Author Archives: Rob Theakston

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.13.2014 – Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The Job

jimmy 300x190 Drinkhacker Reads   03.13.2014   Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The JobWe’re about to celebrate one bourbon legend with a review of Booker’s 25 in a hot second (review forthcoming), and now we’re going to toast another. Wild Turkey Master Distiller and all around great guy Jimmy Russell is celebrating his 60th year in the business. The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky native started at the distillery in 1954 and has been working nearly every day since then. A year long celebration is being planned at Wild Turkey, beginning with the grand opening of its brand new visitor center on April 15th. We’re also equally excited about the announcement of a Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary expression, created by Jimmy’s son Eddie. This limited edition will only be available at the visitor center at first, and then rolled out nationwide later this year. Jimmy will also be the subject of an upcoming feature-length documentary detailing his time at the distillery, featuring appearances by a who’s who in the industry. Kudos to 60 years on the job!

fire 300x162 Drinkhacker Reads   03.13.2014   Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The JobJack Daniel’s is putting out a new flavored whisky. Hooray! The company announced it will test a new red hot cinnamon-flavored spirit called Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, beginning in April. It will blend Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey with a “proprietary red hot cinnamon liqueur.” Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire will be available in three states – Oregon, Pennsylvania and the distillery’s home state of Tennessee – before a potential nationwide rollout. [Press Release]

In other news, the Idaho Steelheads hockey franchise is being sued by fans for allegedly misleading them into thinking there was more beer in the $7 cups than in the $4 ones. Which there was not. [ABC News]

Wine Searcher enters the conversation as to whether or not wine critic Eric Asimov’s new “virtual wine school” venture with the New York Times will have the power to be sustainable, and whether or not it really differs from the other sites out there. [Wine Searcher]

Shanken News Daily is reporting that Jimmy Russell’s Wild Turkey was a significant factor in contributing to Gruppo Campari’s 6% growth in the 2013 calendar year. Wild Turkey was up 10% last year with 590,000 cases sold. Its American Honey edition jumped an impressive 17%. [Shanken]

Lastl, in celebration of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, Gizmodo did an Ask Me Anything with Gerry Graham from Bushmills yesterday. Nearly 200 comments were left — some informative, others amusing, and some just typically downright trolling. [Gizmodo]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.10.2014 – New Game Of Thrones Beer In Time For Season 4

GameOfThrones1 300x225 Drinkhacker Reads   03.10.2014   New Game Of Thrones Beer In Time For Season 4Ommegang brewery is getting ready to launch the next offering in its Game of Thrones-inspired beer line. Launching at SXSW this week, the Fire and Blood Ale is the third in the series and slated to be on shelves right in time for the season 4 premiere of the HBO hit series. [USA Today]

In other beer news: AB InBev (makers of Spuds Mackenzie and Budweiser) is preparing to launch a test run of rum-flavored beer in the UK later this month. Foodmate reports that Cubanisto “is a brand waiting to be discovered by tech-savvy trend setters, and enjoyed when socializing and celebrating with friends.” Perhaps we’ll put this in the cooler right next to the bourbon-flavored-not-bourbon-flavored Miller Fortune. [Foodmate]

The always excellent Becky Paskin over at the Spirits Business files a long form article on the website’s 2014 Rum Masters competition, and its expansive list of winners includes many we’ve given high marks to over the years. [The Spirits Business]

The Sacramento Bee is warning grape growers that after several fruitful summers of productivity, this summer may be different. Reports of drought-like conditions are already being predicted for the region. [Sac Bee]

And finally today, a pretty run-of-the-mill profile piece on Julian Van Winkle, discussing the phenomenon behind the brand, future allocations, and how we could all be smoking weed in about 10 years time. [Charleston City Paper]

Recipe: Booker’s Bourbon Cocktails

Bookers 450x1200 Recipe: Bookers Bourbon CocktailsWhen we approached Beam for a few ideas for mixing Booker’s Bourbon in a cocktail, they were caught off guard. Apparently, no one’s really requested them before. So Beam got together with resident mixologist Bobby G, who hit up a few friends to contribute some ideas. All of these recipes aside, we’re going to side with Fred Noe, who believes the best way to drink Booker’s is “any damn way you please.”

