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!
December 4, 2012 § 11 Comments
I don’t know about you but I sometimes find my days so nuts that if I don’t zero in and take it one detailed piece at a time than I think I would look at the whole day, become so overwhelmed I’d throw up my hands and fold. Perhaps crawling into whichever hole was closest (which, this being NYC, would probably be a subway station …).
As an aside, please accept my apologies now for any and all unanswered emails, tweets, comments, posts, etc. I THANK YOU for staying with me despite my slight disappearing act from this blog.
But you don’t come here to hear me lament about how ‘busy’ I am – we are ALL busy. Especially this month. And in the whirlwind that is my life – I often step back and think about my fellow bloggers & whisky enthusiasts in awe. How do you all do it!? How do you continually publish quality, well written and well researched posts that are both educational and entertaining on a regular basis!?
When I started this blog, I set a goal for myself of posting one article a week and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping to that until October 1 of this year when I launched my own whisky. And then as soon as the 1st month of Brenne’s introduction in the market was coming to a close, we got hit badly by hurricane Sandy. And then as soon as we dusted ourselves off, flicked the light switch on (& actually got light!) and hit the ground running, we ran into Thanksgiving and kicked off the always-busy holiday season.
So there I am; blinders on, bulldozing through the minutes, hours, days and weeks with time whizzing by faster than ever that I found myself Sunday evening happily standing behind a table pouring Brenne (Estate Cask, barrel #261) at the amazing whisky event Robin Robinson put together to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims.
Standing there talking to one wonderful whisky lover after another, I spotted the ever familiar white Corsair logo against a black T-shirt peaking through the crowd coming my way. My eyes quickly glanced up from the T-shirt to the wearer of said tee and realized that it was Darek Bell (co-founder & distiller of Corsair Artisan Distillery). Darek and I have crossed paths at many events and I could definitely pick him out of a line up (watch out, Darek!) but we had never before had the opportunity to spend more than a minute conversing until then.
It didn’t take us long at all to jump right into full whisky geek talk (and I love being in the company of true geeky distillers like Derek, there is so much for me to learn and as soon as he started asking me questions about our still configuration – I felt like it was my birthday!) And then he said it, those words you hope you never hear but, whenever you truly expose yourself – like an artist at his debut or an author publishing her book – you have to be ready for: “Allison, I do, however, have one complaint. ” Eek! Sound the alarm! Brace yourself! Wait. No. Calm yourself. Listen & learn. Ok, you can do this. …. “Oh yea? What’s that Darek?” “Ever since you launched Brenne, you’ve kinda ignored your blog.”
Huh? That’s the complaint? You A) read it B) noticed my fewer post publications and C) cared enough to mention it? I’m FLATTERED! I feel the redness leave my face (in the anticipation of a different kind of complaint) and I smile broadly … and somewhat quizzically. Reading my expression, Darek then said, “Yes Allison, people do read your blog and frankly, I like your take on things.”
As I drifted off to sleep the night before last, I was thinking about my backlog of whisky posts. The events that I have been wanting to share with you, the unique whiskies I’ve been buying up as I travel from one whisky store to another hand selling Brenne, the people I have met and the amazing whiskey-based cocktail creations I have experienced. And how I have been getting to the end of my Sunday evenings thinking, “Oh crap, I missed another week … now my post will be too dated.” But last night as I thought about this, I also remembered one of my favorite aspects of whisky; it’s a true art of time. My whisky that is aging in barrels is constantly reminding me that no matter how hard I work or how quickly I move from one thing to the next, the whisky everyone around the world is distilling today still won’t be ready any faster. We all still have to wait years, a decade or even longer until we can pour into our glasses what is being now being distilled through copper vessels. With that in mind, I was thinking how I love that whisky takes so long to age and then stops abruptly as soon as it enters a bottle, almost as if that glass frame is the spirit’s own time-capsule. Perhaps then too, these posts that I have been worried about being just a bit too old will, like our whiskies, get a little better with age and then once they launch themselves into a published post only then do they stop changing, or rather ‘aging’. Perhaps that is a little too philosophical for some of you but I’m sticking to it. 🙂
And until I dust off those recent memories and commit them here, I leave you with this; THANK YOU. Thank you Darek for giving me a bit of a kick in the you-know-what to log back in and continue the conversation. Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me and continue subscribing even as my posts have become less regular. And the biggest Thank You to all of you who have not only stayed with me but picked up my slack! Your comments, emails, tweets, re-blogs, and perhaps most importantly, your own personal blog posts mentioning me and/or Brenne have simply made me speechless (… almost 😉 ). I can’t thank you all enough. It’s super fun to get to know you and talk about one of our favorite topics together!!!