December 9, 2013 § 9 Comments
The holidays wouldn’t be “the holidays” without an annual Holiday Gift Giving post. And this year, I’m forgoing my usual list of bottles & baubles and focusing on BOOKS! (If you want, you can see my former gift posts HERE HERE HERE HERE & HERE)
It was quite a year for the literary set who enjoy indulging in a great dram AND a great read and I’ve pulled together a little mix of books that should make one quite happy this winter. I know I will be curling up fireside with my cozy faux fur blanket (like THIS ONE on sale at Pottery Barn), glass of whisky (Brenne please!) and these books for the long winter months ahead!
In order of the above photo, here’s the quick list. All titles click through to their respective pages on Amazon/Createspace.
- Apothecary Cocktails, Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow ~
- Distilling Rob, Manly Lies and Whisky Truths by Robert Gard (& fellow whisky blogger, Whisky Guy Rob!)
- Drinking With Men, A Memoir by Rosie Schaap
- Guide to Urban Moonshining, How to Make and Drink Whiskey by Colin Spoelman & David Haskell (yes, that’s right, these are the awesome duo behind Kings County Distillery)
- Whiskey Woman, The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick
- Savoring the Shore, Simple to Sophisticated Recipes from Chefts and Home Cooks for NJ Sandy Recovery, by Cheryl Larkin & Kate Kurelji
Beyond the fact that I personally know most of the authors and love supporting wonderful & talented people; I also believe in what each author has accomplished, whether it’s to educate, entertain or give back – read below for my quickfire thoughts on why they made the cut:
Apothecary Cocktails: There’s no question the “Classic Cocktail” movement is upon us – and it’s wonderful! The ever-talented Warren Bobrow takes us back in time with modern upgrades featuring 75 recipes for cocktail libations to soothe the body AND mind! Give this book with a few bottles of bitters for your favorite home mixologist!
Distilling Rob: An engaging story from “one of our own” whisky bloggers as he takes us through his roller-coaster life where at one point, he left his slick LA life to live and work on Islay in Scotland. Using whisky-making and the maturation process as an analogy for how boys mature into men – this is a no-brainer stocking stuffer for anyone!
Drinking With Men: I bought this at a book reading of Rosie’s I attended with a friend and left with 1/2 the eye make-up I went in with due to all of my tears from continuous laughing. This is a wonderfully engaging memoir that will having you wishing to travel through NYC retracing her steps. Sometimes I fall out of habit reading and need a good “hook book” to get back into it again – this is definitely one of those excellent page turners!
Guide To Urban Moonshining: I just got this and can’t WAIT to get started. (The fabric and feel of the book alone will give you instant “great gifter” cred). It’s filled with recipes, distillation techniques, stories, history, and a chapter called “How To Drink Whiskey” in which yours truly, along with Jonathan Wingo and Colin Spoelman, each wrote a couple pages discussing the bottles we’d suggest if we had to build a well rounded whisky bar using only 12 bottles and cover our bases from sipping to cocktails for your novice and experienced drinker. It was super fun and my first experience having any writings of my own published in a book. Yay! Pair this with a bottle of Kings County Bourbon or Moonshine for a great gift set!
Whiskey Women: THE BOOK that ought to be on everyone’s list! For the first time, Fred is sharing the untold stories of the women who have created & saved this most exceptional industry. It’s refreshing to have access to real stories that you haven’t heard before, that are not the same ones we know just told in a new way – no – this is fresh. And fascinating. And will give you a whole new appreciation for many of the whisky women who you may have met today and many of the distilleries whose drams you’ve probably enjoyed for a very long time. A true must read for anyone who enjoys a great book. Pair this with a bottle of Brenne – my own whisky – and support this particular whisky woman’s dream! 🙂
Savoring The Shore: while not a whisky book per se, there are 3 cocktails inside using Brenne Whisky, 2 of which were created by the author of Apothecary Cocktails, Warren Bobrow! But that’s not why it’s on this list. Instead, it’s because all proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy relief and that is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I spent my childhood & teenage summers at my grandparents beach cottage on the NJ Shore which was completely wiped out by Sandy (we have yet to rebuild, but will as soon as we’re able) and so I have a personal connection with the Sandy Relief efforts. And what a fun way to give back!? You’ll get a great cook book featuring recipes from long-time local “shore folk” and Master Chefts like Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio & Mike Jurusz.
**Please note that I do NOT benefit financially from the sale of ANY of these books – regardless of whether or not Brenne Whisky or myself were mentioned or as is the case of Guide To Urban Moonshine where I contributed a couple of pages. Instead, I promote them here because of my love of reading great books & supporting awesome, hard working people!**
September 10, 2012 § 11 Comments
As I stand on what feels like the edge of the tallest mountain looking down into the weeks, months & years ahead as I prep the launch my own whisky, Brenne, I am proud to find myself in like-company. There are a handful of other entrepreneurs who are in the midst of introducing their own whisky-focused companies – it’s an amazing feeling to be in this place in life period, but to be in this moment with others who have also brought to fruition their dreams is, well, magical.
Following the heels of last week’s post where I published my interview with the blogging team of the It’s Just the Booze Dancing crew, I thought it time to shine some light on more of these amazing whisky-loving folks. This week I present to you one of the two co-founders of Caskers.com. A very new and very cool craft spirits sale site.
