You make the difference

January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m hoping years from now I’ll look back and think, why was I ever scared to launch this? But it’s only natural and let’s face it, one’s level of fear or nervousness in having the public first witness anything by the creative individual – from a new painting to a new collection to a new whisky – can often dictate how high the level of risk you’re taking truly is.

But now that Brenne is off the ground, I feel lighter.  And perhaps you’ve heard me say this before but I think it’s worth saying again: I wake up grateful every. single. day. YOU have embraced what I’m doing, supporting me along the way and continue to spread the word and share Brenne. I truly can’t thank you all enough.

This past Sunday evening, in between loads of laundry,  I received an email from the whisky aficionado Matthew Sheinberg, of the awesome Manhattan-based liquor store McCabes (seriously, he has built one heck of a great whisky collection in that store) … but I digress… In his email, he told me how a woman had come into the store specifically to purchase a bottle of Brenne and explained how she had enjoyed it recently in a cocktail (by the very-creative mixologist Thomas Favorule) at the W Hotel in Union Square NYC.  The email ended with “thought you’d like to know that your baby is making waves.”

Smiles all around.

Water_Drop

Then I started to think about all of the pieces that had to come together for that one single moment to happen.  While knowing that they are able to present their clients to a very new experience and set themselves apart from the competition across the street, when you really think about it, both McCabes and the W Hotel had to take a leap of faith with me and my whisky.  They had to have the foresight to see it’s success and hash out a plan for how they were going to be able to move the product.  These guys are part of the first 50 accounts in the world to stock Brenne and knew off the bat, as good as they believe it to be, that most people walking into their establishments won’t know what Brenne is.  Every bottle and every dram is a hand-sell by themselves and their associates.  THIS fact combined with the sheer number of different alcoholic beverages that are available today is why getting placements are so hard. It’s why each time a new account stocks Brenne, I take a moment to reflect on my journey and let the good feelings sink in.  And this thought is also why, upon reading that email, I really truly jumped up and danced.  Someone who I never met walked into a store specifically to buy Brenne. So cool.

Thanks to social media, I am continually hearing from strangers who have found Brenne one way or another and continue to enjoy it and seek it out.  You all are putting the drops in the water and it’s starting to ripple out.  I know these are all very tiny baby steps when you look at the giant picture but they are such important moments they can’t be overlooked.

The odds are great that a new alcohol brand will fail.  But despite the enormous mountains that are in front of me to take Brenne to the next (and necessary) levels, those still aren’t my odds. I can feel it …

What’s in a name; how we came up with ‘Brenne’

January 25, 2013 § 7 Comments

Y’all have spoken!  I asked, you answered, more in-depth, narrative stories about my journey launching Brenne, please! I’ll certainly sprinkle in posts about other whiskey-related things I experience or am excited about as I bounce along in 2013, but you’re going to also get a little more of an inside look into the good, bad, fun & ugly of launching a whisky brand.

So here we go!

BRENNE_Logo

As you go about your day, you probably don’t think too much about who, how, where & when the names of items we use regularly started.  Apple, Samsung, Starbucks …they’re part of our daily vernacular!  But someone (or many people) at one point spent lots of time & probably lots of money to do just that: name a brand.

I haven’t written too much about my husband, Nital, but he is easily one of the most intelligent men I have ever met.  And when not brainstorming business strategies with me, he’s off using his smarts to re-brands some of the top companies around the world.  Many times, this includes putting together a strategy to create a name for a brand.  After watching him go through this process a hundred times before, I knew what would be involved in developing the name of our whisky… and with all of his expertise, it still took us 6 months!

We didn’t start by just throwing words down on paper (though there was definitely a LOT of that later on!) but instead started with him asking me a ton of questions like, is this going to be a made-up name or a word that already exists?  If it exists, in what language? Does it sing or is it short? What feelings does it evoke? And so on and so forth.

