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!!!!
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) 🙂
June 25, 2012 § 7 Comments
Hello whisky friends! It’s time to mark your calendars!
You know every time my distiller friends roll into town – there are crazy whisky adventures to be had. Well, now I’m giving you a heads–up and a chance to join in on the fun. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you read about it later!).
Chip Tate, head distiller and founder of the Balcones Distillery in Waco, TX is coming into town for the New York Bar & Restaurant Show and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition … ok, you say, so what’s in it for me? Glad you asked!
While he’s here, he will be doing a FREE tasting event on Tuesday, June 26th, 6:30pm-8:30pm at one of my favorite spots: the Brandy Library. (25 North Moore Street in Tribeca)
Aside from meeting Chip, what makes this extra cool is the under-the-radar/not-announced-till-right-now secret bottles that he’ll be pouring. He’s pulled some crazy awesome barrel samples (whisky that’s taken directly from the barrel and put into a bottle), marked the glass bottles with a Sharpie marker and will be bringing them to NYC. Awesomeness.
He’ll also have his SUPER LIMITED Rumble Cask Reserve (RCR) that’s finally launching in NY. Last I checked, there were less then 300 bottles of this… ever.
Here are my tasting notes on the RCR:
ABOUT: Made exactly the way you make whisky but with one substitution, the ingredients! This is made from figs, sugar & honey. Fermented together, distilled & aged in a variety of American & French oak barrels. This is the CASK STRENGTH version of his RUMBLE
NOSE: rich honey, drying rose petals, older leather, dehydrated apples
PALATE: smooth caramel and burnt sugar to start, a pleasant journey which rolls moves the heavier notes quickly over the tongue
FINISH: long but light mouthfeel, honeysuckle flower into clove and black pepper on the end
April 13, 2012 § 6 Comments
Anyone who knows me or who follows me on twitter probably knows that I attended the WhiskyLive NYC show this past Wednesday as I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement! And this year surely did not disappoint.
It’s one of my favorite nights of the year – a time to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and drink some seriously stand-out drams. And may I just give my sincerest apologies to everyone who I either didn’t mention here or didn’t have a chance to visit. I could have easily used another 4 hours!
My first stop was quite intriguing … Notch Single Malt Whisky from Nantucket. Notch partners with Cisco Brewers who makes a special beer for them from Maris Otter malt (which has an interesting history for a grain & according to Wikipedia, is “acknowledged right across the brewing world as the finest-quality malt available”). This beer, or wort, is then moved to the Triple Eight Distillery to distill in a small copper pot still where just the heart cut of the distillate is used and aged for 8 years in ex-bourbon and finished in French oak Merlot wine casks from local Nantucket wineries.
Now, this was a really enjoyable dram but what I can’t understand is the price. $888 for a 750ml bottle. I am sure they didn’t have the price match the name of the distillery to be cute … but I just can’t get my head around this! Remember, this was my first stop so I know my brain was still quite sharp – but I didn’t hear them mention the addition of 24k gold or a unicorn horn as a “gift with purchase” so not wanting to further interrupt the interview they were doing with Gregg from DistilleryAge.com, I snapped the above photo promised them I would be following up … and you bet I will be! Asap.
Next stop, Balvenie!
Now you know you’re a #WhiskyBadAss when you show up to an event with your own malting floor! David Stewart and team, you guys are my heroes. (If you missed it, check out my earlier post of my visit to this distillery HERE)
I always enjoy my time with the happy and wonderfully talented Balvenie crew. David and I caught up over a beautiful glass of their 14yr Caribbean Cask Single Malt which was divine. They actually bring rum over from the Caribbean in tanks – not in casks – and fill their casks with the rum for 6 months. Once they have their barrels perfectly seasoned with the rum, they remove it and replace the rum with their 14yr single malt to finish for 6 months prior to bottling. Pretty cool, huh?
Hey – are we taking each others photo!? Silly social media whisky geeks (myself included)! Smile!
