Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.29.2014 – Of Pie Holes and £9000 Drinks

Shanken reports that the flavored spirits trend continues to migrate from vodka to whiskey with brisk speed. Those zany folks at Diageo are really amping things up with Sasparilla and Spiced (cinnamon & clove) flavored Jeremiah Weed bourbons, a new flavored whisky line called Pie Hole (Apple, Cherry and Pecan Pie flavors), and a Gala Apple Crown Royal expression in the coming months. [Shanken News Daily]

Is Beam master distiller Fred Noe considering a retirement? Not so fast. He’s starting a very slow transition into the phase, and Business Week takes a look at what he’s been up to, what’s next and what the Jeter-like final trip around the distillery might look like. [Business Week]

In other bourbon news, Brown-Forman is looking to break ground on a new $30 million distillery in downtown Louisville. The Courier-Journal is reporting that the new Old Forester distillery will contain a visitors center, fermentation, distilling, barrel-making, filling and dumping, and bottling. Look for it to be open around the fall of 2016. [Courier Journal]

Two long reads for consideration: The Chicago Reader takes an in-depth look at the recent controversy surrounding Templeton Rye, transparency, and whether or not it matters (it does). The second comes from the Denver Post discussing local craft spirits, popularity, and (again) transparency.

If you had any question about how little that football team in Washington DC thinks of its fans, consider this: they sold expired Budweiser to its fans at the game on Thursday night. Someone get the Goodell bot up and running for commentary. [CBS Sports]

And finally today, for those who are a fan of nighclubbin‘, pull up to the bumper for this one: a cocktail created in London for a mere £9,000 (that’s about US$14,000) named after legendary singer/artist/Bond villain Grace Jones. Consisting of a 1990 vintage Cristal and 1888 Samalens Vieille Relique Vintage Bas Armagnac brandy, the drink is topped off with gold leaf, Angostura bitters, and sugar. No word on whether or not the drink comes served in a coozie made of warm leatherette. [Daily Independent]

Recipes: Fall Friendly Cocktails, 2014

We’ve been getting hit with several recipe ideas to share for fall, so we figured we’d pass them along as an alternative to all of the pumpkin stuff that seems to be quite the craze this time of year. Enjoy!

 Recipes: Fall Friendly Cocktails, 2014Spicy Cutty Pear Cooler
1.5 oz. Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
0.25 oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
0.25 oz. lemon juice
0.25 oz. honey
2 oz. ginger beer
1/8th of a ripe pear
In a mixing tin, muddle the pear with honey and lemon. Add the Cutty Pro and Ancho Reyes and shake. Double strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a pear slice.

Gotham Recipes: Fall Friendly Cocktails, 2014Gotham
(Created by Julie Reiner, New York)
1 ½ oz. Hangar 1 Straight vodka
1 ½ oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
¼ oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
2 dashes orange bitters
1 lemon twist (for garnish)

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Dixie Dew
1.5 ounces Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve bourbon
½ teaspoon Hiram Walker white crème de menthe
½ teaspoon Cointreau
Fresh mint, twist of orange (for garnish)

Fill glass with ice, then add each ingredient. Stir to mix and garnish with fresh mint or a twist of orange.

Rooster’s Vengeance
(Courtesy of the Warehouse, Charleston, SC)
2 oz Espolon Reposado
1 oz cinnamon syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon
2 dashes Tabasco
4 oz spiced apple cider

MidnightCowboy 200x300 Recipes: Fall Friendly Cocktails, 2014Stir ingredients together and add Tabasco to taste (note: the recipe calls for 2 dashes, but we added a bit more for extra kick).

Midnight Cowboy
2 oz Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1 oz Myer’s Dark Rum
½ oz heavy cream

Fill a low ball or rocks glass with ice. Add each ingredient and stir until the cream is mixed. Serve with a plate of cookies if desired.