Clermont Smash
Courtesy of Tony Abou-Ganim
1.50 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
.75 oz. falernum syrup
10-12 spearmint leaves
3 dashes Fee Brother’s Peach Bitters
1.50 oz. fresh lemon sour

In a mixing glass muddle the spearmint leaves with falernum syrup, add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and stir. Rub a wedge of pineapple around the rim of glass and garnish with pineapple wedge and a sprig of mint.

Dalton Cocktail
In honor of Jerry Dalton, Former Master Distiller Jim Beam
1.25 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
.50 oz. Laird’s Applejack
.25 oz Grand Marnier
1.50 oz. fresh sour
.25 oz. falernum syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice until well blended. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a burnt orange peel and drop a cherry into cocktail. Cut a small half dollar size piece of orange peel with as little pith as possible. Hold peel between thumb and forefinger about 4” above cocktail. Hold match between peel and cocktail squeeze peel sharply to release oils into flame.

The River Styx
1.50 oz Booker’s Bourbon
.50 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
4 1″ pieces of fresh pineapple
3” sprig of fresh rosemary (stripped of the bottom 2”)
.50 oz blood orange or pomegranate syrup

In a mixing glass muddle the pineapple and the rosemary. Add all remaining ingredients except the syrup and shake vigorously with ice. Double strain the cocktail over the ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a half moon slice of orange and the remaining 1” of the rosemary sprig.

Tangerine Julep
1.50 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
½ fresh tangerine cut and muddled with peel
6-10 fresh mint leaves
.50 oz simple syrup

Muddle the mint and tangerine with the simple syrup in a double Old Fashioned glass. Fill glass with cracked ice and add Booker’s Bourbon. Stir to combine, garnish with a mint sprig.

Kentucky Lemon Drop
1.25 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
.50 oz. limoncello
2.0 oz. fresh lemon sour
5-6 fresh spearmint leaves

Shake all ingredients with ice until well blended. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass with an optional sugared rim. Garnish with a lemon wheel. The little pieces of mint that should be floating around in the cocktail are little bursts of flavor that is considered good luck if you get one.

Booker’s Apple
1.5 oz. Booker’s Bourbon
2.0 oz. fresh pressed apple juice
1.0 oz. fresh lemon sour

Build over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.05.2014 – Hudson Whiskey Looking for a New Brand Ambassador

Looking to spice up your career trajectory a bit? Need something that’s not exactly the average clock-punching, 9 to 5? Well, Hudson Whiskey may have the answer for you. It’s looking for a new brand ambassador to take the company to the next level. Their current brand ambassador also happens to be master distiller Gable Erenzo, who is looking to head back to the distillery full time. More information in the video, or on the company’s website.

Brown-Forman is reporting its third quarter profit increased 12% following increased global demand on its brands such as the flagship of the portfolio, Jack Daniel’s. The company, which has been subject to takeover rumors from Bacardi in recent weeks, attributed much of its global growth to the success of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. [WSJ]

Over in the world of wine, Business Insider lives up to its name by giving tips on how to pay less for a high quality bottle of wine. [Business Insider]

Over in the world of “what?”: a company is claiming it has manufactured a machine with the ability to turn water into wine, just like that one guy did a few thousand years ago. No word on whether or not this is a prank like the hoverboard video which stormed the internet yesterday. [Fox St. Louis]

Recipes: Mardi Gras Cocktails 2014

While a good portion of the United States is currently digging itself out from a rather harsh winter filled with ice, sleet, snow, power outages, and traffic accidents, the folks down in the Big Easy (where our intrepid Editor-In-Chief recently spent some time) are gearing up for Mardi Gras. We’ve collected a few recipes to help folks come in from the cold and celebrate the warmth that is Fat Tuesday. These drinks are best paired with your favorite flavored paczki — avoid the prune ones.

PurpleBasil 197x300 Recipes: Mardi Gras Cocktails 2014

Purple Basil Gimlet
2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
4-6 leaves purple basil
(Note: if you can’t find purple basil, regular basil leaves will do nicely. The purple adds a nice effect though.)

