July 27, 2012 § 7 Comments
Considering all of the Bruichladdich news going on this week, I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in and refocus on what I’m most interested in: the WHISKY!
(But in case you missed it, the fiercely independent Islay distillery just confirmed that they are selling to Remy.)
So today I am reviewing one of my favorite Bruichladdich expressions, the Second Edition 12 year Islay Single Malt, 46% abv aged in Bourbon barrels.
NOSE: Cinnamon bark, cherry (black? fresh?), Red Hot candies, caramel, black licorice mixed with a magic marker, peat is there but quite light and masked by the spicy candy notes
TASTE: Sweet cherry candy (jolly rancher?), cherry morphs into cinnamon, starts medium-strong and balloons up to the peat
FINISH: Bold and very strong, move through the pallet, nice tingling that lingers on lips & tongue for quite a while
What’s your favorite ‘laddich?
June 11, 2012 § 8 Comments
Ok gang, we have 1 week until it’s the day we’re to be giving thanks to our Old Man … and if you’re like me, you haven’t bought anything yet – not even the card. (Ok, perhaps you’re just saying that you haven’t “found the right thing yet” but we all know you gave it a 2 second google search and then were on to the 10 new emails that just reloaded in your inbox). We’ve all been there… I’m not judging.
Instead, I know exactly how you feel. But don’t worry – if you act now, you just might manage to give him the PERFECT Father’s Day gift on time … whisky style.
GIFT OPTION 1: Whisky Tasting Set from Master of Malt
Chose from over 25 different specialized sets – including a “Cigar Lover’s Tasting Set” and a “Father’s Day Gift set” which can be shipped out of London in 24hrs. Act quickly before they’re either sold out (as some are) or it’s too late! Available online at MasterOfMalt.com
GIFT OPTION 2: Personalized Whisky bottle
So you wanna be a baller? Now’s your chance. Give your dad a bottle of whisky (chose from 16 different whiskies from a variety of producers and prices) that’s personalized JUST FOR HIM! Now that’s one way to upstage your siblings … 😉 Available online at MasterOfMalt.com
GIFT OPTION 3: Subscription to Whisky Magazine
Give him a 1 or 2 year subscription to Whisky Magazine and let him keep up monthly with all the latest whisky news from around the world! Available online at WhiskyMag.com.
GIFT OPTION 4: The NEAT Glass
Keep your dad up on the latest nosing glassware trends and get him a set or two of the NEAT glasses! Available at TheNeatGlass.com .
GIFT OPTION 5: Vintage 1950’s-60’s 14k Gold Carafe
Picture this filled with ice water sitting next to your dad’s Double Old-Fashioned glass 1/2 filled with his favorite Scotch. The Wall Street Journal is folded in a slight mess on the floor and if you keep your eyes closed just long enough, you can almost feel the worn leather of his favorite chair and hear his favorite song being hummed in the background… and if that’s NOT your memory of him, make it his reality! At only $12 USD + shipping, you can’t afford not to! Available at BellaLaineVintage on Etsy.com (but act now because there is only 1!)
Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful dad’s out there!!!
April 20, 2012 § 19 Comments
A couple of weeks ago I had the ultimate whisky-geek experience of being temporarily uprooted from my busy life in NYC to partake in the more relaxed lifestyle of the Scots in Speyside, Scotland. One of the highlights being a very personal and memorable visit with David Steward at the Balvenie distillery (see my post on that visit HERE).
While there, I tasted some very rare and exceptional drams which I’ll continue to write about in upcoming posts. The first of which, however, was their new make (also known as “white whisky”) which is the distillate prior to any aging. It’s clear, fresh and bright and is the important base of all of their beautiful variations. This is not something that is ever bottled and sold by Balvenie, despite a trend across the pond by the American craft distillers who have been releasing their white whiskies & moonshines over the last few years. Sometimes these new makes can be a bit hard to drink, but I assure you, Balvenie never does anything rough.
NOSE: Sweet grass, malty, pungent sweet, celery salt, salted honey
PALATE: Eucalyptus, rich, complex, sweet after taste, bright, yummy esters (yup, I did just write that!)
WITH H2O: Eucalyptus is still present with white pepper introducing itself, still sweet, beautiful and something I wish I could buy to have on hand always!
I love a good un-aged whisky and this one is particularly delicious (in fact, I wish I was sipping on this right now as I write this post!). But if you can get your hands on one, and I’m talking about a good one, try it chilled in the summer or, my favorite way, paired with some kind of citrus dessert (think lemon bar or a crème brûlée seasoned with orange zest).
What about you? Do you have a favorite un-aged whisky or a preferred way to enjoy this kind of spirit?
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!
April 6, 2012 § 14 Comments
Between the rain and the recent snow, there were a few beautiful, dry, warm & sunny days in Scotland … and I was lucky enough to have been a visitor during just those days!
After an incredible tour of Forsyths, the Scottish still makers (see my post on that visit HERE), next on the itinerary was a visit to another place in Speyside which has a deep place in my whisky-heart; Balvenie.
Not only was I lucky enough just being there – but my travel buddy (head distiller of Balcones, Chip Tate) and I were given a private tour by Balvenie’s Malt Master (aka, head distiller), David Stewart and their distillery ambassador, David Mair. And if that wasn’t enough – David Stewart was also in the midst of celebrating his 50th year at Balvenie! Congratulations, David!!!
We truly had a lovely afternoon walking the grounds, geeking out about all things “whisky” and of course – drinking some seriously special drams – a few of which David poured straight from the barrels into our open palms. Luckily, slurping was acceptable because I wasn’t letting a single drop hit the floor!
Below is a collection of photos that I took during the visit. Hope you enjoy!
