Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.28.2014 – Whiskey Cats Rule Edition

It’s a commonly known fact that cats are the glue which keeps the internet together and running in ship-shape. What’s lesser known is that cats are also responsible for keeping bourbon distilleries safe, making sure at night that mice/unsavory folk never help themselves in the warehouses (fact: cats can also call 911). So it was with great sadness when we learned of the passing of Elijah, the 19 year old guardian cat of Woodford Reserve. Named after one of the founding fathers of bourbon, Elijah was often a presence on the Woodford Reserve tours, and we can recall many a time when we’d see him basking in the sun, eyeballing suspicious tourists, or barking orders at an employee to get the barrels inside faster. Our hearts go out to the Woodford Reserve crew. [Lexington Herald-Leader]

Congrats to Han Shan, whose catchy name will no doubt be one that trips off the tongue as Hudson Whiskey’s new brand ambassador. Chosen from thousands of applicants, Han Shan (whose name literally means “Cold Mountain” in Chinese) won a nationwide competition and will be traveling the world spreading the gospel of Hudson in short order. Here’s hoping he makes the transition to hooch after being a noted environmental activist and advocate of several social justice causes. [Hudson Whiskey]

In science/technology news: Researchers have determined that moderate alcohol use can actually sharpen one’s sense of smell; Omega-3 may protect the brain during alcohol binges; sake has its own microbial terrior; a new app arrives on the market to help with wine decisions; Gizmodo tries an electricity flavored vodka; and climate change may be ruining wine corks.

And finally today, the Smithsonian publishes an article putting your favorite drinks under the microscope, providing some beautiful and fantastically abstract results. [Smithsonian]

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.23.2014 – Bourbon, Bad Banner Ads, Buyouts and Boston Beer

Bourbon production in the state of Kentucky has reached production levels not seen since the 1970s. More than 5 million barrels are currently aging in warehouses across the Commonwealth, with no signs of growth slowing down any time soon. Alltech, which recently took a bruising on the site for its Town Branch Bourbon, also announced plans to open a new distillery in eastern Kentucky. One of the poorest regions in the nation, it’s good to see companies bringing new jobs to the region. So in the interest of fairness to Alltech: Kudos. [Lane Report]

According to the Drinks Business, Diageo has been hit with another complaint, the second in 2014, by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for its recent Captain Morgan Facebook advertisements. In totally unrelated news, a Diageo marketing and advertising executive is leaving the company to go to Facebook. [Drinks Business]

For weeks there’s been talk of Drambuie getting snatched up on the market by a mega-company, with several names being thrown about as nominees. Now we’re getting a clearer picture and it looks like William Grant is in the lead, but not at the price tag Drambuie’s owner is asking. [Herald Scotland]

And finally today, Boston tech companies are now using beer as a way to lure in the best and brightest to startup companies. Clearly, foosball and table tennis tables, scooters, mud wrestling midgets, Rock Band consoles, private chefs, and masseurs were just not cutting it for this new generation. [Beta Boston]

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.21.2014 – ID That Old Whiskey!

Rare is our chance to talk about the world of sports on the site, but this one is worth it: the New England Patriots (an NFL football team, for our international friends) are suing Bacardi after the mega-company walked away from a deal involving a new pavilion to be built on stadium grounds: Casa Bacardi. [Boston Globe]

In other comedy news: Diageo, the multi-billion dollar, internationally-based spirits empire with tens of thousands of employees globally, defends its right to be called a “craft distiller” over at the Spirits Business. Fittingly, this article comes during the latest release in its Orphan Barrel project: “Rhetoric.” Up next: Ford rebrands itself as “artisan,” the Koch brothers are “small businessmen,” and Apple reinvents itself as “a modest little startup”. [The Spirits Business]

In science news: researchers at The University of Texas have genetically engineered worms that can not get drunk no matter how much alcohol they ingest. This could prove promising for future sobriety technologies, such as pill to sober people up immediately. [Independent UK]

Finally today, a site which has been getting a lot of buzz lately is WhiskeyID, an incredible new resource where folks can try and figure out the origin of that old dusty bottle from their grandparent’s attic instead of emailing us about it. Lovingly culled together by some of the most passionate whiskey fans on the net, it’s limited in scope but insanely informative. Expect great things from this site in the near future. We’ll be checking in regularly! [WhiskeyID]

Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 Edition

July 24th brings us another mid-week holiday we can all get together and celebrate: the 2014 edition of National Tequila Day. We offered some great tequila recipes last year, but here’s a few more that have come across our inbox you might want to check out.

