Author Archives: Rob Theakston

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

Drinkhacker Reads – 08.12.2014 – Bogart Gets His Own Gin

Following in the footsteps of Duke bourbon and Jack Daniels’ Sinatra Select, we now have Bogart gin. We’ll skip the obvious “gin joints” joke to be made here, but we’ll just say it’s being made with the blessing of the Bogart estate, and should arrive later this year. No word yet on the long-awaited Sammy Davis Jr. Manischewitz or the Peter Lawrence Cotton Candy Vodka. [NY Daily News]

The Telegraph UK posts an article arguing for better labeling on alcohol products, specifically listing caloric content and health warnings a la cigarette packaging. [Telegraph UK]

Teeling has commenced work on its new whiskey distillery in Dublin’s Newmarket in The Liberties. This is the first new distillery in Dublin in well over a century and aims to pay tribute to the distilleries of yesteryear. Equipment is slated to arrive in October, and a full commissioning of the distillery should occur by year’s end. [Teeling Press Release]

And finally today: Shortie, the Jack Russell which serves as the distillery mascot for Ardbeg, has been commemorated in his very own crop circle in northwest England (Cheshire) as a thank you to the astronauts aboard the international space station. The scientists have been conducting a series of events involving zero gravity maturation, with samples of Ardbeg orbiting in the heavens since Fall 2011. The experiment is set to conclude and return to Earth later this year. [Ardbeg PR]

image002 Drinkhacker Reads   08.12.2014   Bogart Gets His Own Gin

Review: Willett Family Estate Straight Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old

willettrye Review: Willett Family Estate Straight Rye Whiskey 2 Years Old

 

With Willett’s renaissance running high, people have been waiting with anticipation for the first 100% rye offering from master distiller Drew Kulsveen’s new operations at the distillery.  Thankfully, patience has paid off and the whiskey was worth the wait. This small batch rye is like a rookie baseball player stepping up to the plate and hitting a walk-off home run at his first major league at-bat. Don’t be deceived by the label’s youthful age statement: this bottle presents a maturity that belies a rye aged only two years. It’s immediately evident in the nose; where there’s a wild complexity of citrus and spice that proceeds to a dose of floral notes. Tasting is another matter altogether: there’s an immediate hot punch usually reserved for rye spirits 4 to 6 years older, with wood and cinnamon giving way to a finish generous with fruit and mint that lingers for a pleasantly long time.

This is just the opening volley for something potentially incredible happening down the road in Bardstown (an expression with a Grand Marnier finish is on tap for later this fall), and as a bonus we get to reap the benefits of time. As the stock gets older, it will be interesting to mark the contrast between younger and older siblings of the same stock. If this two-year rye is indicative of things to come in the future, get ready for the media myth-making maelstrom to catapult the Willett brand into the stratosphere.

109 Proof.

A- / $40 / kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Drinkhacker Reads – 08.07.2014 – Boycotts and Bourbon Edition

Just days after declaring that Kentucky Gentlemen are no longer welcome within borders of his empire, Russian hockey superstar/project manager/mega dictator Vladimir Putin is now introducing a series of bans on imported foods and goods. How great of an impact this will have on America’s agricultural industry has yet to be fully ascertained, but experts agree it will have some significance. Amusingly, wine is still an acceptable import (for now). Will this hurt the growing American whiskey industry? Possibly, especially with demand elsewhere in the world suddenly running slightly lower vs. last year. Regardless, trade sanctions on anything never help economies and in the end no one really wins. Here’s hoping for a change of heart soon. [BBC]

A New York court has ruled that Diageo must change the name of its Johnnie Walker Explorer’s Club range of whiskies, as the brand runs too close in premise and spirit to the established Explorer’s Club of New York, which features some of humanity’s most well known adventurers as its members. Of course Diageo is disappointed by the ruling, but says it’s excited about a new product line soon to be released, Johnnie Walker MENSA. [Wall Street Journal]

The exhaustive and expansive campaign known as the Single Oak Project is starting to wind down, with the 14th batch in the series slated to be released later this month. This is the first of what will be a very heavy upcoming release schedule for Buffalo Trace, with new E.H. Taylor offerings, new editions from the experimental collection, and of course the always in-demand Antique Collection coming out within the next few months. Our review of batch 13 is up now. [Single Oak Project]

And finally today, BevNet reports that Wild Turkey is partnering with the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) to promote an intensive course in the bourbon-making process. Behind The Barrel will be a series of events with Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell with the aim of providing a thoroughly educational experience and with the hopes of establishing a bourbon expert certification program in the future. Potential students can apply for the program on Wild Turkey’s website. [BevNet]