The Balvenie Castle … not exactly where we were trying to go (it’s not that close to the distillery) but it is quite cool to see. Thanks to Google Maps for accidentally taking us here first!
Oh the Scottish weather!
The sign says, “Welcome To Dufftown” …. phew! Back on the right road and almost there!
We made it!!!
This is the view with our backs to the distillery. Isn’t Scotland just so pretty?
The Malting Floor. One of only about 3-5 distilleries left in Speyside who still have an active malting floor. It’s a lot of hard work, manual labor and expense for these distilleries to maintain so it’s a real treat when you get to see one with your own eyes. Highland Park is another one who malts some of their own barley. I don’t know if there is a single distillery left who currently malts 100% of their own barley… if you know of one – please share in the comments below!
Love their old, red grist grinder!
Inside a giant mash ton
This is what they’re talking about when they say, “wooden wash backs.” Not many places ferment their grains in wood anymore. Stainless steel is far more common.
Check out their shiny gold (ok, brass) spirit safes! This is where the distillate cuts are made. Meaning that during the distillation process, the distiller uses the switches and the hydrometer (the device that reads the % of alcohol content) to move the new make through the stills, the low wines receiver and the spirits receiver. Fancy, huh?
Sorry – no photos allowed of the aging rooms (though they were really cool!) – we need to let that liquid gold get it’s beauty sleep! Off to the tasting room we go!
This was the “planned” tasting round … but as luck would have it, the cabinet doors were opened up and we were treated to a few bonus rounds! David & David gave us to some really special pours which I’ll certainly share my tasting notes to later … so stay tuned!
Needless to say, it was a really special afternoon. Thank you David, David and Chip for the laughs, whisky and lasting memories. This day will stay with me for a very long time.
April 3, 2012 § 3 Comments
Oh man am I excited!!! It’s that time again – WhiskyLive is coming to NYC next week on Wednesday, April 11th.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet – especially all of you whiskey/spirit bloggers – do so now! WhiskyLive by Whisky Magazine is not the event to miss. With over 230 different whiskies being poured and the USA PREMIER of the CocktailsLive show (featuring whisky cocktails created by some of NYC’s top bartenders – awesomeness!) this is something I seriously look forward to year after year. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!!!
Go for the whiskies, the networking and this year for the addition of the CocktailsLive show – all included in the price of a basic ticket (and did I mention a full dinner buffet?)!
Ready for your discount code? Here you go! Just enter: ww2012 in the promo code at check out to receive 10% off of your VIP or Regular ticket. (Code is case sensitive – please note there are no upper case letters). Click HERE for more info and to see the list of Master Classes.
If you’re going to be there – let me know in the comments and include your twitter handle – I’ll follow you!
(oh, and since I know you want the inside scoop, the industry after party will most likely be at Ward III in Tribeca … but you’ll have to follow me on twitter for real time confirmation – where ever it ends up though – you can bet I’ll be there!)
February 22, 2012 § 13 Comments
I had the most unique experience the other night that still, 2 days later has me a bit perplexed.
Sitting at the bar of an Italian restaurant around the corner from my home (Centro Vinoteca) I found myself peering quite intently at a lightly colored whisky sitting quietly between the Balvenie Double Wood and the Chivas Regal 12yr.
Can you see it? 🙂
Towards the end of the meal, I asked the bartender if I could just see the bottle. Realizing that it had never been opened, the gentleman sitting to my right said, “Let’s open it up and have a taste!” At which point I learned that he was one of the owners. He kindly poured a taste for me and one for himself and then quickly drank his like a shot. I, like the whisky geek that I am, sat there for what seemed like 30 minutes but was probably more like 5 smelling, examining and as best as I could, keeping track of the delicious experience.
Here’s what I wrote down:
ABOUT: 21 year old blended Scotch, 40% abv (80 proof), this is the house blend of the Springbank distillers in Campbeltown
NOSE: maple honey comb, hint of geranium, jasmine black tea, wet spices (clove, cinnamon)
PALATE: water, tire and sweet tobacco leaves on the front, perhaps a bit of toned-down cereal milk which lent a pleasant sweetness in the middle, toffee with grapefruit crème brûlée
FINISH: very smooth, lingering black tea, tobacco, leather and a lovely hint of peat
Coming home, I realized just how rare this bottle might be. I found it sold out on the UK site, Master of Malt, and haven’t yet found anywhere else (IF YOU DO, please share a link in the comments section below!). The only review I found was by the beloved Ralfy. I’ve included his video below. He gives a lot of history about this particular bottling. ENJOY and let me know if you can find it!
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 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
If you live in or plan to visit NYC, read on! These two events are different and interesting enough that I wanted to give others a chance to attend instead of doing a post-event review. (See, aren’t I nice!?)
These are hosted by Le Dû’s Wines … who has been building quite a nice collection of whiskies over the last 6 months and are taking this recent addition to their shop quite seriously (which makes me happy!). You may remember me giving them a shout out earlier this month for hosting the exclusive Louis XIII tasting I blogged about HERE. …
Get out your calendars are read on!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7th
Click on the box above to be taken to their site or call 212-924-6999 for reservations.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15th
This next event is FREE but invite only and space is extremely limited. Consider this your personal invitation. If you are interested (and why wouldn’t you be!?) email JT Robertson (jt at leduwines dot come) asap for a spot.
Here are the details: Free but invite only Signatory and Cigar tasting on December 15th. Signatory’s Brand Manager will be tasting 8 or so awesome single barrel Scotches in a super swag cigar shop in Midtown (complete with a smoking lounge, of course). What could be better? Get on the list now to get the full scoop!
THANKS for the 411 JT!!! You know you’ll be seeing me behind a whisky glass! Can’t wait!