June 27, 2014 § 7 Comments
I’m super excited to share something totally fun & a little silly with you we’re calling #BrenneVoyage! Every day during the month of July, I’m going to post a photo of Brenne “out and about” and will tag the photo using the hashtag BrenneVoyage on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
As many of you may know, as the founder of Brenne Whisky (pronunciation reminder: “Brenne” rhymes with “zen”), I’m almost always in possession of a bottle of Brenne. It goes with me everywhere and in a lighthearted way, I’ve found myself occasionally referring to these bottles as having personalities and being far from the inanimate objects that they are (after all, I certainly care for them as if they were my children!).
So on a recent trip to Paris, my mother and I had a blast taking Brenne on a sight-seeing trip around town, photographing it’s journey along the way. When we got back and realized just how many of these photos we had, I thought it was only right to share them in a mini-series that you can follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by searching for the “#BrenneVoyage” hashtag. It was a hilarious way to enjoy a city that I love so much, the theme of which has now taken on a life of it’s own.
I certainly encourage you to grab a bottle of Brenne, your camera and your sense of humor and join me in this month long photographic journey shooting Brenne around town, on your vacation and hanging out with you this summer – just make sure you use the hashtag #BrenneVoyage so we can all see them! (And please respect your local liquor and open-container laws!).
Here’s a taste of the “behind the scenes” …
And below is a teaser of what’s to come …
Hope to see you around the interwebz … I’ll be the one with a bottle of Brenne in her hand galavanting around some of my favorite cities 🙂
#BRENNEVOYAGE STARTING JULY 1 2014
May 3, 2013 § 7 Comments
To say I enjoy getting to know everyone who makes up the vast & ever-expanding whisky community would be an understatement, I love it. It keeps me going & it’s often the best part of my day.
As many of you know, I launched my own whisky (Brenne) on October 1, 2012 and sold it exclusively in New York for the first 6 months. However, on April 1, I did a 3 State roll-out and have been traveling around ever since, meeting a whole new wave of devoted whisky fans.
And it’s been awesome.
First, I thank everyone who has come out to support me at my events in Boston, MA and Chicago, IL and to all of you who live in Nashville, TN, check out my rockin’ line-up of events next week: CLICK HERE for current schedule!
Despite the long (ok, very long) days and even longer nights, the countless hours at airports and in rental cars, getting to meet wonderful people who share an equal love for all things whisky is truly special.
On my last night in Chicago, IL, the brilliant & easy-going Monique Huston (on twitter at @WhiskySommelier) arranged a private sold-out dinner in which Peter Currie of Duncan Taylor, Chip Tate of Balcones, & I with Brenne presented, discussed, and enjoyed whiskies with about 40 of the midwest’s – and beyond – top Whisky Geeks (for definition, click HERE). It was a special evening held in the basement of The Peasantry restaurant where we dined, sipped, discussed, debated and shared all things ‘whisky’ for hours with the likes of Mahesh Patel (of Universal Whisky Experience) and Brett Pontoni (of Binny’s).
The next morning … we were feeling a little goofy!
Suffice it to say, it was a fun trip but one that also proved to be very successful. While we’re still having some red-tape issues with the state of IL and haven’t been able to ship out their first order of Brenne, something awesome did happen during my time there. After the 2nd night (and a super-rocking sold-out massive Whisky festival at one of Binny’s stores) I got the word that Binny’s, who was originally going to do a 10-store roll out with Brenne, decided to up the ante and do a full, all locations, 29-store roll out!!! That’s pretty exciting for anyone but especially so for a can’t-get-smaller-than-mine 1-person company! Thanks Brett & the whole team at Binny’s! Can’t wait to get going there!
I can’t describe the feeling when individuals, stores, restaurants & distributors place re-orders for something that you’ve created. It’s exhilarating, exciting, sometimes in a weird way a tad bit scary, and definitely for me sits somewhere between pride & humility. There is no greater compliment then when someone buys that second drink, or second bottle, or double’s their order realizing that this is something they want to get behind. And as I’ve said since the beginning, THANK YOU, and you all keep me very humble and make me want to work even harder.
So now I’m gearing up to leave NYC again for another much-anticipated Brenne launch week and I’m feeling excited, blessed, grateful & super-charged! Next stop, Nashville, TN!!!!
April 20, 2012 § 19 Comments
A couple of weeks ago I had the ultimate whisky-geek experience of being temporarily uprooted from my busy life in NYC to partake in the more relaxed lifestyle of the Scots in Speyside, Scotland. One of the highlights being a very personal and memorable visit with David Steward at the Balvenie distillery (see my post on that visit HERE).