Review: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 225x300 Review: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006I was privileged enough to score a dram of this through a recent trade with another local fellow who enjoys the Laddie just as much as I do, if not more. Lately I’ve been revisiting some of the Bruichladdich I have in the cabinet, just to see if time away has altered my enjoyment of the brand. It hasn’t. I still quite fancy my remaining ounces of Octomore, and Port Charlotte and “The Organic” are still just as satisfying as the first time. This expression of Bere Barley is of 2006 vintage and was bottled last year in an edition of 15,000. As usual with Bruichladdich, the packaging is modern and quite lovely. But let’s not judge a book by its cover.

The color is a gorgeous summer yellow, with a nose that’s heavily floral mixed with a blast of barley that opens up after a few drops of water (best to let it sit for a few minutes in the glass). There’s an immediate bit of crispness to the taste, almost acidic before giving way to soft citrus and traces of honey and pepper. By contrast to other expressions in the stable, it is surprisingly light, almost summery. The finish is lengthy and pleasant, with a mild tinge of smoke and sweetness. It’s surprisingly complex, given its relatively young age of 7 years, but at $60 it’s a reasonably good buy. Had I the opportunity to pick up a full bottle, I would strongly consider it. It’s not the best in Laddieland, but it’s certainly far cry from the worst.

100 proof.

B+ / $60 / bruichladdich.com

Recipes for National Coffee Day, 2014

Monday, September 29th is National Coffee Day; a holiday which all folks in love with the caffeinated bean can most certainly get behind and celebrate. We’ve received a few recipes to celebrate this festive occasion, although we suggest maybe not drinking them around the office (unless your boss is cool with that sort of thing).

RoseWithoutThorns white 266x300 Recipes for National Coffee Day, 2014Rose Without Thorns
1.5 oz Hennessy VS
2.5 oz cold brew coffee
4 raspberries
.5 oz ruby port
.5 oz simple syrup
Raspberries (for garnish)

Place 4 raspberries in a shaker tin, muddle, add other ingredients add ice and chill shake. Fine strain into a rocks glass (also works with Martini and Coupe glasses).

The Bold & Fresh
1.5 oz Hennessy
.75 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz lemon juice
1 splash Chambord
2.5 oz cold brew coffee

Muddle raspberries in a shaker tin and add all other ingredients with ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Sweet Lavazza
1/2 oz. espresso
1/2 oz. Amaretto di Saronno
1/2 oz. cognac
1 bowl vanilla ice cream

Prepare in a shaker, serve in a cocktail glass, and top with grated bitter chocolate.

GMAGN white 266x300 Recipes for National Coffee Day, 2014Good Morning and Goodnight
1.5 oz coffee-infused Hennessy VS
.5 oz Tia Maria
.5 oz Madeira
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash cherry bitters
Coffee beans (for garnish)

For infusion: let espresso beans sit in Hennessy for an hour. Add all liquids to a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube and garnish with 3 coffee beans.

Book Review: Bourbon Desserts

Bourbon Desserts 300x300 Book Review: Bourbon DessertsThe problem here is twofold: there’s perception and then there’s reality. When in the kitchen, I often fancy myself as an avant-garde foodie supreme. I daydream about and attempt to make gastropub delights and fancy myself in the same limelight as my particular chef of idolatry, Homaro Cantu. The results are certainly avant-garde, but just not in a good way. Often my well-intended attempts at something cutting edge would be worthy of inclusion on a Buzzfeed “Nailed it” meme, with friends powering through dishes with puckered faces and compliments in the form of ambiguous grunts and phrases like, “I like how the burnt ends really add a smoky texture to this” (it was a key lime pie).

So when the University of Kentucky Press (full disclosure: I also work for UK. Go Cats.) sent me an advance copy of recipes one can cook with bourbon, I was beside myself in utter delight. The rest of my household, not so much. For everyone would know that the end result would be an assault on their taste buds with a litany of bourbon-infused recipes gone horribly wrong — mutations in a mad scientist’s laboratory who has no right even calling himself a cook.

