You'd think Ashton Cigar Bar would be, naturally, mostly about smoke, and, yes, there are 200 cigar labels waiting behind a glass-walled humidor at this sleek oasis of luxury tobacco, totally revamped from the old Mahogany and renamed by its new owners in late 2013.
A half-million-dollar purification system, however, has cleared the air for Ashton's other great treasure: whiskey. With more than 350 bottles of Scotch, it's a malthead's paradise.
For example, you'll discover rarities such as one of the few Islay malts that isn't about smoke: Bruichladdich 2007 Islay Barley Rockside Farm. Most malts from the southern island of Islay are heady with peat smoke. But this unusual dram of unpeated malt (from one of Islay's most progressive distilleries) is younger (just six years old) and less oaked than most high-level Scotch. Still, its stunning finesse and complexity says a lot about whiskey terroir. Without the smoke or extra wood imprint, an important signature taste remains: the salty backbeat of grain harvested near rough seas - and a master distiller who knows what he's doing.
Bruichladdich Islay Barley Rockside Farm 100 Proof, $25 per 2-oz. glass at Ashton Cigar Bar, 1522 Walnut St., 267-350-0000; ashtoncigarbar.com; $62.69 a 750 ml bottle, special order in Pennsylvania only (code 548532).