Tag Archives: whiskey

“Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom” Launch

Moving to New York City from a state flowing with craft brews, local spirits, and wines lining either side of the highway through the heart of Texas Hill Country, I didn’t believe there was a land more proud of their distilleries. Texas is a state that wears its pride on its sleeve as a badge of honor; whereas, New York is the kid everyone knew was talented, but now they’re charming everyone with a whole new bag of tricks.

Wednesday night, All the Tastes of New York threw an intimate launch party at Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse to kick off their book, Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom by Heather Dolland. The evening featured tastings from over 20 local craft distillers along with passed hors d’oeuvres and first-hand discussion on the importance of “Farm to Glass” movement. Guests enjoyed sips of gin, moonshine, vodka, cider, bourbon, and more… each went down smoothly with a bite of slider and helping of chicken parm. My favorite cocktail of the night goes to a spicy blend of Port Morris moonshine muddled with jalapeño dubbed the “Salma Hayek”. However, I could sip (or gulp) a whole bottle of Sorel, the wheat spirit distilled with hibiscus, ginger, nutmeg, cassia and clove, and sweetened with cane sugar from distillery Jack from Brooklyn.

The book Discovering the New York Craft Spirits Boom dives deeply into the movement “Farm to Glass”, sharing the journey of 30 craft distillers, their journey to success, and what it means to grow locally in terms of spirits. The book is set to release on July 4, 2015 for $29.95 and will be available through retailers such as Amazon.com. You may not be able to get your hands on a copy just yet, but you can read below to gain a little insight into Heather’s background, what this “Farm to Glass” movement is all about, and what you should be sipping on this summer.

Could you give me a little more of your background and how you got into the wine and spirits industry? What interests you most about it? I am the founder and owner of All The Tastes of New York, a startup firm that organizes and hosts themed “food crawl” dining experiences at some of Manhattan’s top restaurants. Launched in 2012, All the Tastes of New York enables groups of eight to 30 participants to enjoy appetizers, entrees and desserts at three restaurants within walking distance of each other.

For more than 8 years, I was also a Brand Ambassador for many premium wine and spirit brands. Working with these brands and creating Food and Wine Festivals to promote them, led to my awareness of the increasing number of distillers in New York State. After getting to know many of these craft distillers, I was inspired to tell their story.

What do you hope to achieve with your book? By writing this book, I will like to aid in the awareness of what it means to be a craft distiller and help support this budding New York industry. Because my business focuses on promoting brands, my desire is that we can grow together.

What is your connection to the “Farm to Glass” movement? Why do you think the importance is behind it? For years we have heard about eating local and the farm to table movement. Now with the influx of craft distillers, we are able to drink local and embrace the farm to glass movement. It’s important to remember that the Farm Distillery Act that passed in 2007 to make distilling easier in New York State, was about allowing farmers to increase the value of their crops. Many of these distillers make Vodka and Gin distilled from New York apples and Whiskey and Bourbon from New York corn. A large number of these distillers come from generations of farmers.

What is your go-to drink and food pairing? I really do not have a ‘go-to’ food and drink pairing. I have a tremendous love of food and drinks. Most of this is the joy of creativity and exploring new tastes and flavors. I rarely eat the same food and drink combination because I thrive on new experiences!

Do you have a favorite spot in the city to grab a drink? One of my favorite spots to have a drink is Middle Branch. A speakeasy in Murray Hill.

What is your top summer cocktail recipe? I am very fond of Tequila and generally spicy cocktails. My top summer cocktail is a Passion Fruit Margarita with Jalapenos.

All The Tastes of New York
allthetastesofnewyork.com
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Discovering The New York Craft Spirits Boom
Pre-order/purchase at Amazon.com

 

Women in Whiskey

Jim Beam. Booker Noe. Evan Williams. Henry McKenna. John Jameson. Hiram Walker. The list goes on. The whisk(e)y industry is seemingly dominated by men, and I was given another chance to appreciate that at the “Women in Whisk(e)y” event at Sissy’s. We heard from the following:

  • Victoria MacRae-Samuels, Vice President of Operations at Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • Vicky Stevens, Global Brand Ambassador for Laphroaig Scotch Whisky
  • Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club Whisky
  • Stella Lacken, Brand Ambassador for Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

With the smell of Sissy’s delicious fried chicken hanging in the air, the women shared their paths to their current positions with their respective brands along with how their love of whiskey was forged. I was happy to share with Victoria after that my mother was actually the person who turned me on to whiskey (she’s a huge Maker’s fan) … she even gave me Whiskey Women for Christmas, which they all recommended we read.