Thankfully Lynn Marie Hulsman’s book steered me in the right direction courtesy of her straightforward, relatively easy to follow recipes. The bourbon poundcake was devoured by test subjects, as were the bourbon infused marshmallows at a separate potluck. One of my favorite parts of the book was experimenting with different bourbons to get different flavor profiles in the finished product. I’m looking forward to revisiting a few of these to see the difference between Maker’s Mark, Weller, or Bulleit and each brand’s contribution to the end results. (Note: probably best not to use that Four Roses Limited Edition for this adventure.) Novices, experts, and destructive cooks alike can approach this book with confidence knowing that in the end, bourbon makes everything taste better.

A- / $15 / [BUY IT NOW]

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.24.2014 – Red, White And Pabst

Despite recent rumors to the contrary, Pabst Blue Ribbon, that iconic brand of beer and bearded hipsterdom, is not moving to Russia. In a press release issued Monday, Pabst spokesrobots reiterated:

Eugene Kashper and TSG Consumer Partners have made a major commitment to the Pabst Brewing Company and its iconic brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lone Star, Old Milwaukee, and others. The goal is for the company to remain vibrant through consistent product and marketing innovation.

We look forward to working with our new colleagues and to continuing our 170-year old tradition. PBR is a very strong brand with a rich heritage and authentic American values. Our new colleagues will remain vigilant in staying true to the brand’s identity and will look to loyal customers for guidance.

Rest easy, Pabst patriots. We haven’t been invaded and your beer is still safe to drink.

So it seems as if with its aggressive new push in the Scotch market, Bacardi is getting ready to buck a contemporary trend. The Spirits Business reports that Bacardi and its global manager for malts, Stephen Marshall, are pledging not to release expressions without an age statement (also known to booze nerds by the acronym “NAS”). It’s a refreshing change for sure, but it will be interesting to see how long the pledge lasts. [The Spirits Business]

Front Master 2nd Vers 212x300 Drinkhacker Reads   09.24.2014   Red, White And PabstIn other scotch news, Glenlivet’s first series of rare 50 year old malts is here. The Winchester Collection will start off with Vintage 1964 and can be all yours for $25,000 — or about 35,000 cans of PBR. It will be available in a limited edition of 100 bottles per expression through global luxury shops such as Harrod’s starting in October.

In science news, it appears that our genetic makeup also determines our flavor and drinks preferences, more people are drinking on days when they exercise, the ancient people of Teotihuacan drank a milky alcohol substance, and Consumer Reports publishes another article on the science behind what happens during hangovers.

And finally today, a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that four out five heart attacks could be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle including maintaining a healthy weight and diet, exercise, not smoking, and moderating alcohol intake to 1-2 standard drinks a day. We’ll drink to that. [DISCUS]

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.22.2014 – We’re Drinking Less Scotch?

Prices are going up, and we’re drinking less scotch. According to an article published in Harper’s, scotch exports declined 11% in the first half of 2014, with “economic headwinds and uncertainty” being cited as the main reason. Has the bubble burst? We’ll see if scotch rebounds in the second half of the year. Elsewhere in the pages of Harper’s, advertising icon Sir John Hegarty takes some pretty harsh shots at advertising in the wine industry, claiming that the means by which the wine industry communicates to consumers are “pathetic” and “daft.” [Harper's UK]

The Filson Historical Society in Louisville is about to open up some of the world’s rarest and oldest bourbons in celebration of Repeal Day. Most of the bottles to be opened were manufactured during the era of Prohibition. Hopefully this will bring more attention and money in the direction of what Mike Veach and crew are doing to preserve a rapidly fading piece of important history. Because we’re drinking it! [Business Insider]

Lately there’s been much ado surrounding transparency (or lack thereof) and Templeton Rye, which has resulted in a flurry of criticism and threats of a class action lawsuit being filed on behalf of consumers. Richard Thomas and his intrepid band of reporters at Whiskey Reviewer offer up this excellent summation of events thus far, and Cowdery chimes in on flavoring in whiskey in his own inimitable way.