Here’s what I knew I wanted:

  1. 1 or 2 syllables (I kept putting myself as a customer trying to order it at a loud bar, what would someone be able to “yell” easily? What would sound good in a cocktail if it were to be mixed? What would sound pleasing to the ear as I presented it at tasting event after tasting event?)
  2. I wanted something that looked & sounded French but wasn’t overwhelmingly complicated to a non-French speaking person so that it wasn’t intimidating (there was an amazing study that came out by Olive Garden about having a gnocchi dish on their menu.  It was not selling well at all but before pulling it, they decided to try listing it instead as “potato dumplings” rather than “gnocchi” incredibly enough, with that name switch, it quickly rose to become one of their top sellers.  What’s in a name you ask? Everything.
  3. I felt that the name had to have a connection to the wonderful product that had such a rich story – I wanted the name to be a part of that, to feel a part of the product’s history.

So with that (and a whole lot more) we set about creating list after list of possible names.  We wrote them EVERYWHERE ALL OF THE TIME.  Cocktail napkins, word docs, our kitchen chalk board wall … we had scribbled names everywhere for months. No surface was safe!

While sadly, I can’t remember the exact way I first connected with my distiller, I CAN remember EVERY DETAIL of the moment “Brenne” happened.

I was in Los Angeles at the time and my husband was in New York City.  He had waited all morning for me to wake up as LA is 3 hours behind NYC.  At 8am LA time he called me and said, “Did you see my email?!” Being that checking my email while simultaneously saying hi to my husband are the first things of most mornings, I was already adjusting my eyes to the screen.  At the same time I opened his email, he said it out loud. “Brreeenne” he cooed. Brenne …. brrreenne … like ‘men’ or ‘hen’ … Brrrreeennnne … I rolled it around in my mouth like sampling a beautiful dram, Brenne.  It was perfect! It condensed all of the feelings, emotions, sounds & meanings we had been beating to death into one, tiny, single-syllable word.  And he did it by finally finding the right combination of the right French word whose meaning is applicable to whisky mixed with a twist on our distiller’s family name. Done!

Next step – is it available? This is the part that always puts butterflies in my stomach.  After all of this work, to hear a word and know in your gut it’s right it would be so painful to learn that you can’t get it.  And in today’s fast-moving world, it’s not enough to just be available with Trademarks, but you also need your web addresses, twitter handle, Facebook, etc.! The frantic, pre-coffee search commenced.  Trademarks? From what we could tell, check!  (though this is not a fast process – it took months to finally learn that it was approved but initial results looked to be in our favor). Web addresses? Check. Twitter? Check.  I tried to calm myself down, “don’t get too excited, Allison, this is step one in a long, lengthy and expensive Trademark and design processes!” But I knew it had to be mine – it was so right I felt like it’s been called Brenne all along!

You already know the happy ending to this story – we got the name.  And after setting up my google alerts, I learned that a few more things in far-away lands also use that name 🙂 but nothing damaging, comparable, or problematic in any way, shape or form.

PHEW!

I survived! … a reflection of 2012

January 2, 2013 § 18 Comments

Yup. Survived captures exactly what I’m feeling right now.  I actually woke up this morning with a little extra spring in my step (though I do feel inclined to mention that my NYE partying is still taking its toll on my head & I’m sure my liver thus my “springing step” is more of a sloth-like meandering around my office which compared to yesterday, is a massive improvement).  I am just so excited that we made it through in one piece!

2012 was a big one for me.  My husband and I bought, renovated & moved into our new apartment and I launched my whisky, Brenne, with what I can only describe as incredible success (thanks LARGELY to the continued sharing, tasting, buying & chatting about by you all) despite having Hurricane Sandy shut us down for arguably the 2 most important selling weeks in the year.

