Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

Assuming you believe in Santa Claus; was he good to you this year? I have no complaints as I received a couple of very nice gifts of bourbon and beer. A couple weeks back I mentioned my Christmas list and what I was looking for on Saturday. For bourbon, I was gifted the newest release of Parkers Heritage Collection along with two bottles of vintage bourbon; early 70’s Ancient Age 86 proof and early 70’s Cream of Kentucky. To say I was excited about these three bottles would be an understatement. Along with the bourbon I was also gifted a Firestone Walker 14th Anniversary. This beer is a blend of various barrels to achieve a particular flavor profile. I have not opened it yet but I know those that have and the accolades are noteworthy.

Christmas was very nice this year. I can’t say relaxing because I didn’t really take extra time off and having a large family in the area, we had 24 people for Christmas dinner. During and after dinner we enjoyed some very nice libations that included beer; Noel des Geants, Ommegang Three Philosophers, Southern Tier Choklat and La Chouffe. Each beer was unique and delicious. We also enjoyed a 2006 Weller Antique, Cream of Kentucky and a Redbreast 15 year.

If you received or enjoyed something nice this Christmas, let us know what it was. You’ll see the next Global Tippler up sometime this week. I’m over the Flu and Cold and ready to get back on the virtual road.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Global Tippler – accosted by seasonal flu

I'm down for the count. I usually avoid the flu each season but this year it hit me with a vengeance and I've been laid up for the last 5 days. I think I'm at the tail end and in the hopes of such, I did take a little nip of a 2010 limited release of Old Weller Antique and it was nasty. I then tried a Rock Hill Farms and the same results….nasty. My palate is shot for the time being so the virtual vacation is on hold. More to come……

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Global Tippler – Irish Whiskey

I'm gonna throw you a curve ball and talk about an Irish whiskey that is very hard get. My goal with the Global Tippler was to present some interesting whiskeys whether availability was narrow or broad and in the case of this whiskey, it's pretty stinking narrow. My foray into Irish whiskey started out with a very good example discovered in Redbreast 12 year and I found it to be such an interesting whiskey, I only wanted more. The pot still character of many Irish whiskies makes it a very unique pour which really intrigued to me.

Mitchell and Son is a long standing establishment found in Dublin Ireland that got its start in 1805. Mitchell and Son began purchasing whiskey from Jameson around the 1920's that had been aged in Sherry casks for approximately 5 years, the whiskey was then vatted and aged for an additional five years before being sold as a 10 year bonded whiskey. Originally called Pat Whiskey because the label had a picture an Irish gentleman in a green jacket, the name was eventually changed to Green Spot, as it's sold today. Today's offering is a blend of 7 and 8 year old whiskey with 25% of the distillate aged in Sherry Casks. At 80 proof, it's a light drinker but still exhibits lots of flavor. Jim Murray described it as "unquestionably one of the world's great whiskies". Well, I can't say I've had all of the world's great whiskies but his point is well taken; Green Spot is an excellent example of a pure pot still Irish whiskey that deserves a spot on any top shelf.

Color: Light golden hue. Like the color very much

Nose: A mix of odors ranging from light sherry, honey, menthol and maybe pear

Entry: On entry, there's a burst of flavors that makes me believe the nose fibbed to me. The sherry makes its presence known right up front and then subsides to a honeyed, floral quality. Very slight drying around mid palate

Finish: The mid palate transitions to something reminiscent of Concord grape, turning mildly sour, but not in an unpleasant way. The sourness lingers and then diminishes leaving you with a small smile on your lips.

I shy away from giving whiskies numerical ratings so all I'll say is this particular whiskey is up there on my "gotta have" list. If you like Redbreast or pot still whiskies, the Green Spot will……well, hit the spot.

Name: Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Distillery: Jameson – Midleton

Availability: Very limited. About 500 cases per year and can found in Ireland, the UK and Canada. If there are other locations, let me know.

Price: Around $75 US (not including shipping)

Size: 700ml with TE screw cap

American writer Oliver Herford once said "The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven't seen the joke yet." Next stop, the land of bagpipes, mens skirts and lots of good Scottish whisky.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Global Tippler – Canadian Whisky

I have confession to make; I'm no expert on Canadian whisky. Historically, Canadian whiskies are blended and very easy drinkers, e.g. Crown Royal, Canadian Club. A relative of mine gifted me a bottle of Crown Royal, purple felt bag and all. The box, bag and bottle sit in the back of the bunker unopened. I was reading some reviews of drinkers and the theme is smooth and easy……yawn….boring. I don't mean to sound like a snob but a blended whisk(e)y at 80 proof is just too darn light; no wonder it's smooth and easy, it has no chutzpah.

Dave Pickerell's brainchild Whistlepig, while Canadian, is anything but smooth and easy. At 100% unmalted rye and 100 proof it is brazen and vibrant. Aged for 10 years in new oak barrels, this whiskey (which is spelled with the extra "e" even though it's Canadian) is bottled in Vermont. This is a unique product because it's 100% rye which is typically used for blending in Canadian whiskies. American rye by comparison is at least 51% rye with the remaining mashbill made up of corn and about 5% barley. Bottling something like this was a bold move and maybe somewhat risky but Dave hit the ball out of the park on this one.