In other legal news, Diageo has settled its lawsuit with the Explorers Club of New York. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but this finally ends the year and a half long dispute between the two. Diageo will be able to continue to sell whiskey under the Explorer’s Club name and no doubt the Club itself will be getting a share of the profits. [The Spirits Business]

And finally today, a special shout out to Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast, who is getting ready to celebrate his 500th podcast in the coming weeks. Doing 500 episodes of any show, let alone one based on spirits, over the stretch of a decade takes a heck of a lot of sweat equity and love. If you don’t have his podcast earmarked for regular listening, you most certainly should. Sláinte, Mark! [Whiskycast]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 09.19.2014

Hello and welcome to the Shopping List, our semi-weekly round up of the unbelievable and the undrinkable compiled concisely with care for printable portability. Lots of good stuff to choose from this time around, including a rare A+ rating for Casa Noble Anejo.

(Rob’s note: I didn’t get a chance to review this, but I was lucky enough to purchase a bottle of this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheated and Chris’ assessment was spot on. Heaven Hill is certainly on a hot streak these days, and I’m hoping to find and purchase a bottle of the Weller Antique collection just to complete the Fall Wheated offerings.)

 

TheList0919142 503x1200 The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 09.19.2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.17.2014 – Rapid Fire Links Edition

Lots of stuff to pass on today, so let’s just get to it:

Flavoring in whiskey? It’s possible. [Bourbon Truth]

Chuck Cowdery is calling out several distilleries as of late. The latest: 1835 Bourbon and Breckenridge. [Cowdery]

Chip Tate from Balcones Distillery finally breaks his silence regarding the current fracas going on down in Texas. Things are a bit “he said/they said” at the moment. No doubt deposition transcripts will make for interesting reading. [Whiskycast]

Tullamore Dew opens up its €35 million distillery. [Spirits Business]

Microbiologist switches careers, starts a distillery. [NPR]

Six colleges offering majors in the brewing sciences. Let the next generation of craft beers begin! [Blisstree]

An updated PDF of this weekend’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival. A web friendly version can be found here. [KY Bourbon Festival]

An update on the potential mega-merger between InBev and SAB Miller. Looks like the Beam-Suntory merger could be eclipsed as the biggest brand collision of 2014. With Heineken rebuffing SAB’s takeover move, look for this to become more of a possibility. [CBS News+Shanken]

Scottish secession updates: Washington Post and Financial Post go a bit more in depth on the economic ramifications distilleries may face and ABC News frets a bit more.

Bloomberg posts on how one of the billionaire Koch brothers is leading the crusade against fake wine. See also: Bill Koch crying on ABC News after being duped into buying “dish water or moose piss.” [Bloomberg]

GQ Magazine names Chicago the best city in America for drinking. [GQ]

And finally today: new labels from the Federal TTB database courtesy of blogger/NPR celebrity Sku: a generous amount of Scotch coming to America, and the label eventually replacing Jim Beam Black. [Sku's Recent Eats]

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.16.2014 – Diageo Succeeds, Scotland May Secede

Yesterday Diageo celebrated the grand opening of its succinctly named Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller in Louisville and announced that the mythical distillery will once again produce a limited amount of bourbon annually, presumably at an equally mythical price tag. Meanwhile across the pond, the Fool reports that Diageo may be the target of a takeover or merger with fellow mega conglomerate SAB. Of course this talk is always happening by speculative, murmured analysts so it’s pretty much here-say at this point. Investors are also a bit sour on the level of bonuses being awarded to Diageo executives, with shareholders feeling the company was a bit too generous in its compensation of upper brass.

In two days, Scotland will vote (at near 100% participation levels) on whether or not to remain a member of the United Kingdom. Members of the media as varied as Vice, CNN, and the Telegraph all offer up analysis on what will happen to the Scotch industry, should Scotland secede. Press representatives of The Scotch Whisky Association have also been making the rounds in the media, forewarning that Scotland’s independence could make the market unstable and hard to predict price points. Some readers in well trafficked forums are already beginning to horde hooch in artificially induced panic, but we’re adopting the position of that overused poster slogan now gracing everything from cosmetics to yoga pants: keep calm and carry on.