Tequila thing 225x300 Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionThe Garden Fresh Skinny Summerita
Created by Travis London, celebrity chef
1 oz. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz. Cabo Wabo Blanco
juice of half a lime
3 sprigs fresh cilantro
3 thin slices of fresh cucumber
3 thin slices of a fresh jalapeño pepper
cucumber wheel for garnish

(NOTE: We did not have any X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, nor did we have any of Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo styled tequila around, but we did have some tequila and other stuff, and things worked out just fine)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (except cucumber wheel) filled with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with cucumber wheel.

summerzap 177x300 Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionBitter Summer Zapatista
Created by Borys Saciuk of 15 Romolo in San Francisco
1.5 oz. Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila
0.75 oz. Campari
0.75 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
0.25 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. agave nectar
Fresh Egg White
Pinch of Indonesian Pepper

Beginning with agave nectar and pepper, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice into a tall glass. Garnish with long grapefruit peel.

Cherry Valance
1 ½ parts Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
½ part applejack
½ part fresh lemon juice
1/3 part pomegranate syrup
Egg white

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake extremely vigorously until egg whites are mixed well. Serve in a coupe glass.

Este Lado
Created by Mixologists Ben Scorah and Marshall Altier
1 1/2 ounces Don Julio Blanco
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Slice of English Cucumber
Mint sprig
Additional mint and cucumber (for garnish)

Muddle English Cucumber and mint sprig in simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add Don Julio Blanco, fresh lime juice and ice. Shake well. Strain Contents over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig and cucumber wheel.

rosemary Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionBlushing Rosemary Margarita
2 parts Milagro Silver Tequila
1 part fresh lime juice
¾ part agave nectar
4 watermelon chunks
1 rosemary sprig
1 lemon wheel
2 dashes Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters

In a cocktail shaker, muddle fruit and herbs. Add remaining ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with Rosemary Sprig and Lemon Wheel.

charro Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionCharro Negro
2 oz. Trianon Blanco Tequila
1 ½ oz. cola
Fresh lime juice
Sea salt
Lime wheel for garnish

Rim a glass with salt and fill with ice. Add lime juice, cola and Trianon Blanco Tequila. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 07.18.2014

Welcome to another edition of the Shopping List, our bi-weekly look back at the best and worst of what we’ve reviewed over the last few weeks, and we’ve certainly reviewed a generous amount of stuff. While we did review quite a bit of wine over the last two weeks, perhaps the biggest news was the marathon session of limited edition expressions from Diageo that we had the good fortune of trying, along with the Signature Craft bourbons from Jim Beam. Some of this stuff isn’t out on the shelves yet, but will be in short order. So keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re one of the lucky ones to score some of the Diageo scotches, drop us a line with your thoughts.

TheList0718141 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   07.18.2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.16.2014 – Upcoming Fall Releases

As Christopher’s review earlier today indicated, the new Beam Signature Craft series offering isn’t out until September. However, it’s just one of many exciting releases coming up this Autumn, which has turned into the American whiskey equivalent of NYC’s Fashion Week. The venerable, Pappy-addicted website Bourbonr (with a little help from our man Sku) has a thoroughly detailed roundup of the new releases you can expect to see — or in some cases not see due to limited supply and high demand — this upcoming season. We tried an early sample of Willet’s Exploratory Cask Finish at a tasting this past spring and it was exceptional, possibly a contender for one of the best of 2014. Looking forward to the final results! [Bourbonr]

Rumors are going around the party chat line that Diageo might mega-merge with Miller (SABMiller), creating one the biggest drinks companies on the planet. The Street takes a look at what this collision might mean for both companies. [The Street]

