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!
On Father’s Day, most dads are just perfectly content with a glass of their favorite spirit, a can of their favorite beer or a glass of their favorite vintage. However, there are some fathers whose palate run a bit more refined. Here are a few recipes which show a bit more effort than just another tie or poorly designed ashtray.
1 part UV Vodka
3 parts grapefruit juice
1 dash of sour mix
Mix and serve over ice in a lowball glass.
Basil Hayden’s Dad’s Day Off
(Created by Zachary Brian Taylor, San Francisco)
1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
¾ parts Lemon Juice
½ part brown sugar syrup
1 sprig of Rosemary
Combine Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, lemon juice and brown sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Remove rosemary needles from the bottom 3/4 of the sprig and add to the shaker. Save the top of the sprig for use as a garnish. Add ice to shaker and shake. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with the remaining rosemary sprig.
(Note: Didn’t have any Basil Hayden’s in the house, but tried this with Knob Creek Single Barrel and it worked just fine.)
1 ½ oz. Ketel One Oranje
1 oz. Aperol
½ oz. fresh orange juice
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3-4 dashes rhubarb bitters
Combine first six ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a long orange twist.
After a rather tumultuous legislative session and some tense moments between all parties involved, Tennessee courts have concluded the hearing into Diageo allegedly housing whiskey made at the Dickel distillery in other states. This allegation specifically included neighboring Kentucky, where Diageo owns several barrel houses worth of storage and orphaned barrels.The state adjourned its hearing after the explanation was given that all while all Dickel bottled as such stays within state limits, some juice does make its way into Kentucky to be used in other products. In other Diageo news, Whisky Advocate got to sit down with Diageo reps and Tom Bulleit, who further expanded on details of its newly planned distillery in Kentucky.
In science news, a new laser-based device may make it possible for law enforcement officials to detect the presence of alcohol vapors in a moving vehicle. Privacy issues aside, this type of a equipment doesn’t seem like it will be readily available for a while, but the paper has no doubt piqued the interest of the National Transportation Safety Board. [Daily Tech]
With decision day coming this fall, Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom is becoming a very real and sobering prospect. Harper’s takes a look at what that will mean for an industry currently enjoying brisk momentum and robust sales. [Harper's]
And finally today, in a “making lemonade out of lemons” feel-good story, a farmer in Texas hasn’t been able to sell his black-eyed peas for much, so he’s decided to turn them into a different sort of cash crop: vodka. [Chron]
Smirnoff has announced the arrival of its newest travel-only expression. Smirnoff White will come in at about $35 for 1 liter and will feature Smirnoff’s new freeze filtering process, where the vodka is chilled below freezing point and then charcoal filtered. No exacting word on its release, but no doubt we’ll be seeing it at travel retail shops sometime this summer. [Breaking Travel News]
In equally freezing news: apparently there’s a group of enterprising folks looking to set up a distillery in the far north of Norway. And by far north we mean the Arctic Circle. With a population of 7 in the winter time, the village of Myken may not be a tourist destination the likes of Islay, but this experiment could prove to have some interesting maturation results. [Alaska Dispatch]
Clay Risen sits down with Buffalo Trace head honcho Mark Brown for a conversation regarding the latest rumors surrounding Eagle Rare, and to clear the air. The article claims the conversation covered a lot of ground other than Eagle Rare, so we hope that this is the first installment of many, as it would be interesting to hear what else was discussed. [Mash Notes]
Vermont Public Radio posts a feature on the state’s booming craft distilling industry, and introduces us to some of the distilleries in the region and to the class being offered by local colleges to further the skills required to distill. [VPR]
And finally today, for something a bit out of the ordinary, the Spirits Business reports that a 15 year old has launched his own gin line with his three siblings. Appropriately christened Sibling Gin, the four enterprising teens have all gained experience working at the family brewery and now look to expand into the gin world. It will only be available in limited release in Cheltenham, England before (hopefully) seeing a wider release. [The Spirits Business]
Howdy and 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 n unbearably useful, printer-friendly graphic you may take along during your next trip to the store. This month brings a wide variety of options and price points from which to choose, including an incredible bargain for fans of Rose wine and one of the best coffee liqueurs currently on the market.