WIN FOR DALLAS: Tish from Canadian Club even let us know the women in Dallas are ahead of the WORLD when it comes to their love of whiskey.  (Way to go, ladies.)

To get us through the late lunch, Sissy’s served us some goodies. Along with some of Sissy’s delicious bites, we were treated to tastings of Maker’s 46, Laphroaig, Canadian Club Sherry Cask, and Kilbeggan and cocktails made with each.

To continue the day of awesomeness, I was lucky enough to stop by the Maker’s Mark happy hour at Bolsa that they put on for their local ambassadors. (P.S. If you’re not an ambassador, sign up now.)  While there, I had another chance to chat with Victoria from Maker’s Mark and she deemed to snap a picture for me to send to my mom. (HI, MOM!)

The day of awesomeness ended with dinner at Smoke, where we were treated a traditional Scottish song to start the night.  (Don’t you love his kilt?)  Each delicious and well seasoned course of BBQ was accompanied by tastings of the four whiskeys and cocktails that showed off how they lend themselves to mixing, and we were treated to another round of addresses from the whiskey women.

Ké Spirits’ wKé

College taught me a number of things, but one of its most important lessons was my love for whiskey. It’s an acquired taste that began as a means to drink with the boys and developed into my own guilty pleasure. I like it over ice or with a splash of ginger ale.

Typically, whiskey offers a slight bite with some smoky, woody qualities. Particularly, Ké Spirits’ Whiskey (wKé) delivers a rich, smooth flavor of grain and wild flower that brings a lasting bite. It’s a strong, but pleasing aroma of elements.

Ké describes its grain components as an uncommon combination that is processed by slicing, rolling, and in some cases, crushing them to capture and retain the unique flavors. Then comes the two-phase fermentation process in which the temperature and environment are closely controlled. Lastly, the liquids are distilled through small handmade copper pot stills in a two-phase copper distillation column. This lends hand to its opulent caramel color.

The legend of Ké Spirits originates in the late 1400s when the art of distillation made its way to Ireland. Irish Catholic monks used it to craft a beverage, whiskey, (“water of life” in English). It was made quickly and crudely to offer a barely drinkable solution. Then, in 1498 Padraig Barry discovered a grain process that turned young, hardly drinkable whiskey into a surprisingly rich and smooth beverage.

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Fast forward 470 years, Joe Barry learns of secret family stories detailing the mysterious “Ké” distillation that generations before him worked to protect from kings, invaders, thieves, and raiders. After retiring in 2007, Joe Barry journeyed to Ireland to unveil the truth of “Ké.” For the next five years he worked with distillers to recreate the original process himself and now offers three varieties: Ké (vodka), tKé (tequila), and wKé (whiskey).

Keep warm by the fire with a glass straight. If that doesn’t do the trick, here is a recipe provided by Ké spirits for a wKé Irish Coffee:

unnamed-18wKé IRISH COFFEE
1 ½ oz wKé
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
Fresh Whipped Cream
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, or Chocolate

Combine wKé, coffee, and brown sugar in a warm Irish coffee glass and stir until sugar is dissolved. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate.

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**Disclaimer: This bottle of joy was provided to me by Ké spirits**

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey

written by William Merkel

Whiskey is one of my favorite beverages. Almost 100% of the time I drink it straight with no ice so I can enjoy the flavor, smell, and subtleties of a good, stiff drink. Another one of my favorite things is Texas. So when I got a chance to try Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey I was preeettty … pretty stoked.

imageMade in Texas (more specifically, Carrollton) by JEM Beverage Co. The process is started with pure Texas water and then whiskey is aged in new charred American Oak Barrels and then bottled at 82.4 proof (yesssss). Each small batch is hand-bottled (and “hand tasted”) to ensure each and every bottle is up to snuff.

Proceeds from each bottle sold go to Texas Native Wildlife Conservation (which I am happy to support since I go to state parks regularly). The bottles are all silkscreened with the pictures of the animals that the conservation is helping to protect. (And they look pretty awesome.)

