Review: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Editions Six and Seven

ECBPThe barrel proof expressions of Elijah Craig have certainly cultivated a cult following in its own rite over the past few years. With proofs varying in all sorts of dimensions throughout the series, we figured it was time to take the most recent pair for a test drive.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Edition Six – Each release in the series is 12 years of age, but you certainly wouldn’t know it by the heat of this monster. At 140.2 proof, we’re entering Stagg territories of alcohol content, and boy does it show. Mike Tyson-like punches of wood on the nose with a bit of mint, and the body is all oak, toffee, and pepper. Perfect winter snowstorm drinking, even taking it down a notch with a splash of water. A- / $65

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Edition Seven – A sharp contrast to round six, this weighs in at 128 proof and is by far the runt of the proof litter (most have been firmly in the middle 130s). However, this cut in proof shows just how beautiful and versatile ECBP can get when the heat gets turned down a bit. Lots of vanilla sweetness balanced with some dark fruit and oak on the taste. A little bit of burnt char on the body and it finishes with a fruit and spice after taste and a nice lingering burn. Definitely not the best of the bunch, but far from the worst either. B+ / $65

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Cigar Review: Oliva Serie V Liga Especial Double Toro

Editor’s Note: We’re trying something new here at Drinkhacker in the form of cigar coverage, with a specific focus on spirits pairings. Want more? Let us know your thoughts!

If you’re a cigar connoisseur, there really isn’t a “bad time” or “off season” to be enjoying cigars. But let’s face it, cigar fans: there’s something truly blissful about smoking a cigar outdoors in the cool early spring or late summer evenings. We’re lucky enough to be partnering with our pals at the Famous Smoke Shop for the first installment of a new series pairing some of their favorites with some of ours.

Double Toro

Oliva Serie V Ligero Especial Double Toro – At first I was a bit apprehensive about the Serie V. The Serie G Special G I recently smoked left me a bit underwhelmed, especially given the price paid. However these thoughts were easily and pleasantly remedied by this little number. The reasonably consistent draw brings out warm tones of black pepper, dark cocoa nibs, and rich espresso grounds with very little effort. It’s quite heavy on the smoke produced, so those surrounded by folks with an aversion to cigar smoke may want to find a comfortable place free of protest before indulging.

Suggested Pairings: If you’ve got the bottle, or the money and inclination to find one on the secondary market, this was an absolute perfect match with Booker’s 25. Failing that, the original Booker’s would serve nearly as well. The matching of this strong and very present bourbon helps to bring out the intensity of the Double Toro, and they dance with one another beautifully with every draw and sip. Should Scotch be more along the lines of your tastes, this definitely pairs well with the classic, easy-to-find Lagavulin 16 or the equally venerable Laphroaig 10 year. Finally, beer drinkers will find that the newly released Abyss Aged Stout from Deschutes will bring out the espresso/chocolate notes of the cigar quite nicely.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Jalapa Valley Ligero

A- / $46 (per 5 pack) [BUY IT NOW]

Review: Beers Of West Sixth Brewing

When most drinkers think of Kentucky, bourbon is usually the first word to roll off the tongue. However, the Bluegrass state has quietly enjoyed the emergence of several quality microbreweries over the last few years. In the first of what I hope to be a series, I’ll be traveling through my old Kentucky home to sample what’s happening on the beer scene. First up is West Sixth. The subject of a somewhat comical lawsuit from Magic Hat, West Sixth Brewery has been making some interesting beers in its three years of existence, with several offerings in the development stage that could bring more national attention. Distribution has been limited regionally, but they’re looking to expand later this year. We figured it was a good time to check out the core lineup, as well as a special brew exclusive to its home base bar.