(Rob’s note: It was an incredible month for bourbons, with two of my favorites of 2014 (thus far) appearing courtesy of Wild Turkey and Four Roses. The WT should be in stores soon, while the Four Roses may already be gone, depending on where you live. At this point, Jim Rutledge seems simply unstoppable with the high quality efforts he’s putting forth.)
Brown-Forman reported this morning that it had a very strong 2013 with a final quarter pulling in a 17 percent net income increase over Q4 2012. A spokesperson attributed the success to its Jack Daniel’s brand (and its offshoot varieties like Tennessee Honey), which rose 8 percent overall for the year, as well as an increase in sales for its super and ultra premium brands such as Woodford Reserve (up 25% for the year). Sales also proved to be strong globally for the most part, with the only notable decreases coming from France (-16%) and Mexico (-4%). [Associated Press]
Marketwatch interviews Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes on the state of industry competition, and lets slip a little bit about the company’s future intentions regarding Bulleit Bourbon, and its non-intentions for Johnnie Walker. [WSJ]
Shanken News Daily reports that the acquisitions by Campari of Canada’s Forty Creek Distillery and Italy’s Averna Group is complete. Adding to its already stacked portfolio, Forty Creek came at a price tag of $182 million and shows the company’s commitment to Canadian Whisky. Averna was purchased for a mere $141 million. [Shanken News Daily]
And finally today in science news, nuclear physicists are joining in the noble cause of detecting wine fraud. It’s a short read, but certainly one of the more intriguing articles we’ve read all week. [NPR]
June 4th marks the arrival of the holiday we’ve all been waiting for: National Cognac Day!
A quick primer on Cognac:
- It is a variety of brandy.
- It is produced in the wine growing region of Cognac in France.
- Like bourbon, it has certain requirements in its distillation process. It must be made from a specific varietal of grape, twice distilled in copper pot stills, and aged a minimum of two years in French oak barrels.
- There are numerous grades and distinctions into which Cognac may be classified, including by age and geography.
Without further ado, we present two cocktails involving Cognac for your consideration.
1 ½ part Courvoisier VSOP
½ part Campari
½ part sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine the VSOP, Campari and Vermouth in a shaker over ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and add bitters. Garnish with an orange slice.
Pommes et Raisins
2 parts Courvoisier VS
3/4 part fresh squeezed lime juice
½ part mint syrup
Top with hard cider
Shake and strained into a pilsner glass. Top with hard cider. Garnish with frozen white grapes.
Welcome to another edition of the Drinkhacker Shopping List, our semi-regular compendium of the best and worst beverages we’ve covered over the recent weeks. This time around we’ve had plenty to go around in every category, including some exceptional A-rated offerings, especially in the bourbon category.
We’ve also had a few expansive tasting reports for your consideration:
Rhone Rangers 2014
Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2014
Blue Chip Wineries of Paso Robles, 2014
Rogue brewery co-founder Jack Joyce passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Via Oregon Live:
Following a career as both a small town attorney and Nike executive, Jack and some friends founded Rogue in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon. From the outset, Jack set Rogue on a path of innovation, creativity, and rebellion. Rogue made hoppy, flavorful beers and was told that no one would drink them. Rogue made a wide range of beers and was told no one wanted variety. Rogue sold 22oz bottles of beer and was told no one would pay a premium for a single serve beer. Rogue opened multiple pubs and breweries and was told that it would be wise to follow a more efficient and logical business plan. Rogue took the road less, or perhaps never, travelled. Rogue was the first U.S. craft brewer to send beer to Japan. Rogue won 1,000 awards for product and packaging excellence. Rogue worried about getting better, not bigger. Rogue began distilling. Rogue began farming. Rogue remained dedicated to its small town roots and made sure to give back to its local communities. Rogue started a Nation. This was all vintage Jack. He was the true Rogue and will be missed by us all.