And if you like what these guys are doing, they’ve given you the invitation code WHISKYWOMAN to use HERE which lets you skip the “request invite” step & gives you immediate access to their site.
Caskers.com co-founder Moiz Ali
What is Caskers.com? (Why is it so unique and what makes it different?)
Caskers is a website where we curate, market and make available for sale craft spirits. We work with industry experts, master distillers and mixologists to find the best craft spirits being distilled today, and then feature those spirits on Caskers. Our goal is to help customers discover great spirits and help craft distilleries earn brand-recognition among consumers.
We don’t aim to be the Walmart for spirits and stock every item ever made. Our goal is to feature only amazing craft spirits and only for limited periods of time. This way, we can help customers discover great spirits and eliminate the clutter that currently fills up the shelves of most liquor stores.
When did you launch Caskers.com?
We launched into public beta on June 18, 2012.
How long did you work on it until the time you were ready to launch?
My co-founder, Steven Abt, and I recognized the problem while we were both in law school in Boston. After a few weekend trips to places like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, we realized that we couldn’t get access to spirits that we tried in other major cities when we came back to Boston. We knew there had to be a better way.
In late 2010, we came up with the idea of Caskers and then at the beginning of 2012, we quit our jobs and began focusing on Caskers full time.
That must have been a thrilling feeling! But your based in New York, right? Fill in the gap for me, please. How did this become a concept in Boston to a full-blown company in NYC?
We are based in NYC. While we came up with the concept of Caskers in law school (we both went to Harvard in Cambridge, MA), my co-founder and I both ended up taking jobs as lawyers in NYC. He worked at Wachtell Lipton and I worked at Simpson Thacher. Even while we were lawyers, we always kept talking about how this concept would be a great business venture. And while being a lawyer was fun, we knew this would be better! We quit our jobs at the beginning of 2012 to found Caskers!
Tell me about the types of products you feature in your flash sales?
We like to think of them as private sales rather than flash sales, because we don’t want to imply that the products we’re selling are being discounted because of quality or that we’re having some type of close-out sale.
The products we feature are the best craft spirits being distilled today. We get recommendations from industry experts, master distillers and mixologists (not to mention customers!) and then our team tries everything to see what spirits really stand out. Once we find a sprit that we think is amazing, we work with the distillery to feature it on Caskers. We really are looking for the best stuff out there – we’ve already rejected a number of distilleries that reached out to us because they weren’t the right fit for Caskers.
Who should join Caskers.com?
Everyone! Well, everyone over the age of 21 actually. The spirits we feature are incredibly unique. They have distinct aromas and flavors. While we readily admit that people have different palates and preferences (for instance, Steve prefers rye and I prefer bourbon), the spirits we feature are amazing and you’ll be able to find something you love on Caskers. And even if you don’t drink, you’ll like the stories that we tell on Caskers. At Kings County Distillery, the label on each bottle was originally created by a typewriter the master distillers found on the street in Williamsburg. At Caledonia Spirits, the owner of the distillery was a beekeeper for nearly 50 years before he decided to incorporate his organic, raw Vermont honey into gin and vodka.
Caskers has something for everyone.
What does it cost to join?
Caskers is free to join!
What was your inspiration for creating Caskers.com?
Steve and I both took a number of weekend trips during law school, and realized that the spirits we tried in Chicago, LA, New York and San Francisco just weren’t available back in Boston. To us, that was crazy and we knew there had to be a better way!
You have had tremendous growth and success in the short time since the site has been live, what do you attribute that too and where do you hope to be this time next year?
I think we’re just filling a need that has been there for awhile. Spirits aren’t like soft drinks – you don’t just choose between Pepsi and Coke when you’re young and stick to that brand the rest of your life. You want to try a broad range of spirits and taste everything out there. We know people have limited resources, both in terms of time and money, so we help people try the best spirits being produced today. So long as we do a great job curating spirits, I think we can continue to grow quickly.
What were you doing (professionally) before Caskers?
I was a corporate lawyer for about 2.5 years before starting Caskers. I worked at a firm called Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, after graduating from the University of Florid and Harvard Law School.
Steve was also a corporate lawyer before starting Caskers. He worked at a firm called Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, after graduating from Princeton and Harvard Law School.
Have you always loved craft spirits?
If you’re a cop, I’ve loved craft spirits since I was 21. Otherwise, yes! I love that they have original flavors and love thinking about master distillers when I drink them. These guys and girls work tirelessly to produce something unique and interesting. They really are pioneers.
How has running your own business, particularly in the Spirits industry, changed your life?
It makes me want to run to work everyday! It makes me love craft products – not just in the spirits industry but in everything. I want to eat food from farmer’s markets, sit on chairs made by an artisan whose passion is to make great furniture, and live in a unique home that was designed by an architect who knows what he is doing.
Would you do it all over again if you could?
In a heartbeat.
Final thoughts from me to Moiz Ali & Steve Abt: Thank you so much for sharing your story and for letting us have a peek behind the curtain! I love that you’re really helping edit down & pick out the great craft spirits from a sea of choices for the educated consumer – which in today’s busy world is very much appreciated. Job well done, guys!
