February 17, 2012 § 6 Comments
Here’s a good one! $20 = 3hrs of whiskey tastings, cocktails & Jambayala
If you’re wondering what to do this weekend – head on over to one of my all-time favorite stores: Le Du’s Wines for an awesome tasting event with a little bit of Mardi Gras goodness!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 from 4pm-7pm
600 Washington Street (between Leroy & Morton)
See you there!
February 10, 2012 § 8 Comments
On one of Brian McKenzie’s, owner of Finger Lakes Distilling, recent trips to NYC, we had the chance to meet up for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Joseph Leonard, where, much to my surprise, he revealed the latest in his whisky collection; the McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey. Before anyone could say another word, we had popped the top and was sipping this bright, smooth, happily curious spirit and of course, passing it around to anyone with a willing palate.
In a matter of … oh … probably 10-15 minutes we had easily polished off 1/2 of this bottle. Rightfully so. This is smooth, and interesting, and it has this flavor-balloon effect in the mouth that is so compelling you keep going back for more … and a little more … and …
As soon as you open this bottle, the air around you starts morphing into the most beautiful fruit/oak/mash combo smell. I wish Brian could figure out how to make a candle like this!
Here’s what I have to say about this beauty:
The stats: 100% malted & unmalted barley grown in the fields surrounding his New York’s Finger Lake region distillery. Distilled in just the copper pot part of his German Holstein pot & column combo still (talk about having the ultimate in distilling flexibility!) bottled without caramel coloring or chill filtration (floaties & chunks are a GOOD thing!), 40% abv/80 proof in standard 750ml bottles.
NOSE: copper drinking cup/metallic, corn husks, honeysuckle flower, honeysuckle juice, leather, sweet tobacco, dried granny smith apples
PALATE: mild front, a slight “water in copper cup” metallic flavor on the tip of tongue, moves into a strong dried apple & apricot middle with rye-like spice on back-end and top back of the throat. It balloons and swells as moves back which is very intriguing.
FINISH: tip of the tongue is left with that copper-meets-clove spice that lingers a bit, middle to back of mouth is left pleasantly refreshed
Overall: I would say this is a medium bodied whisky that is very smooth & approachable. A happy choice … if you are lucky enough to find it!
Thank you, Brian, for leaving the bottle in my excited hands. It’s a pleasure to keep revisiting!
February 1, 2012 § 3 Comments
Almost 2 weeks ago, I had the amazing & somewhat unexpected pleasure of spending an afternoon with Bruce Joseph inside the famous Anchor brewery & distillery in San Francisco, California.
Bruce is a legend.
After a long history of working in the brewery, he spearheaded Anchor Distilling with Anchor’s long-time former owner, Fritz Maytag. They started in the early 1990’s looking back into America’s history to understand and re-create the original American whiskey (we’re talking about figuring out what and how our first president, George Washington, distilled, folks). Turns out, it was 100% Rye whiskey that was aged in toasted, not charred, barrels. Thus, Anchor’s 18th Century Style Whiskey was born!
Anchor continues to make the 18th Century Style Whiskey and their Straight Rye Whiskey in small batches. They have also added two gins to their portfolio: Junipero (which is beautiful & I encourage you to get your hands on if you haven’t already) and Genevieve; a unique, 17th-style gin. This was the first time I had tried the Genevieve and was happy to have done so. It is very pleasant on the palate, light citrus and herbs with some serious complexity & viscosity as well. And this baby goes down very easily … almost too easily. This is not a gin to be used in a martini – no – this is to be enjoyed neat, over ice or, as per Anchor’s suggestion, shaken with ice.
After a five hour tour that was a perfect balance of tech talk, industry speak, distilling geek-out moments and, of course, some sampling of products, it was a magical afternoon that started with a random knock at the door and the luck of good timing.
Ok, enough chit-chat! Let’s get to the photos!
Hello Anchor! … the excitement grows!
Yay! Whole, beautiful HOPS!