A tip of the glass to a pioneer, and from all of us here at Drinkhacker, our sincerest condolences.
The Pew Charitable Trust offers up a long and informative read on the current state of craft beer sales in America, and how it poses a potential threat to bigger beer companies. We’ve been touching on this subject here and there in Reads over the past few months, but this article brings everything up to date quite nicely. [Stateline]
Because it’s a slow news day, the Wall Street Journal profiles James Nielsen, the 34-year old who did the unthinkable and ran the “beer mile” in under 5 minutes. Apparently, the first ever championships are scheduled to be held later this summer. We’ll keep you posted. [WSJ]
Infamous Indiana whiskey distiller MGP announced yesterday via press release that it will be expanding its core offering to include 14 new spirits from which clients may choose for their bespoke bottling. Eight of these new 14 will be flavored whiskey options including black licorice and butterscotch flavored whiskeys. The other six include two new rye whiskeys, a 95% wheat whiskey, a 100% barley malt whiskey, and two bourbons, one produced with 45% wheat, and the other produced with 49% barley malt. Watch for reviews in, oh, three to seven years when other folks start bottling these things. [Press Release]
Finally today, we were super excited to receive a link to something called BeverageGrades, a new and somehow “objective” metadata web resource to help us pick out new bottles of wine which using several different scientific criteria, thereby rendering the need for subjective critical opinion obsolete. We’re pleased to report after numerous attempts at selecting different types of wine, we got exactly what we were looking for.
While other columnists and pundits bemoan the loss of innovation from the millennial generation, there’s a group of students looking to become the exception to the rule. Three enterprising young folks are developing Prime, a new beverage guaranteed to eliminate hangovers. While it will help with the next morning, the group claims that it will not help the user in avoiding bad choices the night before. The group has set up an indiegogo campaign to help develop the product further. On a most excellent TV side note, the team of college students also has a chemistry student named Walter as one of its founders. Looking forward to seeing where this goes!
In other science news, we took a break from enjoying gin and tonics, strawberry mint juleps, and other concoctions to read this outstanding piece by Jordan Devereaux, aka the Cocktail Chemist. It’s the first of what could very well be a multi-part piece on the actual chemical effects alcohol has on the body. It’s incredibly heavy on the science, but well worth the read — having a Wikipedia tab up for certain elements of the discussion helps as well. Excellent stuff. We’re looking forward to part 2. [Chemistry of the Cocktail]
A new study to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research is making the case that folks mixing alcohol and energy drinks do so for purely hedonistic reasons. This one may seem quite obvious to anyone who has spent a weekend surrounded by people at a dance music festival. However, looking for the surprising connection, researchers found that:
“People who drank A+EDs to sober up were actually at an increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related injuries and harms… This finding is interesting because it could mean that consumers are incorrect if they are assuming that drinking caffeine might reduce their intoxication.”
So: Alcohol gets you drunk, no matter what you mix it with. All clear? [Science Codex]
Finally today, the New York Times takes craft beers down to the microscopic level and examines the genetic map of the beers. Not as science-heavy as some articles on yeast and genetic origins, but it certainly highlights the promise and potential of future innovations in yeast strains we may be enjoying in the not too far off future.
In some circles, it’s the official start of summer. In others, it is a time to pay reverence and salute those who have dutifully served in our United States Armed Forces. Whatever your occasion, we’ve taken the liberty to try out all of the cocktails suggested below and present them for your celebratory consideration. May you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!
1 ½ oz. Ungava Gin
1 ½ oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Orange twist for garnish
Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish
with an orange twist and serve.
