Stop And Smell The Whisky: The Full Story of How Brenne Came to Be

July 30, 2013 § 19 Comments

The title of this post could go in a few different directions, however, today it encapsulates the reflective feeling I have over these last few years and the birth of Brenne.

Stop and smell the Whisky.

This has been quite a crazy 3+ years of my life.  But I could say that about most periods of my life; I’m a very focused, all-in kind of person so there are times (like this “whisky” phase) that feel like I’ve been in it longer then I actually have.  3+ years you say? That’s all? (that’s how I feel when I think about my relatively short time here, I could have sworn I’ve been doing this for at least 7yrs).

AllisonPatel_Brenne

Last week I was being interviewed by a talented journalist for a rather impressive piece of press (out this coming Sunday, fingers crossed it’s good!).  I’m not a person who gets nervous too often and thus was confused when I struggled though the entire interview to put the words together to properly express myself.  And then I realized, he kept asking me “when did it all begin?” and truthfully, there is no actual date on the calendar that I could give anyone as to when “Brenne” started.  It “started” many times!

To this day, I can’t remember when & how I was first introduced to my distiller (despite it being probably one of the more important moments of my life!), nor do I even really remember a single moment when I said, “Ok, we’re doing this!”  I feel like I woke up one day and was buying glass bottles in 6,000 piece order quantities as if this was a very normal thing to be doing.  If you’ve ever heard me tell my story, it probably comes across as me being far focused on this particular outcome then it actually was.  That is because there are so many different starting points of Brenne that I have to streamline the story and edit out all of the additional beginnings to spare you a long story full of extraneous tangents (but NOT today!).  There are two main narratives here: the story of the whisky itself (where it’s made, what kind of still is used to make it, what barrels are used during the aging, etc) AND THEN there is the story of how I became the captain of this ship (and where the heck did I come from!?).  Today I’ll be sharing with you the story of my involvement.  If I had to draw it, I think the beginning of Brenne would look like this unraveled piece of rope with lots of “ends” … or in my case, beginnings.

rope-end_blkgrad

So when I wrote “Stop and Smell the Whisky” – I thought not of smelling an actual glass of whisky (though that would be nice!) but rather because during the course of the interview, I was forced to stop, look at a calendar, and actually take into account certain days/years when this whole thing really began.  I feel like I’ve been doing this now for years but the reality set in that I’ve really have only been at this for just a few!

BRENNE BEGINNING(S!); The Very Long Version of How Brenne Came to Be

I was working in an entirely different industry at the time (high-end jewelry) but even when I started there 3.5 years prior, I told my employer that I was going to have my own company one day, probably by the time I was 30 (I was 25 at the time).  However, I had no idea what that was going to be, exactly.

Through my time there, I had really fallen in love with selling beautiful jewels to a lot of wonderful women across the US.  In that tiny, 3 person company, we moved a LOT of gold and even increased sales 800% while in a recession (true number, it was ridiculous)!  But always in the back of my mind was: what was going to be my mark on the world?  I want to do this for my own company! … just not with diamonds.

SEED PLANTED

Meanwhile, my husband was traveling the world for work (he is a branding consultant … and yes, this comes in VERY handy later on as we built the framework for Brenne!). While on the road (or rather, the many planes) he was getting himself (and me!) more and more interested in the Japanese whiskies that he was enjoying on frequent trips to Korea.  This was just before people in the US started to really talk about Japanese whiskies – and well before Suntory (& eventually Nikka) started expanding their US imports.  All the time my husband kept saying, “you should really import this stuff!”

At first I laughed it off – what did I know about importing whisky!? Nothing – actually.  But I had started doing international sourcing (of gold & diamonds) in my current job and felt comfortable learning a new industry language after I realized the general framework was similar (except with alcohol, you could tack on about 1000 times more restrictions and legal twists & turns).  So there I was, starting to formulate my own ideas on what I enjoyed in a single malt.  What, to me, made one more enjoyable over the other?  And as soon as I realized that simple question existed, my geek-dome exploded and scientific hunger of finding the answers took over (I blame my family – I was predisposed to being a nerd! Dad is a physicist, Aunts’ a rocket scientist, Uncle’s a nuclear scientist, 2 cousins are chemists,… need I go on?).  I was a full blown whisky-geek before my friends even knew I drank whisky.

HELLO WHISKY FREAK!

