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

How to Wear a Full Formal Kilt

August 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

As a woman, it is not entirely unusual for me to consult YouTube for various How-To’s that can impact my appearance (i.e. how to do that new hair style or make your own face scrub) but aside from the “How To Tie a ____ Tie” videos, I can’t say that I think there are a lot of “How To” videos that have you men rushing to preview, learn & possibly apply to your day.

Until I came across this one: How To Wear a Full Formal Kilt Outfit with All Accessories.

Very comprehensive … kinda made me want to run out and get a kilt so I could follow along.  Without further adieu, here is the video.  Feel free to bookmark this for your next formal event in Scotland :).

 

Have you worn a kilt? Or do you look to YouTube for specific How To videos?  Share below!

Whiskey Gifts: Father’s Day edition

June 11, 2012 § 8 Comments

Ok gang, we have 1 week until it’s the day we’re to be giving thanks to our Old Man … and if you’re like me, you haven’t bought anything yet – not even the card. (Ok, perhaps you’re just saying that you haven’t “found the right thing yet” but we all know you gave it a 2 second google search and then were on to the 10 new emails that just reloaded in your inbox).  We’ve all been there… I’m not judging.

Instead, I know exactly how you feel.  But don’t worry – if you act now, you just might manage to give him the PERFECT Father’s Day gift on time … whisky style.

GIFT OPTION 1: Whisky Tasting Set from Master of Malt

Photo courtesy of Master of Malt

Chose from over 25 different specialized sets – including a “Cigar Lover’s Tasting Set” and a “Father’s Day Gift set” which can be shipped out of London in 24hrs.  Act quickly before they’re either sold out (as some are) or it’s too late! Available online at MasterOfMalt.com

GIFT OPTION 2: Personalized Whisky bottle

Photo courtesy of Master of Malt

So you wanna be a baller?  Now’s your chance.  Give your dad a bottle of whisky (chose from 16 different whiskies from a variety of producers and prices) that’s personalized JUST FOR HIM!  Now that’s one way to upstage your siblings … 😉 Available online at MasterOfMalt.com

GIFT OPTION 3: Subscription to Whisky Magazine

Give him a 1 or 2 year subscription to Whisky Magazine and let him keep up monthly with all the latest whisky news from around the world!  Available online at WhiskyMag.com.

GIFT OPTION 4: The NEAT Glass

Photo courtesy of The Neat Glass

Keep your dad up on the latest nosing glassware trends and get him a set or two of the NEAT glasses!  Available at TheNeatGlass.com .

GIFT OPTION 5: Vintage 1950’s-60’s 14k Gold Carafe

Photo courtesy of BellaLaineVintage on Etsy.com

Picture this filled with ice water sitting next to your dad’s Double Old-Fashioned glass 1/2 filled with his favorite Scotch.  The Wall Street Journal is folded in a slight mess on the floor and if you keep your eyes closed just long enough, you can almost feel the worn leather of his favorite chair and hear his favorite song being hummed in the background… and if that’s NOT your memory of him, make it his reality! At only $12 USD + shipping, you can’t afford not to! Available at BellaLaineVintage on Etsy.com (but act now because there is only 1!)

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful dad’s out there!!!

A visit to Forsyths – the great whisky still makers

March 30, 2012 § 16 Comments

Forsyth copper still - in the making. Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

A massive Irish still in the making - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Hello beautiful! Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Forsyth stills - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

That's a mighty large fermentation tank, you got there!
Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Safety first! Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Base of a massive still destined for Ireland - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Copper talk @ Forsyth - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Yours truly modeling her hard hat - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

The neck of a still being worked on by hand - so cool! - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

A great game of pool - I won (but only with a ton of help from my partner, Richard Forsyth) 😉 - Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Whiskey Photography … under a microscope!

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?

Photograph of Scotch as viewed under a microscope, by Michael Davidson, courtesy of http://www.bevshots.com. Copyright 2012. Originally published in Huffington Post.

The above is a photo of Scotch.  The article doesn’t say if it’s a blended Scotch or single malt though …

Photograph of Tennessee Whiskey as viewed under a microscope, by Michael Davidson, courtesy of http://www.bevshots.com. Copyright 2012. Originally published in Huffington Post

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!!!

Photograph of a Piña Colada as viewed under a microscope, by Michael Davidson, courtesy of http://www.bevshots.com. Copyright 2012. Originally published in Huffington Post.

Photograph of a Vodka Tonic as viewed under a microscope, by Michael Davidson, courtesy of http://www.bevshots.com. Copyright 2012. Originally published in Huffington Post.

Photograph of Tequila as viewed under a microscope, by Michael Davidson, courtesy of http://www.bevshots.com. Copyright 2012. Originally published in Huffington Post.

Please click HERE to be taken to Huffington Post’s original article and to see more beautiful photos!

Valentine’s Day Whiskey Cocktail: The Old Fashioned

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.

Photo courtesy of Esquire

Ahhhhh….

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 🙂

HOW TO:

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.