3 parts Milagro Silver tequila
2 parts lemon juice
2 parts simple syrup
2 parts sparking water
5 parts Hibiscus Tea (1 tea bag per 16oz hot water)
1 part ginger juice
1 part Lillet Rose
Build ingredients in a punch bowl over a large ice block. Garnish with lemon wheels. Stir well for one minute to dilute. Serve to your guests in a rocks or punch glass and enjoy.
Spring Lemon Aide
(Created by Bobby “G” Gleason, Suntory-Beam Master Mixologist)
1 part Jim Beam Honey
2 parts fresh lemon sour
4-6 fresh blueberries
1 small (reasonable) splash of simple syrup
Lemon wheel for garnish
In a mixing glass, muddle the blueberries with a splash of simple syrup. Add the Jim Beam Honey, lemon sour and shake with ice then fine strain over fresh ice in a tall glass then top with club soda. Garnish with fresh blueberries and a lemon wheel on the rim.
1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 ½ oz. pear vodka
1 oz. peach schnapps
4 oz. lemon-lime soda
1 mint sprig
In a cocktail shaker, add Lucid Absinthe, pear vodka, peach schnapps, lemon-lime soda and ice. Shake
and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
The company may be running short on supplies of its flagship brands (Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace), but Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley is keeping busy putting out more limited runs of the Experimental Collection branch of the Buffalo tree. This time around finds the crew toying with warehouse floor location, a well-known factor in determining the speed at which Kentucky whiskey ages. From the press release:
The barrels aged on the first floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a delicate flavor, subtly sweet, with a very mild oak taste.
Barrels aged on the fifth floor of Warehouse K yielded a bourbon that tasted of sweet vanilla and a light caramel, coupled with light wood flavors.
The ninth floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a deep aroma. The flavor was of a roasted nut sweetness paired with green pears and figs.
“Through this experiment, we learned that something as simple as varying which floor a bourbon ages on does bring out different flavors in the bourbon, said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “The higher floors had slightly deeper, woody notes as well as more varying fruity flavors.”
This round should be available later in June at the usual asking price of $46 for a 375ml bottle. Review to come.
Drambuie is up for sale. The legendary Scottish liqueur currently owned by Suntory is available for an asking price of around $169 million, according to the Financial Times. No word on any buyers yet, but this one isn’t likely to be on the market for too long. [FT]
The next installment of Bonham’s whisky auctions is set to take place later this month in Scotland. Amongst the items up for bid are a 50 year old Glenfiddich and a bottle of The Macallan Millennium Decanter 50 year old. Start saving your quid now, because if it’s anything like the last auction, things are sure to heat up quickly. [Scotland Now]
And finally today, the sports obsessed city of Cleveland seems to be having a great string of luck. CBS is reporting that one fan is taking it to the limit with a new beer dedicated to the latest QB draft pick, Johnny Manziel. There’s no word on whether Johnny Manz’ale will be made readily available to the public, but it’s no doubt a nice welcome for yet another quarterback destined to contribute to the Cleveland Curse. [CBS Sports]
Ready for another lawsuit? Totally ignoring the fact that the descriptive classification “pit bull” has been around since before the 18th century, rapper Pitbull is filing a lawsuit against New Amsterdam for marketing a cocktail christened the “Pit Bull” (fans of semantic detail please note: there’s a space between the two words). If his litigation skills are anything like his rapping ones, this headache may be around for quite some time. [Billboard]
From one dog to another, the profile of Bulldog Gin has been on the rise as of late and thanks to a recent distribution deal with Campari, there’s no sign of it slowing down. The Shout does a quick profile on the company’s history, and how it’s been making waves in recent competitions. [The Shout]
Elsewhere in the world of gin reads, the New Statesman takes a quick look at gin’s role in the history of British colonialism. It’s a quick read, but enjoyable from a historical perspective. Much like Fred Minnick’s story of the role of women in the history of whiskey, there’s definitely promise for future scholarship along these lines. Here’s hoping someone picks up the ball and runs with it from here. [New Statesman]
And finally today, on its way to stores is the third release in the (un)limited edition Orphan Barrel Bourban project. Rhetoric, a 20 year old bourbon, will feature juice distilled at both Bernheim distilleries and aged in a completely different warehouse. Diageo has recommended it at a retail price of $85, but no doubt folks will be upcharging from there as hype and demand accelerates. [Previously on Drinkhacker: our review of the first two whiskeys in the Orphan Barrel series]
On the heels of a report saying that alcohol kills 1 person every 10 seconds, here’s a map of the world’s drunkest countries. As we all can see, the world has some catching up to do with Russia. However, in an effort to curb the abuse, our comrades have the solution to curb the drinking: drugs. And speaking of drugs, here’s an article from Russian TV discussing how the heavy use of cocaine in the UK has led to it now being detectable in the nation’s drinking water. Cheers!
