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
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!
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!
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?
Hey – are we taking each others photo!? Silly social media whisky geeks (myself included)! Smile!
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 …
Off to the Cocktail’s Live area!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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! 🙂
Off to Ward III we went! It was another amazing night! Congrats Dave Sweet for organizing yet another stellar event! Slainte!
March 14, 2012 § 8 Comments
In preparation for my fast-approaching trip to Europe where I’ll be attending the World Whisky Conference, the Icons of Whisky awards, Whisky Live UK and doing a few days in both Scotland and France, I thought it best to do a pre-trip detox. Limiting myself to only the necessary sips of spirits and events that my life requires.
…But then again – I AM a whisky blogger…
I can’t totally abandon all fun drinking for a week, can I? I say no. So I have found myself wishing to revisit a beautiful bottle of Kornog that was gifted to me by the ever-talented head distiller, Jean Donnay, of the Celtic Whisky Compagnie. And since I already published my post about my visit to his picturesque distillery (click HERE for Part 1), I thought today was the day to abandon my carrot+kale+celery concoction and reunite myself with my trusty Glencarin glass. Here it goes!
ABOUT: 46% abv (92 proof), Peated Single Malt Whisky, twice distilled in copper pots over live flame, wooden washbacks, aged in French Oak on an earth floor where it rested in the salty-air climate of Brittany, France for at least 3 years
NOSE: Definitely classic, pure “peat” (think Sharpie marker), toasted cereal, hint of dried tropical fruit, ripe banana
PALATE: Sweet, buttery grain, smooth approach in the beginning, obvious peat appears in the middle which morphs into the black pepper that cuts through the buttered grains
FINISH: Happily strong, travels nicely through the mouth with a long, lingering finish. Black pepper re-appears on the tip of the tongue at the very end.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The little time in the barrels makes it very light and approachable and gives space to let this whisky’s classic peat notes shine through. If you’re new to whisky and want to find out if you like peated malts, this is a GREAT place to start. Not many barrel notes – which is expected. Very enjoyable. A PERFECT whisky to drink during the transition from Winter to Spring. The peat is there to add a little warmth while the lightness is refreshing.
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!
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!
November 15, 2011 § 9 Comments
To say I have been out and about these last few weeks is a bit of an understatement. And while I haven’t been able to collect my thoughts and share them with you here until now, I will say that my twitter accounts (@whiskygirls and @localinfusions) have never been so active!
That said, I am sorry for my recent absence and not just from my own blog but from so many of the other great whisky blogger’s blogs in the community.
Let’s start, shall we?
Whisky Week NYC
The GOOD: Lot’s of fantastic brands, all under one roof. Some interesting pours if you could get to those tables fast enough and then prove that you were worthy of such a pour (by the end of the night, this seemed to really come down to one basic fact: are you going to taste this or take it like a shot?) … though not in those exact words.
HIGHLIGHTS: Running around the first half of the night with my good friend (and fellow whisky geek) Jonathan Wingo of Brooklyn’s Whiskey Shop and together having a beautiful moment with Jonathan Luks of Mackmyra who shared with us a taste of their Special07 bottle (that will never be sold in the USA) and another taste of their Cask Strength whisky (whose proper name didn’t make it into my notebook – my apologies) but it is also a whisky that will not make it to the US market, sadly. A proper review of this company will follow as they are most certainly worthy.
The other highlight for me was meeting Preston & Juilan Van Winkle (you know, of the Old Rip van Winkle brand). Not only were they serving their incredibly limited and incredibly delicious products but, if possible, I was more impress with them as individuals. Not pretentious, not stuffy – just easy to talk to, whisky loving, Southern boys. I was honored to share a few laughs and a few sips with these two fine gentlemen.
The BAD: Too many vendors in not enough time. The food was awful and water was not easy to come by. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a recipe for disaster. People were frantically running around trying to drink every whisky they could and, aside from those in the industry, this seemed to have turned everyone into animals. Sadly, the atmosphere quickly morphed into a post-college frat party. Not. Cool.
Rodeo Bar Balcones Event
WHAT: Rodeo Bar in NYC is a Texas-style bar who has their BBQ (think Ribs & Brisket) flown in from Texas daily. Head distiller, Chip Tate, of the Texas distillery Balcones, was in town and did a very cool pairing of his Texas whiskies along side of the authentic Texas fair.
HIGHLIGHT: The BBQ ribs with Balcones Brimstone whisky. This is a blue corn whisky that has been smoked after coming off the stills and before going into the barrel with Texas Scrub Oak … the same wood that gives the meat it’s amazing smoked flavor. Picking up what I’m putting down? Heaven.
WHO: Lots of brand ambassadors, industry people, whisky enthusiasts and the NYCwhisky.com folks. Very fun!