2014Queen QueenVodka Press 150914 300x200 Drinkhacker Reads   09.16.2014   Diageo Succeeds, Scotland May SecedeAnd finally today, legendary rock band Queen is releasing a vodka paying tribute to its former frontman Freddie Mercury. Available starting tomorrow in select areas, Killer Queen is produced by Stoli and had they been alive to taste it, would have been a fine remedy for Kruschev and Kennedy. Early reports state that it has hints of gunpowder, gelatine, and dynamite with an aftertaste of laser beam. No word on whether or not its guaranteed to blow your mind, anytime.

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.12.2014 – Blurb-on Edition

Normally we don’t offer up a Reads post on Fridays but with the number of news items in our inbox and on the fax machine, we figured it warranted an additional bonus post for the week. So without further ado…

Marge Bill Sr  300x288 Drinkhacker Reads   09.12.2014   Blurb on EditionMarge Samuels of Maker’s Mark will become the fifth woman and the first woman directly connected with a distillery to be inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame September 17th at the Bardstown Country Club. The Co-Founder of Maker’s Mark, her contributions to the development of the brand are enormous. She was responsible for the name, the distinct bottle design, the label (an excellent marriage of old fashioned typography and calligraphy work), the trademark, and most importantly… the iconic red wax. Mrs. Samuels was also a pioneer in designing the distillery visitor center and foresaw the tourism potential long before the competition did. Here’s a very well designed website tells the tale of their bourbon love story, and it’s definitely worth the time to read.

Jimmy and Eddie with Diamond Anniversary 300x216 Drinkhacker Reads   09.12.2014   Blurb on EditionAlso in the kudos department, congrats to Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell who celebrated exactly 60 years on the job on Wednesday. In a letter, his son and co-Master Distiller Eddie wrote “his career has taken him to the farthest corners of the world spreading the gospel of Bourbon, and now, at 80 years old, he’s still working hard. In fact, he’s the longest-tenured, active Master Distiller in the world.” A celebration of his tenure was commemorated in an excellent bourbon, and in a documentary.

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is right around the corner. As per usual, this year is full of events that would get even the most diehard of bourbon fans excited for its arrival. On top of everything this year, Bulleit is sponsoring a program offering folks free rides to and from the festival! Those who wish to take advantage of the free rides service during can call 270-765-7297 to schedule a ride during festival hours. We’ll be posting more about individual events next week!

If you still need convincing to get down this way for the festival, author/blogger/ascot authority Fred Minnick provided Conde Nast a very thorough listicle on 10 reasons to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month. Fred’s still on a roll, touring and promoting his award-winning Whiskey Women book, and will be at the Festival autographing copies. In other book news, Chuck Cowdery has released his long awaited sequel to Bourbon, Straight. Bourbon, Strange is a compendium of short stories detailing the weird and wild history of bourbon. — stuff off the beaten path.

Finally, WDRB is reporting that Angel’s Envy is finishing up its downtown Louisville facility and is planning to expand into two more warehouses in Shivley, just outside the city limits. And finally today, the always reliable Janet Patton gives an update on the fall bourbon onslaught that is now getting underway.

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.10.2014 – Politics, Courts, and Whiskey Edition

With recovery efforts from the Napa earthquakes still in process and the full extent of the damage to the wine region still being assessed, now comes word from Italy that wine production will be down 14% due to a rainy summer season. These factors as well as a significant drop in Spanish production now means the French could possibly once again take over as the world’s leading wine producer. However, those French folk can’t rest easy: it seems as if those surly New Yorkers might have your number in short order. [Bloomberg]

What do the American Beverage Licensees, The Beer Institute, Brewers Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, National Association of Beverage Importers, National Beer Wholesalers Association, The Presidents’ Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry, WineAmerica, Wine Institute, and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America all have in common? Other than sounding quite official, they have collectively banded together in a letter addressed to those overachieving go-getters in the United States Congress, urging Congress to honor the Obama Administration’s request and fully fund the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The letter highlights the importance of a properly functioning TTB stating

“We need a well-funded TTB to be able to process label requests quickly in order to get new products to market in this highly competitive global marketplace. We also need a well-funded TTB to prevent and guard against unscrupulous actors from entering our marketplace who otherwise could harm the public with dangerous products, which has occurred outside of the United States with counterfeit alcohol,”

There’s also need a fully functioning TTB to cut down on a few other problems as well. No official Congressional response yet (they’re still gridlocked on what to say), but the TTB said it would gladly review any funding request forms and would respond anywhere from 14 to 45 days from now (they’re really busy).