Press purple basil leaves with simple syrup and fresh lime juice, add gin and shake well, strain up into a stemmed glass, garnish with a sprig of purple basil.

Ragin Cajun 300x200 Recipes: Mardi Gras Cocktails 2014Ragin’ Cajun
1 part Hornitos Plata Tequila
2 parts lemonade
3-4 dashes of green hot sauce
Salt/smoked paprika rim

Rim shot glass with salt and smoked paprika. Mix chilled lemonade, chilled Hornitos Plata and hot sauce in mixing glass and pour into shot glass.

Tequila Tuesday 300x200 Recipes: Mardi Gras Cocktails 2014Tequila Tuesday
1 part Hornitos Plata Tequila
1 part concord grape juice
½ part lemon juice

Build over ice in a tall glass.

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.04.2014 – More Mortlach, M’Lady

Mortlach 25ans FACE RVB 200x300 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLadyMortlach 18ans FACE RVB 200x300 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLady
Last year Diageo announced its intentions to relaunch the dormant Mortlach brand. Those plans are now firming up. The Speyside single malt will be available in four expressions, due to arrive at select global travel outlets in early summer and in “cosmopolitan” cities in the Asia-Pacific region and New York/San Francisco in late summer. We’ve received images of the new packaging for the 18 and 25 year old expressions. [Mortlach Distillery]

Here we go again: another month, another lawsuit over likeness and images. Sazerac is taking Minnesota-based Crosby Lake Spirits to court over similarities between Crosby’s Bison Ridge and Sazerac’s Buffalo Trace brands, which may cause “confusion” with consumers. We’ve broken it down for consideration. What do you think? Does Sazerac have a case? Did Bison Ridge come too close to the ridge’s ledge? Is it headed for extinction?

TaleOfTape 525x423 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLady

Finally today, if any of our readers has $500 million to $1 billion to spare: Pabst Blue Ribbon could be all yours. Reuters is reporting that the infamous Beer du Jour of both working people and Brooklyn trust fund kids is looking for a new captain to steer its ship. As a bonus, the new owner will also get Schlitz and Old Milwaukee as part of the bargain. [Reuters]

Recipes: 2014 Oscar Night Cocktails

This year Ellen DeGeneres hosts the 2014 Oscars, and thankfully Seth MacFarlane lowered the bar so low in the expectations game that DeGeneres has nowhere to go but up. In fact, she did a great job in 2007 and presuming no disasters she’ll be great again this year.

Meanwhile, we’ve received a few recipe ideas for Oscar-themed cocktails, many of which will be served at several of the A-list after parties around town. Try them yourself tonight! (Meanwhile: Follow our sister site, Film Racket, with an evening-long live-tweeting of the entire affair @filmracket!)

Baileys Vanilla Cinnamon Glamour Shot 167x300 Recipes: 2014 Oscar Night CocktailsBaileys Glamour Shot
1 oz. Baileys Vanilla Cinnamon
1/2 oz. Goldschläger Cinnamon Schnapps
edible gold flakes for garnish

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled shot glass rimmed with edible gold flakes.
(Note: We don’t stock gold flakes in our arsenal, and this drink is just fine without them. You can also get creative like we did and crush up some Frosted Flakes.)

CÎROC Coco Light Martini
1 1/2 oz. CÎROC Coconut
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened coconut water
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
lemon twist for garnish

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

The Patrón Red Rose
1 ½ oz. Patrón Silver Tequila
1 ½ oz. Patrón Citrónge orange liqueur
2 oz. mango juice
1 oz. watermelon juice
red rose (for garnish)

The Ultimat Blue Orchard
1 ½ oz. Ultimat Vodka
¼ oz. Patrón Citrónge Orange Liqueur
2 oz. fresh blueberry juice
1 oz. fresh raspberry juice

(Note: along with the Patrón Red Rose, we are being told these two recipes are on the menu for Sir Elton John’s annual after party.)

