Celebrate World Whiskies
March 27, 2015 § 19 Comments
Felt compelled to write this quick post as I’ve just returned from launching Brenne in France (yay!), the always-lovely Ian Chang, master distiller of the Taiwanese company Kavalan, just won Icons of Whisky Global “Master Distiller of the Year” (Congrats Ian!), we ourselves have won a few awards for Brenne recently (a Drammie for Most Innovative Whisky and 2 gold medals from Wizards of Whisky for our up-coming Brenne Ten!) AND it’s International Whisky Day.
Point being: World Whiskies are here to stay.
The International Whisky category does not only account for the Japanese whiskies. There are a lot of amazing and note-worthy distilleries from unexpected corners of the earth making phenomenal whiskies. Just look at our friends over at Mackmyra, Amrut & Sullivan’s Cover (to name a few)!
So if you’re contemplating hosting a whisky tasting anytime soon, informally or formally, maybe think about taking a “Single Malt Tour” around the world, trying one from France, Sweden, Japan, Tasmania, Taiwan, Indian … could be a fun way to travel in the comfort of your own home!
There is certainly no shortage of passion within our whisky community and it’s really exciting to experience that expanding in every aspect from what’s actually in our glasses to the conversations we’re having on social media, at the bar and beyond. I’m honored to be part of an ever-growing category and one where I think we may find a lots of innovation now and in the years to come.
So HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WHISKY DAY to you all – I’ll raise a glass of Brenne to you all this weekend!
#worldwhiskies #internationalwhiskyday #drinkbrenne
Short Stories: Positive Happenings with Me + Brenne
July 17, 2013 § 10 Comments
I hope you all are enjoying your summer! There have been a few of funny and uplifting short stories about me + Brenne that I’ve shared recently with my small community on Facebook. After seeing their overwhelmingly positive responses, I felt that they might be fun to share with all of you here as a tiny collection.
Hope you enjoy them too! But first, as I sit here in the wee hours of the morning – my favorite time to write and edit posts – let’s play a game of “What’s In My Glass?” … ok, it’s brown, it loves ice, and Jim McEwan has been synonymous with the distillery for the last 10+ years…
drum roll please…
… Bruichladdich Rocks! (With a side of dark chocolate of course.) Perfect for a steamy summer night.
Keep in mind that I live in New York City and for this first little story, it’s helpful to note that “the roof” refers to my building’s super-special rooftop garden oasis! Ahhhh…. it’s where my sanity lives!
AS OF JULY 17th:
Last Thursday I was on the roof with the lovely Georgie Bell (SMWS Global Ambassador) & my husband, Nital Patel, when our neighbor Jesse came up to join us with his friend. It was Nick Hoult. After a while I said, “I’m sorry, I’m really bad with knowing people I should know… should I know you?” He was adorable & humble and once it came out that he’s playing the Beast in the upcoming X-Men film, he promised to take a photo of himself in his makeup with Brenne 🙂
As for the whisky: We sat up there enjoying the warm company and glowing sunset with Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye Manhattans (and cheese, plenty of creamy French cheeses, naturally!).
[side note: apparently, the production company owns the rights to photos of the actors in costume thus I won’t be able to post any pictures of Nick with Brenne in costume – but it would be fun for the personal archives if I’m ever able to get a copy! If not – it’s certainly a lovely thought!]
ALSO AS OF JULY 17th:
This morning (as of 10:30 am on Tuesday, 7/17) I got a call from my buddy Cristiano Andrade (buyer for SeaGrapes Wine & Spirits) asking me to bring some Brenne Whisky down to his store, “within the next 3 minutes.” Well I know a call-to-action when I hear one! Still in my gym clothes I ran down the street with a case of Brenne tucked under one arm. There was Don Johnson buying 1/2 the case to give as gifts … he said they were for his “leading ladies” (to which I assumed he was just some guy with a harem of women) but the more he spoke I realized he might literally mean “Leading Ladies” so I said, “Oh, are you an actor?” He said Yes. I asked if he was more into films or broadway … then he said, “I did a show called Miami Vice … maybe you know it?” He was extremely sincere – we were cracking up because I AM the WORST at knowing people I “should” know … but he asked me to sign the bottles of Brenne and off he went to board his friend’s private plane …
Not a bad week for Brenne!!! Good for me I’m not easily embarrassed! LOL
AS OF JULY 10th:
I was at an ATM the other day and the woman one machine over said, “Excuse me, but is that Brenne Whisky in your bag?” Happily surprised & a little thrown I said, “Yes! Do you know about it?” And she said, “Oh YES! It’s the best whisky I have ever had!! My friends and I drink it all the time!”