Put your nose to the glass and you will smell sweet, floral notes with a slightly strong alcohol smell. The taste is also slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and has a nice potency in your throat as it goes down your gullet. Also noticeable is one of my favorite things about whiskey is the oak. You can literally taste the barrels that it was aged in, and I love that. The oak may be a bit overpowering for some people, but for me it hit the mark. Overall, it is not too complex a whiskey, but had enough complexity to make it interesting.  In short: I would buy this.

The price is around $30 for a 750ml, and yes, I know you can get other great whiskeys around this price point like Bulleit or Old Forester Kentucky, but give Red River a chance and you may have a new top choice of what to drink when cuddling an empty glass. And don’t forget, it’s made in Texas.  GO TEXAN.

Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey
$30 for 750mL bottle
jembevco.com/redriver.html

About JEM: JEM Beverage Co. produces Red River in Original (reviewed above), young rye, and Canadian.  They also product Western Son Vodka, Southern Son flavored vodkas, Stingray Spiced Rum, and South House Moonshine (both original and flavored), 

2 Gingers Whiskey

 

My favorite people are those that are passionate about something and go after it.  I was pleased to sit down for a few drinks (ahem, a liquid lunch) at Barter with Kieran Folliard, creator of 2 Gingers Whiskey, on his way through Dallas on his US tour in a branded Airstream trailer.  His mother and aunt inspired the name, and the rest came naturally.

Growing up in West Ireland, Kieran worked in a bar where “there were only ever two ingredients in a drink, and one of them was a glass.”  He’s in Minnesota now and decided to get back to his roots by “flogging whiskey to the Yanks” at his own bar.  He then realized that the thing that would differentiate his bar from the others would be creating whiskey cocktails that were as quick as pouring a beer and not too much steeper in price.  (Challenge.)  He created a list of whiskey cocktails, trademarked them, and then decided that he wanted more consistency … and he’d ultimately get it by creating his own whiskey blend.

tumblr_inline_n409aoz2fC1qzfwapLest you think that Kieran is some rogue Minnesotan who tried his hand at some moonshine, note that 2 Gingers was acquired by Beam, Inc. in December 2012 and is currently the fastest growing whiskey brand on the market.  So there.

2 Gingers Whiskey is smooth and had a sweeter finishing note when enjoyed on its own (almost caramel-y).  In the drinks that Rocco (Barter’s bar manager) served, the 2 Gingers stood out without slapping you in the face (even though it’s a usually hefty 80 proof).  (I had to force myself to stop drinking the Skinny Ginger, Big Ginger, and others for fear I’d be unable to function for the remainder of the day if I didn’t.)  My go-to summer drink will be the Big Ginger (recipe below), no question. 2Gs is distilled only twice (instead of the usual three) so the flavor would really stand up in the cocktails, and is aged four years instead of the typical 2-3.  The finish has less burn to it thanks to this process.

The bottle itself is quite nice, and features the likenesses of Kieran’s mother and aunt.  The best part of the bottle, though, is the serving instructions: “drink with friends or with ice.”  Amen.

I plied the recipe for “the perfect Irish Coffee” out of him (which is really a thing in Ireland and not like French fries to the French), and he suggested the steps below:

  • Start with a warm glass (rinse it with warm water, then dry)
  • Pour in some 2 Gingers Whiskey (obvi) as its taste will stand out more since it’s distilled TWICE
  • brown sugar or a bit of simple syrup
  • a TINGE of Guinness
  • QUALITY strong coffee
  • homemade, thick hand-whipped cream made with quality cream

BIG GINGER
– Fill a Collins glass with ice
– Pour 2 parts 2 Gingers over ice
– Top up with ginger ale
– Serve with lemon and lime wedge
– Drink up.

2 Gingers is available in most local liquor stores, and ask for it at your local bar!  Other excellent cocktail recipes courtesy of 2 Gingers can be found on their website, 2gingerswhiskey.com.

Sláinte!

Quick facts:
2 Gingers Whiskey
WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
80 proof
Suggested price: $19.99 for 750ml

2013  Laphroaig Cairdeas: Port Wood Edition 

Scents: Smoke, Rhubarb, Pepper, Citrus, Berries, Flowers/Potpourri, Peanuts, Chocolate & Cream

Flavors: Smoked Wood, Charcoal, Pepper, Flowers, Cream, Berries, Citrus

Thoughts:  Before I get too deep into this “review”, I must be honest… I am much more versed in the whiskey/bourbon area than scotch. Being that I am a novice in the subject of scotch, my thoughts may seem a bit uneducated to all you scotch connoisseurs out there, but I hope you find this review somewhat useful.