The Whisky Peddler. Only available online HERE out of the World Of Liquor store in New Jersey. Unbelievably yummy. Patrick is smart. He purchased two very interesting casks from notable distilleries in Scotland; one from Glen Grant and one from Highland Park. You may ask (as I did) why buy his whiskies over buying a 14 year directly from the producer? Because for both of these malts, he purchased the casks and kept them aging only in their ex-bourbon casks – no sherry finish on these beauts – and let me tell you simply – wow. I was really happy standing here. And at $52 or $60 / bottle, it keeps me baffled by the $888 price tag on the Notch …
Off to the Cocktail’s Live area!
A toast with Kat Valentina – the fab mixologist from LA who was brought in to serve up a very tasty creamy-whiskey cocktail:
2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey, .5 oz Sambuca, .75 oz Rum Chata & 2 oz of chilled coffee
… can we say mid-show pick me up?
Whisky & chocolate – a great pairing. Lucky for us, the hyper-talented chocolatier, Roni-Sue, was there serving up her unique bonbons and pairing them with such lovelies as Laphroaig and Basil Hayden! I loved their Dark & Stormy truffle: dark chocolate ganache that features Goslings dark rum, fresh ginger and lime zest – all I tasted was pure deliciousness.
Glen Garioch paired up with Murray’s Cheese, an excellent cheese shop in NYC (and luckily right down the street from me!) to create a cheddar that pairs specifically with the Glen Garioch whiskies. HOW COOL IS THAT!? I’ll be there tomorrow picking up a good wedge for this weekend! The whiskies are great – balanced, smooth and perfectly complimented by the tangy-creaminess of the cheese. At this point, though, it was too crowded and my glass was too coated with other whiskies to get accurate tasting notes but I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle on my next Scotch-run.
Finish off with hug, dram and special (secret) Bourbon-Ball (a dark chocolate & Smooth Ambler bourbon bon-bon) from John Little, head-distiller at Smooth Ambler, and it was time for the after party!
Now I don’t know how you travel to an after party … but I’m the kind of gal who likes to arrive in style so if that means negotiating a limo ride for some whisky for myself and my beloved whisky-family, like Balcones’ Chip Tate, Compass Box’s Robin Robinson and Kat Valentina … then so be it! 🙂
Off to Ward III we went! It was another amazing night! Congrats Dave Sweet for organizing yet another stellar event! Slainte!
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.
November 15, 2011 § 9 Comments
To say I have been out and about these last few weeks is a bit of an understatement. And while I haven’t been able to collect my thoughts and share them with you here until now, I will say that my twitter accounts (@whiskygirls and @localinfusions) have never been so active!
That said, I am sorry for my recent absence and not just from my own blog but from so many of the other great whisky blogger’s blogs in the community.
Let’s start, shall we?
Whisky Week NYC
The GOOD: Lot’s of fantastic brands, all under one roof. Some interesting pours if you could get to those tables fast enough and then prove that you were worthy of such a pour (by the end of the night, this seemed to really come down to one basic fact: are you going to taste this or take it like a shot?) … though not in those exact words.
HIGHLIGHTS: Running around the first half of the night with my good friend (and fellow whisky geek) Jonathan Wingo of Brooklyn’s Whiskey Shop and together having a beautiful moment with Jonathan Luks of Mackmyra who shared with us a taste of their Special07 bottle (that will never be sold in the USA) and another taste of their Cask Strength whisky (whose proper name didn’t make it into my notebook – my apologies) but it is also a whisky that will not make it to the US market, sadly. A proper review of this company will follow as they are most certainly worthy.
The other highlight for me was meeting Preston & Juilan Van Winkle (you know, of the Old Rip van Winkle brand). Not only were they serving their incredibly limited and incredibly delicious products but, if possible, I was more impress with them as individuals. Not pretentious, not stuffy – just easy to talk to, whisky loving, Southern boys. I was honored to share a few laughs and a few sips with these two fine gentlemen.