In other science news, researchers are now backtracking on something they said before, which contradicts something they said years before that. According to yet another new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the naturally occurring antioxidants found in red wine do not help longevity in ways previously thought. One possible solution to this problem would be to drink more, but we’re already doing that (we have drugs to fix the problem of excess and abuse). Tune in next week when we discover a newly published study debunking the results of this one.
Unsurprisingly, the relationship between mega-spirits companies Suntory and Campari has ceased to be. Following the acquisition of Beam, Suntory has announced effective this June that the domestic distribution deal between the two will be rendered null and void. This isn’t a major loss for Campari, as the Suntory deal only represented 1 percent of overall Campari sales last year. The announcement came on the heels of the revelation that Campari’s profits were down 47 percent in the first quarter, citing unfavorable economic conditions as a primary reason for the massive slip. [Just Drinks]
Last night’s Bourbon Affair kick-off event was hampered by pretty heavy rain and was moved indoors to the uberposh 21c hotel in Louisville, but it didn’t deter everyone from having a grand old time. If you’re in the Kentucky area with nothing to do this weekend, you’d be hard pressed to find more interesting things to do. There are still tickets available to many events including a Wild Turkey hunt with Jimmy Russell, a tour of the Stitzel-Weller distillery with Tom Bulleit, and a “grain-to-glass” class with Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris. [Kentucky Bourbon Affair]
Last week we made mention that the sale of Whyte and Mackay to Emperador may happen sooner than later. It seems as if this one is now about to happen. Representatives between the two companies are scheduled to meet in London this Friday to agree to terms. Economic Times is reporting that the deal is valued at close to $700 million. It’s not clear as to whether or not W&M will also include Jura and Dalmore in the package deal. [ET]
Buffalo Trace (“Potentially Running Out Of Stuff Since 2012“) has pushed whiskey boundaries with its Single Oak Project and Experimental Collections, but there’s a new project going on that just might trump its continuous tinkering. Templeton Rye is attempting to raise hogs that taste like its whiskey, even before being sent to slaughter. The Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project (or what we’re calling “Project Oinkway”) is going on now. There’s something to be said about bringing home the booze and the bacon at the same time, and this should prove to be a quite tasty affair.
In new product news, our main man with an eye on the TTB Sku just dug up in his weekly sweep of new items a gem of a new release: a Macallan Rare Cask. However, what’s totally unclear about this whole situation is what makes it rare. There’s no age statement to be found, no details on how the casks were selected. It’s just “rare”. This seems to be in parallel with the recent trend to eliminate as much label information on the aging and origin of Scotch as possible. Let’s just hope it’s not the direction everyone’s heading in for the long haul. [Sku's Recent Eats]
And finally today, we’ve received word that our pals over at the Whiskey Explorers Club have thoroughly revamped their blind tasting game, My Whiskey IQ. It’s been enhanced for use on smartphones and tablets (it had previously been mainly desktop friendly), given a clean new interface and has more advisory suggestions/discovery elements based on your flavor preferences. Swing on by and give it a test drive when your quarterly shipment arrives. [Whiskey Explorer's Club]
Hello and 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 3/4 mark of reviewing Buffalo Trace’s Single Oak Project in its entirety, and April also saw a return of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society casks to the top of the pile.