While there, I tasted some very rare and exceptional drams which I’ll continue to write about in upcoming posts. The first of which, however, was their new make (also known as “white whisky”) which is the distillate prior to any aging. It’s clear, fresh and bright and is the important base of all of their beautiful variations. This is not something that is ever bottled and sold by Balvenie, despite a trend across the pond by the American craft distillers who have been releasing their white whiskies & moonshines over the last few years. Sometimes these new makes can be a bit hard to drink, but I assure you, Balvenie never does anything rough.
NOSE: Sweet grass, malty, pungent sweet, celery salt, salted honey
PALATE: Eucalyptus, rich, complex, sweet after taste, bright, yummy esters (yup, I did just write that!)
WITH H2O: Eucalyptus is still present with white pepper introducing itself, still sweet, beautiful and something I wish I could buy to have on hand always!
I love a good un-aged whisky and this one is particularly delicious (in fact, I wish I was sipping on this right now as I write this post!). But if you can get your hands on one, and I’m talking about a good one, try it chilled in the summer or, my favorite way, paired with some kind of citrus dessert (think lemon bar or a crème brûlée seasoned with orange zest).
What about you? Do you have a favorite un-aged whisky or a preferred way to enjoy this kind of spirit?
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.
March 30, 2012 § 16 Comments
Last week I had the opportunity to be a part of the most unique tour in Speyside, Scotland. A tour that is quite uncommon and not available to the public – and one that I will remember for the rest of my life (in a way that only a true whisky-geek could).
I walked the grounds of the Forsyths facility – the Forsyth facility. You know the guys … the ones responsible for creating and maintaining all of the equipment that goes in to making that beautiful dram in your hand. The stills. The beautiful copper stills. To the likes of Balvenie and Bruichladdich, from Kavalan to one day soon, Balcones. These are the original still masters and they continue today to make the stills by hand – 3 generations later.
A most sincere THANK YOU to Richard Forsyth for being such a generous host and to Chip Tate (Balcones) for the awesome & unforgettable invitation.
So, put on your hard hat and your ear plugs, this Whisky Woman is going to let you peep inside this magnificent palace of constant construction!
The day ended with a few shared glasses of whisky and a solid game of pool. Naturally, I was on the winning team – kicking butt with my rock-star partner, Richard.
And just to come full circle, Richard’s father (also Richard Forsyth) was awarded the Icons of Whisky Lifetime Achievement Award in London later that week. Congratulations Richard on receiving such a high honor and much deserved recognition.
February 1, 2012 § 3 Comments
Almost 2 weeks ago, I had the amazing & somewhat unexpected pleasure of spending an afternoon with Bruce Joseph inside the famous Anchor brewery & distillery in San Francisco, California.
Bruce is a legend.
After a long history of working in the brewery, he spearheaded Anchor Distilling with Anchor’s long-time former owner, Fritz Maytag. They started in the early 1990’s looking back into America’s history to understand and re-create the original American whiskey (we’re talking about figuring out what and how our first president, George Washington, distilled, folks). Turns out, it was 100% Rye whiskey that was aged in toasted, not charred, barrels. Thus, Anchor’s 18th Century Style Whiskey was born!
Anchor continues to make the 18th Century Style Whiskey and their Straight Rye Whiskey in small batches. They have also added two gins to their portfolio: Junipero (which is beautiful & I encourage you to get your hands on if you haven’t already) and Genevieve; a unique, 17th-style gin. This was the first time I had tried the Genevieve and was happy to have done so. It is very pleasant on the palate, light citrus and herbs with some serious complexity & viscosity as well. And this baby goes down very easily … almost too easily. This is not a gin to be used in a martini – no – this is to be enjoyed neat, over ice or, as per Anchor’s suggestion, shaken with ice.
After a five hour tour that was a perfect balance of tech talk, industry speak, distilling geek-out moments and, of course, some sampling of products, it was a magical afternoon that started with a random knock at the door and the luck of good timing.
Ok, enough chit-chat! Let’s get to the photos!
Hello Anchor! … the excitement grows!
Yay! Whole, beautiful HOPS!
Oh beer, how crisp, refreshing and lovely you are!
That’s some serious Steam Beer, baby!
Look at all of that gorgeous, shiny, whiskey-producing copper
Fermenting 100% rye, upon which we did a little impromptu tasting!
Bruce Joseph & me, Allison Patel … the Whisky Woman 😉
December 21, 2011 § 8 Comments
I just spent a full week checking out the whisky scene in the sunny city of Los Angeles, California. On my last day, I was driving around like a crazy person (as you do in LA) trying to squeeze in a few last store visits.
