July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ll never forget the moment Fred Minnick called to interview me for his book, “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey.” I was on an NJ Transit train barreling away from NYC into the heart of New Jersey where my grandmother, Grace, was saying goodbye to family, friends and life in general.
Though it was over a year ago now, I still feel her loss daily and even reached for the phone to call her recently upon returning from a trip abroad. My grandmothers were key figures in my life for over 30 years and I lost both of them within 6 months of each other. They loved and supported me equally in their own way through my many self-reinventions and career moves.
Grandmom (Grace) was a truly remarkable spirit. She was bold, loving, courageous, curious, had an incredible laugh and LOVED to tell stories (we’d often laugh at how she say she’d have “nothing to share” but then launch into a 40min story chronicling her journey to the post office). She passed two weeks shy of her 102nd birthday and was just as strong and lively a week before her passing as she was the previous 101 years.
So it was interesting for me to be interviewed by Fred in that exact moment when I was deeply reflecting on the incredible life my Grandmother lived and the unsung gifts she had given to everyone she met from 1911-2013.
Fred and I had had a few conversations prior but at the time of the interview, had not yet met face-to-face. He had a way about him that instantly put me at ease and I marveled at how seamlessly the conversation between us flowed as the views of the city quietly disappeared and were replaced with industrial buildings and eventually trees.
When people meet me or talk to me, I don’t think “shy” is a word that comes to mind (nor is it a word I’d use to describe myself most of the time) but I remember being extremely grateful to Fred for even considering to include me in his book – and yes, when it eventually launched with great success, I was certainly shy to promote his inclusion of me in the pages with so many great women – many of whom seemed to possess the qualities I saw expressed by my grandmothers throughout the decades we shared together.
It’s a huge honor when anyone takes an interest in something you do – especially when you’ve risked everything and “put it all on the line” to do it! When I was working on Brenne the years before it was ready to be released, I sectioned off my anxiety about “reviews” and buried them deep inside as I didn’t want any fear for potential negativity to effect my innovation and drive to create something so expressive of the Cognac region and yet so different from any other Single Malt on the market.
I remember when we launched (just 19 months ago!) I’d read blog reviews of Brenne on my phone with shaking hands just praying that they’d be “at least neutral” and feeling my heart melt with happiness when it was one positive review of Brenne after another.
For my Grandmothers who were my biggest cheerleaders of all – I know they were incredibly confused when it seemed that my life took an almost abrupt turn from “ballet to booze” but they nonetheless rooted for me – even if they didn’t understand a single thing I was doing.
Walking off the train that day to sit with my grandmother that afternoon, I shared with her the news of the interview and magnitude of having someone like Fred Minnick take notice of me & my work in those early days. We shared in the excitement together as my faithful cheerleader gave me one of her memorable “I’m so proud of you!” hurrahs one final time. Grandmom was all about family and knowing that all of that cheering she’d done for me here on earth was starting to work in my favor, that maybe “this whisky thing” would work out after all, made us both proud as we sat holding hands that last time.
Fred’s book will always hold a special place in my heart especially because it marks an interesting time in my life. The inclusion of me in context with all of these incredible women in history who greatly impacted the whisky industry – a spirit & industry which I love deeply – is beyond humbling and also something I find comforting. It’s not just my family who has faith in me doing what I’m doing but also all of you – my friends, my peers, my fellow whisky lovers.
A HUGE congrats to Fred who’s book, Whiskey Women was just selected as THE Nonfiction Book of the Year in the Women’s Studies category by Foreword Reviews. It’s an incredible book that continues to climb to the top of the charts. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can certainly do so now by clicking HERE. I strongly suggest making this your beach read for the 2nd half of the summer!
Thank you also to Drinks Business for recently naming me one of the TOP 10 WOMEN IN WHISKY!
I’m grateful beyond words at being considered one of Fred’s modern day Whiskey Women warriors and look forward to keep pushing forward.
CHEERS & HUGS TO YOU ALL
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)
LOWBROW: CB2 Hourglass ($9.95 – $29.95 usd)
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)
LOWBROW: The Ultimate Bar Book; The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1000 Cocktails ($8.63- $11.57 usd)
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)
LOWBROW: Lexington Whiskey Decanter ($69.95 usd)
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)
MEDIUM BROW: Brenne French Single Malt Whisky ($55-$65 usd) <Come on … how could I NOT include it? 😀
LOWBROW: Tasting Sample of Ben Nevis 21 ’90 Ruby Bottling Note ($16 usd for 3cl)
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!
December 9, 2013 § 9 Comments
The holidays wouldn’t be “the holidays” without an annual Holiday Gift Giving post. And this year, I’m forgoing my usual list of bottles & baubles and focusing on BOOKS! (If you want, you can see my former gift posts HERE HERE HERE HERE & HERE)
It was quite a year for the literary set who enjoy indulging in a great dram AND a great read and I’ve pulled together a little mix of books that should make one quite happy this winter. I know I will be curling up fireside with my cozy faux fur blanket (like THIS ONE on sale at Pottery Barn), glass of whisky (Brenne please!) and these books for the long winter months ahead!
In order of the above photo, here’s the quick list. All titles click through to their respective pages on Amazon/Createspace.
- Apothecary Cocktails, Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow ~
- Distilling Rob, Manly Lies and Whisky Truths by Robert Gard (& fellow whisky blogger, Whisky Guy Rob!)