In tech news, the domain name .bar went into registry form on Monday, and over 100 companies have already registered for potential new URLs. Early on it looks like only one beer brand jumped on the bandwagon: Miller. Check out who else is joining up. Might be time to go register and launch drinkhacker.bar. [Domains]

Brazil may have hosted some big parties over the last few weeks involving sports, but the country’s thirst for cachaça may be drying up, according to a new report issued by Just Drinks. Global sales of the sugar-based hooch fell 3% in 2013, selling a new record low 79.3 million cases. As Brazil accounts for 99% of cachaça sales, this isn’t exactly what cachaça CEOs need to hear. However the news isn’t all bad, as international sales grew 1% over the same time frame, with sales in Portugal and Chile leading the way. [Just Drinks]

And finally today: don’t call it a comeback, but maybe just a tiny shot of botox and some nips and tucks here and there. Shanken is reporting that major players within the rum industry are gearing up this fall to launch new products to help re-establish the spirit as one of the top drinks of choice for consumers. After a major decade long surge, sales slumped over the past three years, largely thanks to competition from bourbon, tequila, and our perennial favorite: flavored vodkas. [Shanken News Daily]

Contest: Knob Creek Campout

Do you like Knob Creek? We think they’re pretty swell. So we were excited to get an email detailing a contest Knob Creek is throwing for ten lucky winners: a campout on the Beam/Knob Creek distillery grounds.

Here are the specifics:

What: Ten lucky folks head to the Knob Creek Distillery in Clermont, KY for an on-site campout and full-flavored grilling experience. One lucky winner from eligible markets (CA, FL, GA, KY, MD, NY, NC, TX, VA and PA) and a friend will join other winners from across the country at the Knob Creek Campout. This weekend long campout will include:

  • Fred Noe, 7th Generation Master Distiller and 2013 Bourbon Hall of Fame Inductee, will host a fireside chat on the history of Knob Creek, followed by a pig roast dinner.
  • VIP BBQ cookout with Celebrity Chef Michael Symon, who will prepare his exclusive bourbon-inspired recipes.
  • Performance by an authentic Kentucky bluegrass band.
  • Behind the scenes distillery tour to see how Knob Creek’s award-winning bourbon is produced.
  • Each winner will receive round-trip airfare for two, ground transportation to the distillery and a Big Green Egg.

Where: Jim Beam/Knob Creek Distillery in Clermont, KY.

When: September 26th – 28th, 2014

How: All eligible participants can enter for a chance to win by visiting knobcreek.promo.eprize.com/sweeps

Who: All legal US residents, 21+ who reside in the below ten states can enter the Sweepstakes: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia

Contest registration ends July 31st, so hop on over and enter. And save us some brisket.

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.14.2014 – Cheap Wine and Luxurious Repositioning

The Daily Mail is reporting the wild statistic that one in five bottles of big-brand wines sold at retailers could very well be fraudulent. In what sounds like a plot to an independent movie, local gangs are forging labels, placing them on bottles and then selling them to stores at a reduced price. Apparently this trend has been going on for quite some time, as the BBC ran a feature on this in 2011, complete with pointers on how to spot the fake bottles. [Daily Mail]

In order to better align with its core business brands, First Drinks is rebranding itself as William Grant & Sons, and looks to reposition its portfolio (Glenfiddich, Grant’s, Balvenie, Hendricks, Sailor Jerry, and Tullamore Dew) in luxury markets. As a direct result of the reorganization, the Spirits Business is reporting that William Grant also “reappraised” 30 employees from its staff, possibly because the employees weren’t preening and positioning themselves as luxurious enough. [Spirits Business]

In a recent report issued by report overlords Technomic, Americans like their wines cheap, with competition being the toughest in the $10-20 price range. The report also includes a spiffy infographic detailing some other findings. [Restaurant Hospitality]

And finally today in science news: global warming is making Shiraz less alcoholic and scientists are now reversing their position back to their original stance that too many daily drinks is not good for your heart. Oh yeah, and Chris scored a major article in Wired last week. Did you read it? If not, here’s your chance.

Review: Bell’s Oberon Ale

OberonBluSixBttle.tif 525x387 Review: Bells Oberon Ale

Summer is reaching its wonderful peak days, and while searching around for a review in our archives, I was surprised to find the glaring omission of Bell’s Oberon in our collection. I now seek to provide remedy to this matter.