Whisky inventory management is a whole different ball game than any other commodity I’ve ever managed.  The lead-time is years.  To know how much whisky to create in the first place is a major guessing game (how does anyone really know how well their spirit will sell almost 10 years from the day the process is started?).  Then once you have a spirit that has aged as long as you think creates the balanced profile you are looking for – it’s entirely your call as to when to pull the barrels, how many to bottle, and – in my case – how much to put on a boat and wait patiently for it to travel 1/2 way around the world (all the while you’re barely sleeping as the nightmares of a tsunami or freak storm or anything damaging all of those years of hard work and money keep you up in nervous sweats — and yes, whisky is now looked at as ‘years’ verses simply a ‘product’).

To say I really had no idea how much whisky I could/would sell between October 1st and December 31st is a gross understatement.  I spent about 2 years market testing Brenne in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco while asking nearly every bar tender I had ever met how many bottles of any particular brand of whisky they sell through per month (usually the answer was this: “vodka and gin I go through multiple bottles a night, whisky you say? About 1 bottle per brand per month. Why don’t you want to make vodka instead? You’ll make more money”)  Yikes.  This wasn’t a “get rich quick” business for me – I’ve been building this out of my love for whisky, my passion for the influence & effect terroir plays on the aging product, and the impact that true craftsmanship can have on such an amazing spirit!

Still, I had the number I was looking for (1 bottle per brand per month … that’s 1 case a year per account -or 2 cases if you do 6 bottle cases like I do).  That seemed really low and a little upsetting – after hearing that from a lot of people I do remember running the numbers and thinking, “I can never do this!!!  How does anyone make any kind of living off of whisky? Should I just fold this up now? No one will ever know!  We can sell this in bulk to someone else and let it be someone else’s headache.  We’re too small a company to compete!”  But my husband kept encouraging me to move forward and something deep inside of me agreed.  Knowing that a new brand (and one from a “new” country) would need to be hand-sold by bartenders & shop keepers, I had to figure that my product would take even longer to move through on the shelves.  Which meant I really needed to buckle down, create a very focused plan for launching Brenne, and go back to our college days of living off of the cheapest food I could find. We are in this for the long haul!

After much analyzing of whatever data I could get my hands on – my husband and I agreed to bring in a small amount of Brenne to start.  Mind you, we were only selling this in New York and even then, only focusing on a few areas within the Manhattan area so I really had my work cut out for me to launch this with any type of success.  There were a lot of days leading up to our launch that I thought, “I could pull the cord on this now, I don’t HAVE to move forward, no one is forcing me and again … no one will ever know! – I kept Brenne quiet for years, there was no need to change that! ” Which I knew was all fear talking so again, I kept moving forward.

Then one day you turn the corner and realize that with one more step, you’re jumping off the cliff and there is no turning back.  The future is most certainly unclear but once this step is made – it’s seriously GO time.  I happily & nervously danced my way right over the edge.  Major decision making became as regular a part of my day as my morning coffee.  And with never having done this before in this industry, I’ll be the first to admit there was a lot of “follow your gut” guess work.  There still is!  You do the best with what you have and then, you just keep moving forward.

If I didn’t launch October 1st, I knew I would have had to hold it until January 1 (this week!) as it’s impossible to launch anything new during November and December.  So I did it – pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, hand selling this to every single account who would take an appointment with me.  I didn’t launch this with a distributor – I decided to distribute it myself – and I was SHOCKED with just how well Brenne has been received.

That number of “12 bottles of whisky per brand a year per account” was grossly underestimated.  I have one bar going through about 12 bottles a WEEK!  I have stores on multi-case bi-monthly ordering schedules and the initial quantity which I assumed would supply many unique account was satisfied by only a relatively small handful.  Brenne was definitely exceeding the “12 bottles per year per account*” estimate and I woke up each day with more excitement, confidence, humility and gratitude then I have ever felt.

