We have lost a true champion of single malt Scotch whisky and dearest member of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Mr. Harvey Fry passed away this week at his home in Washington, D.C. Harvey’s evangelism of scotch whisky and willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge leaves an indelible mark on those of us who had a chance to share a dram with one of the whisky world’s most outspoken and passionate figures.
While Harvey touched the lives of whisky lovers across the country and beyond, the center of his universe was Jack Rose Dining Saloon. This iconic bar was Harvey’s passion and it shows in the unparalleled selection that lines its shelves. You would need only walk to the end of the bar and there sat Harvey with oysters and over-sized whisky snifter in hand. Likely tasting several drams at a time, he’d be happy to let you steal a whiff and a sip, offering precise kernels of information about the single casks he was tasting. Never mind the “grasshopper piss” (his words…) and “dumpster delicacies” (also his words!) and all the other marketing jargon that gets thrown around, rather how does this dram speak to you? How does it perform on the palate and what conversation does it create?
With Harvey, there was never a loss for conversation around a good single malt. If you had the chance to hear his stories of past lives in Texas, New York, Florida and DC, you know what I’m talking about. Whether the topic was single cask vs official bottling, cask strength vs diluted, the modern art scene in 1980’s SoHo, best cab routes around DC or his beloved Washington Nationals, Harvey cut through the fluff and got to the meat of every matter. He wasted no time trying to please people and that brought pleasure to us all.
On behalf of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I extend our condolences to Harvey’s wife, Robin, and her family as well as his extended family of Jack Rose Dining Saloon. The times shared tasting exceptional whisky with this exceptional man will be remembered fondly.
Pictured above, Harvey stands with what he told me was his all-time favorite Society bottling – Cask 1.120. “It’s a symphony in the mouth,” he said, and let me try it on more than one occasion. He was right, of course. What is your all-time favorite bottle? What is your symphonic whisky? I invite you to pour a dram of it and toast an incredible mentor and friend to so many of us.
Let’s all raise a glass to Harvey Fry.