Paperwork submitted on behalf of Balcones board of directors in a suit against brand creator Chip Tate have been published courtesy of the website Whisky File. Like all business matters reaching legal levels of intervention, the story is complex and convoluted. There’s no real narrative becoming clear yet — something about Tate not cooperating with the board — as Tate’s side of the story has yet to be presented. Whisky File does an excellent job breaking down the details and providing some much needed analysis. [Whisky File]

And finally today: Shanken gives a brief overview at the challenges currently facing bourbon producers in Kentucky, and how they’re trying to find solutions to keep up with demand (both global and domestic) for the supply. [Shanken News Daily]

Drinkhacker Reads – 09.08.2014 – William Grant Acquires Drambuie

A follow up to an earlier story: William Grant and Sons have finally pulled the trigger and acquired the Drambuie brand, according to the BBC. Details on just how much this will cost the Balvenie bosses have yet to be revealed, but the Glenfiddich gang is currently riding high on the horse, reporting a 10.6% increase in operating profits from 2012 to 2013. [Press and Journal]

The last couple weeks have been most certainly dramatic in the bourbon/American whiskey world, with the volume on the “What is Craft?” debate being turned all the way up to 11. Now consumer advocacy groups are encouraging class action lawsuits against those who feel they’ve been wronged by the terms “small batch” or “craft.” Many companies have been called for accountability and transparency in their product’s origins, something that they ought to be doing legally anyways. However, distilleries have skirted the issue, and a small group of online scribes led by Wade Woodard and bourbon expert Chuck Cowdery are starting to speak up. In fact, Cowdery devoted a full post this weekend to uncovering facts about Widow Jane bourbon. It’ll be interesting to see if the groundswell and consumer demand for transparency grows, or if the marketing-savvy companies will roll out the “age/location/process ain’t nothin’ but a number” argument and keep selling their usual narratives.

And speaking of age being nothing but a number, Cowdery also is reporting that one of the best bourbon values available is losing its age statement. Via his Facebook page, he announced that Jim Beam Black is being stripped of its 8 year status. This was confirmed courtesy of a Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau filing for a new label and product: Jim Beam Black XA (link courtesy of the always diligent Sku). We reached out to a Beam spokesperson, who offered us the following response:

Our bottle was recently refreshed to even better represent the premium product – one that stays true to the Beam traditions dating back to 1795 but remains as current as ever. We can assure you that the liquid in the bottle (what matters most) will continue to deliver on the qualities and attributes that are expected from Jim Beam Black, such as its richer aroma, darker color and smoother, more complex flavor profile.

image001 Drinkhacker Reads   09.08.2014   William Grant Acquires DrambuieSo there’s that.

Finally today, in things you probably can’t afford news (and if you can afford it, drop us a line): Balvenie has announced two new 50 year old expressions from different casks at a price tag of $42,690.44 each, Rémy Martin is also introducing a limited edition LOUIS XIII Black Pearl Anniversary Edition this month which will retail for a mere $16,000. If anyone needs us, we’ll be in the back room drinking a dram of bourbon with no age statement on it.

The A-List – August 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. There’s plenty of great offerings this month, and as we turn the bend into the bourbon special release season, many think the best is still yet to come.

(Rob’s note: Quite simply — Willett Rye. Buy it on sight. It’s a great value and the quality is (hopefully) only going to get better as the stock ages. I’m on bottle #3.)

AList0814 525x998 The A List   August 2014

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 08.31.2014

It’s time for our twice monthly look back at the best and worst we’ve reviewed here at Drinkhacker. This week’s edition of the Shopping List has a wide variety of stuff for everyone: outstanding scotches, summer-friendly beers, a Cuban-not-Cuban rum, and even a quirky little syrup that is sure to heat up your cocktails.