West Sixth Brewing India Pale Ale (IPA) – The inaugural offering from the brewery and the one that spawned the Magic Hat lawsuit, this earthy offering has hints of pine, grass, lemon and some citrus on the back end. A bit of malt comes through at the finish. 7% abv. B+ / $10 (per six-pack)

AmberWest Sixth Brewing Amber Ale –  This is a mildly malted Amber Ale that is big and crisp on rye with a bit of chewiness. A very sharp and savory finish makes it immediately enjoyable and tough to put down. 5.5% abv. A- / $10 (per six-pack)

West Sixth Brewing Lemongrass American Wheat – Like Bell’s Oberon this is a citrus-heavy wheat beer that is incredibly sharp on first taste, but mellows with subsequent sips. Not really sure where the lemongrass is, as the bitter lemon just dominates from start to finish. B- / $10 (per six-pack)

porter-8-300x200West Sixth Brewing Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter – Chocolate mania with a hints of coffee, and the deep winter sibling to Lemongrass American Wheat’s summer overtones. Marketing mythology says that the brewmasters add about 50 to 60 pounds of cocoa nibs per batch — each making around 35 to 40 barrels. After one sip I’m certainly inclined to take this assessment as truth. One of the best of the year round offerings, and a portion of each sale goes to benefit a local charity. 7% abv. B+ / $11 (per six-pack)

West Sixth Brewing Christmas Ale – A beautiful seasonal release, this is a brilliant mix of your typical Christmas beer fare: cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of ginger all dancing around with some citrus and cloves for good measure. Incredibly well balanced, and I wish it was available year round. 9% abv. A- / $18 (per six-pack)

BelgianWest Sixth Brewing Belgian Style Blonde – This one was just released this past week, and it was a pleasant surprise to discover this while in the midst of sampling the other releases. Very much in the traditional Belgian form, this is quite crisp with lots of sweetness when compared to other options available, with much more emphasis on yeast than malt. A bit of pepper on the back end with an easy finish. Might be an ideal place for the newcomer to the brand to start and work their way inwards. A- / $11 (per six-pack)

Review: Old Grand-Dad Bonded

OGDBIBIt’s back with a (sort-of) new look. The bourbon created by Basil Hayden to salute his grandpappy has been given a bit of a facelift and a new nudge into the spotlight. There’s been a quiet murmur about some of the selling points within the marketing of this reboot, and a very detailed and excellent history behind the brand (as well as some marketing missteps) can be found courtesy of one Chuck Cowdery, a long time Old Grand-Dad supporter and venerable author.

Discussion of history and artifacts aside, let’s crack this open.

Thankfully, it’s the same as it ever was and they did no tinkering to the mash as far as I can tell. Gratuitous vanilla throughout mixed with a light blend of citrus and corn. Not blasting or intrusive, but quite light with an easy finish and traces of caramel. At $25 its still a fantastic value, and lord knows how many of those will be readily available in the distant future.

100 proof.

A- / $25 / beamsuntory.com

Recipe: St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails 2015

So once again St. Patrick’s Day seems to present us with an onslaught of recipes courtesy of brands, PR folks, bartenders, and loyal readers. No matter where in the world St. Patty’s is celebrated, it seems to bring out the best in every drinker, professional, and amateur.

Sláinte de la Noche
1 ½ parts Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
1 ½ parts coffee liqueur
¼ part vanilla syrup
1 part heavy cream

To make vanilla syrup, mix together 1 part sugar, 1 part water and 1 part vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and cool before serving (approximately 1-2 minutes). Combine all ingredients in a glass and serve.

liam

Liam Neeson
2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
.5 oz Ardbeg 10 year old Scotch
.5 oz Drambuie
3 dashes of bitters
Splash of sweet vermouth

Shake and pour over ice into highball glass. Garnish with lemon twist and mint.

Whoops-a-Daisy
2 oz. Knappogue Castle Single Malt Irish Whiskey 12 year old
2 oz. Chamomile tea
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. orange sherbet
2 dashes Absinthe
2 dashes Bittermens Boston Bittahs
1/4 oz. King’s Ginger Liqueur
Bar spoon Combier Rose

Add all ingredients (excluding the chamomile tea) to a mixing tin.Add ice and shake. Double strain into an ice filled highball glass. Top with 2 oz. of chamomile tea. Garnish with an orange slice.

6_WILDE_OSCARWilde Oscar
1 oz. Guinness Extra Stout
1.5 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
.5 oz. Rich Simple Syrup
Dash of Botanical Bitters

Stir all ingredients in an ice filled mixing glass. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube. This cocktail is also delicious when made with the signature Guinness Draught. Garnish with a large orange peel and maraschino cherry.