Johnnie Walker Blood and Sand 200x300 Recipes: 2014 Oscar Night Cocktails

Johnnie Walker Blood and Sand
3/4 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. cherry liqueur
Orange peel for garnish

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
(Note: this recipe was created in homage to the classic 1922 silent film Blood and Sand which can be viewed in its entirety online for free.)

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 02.28.2014

Welcome to our semi-regular Shopping List, where we detail the best and worst of our reviews in one compact, printable, easy-to-use informative graphic. February appeared to be Irish whiskey month, with an unusual amount of new releases headed our way. We also hung out in the big easy for a spell and received an incredible amount of new recipes to check out. Another solid month of quality indulgence in the books!

TheList022814 525x855 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   02.28.2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.26.2014 – A Night Of Brora-mance Will Cost You $12k

Brora 264x300 Drinkhacker Reads   02.26.2014   A Night Of Brora mance Will Cost You $12kDiageo has entered the single malt super-luxury-one-percenter market with its latest release, a 40 year Brora retailing for $11,690. Bottled in the obligatory crystal decanter, this expression comes nestled with love in a wooden case courtesy of the Queen Mother’s personal cabinet maker, N.E.J Stevenson. Of course, if you’re one of those peasantlike two-percenters or someone who doesn’t have excessive money to burn on such frivolities, you could always go for the 35 year old Brora for a fraction of the cost. [Press Release]

Over the past few days there have been murmurs of a potential takeover of spirits producer Brown-Forman by mega-global corporation Bacardi. While there’s been no confirmation either way on the matter, the Lexington Herald Leader‘s incredible spirits scribe Janet Patton is reporting that the story originated months ago and began simmering louder this past weekend, when Bacardi’s CEO made comments regarding its desire to strengthen its whiskey portfolio. Now the question becomes: will they or won’t they? Could get interesting. Stay tuned. [Lexington Herald Leader]

In science news: researchers in Spain think they are getting closer to figuring out how microbial bacteria influences the taste of wine. [Wired]

We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here, but it appears that the staff of the “Model Collectorate of Customs Preventive, Anti-Smuggling Organization” (sounds pretty official) in Pakistan has confiscated 1000 bottles of whisky as part of a smuggling crackdown. Details of the initiative are incredibly sketchy at best, but perhaps someone in Frankfort, Kentucky may now have some answers as to where some misplaced inventory might be residing. [Observer]

Pernod seems to be keeping busy with its genius marketing idea of creating Absolut bottles based on regions. Up next: The Drinks Business reports Absolut is teaming with director Baz Luhrmann for Absolut Oz, and The Houston Chronicle reports of the arrival of Absolut Texas later this month.

In tequila news: a dignified portrait of tequila and the art of the process at Casa Noble. And then there’s Paula Deen riding horseback on an employee and slamming back the anejo.

And finally today, happy 107th birthday to Qualicum Beach’s Gertrude Kay. When asked about the secret to her longevity, she replied that it involves enjoying a glass of rye every evening before bedtime. We’ve had our suspicions that a long and happy life was somewhere in a good bottle of whiskey. Cheers to discovering the fountain of youth, Ms. Kay! [Parksville-QB News]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.24.2014 – Red Rockers, Dead Rockers and Irish Folk Songs

Here’s one of the weirder celebrity endorsements we’ve seen in a bit: according to the anonymous press officer from Proximo Spirits, “Fans of Elvis Presley know how much his ‘Hawaii’ years molded him into the superstar icon he is today.” Which gives us pause, considering his early years seem to weigh more iconically on the walls of Cracker Barrel gift shops than the Hawaii years, but that’s for hardcore fans to debate. Nevertheless, Three Olives vodka is issuing a “coconut water” flavored vodka in tribute to The King. Why this $21 flavored vodka is “coconut water” as opposed to simply “coconut” is also a bit of a head scratcher. Maybe the company could shed some light on this matter. [via press release]

In other head scratching news, geriatric rocker Sammy Hagar was once synonymous with his long time love of tequila. Long before other heavy metal stars fashioned their own tequila lines, the former Montrose singer was crooning ballads professing his love for the spirit. According to Gawker, he’s now switching teams and hawking rum as his spirit of choice. We’ve reviewed one expression of Sammy’s rum to date; another is coming up. [Gawker]