Things in the company where I was working started to take a turn for the worse (and fast) and soon I realized that my time there had come to an end.  Meanwhile, my husband was still a driving force in this whisky import company idea, and for the fun of it, I had started connecting with some of the world whisky distillers and importers out there.  At one point we had taken a trip to Asia and scribbled down on a cocktail napkin what eventually morphed into the Local Infusions’ business plan.  (In my Lifetime movie, this is where they’d cut to commercial break!)  This is definitely one of those rope ends of the true starting points of Brenne!  Somewhere in there we were tipped off to the 3rd generation Cognac distiller who was making what has now become Brenne.  I never really believed what he was telling me was true (how could someone really be making whisky with no intention to sell it!? That’s so … NOT American!) and thus almost let my disbelief close the door on this forever.  But we then started receiving samples from our distiller… and the juice was really promising!  What we were trying at that point in time was about 3 & 4+ years old in New French Oak casks.  Still – I did nothing with it.

By now, I had quit my job in the jewelry biz and declared a mandatory “2 weeks off” … from what, you ask? Nothing.  Because I had no job lined up <-not a typical “Allison” move, but definitely another life-changing moment for from that break, I came out on the other end saying, “Ok, I’m either starting a popcorn company” (yup, no one really knew about that one either) “OR a whisky company!” (also not something my friends & family were expecting).  Within a few hours the whisky company idea had won (as if there was ever any real competition!).

FOLLOW YOUR HEART and GUT

It was at that point that we started asking our distiller “friend” if we could try moving this whisky into his ex-Cognac casks.  Again, when I tell this story I’m sure I sound very confident in this decision as if this had been our plan all along, but clearly, it hadn’t.  And I really don’t know where the idea of ex-Cognac casks came from other than I followed my gut instinct as I was piecing together this crazy story of this near-secret whisky stash in Cognac, France.  And it just felt like a really good idea – especially when I thought about how this whisky had been developed right there in Cognac starting with the barley that he grew himself.  Funny enough, to this day, he (my distiller) is still far less impressed with how he’s made this then I am.  To him, it’s “obvious” that if you want to make a high quality spirit, you must do it from scratch.  What other way is there?  To him, elegant spirits start with the seeds + the earth.  Then you go from there.

I digress….

While “Brenne” (in quotes because it hadn’t been named at this point) was being moved over into Cognac casks, I spent most of my time in NYC glued to my computer and phone, learning (also from scratch!) how to structurally set up my company within the 1,000’s of complicated layers known as post-prohibition laws.  From the Federal level down to all 50 states, there is not one division who makes this easy.  You can certainly pay to have a consultant figure this out for you – but if I’m putting my own money into this (let’s be frank: ALL of my own money into this dream), well then you better believe I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and learn everything I can.  Otherwise, how else can I properly run this thing once it’s off the ground?  It’s like buying a car without knowing how to change a tire or fill a tank of gas.  Sure, you can always spend up and have someone else do the work for you, but if you don’t mind getting a little dirty, you can save yourself some big bucks.  And at the end of the day, this has to be about the bottom line or else I won’t make it past Day 1.

LOCAL INFUSIONS IS READY

Once I got the import business set up (Local Infusions), then I realized the whisky (Brenne) still wasn’t ready – not to my palate at least (and then also Captin Doubt was still hanging around: did we REALLY want to do this?  We could still drop this whole idea and ‘just’ be out some money – but no one would have to know! Me owning and producing a Single Malt Whisky from France still sounded totally foreign to me. Who the heck was I to be doing this?!  Why had no one done this before? Because no one thought of it or because they had and realized this was just a terrible idea?).  Insomnia and I became very good friends at this point.

In terms of barrel “management” (also known as a glorified taste tester) I spent many Saturday mornings with my nose in about 20 different Glencarin glasses of Brenne (& other assorted Single Malts for comparison) trying to take advantage of that prime-time when your sense of smell is the purest but a bed is nearby should the tasting part get a bit overwhelming pre-coffee!  I was all self-taught and completely trusting my senses (as was my husband, Nital Patel, who was the biggest and best supporter behind this little engine!) but I just didn’t think the whisky was “there” yet and couldn’t put my name on something without it being as close to perfect as I could get it.  So there I was with a fully set up business and no whisky to bottle (thus, no hope of any income anytime soon!).  Cool!  So to start somewhere, I now had some really awesome like-minded importer friends around the world who were telling me they were interested in trying some of these new American Craft Whiskies that were getting some buzz.  This was early 2011 – Balcones wasn’t even distributed in New York at that point.   I told the importers I knew that if they trusted me, I’d find them the best of the best and bring them not only brands who had something good in the bottle, but who were making it themselves and who had aesthetically pleasing packaging.

