February 10, 2014 § 3 Comments
My husband always says to me (in horror & shock) “You haven’t met an ice cream you don’t like!” And on our recent trip to Japan, neither the country’s explosion of wild flavors (think wasabi, cherry blossom, roasted tea, etc.) nor my ravenous search to seek out and try them all – sometimes twice a day- did anything to prove the contrary.
So you can imagine my pure delight when I received an email from Melissa Tavss, founder & CEO of Tipsy Scoop, asking if I’d like to give one of her booze-infused ice creams a try! (Clearly we had never met as anyone in my existing circle of friends wouldn’t have asked and just dropped off a sample instead). But as I skimmed her list of Valentine’s Day flavors, it looked like the offer got even better for there, in black and white, was tipsy whisky ice cream.
I quickly responded and asked specifically if it would be okay to try the “Deep Dark Chocolate Depression & Salted Caramel Whiskey Tears” (did I need to record a Lifetime movie to go along with this!?). Being made & sold in NYC, she delivered my sample in no time at all and it was time to get down to tasting business!
The sample was delivered in the early afternoon packed nicely in a cute Tipsy Scoop cloth insulator bag à la 90’s lunch-bag style, 2 postcards & a very large, flexible ice pack – all of which went directly into my freezer, postcards and all.
On the rare occasion, my husband and I will pull out our at-home ice cream maker and whip up a batch of something fun – learning early on that a couple of tablespoons of hard liquor will keep the desert from fully freezing and thus, making a more elegant, creamy and easy-to-scoop texture. One of our favorite combos has always been grapefruit sorbet with Campari – yum! Knowing that my at-home version yields nice texture and a hint of flavor (and I don’t remember ever feeling the effects of the alcohol), I was curious to see how Tipsy Scoop would balance the non-freezing aspect of the booze with the bigger-then-a-hint of its flavor.
7hrs later after my sample was delivered, I prepped my palate for review & my counter for proper photos and excitedly removed the parcel from my freezer, quickly arranging the items for a photo before opening the lid & starting my “research” …
(Naturally, I poured myself a glass of Brenne – one I thought I’d enjoy soon after writing my tasting notes when I moved on to the pure enjoyment part of ice cream consumption…however)
…upon opening the lid, I had a bit of a problem; it wasn’t frozen at all. 😦
I popped the container back into the freezer (this time it went in just on its own, sans bag & ice pack and right next to my ice trays) checking on it again after about an hour. It was better but still needed more time. So I waited until about another 30-45 minutes and we had a texture that was much better:
TASTE: creamy vanilla, a hint of caramel, chocolate … with a kick! Holy moley, it tasted like Frozen Bailey’s (which makes sense; whisky + chocolate + cream … it’s kinda their thing!).
TEXTURE: The soup-debacle aside, the ice cream itself had a nice texture but not as silky as I might have liked. It melted quickly (due to the high alcohol content) causing all of the chocolate bits to fall to the bottom. I prefer having chewable things in my ice cream (chocolate chips, nuts, etc) but it’s key that they are scattered evenly throughout the layers.
WHISKEY: I enjoyed having the whisky folded into the ice cream – Tipsy Scoop was definitely generous with the booze and it makes for a really fun (albeit adult-only) scoop.
Upon further research (okay, more like reading her website while sipping on that glass of Brenne waiting for my sample to firm up), I learned that she has a family heritage of ice cream making & shop ownership in Scotland! And it was this wise, 4th generation ice cream designer who brought the cream+sugar together with the water of life. Not. Too. Shabby.
SUMMARY: I love the idea, love the creative flavor combinations and the cute packaging. I had a problem with the melting which could have been something that happened to my batch only or perhaps I should have removed the sample from the insulated bag & ice pack it was delivered with and just stored it in my freezer by itself. I do think this makes for an awesome Valentine’s Day experience and while $45 for 3 pints of ice cream seems quite high for ice cream – if (for New Yorkers especially) you think that it equals $15/pint which we readily spend on a single cocktail – it may be justifiable for a special occasion.
Wishing you all the happiest of Valentine’s Days .. for those of you not in New York City (and thus unable to get a Tipsy Scoop delivery at this time), perhaps you’ll whip up your own versions for the big day of love? I would think that a little whisky mixed into the ice cream with a little more poured on top at time of consumption (á la affogato style) would be quite dreamy! Share your booze+ice cream combos below!