Drinkhacker Reads – 08.04.2014 – Bonham’s to Present Japanese Whisky Auction

For those with ample money to spend and a die hard interest in quality spirits, take note: Bonham’s is once again hosting Asia’s largest Japanese Whisky auction, with a chance to score one of the world’s rarest bottlings: a 50 year old Yamazaki. A full catalog of auction items is currently ready for perusal. So get your currency converted and ready to go for August 15th, because this is sure to be quite good fun. [The Drinks Business]

We haven’t had a celebrity endorsement of interest in quite some time. For a while it seemed as if there was one appearing at least once a week, but this one is a bit different. E-40 has been in the rap game for a long time with a reasonable amount of success, establishing a loyal fan base and with longevity most other rappers would enviously take if given the option. What makes his story so great is the second act of his career: Building a pretty successful stable of wine releases over the past two years. The Sacramento Bee goes on to call him the “Robert Mondavi of hip-hop”, but we’d like to think of him as a pretty great grape wrangler independent of his music career. [Sacramento Bee]

Elsewhere, 10 Barrel Beer is currently recalling bottles of two brands of beer due to bottles exploding. Its “Beer #1″ and appropriately-named “Swill” lines have been having fermentation problems resulting in exploding glass bottles. [King 5 News]

Forbes runs a profile piece on Buffalo Trace, the latest in a seemingly long line of articles about the distillery in the last months. Not much here that fans don’t already know, but for people just discovering the brand it may be worth a read.[Forbes]

And finally today, a sobering look at climate change, how it’s impacting wine production in Australia and Africa, and what the future holds for the industry both in terms of quality and quantity. [Quartz]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 07.31.2014

If it’s Friday, it’s time for the Shopping List, our twice monthly look back at the best and worst we’ve reviewed on the site. This edition has a generous share of bourbons and wines from which to choose, with many earning quite high praise. We’ve also had the good fortune to review some fantastic Scotch.

TheList073114 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   07.31.2014

Book Review: Gentlemen Bootleggers

Gentlemen Bootleggers 350 200x300 Book Review: Gentlemen BootleggersThe recent trend of nonfiction surrounding historical events in the alcohol world is widely encouraging: It’s a field where much potential and promise for new scholarship is welcome and necessary. With a new pack of young writers establishing themselves for the long haul as historians and keepers of the flame, it is with great hope this groundswell doesn’t cease in the immediate future.

In his debut offering, journalist Bryce Bauer tells the tale of Templeton, Iowa, a community that refuted the early 20th century social structures commonly established throughout small Midwestern towns to band together and achieve success as bootleggers during Prohibition. The story centers around a wily cast of characters such as Otis P. Morganthaler, F.H. Huesmann, and Joseph Irlbeck, names which sound like they would own investment firms or a line of cookies in 2014, but here they each play a role in the town’s survival during one of the 20th century’s most tumultuous times. The whole tale seems to border on the comically absurd, and would make for one heck of a Coen brothers-crafted screenplay.

Bauer’s work is well documented and thoroughly detailed, leaving no doubt that these events really and truly happened (there are some skeptics who deny bootlegging even occurred in Iowa). But one of the best parts of Gentlemen Bootleggers is the level of engagement with which Bauer tells the story. His writing feels effortless; more like a really enjoyable conversation over several drams on a late winter’s afternoon, rather than a starchy, overly annotated tome gathering dust on a library stack. Like Fred Minnick’s Whisky Women in 2013, Gentlemen Bootleggers is a solid debut and hopefully not the last we’ve seen of Bauer on the subject of spirits.

A / $20 / [BUY IT NOW]

Recipe: Lavazza Coffee Cocktails, 2014

As I type this it’s an early Sunday morning and I’m currently hurting from a bit too much celebrating the night before. Thanks to a hyperactive child who is wired beyond reason, I am unable to sleep in. While I’m patiently waiting for my coffee to brew and some children’s show is blaring in the other room, I’m clicking through my inbox, where I found these recipes sent over from Lavazza. Right now, they’re looking pretty great. I have yet to try them, but will report back if I get the motivation and/or will to live any time soon.

Lavazza Grand Slam
1 oz. Lavazza espresso
1/2 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. Grand Marnier

Prepare in mixing glass, serve it topped with fresh cream in a Martini cocktail glass.

image001 206x300 Recipe: Lavazza Coffee Cocktails, 2014Lavazza Espresso Match Point Martini
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Kahlúa
1 oz. Lavazza espresso
lightly whipped cream for topping
1 malted milk ball (instead of an olive, of course)

Fill mixing glass with ice cubes, add ingredients and stir quickly to chill, strain into a chilled Martini glass and top with layer of whipping cream and garnish with malted milk ball, if desired.