September 5, 2012 § 17 Comments
It was 3am. I was staying up late to put the final edits on a blog post I wanted to publish the next morning. Naturally, I was nursing a dram and tabbed over to my Twitter account to see if anyone else was sharing in my late-night debauchery. Why yes! Two of my favorite blog & twitter friends, @BoozeDancing & @CooperedTot. After a quick round of witty whisky banter, I asked them what they were both doing awake. Same answer: editing blog posts.
A couple people I’ve met asked (only after they assumed “yes”) if I was a “full time blogger” to which I had to laugh. Did they really think I hung out in coffee shops all day tweeting around ideas that would come together in my weekly posts? Sounds good! But no, for me, as it is for many of my fellow bloggers, blogging is a passion-project only. Something I think we all actually loose money on (I know I do!) and something we do in between balancing the thousands of other things on our plates. Why? Because we love it. Because I LOVE the #WhiskyFabric community. Because I LOVE the conversations that evolve from the topics we are all living & writing about.
I thought it time to interview the Dancers – shine a light on some of my late-night editor companions and let you in to see a glimpse of what it’s like to run a successful blog. I asked the following questions to each of the 4 writers of the It’s Just the Booze Dancing blog and I love how each of their uniquely wonderful personalities shine through in their different responses. Please enjoy their truthful, funny, thoughtful & of course, entertaining responses:
Who are the writers of the BoozeDancing blog?
G-LO: The Wookie, The ROK, Limpd, & G-LO
The ROK: I go by the alias ‘The ROK’ on the blog.
LimpD: LimpD will suffice.
The Wookie: is a 38 year-old booze, brew, travel, and food lover that like the other Booze Dancers lives in South Jersey just outside of Philadelphia. By day I am a civil engineer and construction management expert consulting on large scale building projects around the world. When not at work I love exploring new brews, spirits, and foods. Beyond booze and food I enjoy cold weather sports and outdoor sports like skiing, ice hockey, snorkeling, and sailing.
How did you all come up with your pen names?
G-LO: G-LO is derived from my real name, and was coined by a guy that used to do improv comedy with my wife about 9 or 10 years ago. I’m not really sure how it happened, but the neighbors caught wind of this nickname and it stuck. There is nothing funnier than hearing yourself called Mr. G-LO by The Wookie’s youngest daughter. And in a whisky related story, Joshua Hatton referred to me as G-LO when he asked Dr. Bill Lumsden of Ardbeg and Glenmorangie a question that I posted on his Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society Blog. Dr. Bill asked, “G-LO? As opposed to J-LO?”. Dr. Bill was very disappointed when he find out that I was a guy.
The ROK: Not much creativity here, ROK are my initials. At neighborhood gatherings, I would write my initials Toby Keith style on the red solo cup and so it kind of stuck as a nickname since its kind of like ‘rock’
LimpD: When we began the blog, I was in need of a hip replacement and had a pronounced limp.
The Wookie: The definition of wookie is “a tall, hairy alien species”. Since I am 6’5″, an incredibly hairy dude, and a bit off center “The Wookie” seems to fit well.
When and why did you all start the BoozeDancing blog?
G-LO: Prior to the formation of the blog, the four of us spent a great deal of time sitting around the fire, drinking whisky, and just talking into the wee hours of the evening. About a month or two prior to the blog’s launch, one of us joked that we should record our fireside chats and start a podcast. Although the podcast never materialized, the blog eventually did.
The ROK: G-LO is really the creative force behind the blog. We got the idea one night sipping whisky on G-lo’s patio. We talked about it for a few weeks and then GLo just went and started it.
LimpD: We began the blog as a somewhat feeble effort to pass off our backyard drinking as research. Additionally, as we ventured further into beer and spirits, it became apparent that we had a fairly significant knowledge base that with G-LO’s urging could be used to both amuse and educate.
The Wookie: You could say that, two years ago, we started the blog to share with the world our thoughts on the “finer things in life” but that would be total bullshit. G-lo was (and still is) the mastermind behind the blog and depending on when/who you ask you may get different answers to “why” we started. Some of those answers include:
1 – We had a few too many and thought the world actually cared about our musings on booze and life
2 – We were trying to score free stuff
3 – We were looking for a public forum to poke fun at each other
4 – We were trying to legitimatize our “exploration” of booze and food
…. and the list goes on.
How frequently do you publish new posts?
G-LO: We typically publish between 3 and 5 posts per week.
LimpD: We aim for three posts a week and try to divide the work load based on our other commitments.
The ROK: My postings have become less and less frequent as job and family responsibilities have taken up much of my time.
The Wookie: Currently we are publishing about a post per day, Monday through Friday.
On average, how much time would you say each writer spends writing and promoting/marketing his posts per day or week?
G-LO: Writing has never been one of my strengths, so depending upon the subject matter, and my level of inspiration, it could take me anywhere from one to three hours to write a post (sometimes more, but rarely less). This does not include the time I spend fussing with the photos or actually evaluating what I’m drinking. As far as the promotions/marketing side, once again, it depends. Since I manage the Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram feeds, several of the post promotions are performed automatically through WordPress. Thanks to people like yourself and other blogging buddies we’ve made along the way, promoting and marketing has been getting easier every day. I like to call it “good blogging karma”.
The ROK: I mostly just write. G-Lo had really gotten into the social media aspects and promotes the blog on facebook and other sites such as digg and reddit.