The BAD: Too many vendors in not enough time. The food was awful and water was not easy to come by. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a recipe for disaster. People were frantically running around trying to drink every whisky they could and, aside from those in the industry, this seemed to have turned everyone into animals. Sadly, the atmosphere quickly morphed into a post-college frat party. Not. Cool.
Rodeo Bar Balcones Event
WHAT: Rodeo Bar in NYC is a Texas-style bar who has their BBQ (think Ribs & Brisket) flown in from Texas daily. Head distiller, Chip Tate, of the Texas distillery Balcones, was in town and did a very cool pairing of his Texas whiskies along side of the authentic Texas fair.
HIGHLIGHT: The BBQ ribs with Balcones Brimstone whisky. This is a blue corn whisky that has been smoked after coming off the stills and before going into the barrel with Texas Scrub Oak … the same wood that gives the meat it’s amazing smoked flavor. Picking up what I’m putting down? Heaven.
WHO: Lots of brand ambassadors, industry people, whisky enthusiasts and the NYCwhisky.com folks. Very fun!
Balcones & Ellabess Fine Dinning Pairing Event
WHAT: The very chic NYC hip dining spot, Ellabess, threw a private soiree celebrating Chip’s unique whiskies. Chef Troy Unruh and his team created an exciting pairing menu using Balcones products that were timed and served just as the appropriate Balcones spirit was being poured.
HIGHLIGHTS: The evening finished on the roof with cigars and generous pours of Balcones extremely limited Rumble Cask Reserve (a cask-strength version of the Rumble, only ~200 bottles ever made).
Check out this video of the chefs hard at work with Balcones’ high-quality whiskies!
The following post (part 2) to include:
Remy Martin Event, Miami, FL & Louisville, KY for the Icons of Whisky Awards
September 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
Despite my late arrival into Austin the night before, I woke up extra early last Thursday because after much (and I think very patient waiting) I was going to see the Balcones distillery in person (see my previous post on Balcones HERE).
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting other distilleries before but none home to the unique, super-secret process of smoking the actual whisky not the grains technique that head distiller, Chip Tate, created and successfully applies to his wildly popular Brimstone whisky. (Check out the products rave review by Tasting Table Top Shelf HERE)
During my visit, the Balcones’ crew were in the process of bottling & shipping out their extremely limited 1st released Single Malt which I was honored to taste & try the barrels samples of for version 2.0. (BOTH are Ahh-mazing.) Get it while you can. This is something you definitely want in your whisky collection!
What’s great about visiting these craft distilleries is that you are up-close and personal with the whole operation. I got to meet everyone and of course, got in their way as soon as I went camera-happy (sorry!).
All in all – we had a great time (thank you, Chip!) and can’t wait to go back next year to see how they are progressing with the new space!
Check out the photos of my visit below!
But wait … the fun isen’t over yet! Chip took us on a side trip to visit the new space they will be expanding into. Along the way, yours truly got a lesson in barrel rolling! 😀
Ok – you all really have to try his products. The reason I have become so nuts for them is the layers and layers of complex scentes and flavors. He is not just making “another whisky” here – he executes everything with such passion, precision and curiosity that he is pushing the boundaries of tradition while still remaining true to his roots. We should all be greatful. To me, this is what is so exciting about the craft whisky movement here in America.
Take advantage now.
August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
Can’t believe the timing on this but if you read my post earlier this week about Balcones (HERE) and are intrigued by these awesome whiskies, there’s a FREE tasting TONIGHT from 6pm-8pm at Astor Place Wine & Spritis!
Love. Summer. Fridays.
Whisky distilled from blue corn! Blue corn whisky smoked with Texas Scrub Oak! American malt whiskey made from barley smoked with peat, cherry, and beechwood! This Friday at Astor, fight your way through the throngs of whiskey nerds and taste these truly innovative, utterly unique, mind-bendingly delicious new spirits.
6:00-8:00 | This event is free
**Announcement originally posted HERE on nycwhisky.com**