Father’s Day: Whiskey Gift Guide

June 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

Hello!  It’s that time of year again! Father’s Day is around the corner and I’m sharing some of my top picks for your whisky-loving Dad! This year I’ve decided to showcase a highbrow and lowbrow option for the each item – hope you enjoy!

Feel free to share some of your favorite whisky gifts in the comments below (no sales pitches, please).

SANDS OF TIME

To me, sipping on a nice single malt is all about the appreciation of time.  The time it took to make the elegant spirit, the time we have now, the time we get to surround ourselves with those we love.  Get your Dad an hourglass for him to peacefully reflect on the essence of time over his next a good dram!

HIGHBROW: Restoration Hardware Vintage Brass Hourglass ($249-$299 USD)

Restoration Hardware Hourglass

Photo courtesy of restorationhardware.com

LOWBROW: CB2 Hourglass ($9.95 – $29.95 usd)

CB2 Hourglass

Photo courtesy of CB2.com

MASTER MIXOLOGIST

So you want to make some cocktails, eh? Well I think that’s a grand idea!  Why not practice and hone your skills together for some quality father + daughter or son bonding time?

HIGHBROW: Private Mixology Classes by Liquid Lab NYC (price upon request)

LiquidLab_NYC

Photo courtesy of liquidlabnyc.com

LOWBROW: The Ultimate Bar Book; The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1000 Cocktails ($8.63- $11.57 usd)

The Ultimate Bar Book

Photo courtesy of StonewallKitchen.com

CRYSTAL CLEAR ACCOUTREMENT

Help make his home bar brilliant with the clean lines and the sparkly shine of cut crystal or hand-blown glass!  At our home, we always have at least 1 decanter filled at all times with the “help yourself” whisky (the geeky ones tend to stay in their respective bottles).

HIGHBROW: Waterford Designer Studio 2012 Copper Coast Whiskey Decanter and 4 Rocks Glasses ($2,300 usd)

Waterford Crystal Decanter

Photo courtesy of Waterford

LOWBROW: Lexington Whiskey Decanter ($69.95 usd)

Lexington Whiskey Decanter

Photo courtesy of WineEnthusiast.com

DON’T FORGET THE WHISKEY / WHISKY!

No Father’s Day or family gathering would be complete without a great bottle of Single Malt to share!  Don’t forget to pick one up or have one delivered to your husband, Papa & Grandfather this Father’s Day!

HIGHBROW:  Macallan Lalique ($37,000 usd)

Macallan Lalique

Photo courtesy of 21food.com

MEDIUM BROW: Brenne French Single Malt Whisky ($55-$65 usd) <Come on … how could I NOT include it? 😀

Brenne French Whisky

Photo (c) of Local Infusions, LLC 2014

LOWBROW: Tasting Sample of Ben Nevis 21 ’90 Ruby Bottling Note ($16 usd for 3cl)

ben-nevis-21-year-old-1990-ruby-port-cask-finish-whisky

Photo courtesy of masterofmalt.com

This concludes my 2014’s Father’s Day Gift Guide.  There are plenty of awesome whisky-related items out there to discover and you can take a look back through my other gift guides (collected onto a single page HERE).

Most importantly, to all Dad’s, soon-to-be Father’s, Grandparents, Godparents, Uncles and more; a most sincere Happy Father’s Day from yours truly!

Happy Father's Day

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Review: Tipsy Scoop – Boozy Ice Cream!

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.

Tipsy_Scoop_Valentines

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” …

Display1(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. 😦 

Liquid1

Liquid3

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:

Frozen2

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.

Frozen3Above: the delicious chocolate chunks hanging out in the bottom of the container

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.

Rose Heart

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!

Cheers***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!***

Awesome Whiskey Gifts

December 13, 2012 § 15 Comments

I look forward to putting together this post all year!  I LOVE conjuring up a little collection of my favorite whisky themed gifts to give to loved ones this holiday season.

Hope this can provide a little help – either to you as the giver, or perhaps as the receiver (just send your gift giver this link!).  And in no particular order, I present to you this year’s list of Whisky Gifts!

DECANTERS

You can go about this two different ways: new or old.  Here are some of my favorites!

Crate & Barrel Decanters

Crate & Barrel Decanters

Crate & Barrel launched a nice line of decanters this year, ranging in price from $29.95 – $44.95.  I think these are pretty great for the home, office or home office!

Vintage Decanter found on Etsy (seller: SFKvintage)

Vintage Decanter found on Etsy (seller: SFKvintage)

Or you can go with something like this! – a vintage piece with unique accents.  Etsy has a lot of cool ones (tip: just search for “decanters,” if you look specifically for “whiskey decanters” you’ll see the prices sky rocket). This particular beauty (sold by SFKvintage) is only $40 and sure to be a sophisticated way to enjoy your favorite dram!

ADVENT CALENDAR

Every year (ok, let’s face it, every month!) the UK-based online store, Master of Malt, does something cool.  They somehow always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else.  And further more, they’re genuinely good people; kind, funny, open & honest…  Just the kind of people you want to support.  This year, they put together an Advent Calendar.  BRILLIANT!