LimpD: I spend about three hours a week writing, responding to comments and forwarding our posts out to sites like Reddit.
The Wookie: G-lo and LimpD do the lion’s share of the writing publishing 1-3 posts per week. I write more like a sniper picking select targets to write about a few times per month. As far as marketing and promotion goes, G-lo is our social media wizard promoting everyone’s writings through Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc..
What have been some of your biggest surprises as booze bloggers?
G-LO: Of course the biggest surprise is that people actually seem to enjoy reading our blog! The second biggest surprise is how much I enjoy interacting with all of the other great bloggers out there. It always makes me smile when I stumble upon all of the comments that we leave on each other’s blogs. We’re all so connected!
The ROK: The biggest surprise is that anyone actually reads it. I never expected to find such a large community of people who share our enjoyment of whisky and who are willing to share their experiences. In addition, the amount of time it takes to put together a well thought out posting was surprising. Whisky, beer, and just about any spirit can be so complex to try to distill the essence of the experience into 1 or 2 paragraphs takes more effort that it might appear.
LimpD: We actually seem to know what we are talking about and have provided a creative outlet for an expanding “hobby”.
The Wookie: It was and still is surprising that people actually read what we write. I think we all write just for fun, as a hobby. The fact that we get regular feedback from others including distillers, brewers, and the like is surprising and very cool.
What were some of your biggest hurdles/learning curves?
G-LO: I’ve been drinking whisky and beer for a very long time, but I never really sat down to analyze what I was drinking until the past few years. I always thought tasting notes were utter nonsense, but until you actually try to sit down and write them, you don’t realize how difficult it really is. Also, writing in general has never been easy for me, so the fact that I have written so much and actually enjoyed doing it is a friggin miracle!
The ROK: For me, it was broadening my taste palate. When we first starting writing, I wrote mostly about bourbon. I have a sweet-tooth so whiskey based on corn fit right in with me. Over the years, I’ve expanded into Irish and single-malt whisky’s and I find now more and more I reach for a highlands malt over the bourbons I used to favor.
LimpD: We started a little behind the curve and G-LO has invested a significant amount of time pushing our blog with Twitter, Facebook, etc. I found that my taste preferences (softer beer, unpeated whisky, shiny packaging and no demon bourbon) were a bit of mixed blessing. While I certainly had a comfort zone, I was initially a little unwilling to expand my horizons and that hindered my posts.
The Wookie: It took us a bit of time to figure out how to promote what we do and bring all the social media tools together. G-lo is our social media “guru” and helps keep the blog’s visibility high.
How do you stay motivated?
G-LO: I will be the first to admit that there are days when I’m not very motivated to write, but then someone comments on a post, or throws a #FF our way on Twitter, and I remember why I enjoy doing this so much.
The ROK: This is the hard part for me. It gets harder and harder to find the time to down and focus on a blog post. G-Lo keeps it going.
LimpD: Now, I really like to try things and as the Philly/South Jersey area has expanded its offerings, there seems to be a new beer or whisky or bourbon that catches my eye.
The Wookie: It’s still fun. For my part the blog is more a place to catalog my exploration of new things than to share it with anyone. Trying new things is the motivation, writing is just a record of my experiences.
What do you like best about being a blogger?
G-LO: Here are just a few of the things that I like best about being a blogger: interactions with our readers and other bloggers; interactions with brewers, distillers, bar/restaurant owners, and other industry professionals; the thrill of finding the next “Holy Grail” beer or whisky, and then sitting down to write about the experience. There are so many more things that I love about blogging, but I think you get the idea.
The ROK: The free samples. The folks at Master of Malt have been generous in sending us samples to try. It’s really great to get to try something that would probably never make it into a review and be able write about it.
LimpD: The comments and feedback. It is great to write a post but it is even better to have someone respond even if it is to critique the review.
The Wookie: The blog has gotten us invites to and tastes of new things that many others would not get to try. It seems the more we write about things we like the more we are asked to try things we like.
What do you like least about being a blogger?
G-LO: My only complaint is not having the time to write as much as I’d like.
The ROK: To do it well, really takes a lot of time.
LimpD: At times, I find it hard to objectively review something that to me is just awful. You want to review a product and provide some insight without just slamming something.
The Wookie: Until there are paparazzi camped out in front of my house I don’t think there will be anything I don’t like. You write when you want to write and stop when you don’t feel like it.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still have started?
G-LO: Most definitely! My only regret is not knowing as much as I know about Social Media when we first started out. Lots of trial and error in the beginning as far as getting the word out about our blog.
The ROK: It was really G-lo that started it all, so if he started it again, I would freeload off his efforts again, too!
LimpD: Absolutely, I just wish we had started sooner.
The Wookie: G-LO was the mastermind and just took us all along for the ride. I guess if he says yes to doing it again I would say yes to jumping on board for the ride.
Any tips for people considering starting a blog?
G-LO: The common thread in all of my answers has been about how much I truly enjoy the interactions that occur because of the blog. The best way to gain readership is to read other people’s blogs and to leave thoughtful and relevant comments. There is a plethora of great writing happening across the blogosphere. Get out there and get to know the writers. And most importantly, never take yourself too seriously, and try your best to have fun with your writing!