Seriously, my mouth hit the floor. I introduced myself (which in turn surprised her), exchanged cards, and told her if she or her friends ever had any questions to give me a call. After a quick show of her dog doing his tricks, I thanked her profusely and walked out of the bank a little bit taller. Still don’t totally believe it happened myself! #LittleEngineThatCould
POSTED ON JUNE 5th
So yesterday I had a meeting with a restaurant who was very clear that “they didn’t have ANY space behind the bar to take in any new products” but, because I’m a neighbor, they agreed to a meeting. I told them I’m a “no pressure sales gal” but that they should at least try it. Brenne will soon be out of stock and the next shipment won’t be ready till the Fall – so they should figure out now if they like it to get on a list.
I poured a small sip for both owners and before I knew it, one grabbed the bottle and poured little samples for every one of their regulars sitting at the bar while the other ran down and grabbed his check book. All of their regulars immediately jumped up and came over to shake my hand & tell me what a “winner” I had created, while the other owner wrote me a check on the spot and asked me to run home and grab 2 more bottles – right then and there – and to check back with them in a couple of weeks to make sure they can stock up before the shortage!
Brenne is now available at Tavern on Jane, NYC.
And since it’s summer, I’ll leave you with one easy Brenne recipe:
BRENNE WHISKY FIGS
Get some fresh figs (the bigger the better!) and cut into quarters (if they’re fresh enough, you’ll be able to break them apart with your hands).
Throw them under the broiler for just a couple minutes to caramelize their natural sugars and top with a little Brenne whisky. You can thank me later!
Here’s me with a strainer full of fresh picked figs, right off the tree!
Just a few more tales from this whisky woman’s adventures of launching her own whisky brand … who continues to be grateful and happy to learn that others share her vision – and taste! (PHEW!)
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.
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).
The next morning … we were feeling a little goofy!
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!
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!!!!!
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!!!!
A shout out back to you, Tony Kornheiser & PTI
November 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
The day before yesterday, Monday Nov 5th, was the first day the New York Tri-State area felt like it was starting to get back to work post-Hurricane Sandy. And it felt great. Just like the old saying: you never know how much you love/need something until it’s not there. Well, I need to work! 🙂
After a full day, I was ready to happily dedicate my night to my now over-full inbox and various social media platforms. I started by skimming through comments on this blog and saw one that I thought for a moment might be spam. It read:
From: Bonnie Berko
Date: November 5, 2012
Allison, listen for your shout out at the end of PTI today! Send more product!
In hindsight I can’t see how I ever thought this was spam but in that moment and in the context of a whisky blog, I didn’t know what “PTI” was, nor who Bonnie Berko is (sorry Bonnie!), nor knew what “send more product” really meant. More?! When did I ever send her any Brenne?
Thanks to google for quickly clearing this up for me. Bonnie Berko is the producer of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption show with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon – which is one of the top shows on ESPN. Feeling confused and excited, I quickly tuned in and caught the end of the show with Tony calling out my name.
huh? shock. giggle. breathe. question. smile. belly laugh.
Something like 3 million people tune in to PTI nightly. I put my computer on my lap and watched in awe as tweets, g-chats, facebook messages, etc from friends, acquaintances and total strangers started coming in. What does one do when that happens? Well, if you’re me, you slide off the couch and have yourself a little impromptu dance party!
Then I put the pieces together. A very enthusiastic friend bought a case (6 bottles) of Brenne the week it launched. I then find out that he sent a few bottles down to Tony Kornheiser who proceeded to mention it on his other ESPN show: The Tony Kornheiser Show. Then he mentioned it again … and again.
And then Tony gives me, “Allison Patel, Whisky Woman” a shout-out on Pardon the Interruption!