Forbes profiles the latest trend in craft winemaking: using ancient amphorae as opposed to barrels. [Forbes]

Keeping with its trend of nice looking, easy to read infographics, Quartz offers its  latest update profile of where the world’s biggest vodka drinkers are located. [Quartz]

The Independent is reporting that thieves have stolen almost $30,000 worth of Bombay Sapphire from a truck in Northhamptonshire, UK last week. Authorities are asking that anyone offered cheap, large quantities of the gin to contact local authorities immediately. [Independent UK]

The Guardian UK takes a survey of beers endorsed/branded by UK rock stars, and picks the best of the bunch. [Guardian]

And finally today, in what has to be the most Irish advertisement most Americans will see all year, Tullamore Dew has supplied us with a gorgeously shot ad with a twist worthy of one of Joyce’s Dubliners short stories. The inclusion of the traditional Irish song “A Parting Glass” aids in telling the (short) story of four friends sending one of their own off with a fond farewell. It’s stark, dignified, and wonderfully Celtic through and through.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.17.2014 – False Spirits, Good Grapes and Mixed Messages

The Spirits Business is reporting that $17 million worth of counterfeit spirits were confiscated in December and January as part of a joint multi-national law enforcement operation cracking down on the practice. The operation also saw close to 100 people arrested or detained for their participation in this growing crime. [The Spirits Business]

Good news for wine drinkers: this year’s grape harvest is reported to be one for the record books. After shorter crops in recent years, this year’s crop looks to be healthy and plentiful, thanks in part to favorable weather conditions and larger acreage under vine. [ABC News]

In mixed media messages news: On the same day the Herald-Sun is reporting that Spain is experiencing a Gin and Tonic renaissance, other outlets are posting that the Gin boom in Spain is over. Bear in mind these articles were published within hours of one another.

And finally today, Berkshire Mountain Distillers is set to partner with 10 microbreweries around the nation to release limited edition bourbons finished in beer barrels. The releases will arrive in regions starting next month and will range in price from $43 to $60 and include such favorites as Founder’s, Full Sail, Ommegang and Terrapin. BevNet has the lowdown on the other brews, along with descriptions and anticipated release dates. [BevNet]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 02.14.2014

While this edition is a bit lean on the reviews and selection, we’ve still had some great stuff over the past two weeks, both in quality and quantity. Once again Evan Williams comes correct with its Single Barrel Vintage, an excellent value year after year, and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur most certainly spices things up in one’s glass. Also, per request we’ve included prices for each of these products as well. Thanks for the feedback!

TheList021414 525x855 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   02.14.2014

Recipes: Valentine’s Day Cocktails 2014

Along with bone-chilling temperatures for most of the nation, love is indeed in the air. And as always, we present a nice assortment of cocktail recipes to keep you warm and well-served during this most festive of holidays.

image014 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014Chandon Rosebud
4 raspberries
1/3 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz gin
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 dashes rose water

Shake lemon juice, gin, simple syrup and rose water over ice. Pour into coupe and top with raspberries.

image008 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014The Birds and the Bees
1 pt Solerno Blood Orange liqueur
.5 pt honey flavored vodka
2 pts plain almond milk
.5 pt fresh lemon juice
.5 pt fresh, organic egg whites
.25 pt honey syrup
1 bar spoon rose water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and dry shake to emulsify the egg whites. Add ice and hard shake until frothy and chilled. Fine strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass and garnish with a single rose petal.

image002 300x276 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014Carpe Dia
2 parts Milagro Anejo tequila
¾ part agave nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
5 blackberries
2 sage leaves

Muddle fruit and herbs in a Boston shaker. Add other ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnish cocktail with a blackberry and sage sprig.

GM Raspberry Peach Cosmo
(Created by mixologist George Carney)
2 oz Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach
1 oz cranberry juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist.

Garden of Eden FI 225x300 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014Garden Of Eden
.75 oz gin
.75 oz Berentzen Apple
.25 oz lemon juice
Champagne

Combine gin, Berentzen Apple, and lemon juice in mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a Champange flute and top with champagne.