The ROK: You need to consistently post fresh material in order to build an audience. It takes some time, but if you publish consistently and continue to learn about the subject you are writing about, like minded people will find you.
LimpD: I would suggest that collaboration is a key to starting a blog. That spreads the workload and varies the opinions as each writer has some preference. For us, G-LO tends to smokey, peaty whiskies; the ROK is a big fan of bourbon; the Wookie likes to find things off the beaten path; and I look toward the softer, mellower whiskies. The same goes for the diversity in our preferences in beer. I would like to think that this difference has allowed each of us to expand our palates and enhance our knowledge. Also, you don’t want to drink alone; where is the fun in that.
The Wookie: My number one tip is to start blogging with a group of friends/writers rather than going it alone. Producing blog content as a single writer makes it tough to publish regularly and tough to get feedback. If you start with a group of writers you can pick up the slack for each other when someone does not feel like writing and also provide feedback to each other. If nothing else your little group becomes your primary audience and you can just have fun writing things for your circle of friends.
Final thoughts from me to the BoozeDancing crew: I continue to be inspired by your humility & dedication – not just to your own blog but to mine and so many others. You all are important members in the whisky community and as both a reader & blogger, I thank you for your continued support & commitment. Cheers!
August 9, 2012 § 3 Comments
As a woman, it is not entirely unusual for me to consult YouTube for various How-To’s that can impact my appearance (i.e. how to do that new hair style or make your own face scrub) but aside from the “How To Tie a ____ Tie” videos, I can’t say that I think there are a lot of “How To” videos that have you men rushing to preview, learn & possibly apply to your day.
Until I came across this one: How To Wear a Full Formal Kilt Outfit with All Accessories.
Very comprehensive … kinda made me want to run out and get a kilt so I could follow along. Without further adieu, here is the video. Feel free to bookmark this for your next formal event in Scotland :).
Have you worn a kilt? Or do you look to YouTube for specific How To videos? Share below!
August 7, 2012 § 7 Comments
If you live in the New York area, consider me your genie and the information in this post being your wish granted. Dramatic you say? No, just honest. Camp Whiskey – in all it’s calm, cool, educational and surprisingly well sourced whiskies (aka, not available in this country – nor will most of them ever be) glory was the highlight of my summer thus far.
Every Wednesday evening this August on a rooftop in Brooklyn, Camp Whiskey assembles. It’s a great crowd of novices & educated drinkers who are all easy going and excited to be a part of the group to learn, meet & taste great whiskies.
The first official event was last Wednesday, August 1st, titled “Irish Whiskeys That Aren’t Jameson.” Starting with the most comprehensive history on Irish Whiskey I have ever heard, it wasn’t long before we were diving in to the liquid gold. On the menu:
Locke’s 8yr, Single Malt, Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey (in the ceramic jug) was the new release this year from the Cooley Midleton Distillery. Originally produced, however, by John Locke’s & Sons distillery near Kilbeggan, it’s bottled at 40% abv. This single malt is a pure pot still, a procedure unique to Ireland whiskey. Mistakenly, I erased my tasting notes on this one but I easily remember it as simply being wonderful. 😛
Bushmills 10yr, Single Malt this is the hearts-only of the distillates (meaning only the middle cuts) with a goal of creating an even smoother Irish whiskey. From what I gathered, this one will NOT be making it to the US. NOSE: More bland than the Locke, harder to analyze in that particular environment for me – even when I stepped inside. Seemed less interesting then the previous dram but would love to revisit in a quiet, neutral-air environment. PALATE: Sweet first, cacao, a funky malt, salty, very short sherry finish.
Yellow Spot 12yr, Single Pot Still Whiskey aged in 3 different casks: American bourbon, Spanish Sherry Butts, & Spanish Malaga Casks. This is a very limited release of only 500 cases, bottled at 46% abv. NOSE: Sweet cinnamon, basil, sage & peppermint. PALATE: Bold, tingly, very long finish with an intense bite. Awesome.
Kilbeggin 18yr – this is also extremely limited (4,000 bottles) – After being closed in 1957, the Old Kilbeggan distillery and its whiskey recipes were purchased by Cooley’s founder John Teeling in 1988 and finally reopened for production in 2007. Whiskey using the Kilbeggan recipe (like this phenomenal 18 year old) was being produced at the Cooley distillery in County Louth, between Dublin and Belfast. This is a beauty. Unfortunately for me (& my empty wallet), it was my favorite of the lot! Extremely interesting – I kept taking it inside to smell and analyze away from the fragrant rooftop plants. NOSE: Caramel & cotton candy, sweet corn, salt water taffy. PALATE: Mild and smooth beginning, wave up to tannins and spicy charred oak. I love the influence of the corn in the mash bill.
Redbreast 12yr, Cask Strength Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey – “Irish Whiskey of the Year” I love a good cask strength whiskey. (Explained how to enjoy cask strengths in an earlier post here). It’s important to remember that not just any barrel is used for a cask strength bottling. Typically, it’s the cask that is aging differently from it’s sisters. As a fellow camper so eloquently put it; often it’ll be the barrel that, due to a crack in the ceiling boards was exposed to sun or the first few barrels by the door to the rick house that got the rush of outside air every time someone went inside. These things over a collection of a few years to a decade can make a real impact on that single barrel. It’s so unique that the distiller decides to bottle those barrels as they are. This particular one is full of life. NOSE: fermented fruit & soil/earth(?). PALATE: tons of fruit, chocolate, pears. A lovely dram for sure.