ESPN PTI Episode 11/5/12 … go to around minute 22:25 for Tony’s shout out
So Tony, if you’re reading, here’s my shout-out back to you. THANK YOU for liking Brenne French Single Malt whisky and for continuing to share your thoughts with your audiences. I sincerely appreciate it. One person can make a difference. You’re awesome.
#DreamComingTrue Go Small Business!
The new “Whisky Dog” & John Allan’s Whiskey event
October 10, 2012 § 11 Comments
It’s so cool when your friends take that plunge, break from that steady paycheck, and jump off the cliff of stability into the unknown but exciting world of entrepreneurship. One such friend, the amazing & always inspiring Nicholas Pollacchi, has recently taken the dive.
You know Nicholas as the former Brand Ambassador for Balvenie (he’s the one who is always in a beautiful suit, speaks with a thick Scottish accent, wears a welcoming smile & always give a generous pour) and we watched as he rocked it out driving across the US multiple times for the Balvenie Rare Craft Road Shows.
He recently started his own company, The Whisky Dog, curating bespoke whisky experiences. Most of his impeccably tailored events are private but for a few lucky dogs, you too can have your chance to participate next week in NYC.
Here are the details:
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!!!
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.
An intern weighs in…
August 31, 2012 § 9 Comments
As some of you may know, I’m gearing up to launch my own whisky, Brenne in the Fall. This summer, I was lucky enough to have had Whitney Krueger interning while we worked through a variety of tasks to prepare as best as we can for Brenne’s release. Constantly impressed by Whitney’s ability to quickly pick up the flow, goals, focus, ideas & concepts of what launching a new brand is, means and how that relates to Brenne, I thought it best to have her guest write a post this week to share her thoughts as her Summer internship came to an end.
The BRENNE Experience
by Whitney Krueger
As a twenty-something woman who has been out of college for a few years, I wasn’t sure I would ever contemplate the following question again: “What should I wear on my first day of school?” However, I just asked Allison Patel her opinion on the matter last week. In a few days, I am going back to school to get my MBA and am wrapping up my summer internship with Allison at Local Infusions. Hopefully, I’ll be back in fall, pending my class schedule.
In order to get a feel for the spirits industry and, specifically, the marketing side, I have been working on Allison’s single malt whisky launch of Brenne. I had previously worked in advertising and wanted to get an idea of what being in the spirit (and luxury) industry actually entails. I have long been fascinated with understanding why people order the drinks that they do: Can they actually tell the difference between a vodka soda with Ketel One or one with Gray Goose? If they can, WOW, I am impressed, but if they can’t, what made them choose one over the other? I would guess that it is about perception, which is probably at least partially shaped by marketing and that’s where I decided to begin.
Allison and I made the connection through a mutual friend and from the first time that I met Allison, I knew that I had a lot to learn from her. Not only did I fall in love with the quality & taste of Brenne, but I was ecstatic about working on a brand without preconceived ideas about what we could and could not do.
So, what have I been doing at Brenne? A little bit of everything. I helped to design the website and promotional materials, budgeted, brainstormed accounts, partnerships and events and wrote design blog posts amongst other things. The first part of this internship has been focused on the creative side, laying the groundwork and determining with few data points what may make Brenne succeed. What I hope to learn in school and the timing seems to be right for Brenne, is how to set up those events, postings and ideas in a way that lends to being measured. Being neither completely left brained nor completely right brained, I want be creative, execute and get quantifiable results.
So will people choose Brenne because of it’s flavor profile? Will the events that we are laying the groundwork for convert attendees into devoted Brenne loyalists? Will the target audience appreciate our fun and different approach and promotional items? We don’t know, but being able to measure those successes and potential missteps when the time comes, I believe is how a brand continually improves and eventually succeeds. It has been an honor to work at Brenne for the past few weeks and I am so excited to see our ideas materialize and, eventually, dig into the data behind that work.
Thanks everyone! ~Whitney
Here I am trying to figure out the best size for our awesome Brenne temporary tattoos
Meeting a Friend of Brenne in the pharmacy on the corner!
We worked really hard and put in a lot of long days but Allison reminded me it was still summer with a surprise day trip to the beach on one of my final days.
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…
Great job guys – can’t wait to attend the next Camp session!
Whisky Review: Bruichladdich 12 year old Second Edition
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?
Whiskey Gifts: Father’s Day edition
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!!!