So after what can only be described as a marathon of tasting events this holiday season, I woke up today alive and happy.  And started to arrange for my next few pallets of product to be loaded up from our distillery in Cognac and brought over to the US.  There is still a TON of hard work ahead and many, many long days but if these first 3 months with Brenne are any indication of our future, then I can not WAIT to keep moving forward and see where were are this time next year.

And just to leave you with a little something – I did ring in the New Year with my husband and dear friends at the very cool new NYC whiskey bar, The Flatiron Room, which I will blog about next time!

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, and wonderful start to 2013!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Allison_Patel_Whisky_Party_NYE

*Just clarifying for those who really like to get down to the nitty-gritty, the “12 bottles per account per year” was based off of no published statistics but rather gathered by myself by simply speaking with bar tenders around the USA.  Also, the type of account I’m referring to with these numbers are only for on-premise (meaning a bar, restaurant or lounge).

New Year’s Eve Party – get the scoop!

December 17, 2012 § 4 Comments

To say I’m excited is a MASSIVE understatement – I am STOKED to ring in 2013!  And I really hope a lot of you are deciding right this moment to party in New York City this year … and here’s why.

The Flatiron Room – the very new 500+ whisky bar who just snagged Heather Greene of William & Grant ambassador fame as the only whisky sommelier in the city – is hosting the party of the night.  And I can’t WAIT.

Flatiron Room NYE

Here are the details provided by TFR’s owner, my good friend, and fellow whisky geek, Tommy Tardie:

THE MENU:
  1. Introductory Signature Cocktail made with Brenne Whiskey (editor’s note: woo hoo!)
  2. Herb Focaccia with smoked white fish (w/ Compass Box Asyla)
  3. Beet Salad with panko-fried goat cheese and hazelnut-mint vinaigrette (w/ Scott’s Independent Bottling of Auchentochen)
  4. Spicy crab ravioli with a moroccan date cream sauce (w/ Glenfiddich Rum Cask 21)
  5. Creamy bourbon-vanilla bean panacotta w/ lemon granita (w/ New Yorks Dutch’s Moonshine Spirit)
  6. Braised Short ribs with mixed berry bbq sauce served over sunchoke puree (w/ Michters 10)
  7. Single Malt Chocolate Malted Shake (w/ Glenmorangie Signet)
  8. Midnight Toast: Bowmore 18

TWO SEATING OPTIONS:

  • 7pm – 10pm: $145 per person (tax and gratuity included)
  • 10:30pm – 1:30am: $195 per person (tax and gratuity included)
NOTE: We understand whiskey is not everyone’s fancy. We are more than happy to substitute the whiskey for your choice of red, white or sparkling wines. Just let us know at time of ticket purchase. Prices subject to change
INCLUDED W/ TICKET:

• Live Entertainment – You’ll be entertained with live prohibition style jazz.
• 6 Course Tasting Menu – Our Executive Chef Susan Burdian has created a special 6 course tasting menu. Each dish will be plated and presented to share with your party.
• Whiskey Pairing – Our in-house whiskey sommelier Heather Greene has carefully selected 6 drams of fine whiskey to be paired with each food dish. We think you’ll be delighted to see how they interact and compliment each other. A tasting chart and notes will accompany your meal.
• Bottle of Perrier Jouët Champagne – 1 bottle per 2 guests
• Complimentary Coat Check
• Party Hats & Favors

(editor’s note: And in case you’re a baller…)
Larger Parties Are Welcome:
Our private tasting room is perfect for parties of 15-50. Guests have exclusive use of entire room, which comfortably sits 35 people (50 people standing). Includes separate sound controls to adjust to desired levels and use of projector and screen. Please contact us at 212.725.3860 or info@theflatironroom.com for inquiries and pricing information.
NOTE: All sales are final. Please review ticket ordering information carefully prior to ticket purchase. The Flatiron Room will not refund or exchange tickets, unless event is canceled or rescheduled.
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OK – how awesome is that!!!! They had me at “party hats.”  … and I believe I’ve got just the right dancing shoes!  Come on! What are you waiting for?
Allison Patel NYE Party Shoes
Hope to see you there!

