Welcome to another edition of the A-List, our look back at the best of best we’ve reviewed here over last month. January was quite the busy month, with over 50 products sampled and reviewed including one with a very rare A+ rating (and quite the price tag). Sláinte!
While everyone is still foaming at the glass about the recent Budweiser brew-ha-ha, a small article published in USA Today has passed by with relatively little fanfare that has a direct impact on brewers big and small: there’s a barley shortage looming. [USA Today]
So now we’ve got too much demand for barley for beer, and we’re supposedly (but not really) in the midst of a bourbon shortage, but it seems as if there’s an abundance of vodka (both flavored and unflavored) ready for the taking. And if you’re in Russia, it’s now available at cheaper prices! [CNBC]
The Distilled Spirits Council released its 2014 annual report, with great news for the Bourbon and American whiskey industry: We’re doing great! DISCUS Chief Economist David Ozgo reported on Tuesday that Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey sales volumes were up 7.4% over last year, bringing in an extra $2.7 billion in revenue. Irish Whiskey and Single Malts grew 9.1% and 4.6% respectively. While flavored vodka sales saw a decline, traditional vodka volumes increased 3.7%.
Get ready Baltimore: Drizly launches here on Thursday. The alcohol delivery app will be working with local stores to bring the best booze right to your doorstep. [Baltimore Magazine]
And finally today, Glenrothes is readying an expression from 1968 which will be available in March to world travelers, specifically those in Singapore. The single cask is housed in a handmade crystal bottle made by a Portuguese craftsman and will set you back £5,500. Failing a sellout in Singapore, a worldwide release is planned for later this year.
The experiment known as the Single Oak Project will at last be reaching its conclusion after sixteen rounds and 192 barrels of bourbon. This final round will focus on number four char level barrels and stave seasoning of six months. The rest of the variables (recipes, entry proof, and grain size) will change. As of last tally, barrels 82, 109, and 111 were all in the lead, and if you haven’t already, you can cast your vote on the project’s website. Check out our thoughts on the project thus far. [Single Oak Project]
In other news, three days out and people are still up in arms over Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad taking a shot at craft beer drinkers. Bud’s VP has now come out saying there was “no offense” intended, but it seems hard to take the jab on the chin any other way.
Should the definition of Tennessee whiskey should be expanded? This surprisingly articulate article from Jackyl’s lead singer/chainsaw player Jesse James Dupree makes a compelling argument for the case. [The Tennessean]
And finally, today the Spirits Business takes a look back at ten of the most definitive moments in the history of Scotch. It’s a solid (and brief) lesson that serves as an introduction, but also whets the curiosity enough to dig deeper into the spirit’s history for more interesting tales. [Spirits Business]
Super Bowl XLIX is a mere one day away. With #deflategate, anti-media players, and all the commercials to watch, it seems as if folks are forgetting the most important thing about the game: drinking. Here’s a sampling of a few recipes to kick your viewing parties up a notch or two. No underflated drinks here!
Muddle cilantro in a mixing glass, then gently muddle jalapeño on top of cilantro, then add remaining ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake well for approximately 8-10 seconds. Double strain into a double old fashioned glass rimmed with paprika sea salt. Garnish with a cilantro leaf and/or pineapple slice.
1.5 oz. Ketel One Citroen
0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
0.25 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. ginger beer
0.25 oz. aromatic bitters
Combine first four ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and a heavy float of bitters.
Combine all ingredients in a blender without ice. Blend and pour over fresh ice into a rocks glass prepared with a half salted rim. Garnish with a cucumber spear and lime wheel (optional).
Combine the Privateer Rum and Bloody Mary mix in a cold beer glass, add ice and top with beer. Garnish with a lime wedge, salt and pepper rim optional
½ oz. blackberry liqueur
2 oz. stout beer (chilled)
3 oz. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
Blackberries (for garnish)
Add ingredients directly to a champagne flute, beer first. Stir briefly.
A company in Oregon wants to make craft beer out of recycled wastewater. There’s certainly an argument that this is not innovative, as a few craft breweries are already unintentionally engaging in this process. [NPR]
The demand for Japanese whisky is still hot with no signs of slowing down. The Spirits Business reports that a recent Hong Kong auction far exceeded earlier sales estimates, with the Ichiro’s Playing Card series attracting considerable interest. [The Spirits Business]
Good news for winemakers: Shipments were up in 2014 both domestically and internationally. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at where all of this wine is being shipped to and consumed.
In science news, researchers have found that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart failure but significantly increases your chance in developing cirrhosis. Compounds found in beer could potentially fend off Parkinson’s Disease, and alcohol consumption before bed alters sleep patterns. Wired magazine (and Drinkhacker boss Christopher Null) puts five different wine stain removers through the paces. In science fiction news, io9 takes a look at the worst liquors in all of explored space.
Congrats to Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell, who has been promoted to work alongside his father Jimmy as Master Distiller. Eddie’s been at the distillery for 34 years, working every position imaginable at the distillery. But it wasn’t through nepotism that he won the job. In fact, in an open letter to the press this morning, Jimmy admitted that he “made him do every job there was, even cutting the grass, so the other employees wouldn’t think I was showing him favoritism. I was probably a lot harder on him than I needed to be, but it was all to help him get to this very special moment today.”