***And a very big THANK YOU to Melissa of Tipsy Scoop for giving me the delicious sample and trusting me with a review! It was great fun – you’re definitely on to something wonderful here. Congrats!***
June 13, 2013 § 20 Comments
This post could have also been titled:
Whisky Love Affair: Suntory
There isn’t one particular reason that I love Suntory – but more a collection of experiences gained over the years. The first, and perhaps most important, being that they are the producers of “the dram” that set me down this path of total Whisky geekdom, which I will always attribute as being Suntory’s Yamazaki 18. The second being that we always have a bottle of the Yamazaki 12yr on hand – always (which I have reviewed in the past HERE). I have long admired the Japanese esthetic – and when it’s applied to luxury, it doesn’t typically come across as being ostentatious or glitzy glam – but instead clean elegance.
And it was this minimalistic elegance that was on magnificent display a month ago on Tuesday, May 14th, at the Art of Suntory event at the Noguchi Museum in New York. This was no ordinary tasting, mind you, but an experience to not be quickly forgotten. No attention to detail was spared – from the sleek slate gray invitation with the carefully commissioned muted gray cheery blossom photo stamp – a detail so quiet it was not done to stand out on its own but rather aid in setting the tone for the pending event – to the exquisitely chosen location; the striking Noguchi Museum.
Entering the museum, we were greeted by a row of adoring fans … er … no, that’s not right …. rather a group of cheerful servers with delicate delicious amuse-bouches prepared by the renowned chef, David Bouley paired with a Hakushu 12 Highball. Delightful!
And don’t think for a second that you were able to just “show up” … no, when I say they took care of everything – they did. We were given a choice to 2 convenient meeting points in Manhattan – where we then boarded luxury shuttle buses to be driven off to (and from!) the event in Queens. Talk about an entrance. We were first welcomed by being handed a printed Suntory silk scarf – the color of which signified your level as a guest (red was press!) which was folded origami style into a pouch containing the program for the evening, a press packet & whisky menu. Classy. After walking past the line of servers above, we strolled outside to connect with #WhiskyFabric friends new & old. You could feel the excitement building in the air. No one knew quite what to expect but the foundation for a stellar evening was laid.
It kicked off outside with an impressive showing of whiskies and Suntory personalities, including CEO Toshi “TJ” Kumakora, Master Distiller Mike Miyamoto, USA East Coast Brand Ambassador Gardner Dunn and USA West Coast Brand Ambassador Neyah White, all of whom played an important role of guiding us through the evening.
Neyah White kicked us off with a Japanese word (sounded like “omo”) that means: opening up barriers. This can take on so many forms – from our zen garden settings in the midst of urban NYC to the overall fact that the world whisky category is here to stay. We heard from Mike Miyamoto (pictured below) who took us through the tasting and chef David Bouley who shared his own experiences of whisky + food coming together to enhance each other.
THE TASTING (photographed above):
YAMAZAKI 18YO | Nose: caramel, vanilla rooibos tea, sweet herbal notes | Taste: Herbal sweet & warming spice tea notes continue, long smooth finish. Heaven in a bottle.
HAKUSHU 25YO | Nose: burnt orange peel, mild sweet smokiness, fresh flowers … lilies, bit of evergreen forest | Taste: Spicy! Dark earthy tones – not piny but more of moss/mold in a good way!
HIBIKI 21YO | Nose: pear, honey, smoke | Taste: very balanced, not too many individual tastes popped out at me. Plenty of complexity.
The weather was perfect for such an event which flowed seamlessly between the indoors & outdoors areas. In hindsight, I don’t remember ever consciously walking to a place because it was indoors or out – but rather because the mood (or, let’s face it, WHISKY!) was calling me!
In the photo above on the right is William O’Donnell of The Men’s Collective and my husband, Nital Patel (which was a huge treat for me as it’s often hard to align schedules and actually attend a whisky event together!).
After the guided whisky tasting – they opened up the other “stations” around as more guests joined in the fun. The food, which started flowing out of the hidden kitchen, was a collection of delicate little morsels of goodness made with the intention of bringing out a particular aspect of the Single Malts or Blends.
We strolled, tasted, sampled, chatted and enjoyed ourselves for hours. Having particular joy in chatting with G-LO & Limpd of the It’s Just The Booze Dancing Blog, Josh Feldman, of the Coopered Tot blog (photographed below) and Stephen from The Malt Imposter.