Awesome Whiskey Gifts

December 13, 2012 § 15 Comments

I look forward to putting together this post all year!  I LOVE conjuring up a little collection of my favorite whisky themed gifts to give to loved ones this holiday season.

Hope this can provide a little help – either to you as the giver, or perhaps as the receiver (just send your gift giver this link!).  And in no particular order, I present to you this year’s list of Whisky Gifts!

DECANTERS

You can go about this two different ways: new or old.  Here are some of my favorites!

Crate & Barrel Decanters

Crate & Barrel Decanters

Crate & Barrel launched a nice line of decanters this year, ranging in price from $29.95 – $44.95.  I think these are pretty great for the home, office or home office!

Vintage Decanter found on Etsy (seller: SFKvintage)

Vintage Decanter found on Etsy (seller: SFKvintage)

Or you can go with something like this! – a vintage piece with unique accents.  Etsy has a lot of cool ones (tip: just search for “decanters,” if you look specifically for “whiskey decanters” you’ll see the prices sky rocket). This particular beauty (sold by SFKvintage) is only $40 and sure to be a sophisticated way to enjoy your favorite dram!

ADVENT CALENDAR

Every year (ok, let’s face it, every month!) the UK-based online store, Master of Malt, does something cool.  They somehow always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else.  And further more, they’re genuinely good people; kind, funny, open & honest…  Just the kind of people you want to support.  This year, they put together an Advent Calendar.  BRILLIANT!

Master of Malt's Whisky Advent Calendar

Master of Malt’s Whisky Advent Calendar

But just in case that is not for you … er… I mean the person you’re shopping for (isn’t that you?), they also have this really cool “Home Blenders Kit” – I’d LOVE to get one of these from Santa!

Master of Malt's Whisky Blending Kit

Master of Malt’s Whisky Blending Kit

BOOKS

With one’s ever growing whisky library, one ought to keep up to date with the latest printed releases as well as the liquid kind.  This first one is a GREAT choice for any Whisky Geek (in case you’re not sure, I’ve taken the time to define such geek-dome in an earlier post).  Written by Corsair Artisan Disillery’s owner & master distiller, Darek Bell,  Alt Whiskeys is summed up as: Alternative Whiskeys and Techniques for the Adventurous Distiller … a copy of this just landed on my desk this week, thanks to Darek, and I can’t WAIT to snuggle up next to the fire with a great dram and get to reading!

Darek Bell's Book available on Amazon.com

Darek Bell’s Book available on Amazon.com

There is also Dominick Roskow’s The World’s Best Whiskies that’s been on my list for a while now.  I always love Dominick’s work – he has a lot of passion and knowledge about distilleries all over the world and he’s yet another wonderful whisky guy (starting to sense a theme here? What can I say?! I find it MUCH easier to support people who are intelligent, talented and humble … no egos for me, please!).

Dominic Roskow's The World's Best Whiskies available on Amazon.com

Dominic Roskow’s The World’s Best Whiskies available on Amazon.com

ART

Why not get that whisky lover in your life a beautiful piece of whisky-related art?  I love the quiet elegance of this Old Whisky Barrel print by Olivier Le Queinec.  Choose your print medium (metal, acrylic, canvas, framed, or even greeting card) and your size.  You can find something in any budget as prices range from $4.95 – $257.62 USD (with prints starting as low as $16).

Old Whisky Barrel print on Fine Art America.com's site

Old Whisky Barrel print on Fine Art America.com’s site

WHISKY / WHISKEY

And lastly, a bottle of the good stuff!  It would be ridiculous for me not to suggest my own whisky but I also don’t like the idea of using this blog solely for shameless self promotion.  That said, I AM recommending Brenne Estate Cask as the whisky gift du jour for the following reasons:

Brenne appeals to just about everyone.  I have been (happily) surprised by the incredibly wide range of fans; from young male & female post-collage undergrads to established, middle-aged peat-freaks, to your typical wine-o’s, to your typical whisky-geeks and beyond.