TheList083114 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   08.31.2014

Recipe: Labor Day Cocktails 2014

The end of summer is upon us, signaled once again by the extended Labor Day weekend — one final summer holiday to salute and celebrate those who work hard throughout the year and to welcome in the upcoming fall season. It’s been a fantastic summer, so here’s a few of the more interesting submissions we’ve received, compiled for your consideration and usage. Safe travels during this holiday season!

Earl Recipe: Labor Day Cocktails 2014Earl of Paradise Punch
3 parts Malibu rum
2 parts apple juice
4 parts chilled Earl Grey tea
1 part fresh lime juice
½ part simple syrup
Fresh raspberries

Muddle the raspberries with syrup and then add the rest of the ingredients. Chill by stirring on ice and garnish with mint and citrus wheels.

Red Sunrise Punch
1 part (50-60 ml) Malibu Red
2/5 parts (20 ml) fresh lime juice
3/5 parts (30 ml) fresh pink grapefruit juice
2/5 parts (20 ml) raspberry syrup
A dash (5 ml) of Pernod Ricard Absinthe

Stir all the ingredients on ice in a rock glass. Top with a dash of absinthe.

KOne 137x300 Recipe: Labor Day Cocktails 2014Ketel One PK
1 oz. Ketel One Vodka
.5 oz. Pimms No. 1
1 dash Angostura bitters
3 cucumber slices
Lemon-lime soda

Place two cucumber slices at the bottom of a Collins glass. Top with ice. Add Ketel One Vodka, Pimms No. 1, and Angostura bitters. Top with lemon-lime soda. Stir. Garnish with remaining cucumber slice.

Fizz 252x300 Recipe: Labor Day Cocktails 2014Canadian Fizz
1 ½ oz. Ungava Gin
1 oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 oz. soda water
Orange zest and cherries for garnish

Add Ungava Gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass and top with soda water. Garnish with orange zest and cherries and serve.

Bella 150x150 Recipe: Labor Day Cocktails 2014Bella Frappe
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
2/3 oz. triple sec
Dash of Monin Sirop de Framboise
6-8 fresh raspberries
Juice from 1/2 lime
Champagne

Muddle raspberries, Monin Framboise, and juice from half the lime in a cocktail shaker. Top with ice,Lucid Absinthe, and triple sec. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Top with Champagne and garnish with remaining fresh raspberries.

Drinkhacker Reads – 08.27.2014 – More Napa News

With estimates of the recent Napa earthquake damage now topping the billion-dollar marksome wineries are starting to re-open, while others are irreparably damaged. However, it does seem as if some federal aid may be available to those struggling. Hopefully no aftershocks will bring further major damage. While speculators are already chomping at the bit to see if wine prices will rise over the news, a few analysts are confident the impact on cost will be minimal.

Normally we don’t pay attention to “best of” lists, but when someone crafts an article declaring they have determined the 8 best bourbons in the world, our curiosity gets the best of us. While we can’t disagree with some of those picks (Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel is pretty heavenly), we were surprised that every single bottle on the list came from Buffalo Trace. Perhaps Andrew Meola needs to expand his horizons a bit more. If only there were websites reviewing bourbons other than those from Buffalo Trace… [The Street]

Add one more to the already crammed fall calendar of new bourbon releases: a Jim Beam Bonded expression. Sku’s reported on this last week, and while no definite date has been set, look for it on shelves sometime in the coming months. What does the term “bonded” or “bottled in bond” mean? Wikipedia sums it up nicely with a basic explanation. [Sku's Recent Eats]

And finally today, Shanken is reporting that Diageo is re-opening the mythical Stitzel-Weller distillery for bottling for the first time in decades. This announcement comes on the heels of a $115 million Bulleit distillery groundbreaking in nearby Shelby County last week. No word on what will exactly be bottled or warehoused in the facility (probably more “orphans”), but it seems as if Diageo is digging its heels into Kentucky and is ready to begin competing on a larger level for a share of the American Whiskey market. Whiskey scribe and ascot aficionado Fred Minnick interviewed Diageo VP Guy Smith recently, who was less than forthcoming about details, but who did offer Fred a job. [Shanken News Daily]