Balcones & Ellabess Fine Dinning Pairing Event
WHAT: The very chic NYC hip dining spot, Ellabess, threw a private soiree celebrating Chip’s unique whiskies. Chef Troy Unruh and his team created an exciting pairing menu using Balcones products that were timed and served just as the appropriate Balcones spirit was being poured.
HIGHLIGHTS: The evening finished on the roof with cigars and generous pours of Balcones extremely limited Rumble Cask Reserve (a cask-strength version of the Rumble, only ~200 bottles ever made).
Check out this video of the chefs hard at work with Balcones’ high-quality whiskies!
The following post (part 2) to include:
Remy Martin Event, Miami, FL & Louisville, KY for the Icons of Whisky Awards
October 6, 2011 § 13 Comments
I had this conversation with a distiller the other day and I was surprised (and perhaps ignorant / stuck in a bubble / etc…) that what I thought was “common knowledge” is, in fact, not.
Do whisky and spirit drinkers really understand the difference between Cask Strength & Bottle Strength whiskies? Furthermore, do they know what to do with a cask strength whisky?
This distiller thinks that people still need to be educated on the matter. I, however, think that consumers know the difference and know how to enjoy them. Perhaps I am wrong … what do you think?
CASK STRENGTH 101
Just to clear up any confusion, doubt or appease any general curiousities, I’ve outlined the key points that I think are important to know about this high-powered spirit. Fellow bloggers & whisky enthusiasts, I invite you to chime in, please.
1) WHAT: Cask Strength is the whisky straight from the cask. No water added. Typically in the 55%-60% abv range (double those numbers to know the proof) vs. the more common 40%-45% abv of most bottled whiskies.
2) WHY: Bottling whiskies at Cask Strength is typically reserved for the upper premium whiskies. This is more expensive for both the producer and the consumer because the product is more concentrated and the distiller get’s fewer number of bottles to sell out of a single cask. You, the consumer, get more whisky (same volume, but more actual whisky).
3) BENEFIT: What’s great about having a cask strength whisky is that you then get to take over and play “blender” by controlling the amount of water you add in your glass.
4) HOW TO: Let me repeat myself, you (the consumer) get to add the amount of water you would like instead of having this pre-done by the distiller. If you have the pleasure of tasting a cask strength whisky, make sure you know what to expect. This is going to be much stronger than what you’re used to (unless you make it a habit to drink these, in which case, my hat’s off to you). Essentially, you’re buying whole spices here, not the pre-ground McCormick shaker. Proceed excitedly with educated caution.
September 23, 2011 § 1 Comment
Last weekend I went to the Taste of Williamsburg event in Brooklyn, NY on the most perfect almost-autumn Sunday imaginable. While we certainly tasted many delightful bites of food (Brooklyn, especially Williamsburg, is known for their non-trendy trend starting contributions to everything arts related, including their culinary creations) we also had our fair share of unique cocktails.
One cocktail in particular deserves a mention: Hotel Delmano‘s Rosemary’s Baby, which is currently being featured on their Fall cocktail menu.
What’s in the glass? Fresh lime juice, fresh spiced pineapple juice, a bit of maple syrup and Rosemary infused Jim Beam Rye whiskey. Shaken with a sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish. Dee-lightful.
Rosemary is my all-time favorite herb and the creator of this cocktail did nothing but accentuate it’s wild, pine needle, sweet-earth-meets-spiced-wood characteristics which pair beautifully with Rye whisky. The fresh rosemary sprig garnish does much more than make the drink look nice, it also fills your nose with it’s beautiful aromas as you bring the glass towards your mouth. But be forewarned, if it’s in there too long your drink can get a second, and unnecessary, round of rosemary infusion so either drink up or take it out.
See!? Looks good, doesn’t it? Why not opt for a change of pace this weekend and head over to Williamsburg, settle into the Hotel Delmano’s vintage-chic bar and ask the bar tender to make you something nice & spicy! … Whisk(e)y based, of course 😉
September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments
Hey all of you sun-loving, whisky-drinking, dram-fans out there on the West Coast … This one’s for you!
You probably know by now that I’m a big fan of the WhiskyLive events (see other post HERE). I’m super excited that they will be opening their doors and pouring their pours at the Hyatt Regency on Friday, October 21. If you buy your tickets BEFORE OCTOBER 1st, use coupon code INFUSIONS (yes, it’s case sensitive) to receive 25% off the ticket price!!! After October 1, this code will give you 10% off.
With an event this good and a deal this deep, I just may hop on a plane and be there myself! See below for more info…
VIP Tickets: $135.00 (5:30pm – 10:00pm)
General Admission: $105.00 (6:30pm – 10:00pm)
Proudly sponsored by
Wally’s Wine & Spirits – Seven Grand and The 213 Group
All Tickets include: admission, tastings of Scotches, Bourbons, Whiskies & Craft Beers, Gourmet dinner buffet, show guide & Glencairn tasting glass