Eddie’s wasting no time getting to work, with his first creation coming down the pipe later this year, and it’s one that Jimmy believes is one of the finest he’s ever tasted. There’s also a new Russell’s Reserve in the works for later this year as well. On behalf of everyone here at Drinkhacker, a raise of the glass and warmest wishes of good luck!
While there’s a constant onslaught of bourbon shortage news — the latest being Four Roses discontinuing its Single Barrel Limited Edition — the word from Scotland is that there’s a whisky crisis brewing quietly. With import taxes being quite high, distilleries are looking more and more to exports and less to the mainland UK, which would create a scarcity of rare and high end scotches for sale. [Telegraph UK]
In beer news, the Boston Globe files a report on the cult of craft beer drinkers and the lengths they go to in order to secure a bottle of rare and desirable expressions. In other news, Anheuser-Busch is buying up yet another craft brewery. The lucky beneficiary this week: Seattle’s Elysian Brewing. [Boston Globe]
This Sunday (Jan 25) welcomes in a newly decreed holiday that we can get behind: National Irish Coffee Day. According to folklore, Irish coffee was invented by Chef Joseph Sheridan in 1942 to welcome visiting Americans. With it being quite the brisk night in Ireland, Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee and voila! The Irish take this prized recipe so seriously they’ve even set up an international standard code for it (NSAI 417, page 15). So there.
To a pre-heated coffee glass add the ingredients above and stir. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
OG Irish Coffee
(Brought back from Ireland by San Francisco Chronicle travel writer Stanton Delaplane in the 1950s)
1 1/2 oz. Jameson Irish whiskey
5-7 oz. hot coffee or 2 shots of espresso
1-2 tsp. brown sugar
Fresh whipped cream
Run hot water slowly over a glass mug until it’s at room temperature or hotter, and then dry it. Add brown sugar to mug and pour in whiskey. Add coffee or espresso, leaving room at top for whipped cream. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Set whipped cream on drink.
Iced Irish Coffee
2 oz. coffee (cold brewed, as potent as possible)
2½ oz. Irish whiskey (note: we used Redbreast, but any will do, really)
½ oz. simple syrup
Fresh whipped cream
Add coffee, whiskey and syrup together in your glass of choice filled with ice. Mix ingredients together. Top with whipped cream and freshly grated cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg.
Hello and welcome to another edition of the Shopping List, our regular survey of the best, the tastiest, and everything else we’ve reviewed over the last few weeks. We’ve got a little bit for every palate this time around, including those with expensive tastes (The Macallan Masters of Photography) receiving our highest marks. Sláinte!
The paper of record takes on yet another trend taking hold with drinkers: health-conscious drinking. Profiling such drinks as gluten-free beer, lemon juice-beer hybrids, and kombucha tea, it appears this is a trend with legs. [New York Times]
Drinks International surveyed 38 of the top 50 bars in the world and then added another 50 bars voted upon by its academy to find out the best-selling and top-trending brands behind the counter. Lots of usual suspects (Bacardi, Tanqueray, Plantation) at the top, but the inclusion of Del Maguey mezcal as the #1 pick made our ears perk up a bit. A very interesting and unexpected selection. [Drinks International]
Kudos to the bourbon wizards at Angel’s Envy, whose latest campaign “Toast The Trees” will donate $10,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation. The donated funds will be used to plant 2,500 white oak trees in the Appalachian Mountains this upcoming spring in areas littered with abandoned mines. Always good to see another company becoming a good steward of the environment. [Angel’s Envy]
With Scotch sales slumping a bit globally, efforts to promote the spirit are starting to shift into a higher gear, especially with Beam Suntory. The Providence Journal talks with Beam reps about getting younger people to try, and like, the peated stuff. [Providence Journal]
In science news: researchers believe that alcohol may actually disrupt sleep instead of improving it, but moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce the risk of heart failure and potentially aid in reducing alcohol-induced stress.
And finally today, after a few delays, Diageo is ready to introduce a quirky new spirit to market. The gin-sake hybrid Jinzu infused with cherry blossom was the result of a mixologist competition held in 2013, and will retail for about $45 per bottle. [Evening Standard]
At $6 and a scant 25 pages in length — and not even an official “Dummies” title — it’s difficult to give this one a full-throated endorsement, especially after just reading Heather Greene’s excellent guide on the same subject matter. Jake Olson does indeed cover the basics of whiskey tasting, with a very direct, almost dry, writing style. Brief entries on the history of whiskey, the process by which it is made, and the different types available make up the majority of the book. A few basic recipes for essential cocktails are offered. That’s really about it, folks. I believe the Wikipedia entry on whiskey is more expansive and informative. And free of charge.
The challenge was not to power through Olson’s primitive report, but to take this pamphlet as a legitimate body of work. Much more content could have been offered, and it certainly would have helped to have a decent copy editor; if only because it’s spelled “Johnnie” and not “Jonny” Walker. Sometimes it’s better not to self-publish. Sometimes it’s better to just leave things on a hard drive to send as a Word document to friends. This would be one of those times.
$6 / F / [BUY IT HERE?]