I’ve been drinking Oberon since arriving at the legal age to tend to such important matters. Inquire with anyone indigenous to Michigan, learned on its healthy surplus of microbrews, and you’ll quite likely hear the same story over and over: summer really started on the Oberon release day. Every day until then was just a warmup to the real deal. It isn’t just one of the beers that put Bell’s on the microbrew map, it was the beer. In the ’90s, folks from Ann Arbor to Kalamazoo (Bell’s home base) would line up on opening day, much like craft brew beer fanatics of today, to be amongst the first to get a fresh six-pack straight out of the case, or off the tap.

Waxed nostalgia aside, let’s get to brass tacks: this is a refreshingly light wheat beer with a healthy presence of spice and lemon up front. The balance of citrus and wheat give it an incredible sweetness and an easy finish. It doesn’t have the impact on the palate of many other summer brews: it floats gently along for the entire experience; completely unobtrusive and undemanding of complex analysis.

For those who have never traveled to the state’s beautiful surplus of remote lakes and witnessed gorgeous sunsets on one of its many isolated beachfronts, this is the closest thing to a teleportation device legally allowed on the market. Oberon is a lazy, beautiful Michigan summer in a bottle, and one of the best in its class.

5.8% abv.

A / $10 per six pack / bellsbeer.com

UpNorth 525x392 Review: Bells Oberon Ale

Photo by/Tip of the Tigers cap to: Zac Johnson

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.07.2014 – Reports, Science, and Naming Contests

Coming off the holiday celebrating America’s independence, USA Today is running a story on which states within our fruited plains drink the most beer. Even as consumption and sales decline from previous years, there are some states where the hops still remain the drink of choice. Elsewhere, a new study from the Center for Disease Control reports that New Mexico leads the nation in alcohol related deaths. [USA Today]

In another salute to American ingenuity and a swell use of our taxpayer dollars, the NIH has designed a cocktail content calculator to determine just how potent your drinks are when measured against other standards. There are some default drinks already made (you have to click the icon on top bar), but if you’re like us we like drinks with a bit more bite to them, so recalibrate properly. [NIH]

In other totally awesome science news, forensic scientists in Europe have developed a new method to determine the authenticity of Scotch by isolating isotopes to test the makeup of the water used in the distilling process. While not fully implemented or verified yet, this could prove to be promising for the future of authenticating spirits in a growing market seeing more than its share of counterfeit products. [The Spirits Business]

And finally today we have not one, but two naming contests you can enter. Chef/Mad Scientist/Food Advocate Homaro Cantu is getting into the beer brewing business, and he’s crowdsourcing the name. They’ve got a list of 12 to choose from, so hop on over to their site to cast your ballot. The other contest involves naming North Carolina-based Fullsteam’s next exclusive beer. In collaboration with Beer Of The Month Club, folks can suggest a name and enter to win a 6 month membership to the Rare Beer Club. What are you waiting for? Get your thinking caps on and go!

Recipe: Lemonade Cocktails From the Thoroughbred Club – Charleston, S.C.

Charleston, S.C. happens to be one of my favorite summer destinations. And although I’ve never stayed at the Belmond Charleston Place, I have had the good fortune of enjoying a rather posh night out at the Charleston Grill followed by drinks at the Thoroughbred Club. So I was quite pleased when we received two recipes straight from their bar, both based around one of the best pleasures of summer: lemonade.

Here’s how to make them yourself.

 Recipe: Lemonade Cocktails From the Thoroughbred Club   Charleston, S.C.Peach Thyme Lemonade
1 1/2 oz thyme-infused simple syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz of whiskey
1 oz of peach puree

Mix ingredients together. Pour over ice and top with Club soda. Garnish with a slice of fresh peach
(Note: While they use Bernheim at their bar, I opted to use a Very Old Barton instead. Worked out just fine. Also, for the thyme simple syrup: “The method we use is to steep the thyme in nearly-boiling water as you would a loose leaf tea for about four or five minutes, straining the herbs out and then using the hot water to make the simple syrup.”)