(Rob’s note: For the best bang of the buck this month, Hammer & Son Old English Gin is well worth the price. It’s G&T season around our neighborhood, and this was one of the better ones we sampled at our block’s drinking club).
March and April also saw an incredible amount of book reviews, so we compiled a complete list of our reviews over the last two years to help you get your own drinks library started in good form.
With the Suntory-Beam/Beam-Suntory deal now complete, sources are telling Reuters that Suntory plans to sell $8 billion in debt to finance the purchase of the company. Elsewhere, Chuck Cowdery looks into his crystal ball to figure out what exactly the whole deal will mean for the corporate culture of both companies, and what the future may hold for us.
In other bourbon news, the Courier Journal reports there’s a new distillery opening shortly along the Bourbon Trail. New Riff distillery will be a bit out of the ways in Northern Kentucky, but looks to be a bit different from most of the folks on both the traditional and craft bourbon trails. Across the Commonwealth, Janet Patton reports there’s a new buyer for the Charles Medley distillery. South Carolina’s TerrePure is looking to invest $23 million over the next year and a half to bring the distillery back to life. This coming on the heels of a potential overhaul of the old Taylor distillery, it seems as if the ghosts of Kentucky past are coming back to life.
With its lawsuit with the Explorer’s Club still pending, Johnnie Walker/Diageo is once again revamping the ultra-super-mega-premium range to present its Premium Collection. This expression will be released annually with a limited offering of 8,888 bottles at a cost of about $740. Of course, one is simply not going to be able to roll down to the corner store to get their bottle. It will only be available in Singapore Changi Airport through May, and most of Asia-Pacific travel retail outlets in early summer. This move makes sense for Diageo, as it tries to somehow recover the losses of last quarter in the Chinese market due to the government crackdown on extravagant gifts and offerings at functions. [Moodie]
For those who have significant amounts of money to burn, an insane Maccallan collection collected over the last 50 years by an Italian restaurant owner will find itself on the auction block at McTear’s next Wednesday. The full collection runs over 400 bottles, wirh the first 164 up for sale in this round. [Glasgow]
And finally today, Joshua Feldman over at the Coopered Tot has been doing some outstanding historical research on old whiskey advertisements. Recent posts on women, racism, and male intimacy in advertising over the past century has been worthy of peer review in scholarly journals, so why not whiskey? Well researched and worth the time to read all three in the series. [Coopered Tot]
Looking for a break from tequila today? How about a refreshing gin and tonic? GQ today runs a quick portfolio piece on the new breed of American gins taking a share of the market traditionally held by the UK and Europe. We’ve reviewed most of these and agree with their rightful inclusion. [GQ]
If you’re not looking for a break from tequila today, here’s a few bottlings we’ve reviewed recently that received high marks.
Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
Abreojos Tequila Silver
Baron Tequila Platinum
So it’s looking like Diageo is looking to jettison its Whyte and Mackay properties to Philippines-based Alliance Global Company, but nothing has come through that’s solidified as of yet. Most product lines would go with Alliance, however both The Dalmore and Tamnavulin brands would stay with Diageo, according to terms of the deal. Markets aren’t exactly responding favorably to this news, with Alliance’s stock dropping a few percentage points over the past few days. [Bloomberg]
Months after the infamous Pappygate of 2013, there are still no definitive leads in the case. Law enforcement officials believe it to be an inside job, but there are still no solid clues as to who is behind one of the best-orchestrated modern spirit swindle sagas. NPR’s Noah Adams checks in to see how the investigation is going, and does a bit of footwork himself. [NPR]
And finally today, the Telegraph UK takes an in-depth look on the Scotch revival in the United States, and what U.S. distillers are doing to counter the surge with their own renaissance. Not much in terms of new information for those who have been keeping score for the past year or so, but it’s an interesting profile piece nevertheless. [Telegraph UK]