Wish you were there?! Don’t miss another week! See below for details.
…And here are some pictures from the event…
Great job guys – can’t wait to attend the next Camp session!
June 25, 2012 § 7 Comments
Hello whisky friends! It’s time to mark your calendars!
You know every time my distiller friends roll into town – there are crazy whisky adventures to be had. Well, now I’m giving you a heads–up and a chance to join in on the fun. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you read about it later!).
Chip Tate, head distiller and founder of the Balcones Distillery in Waco, TX is coming into town for the New York Bar & Restaurant Show and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition … ok, you say, so what’s in it for me? Glad you asked!
While he’s here, he will be doing a FREE tasting event on Tuesday, June 26th, 6:30pm-8:30pm at one of my favorite spots: the Brandy Library. (25 North Moore Street in Tribeca)
Aside from meeting Chip, what makes this extra cool is the under-the-radar/not-announced-till-right-now secret bottles that he’ll be pouring. He’s pulled some crazy awesome barrel samples (whisky that’s taken directly from the barrel and put into a bottle), marked the glass bottles with a Sharpie marker and will be bringing them to NYC. Awesomeness.
He’ll also have his SUPER LIMITED Rumble Cask Reserve (RCR) that’s finally launching in NY. Last I checked, there were less then 300 bottles of this… ever.
Here are my tasting notes on the RCR:
ABOUT: Made exactly the way you make whisky but with one substitution, the ingredients! This is made from figs, sugar & honey. Fermented together, distilled & aged in a variety of American & French oak barrels. This is the CASK STRENGTH version of his RUMBLE
NOSE: rich honey, drying rose petals, older leather, dehydrated apples
PALATE: smooth caramel and burnt sugar to start, a pleasant journey which rolls moves the heavier notes quickly over the tongue
FINISH: long but light mouthfeel, honeysuckle flower into clove and black pepper on the end
May 31, 2012 § 6 Comments
Congrats! You’re moving! Now, what to do with all those bottles you actually want to bring with you and not just consume in one debaucherous night?! Relax, I’m here to help. 😉
Having just moved my rather sizable whiskey and wine collection (200+ total bottles) – I have a better idea now how to do this compared to just a few weeks ago and in my “I’m back to blogging and getting back to life” post (really titled “Spring Cleaning” click HERE) I was asked by Chuck over at the Whiskey World Tour blog if I had any tips for moving one’s collection. Turns out, I do! Too many to write in the comments section so I thought it best to list them here.
Not assuming we’re all starting out with the same base knowledge about this – some of these tips may seem obvious but better to be safe then sorry!
For the quick, get-it-done, rather spend the money not the time person:
- Assess how many bottles you have that are open (don’t risk it, if the seal is broken, just treat it like it’s in the “opened” camp)
- Buy a box (or 2, 3, …) of the 1 gallon size Ziplock bags for your shorter bottles and the 2 gallon size for your taller bottles (I personally like these: Ziploc Double Zipper Freezer Bag and these: Ziploc Resealable 2 Gallon Size) for all of your open bottles. You can do this for all of your closed bottles too if you’d like for just a little extra security.
- Place all of your open bottles in the appropriate size Ziploc bag (ok to turn the bag – not the open bottle – sideways to get the fit nice & snug (see photos)).
- Buy the appropriate number and size packing boxes from either The Spirited Shipper or a similar company. These are specially designed for precious – but heavy – alcohol bottles and I think they are GREAT.
- Follow the packing directions provided by The Spirited Shipper and seal with a healthy amount of heavy-duty packing tape (like THIS one by Scotch)
- Before sealing the box entirely, move it around a bit. If you feel like the bottles are not completely secure or you hear them moving around (even if they are “just” hitting the cardboard sides) add packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or rolled up socks -clean preferably.
- If you see a good amount of space between bottles, you might be able to fit in some of your smaller, 50ml UNopened bottles here if they are well protected and don’t interfere with the packaging around the bigger bottles.
- Buy a set of white (not clear!) printable labels (like THESE by Avery) and print in big, bold letters: FRAGILE – WHISKY (or FRAGILE-HEAVY) and insert an “Up” arrow graphic (like THIS free one from Veryicon.com) –Believe me, you’ll thank me for this step – it’s a huge time saver verses writing all over the boxes
- If I had thought of step 8 before I finished packing, I would have done this not only for the whiskies & wine, but also would have made a stack of labels with the each of the rooms where I wanted the movers to place each box (i.e. “OFFICE” “KITCHEN” “BEDROOM” etc)
- One final tip – using a big bold marker, number all of your boxes and keep a list for yourself (perhaps you will organize it like: “Kitchen – 30 boxes OR: Whiskey- 5 boxes). You don’t want to run the risk of having anything accidentally left on the truck!
For the “I have some time and am trying to save some money” person, try these revisions!/span>
1. STEP 4 revised:
- Instead of purchasing new boxes, ask your local liquor & wine shop if you can grab some boxes after their next delivery. Make sure you inspect the cardboard thoroughly and don’t use any that feel at all flimsy or unstable.