 Recipe: Lemonade Cocktails From the Thoroughbred Club   Charleston, S.C.Cucumber Basil Lemonade
6 basil leaves
6 cucumber slices, muddled lightly
2 oz lemongrass-infused simple syrup
1 oz Effen Cucumber Vodka
1 1/2 oz of fresh lemon juice

Mix ingredients together. The lemongrass simple syrup is made the same way as the thyme simple syrup above. Strain over ice. Garnish with cucumber slice and basil leaf.

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 07.03.2014

This edition of The Shopping List covers the remainder of last month’s reviews and finds us once incredibly beer and wine heavy, no doubt ideal for the upcoming holiday season. Definitely worth the time to call this up on your cell phone or print it out to take along with you on your next trip to the store. Have a great and safe holiday weekend!

TheList063014 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   07.03.2014

4th of July Cocktail Recipes, 2014 Edition

Once again we present a wide assortment of July 4th inspired cocktails for you to experiment with over the long holiday weekend. We received a ton for consideration of inclusion, but after sampling many of these over the previous week we felt the recipes below were at the top of the class. Everyone stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

Liberty Lemonade 4th of July Cocktail Recipes, 2014 EditionLady Liberty Lemonade
(created by Andrea Correale)
2 oz. triple sec
2 oz. limoncello
1 handful of raspberries
2 oz. mint leaves
A dash of grenadine for color
A pinch of raw sugar
Juice of two lemons
Club soda

Add raspberries and mint to the bottom of the glass and sprinkle raw sugar on tome. Muddle ingredients until it has the appearance of jam. Add the Triple Sec, Limoncello and lemon juice to your glass. Add a dash of grenadine for color, and then add the ice and top if off with club soda. Stir and serve with a sprig of fresh mint on top

Firecracker 130x150 4th of July Cocktail Recipes, 2014 EditionThe Firecracker
1 oz. strawberry vodka
1 oz. NOHO Gold energy drink
½ oz. peach schnapps
Splash of cranberry juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Strawberry Fireworks
3 oz. Hornitos Plata Tequila
Handful of fresh strawberries
Juice from 1 lime
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
Fresh pepper
6 oz. club soda

Put strawberries in a small pitcher and mash to your desired consistency. Add juice, club soda, tequila and combine along with 4 good grinds from the pepper mill. Fill 2 glasses halfway with ice and divide drink among glasses.

Red Berry Sangria
1 oz. Red Berry Ciroc vodka
1 oz. rose wine
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
2 oz. berry tea

Combine ingredients, stir over ice in wine glass.

Yankee Doodle 4th of July Cocktail Recipes, 2014 EditionYankee Doodle
½ oz. Lucid absinthe
1 oz. Sobieski vodka
¼ oz. simple syrup
Splash of lemon juice
Drizzle of raspberry brandy
Ginger beer
Fresh blueberries and sugar cube for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, add fresh blueberries and simple syrup and muddle. Add absinthe, vodka, lemon juice and shake. Strain into a highball glass and top with raspberry brandy and ginger beer. Garnish with fresh blueberries and a sugar cube and serve.

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.02.2014 – Happy Belated Canada Day!

Canada flag 300x153 Drinkhacker Reads   07.02.2014   Happy Belated Canada Day!Happy Belated Canada Day! We here in America got pre-occupied with getting our hearts broken by the Belgian soccer team yesterday, so we kind of missed out in saluting our neighbors to the north. So we’re changing that today! But first, here are some statistics. According to our boys at Stats Canada:

- 85% of Molson Canadian beer is consumed in a backyard inflatable kiddie pool
- The average Canadian 70 year-old spends 17 hours per day sitting silently in Tim Hortons
- The sixth most popular Canadian baby name in 2012 was “Maple Glazed”
- It takes the average Canadian 42 seconds to get a sunburn

One of our absolute favorite things from the last winter olympics was the Molson Canadian Beer Fridge; a walk in cooler which would open only for Canadian athletes with a valid passport. To celebrate Canada Day, it returned to select locations, but ONLY to people who could sing the Canadian national anthem in its entirety. Having grown up spending wintry Saturday nights watching Hockey Night In Canada as a child/awkward teenager/totally inept adult, this will be no problem for us. Oh, Canada! [ABC News]

While Canadians are commonly known for their industrious beer making, they are also responsible for some really incredible whisky. Here’s a short batch of our favorites, with links to reviews of recent releases:

Masterson’s 12 Year Old Straight Wheat Whiskeys
Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye Canadian Whisky
Pike Creek
Pendleton 1910 Aged 12 Years Canadian Rye Whisky

Try one this upcoming 4th of July weekend! We won’t tell anyone it’s not Bourbon.