Master of Malt's Whisky Advent Calendar

Master of Malt’s Whisky Advent Calendar

But just in case that is not for you … er… I mean the person you’re shopping for (isn’t that you?), they also have this really cool “Home Blenders Kit” – I’d LOVE to get one of these from Santa!

Master of Malt's Whisky Blending Kit

Master of Malt’s Whisky Blending Kit

BOOKS

With one’s ever growing whisky library, one ought to keep up to date with the latest printed releases as well as the liquid kind.  This first one is a GREAT choice for any Whisky Geek (in case you’re not sure, I’ve taken the time to define such geek-dome in an earlier post).  Written by Corsair Artisan Disillery’s owner & master distiller, Darek Bell,  Alt Whiskeys is summed up as: Alternative Whiskeys and Techniques for the Adventurous Distiller … a copy of this just landed on my desk this week, thanks to Darek, and I can’t WAIT to snuggle up next to the fire with a great dram and get to reading!

Darek Bell's Book available on Amazon.com

Darek Bell’s Book available on Amazon.com

There is also Dominick Roskow’s The World’s Best Whiskies that’s been on my list for a while now.  I always love Dominick’s work – he has a lot of passion and knowledge about distilleries all over the world and he’s yet another wonderful whisky guy (starting to sense a theme here? What can I say?! I find it MUCH easier to support people who are intelligent, talented and humble … no egos for me, please!).

Dominic Roskow's The World's Best Whiskies available on Amazon.com

Dominic Roskow’s The World’s Best Whiskies available on Amazon.com

ART

Why not get that whisky lover in your life a beautiful piece of whisky-related art?  I love the quiet elegance of this Old Whisky Barrel print by Olivier Le Queinec.  Choose your print medium (metal, acrylic, canvas, framed, or even greeting card) and your size.  You can find something in any budget as prices range from $4.95 – $257.62 USD (with prints starting as low as $16).

Old Whisky Barrel print on Fine Art America.com's site

Old Whisky Barrel print on Fine Art America.com’s site

WHISKY / WHISKEY

And lastly, a bottle of the good stuff!  It would be ridiculous for me not to suggest my own whisky but I also don’t like the idea of using this blog solely for shameless self promotion.  That said, I AM recommending Brenne Estate Cask as the whisky gift du jour for the following reasons:

Brenne appeals to just about everyone.  I have been (happily) surprised by the incredibly wide range of fans; from young male & female post-collage undergrads to established, middle-aged peat-freaks, to your typical wine-o’s, to your typical whisky-geeks and beyond.

Photo courtesy & (c) by Ken Buschner/Studio-2B.com

Photo courtesy & (c) by Ken Buschner/Studio-2B.com

I have been shocked by the number of Islay Scotch drinking fans who have gravitated towards Brenne (which is on the complete opposite end of the taste spectrum – no smoke, no peat, all fruit).  Also, the number of non-whisky drinkers who have also picked up bottles for both their own consumption and as gifts.  The point is, this whisky is smooth, so easy to drink and has lots of vanilla and fruit notes that there is little about it that can offend someone while at the same time offering tons of complexity for people to enjoy.

You can easily buy this online at Park Ave Liquors HERE

So there is my plug – not because it’s mine but because I so wholly believe in it as the whisky you can share with everyone and not worry about turning anyone off to this great world of whiskies … on the contrary, you may make a few more fans!

Hope you are all having a wonderful time this season – don’t forget to stop and smell the spruce!

happy-holidays

My whisky, Brenne, launches TODAY!

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!!!

TASTING NOTES

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.

Whisky Review: Bruichladdich 12 year old Second Edition

July 27, 2012 § 7 Comments

Considering all of the Bruichladdich news going on this week, I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in and refocus on what I’m most interested in: the WHISKY!

(But in case you missed it, the fiercely independent Islay distillery just confirmed that they are selling to Remy.)

So today I am reviewing one of my favorite Bruichladdich expressions, the Second Edition 12 year Islay Single Malt, 46% abv aged in Bourbon barrels.

NOSE: Cinnamon bark, cherry (black? fresh?), Red Hot candies, caramel, black licorice mixed with a magic marker, peat is there but quite light and masked by the spicy candy notes

TASTE: Sweet cherry candy (jolly rancher?), cherry morphs into cinnamon, starts medium-strong and balloons up to the peat

FINISH: Bold and very strong, move through the pallet, nice tingling that lingers on lips & tongue for quite a while

What’s your favorite ‘laddich?

WhiskyLive NYC 2012 – REVIEW

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!

Photo (c) of The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

Hey – are we taking each others photo!? Silly social media whisky geeks (myself included)! Smile!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

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 …

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Off to the Cocktail’s Live area!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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! 🙂

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Off to Ward III we went!  It was another amazing night!  Congrats Dave Sweet for organizing yet another stellar event!  Slainte!

Distillery Visit: Balvenie in Speyside, Scotland

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Oh the Scottish weather!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

The sign says, “Welcome To Dufftown” …. phew! Back on the right road and almost there!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

We made it!!!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

This is the view with our backs to the distillery.  Isn’t Scotland just so pretty?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Love their old, red grist grinder!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Inside a giant mash ton

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Sláinte!

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