Below, East Coast Suntory Brand Ambassador Gardner Dunn quickly shaves large cubes of ice down into perfectly rounded spheres and Suntory’s not-for-sale sparkling water bottled at the Yamazaki distillery used in the Hibiki 12 Highballs.
We ended the night strolling through the garden one more time – enjoying the sunset, whisky, food and company. But just when you thought they couldn’t pull out any more surprises, as we wound our way back through the museum to board a return bus home, there were YAMAZAKI TRUFFLES!!!!! I got so excited mine jumped from my hand and proceeded to roll across the floor at such a pace (leaving a little trail of dusted chocolate as it went!) I thought someone might have been controlling it via remote! Well, I can only be classy for so long, I’m surprised my bus didn’t turn back into a pumpkin halfway along the journey!
HUGE THANKS TO: Suntory & Exposure USA PR Company for hosting & inviting us to such a wonderful event. Particular thanks to Exposure’s Danielle Katz & Nicholas Rotondi for your generosity & going above and beyond to make us feel welcome. And BIG THANKS to the #WhiskyFabric crew who also attended and made this event feel far more personal than any event could.
APOLOGIES to Suntory & Exposure for my month-long delay in writing this post! I wanted this to be as perfect as the event has been preserved in my head … but then realized that would be impossible and it was more important to just get this done! 😀 Sorry for the writer’s block!
March 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
UPDATE: Since publishing this post, this particular event has been cancelled. There are definitely other Balcones events going on while Chip’s here so if you’re interested, please check out NYCwhisky.com for the most current list of whisky happenings in NYC! 🙂
I didn’t mean to do 2 event announcement posts back-to-back BUT next week the whisky circus rolls into NYC with the NY WhiskyLive event, the World Whisky Conference and whatever other events everyone is doing while they’re here and I thought this other one ought to be shared!
My good friend (& extremely talented distiller) Chip Tate of Balcones will be one of the many distillers in NYC next week. And in addition to WhiskyLive, he is also celebrating the 5th Anniversary of Balcones!!!
To celebrate, he’s doing a dinner at Harlow Restaurant in NYC that is open to the public (limited tickets available). Here a copy of the press release I received – I’ll definitely be there and can’t wait! Dying to try Chip’s NEWEST RELEASE, his Fifth Anniversary Straight Bourbon [64.2%] that just took Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition!
Hope to see you there! Please share below if you’re going, have experienced the Balcones line before or perhaps if you’ve met Chip! (or anything else you’d like to share, open forum here, folks) 🙂
March 14, 2013 § 5 Comments
Look out New York, here comes the Whisky Circus!
Every year during the first week in April, it feels like most of the flights that land at JFK are filled with distillers, ambassadors and adoring whisky fans (ok, geeks ;)) who all clamor into town with one main agenda: WhiskyLive NY (WLNY). It’s one of my favorite whisky events of the year, big enough that you can easily fill every second of your time tasting and chatting up the producers of different brands, but small enough where you’re not run down by a pack of over-inebriated, 18yr old + up “only” Scotch demanding drinkers. Nope, not here. Not that I’ve experienced, at least.
I’ve attended the last 3 NY WhiskyLive shows as a spectator (though last year, I presented Balcones at WhiskyLive London with Chip Tate… which was awesome). But this year will be an entirely different experience for me because for the first time at any large tasting event, I’ll be presenting Brenne! I’m so excited and it’ll be such a thrill to share my whisky with such a great group of whisky fans.
And as the kind folks at WhiskyLiveUSA often give me a coupon code for my readers, this year they really upped the ante and are offering you a 20% OFF COUPON! At check out, type in “brenne” <- it’s case sensitive! Hopefully this helps a lot of you who may be on the fence.
Now this year, for something extra special, the day following Whisky Live (April 4th) is the trade-only event: World Whiskies Conference (WCC). I had the absolute pleasure of attending this last year in London (as you might have noticed … my mug was all over their marketing material this year as many people pointed out, lol). But this event travels around the world, happening each year in a different city and this year, it’s on American soil!
Just check out the list of speakers & guests: WCC PROGRAM
I look forward to hearing all of the presentations, participating in the discussions and seeing lots of my old friends! I really can’t wait.