CelticCeltic Climber
2 parts Svedka Colada
¾ part fresh lime juice
½ part simple syrup
1 brown sugar cube
Top with club soda
Garnish with mint

Place 1 brown sugar cube in the glass and cover with a splash of club soda. Cover with mint leaves and use a muddler to break the sugar and club soda into a paste without tearing the leaves. Add fresh lime juice, simple syrup and crushed ice until ¾ full. Add Svedka Colada and swizzle. Add more crushed ice until conical. Garnish lavishly with mint sprigs and lemon.

LeapLeprechaun Leap
1 oz Ketel One Vodka
.5 oz Ginger Liqueur
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.50 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 Kiwi (Peeled)

Muddle kiwi. Add ingredients. Shake. Strain over fresh ice.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.19.2015 – Beam Heads To Handcrafted Court

Screen shot 2015-02-19 at 12.01.06 PMWhat’s in a name? Apparently quite a bit when it comes to lawyers looking to cash in on a claim. Jim Beam joins labelmate Maker’s Mark along with Angel’s Envy, Tito’s Vodka, and Templeton Rye as the latest class action complaint filed against spirits makers claiming products to be “handmade” or “handcrafted.” Plaintiff Scott Welk alleges that Beam Suntory “duped him into paying a premium price for a product whose production resembles “a modern day assembly line involving little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement.”

The filing (which we have here in PDF form) also states in somewhat hyperbolic fashion that Beam is “immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous and/or substantially injurious.” But it’s not all bad news over in Beam-Suntory land: a recent report over at Shanken claims the company’s sales rose 40% with last year’s acquisition. [Lexington Herald Leader]

Keeping up with its commitment to acquire, innovate, and please Pumpkin Peach ale drinkers, Budweiser is reviving a recipe that’s been dormant for decades. Faust beer is currently available only in St. Louis, but a nationwide rollout is slated for this year, presumably right after the roll out for MixxTail . [Good Beer Hunting]

Similar in spirit to Bud’s anti-craft message comes this gem from Pernod Ricard’s new CEO, Alexander Ricard, is wasting no time in taking shots at the craft industry. He’s also not shy about his goal to take Diageo down a notch or two and position Pernod as the world’s #1 non-craft spirits company. [FT]

And finally today in science news: science and health publisher BMJ is now stating that past studies may have exaggerated the benefits of alcohol, and spending long amounts of time on Facebook makes you drink more. This would be as good a time as any to remind everyone that we’re over on Twitter: @drinkhacker.  [Business Insider]

Recipe: National Margarita Day Cocktails 2015

It may seem somewhat peculiar to have a drink-iday for Margaritas in the depths of winter, but on the upside: maybe it’s a teaser to help everyone get through a rather brutal season and make our way to a warmer spring and summer. Either way, here are a few recipes we have received and tested for National Margarita Day (Feb. 22).

cucumberCucumber Lavender Margarita
(courtesy of Tortilla Republic, West Hollywood)
2 oz. Casa Noble Tequila (or other 100% agave silver tequila)
2-3 ½ inch cucumber slices, muddled
1.5 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
0.75 oz. lavender-infused simple syrup

(Note: the recipe says to soak 4-5 sprigs of lavender in simple syrup for 2-3 days. We only did it for a day and it seemed to work out OK.)

Shake. Pour into a 12.5 oz. glass on rocks. Garnish with cucumber and fresh lavender blossoms.

HeartsHearts & Tarts
(courtesy of Tart, Los Angeles)
1 Jalapeño Slice
1 1/2 oz. El Silencio mezcal
3/4 oz. passion fruit syrup
3/4 oz. orange Curaçao
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

In a mixing glass, with a muddler press a jalapeño slice. Add rest of ingredients, add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

pineappleThe Veracruzana Pineapple Margarita
2 parts Milagro Reposado Tequila
¾ part agave nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
4 pineapple chunks
2 basil leaves

Muddle pineapple and basil leaves in a Boston shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish cocktail with pineapple and basil.