Oh beer, how crisp, refreshing and lovely you are!
That’s some serious Steam Beer, baby!
Look at all of that gorgeous, shiny, whiskey-producing copper
Fermenting 100% rye, upon which we did a little impromptu tasting!
Bruce Joseph & me, Allison Patel … the Whisky Woman 😉
December 12, 2011 § 20 Comments
Earlier this year, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the distillery of perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world (but not for long!).
Celtic Whisky Compagnie’s most popular brands are Kornog and Glann ar Mor. (Specific product reviews in part 2 of this series). On the heels of the Winter issue, before you send your 1st edition Fall 2011 Whisky Advocate magazine out to the recycling bin (or storage bin), check out their nice mention!
Stepping off the train from Paris to Brittany, you arrive in this beautiful, small, sunny, sea-breeze soaked town where it’s easy to start imagining ones’ early retirement. Shortly there after, we were graciously picked up by my dear friend and head distiller, Jean Donnay. As he drove us down the windy coastal streets, we watched the tide quickly retreat and the oyster farmers rushed in to collect their crops. After a blissful tour of the distillery, we shared the most delicious seafood lunch on the top floor of the distillery where we talked about and drank Jean’s amazing whiskies.
And amazing, they are. This is truly a labor of love. Everything they make is hand-crafted and produced by Jean and his wonderful wife, Martine. They do everything right; 100% Scottish malt, live fire, slow distillation, wooden washbacks, worm tube copper stills … but still, given the right skill, patience, investment and knowledge, all of that can theoretically be duplicated anywhere. However, in addition to their passion and drive, what Celtic Whisky Compagnie has that you can’t copy is their perfectly strategic location for “Seaside Maturation.”
Remind you of somewhere? Starts with an “S” ends with a “land”… exactly.
This carefully produced spirit comes off the stills and relaxes on the earthen floor right by the sea. The warehouse is on the tip of a peninsula so you get the wonderfully moist, salty sea air continuously swirling around the aging whiskies. When you sip Jean’s products, you are transported to this place and the amazing journey for your senses begins.
Those of you in Europe – get your hands on a bottle or two (if you’re lucky!). As for us Americans, definitely pick up a bottle on your next pass through Europe! You’ll be glad that you did!
December 5, 2011 § 13 Comments
I have been attending so many whisky events recently that it got me thinking: what would make these even better?
Answer: To be surrounded with my close friends.
So this holiday season, I offer you this: The Whisky Woman’s Guide to Creating Your Own Whisky Tasting Party . It’s time to stop fretting and start celebrating!
WHAT YOU NEED:
Tulip Shaped Glasses (to help focus your nose to the delicate aromas, check out Glencarin, -found HERE at Amazon)
Room temperature spring water (if you want to kick it up a notch, buy a dropper or 2 for easier control of the water-adding situation – found HERE at Amazon)
Unsalted Crackers (to cleanse your palate between spirits – also found HERE at Amazon)
Coffee beans (not necessary but I find very helpful when smelling lots of different whiskies during one sitting)
Opaque Container (for spitting and/or dumping – in a pinch, I use mugs – found HERE at Amazon)
Friends (this party can be done by yourself, but it’s WAAAAY more fun to dive into your whisky exploration with your pals around! – easily found HERE at Facebook) 😉
NEED TO KNOW:
For the novice, familiarize yourself with the different types of whisky. “Whisky” or “Whiskey” is the main category under which you have Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Single Malts, Blends, Irish, Canadian, Japanese, American Craft, etc. If you are new to whisky, I suggest choosing bottles from different categories and going as pure as possible (single malts, straight Bourbons, straight rye) and not because there aren’t good blends out there (there are!) but because the authentic characteristics of each type of whisky are often more diluted or altered in a blend.
