whiskeys.”

In just one year Tapper has reinvented the hotel’s Scotch flights and formed a monthly Scotch society, which features the whisky paired with food and education. The meetings, which are $25 per person, are open to anyone interested in learning more about the famed spirit—and she means anyone. “There’s a preconceived notion that women might not be Scotch drinkers or know a lot about spirits in general,” says Tapper. “You don’t have to be ninety-five to enjoy a nice glass of Scotch. It’s not an old man’s drink. I swear.”

Interested in imbibing? The Scotch Society of Ballantyne meets once a month from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gallery Bar. 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy., 704-248-4100, theballantynehotel.com

If you would prefer to sip your Scotch inside I-485, there are a few other top options in the area:

Molly MacPherson’s Scottish Pub & Grill
This Scottish pub offers 150 Scotches and
seven flights.
127 N. Tryon St.

Whiskey Warehouse
Enjoy a variety of spirits, including twenty-five unique Scotches, in a sports bar atmosphere.
1221 The Plaza

Cutter’s Cigar Bar
This smoking lounge features more than thirty-five Scotches—and of course plenty of cigars
to pair with them.
100 W. Trade St.

Categories: Food + Drink, Local Flavor, Restaurants