Any plans to attend either event? Have you been in the past? Share your experiences & thoughts below! 😀
March 6, 2013 § 10 Comments
Pour yourself a dram and enjoy the following review, I have a LOT to say about this remarkable event by fellow whisky enthusiast, Joshua Feldman.
To set the mood (and you’ll understand why later), I invite you to play Brahms Sextet in G-major as you read along.
As I enter the 6th month on the market with my whisky, Brenne (can’t believe my baby is 6 months old!), it’s extremely rare right now for me to be able to quite my Brenne-centric brain long enough to attend (vs conduct) a tasting event. However, when one of my favorite bloggers & whisky enthusiasts, Josh Feldman (of the Coopered Tot blog) announced that he would be presenting his first solo whisky tasting event where he’d be taking an audience through a carefully selected grouping of high-end chocolates + whiskies at the beautiful Morgan Library in the heart of Manhattan, and then graciously invite me to be his guest(!!!!) well, I just HAD to be there.
And was I ever thankful to do so. That night will stick with me forever.
FIRST, my company. (SIDE NOTE: One of whom is a fellow blogger -Susannah Skiver -and we thought it would be fun to post our reviews on the same day. Click to read her take!)
I went by myself which I really enjoy doing on occasion because I find that the world opens up around you in ways you might not have ever experienced otherwise. Everyone was assigned to a different table and was I ever blessed by the Whisky Angles. To my right was the enjoyable intellect, Clay Gordon (The Chocolate Life, @DiscoverChoc, chocolate expert, author, entrepreneur, etc), and to my left was the fantastic blogger and insightful taster, Susannah Skiver Barton (What Tastes Good blog, @whattastesgood). Next to Susannah was Rebekah Pizana who came up from Washington DC where she is a Gourmet Food/Drinks writer (I Write Gourmet blog, @IWriteGourmet) and across the table from us were a wonderful couple, Julie and her husband Derek, who is a professional classical musician. Our conversations ranged from food & whisky chemistry to music composition to changes in culture with a dash of psychology – and all under the umbrella of the fantastically curated pairing of chocolates by Pacari and a wide range of whiskies selected by Josh.
At this point, it would be extremely unfair of me to list my tasting notes as A) I’m afraid I might start drooling at the memory going back through all of the different combinations and B) I’ve been wanting to share my whisky-piphanies of the night with you and get your reactions to the fun! Do you still have the classical music playing? Good!
Here’s what went down:
- Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or – paired with Pacari Piura 70% regional varietal
- Compass Box Hedonism – paired with Pacari Lemongrass
- Glendronach 15 “The Revival” – paired with Pacari 65% Manabi regional varietal
- Aberlouer A’Bunadh – paired with Pacari 65% Manabi regional varietal
- Ardbeg Uigeadail – paired with Pacari Salt & Nibs
- Balcones Brimstone – paired with Pacari Fig
There is a debate about which comes first (no, not that age-old chicken/egg one), the chocolate vs whisky one! And it was great how instead of choosing one way, they switched it up depending on which set we were on and how they thought the two would be be experienced. Sometimes we were instructed to try the whisky first, other times we started with the chocolate. I found that I preferred to start with the whisky because I really enjoyed how the fats in the chocolate changed the whisky when I went back for a post-chocolate sip. (This was my whisky-piphany #1).
The Pacari ambassador explained that when eating a fine chocolate, to rub a piece in between your fingers first. This warms the chocolate and starts releasing some of the oils and fragrances. Second, smell the chocolate. Next, place it on your tongue and let it continue melting. Don’t chew and swallow quickly – let the chocolate roll around in your mouth just the way you do with whisky. Experience the velvety bite in all sections of your palate and then when you have a nice thin layer covering your tongue, go ahead a re-visit your whisky.
The introduction of the alcohol to the fat molecules in the chocolates release new compounds that you wouldn’t have experienced without the other. THIS was the most exciting discovery to me. After going through these steps for the second pairing, in the midst of the 3rd Clay suggested I go back and try the Compass Box Hedonism. There was an explosion of jasmine present in the whisky that was not there previously. And since our table was often jumping in to the larger conversation, Clay opened this idea up to the room and it was so cool to watch most people go back to their Hedonism and get giddy with the same discovery.
This happened in reverse on the first tasting as well, when starting with the chocolate then whisky, when most went back to the chocolate – there was a distinct rich apricot/tart berry flavor that was coming out which was not there when either the chocolate or whisky was consumed on their own. AWESOME.
