Whisky Events Roundup (part 2)

November 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well, I am happy to say that this season has not let me down!  The calendar keeps filling up, the events get better and better, and these days, I often find myself between a [preferably full] glass of whisky, great company and my next flight … I swear, if it weren’t for my recent swing of hating mornings, I would have otherwise thought I were living in a dream!

To follow up from the Whisky Events Roundup Part 1 post from last week, today, I give you Part 2!

LOUISVILLE, KY

Fall time in Louisville!

Icons of Whisky Awards by Whisky Magazine

What: Annual awards ceremony at the historic Seelbach Hotel where Whisky Magazine presents the winners of the Icons of the Year awards for American distillers, distilleries, retailers and brand ambassadors.

Who: The who’s who of American whisky.  Tom Bulleit (Bulleit Bourbon & Rye), Jimmy Russel (Wild Turkey), Julian & Preston Van Winkle (Old Rip/Pappy Van Winkle), Jim Rutledge (Four Roses), Kevin Smith (Maker’s Mark), Damian Riley-Smith (Whisky Magazine), David Sweet (Whisky Magazine), Mark Gillespie (Whisky Magazine & WhiskyCast), a few awesome folks from Buffalo Trace & Heaven Hill…  Of course there were others but I couldn’t get everyone’s card (though I did try!).  My apologies to everyone who I missed on this list.  It was such an amazing group of whisky-lovers I was honored to have been a part.

Holy cow: My dear friend and esteemed industry partner, Chip Tate of Balcones Distillery (who my company represents abroad and with whom we have starting to do some work with together state-side, more fun details later!) but he WON the ICON OF WHISKY AWARD for best CRAFT DISTILLER!!!!  This is HUGE and wonderful news and I couldn’t be more proud of Chip, his team and all of their dedicated hard work.  I know it feels great to be recognized and this is so well deserved!  Congratulations!!!!

Lunch at the Whisky Round Table

YAY!!! Chip Tate won Craft Distiller of the Year!!!!

Whisky Brand Innovator of the Year Award ... and the winner is.... BUFFALO TRACE for their Single Oak Project

...and the Whiskey Distiller of the Year is..... Jim Rutledge, head distiller at Four Roses!!!

Congratulations!!!

YES!!!! That's right!!! Go Chip! Go Balcones!

And after a long night of celebrating, we needed something hearty the next day. Loving the living in the South

This event was so important and awe-inspiring that I thought it deserved the full attention of this particular post.  Tomorrow I will publish the 3rd, and final, post to the Whisky Events Roundup series.  Thanks for reading!!!

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Koval Distillery – Lion’s Pride Whiskies

September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you haven’t figured it out by now – I love original whiskies.

I love seeking out and experiencing the delicious drams that the true artist distillers of the world are creating.  Yesterday, I did just that with Meg Bell of Chicago’s Koval Distillery at the Four Seasons in NYC.  We tasted 5 of their 26+ products, focusing only on the whiskies (dugh!).

I was going to write about all of the interesting, wonderful and unique techniques that the founders, Sonat & Robert use to develop their Lion’s Pride aged whisky line, however, the WhiskyCompetition made this great video of Meg, filmed in the Koval distillery, talking about just that!  Click, enjoy, and seek out for yourself!

Straight from the Lion’s mouth…

My private Lion's Pride tasting at the Four Seasons!

Thanks Meg!

Visit to the Balcones Distillery in Waco, TX

September 8, 2011 § 6 Comments

Despite my late arrival into Austin the night before, I woke up extra early last Thursday because after much (and I think very patient waiting) I was going to see the Balcones distillery in person (see my previous post on Balcones HERE).

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting other distilleries before but none home to the unique, super-secret process of smoking the actual whisky not the grains technique that head distiller, Chip Tate, created and successfully applies to his wildly popular Brimstone whisky.  (Check out the products rave review by Tasting Table Top Shelf HERE)

During my visit, the Balcones’ crew were in the process of bottling & shipping out their extremely limited 1st released Single Malt which I was honored to taste & try the barrels samples of for version 2.0. (BOTH are Ahh-mazing.)  Get it while you can.  This is something you definitely want in your whisky collection!

What’s great about visiting these craft distilleries is that you are up-close and personal with the whole operation.  I got to meet everyone and of course, got in their way as soon as I went camera-happy (sorry!).

All in all – we had a great time (thank you, Chip!) and can’t wait to go back next year to see how they are progressing with the new space!

Click on the logo to be taken to Balcones' website

Check out the photos of my visit below!

Yuuuummmm fermenting corn mash

Time for distillation! Chip Tate welded all of the copper himself!

Coordinating all of the different valves and moving parts requires some very intricate choreography!

Aging time! Hey... where did they all go? Looks like someone just bottled the Single Malt!

The envious Tasting Room ... this is where the magic happens!

Once the casks have been selected - the bottling begins (and let me tell you, these guys also know how to build an awesome play list - great whisky, great tunes, great people, I want to go back!)

Time for the hand-applied labels & wax seals!

All boxed up and ready to go! Bye-bye Baby Blue!

But wait … the fun isen’t over yet!  Chip took us on a side trip to visit the new space they will be expanding into.  Along the way, yours truly got a lesson in barrel rolling! 😀

First, watch the pro's ... see how Chip aligns the barrels perfectly???

Go Whisky Woman, Go! (mine looks way less controlled than Chip's ... perhaps I need more practice? ...or just something to drink!? Btw, this is REALLY FUN!)

Quick lesson on exactly what is in these barrels & what wood is used to make up these barrels before we start crackin' these babies open!

The moment of truth. Shhhh, Chip is extracting the beautiful nectar! ... and yes, it really is beautiful! I'll let him tell you about these creative, made-just-for-Balcones barrels when he's ready. All I can say now is that I left a happy girl.

Ok – you all really have to try his products.  The reason I have become so nuts for them is the layers and layers of complex scentes and flavors.  He is not just making “another whisky” here – he executes everything with such passion, precision and curiosity that he is pushing the boundaries of tradition while still remaining true to his roots.  We should all be greatful.  To me, this is what is so exciting about the craft whisky movement here in America.

Take advantage now.

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