In other Commonwealth/British Empire related news, Jude Law is set to star in a movie made by Johnnie Walker Blue, according to the Spirits Business. The Gentlemen’s Wager will be directed by noted sci-fi director Ridley Scott…..’s son and will tell the story of two dudes striving for excellence. What fun. [Spirits Business]

And finally today, a major Colbert-styled tip of the hat to Marvin Shanken, whose Wine Spectator and News Daily stories are regular staples of the Reads feature. The publisher recently donated $3 million dollars to the Sonoma State University Wine Learning Center to further the program’s aims, including MBAs and business degrees in the wine business. In this day and age where universities are having to tighten belts and bleed students with tuition increases, it’s good to see folks giving back to important programs. [New York Post]

The A-List – June 2014

Welcome to this month’s edition of the A-List, where we look back at the best of last month’s reviews and ratings and compile them into a really useful, printer-friendly graphic you may take along during your next trip to the store. We’ve reached the midpoint of 2014 and there have been some really truly exceptional items released on the market. One of the best years in a while? Quite possibly.

(Rob’s note: The Rittenhouse is an incredible bang for the buck rye that’s finally getting its due on the site. And while it is a wee bit pricey, the High West is quite a great grab if you can still find it on the shelves!)

AList0714 525x894 The A List   June 2014

Review: Town Branch Bourbon

Town Branch Bourbon  65405 zoom 300x300 Review: Town Branch BourbonFull confession: the first batch of this stuff was so bereft of quality, it was not uncommon to passive-aggressively serve generous pours to irritating house guests in hopes of expediting its stay on the shelf to the recycling bin. A few years since its initial release, reconsideration is warranted; with the hopes of quality control finally living up to its purpose.

As usual, a bit of context: Town Branch is made by AllTech, not a small family operation as you might expect by that folksy company name but rather a large conglomerate specializing in animal feed and nutrition. The company also makes a reasonably tasty bourbon-barreled stout and ale. Town Branch takes it namesake from the body of water on which the city of Lexington was founded, and boasts to be the first (legally) produced bourbon within the city limits in quite some time. It also has a rather limited distribution chain, so availability no doubt plays into its cachet. The mashbill is also somewhat peculiar in that it meets the 51% corn standard, but it uses only malted barley as the secondary ingredient, eschewing the traditional wheat or rye.

The color is a wonderful amber hue behind rather pleasant packaging: the bottle is gorgeous, the label not so much (typography and text is a bit tough to translate at points). But as the saying tells us not to judge books by their cover, let’s go deeper. The nose offers up much sweetness: traces of fruit and butterscotch immediately followed by mild oak and sawdust. The sweetness stays throughout and really doesn’t let up through the entire experience, and the finish is like a 4th of July firecracker: short and… sweet. A bit of a bang mixed with caramel, bananas, bread, and a mild burn. Those liking drinking matters smooth and easy may find the experience enjoyable, but for those who want to know they’re drinking bourbon and not a bourbon-inspired liqueur, this may not be the best bottle to bring to the table.

At 40% abv, it’s pretty tame when compared to other bourbons at the $30 price point. There’s also talk of a rye expression arriving on shelves in short order, which shall hopefully add the much-needed punch and unveil greater potential than what’s showcased here. I’ll most likely revisit this again in another two years, when this trial is far from fresh in my memory.

80 proof.

$27 / C / kentuckyale.com

Review: McAfee’s Benchmark Peach Liqueur

Benchmark No 8 Bourbon Peach 70prf 750ml Glass 421x1200 Review: McAfees Benchmark Peach Liqueur

This has been sitting on the shelf of a local store for a bit and at a price of $13, I thought it was worth dropping the coin to give it a spin. Benchmark Peach is marketed as an offshoot of the venerable Benchmark whiskey brand, but it’s not a flavored whiskey: It’s a liqueur.