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.30.2014 – Crafty Practices Running Rampant

Is the tide finally turning? Shanken discusses a bit of a problem the vodka industry is facing right now: their flavored vodka lines just aren’t selling the way they once were. Hopefully this is a sea change for folks looking for something a bit less absurd than vodka which tastes like lawn clippings, or asphalt, or wax candles, or whatever the industry is trying to sell these days. [Shanken News Daily]

Will consumers embrace no-age statements on scotch? This is the question the Spirits Business poses in a recent article discussing recent changes to the industry. A better question to possibly ask is: will they have a choice? It seems as if this practice isn’t just for Scotch either: Bourbon is heading in the same direction as well, with a few Sazerac brands recently removing age statements from their bottles. [The Spirits Business]

The Daily Beast runs a profile piece on Lawrenceburg, Indiana’s MGP, a place where many of the “craft”/”artisan” distilleries are currently sourcing their stock. Much has been made lately of the craft debate, with some people asking for more transparency while others are asking if we’re taking this all a bit too seriously. [Follow up: Dave Lieberman from OC Weekly publishes a rebuttal to the original Daily Beast article, and the reddit majority fires up its cylinders for the day.] [The Daily Beast]

And finally today, a new study from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins and the Boston University School of Public Health has determined that underage drinkers are three times more likely to drink brands advertised on television programs they watch compared to other alcohol brands. The results help to reinforce a 2012 linking television and media identity to brand loyalty and familiarity among underaged drinkers, and another recent study linking pop music and alcohol brands. [Science Codex]

Review: Nikka Miyagikyo 10 Years Old

10year 525x700 Review: Nikka Miyagikyo 10 Years Old

Finding any sort of Japanese whisky in the middle of Kentucky seems to be a very complex chore at the least, nearly impossible at best. Limited to a scant few offerings — Hibiki, Yamazaki, and the yearly arrival of Hakushu — the choices within the Commonwealth are muted amongst a frothy sea of bourbon enthusiasts (though this may change with the Suntory acquisition of Beam, we shall see). When wanting something different beyond the traditional quartet of Bourbon, Scotch, Irish, or Canadian, the shelves offer limited options. So when a friend offers to bring back something from Japan for your shelf, it provides extra incentive for their safe (and early) return home.

The nose on Nikka’s Miyagikyo 10 Year Old expression is light and pleasant, with traces of floral and smoke elements that linger, hanging about for almost too long. It’s almost better to let it breathe a bit in the glass before beginning the whole experience. Tasting reveals mild citrus and spice with some traces of oak and pepper, a medium body that keeps the citrus lingering in the finish along with the oak.

Unlike some of the older siblings in the Nikka stable, this really doesn’t contain some of the heavy malt tones usually synonymous with the brand. On the plus side, this mild inconsistency may prove useful as an accessible entry point to the Nikka line and to Japanese whisky as a whole. Those desiring more complexity may elect to upgrade to the 12 or 15 year if the option presents itself. 80 bucks is an investment, but if Japanese whisky is your (new) game, expect to pay that and more stateside.

90 proof.

B+ / $80 / nikka.com

Recipes: 2014 Summer Cocktail Roundup

As w near the close of the summer season, we decided to publish a few cocktails worthy of consideration, but which didn’t necessarily fit into some other thematic concept.

image003 199x300 Recipes: 2014 Summer Cocktail RoundupRaspberry Ganache
2 oz. Sobieski Raspberry Vodka
2 oz. Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut
½ oz. cream
Splash of cherry juice
Rock candy and cherries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a blender with ice. Blend and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with rock candy and cherries.

Crimson Hero
(courtesy of Zachary Blair, mixologist at KANU Lounge at Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, New York)
3 oz Charbay Blood Orange
.5 oz Barenjager
.5 oz vermouth
Splash of lemon
Orange twist and sage leaf (for garnish)

Mix ingredients together, shake well and strain, pour over ice, add garnish and serve.

mule 188x300 Recipes: 2014 Summer Cocktail RoundupMexicue Mule
(courtesy of Mexicue Kitchen and Bar)
2 ounces bourbon
1 oz ginger syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chilled ginger beer
Lime wedge (for garnish)

Fill tall glass with ice. Add bourbon and lime juice, then ginger beer; stir to mix. Pour into high ball. Garnish with lime wedge. (Note: Mexicue recommends Kings County bourbon, but we used Beam Double Black and it turned out just fine.)

image002 Recipes: 2014 Summer Cocktail RoundupFrozen Fairy
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 oz. rum
4 oz. piña colada mix
1 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. melon liqueur
Pineapple for garnish

In a blender add Lucid Absinthe, rum, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour the frozen mix in a tall glass and float the melon liqueur on top. Garnish with pineapple

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]