“Bring a bottle” – you can have each guest bring a bottle (though perhaps it’s best to confirm choices before hand so you can make sure you have some diversity)
“Vertical” – like a Vertical Wine flight, you can do a tasting of the same producer but different years
“Single category” – having different producers from the same category (like all Ryes or all Canadian whiskies) to start to understand the different nuances between the distilleries (think about their production methods and their climate & altitude locations as these effect how the whiskies age in the casks).
“Single Region” – look at trying Scotch’s all from the same area, Bourbons from just Kentucky or Tennessee
“Craft vs Mass Producer” – look for a small producer (perhaps one that is close to your neck of the woods?) and compare their product to one of the “big boys”
Feel free to get creative! This is the fun part!
1) Pour whisky & pass around to friends
2) Observe color and clarity (murkiness is OK! If your whisky is cloudy, the distiller did NOT use chill-filtration before bottling which removes impurities but also removes flavors)
3) Smell! Putting your nose gently above the glass (give it some space!) start to inhale and enjoy the different notes you find. Get in there – move your nose around to different points around the mouth of the glass, top, bottom, sides, open your mouth as you inhale through your nose … this will help you find different flavors. Move your head away from the glass, inhale non-whisky air, and go back in again.
4) Chew – Take a very small sip that is enough to prep your palate but not enough to swallow. “Chew” it by moving it around your mouth, letting it dissolve on your tongue.
5) Taste. Be taken away by the spirit! Pay attention to how it changes as it moves around, how it feels once you’ve swallowed it and the lingering effect it leaves in your mouth (called the “finish”)
6) Be a chemist! Time to add a few drops of water. This helps to calm down the alcohol and bring out the more delicate notes of the whisky. Nose it again than drink and enjoy!
7) Rinse and repeat!
October 14, 2011 § 9 Comments
White Whiskey. Moonshine. White Dog. Prohibition.
This Whisky Woman enjoys an occasional un-aged whiskey.
No, I am not talking about re-visiting our college days of paint-thinner tasting Everclear – that hurts just thinking about it. I am only talking about craft un-aged whiskies. (I don’t think Everclear is actually a “whiskey” but you get the idea)
Why craft? Because the small scale distillers who are really making their products from grain to spirit are like pastry chefs; both being extremely careful during the cooking process to ensure that the end product is both delicate and flavorful. They take their time to really develop the flavors of the grains.
Typically, these un-aged pistols are corn based but I have been loving Koval’s Rye Chicago Whiskey recently. (See my earlier post on Koval HERE). Made from 100% organic RYE, I was surprised to find this to be so smoother and aromatic, especially when compared to it’s classic, rougher cereal-forward cousins.
Nose: black pepper, floral, orange citrus, eucalyptus, cereal
Palate: sugar coated eucalyptus, orange zest, sweetened rosemary (or pine)
Finish: long and dry, orange peel that moves into a black pepper and sugar mixture
100% Organic Rye from the American Midwest
Only the “hearts” cut of the distillates are used
40 % abv / 90 proof
750ml glass bottles
If you’re not a fan of drinking these neat or with ice/water, then try a white whiskey in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe! The complexity of the whiskey (verses the flavorless vodka) really kicks it up a notch!
Gold Medal, 2010 “White Whisky”, American Distilling Institute, USA
Gold Medal, 2010 “Grain Spirit”, Destillata Spirits Competition, Europe
Lastly, I love drinking this with a lemon-based dessert! Deee-lish!
September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
If you haven’t figured it out by now – I love original whiskies.
I love seeking out and experiencing the delicious drams that the true artist distillers of the world are creating. Yesterday, I did just that with Meg Bell of Chicago’s Koval Distillery at the Four Seasons in NYC. We tasted 5 of their 26+ products, focusing only on the whiskies (dugh!).
I was going to write about all of the interesting, wonderful and unique techniques that the founders, Sonat & Robert use to develop their Lion’s Pride aged whisky line, however, the WhiskyCompetition made this great video of Meg, filmed in the Koval distillery, talking about just that! Click, enjoy, and seek out for yourself!
Straight from the Lion’s mouth…
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 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!