SageSpicy Sage Margarita
2 oz. Avión silver tequila
3/4 oz. jalapeño-infused elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
3 sage leaves
1 sage leaf and salt for garnish

(Note: out of impatience we skipped infusing the jalapeño and just muddled a few rings instead. Worked OK.)

Muddle sage in a shaker. Add all ingredients. Shake. Double strain. Pour over ice in salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with sage leaf.

camusCamus-rita
2 oz. CAMUS VS Elegance
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. triple sec

(Note: We’re well aware that margaritas commonly use tequila, but this was a nice enough variant to warrant inclusion.)

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into glass, garnish with slime of lime.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.17.2015 – 1792 Gets Upgraded For 2015

1792-bottle-smAnother day, another makeover: this time we see Barton’s 1792 expression getting an overhaul on the packaging and marketing, resembling something heavily influenced by early 20th century/Art Deco aesthetic. While we’re assured that the ingredients inside haven’t changed, this is also the kick off to a campaign featuring new varieties of 1792 including Single Barrel, Barrel Strength, High Rye, and Sweet Wheat somewhere in the not too distant future. Barton has also updated its website to reflect the new campaign. [1792]

The Wall Street Journal‘s Lettie Teague takes on ten myths commonly told in the wine world and attempts to find the truth behind each one. Veteran vino drinkers won’t find anything new here, but folks new to wine may find this article useful to keep in mind while looking for their next bottle at a shop. Elsewhere, Business Insider tells us about the 9 types of wine we really ought to be drinking. [WSJ]

Bourbonr reports on the arrival of new 17 year old Wild Turkey. “Master’s Keep” comes in at a paltry 86.8 proof, with some cryptic notes on the label and the bold slogan “crafted with conviction.” No word on release date yet, nor price tag. [Bourbonr]

Got C$140,000 to spare? If so, Dalmore’s got your next investment ready to roll! The Spirits Business is reporting that the Signature Liquor Store in Vancouver has a set of four single malts ranging from 42 to 46 years in age for sale starting today. By comparison, it is important to keep in mind that C$140,000 was the last going price for the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey franchise. Oh, Canada! [The Spirits Business]

And finally today, our pals over Winebags.com do a heck of a job with their Vine Daily columns, and this infographic detailing how the world’s alcohol is made is simply outstanding. Worth pouring a glass of your favorite and studying over a long period of time. [The Daily Vine]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 02.13.2015

Hello and welcome to the 81st edition of the Drinkhacker Shopping List, our semi-regular look back compiling the best and worst ratings on products we’ve reviewed over the last few weeks. We’ve got lots to choose from for every palate, and more than one with high marks guaranteed to warm the coldest of bodies in the depths of this cold winter.

TheList021315

Recipe: Valentine’s Day Cocktails 2015

We’ve got two days until Valentine’s Day. Much like last year, it appears most of the nation will be in a deep freeze, so here’s the best of the best recipes we’ve received (and we received a record number this year) to warm hearts and souls before you soldier forth to see Fifty Shades of Grey.

AmourAmour de Amatitán
1 ½ oz. Blue Nectar Silver
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. crème de cacao
2 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

DarkSecret

Botran Dark Secret
1.5 oz. Botran Solera 1893
1 oz. simple syrup
1 egg white
1 oz. Port
3 ice cubes
1 strawberry (for garnish)

Shake and strain over ice into a cocktail glass. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry.

XOXOXOXOXOXO
1.5 oz. Hennessy VS
.5 oz. Antica Formula sweet vermouth
.5 oz. Crème Yvette
Splash of simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters
3 muddled Black Cherries
1/8th of a lemon
Fresh grated cinnamon
Cherry (for garnish)

Muddle cherries and lemon wedge in a shaker tin. Add all liquid to shaker with ice, shake until well chilled. Strain into glass with large ice cube. Grate cinnamon over the top and garnish with a cherry.

RoseGardenKetel One Rose Garden
1.5 oz. Ketel One Vodka
.5 oz. Pom Juice
.25 oz. fresh lemon juice
.50 oz. simple syrup
Soda water
Mint leaf (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice into a collins glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with a mint leaf. Continue reading