Meet the Scotch Master Overseeing a $3 Million Whisky Inventory

Images: Scotch 80 Prime at Palms Casino Resort

From life-size replicas of world-famous landmarks to poker tables with jaw-dropping minimums, everything is over-the-top in Sin City—even the booze. High rollers with a thirst for rare and vintage whisky need look no further than Las Vegas’ newest premier steakhouse.

Scotch 80 Prime, housed in the 1,200-room Palms Casino Resort, offers around 500 whiskies from around the world, ranging in price from $14 to a whopping $7,200 for a standard 2-ounce pour.

But for Cody Fredrickson, all bets are on Scotch.

“We were extremely fortunate to be able to acquire thirty-three of the Macallan Vintage Fine and Rare marques dating back to 1937, making it the largest collection available for consumption in the world,” says the Scotch Master for the 224-seat restaurant. (For the record, the most expensive Scotch in-house is the 65 Year Macallan, available for the aforementioned cool price of $7,200.) And lest you think all this rare hooch is locked up in a vault out of sight, bottles are actually stored in the wine room right where guests enter the restaurant, and the best of the collection lives prominently on the back bar.

Scotch 80 Prime at Palms Casino Resort rare Macallan whiskies
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But it’s not just the big spenders who can get their dram on. “I really wanted to focus the program on being one of the most diverse and approachable collections in town,” Frederickson says. “I wanted to be able to offer a perfect whisky to anyone who walked into Scotch 80.”

All standard pours are presented neat in a Glencairn glass unless the guest requests alternative glassware. Three types of ice—standard reverse-osmosis 1x1” cubes, 2x2” large cubes and crystal-clear whisky spheres—each serve different purposes for different whiskies.

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Themed flights offer four three-quarter-ounce pours, from the Scotch Explorer ($50), with Glenmorangie 10 Year from the Highlands, Aberlour 12 Year from Speyside, Springbank 10 Year from Campbeltown and Ardbeg 10 Year from Islay, to Ultimate Scotch ($300), a splurge offering of Glenmorangie Signet, Dalmore 25 Year, Balvenie 21 Year PortWood and Laphroaig 25 Year Old.

Scotch 80 Prime bar and lounge area inside Palms Casino Resort

Frederickson is also always on the floor, able to curate a customized flight at any price point according to guests’ “preferences and curiosity.” Depending on how adventurous and out-of-the-box they want to get, he can guide them on a selection through a conversation of what they usually drink—or what is piquing their palate. “If a guest tells me they only drink Johnnie Walker Black, I may guide them into one of the many malts in the blend of Johnnie Walker that we currently carry, such as Lagavulin.”

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Beyond the card and craps tables and the roulette wheel, there are few rules in Vegas, and no one says you have to drink your Scotch neat or even on the rocks for that matter. Bartenders wheeling the Timeless Cocktail Cart are at the ready to mix custom Manhattans or Old Fashioneds (which can be smoked if you choose), and are available at two price tiers, $25 and $50, depending on the spirits selected.

Other Scotch cocktails include The Buol Mule ($18), named for Peter Buol, the city’s first mayor, credited with starting the development of the neighborhood in which Scotch 80 is located. It mixes Johnnie Walker Black, hibiscus honey syrup, lime juice and ginger beer. For The Scotch 80 Pimm’s ($18), a housemade version of a Pimm’s-style liqueur made with gin, dry vermouth, herbs and citrus is topped with Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old, Green Chartreuse and bubbly.

Scotch 80 Prime at Palms Casino Resort whiskey and wine room

Not surprisingly, staff underwent a hefty training program before the restaurant opened which covered topics from whisk(e)y 101 to the Macallan portfolio. “The world of whisky will pass you by unless you stay on top of it,” Fredrickson points out. He organizes and administers two classes/seminars per month so staff is able to assist with not only whisky picks but food pairing suggestions.

And just to raise the stakes even more, Scotch 80 Prime is one of less than ten restaurants in the United States to offer certified Japanese Kobe beef. As for the best whisky partner for this melt-in-your-mouth meat? Fredrickson deems it a Highlands single malt like Dalmore 12 Year. Now that’s a duo that ups the ante.

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.