My first thought at the crack of the bottle was how intense the aroma of the scotch was. I could almost immediately recognize several of the distinct flavors from the scent like smoked woods, charcoal, fruits, flowers and more. The color the scotch is similar to numerous whiskey and bourbons I am used to with a slight pink hue to it. After my analysis of the sights and smells, I was ready to have my first sip!

Along with several coworkers, I, generously, poured the scotch over some ice. The scent seemed to open up quite nicely at this point. Once it touched my lips, I immediate felt the power of this scotch! The peat “explosion” was very intense and hit very fast. This took me by surprise, so I had to have another sip just to truly analyze how it is tastes. Intense smokey peat was the first flavor to hit, then the peppery, fruity yet floral-esque cream flavors piggy-backed the end of the peat explosion. That may seem weird to list all those things, but they all truly fight for your attention (even though the peat wins every time in my book).

This seems like a scotch I would enjoy after eating a hardy steak, BBQ or any smoked meal. I can imagine sitting around a campfire with some bros and drinking this with a cigar in hand after eating some BBQ. Check it out and judge for yourself. Needless to say … this’ll get ya drunk.

Reviewed by Enrico DeLeon III (of Brunch Bros fame)

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Boozy Advent Calendars
We’ve all done the chocolate calendar, but this is a fun twist to gift to the alcohol aficionado in your life.  Each little door reveals a 3cL sample of different alcohol (you can pick whisky or gin).  By December 24, you’ll have swigged 72cL of delicious spirits .  BONUS: one whisky door holds a 50 year old single malt Scotch.  This gives the term “holiday spirit” a whole new meaning.  Order ASAP so they don’t miss a day!

$128.01 (gin) or $240.08 (whisky) per calendar
MastersofMalt.com

alcohol advent calendar

 

BevShots Scarf
Why not make your drink a fashion statement?  Bevshots has items, from coasters to canvas prints, adorned with your favorite drink’s picture … magnified.  The scarves are large enough to be worn many ways and are available in many different drink prints (shown on the right in “Black Russian”).

$44.99 per scarf (currently on sale for $37.99)
Bevshots.com or (
850)807-0507

bevshots scarf

The Original Whiskey Ball
A whiskey ball maker is a staple for any whiskey drinker’s bar (err … freezer?).  A larger piece of ice means your beverage will stay cold longer, without melting the ice as fast (therefore, no more watery whiskey!)  I have a set of these and LOVE them.  I always keep a couple frozen balls on-hand … because you never know when Don Draper could stop by.

$23.95 (set of two molds)
TheWhiskeyBall.com 
(a cheaper alternative to last year’s)

Original Whiskey Ball

ALTUZARRA Collection from the Target + Nieman Marcus CFDA Collaboration
A luxurious-looking glass makes a drink taste more intriguing (or does it?).  Get a great set of glasses from Zara Home.  Take a tip from Southern Living and mix-and-match!

Black Tray – $79.99, Double Old Fashioned Glasses – $49.99 (set of 4), Cocktail Shaker $49.99
Target stores starting December 1 or on Target.com starting December 1 at 12:01am

image

Homemade Infused Liquors
A personal and thoughtful gift.  Use your imagination to come up with flavors.  Southern Living’s Apple Pie Infused Bourbon sounds tasty, no?  Here’s how I made it.

Get unique bottles from SpecialtyBottle.com 

Cynthia Rowley Flask Bangle
C’est magnifique!  Available in gold or chrome, this statement piece has been souped-up and made functional (well, functional for a boozehound).  At Fashion Week in NY this year, Cynthia Rowley showed off these boozy bangles in her Spring 2013 line … and I swooned.  If anyone wants to gift one of these to me in gold, I’d be forever grateful.

$225 per bangle
CynthiaRowley.com

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Booze.
A never-fail gift, giving someone a thoughtfully-chosen spirit is sure to raise his.  My go-to liquor store is Sigel’s on Greenville.  Ask for Ruben.  Don’t forget the bow.

Sigel’s, 5757 Greenville Ave