Up until then, I had really only be focusing on specialty shops (K&L for example) and authentic whisky bars (hello, Seven Grand) but I found myself sitting in a parking lot in Beverly Hills staring at a somewhat dingy looking store that, for whatever reason, I felt I was being gravitationally pulled to enter.
Sigh. Ok! I hop out of the car and go into what I would describe at first look as being a pretty standard American liquor store. Neon signs, branded posters, old linoleum floors complete with a faint smell of cat (or is the cat smell only in my memory?).
A quick overview of the room tells me the liquid gold that I’m looking for is in the center of the store (interesting … whiskies are usually along the sides or back walls). Hmmm. I keep walking.
At the start of the aisle, there is a cheap, locked display case that I’m quite sure was been held together with discretely placed duct tape. Now, here’s what I didn’t expect to see in it:
1 beautifully displayed 750ml Baccarat crystal decanter holding non-other than the Louis XIII cognac for around $2500 (see earlier post about this spirit HERE)
1 box (on the bottom shelf, tucked off to the side) of a Compass Box 50ml Sample Gift Set.
Gasp. WHAT!?! I have never seen this kind of set in the States before… ever. SOLD!
This is the perfect way to familiarize oneself with a brand, style, region, etc. I picked up a few sets like this from La Maison du Whisky in Paris back in July (see earlier post HERE, reviews of the sets I bought to be posted in 2012).
In this Compass Box set, it contains five 50ml tubes, one of each of the following:
-1 x Hedonism
-1x Peet Monster
-1x Spice Tree
-1x Oak Cross
I also really appreciate the pull out information card that is secured on the underside of the box lid. This is beautifully done, clean, well organized and a perfect gift … for oneself or someone special!
Sadly, a quick google search produced only one place online with stock and that is a single sellers on eBay (click HERE) but I’m not even sure that’s legal and that guy is selling his box for $89.99 (compared to the $49 I paid at full retail).
IF you can find one – I encourage you to buy it. It’s a great set. I’ll definitely be asking my local store later today to see about getting a few in stock!
Lastly, here’s the information for the store from which I purchased this awesome set:
Vendome Wine & Spirits9153 W Olympic Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Hopefully they can ship to you!
1 ADJUSTMENT SINCE I FIRST PUBLISHED THIS POST: I HAVE SINCE HEARD FROM COMPASS BOX AND THEY OFFER THIS SET FOR SALE IN THEIR ONLINE SHOP HERE: http://compassbox.specialitydrinks.com/
WITH SHIPPING TO THE USA (FROM THE UK) YOU CAN GET IT HOME FOR AROUND $64 USD.
December 12, 2011 § 20 Comments
Earlier this year, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the distillery of perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world (but not for long!).
Celtic Whisky Compagnie’s most popular brands are Kornog and Glann ar Mor. (Specific product reviews in part 2 of this series). On the heels of the Winter issue, before you send your 1st edition Fall 2011 Whisky Advocate magazine out to the recycling bin (or storage bin), check out their nice mention!
Stepping off the train from Paris to Brittany, you arrive in this beautiful, small, sunny, sea-breeze soaked town where it’s easy to start imagining ones’ early retirement. Shortly there after, we were graciously picked up by my dear friend and head distiller, Jean Donnay. As he drove us down the windy coastal streets, we watched the tide quickly retreat and the oyster farmers rushed in to collect their crops. After a blissful tour of the distillery, we shared the most delicious seafood lunch on the top floor of the distillery where we talked about and drank Jean’s amazing whiskies.
And amazing, they are. This is truly a labor of love. Everything they make is hand-crafted and produced by Jean and his wonderful wife, Martine. They do everything right; 100% Scottish malt, live fire, slow distillation, wooden washbacks, worm tube copper stills … but still, given the right skill, patience, investment and knowledge, all of that can theoretically be duplicated anywhere. However, in addition to their passion and drive, what Celtic Whisky Compagnie has that you can’t copy is their perfectly strategic location for “Seaside Maturation.”
Remind you of somewhere? Starts with an “S” ends with a “land”… exactly.
This carefully produced spirit comes off the stills and relaxes on the earthen floor right by the sea. The warehouse is on the tip of a peninsula so you get the wonderfully moist, salty sea air continuously swirling around the aging whiskies. When you sip Jean’s products, you are transported to this place and the amazing journey for your senses begins.
Those of you in Europe – get your hands on a bottle or two (if you’re lucky!). As for us Americans, definitely pick up a bottle on your next pass through Europe! You’ll be glad that you did!