- Also take a look at the inserts – grab as many as you can (if you can’t use them on your spirits, perhaps they’ll come in handy for your dishes or something else).
2. STEP 5 & 6 revised:
- Assuming your whisky collection has bottles of various sizes, you’ll need to spend some time making sure you package all of the bottles of similar sizes in appropriately sized boxes. Get the height of the box as close to the top of your bottles -but not under!- and don’t let a single bottle touch another.
- Use towels, socks, your crazy collection of used wine corks (I did this!), anything that is soft to help secure each bottle in it’s place. Shake that box hard to make sure you don’t hear movement, if you do – add more packing materials.
- If the top of the bottles don’t come up to the top of the box when closed, fill in the top with folded towels or something light but strong. These boxes will get stacked on top of each other and any space left in the top will cause that box to dent when under pressure, causing all of the boxes on top of that one to tilt, or worse, fall.
3. STEP 8 revised:
- Fall in love with your Sharpie marker. You’ll be making lots of “Up” arrow drawings, writing “FRAGILE” and “HEAVY” and “LIVING ROOM” all over these boxes. But it’s okay – you’ll get through it! Pour yourself a quick dram and let the drawing begin!
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you are embarking on a journey that requires you to go through the above – or similar- steps, then I wish you all the luck and patience. If I have left anything out – I’ll be sure to reply/comment/update as necessary.
Here is a photo of my 750ml, 9 1/4″ tall bottle of Bruichladdich in a 1 gallon size Ziploc baggie. I like to pull the baggie over the bottle hard enough that it creates a bit of pressure and holds that cork (or screw cap) securely in place.
Here is a photo of my 750ml bottle, 12″ tall bottle of Tom Lawless that is too tall for the 1 gallon size Ziploc but a perfect candidate for the 2 gallon size. If you can’t close the zipper bag without it tearing – the baggie is too small for that bottle.
Please share your own thoughts/experiences/questions/ideas below. I definitely do not have all of the answers – nor can I or this blog take any responsibilities for your brown beauties should something happen to them during your own move. I just hope you can find some of these tips useful!
April 13, 2012 § 6 Comments
Anyone who knows me or who follows me on twitter probably knows that I attended the WhiskyLive NYC show this past Wednesday as I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement! And this year surely did not disappoint.
It’s one of my favorite nights of the year – a time to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and drink some seriously stand-out drams. And may I just give my sincerest apologies to everyone who I either didn’t mention here or didn’t have a chance to visit. I could have easily used another 4 hours!
My first stop was quite intriguing … Notch Single Malt Whisky from Nantucket. Notch partners with Cisco Brewers who makes a special beer for them from Maris Otter malt (which has an interesting history for a grain & according to Wikipedia, is “acknowledged right across the brewing world as the finest-quality malt available”). This beer, or wort, is then moved to the Triple Eight Distillery to distill in a small copper pot still where just the heart cut of the distillate is used and aged for 8 years in ex-bourbon and finished in French oak Merlot wine casks from local Nantucket wineries.
Now, this was a really enjoyable dram but what I can’t understand is the price. $888 for a 750ml bottle. I am sure they didn’t have the price match the name of the distillery to be cute … but I just can’t get my head around this! Remember, this was my first stop so I know my brain was still quite sharp – but I didn’t hear them mention the addition of 24k gold or a unicorn horn as a “gift with purchase” so not wanting to further interrupt the interview they were doing with Gregg from DistilleryAge.com, I snapped the above photo promised them I would be following up … and you bet I will be! Asap.
Next stop, Balvenie!
Now you know you’re a #WhiskyBadAss when you show up to an event with your own malting floor! David Stewart and team, you guys are my heroes. (If you missed it, check out my earlier post of my visit to this distillery HERE)
I always enjoy my time with the happy and wonderfully talented Balvenie crew. David and I caught up over a beautiful glass of their 14yr Caribbean Cask Single Malt which was divine. They actually bring rum over from the Caribbean in tanks – not in casks – and fill their casks with the rum for 6 months. Once they have their barrels perfectly seasoned with the rum, they remove it and replace the rum with their 14yr single malt to finish for 6 months prior to bottling. Pretty cool, huh?
Hey – are we taking each others photo!? Silly social media whisky geeks (myself included)! Smile!
The Whisky Peddler. Only available online HERE out of the World Of Liquor store in New Jersey. Unbelievably yummy. Patrick is smart. He purchased two very interesting casks from notable distilleries in Scotland; one from Glen Grant and one from Highland Park. You may ask (as I did) why buy his whiskies over buying a 14 year directly from the producer? Because for both of these malts, he purchased the casks and kept them aging only in their ex-bourbon casks – no sherry finish on these beauts – and let me tell you simply – wow. I was really happy standing here. And at $52 or $60 / bottle, it keeps me baffled by the $888 price tag on the Notch …
Off to the Cocktail’s Live area!
A toast with Kat Valentina – the fab mixologist from LA who was brought in to serve up a very tasty creamy-whiskey cocktail:
2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey, .5 oz Sambuca, .75 oz Rum Chata & 2 oz of chilled coffee
… can we say mid-show pick me up?