To borrow a phrase: It’s just peachy. Very peachy. It certainly lives up to tasting like a peach liqueur with a hint of whiskey rather than the other way around. This could be quite handy for mixers and cocktail recipes: perhaps for a peach-mint julep, fuzzy navel (we still have those, right?), or a bellini. However, as a standalone product it’s almost too overpowering. There are other varietals in the series (Brown Sugar and Egg Nog were also on the shelves), and reviews of these will be coming in due time.

The packaging might cause a bit of confusion and high expectations for Benchmark loyalists expecting the usual Benchmark juice with a hint of peach. It may be unfair to compare, but the association is inevitable, and bourbon drinkers may find themselves a bit disappointed. As flavored whiskeyish products go, it’s not the best available on the market, but it is certainly far from the worst.

70 proof.

B / $13 / greatbourbon.com

Drinkhacker Reads – 06.18.2014 – New Diageo Distillery Inching Ahead

Diageo’s new $115 million dollar distillery cleared a major hurdle yesterday, receiving approval from the Shelby (KY) planning commission to proceed with construction. However, this didn’t come without a fight, as many local residents expressed concern about environmental hazards, wildlife protection, and property values. It should also be noted that Shelby County is a “mixed” county — meaning wet within the city limits of Shelbyville, but dry around the remainder of the county. This would have an effect on Diageo’s ability to create revenue through tourism/tastings. Still no word on the distillery’s Master Distiller, but there’s talk this will be coming in short order. More on this later, no doubt. [WAVE]

More information is coming out regarding the fire that seriously injured one worker at an Oklahoma distillery last week. Twister Distillery was using a type of still which required an open flame, which was on a wooden pallet. On a forklift. [Tulsaworld]

The Spirits Business reports that five businesses have come together to form the Michigan Distillers Guild in an effort to unify and continue to grow the state’s success in the spirits world. We wish them well and hope that they partner with the Michigan Brewer’s Guild to advance things for all in Lansing. [The Spirits Business]

And finally today in science news, researchers have determined that a person’s vision quality physically deteriorates after alcohol consumption, giving new weight to the terms “beer goggles” and “blind drunk” as a way of describing inebriation. [Science 2.0]

Drinkhacker Reads – 06.16.2014 – Alcoscientific Research Edition

There’s a couple of problems with listicles that we’ll not get into right now (maybe later). However, Lifehacker (nice name) debunks 8 prominent alcohol myths using science as its base, and it’s worth perusing. We also highly encourage you to read the comments section afterwards, as it’s one of the rare times community contributions actually enhance the reading experience. In other science news, pregnancy tests are now going to be available in bars across Alaska free of charge in an effort to reduce fetal alcohol syndrome. [Lifehacker]

The Guardian files a report on a trend usually associated with the tobacco industry: Alcohol companies are now starting to fund charities in order to gain political influence. So far it’s a minor trend, but it will be interesting to see if this starts to become a widespread practice and how it will influence the future. [The Guardian]

To commemorate 75 years in business, Crown Royal has issued a special limited run blend (review forthcoming). Monarch will retail for about $70 and come in at 40% ABV. Elsewhere in Canadian new releases, it seems as if Alberta Rye Dark Batch is (finally) making its way to the states, with a much more energy-drink like packaging than its Canadian edition. [Hat tip to SKU for the spot on this new release]

And finally today in bourbon news, Janet Patton files updates on the restoration efforts at the Old Taylor and Old Crow distilleries for the Lexington Herald Leader, and the Today show interviews Fred Minnick and Chuck Cowdery on the supposed Bourbon shortage that’s happening in Kentucky.

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 06.13.2014

Hello and welcome again to the Drinkhacker Shopping List, our semi-regular list of the best and worst of what we’ve reviewed over the last several weeks. This edition finds us incredibly beer and wine heavy, ideal for those outdoor dinner parties and relaxing summer moments when the days are long and the drinks are (hopefully) properly served. Enjoy!

TheList061314 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 06.13.2014