EXPORTING AMERICAN CRAFT WHISKEY

So began my 1.5 year stint as an American Craft Whiskey exporter.  This got to be very expensive for a very little return.  Between the cost of translators, international sample shipping costs and travel, I was coming in around $0 balance.  But on the plus side, I had made some awesome friends on the American distilling side (finally!) and had launched Balcones in Norway, Sweden & re-lauched them in the UK.  I almost got them signed up in France and Japan but at that point, the income didn’t support the work and Brenne was getting ready to be born. Though the funding was slim, at least I had some confidence knowing that I’d had some early wins in this new industry (still ridiculously close-lipped about Brenne).

(c) Local Infusions

(c) Local Infusions

BRENNE – the brand – COMES TO LIFE

So in January ’12, I shifted gears from exporting to developing the Brenne brand and put on my best creative director hat as I interviewed & eventually worked with designers to bring Brenne to life.  After 6+ months of designing, TTB approvals, cork sourcing, bottle making, pallet treating, label material choosing (and of course, one final trip to Cognac before we start bottling …you know, to check on those aging casks!) in June of ’12, I started buying all of the pieces that were needed to pull this dream together so that on September 5, 2012, the first 8 barrels were bottled and Brenne was “born” – officially launching on October 1, 2012 in New York City.

10 months after Brenne’s launch date I sit here totally amused at where life has taken me – from a ballerina to owning a whisky brand (and an import company!).  And though I’m not the distiller, I do own 100% of the whisky to come out of that distillery (of which currently only goes into Brenne Estate Cask) and life has truly never been more fun (or scary and demanding…but that much I expected). I definitely don’t choose the easy roads in life, but I follow my heart at each turn.

The rest … well … perhaps we’ll have to save that for another day!  Thanks for sticking with me if you made it to the bottom of this post! It’s a lot more wordy than my typical entries but hopefully somewhat entertaining!

The Beginning.

🙂

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A Brenne-blue rope necklace!?!?! How could I NOT share this photo? Oh life … you are one giant circle.

Feeling the Love: In the Midst of a 3-State Launch

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.

Brenne_Expanding

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).

Bottles

The next morning … we were feeling a little goofy!

Peter & Chip playing around with the netting that protects your hair, er, I mean the bottles. :)

Peter & Chip playing around with the netting that protects your hair, er, I mean the bottles. 🙂

Feel the hair net love

Feel the hair net love

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!

Snoopy_Happy_Dance

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.

Just the other day, I got this photo along with an event announcement on twitter from The Bottle Shop at McEwen, a store I’ll be visiting in Nashville, TN.  Talk about a beautiful tower of whisky!!!!!

Brenne Whisky Tower @ the Bottle Shop McEwen in Franklin, TN

Brenne Whisky Tower @ the Bottle Shop McEwen in Franklin, TN

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!!!!

plane

Balcones 5th Anniversary Dinner – April 6 in NYC

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!!!

Balcones_Header

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!

Anniversary_Dinner_Balcones_NYC

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) 🙂

My whisky, Brenne, launches TODAY!

September 28, 2012 § 27 Comments

As many of you know, I have produced Brenne, a French Single Malt whisky that’s been finished in Cognac barrels.  It’s been the most incredible journey I have ever been on and have been so excited I shake & do random, spur of the moment “happy dances” with myself and anyone close enough to join in the fun (or run like hell, depending on their level of personal comfort) 😉

Today we are launching in the “soft-opening” phase giving Caskers.com (who I recently interviewed HERE) the exclusive pre-sale listing.  At 11am EST, Brenne Estate Cask will officially go on sale – but it’s a private sale so make sure you click HERE and use the invitation code: WHISKYWOMAN

Officially launching Monday, October 1st – Brenne will be available at some of New York City’s top restaurants & bars and boutique whisky shops.  As a true “1 Woman Whisky Show,” in addition to doing barrel management, production management, shipping logistics, importing, distributing, sales, marketing, social media, etc by myself … I also built the Brenne website* and will be continually updating www.DrinkBrenne.com with the latest accounts who will carry this most special & unique malt!

I hope all of you get to try it soon and can’t thank you all enough for the support you have given me throughout this amazing process.  This is only the beginning!!!

TASTING NOTES

NOSE: almond, vanilla, apricot, apples, anise, sugar cookie, dark chocolate, hint of perfume

PALATE: chocolate covered orange peels, butter, warm spices, vanilla bean

FINISH: long & lingering, starts to dissipate then returns for a final kick of pink peppercorns, cloves & burnt caramel

*Side note to those of you who are more technically advanced than I am, any web changes/upgrades/thoughts are welcome!  Some of you have already been super helpful in giving me some tips & hints, which I have been applying gradually as I increase my understanding of how to build web sites.  Sincerest THANKS to you.

