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
August 19, 2011 § 5 Comments
Hello my dear readers! Get your calendars out and your credit cards ready…
Today I am reminding you to purchase your tickets for two key whisk(e)y events happening this Fall in/around NYC… and I post this bearing a coupon code gift. With over 200 whiskies from around the world being poured at each event, how could you go wrong? Keep reading!
Thursday, September 8th, 2011
*GOING BACK TO THE SPIRIT OF NEW YORK BOAT*
SMALLER SHIP – MORE WHISKY – MORE FOOD
PLUS EXCLUSIVE WHISKY & NEW RELEASES
September 8, 2011, 7:00pm-10:00
Pier 61, West 23rd Street New York, NY
And, for being your awesome selves, WhiskyGuild was super kind in giving me a coupon code to share with all of you! Please use WGmember at checkout for a 10% discount 😀
Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
In addition to the main event on November 1st, Malt Advocate has also organized WhiskyWeek. Yes, I said it, a whole week of exciting whisky events happening at many of my favorite places!
Hope to see you all there! Let me know if you’re planning on attending – I’ll be the one skipping around with a huge grin on her face and a full dram in her hand!
August 2, 2011 § 8 Comments
I had the HUGE pleasure of spending time with Balcones head distiller Chip Tate this past weekend.
What. a. cool. guy.
After a marathon 6 hour talk-fest on Friday (interspersed with food and whisky, of course), we picked back up Saturday evening to do a ridiculously fun whisky “tour” of lower Manhattan (Angel’s Share, Astor Place, Brandy Library, you get the idea) where I got to play sidekick to him sharing his mighty fine spirits with the owners & sommeliers of these lovely establishments.
Here’s the inside scoop – the always interesting, super smart Mr. Tate was here finalizing his NY distribution channel. Bottom line: BALCONES All-American Texas Craft Whiskies WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN NYC! Woohooo!!!
Check out this photo of his products front and center on the Brandy Library bar…
Here’s why I dig it:
1) Balcones makes everything themselves by hand, Chip even made the copper stills (yup, he welds copper).
2) They are the only distillery using artisanal Blue Hopi Corn (as opposed to generic white or yellow corn) which lends a much more refined and rounded flavor to their spirits (think Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese vs a gourmet Mac ‘n’ Cheese made with Gruyere & a bit of bacon … riiight). Makes a difference. Try the Baby Blue whisky or the cask-strength version, True Blue.
3) Small barrels lend a hint of those caramel & buttery notes we love from oak-aging but Chip doesn’t let it overpower the corn notes. The finished products are perfectly balanced with layers upon layers of delicate flavors.
4) One of the products in their line-up is Rumble. It’s fermented Mission Figs, Texas Wildflower Honey & Turbinado Sugar. On the nose, I find an interesting bouquet of rich honey, iris flower, and a hint of smoke/black tea. At 47% abv, this is no wimpy spirit – but it’s really fun to drink and experience the flavors rolling over your tongue. There is no category for this product. It’s its own thing … kind of like Balcones.
5) Last but not least, I need to mention the Brimstone whisky. He smokes the whisky. Let me repeat, he smokes the whisky – not the grains – the actual distilled liquid. It’s a secret processes, rightfully so, and he’s smoking his blue corn whisky with Texas scrub oak. Let me break it down further: it’s Texas BBQ in a bottle… with a side of corn bread. You just need to try it for yourselves. It’s a very unique experience and in my opinion, it rocks.
A nod to tradition fueled by their independent & adventurous drive.
Job well done. Welcome to NY.
PS – I also confirmed my visit to his Texas distillery in September… Stay tuned!
June 22, 2011 § 5 Comments
Ethan Kelly (Spirits Sommelier @ Brandy Library) is clearly a very smart man (why, you ask?…) Because we totally agree on how best to approach whisky! See for yourselves…
PS – click HERE if you missed my earlier post/review on the Brandy Library
May 11, 2011 § 21 Comments
This past weekend, I was excited to have one of my oldest friends visiting from out of town. When asked what he wanted to do, his reply was simple: “Something whiskey related”
We quickly agreed to meet in Tribeca at the Brandy Library. It was one of those perfect spring days where the weather was warm enough to make you not want to be inside but chilly enough that when the wind blew, you were thankful to be able to take the edge off with the help of a beautiful single-malt … or two… or six.
The Brandy Library has an über sexy interior – a dark wooden bar, chocolate brown leather chairs, and the most amazing amber glow thanks to the floor-to-ceiling whisk(e)y bottles that line the walls. They also have a few chairs on their elevated front porch (which is where we were sitting). I like that you’re outside but off of the ground a bit – it gives you the feeling of privacy without blocking your view for all of the people watching you’re going to want to be doing!
Menu: What made the Brandy Library a perfect choice is their extensive menu. Just warning you, it’s a book! But the staff is really helpful and the book is organized with tabs so you can find the different sections really quickly. This was helpful because in our group of four, we had covered most of the world with our choices! Collectively, we ordered a Japanese Whisky (Yamazaki 12yr), a French whiskey (Michel Courvreur 12yr), an Indian Whisky (Amrut Single Malt) and the American Pride tasting … funny that not one person ordered something from either Scotland or Ireland, which where a majority of the whiskies are from.
Aside from the ambiance, what I love about the Brandy Library are their tasting menus. Each of their flights offer 6 different whiskies (hence the “six” comment above!). They bring you a shallow box with the numbers & names underneath the corresponding, pre-poured glasses. They place another page with the names & numbers on top of the glasses for you to keep on the side while you work your way through. (I like this extra copy for note taking… but then again not everyone is a dorky as I am!) They also bring you a 7th (and empty) glass with a bottle of water for you to play & experiment with how the addition of the water can change and enhance the flavors of the spirits. The challenge? They don’t give you the name of the 6th whiskey. They want you to be able to taste, experiment, and enjoy it without any preconceived notions.
Tasting like this can be so educational. I find that being able to alternate between the glasses and compare their smells and tastes really helps me recognize and define the different flavor components in each whisky. I personally find this much easier to do when I have multiple spirits to compare verses drinking them one at a time. Which is why when I’m drinking a whisky at a bar, if I happen to order a second glass and change my choice, I usually try to leave a little in my first glass so I have it to refer back to when I’m ready to compare it to the second.
I should also mention that they do have a full liquor license and serve wine & cocktails … although that’s not why I go! The Brandy Library also has a great hors d’oeuvres menu. My personal favorite is the gougères (think perfect bites of warm, cheesy dough)! De-lish.
The only thing I would have changed would have been to have my friends stay longer.
Have you been to the Brandy Library? Post a comment below!