My second whisky-piphany was when Derek (the classical musician) suggested that Brahm’s Sextex in G-major would be the perfect audio pairing for the Aberlouer A’Bunadh & Pacari 65% Manabi regional varietal combination. What?! Why have I not explored this notion deeper in the past? (By the way, the song at the top of this post is just that, Brahm’s Sextex in G-major Movement I).
As whisky analyzers, we pay attention (& often record) all of our other senses, sight, smell, taste & mouth feel, but what about sound? In the past, I always preferred to analyze my tastings in silence (though when I’m just sitting around enjoying whisky, I do enjoy a good flow of music and/or conversation!) But I’m curious to know, are there any specific artists, songs or genres of music that you enjoy listening to while drinking whisky, either generally, by style or by specific dram?
Sound is a vibration, a pulse, movement. As a former classical ballerina, I remember going (or often dragging) myself to class, emotionally drained from whatever else had gone on that day or night before. But the moment the pianist would play a chord on the piano, I would be transported to the present. To my time in space. I would feel the wood of the ballet barre under my hand and wake-up to where I was and what I was about to do. I love that Derek took one sip of a whisky and knew exactly which piece of music he wanted to be listening to at that moment. Is anyone out there exploring specific drams + songs?
At one point during the ongoing conversation at our little table, Clay Gordon noted an interesting difference in how we experience chocolate verses whisky. He said that whisky is often a very analytical experience, whereas when adults taste chocolate, our personal experiences with chocolate are rooted to emotional connections that we have had since childhood.
I never thought about my chocolate this way – and while I see his point (we all probably can’t remember our first bite of chocolate but can remember our first sip of whisky!) I will say that I think whisk(e)y is probably the spirit that most people have the strongest connection with emotionally. I think many people, positively or negatively, consciously or unconsciously, have a historical association to whisky. I’ve heard lots of people at my tastings say a variation of: “Oh I like/don’t like <fill in the blank> style of whisky because that’s what <fill in family member> use to drink and <fill in anecdotal story of smelling or tasting it as a child> which is why I think I like/don’t like whisky today.”
If you’d like to share your thoughts below, I’d be curious to hear from you on this point too. Do you have a past memory or nostalgic feeling to whisky or any other spirit? Do you think that influences your preferences now?
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this post! I’m so proud of Josh – it was a remarkable evening. I learned so much about chocolate (for another day!) and truly loved the pairings listed above. I hope Josh continues with these events and that I’m able to attend many, many more! THANK YOU, JOSH!
And now, for a little showing of just how fun of a night it truly was!
September 28, 2012 § 27 Comments
As many of you know, I have produced Brenne, a French Single Malt whisky that’s been finished in Cognac barrels. It’s been the most incredible journey I have ever been on and have been so excited I shake & do random, spur of the moment “happy dances” with myself and anyone close enough to join in the fun (or run like hell, depending on their level of personal comfort) 😉
Today we are launching in the “soft-opening” phase giving Caskers.com (who I recently interviewed HERE) the exclusive pre-sale listing. At 11am EST, Brenne Estate Cask will officially go on sale – but it’s a private sale so make sure you click HERE and use the invitation code: WHISKYWOMAN
Officially launching Monday, October 1st – Brenne will be available at some of New York City’s top restaurants & bars and boutique whisky shops. As a true “1 Woman Whisky Show,” in addition to doing barrel management, production management, shipping logistics, importing, distributing, sales, marketing, social media, etc by myself … I also built the Brenne website* and will be continually updating www.DrinkBrenne.com with the latest accounts who will carry this most special & unique malt!
I hope all of you get to try it soon and can’t thank you all enough for the support you have given me throughout this amazing process. This is only the beginning!!!
NOSE: almond, vanilla, apricot, apples, anise, sugar cookie, dark chocolate, hint of perfume
PALATE: chocolate covered orange peels, butter, warm spices, vanilla bean
FINISH: long & lingering, starts to dissipate then returns for a final kick of pink peppercorns, cloves & burnt caramel
*Side note to those of you who are more technically advanced than I am, any web changes/upgrades/thoughts are welcome! Some of you have already been super helpful in giving me some tips & hints, which I have been applying gradually as I increase my understanding of how to build web sites. Sincerest THANKS to you.
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!