Camp Whiskey: Brooklyn, New York

August 7, 2012 § 7 Comments

If you live in the New York area, consider me your genie and the information in this post being your wish granted.  Dramatic you say?  No, just honest.  Camp Whiskey – in all it’s calm, cool, educational and surprisingly well sourced whiskies (aka, not available in this country – nor will most of them ever be) glory was the highlight of my summer thus far.

Every Wednesday evening this August on a rooftop in Brooklyn, Camp Whiskey assembles.  It’s a great crowd of novices & educated drinkers who are all easy going and excited to be a part of the group to learn, meet & taste great whiskies.

The first official event was last Wednesday, August 1st, titled “Irish Whiskeys That Aren’t Jameson.”  Starting with the most comprehensive history on Irish Whiskey I have ever heard, it wasn’t long before we were diving in to the liquid gold.  On the menu:

Locke’s 8yr, Single Malt, Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey (in the ceramic jug) was the new release this year from the Cooley Midleton Distillery.  Originally produced, however, by John Locke’s & Sons distillery near Kilbeggan, it’s bottled at 40% abv.  This single malt is a pure pot still, a procedure unique to Ireland whiskey.  Mistakenly, I erased my tasting notes on this one but I easily remember it as simply being wonderful. 😛

Bushmills 10yr, Single Malt this is the hearts-only of the distillates (meaning only the middle cuts) with a goal of creating an even smoother Irish whiskey.  From what I gathered, this one will NOT be making it to the US.  NOSE: More bland than the Locke, harder to analyze in that particular environment for me – even when I stepped inside. Seemed less interesting then the previous dram but would love to revisit in a quiet, neutral-air environment.  PALATE: Sweet first, cacao, a funky malt, salty, very short sherry finish.

Yellow Spot 12yr, Single Pot Still Whiskey aged in 3 different casks: American bourbon, Spanish Sherry Butts, & Spanish Malaga Casks.  This is a very limited release of only 500 cases, bottled at 46% abv.  NOSE: Sweet cinnamon, basil, sage & peppermint. PALATE: Bold, tingly, very long finish with an intense bite.  Awesome.

Kilbeggin 18yr – this is also extremely limited (4,000 bottles) – After being closed in 1957, the Old Kilbeggan distillery and its whiskey recipes were purchased by Cooley’s founder John Teeling in 1988 and finally reopened for production in 2007.  Whiskey using the Kilbeggan recipe (like this phenomenal 18 year old) was being produced at the Cooley distillery in County Louth, between Dublin and Belfast.  This is a beauty.  Unfortunately for me (& my empty wallet), it was my favorite of the lot!  Extremely interesting – I kept taking it inside to smell and analyze away from the fragrant rooftop plants.  NOSE: Caramel & cotton candy, sweet corn, salt water taffy.  PALATE: Mild and smooth beginning, wave up to tannins and spicy charred oak.  I love the influence of the corn in the mash bill.

Redbreast 12yr, Cask Strength Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey – “Irish Whiskey of the Year” I love a good cask strength whiskey.  (Explained how to enjoy cask strengths in an earlier post here).  It’s important to remember that not just any barrel is used for a cask strength bottling.  Typically, it’s the cask that is aging differently from it’s sisters.  As a fellow camper so eloquently put it; often it’ll be the barrel that, due to a crack in the ceiling boards was exposed to sun or the first few barrels by the door to the rick house that got the rush of outside air every time someone went inside.  These things over a collection of a few years to a decade can make a real impact on that single barrel.  It’s so unique that the distiller decides to bottle those barrels as they are.  This particular one is full of life.  NOSE: fermented fruit & soil/earth(?).  PALATE: tons of fruit, chocolate, pears.  A lovely dram for sure.

Wish you were there?! Don’t miss another week!  See below for details.

(or click HERE for more of the below flyer or click HERE for NYCwhisky listing)

…And here are some pictures from the event…

Yup … there was a gnome up there being carried away by angry monsters

Nothing like passing the great Whiskey Shop on my way to the subway!

Great job guys – can’t wait to attend the next Camp session!

Balcones very special Rumble Cask Reserve tasting TOMORROW!

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 headsup 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

WhiskyLive NYC 2012 – REVIEW

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!

Photo (c) of The Whisky Woman, 2012

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

Hey – are we taking each others photo!? Silly social media whisky geeks (myself included)! Smile!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

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 …

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Off to the Cocktail’s Live area!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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?

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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.

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman

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!

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

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! 🙂

Photo (c) The Whisky Woman, 2012

Off to Ward III we went!  It was another amazing night!  Congrats Dave Sweet for organizing yet another stellar event!  Slainte!

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