Color: Moderate golden hue.

Nose: Mint/Wintergreen. Wow! Undertones of honey vanilla, citrus

Entry: Blast of spice and sweetness. Amazing flavor profile. Distinguishing

Finish: Long and lingering. Wonderful

Whistlepig will retail for about $70 and I would typically shy away from something in this price range but I'll go out on a limb and say get a bottle if you're a lover of Rye whiskey. This one will not disappoint. Let's hope that Dave's Whistlepig is not a one hit wonder but will be something that remains an amazing offering.

Name: Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

Distiller: Provenance unknown but listed as Whistlepig Farm Distillery

Availability: Limited markets

Price: High

Size: 750ml bottle with cork stopper

Next stop, we head across the pond and stop off in Ireland. Sl√°inte!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday (ABV) Bourbon Cake

Caution: Do not eat and drive!

I made this bourbon cake last year and shared it with other enthusiasts during a Christmas gathering. I think if we had forgone the bourbon and just had cake, it would have been enough alcohol for the evening as this cake is soaked in bourbon……YUM!

Another word of caution, using lots of bourbon while making this cake can lead to tippling during cooking. This is a very dense cake, sort of like fruit cake without the nasty fruit. Johnny Carson once said "The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other." This is not that cake. I really enjoyed a slice of this cake in the morning with my coffee, only problem was, I had to have my wife drive me to work.

If you want to impress your friends and neighbors with an awesome holiday cake….give this one a shot.

1 c butter -- softened
2 c sugar
4 c flour -- sifted
4 ea eggs
1 lb pecan pieces
1 1/2 lb white or golden raisins (if you want to get crazy, soak the raisins in bourbon for 48 hrs)
1 c bourbon
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 275F. Sift 1 cup flour and mix with nuts and raisins. Sift remaining flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and soda together. Grease a tube pan and coat inside with light coating of flour.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next one. Alternately add bourbon and flour. Add nuts and raisins.

Pour into tube pan and bake 3 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly.

Sprinkle generously with additional bourbon and wrap in aluminum foil with a couple of apple wedges to keep it moist. Each weekend leading up to Christmas, unwrap cake and sprinkle again with additional bourbon. You can make this cake 4 weeks in advance, depending on how soaked in bourbon you want it.

When I made this cake, I basted it with Very Old Barton BIB for a full three weeks before serving which made the cake a no smoking zone. If you make it, let me know how it turns out.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Global Tippler – American Whiskey

Before departing on the virtual whiskey vacation, I'm going to start right here in my own backyard so to speak. Well, actually Kentucky could be my backyard since at one point, it was part of Virginia. I digress. My whiskey introduction started with bourbon many, many years ago and my love of bourbon and rye grew exponentially. My goal is to select an example of good American whiskey that can still be found on retail shelves but also is not a run of the mill, mass produced expression. I wanted an American whiskey that exhibited a degree of quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year "Lot B" is a bourbon I've kept in my bunker for many years. To me, it stands out as an above average pour and is unique in its flavor profile as one of its flavoring grains is wheat versus rye, it's moderately aged and is proofed at an easy 90.4.

Color: Dark golden honey with hues of orange

Nose: Caramel, baking spices like cinnamon and cloves, oak

Entry: Sweet with baking spices, tinges of leather and mildly tannic

Finish: Sweetness diminishes with leather and mild char coming through at the end. Moderately long finish

This is not a big bruiser of a bourbon. Its cousin Pappy 15 (one of my favorites) is aged 3 additional years and has about 17 extra proof points on it. The Lot B is more refined and approachable; almost encouraging the drinker to take another sip, and yet another. This is a very pleasing bourbon with no off notes. I wouldn't say this is widely available, but shouldn't be too difficult to find. My only criticism is the price which here in my area runs $50.

Name: Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year "Lot B"

Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY

Availability: Good

Price: Fair

Size: 750ml bottle with cork stopper

Next up, I'll be travelling to Canada (ok, not really) and we'll be trying a whisky that is actually bottled here in the U.S. but is pure Canadian Rye.

Global Tippler (no, not the pigeon)

My fondness for whiskey isn’t any secret and as such I have a collection that would put most liquor stores to shame. In my defense, I have friends who are also fellow enthusiasts that blow away my hoard so I don’t feel out of control just yet. My open bottle collection hovers around 60 bottles of various bourbons, rye’s, Tennessee, Irish, Scotch, Indian and Japanese whiskies and making a decision some nights on what to pour is a chore. Last night, I was all over the whisk(e)y map. I started out sipping on a Japanese whisky then moved on to bourbon and finished the evening with Irish. I was a world traveler and didn’t leave the house. It got me thinking and I thought it would be fun to blog about different whisk(e)y expressions the world over. Now, I can only write about what I have in my bunker but I think I have a decent representation of the world of whiskies.

I’ll be starting off here on my home turf and write about an American bourbon or rye whiskey. After that it’s wheels up and we’ll be landing in Canada and visit one of the best expression of Canadian Rye I’ve ever had. After that we’ll head to Europe and then shoot on down to India and finish up our trip to Japan. So pack your flask, bring your snuggly and off we go.