Photo courtesy & (c) by Ken Buschner/Studio-2B.com

Photo courtesy & (c) by Ken Buschner/Studio-2B.com

I have been shocked by the number of Islay Scotch drinking fans who have gravitated towards Brenne (which is on the complete opposite end of the taste spectrum – no smoke, no peat, all fruit).  Also, the number of non-whisky drinkers who have also picked up bottles for both their own consumption and as gifts.  The point is, this whisky is smooth, so easy to drink and has lots of vanilla and fruit notes that there is little about it that can offend someone while at the same time offering tons of complexity for people to enjoy.

You can easily buy this online at Park Ave Liquors HERE

So there is my plug – not because it’s mine but because I so wholly believe in it as the whisky you can share with everyone and not worry about turning anyone off to this great world of whiskies … on the contrary, you may make a few more fans!

Hope you are all having a wonderful time this season – don’t forget to stop and smell the spruce!

happy-holidays

Life is full of little surprises

December 4, 2012 § 11 Comments

I don’t know about you but I sometimes find my days so nuts that if I don’t zero in and take it one detailed piece at a time than I think I would look at the whole day, become so overwhelmed I’d throw up my hands and fold.  Perhaps crawling into whichever hole was closest (which, this being NYC, would probably be a subway station …).

As an aside, please accept my apologies now for any and all unanswered emails, tweets, comments, posts, etc.  I THANK YOU for staying with me despite my slight disappearing act from this blog.

But you don’t come here to hear me lament about how ‘busy’ I am – we are ALL busy.  Especially this month.  And in the whirlwind that is my life – I often step back and think about my fellow bloggers & whisky enthusiasts in awe.  How do you all do it!?  How do you continually publish quality, well written and well researched posts that are both educational and entertaining on a regular basis!?

Salvador Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory' while art historians can debate it's meaning, to me, I often think about this when

Salvador Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ – while art historians can debate it’s many meaning, to me, I often think about this piece when I feel like time is slipping away, melting into the calmness deep within the chaos of daily life

When I started this blog, I set a goal for myself of posting one article a week and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping to that until October 1 of this year when I launched my own whisky.  And then as soon as the 1st month of Brenne’s introduction in the market was coming to a close, we got hit badly by hurricane Sandy.  And then as soon as we dusted ourselves off, flicked the light switch on (& actually got light!) and hit the ground running, we ran into Thanksgiving and kicked off the always-busy holiday season.

So there I am; blinders on, bulldozing through the minutes, hours, days and weeks with time whizzing by faster than ever that I found myself Sunday evening happily standing behind a table pouring Brenne (Estate Cask, barrel #261) at the amazing whisky event Robin Robinson put together to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims.

Corsair_logo

Standing there talking to one wonderful whisky lover after another, I spotted the ever familiar white Corsair logo against a black T-shirt peaking through the crowd coming my way.  My eyes quickly glanced up from the T-shirt to the wearer of said tee and realized that it was Darek Bell (co-founder & distiller of Corsair Artisan Distillery).  Darek and I have crossed paths at many events and I could definitely pick him out of a line up (watch out, Darek!) but we had never before had the opportunity to spend more than a minute conversing until then.

It didn’t take us long at all to jump right into full whisky geek talk (and I love being in the company of true geeky distillers like Derek, there is so much for me to learn and as soon as he started asking me questions about our still configuration – I felt like it was my birthday!)  And then he said it, those words you hope you never hear but, whenever you truly expose yourself – like an artist at his debut or an author publishing her book – you have to be ready for: “Allison, I do, however, have one complaint. ”  Eek!  Sound the alarm! Brace yourself! Wait. No. Calm yourself.  Listen & learn.  Ok, you can do this. …. “Oh yea?  What’s that Darek?”  “Ever since you launched Brenne, you’ve kinda ignored your blog.”

