May 29, 2012 § 16 Comments
First, I must thank everyone who during this month long blogging hiatus of mine have continued commenting, checking in, reading & reacting to posts and conversations previously initiated here. You all inspire me daily.
Secondly, I must apologize for this month long “walk off” – I wish I could say I was busy traveling the world, exploring hidden distilleries and finding the hidden whisky gems of the world – but alas, I was smacked in the face with the reality called “life” (and no, this was not a TV show that realized just how cool I actually am and bombarded my life to film it)… no, it was nothing like that.
Instead, I moved. And had a big birthday (which I kind of forgot to celebrate…). And went to San Francisco. And then to Seattle. And placed very large orders for corks, bottles and the like for my own whisky brand that I’ll be launching in the Fall. And then tried to build a website. And, did I mentioned I moved? I hate the whole packing/unpacking thing. And I will forever have immense sympathy for anyone moving into an under-construction or still-being-renovated apartment as I have just done. The unpacking thing sucks – but it’s even worse when you are physically not allowed to do it and forced to live in chaos.
On the plus side – MOST of the whiskies have been unpacked! Only 5 boxes of bottles left 😉
On the day of the move, one of my neighbors sent me this text: “Funny how all of your boxes say: Fragile-Whisky or Fragile-Wine … do you not own anything else?”
Above is what’s left to unpack (eek!). But below is what the other side of this room looks like … can we all share a spa-like “ahhhhhh” moment?
It’s a work in progress but luckily as the contractor wraps up and we’re allowed to start moving into other areas of the apartment, we are whittling away at our fortress of overstuffed cardboard boxes and starting to get settled.
Preferably this will all happen in classic Mad Man style with a glass of whisky in one hand…
My apologies again for my absence, it seemed to be the perfect-storm of crazy big life changes on top of the rush-to-get-everything-done-before-summer-starts typical Spring season that was not just a ridiculous time for me but for many. On that thought, I hope you all will join me in a little toast to ourselves this evening.
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!)
March 7, 2012 § 10 Comments
Last week, I was excited to click on a link from a friend to an article in the Huffington Post published about scientist Michael Davidson. The article says that back in the 1990’s, Davidson used a high-powered microscope at the Florida State Research Foundation to photograph a variety of drinks – mostly of the alcoholic variety (fun!).
The results are really – well – stunning. I’ve shared 2 of the whisky photos below as well as a piña colada, tequila & vodka tonic. Before or after consuming one of these beverages – I might swear that I had just seen these hanging in the MOMA. What do you think? Can your favorite drink be both a work of art on your bar and on your wall?
The above is a photo of Scotch. The article doesn’t say if it’s a blended Scotch or single malt though …
This looks like abstract coffee beans to me! But instead … it’s Tennessee Whiskey!
The next three are not of the whisky/whiskey variety but fun and beautiful nonetheless. Enjoy!!!
Please click HERE to be taken to Huffington Post’s original article and to see more beautiful photos!
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.
January 26, 2012 § 9 Comments
This is an odd one, folks, I’m not going to lie … but still very entertaining in it’s own way. A whisky-loving friend of mine just shared this with me and since I was sucked in and watched the whole thing, well, I thought perhaps you’d enjoy it too!
Without anything further, I present to you the Whisky Water Trick. Comment below if you’ve seen this, tried this, or are now contemplating trying this!
January 16, 2012 § 18 Comments
Apparently, 2012 is shaping up to the the Year of the Ice.
And I guess this makes sense. Our whiskies are getting more expensive, our glasses fancier … clearly that leaves the good ‘ole “rock” ready for an update too.
Earlier in 2011, I did a post on waterless “ice” reviewing the Whiskey Disks brand of chilled soapstone clinckers (read it HERE), but today I’m going to talk about the actually frozen water kind that have, for years, danced happily out of their standard ice trays into our standard rocks glasses.
Not today, my friends. Apparently, those closest to me (aka, Santa & his elves), thought this whisky gal’s ice was due for a re-vamp. And a re-vamp she got.
First up – the CUBE
I was so excited to open these and immediately started visualizing myself in a scene from Mad Men. I love their exaggerated size and perfectly cubed shape. Just 1 is perfect in my glass – but if you prefer a few more, be my guest! They melt a bit more slowly then the standard ice shape and look a heck of a lot better!
WW Rating: 5/5 (easy to use, slower melt, 4 rocks/tray, 2 trays to a set, looks fantastic in a rocks glass)
BTW – this gift deserves a shout-out to it’s giver; my sister, who is also responsible for introducing me to one of my all-time favorite rye whiskies, Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye. LOVE her!!!!!
Second – the BALL
Silicone Ice Ball Maker from Muji, $11.75 USD (click HERE for more information)
This made me really excited. It’s easy to imagine oneself in a hidden bar in Tokyo with this beauty close at hand. No, it wasn’t hand carved right in front of you – but unless you’re deciding to take up ice sculpting this year, it’ll do just fine. Personally, I love the minimalistic, modern look which adds an air of instant sophistication – at least something can class up my at-home whisky drinking uniform of flannel pajamas during these cold months! In terms of the how this affects the whisky in ones glass, the Japanese always seem to know exactly what they are doing. The big ball melts much less quickly then standard cubes but cools the liquid much faster – leaving you with the perfectly chilled, ever-so-slightly diluted glass of whisky every time.
WW Rating: 4/5 (when it comes to the whisky, I love this ice ball just a bit better than the straight cube for it’s slower melting/faster chilling ability but it gets slightly lower marks when it comes to sharing. You have to buy multiple balls if you want to be able to offer this ice option to guests, which can get a bit expensive at $11.75 USD per mold.
PS – this also works AMAZINGLY WELL for a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Third – the LUGE
No, I didn’t receive this and no, I haven’t tried this yet – but – that’s not to say this won’t make its way into my home over the course of this next year, if only just to see my friends enjoy a post-business school whisky like only a dedicated frat-party goer could. I think this is hysterical and whether it’s used for whisky or another spirit concoction – who says drinking has to be all serious all the time?! Not me!
On the whisky front – I can see how this might be very nice in during the warmer months. Acting somewhat like an adult slip-n-slid, the spirit could reduce in temp and hopefully pick up some H2O along the way! I say, luge away!
WW Rating: ?/5 (I haven’t tried this yet but will update this should that time come …. on that note; Dear Lush Life, I’m happy to include a rating and a more useful review should you wish to send one to me to try!)
Hope you all are having a wonderful start to 2012. I will give a toast to you on my next round.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!