Whisky Water Trick

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!

Ice Matters

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

Photos courtesy of William Sonoma

King Cube Silicone Ice Tray from Williams Sonoma, $14.95 (click HERE for purchasing information)

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

(c) The Whisky Woman 2012

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

Photos courtesy of Amazon.com

Lush Life Party Ice Luge from Amazon (click HERE to buy)

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!

HOW TO: Create your own Whisky Tasting Party

December 5, 2011 § 13 Comments

I have been attending so many whisky events recently that it got me thinking: what would make these even better?

Answer: To be surrounded with my close friends.

So this holiday season, I offer you this: The Whisky Woman’s Guide to Creating Your Own Whisky Tasting Party .  It’s time to stop fretting and start celebrating!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Whisky (at least 3 different bottles, the more the merrier -for easy online ordering, check out Binny’s, DrinkUpNY, Astor Wines, BevMo, Park Ave Liquor, K&L)

Tulip Shaped Glasses  (to help focus your nose to the delicate aromas, check out Glencarin, -found HERE at Amazon)

Room temperature spring water (if you want to kick it up a notch, buy a dropper or 2 for easier control of the water-adding situation – found HERE at Amazon)

Unsalted Crackers (to cleanse your palate between spirits – also found HERE at Amazon)

Coffee beans (not necessary but I find very helpful when smelling lots of different whiskies during one sitting)

Opaque Container (for spitting and/or dumping – in a pinch, I use mugs – found HERE at Amazon)

Friends (this party can be done by yourself, but it’s WAAAAY more fun to dive into your whisky exploration with your pals around! – easily found HERE at Facebook) 😉

NEED TO KNOW:

For the novice, familiarize yourself with the different types of whisky.  “Whisky” or “Whiskey” is the main category under which you have Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Single Malts, Blends, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, American Craft, etc.  If you are new to whisky, I suggest choosing bottles from different categories and going as pure as possible (single malts, straight Bourbons, straight rye) and not because there aren’t good blends out there (there are!) but because the authentic characteristics of each type of whisky are often more diluted or altered in a blend.

THEMES:

“Bring a bottle” – you can have each guest bring a bottle (though perhaps it’s best to confirm choices before hand so you can make sure you have some diversity)

“Vertical” – like a Vertical Wine flight, you can do a tasting of the same producer but different years

“Single category” – having different producers from the same category (like all Ryes or all Canadian whiskies) to start to understand the different nuances between the distilleries (think about their production methods and their climate & altitude locations as these effect how the whiskies age in the casks).

“Single Region” – look at trying Scotch’s all from the same area, Bourbons from just Kentucky or Tennessee

“Craft vs Mass Producer” – look for a small producer (perhaps one that is close to your neck of the woods?) and compare their product to one of the “big boys”

Feel free to get creative!  This is the fun part!

HOW TO:

1) Pour whisky & pass around to friends

2) Observe color and clarity (murkiness is OK! If your whisky is cloudy, the distiller did NOT use chill-filtration before bottling which removes impurities but also removes flavors)

3) Smell!  Putting your nose gently above the glass (give it some space!) start to inhale and enjoy the different notes you find.  Get in there – move your nose around to different points around the mouth of the glass, top, bottom, sides, open your mouth as you inhale through your nose … this will help you find different flavors.  Move your head away from the glass, inhale non-whisky air, and go back in again.

4) Chew – Take a very small sip that is enough to prep your palate but not enough to swallow.  “Chew” it by moving it around your mouth, letting it dissolve on your tongue.

5) Taste.  Be taken away by the spirit!  Pay attention to how it changes as it moves around, how it feels once you’ve swallowed it and the lingering effect it leaves in your mouth (called the “finish”)

6) Be a chemist!  Time to add a few drops of water.  This helps to calm down the alcohol and bring out the more delicate notes of the whisky.  Nose it again than drink and enjoy!

7) Rinse and repeat!

Photo credit: Sebastian Yao, Fix It In Post, (c) 2011 for Local Infusions. Please respect the photographer and do not steal this photo and use illegally

The Martell Trunk – Just “revealed” yesterday!

May 18, 2011 § 4 Comments

Ok. I’m impressed – you just have to see for yourself.

For access, you will need to go to: www.the-martell-trunk.com

I stumbled upon this and had to share. Keep reading for the VIP access code.

The House of Martell, one of the oldest of cognac distilleries, paired up with Pinel Pinel, one of the best Parisian contemporary trunk/luggage companies, to create a unique Cognac Trunk for Martell. Using the most luxurious materials (including crystal and full-grain leathers) they created this mater piece, the contents of which were only revealed yesterday.

The VIP access code needed to digitally look inside the trunk is 1715 (this may be temporary so if you’re intrigued… take a look soon!).  I love how they designed the key pad – it’s like you’re actually standing infront of it punching in your pin.

Enjoy the close up photos below … now … isn’t Christmas only a “few” months off?  Oh Santa!


Simply Stunning.

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