- Drinking With Men, A Memoir by Rosie Schaap
- Guide to Urban Moonshining, How to Make and Drink Whiskey by Colin Spoelman & David Haskell (yes, that’s right, these are the awesome duo behind Kings County Distillery)
- Whiskey Woman, The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick
- Savoring the Shore, Simple to Sophisticated Recipes from Chefts and Home Cooks for NJ Sandy Recovery, by Cheryl Larkin & Kate Kurelji
Beyond the fact that I personally know most of the authors and love supporting wonderful & talented people; I also believe in what each author has accomplished, whether it’s to educate, entertain or give back – read below for my quickfire thoughts on why they made the cut:
Apothecary Cocktails: There’s no question the “Classic Cocktail” movement is upon us – and it’s wonderful! The ever-talented Warren Bobrow takes us back in time with modern upgrades featuring 75 recipes for cocktail libations to soothe the body AND mind! Give this book with a few bottles of bitters for your favorite home mixologist!
Distilling Rob: An engaging story from “one of our own” whisky bloggers as he takes us through his roller-coaster life where at one point, he left his slick LA life to live and work on Islay in Scotland. Using whisky-making and the maturation process as an analogy for how boys mature into men – this is a no-brainer stocking stuffer for anyone!
Drinking With Men: I bought this at a book reading of Rosie’s I attended with a friend and left with 1/2 the eye make-up I went in with due to all of my tears from continuous laughing. This is a wonderfully engaging memoir that will having you wishing to travel through NYC retracing her steps. Sometimes I fall out of habit reading and need a good “hook book” to get back into it again – this is definitely one of those excellent page turners!
Guide To Urban Moonshining: I just got this and can’t WAIT to get started. (The fabric and feel of the book alone will give you instant “great gifter” cred). It’s filled with recipes, distillation techniques, stories, history, and a chapter called “How To Drink Whiskey” in which yours truly, along with Jonathan Wingo and Colin Spoelman, each wrote a couple pages discussing the bottles we’d suggest if we had to build a well rounded whisky bar using only 12 bottles and cover our bases from sipping to cocktails for your novice and experienced drinker. It was super fun and my first experience having any writings of my own published in a book. Yay! Pair this with a bottle of Kings County Bourbon or Moonshine for a great gift set!
Whiskey Women: THE BOOK that ought to be on everyone’s list! For the first time, Fred is sharing the untold stories of the women who have created & saved this most exceptional industry. It’s refreshing to have access to real stories that you haven’t heard before, that are not the same ones we know just told in a new way – no – this is fresh. And fascinating. And will give you a whole new appreciation for many of the whisky women who you may have met today and many of the distilleries whose drams you’ve probably enjoyed for a very long time. A true must read for anyone who enjoys a great book. Pair this with a bottle of Brenne – my own whisky – and support this particular whisky woman’s dream! 🙂
Savoring The Shore: while not a whisky book per se, there are 3 cocktails inside using Brenne Whisky, 2 of which were created by the author of Apothecary Cocktails, Warren Bobrow! But that’s not why it’s on this list. Instead, it’s because all proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy relief and that is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I spent my childhood & teenage summers at my grandparents beach cottage on the NJ Shore which was completely wiped out by Sandy (we have yet to rebuild, but will as soon as we’re able) and so I have a personal connection with the Sandy Relief efforts. And what a fun way to give back!? You’ll get a great cook book featuring recipes from long-time local “shore folk” and Master Chefts like Bobby Flay, Tom Colicchio & Mike Jurusz.
**Please note that I do NOT benefit financially from the sale of ANY of these books – regardless of whether or not Brenne Whisky or myself were mentioned or as is the case of Guide To Urban Moonshine where I contributed a couple of pages. Instead, I promote them here because of my love of reading great books & supporting awesome, hard working people!**
June 26, 2013 § 5 Comments
HI FRIENDS!!! MY COMMENTS START HERE:
This is my very first “Reblog” but there is a reason I’m doing it for this post (keep reading!) :D. As you all know, I’m a HUGE supporter of artists and appreciate that art is expressed in a variety of mediums; from paintings, to making whisky, to writing, to performing, to creating recipes, cooking and beyond. I wanted to write a shout-out post to an artist I respect, author Kara Newman, for her just-released book, “Cocktails For A Crowd.” But seeing as she’s a true writer AND wrote a blog post announcing the book and her summer book signing tour, I figured a reblog was more than appropriate this time. Oui?
I hope the formatting is ok (again, total reblog virgin here!) but please enjoy, support & share your comments as always below! I’m off to buy a new punch bowl!
Saturday, June 29, 2-4 pm – Drink demo & book signing at Cook & Craft, Old Greenwich, CT
Thursday, July 18, 5:30-6 pm – Book signing at Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, LA
Sunday, August 11 – Cocktails, dinner and book signing at The Red Hen, Washington, DC (more details soon!)
Friday, August 23, 6:30-8pm – Cocktails for a Crowd: Summer Entertaining class at Astor Center, New York, NY. Hands-on class with cocktails galore; books will be available for purchase.
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!
You can go about this two different ways: new or old. Here are some of my favorites!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!).
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).
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.
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!
July 27, 2011 § 7 Comments
I think about writing this post every other day so I figured I should just sit down and get it out of my head! 🙂
One of my all-time favorite Whisky books is Dave Broom’s The World Atlas of Whisky. It is beautifully laid out and the photos are as stunning as the content is delicious (truly!). The information is clear, concise, entertaining and really makes you thirsty for you know what! Dave Broom did a fantastic job in creating something that is both educational and enjoyable.
This is the kind of book I think everyone (whisky lover or not) should have in their home. It’s a perfect coffee table book and is great for the novice or connoisseur of the spirit.
Do you have the pleasure of visiting a friend’s summer home this August? Why not give a copy as a hostess gift? …And if the weekend calls for a little something extra (as I think all weekends should!), bring a bottle of your favorite whisky to go along with it!