TruLuv 225x300 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014TruLuv
3 oz. Partida Reposado Tequila
1 1/2 oz grenadine
5 oz. sweet and sour
1 oz. orange flavored liqueur

Add two cubes of ice to 2 flutes and set aside. Mix all ingredients together in a shaker and shake over ice. Strain into flutes. Serves two people or one really thirsty person.

 Recipes: Valentines Day Cocktails 2014Rose Colored Glass
.25 oz. Angostura bitters
.75 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
Crémant d’Alsace Rosé
Lemon twist or rose petals for garnish

Shake bitters, lemon juice and simple syrup and strain over ice into a flute or coupe glass. Top off with three ounces Crémant d’Alsace Rose. Garnish with lemon twist or rose petal.

Epic Chocolate Covered Cherry Float
5 oz. Root Beer
1 oz. EPIC cherry vodka
½ oz. Chocolate Liqueur
1 scoop vanilla (bean) ice cream
Maraschino cherries for garnish

In a large sundae glass combine the root beer, vodka, and liqueur with ice. Stir to mix. Top with one scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and garnish with cherries.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.12.2014 – Product Launches And Revamps Day

Aberlour is getting ready to launch a global rebranding initiative of its product line. The Pernod-owned single malt has refreshed its logo and is planning an aggressive social media campaign, led with the tagline “Made From Experience.” No word on which supermodel or actress they’re recruiting as a spokesperson. [Just Drinks]

In other product launch news, Beam-owned 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey is getting ready to roll out nationwide. Originally only available in Minnesota (…), 2 Gingers was acquired by Beam in late 2012 to expand its Irish portfolio and has slowly increased its distribution since the acquisition. We had a review of it almost exactly to this date last year, and gave it fairly strong marks. No word on whether or not its recipe/profile has changed since then. [Marketwatch]

Peat and smoke fans rejoice! Islay is getting another new distillery. The Daily Mail (not exactly the most reliable source at times) reports that construction on the Gartbreck distillery in Lochindaal will start immediately with the hopes of being online by the end of this year. Lochindaal is no stranger to distilleries, having had one in the past few centuries. [Daily Mail]

And finally today, in a bold marketing move, Molson has installed a beer fridge in the middle of the Olympic village in Sochi. However, there’s a hitch: an athlete must have a Canadian passport in order to open it and help themselves. Oh, Canada! [People]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.10.2014

If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em: the paper of record is reporting that Anheuser-Busch InBev waved some cash, made it rain, and purchased microbrewer Blue Point Brewing Company. While details of the acquisition of the Long Island brewery were not disclosed, it is expected to be a done deal by the end of this quarter. [NY Times]

In other acquisition news, billionare Russian Roustam Tariko is rumored to be putting together a package to take over multi-spirit mega overlords Diageo. Bloomberg reports that Tariko is looking to make that happen sooner than later. Hopefully this takeover won’t be as surreal or messy as the living conditions at the Sochi Olympics. [Bloomberg]

Flipping over to the blog side of things: in a surprising turn of the events over the weekend, author and Bourbon authority Chuck Cowdery posted what could be be described as a “cryptic digital temper tantrum” or a “warning shot” at… someone? Something? We’re not exactly sure who or what. While we normally don’t give credence to something like this in the Reads section, Chuck’s reputation as a top-tier spirits writer gives him a bit more leeway than others… and therefore makes it a compelling read, even in its ambiguity. Here’s hoping he stones up and starts naming names. [Chuck Cowdery]

And finally today in other bourbon news: an excellent long form read detailing the history of the historic Stitzel-Weller distillery, supplemented with an expansive tasting on a variety of Old Fitzgeralds from over the decades. This is a superb piece of scholarship and worthy of anyone wishing to know more about the distillery’s storied history. Kudos to Josh over a Coopered Tot for an excellent article. Pour a glass of your favorite Fitz and enjoy! [Coopered Tot]

The A-List January 2014

In contrast to last month, the A-List this month is heavily packed with a number of high quality spirits and wines for your consideration. By request, we’ve also listed the suggested retail price for each item when available (some items may have been reviewed at a tasting event where pricing information was not readily available). Some of these items may be easier to find than others, and some may already be gone and off the shelves due to their limited run. Happy hunting and happy drinking.