George Costanza

Huh?  That’s the complaint?  You A) read it  B) noticed my fewer post publications and C) cared enough to mention it?  I’m FLATTERED!  I feel the redness leave my face (in the anticipation of a different kind of complaint) and I smile broadly … and somewhat quizzically.   Reading my expression, Darek then said, “Yes Allison, people do read your blog and frankly, I like your take on things.”

As I drifted off to sleep the night before last, I was thinking about my backlog of whisky posts.  The events that I have been wanting to share with you, the unique whiskies I’ve been buying up as I travel from one whisky store to another hand selling Brenne, the people I have met and the amazing whiskey-based cocktail creations I have experienced.  And how I have been getting to the end of my Sunday evenings thinking, “Oh crap, I missed another week … now my post will be too dated.”  But last night as I thought about this, I also remembered one of my favorite aspects of whisky; it’s a true art of time.  My whisky that is aging in barrels is constantly reminding me that no matter how hard I work or how quickly I move from one thing to the next, the whisky everyone around the world is distilling today still won’t be ready any faster.  We all still have to wait years, a decade or even longer until we can pour into our glasses what is being now being distilled through copper vessels.  With that in mind, I was thinking how I love that whisky takes so long to age and then stops abruptly as soon as it enters a bottle, almost as if that glass frame is the spirit’s own time-capsule.  Perhaps then too, these posts that I have been worried about being just a bit too old will, like our whiskies, get a little better with age and then once they launch themselves into a published post only then do they stop changing, or rather ‘aging’.  Perhaps that is a little too philosophical for some of you but I’m sticking to it. 🙂

And until I dust off those recent memories and commit them here, I leave you with this; THANK YOU.  Thank you Darek for giving me a bit of a kick in the you-know-what to log back in and continue the conversation.  Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me and continue subscribing even as my posts have become less regular.  And the biggest Thank You to all of you who have not only stayed with me but picked up my slack!  Your comments, emails, tweets, re-blogs, and perhaps most importantly, your own personal blog posts mentioning me and/or Brenne have simply made me speechless (… almost 😉 ).  I can’t thank you all enough.  It’s super fun to get to know you and talk about one of our favorite topics together!!!

thanks

A Whisky Benefit for Hurricane Sandy Relief -THIS SUNDAY in NYC

November 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

First – please tweet and re-tweet this.  It’s extremely important!

As many of you know, my beloved New York City & the surrounding areas were recently hit very badly with Hurricane Sandy.  Personally, we were without power, heat & cell towers for 5 days.  Business came to a screeching halt and I’ve been trying to re-coup ever since.  My 101yr old grandmother’s beach cottage on the NJ Shore was completely destroyed.  What’s left of the roof is being held up almost entirely by one single 2×4.  The bed pushed through the structure and is sitting partially on the street, the couch is in whatever is left in her tiny kitchen.  The home will have to be leveled and there were very few mementos that were salvageable.  It may sound “fancy” to say that this was our family’s modest vacation home but anyone who owns property knows the kind of investment that is and the kind of sacrifices you do to make that happen.  The little money my Grandparents saved during their years working as a school teacher (her) and an insurance sales man (him) they invested in this humble property with the intention of passing it down through the generations.  Like my father, I spent my childhood summers there with my sisters and cousins and it’s a place our family retired to every chance we had.

This is my family’s home. You can see the bed coming through the wall onto the street.

Our neighbor’s beach home. So very sad.