Whisky & chocolate – a great pairing. Lucky for us, the hyper-talented chocolatier, Roni-Sue, was there serving up her unique bonbons and pairing them with such lovelies as Laphroaig and Basil Hayden! I loved their Dark & Stormy truffle: dark chocolate ganache that features Goslings dark rum, fresh ginger and lime zest – all I tasted was pure deliciousness.
Glen Garioch paired up with Murray’s Cheese, an excellent cheese shop in NYC (and luckily right down the street from me!) to create a cheddar that pairs specifically with the Glen Garioch whiskies. HOW COOL IS THAT!? I’ll be there tomorrow picking up a good wedge for this weekend! The whiskies are great – balanced, smooth and perfectly complimented by the tangy-creaminess of the cheese. At this point, though, it was too crowded and my glass was too coated with other whiskies to get accurate tasting notes but I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle on my next Scotch-run.
Finish off with hug, dram and special (secret) Bourbon-Ball (a dark chocolate & Smooth Ambler bourbon bon-bon) from John Little, head-distiller at Smooth Ambler, and it was time for the after party!
Now I don’t know how you travel to an after party … but I’m the kind of gal who likes to arrive in style so if that means negotiating a limo ride for some whisky for myself and my beloved whisky-family, like Balcones’ Chip Tate, Compass Box’s Robin Robinson and Kat Valentina … then so be it! 🙂
Off to Ward III we went! It was another amazing night! Congrats Dave Sweet for organizing yet another stellar event! Slainte!
April 6, 2012 § 14 Comments
Between the rain and the recent snow, there were a few beautiful, dry, warm & sunny days in Scotland … and I was lucky enough to have been a visitor during just those days!
After an incredible tour of Forsyths, the Scottish still makers (see my post on that visit HERE), next on the itinerary was a visit to another place in Speyside which has a deep place in my whisky-heart; Balvenie.
Not only was I lucky enough just being there – but my travel buddy (head distiller of Balcones, Chip Tate) and I were given a private tour by Balvenie’s Malt Master (aka, head distiller), David Stewart and their distillery ambassador, David Mair. And if that wasn’t enough – David Stewart was also in the midst of celebrating his 50th year at Balvenie! Congratulations, David!!!
We truly had a lovely afternoon walking the grounds, geeking out about all things “whisky” and of course – drinking some seriously special drams – a few of which David poured straight from the barrels into our open palms. Luckily, slurping was acceptable because I wasn’t letting a single drop hit the floor!
Below is a collection of photos that I took during the visit. Hope you enjoy!
The Balvenie Castle … not exactly where we were trying to go (it’s not that close to the distillery) but it is quite cool to see. Thanks to Google Maps for accidentally taking us here first!
Oh the Scottish weather!
The sign says, “Welcome To Dufftown” …. phew! Back on the right road and almost there!
We made it!!!
This is the view with our backs to the distillery. Isn’t Scotland just so pretty?
The Malting Floor. One of only about 3-5 distilleries left in Speyside who still have an active malting floor. It’s a lot of hard work, manual labor and expense for these distilleries to maintain so it’s a real treat when you get to see one with your own eyes. Highland Park is another one who malts some of their own barley. I don’t know if there is a single distillery left who currently malts 100% of their own barley… if you know of one – please share in the comments below!
Love their old, red grist grinder!
Inside a giant mash ton
This is what they’re talking about when they say, “wooden wash backs.” Not many places ferment their grains in wood anymore. Stainless steel is far more common.
Check out their shiny gold (ok, brass) spirit safes! This is where the distillate cuts are made. Meaning that during the distillation process, the distiller uses the switches and the hydrometer (the device that reads the % of alcohol content) to move the new make through the stills, the low wines receiver and the spirits receiver. Fancy, huh?
Sorry – no photos allowed of the aging rooms (though they were really cool!) – we need to let that liquid gold get it’s beauty sleep! Off to the tasting room we go!
This was the “planned” tasting round … but as luck would have it, the cabinet doors were opened up and we were treated to a few bonus rounds! David & David gave us to some really special pours which I’ll certainly share my tasting notes to later … so stay tuned!
Needless to say, it was a really special afternoon. Thank you David, David and Chip for the laughs, whisky and lasting memories. This day will stay with me for a very long time.
April 3, 2012 § 3 Comments
Oh man am I excited!!! It’s that time again – WhiskyLive is coming to NYC next week on Wednesday, April 11th.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet – especially all of you whiskey/spirit bloggers – do so now! WhiskyLive by Whisky Magazine is not the event to miss. With over 230 different whiskies being poured and the USA PREMIER of the CocktailsLive show (featuring whisky cocktails created by some of NYC’s top bartenders – awesomeness!) this is something I seriously look forward to year after year. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!!!
Go for the whiskies, the networking and this year for the addition of the CocktailsLive show – all included in the price of a basic ticket (and did I mention a full dinner buffet?)!
Ready for your discount code? Here you go! Just enter: ww2012 in the promo code at check out to receive 10% off of your VIP or Regular ticket. (Code is case sensitive – please note there are no upper case letters). Click HERE for more info and to see the list of Master Classes.
If you’re going to be there – let me know in the comments and include your twitter handle – I’ll follow you!
(oh, and since I know you want the inside scoop, the industry after party will most likely be at Ward III in Tribeca … but you’ll have to follow me on twitter for real time confirmation – where ever it ends up though – you can bet I’ll be there!)