February 22, 2012 § 13 Comments
I had the most unique experience the other night that still, 2 days later has me a bit perplexed.
Sitting at the bar of an Italian restaurant around the corner from my home (Centro Vinoteca) I found myself peering quite intently at a lightly colored whisky sitting quietly between the Balvenie Double Wood and the Chivas Regal 12yr.
Can you see it? 🙂
Towards the end of the meal, I asked the bartender if I could just see the bottle. Realizing that it had never been opened, the gentleman sitting to my right said, “Let’s open it up and have a taste!” At which point I learned that he was one of the owners. He kindly poured a taste for me and one for himself and then quickly drank his like a shot. I, like the whisky geek that I am, sat there for what seemed like 30 minutes but was probably more like 5 smelling, examining and as best as I could, keeping track of the delicious experience.
Here’s what I wrote down:
ABOUT: 21 year old blended Scotch, 40% abv (80 proof), this is the house blend of the Springbank distillers in Campbeltown
NOSE: maple honey comb, hint of geranium, jasmine black tea, wet spices (clove, cinnamon)
PALATE: water, tire and sweet tobacco leaves on the front, perhaps a bit of toned-down cereal milk which lent a pleasant sweetness in the middle, toffee with grapefruit crème brûlée
FINISH: very smooth, lingering black tea, tobacco, leather and a lovely hint of peat
Coming home, I realized just how rare this bottle might be. I found it sold out on the UK site, Master of Malt, and haven’t yet found anywhere else (IF YOU DO, please share a link in the comments section below!). The only review I found was by the beloved Ralfy. I’ve included his video below. He gives a lot of history about this particular bottling. ENJOY and let me know if you can find it!
February 17, 2012 § 6 Comments
Here’s a good one! $20 = 3hrs of whiskey tastings, cocktails & Jambayala
If you’re wondering what to do this weekend – head on over to one of my all-time favorite stores: Le Du’s Wines for an awesome tasting event with a little bit of Mardi Gras goodness!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 from 4pm-7pm
600 Washington Street (between Leroy & Morton)
See you there!
February 14, 2012 § 8 Comments
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
What better way to celebrate than with THE original cocktail? … and yes, it’s whisky based! Ladies, if you really want to impress your man (or yourself!), get your cocktail-creating hands ready and look no further. Men, if you have a whiskey-loving lady, then you my friends have a keeper. If not – have no fear! You can still enjoy this classic pre- during- or post- your chocolate & roses filled evening. Have no doubt, I’ll be sipping on one of these all night.
The earliest known definition was first published in the Baltimore newspaper called, “The Balance and Columbian Repository” on May 6, 1806. Whereby the reporter wrote about a mixture of sugar, water, bitters & alcohol which perfectly describes what we know of today as the Old Fashioned. I prefer mine done the “clean” way – others prefer theirs with the fruit & sugar muddled together. Below is an easy to follow how-to video of another Whisky Woman, Rachel Maddow, showing just how to make this simple, delicious, classic Old Fashioned… the “clean” way. CHEERS!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
1 Glass, Muddle, Ice (see my previous post on ice HERE), Sugar Cube (1), Bitters*, Sparkling or flat water (1 tsp), Bourbon or Rye (2 oz), and an Orange or Lemon (1 wide piece of the peel).
* Angostura Bitters is the standard and works perfectly here. However, there are a ton of great new bitters emerging on the market. I particularly LOVE using the Fee Brothers limited-edition Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters in my Old Fashion for a little something extra 🙂
Place the sugar cube in the glass and douse with 3 dashes of Bitters (*). Add 1 tsp of sparkling or flat water and muddle together to make a syrup. Add about 2 oz of your favorite bourbon or rye, your favorite big ice cube (like the Muji ice ball!) and just 1 piece of peel (not the bitter white part of the rind) of either a lemon or orange, squeezed over the drink, drop into the drink and enjoy.
February 10, 2012 § 8 Comments
On one of Brian McKenzie’s, owner of Finger Lakes Distilling, recent trips to NYC, we had the chance to meet up for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Joseph Leonard, where, much to my surprise, he revealed the latest in his whisky collection; the McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey. Before anyone could say another word, we had popped the top and was sipping this bright, smooth, happily curious spirit and of course, passing it around to anyone with a willing palate.
In a matter of … oh … probably 10-15 minutes we had easily polished off 1/2 of this bottle. Rightfully so. This is smooth, and interesting, and it has this flavor-balloon effect in the mouth that is so compelling you keep going back for more … and a little more … and …
As soon as you open this bottle, the air around you starts morphing into the most beautiful fruit/oak/mash combo smell. I wish Brian could figure out how to make a candle like this!
Here’s what I have to say about this beauty:
The stats: 100% malted & unmalted barley grown in the fields surrounding his New York’s Finger Lake region distillery. Distilled in just the copper pot part of his German Holstein pot & column combo still (talk about having the ultimate in distilling flexibility!) bottled without caramel coloring or chill filtration (floaties & chunks are a GOOD thing!), 40% abv/80 proof in standard 750ml bottles.
NOSE: copper drinking cup/metallic, corn husks, honeysuckle flower, honeysuckle juice, leather, sweet tobacco, dried granny smith apples
PALATE: mild front, a slight “water in copper cup” metallic flavor on the tip of tongue, moves into a strong dried apple & apricot middle with rye-like spice on back-end and top back of the throat. It balloons and swells as moves back which is very intriguing.
FINISH: tip of the tongue is left with that copper-meets-clove spice that lingers a bit, middle to back of mouth is left pleasantly refreshed
Overall: I would say this is a medium bodied whisky that is very smooth & approachable. A happy choice … if you are lucky enough to find it!
Thank you, Brian, for leaving the bottle in my excited hands. It’s a pleasure to keep revisiting!
February 1, 2012 § 3 Comments
Almost 2 weeks ago, I had the amazing & somewhat unexpected pleasure of spending an afternoon with Bruce Joseph inside the famous Anchor brewery & distillery in San Francisco, California.
Bruce is a legend.
After a long history of working in the brewery, he spearheaded Anchor Distilling with Anchor’s long-time former owner, Fritz Maytag. They started in the early 1990’s looking back into America’s history to understand and re-create the original American whiskey (we’re talking about figuring out what and how our first president, George Washington, distilled, folks). Turns out, it was 100% Rye whiskey that was aged in toasted, not charred, barrels. Thus, Anchor’s 18th Century Style Whiskey was born!
Anchor continues to make the 18th Century Style Whiskey and their Straight Rye Whiskey in small batches. They have also added two gins to their portfolio: Junipero (which is beautiful & I encourage you to get your hands on if you haven’t already) and Genevieve; a unique, 17th-style gin. This was the first time I had tried the Genevieve and was happy to have done so. It is very pleasant on the palate, light citrus and herbs with some serious complexity & viscosity as well. And this baby goes down very easily … almost too easily. This is not a gin to be used in a martini – no – this is to be enjoyed neat, over ice or, as per Anchor’s suggestion, shaken with ice.
After a five hour tour that was a perfect balance of tech talk, industry speak, distilling geek-out moments and, of course, some sampling of products, it was a magical afternoon that started with a random knock at the door and the luck of good timing.
Ok, enough chit-chat! Let’s get to the photos!
Hello Anchor! … the excitement grows!
Yay! Whole, beautiful HOPS!
Oh beer, how crisp, refreshing and lovely you are!
That’s some serious Steam Beer, baby!
Look at all of that gorgeous, shiny, whiskey-producing copper
Fermenting 100% rye, upon which we did a little impromptu tasting!
Bruce Joseph & me, Allison Patel … the Whisky Woman 😉