Our other neighbor’s home

Our home BEFORE the storm:

Our home before Hurricane Sandy

Our home AFTER Hurricane Sandy

Our beach home on the New Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy

But as sad and as hard as the recovery will be for my family – we didn’t even get hit with the worst of it.  There are many people who lost their permanent homes or who couldn’t return to their homes for weeks due to flooding and unsafe conditions.  These people were living in the shelters set up in the NYC public schools.  The conditions were terrible – it was not like a ‘forced camping vacation’ by any stretch of the imagination. Many more people were stranded for weeks inside their apartments – especially the elderly and disabled – who couldn’t climb the 5, 12, 15 or more flights of stairs to get in or out of their apartments. They were stranded with no running water, no way to flush their toilets, no heat or food.

There are many recovery efforts underway but you all know how this typically goes … it’s hard for the money to get to the people who really need it.

Not this time!  The whisky community of NYC has rallied together with the amazing leadership of Robin Robinson, the wonderful brand ambassador of Compass Box to unselfishly put together a benefit: a combination 2hr whisky tasting and auction to raise money for the incredible Tunnel2Towers organization.

Click HERE to download the below invite as a PDF

Here’s the info on the tasting portion of the evening

Here’s the info on the INCREDIBLE list of whiskies available at the auction

Just LOOK at that list!!!!!  There are some bottles that will be available for auction that are rarely, if ever, available anywhere else in the world.  People have dug down deep into their private collections to donate some truly remarkable whiskies.

We need to continue to rally.  This is going down THIS SUNDAY

DECEMBER 2nd

4-6pm @ Astor Wines & Spirits

399 Lafayette St. , (at E 4th), NY, NY 10003

I’ll be there pouring Brenne!  It’s only $25 to enter and enjoy what will be an incredible 2 hour tasting & auction event.  Come one, come all!  Support the rebuilding of the greater New York area!

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!!! ONLY $25!

Please share this with anyone you may think might be interested in attending. (And seriously, when else can you attend a whisky tasting event in NYC like this one for only $25?!?)

With love and many thanks,
Allison

You Know You’re A Whisky Geek when..

November 9, 2012 § 20 Comments

This morning, after hanging with 2 incredibly beautiful and also incredibly “geeky” whisky women, I started laughing to myself as I thought about our conversations last night.  I can only imagine what non-whisky people may have thought if they had overheard the three of us rattling on with exuberance about every aspect of whisky production.  Realizing that some may think we’re a bit ‘strange’ but knowing that we are certainly not alone, I write this post for YOU.  My fellow “whisky geeks”

You know you’re a “Whisky Geek” when…

10) All of your tweets end with #whisky AND #whiskey

9) You’ve taken tasting notes again when at a busy, packed bar because you MUST remember what you’re experiencing! (insert eye-roll from spouses & friends everywhere)

8) You know from memory what type of oak all of your favorite whiskies have been in and for how long

7) You know what type of flavors specific varietals of oak attribute to whisky

6) You probably spend the first 5 -10 minutes just nosing your glass before even taking your first sip

5) You consider being called a “whisky geek” a very high compliment

4) You can pantomime with ease the different shapes of stills with your hands

3) You can drink a whisky blindly and guess correctly its age within a year or two up or down

2) You’re heart starts racing with excitement at the thought of talking “yeast strains”

1) You actually use this phrase to describe a whisky: “the ester profile is…”

Come on, I know you have some you want to add … 😉  Share below!

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:

John Allan’s is proud to present The Whisky Dog for a night of wonderful single malt Scotch whisky appreciation.
Join your host and owner of The Whisky Dog, Nicholas M. Pollacchi, Scottish born and bred whisky expert as he walks you through an educational and entertaining tasting of Scotland’s finest exports. Members of John Allan’s who bring guests will also get an opportunity to book in a complimentary visit (a $75 value).
The Glenrothes 1998 Vintage
Tobermory 15 year old
The Macallan 21 year old Fine Oak
Highland Park 25 year old
Ticket price $75 + fee
October 17th, 6pm-8pm
Spaces are limited so purchase your ticket now to avoid disappointment.
Attendees must be of legal drinking age.
John Allan’s Midtown
46 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

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.

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