Drinkhacker Reads – 08.25.2014 – Napa Recovery Continues

Following yesterday’s 6.0 rated Bay Area earthquake residents of the region are continuing clean up efforts, especially in the Napa Valley wine region. Thankfully there appears to have been minimal injury to the citizens of the region, but the loss of physical property seems to be pretty extensive. A commonplace sight is store owners who are reliant on summer holiday tourism now brushing broken bottles into piles. Several winemakers in the region were hit pretty hard during a crucial time of the year: the harvest. No exact figures yet on how much was lost, but some vineyards are reporting losing up to 50 percent of inventory, including many high-end and prized vintages. No doubt we’ll have more on this later in the week.

New York Times columnist/author Clay Risen once again files an excellent article on the American craft distillery movement, this time focusing on F.E.W as a primary subject. American craft distillers seem to have the hot hand at the moment, second maybe only in demand for Japanese Whisky. Risen’s article is outstanding, and much like his recent book it’s an easy read. [New York Times]

In other “craft distillery” news, Diageo recently announced that its new $115 million distillery will bear the Bulleit name, proving once again the company is putting all its eggs in Tom Bulleit’s basket for bourbon success. However, the best article covering the press junket goes to Insider Louisville’s Steve Coomes, whose mildly snarky tone proved to be just the thing for a bourbon reception where ginger ale was served. [Insider Louisville]

First they banned Kentucky Gentleman. Now they’re taking on Jack Daniel’s: Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (pretty awesome name, comrades) is now banning Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey for allegedly containing traces of insect repellent. The Russian agency has been on a roll as of late, shutting down four McDonalds and going after other American-based companies. We’re fairly certain this has nothing to do with recent sanctions against the nation, and that no one is playing politics. Russian president/potential NHL all star Vladimir Putin is way above those sorts of measures. [Bloomberg]

And finally today, Time magazine files a report highlighting the seven strangest beers laws currently on record in the United States. Unsurprisingly, the straight-laced state of Utah once again comes through with one of the most peculiar (patrons can not have alcohol without ordering food in restaurants). [Time]

Recipe: National Rum Day Recipes, 2014

This Saturday (August 16th) marks yet another turn in the calendar for National Rum Day. We’ve had several emails from distilleries come through our inbox over the past week, and here’s a sampling of some of the best of the bunch:

image001 149x300 Recipe: National Rum Day Recipes, 2014Guayaba Arabica
1 ½ parts Bacardi rum
1 part Goya guava nectar
¾ part fresh squeeze lime juice
¾ part coffee scented simple syrup
5 cilantro leaves
1 pinch of salt

To make the coffee scented simple syrup, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil, blanch 1 cup of espresso beans into the water for approximately 30 seconds, strain the espresso beans, add 1 cup of sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Place all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake until the ingredients are well combined, then strain the mixture through a small mesh strainer or tea strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated espresso bean.

Mosquito Coast
2 oz Flor de Cana 7 Years Old
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz pistachio syrup
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
Chile de Arbol Tincture to taste
A dash of Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients except for the bitters in a glass, stir add crushed ice, use a swizzle stick. Top off with angostura bitters.

Bright Eyed Fizz 200x300 Recipe: National Rum Day Recipes, 2014Bright Eyed Fizz
1 1/2 oz Zacapa Rum 23
2 oz sparkling water
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz honey
1/4 oz fresh ginger extract
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric

Combine Zacapa Rum 23, fresh lemon juice, honey, fresh ginger extract, ground cardamom and ground turmeric into a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain contents into a highball glass over ice. Top with sparkling water.

The A-List – July 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.

(Rob’s note: This month we had some insanely pricey scotch head our way, but for something a bit easier on the pocketbook and a bit easier to find, I’m giving the Lagavulin 12 Years Old Limited Edition and the Buffalo Trace Experimental 12 Year Old the thumbs up this month.)

AList0714 525x894 The A List   July 2014