AListJan14 525x1049 The A List January 2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.05.2014 – Bourbon Tops $1 Billion; Beer Bots Baffle

In a press release sent yesterday afternoon, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) announced that American distilled spirits broke previous records in 2013 by crossing the $1.5 billion threshold, driven largely by bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which broke the $1 billion sales mark for the first time.

According to Council Senior Vice President for International Trade Christine LoCascio, projected Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey exports overall grew 5.0% from $956.8 million in 2012 to $1.005 billion in 2013, an increase of approximately $50 million.

The projected top six 2013 growth markets for all American distilled spirits by dollar value were Japan (up $22.7 million to $120.8 million), Germany (up $19.6 million to $140.1 million), France (up $14.5 million to $130.5 million), U.K. (up $8.8 million to $159.6 million), Spain (up $6.5 million to $69.8 million) and Panama (up $5.8 million to $11.6 million). The projected top 2013 markets by growth percentage were Nigeria (up 475.5% to $5.0 million), Panama (up 99.0% to $11.6 million), Greece (up 72.5% to $9.2 million), Georgia (up 47.6% to $6.0 million), China (up 40.4% to $11.8 million) and Belgium (up 33.6% to $18.3 million).

The full stack of presentation slides is available for download.

Elsewhere in business news, information powerhouse Just Drinks is reporting that the flavored vodka trend is (finally) sputtering and losing momentum, only gaining a 5.6% increase in sales in 2013, down from 9% in 2010. However, this isn’t stopping companies from introducing new products. 2013 had 50 new flavored vodka launches, a minor increase of 12% from 2012 but a sharp contrast from the 110% growth between 2011 and 2012. [Just Drinks] (Side note: BevNet reports Skyy will introduce two new vodka flavors this month: Georgia Peach and Vanilla Bean.)

Another day, another listicle: this time courtesy of the Spirits Business, which offers up its take on the top ten spirits brand makeovers of recent years. [The Spirits Business]

Finally, researchers in Spain have developed an “electronic tongue” able to identify brands of beer with an incredible accuracy rate of 81.9%. In the study, the scientists claim these bots could potentially replace human beings as a method to maintain quality control and consistency of products. No word on whether this “tongue” can replicate similar rates of success with wine or spirits. [Kurzweil AI]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.03.2014 – Booker’s 25th Anniversary Edition

Beam will be celebrating 25 years of its excellent Booker’s bourbon with a 9 to 11 year old uncut unfiltered goodness in a limited run. Bottles will be shipping soon at a price tag of around $100. In its honor, the Beam folks recently did a promo video interviewing the Noe family, and the importance of this bottling.

Elsewhere in Beam news, Shanken is reporting that its biggest shareholder, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, has reduced his stake in the company from 13 to 8%, unloading about half a billion worth in shares in advance of the closing of the Suntory deal. [Shanken News Daily]

Science has finally come through with some compelling evidence to answer the age-old question: “Which nation parties the hardest?” Quartz is reporting that the citizens of South Korea drink twice as much liquor per week than Russians and four times as much as the average American. [Quartz]

And finally today, the Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that beer delivery by drone is illegal, thereby crushing the hopes and dreams of folks in Washington and Colorado of a future where booze and weed are delivered by airborne robot to their door. [Atlanta Journal]

Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII Cocktails

In America, the Super Bowl isn’t just a game, it’s close to being a national holiday. This year, the Broncos and Seahawks are getting ready to battle it out in the sunny, balmy climate of East Rutherford, New Jersey. While people usually gravitate to more traditional fare for game time (hello, Pabst fans!), here are a few recipes we’ve tried out that we think might spice up your tailgate/home parties.

Allstar Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII CocktailsThe Allstar
2 parts Milagro Anejo tequila
1 part Italian amaro
½ part allspice liqueur
1-2 dashes Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Add all ingredients in mixing glass, stir with ice until well chilled. Strain into martini glass or coupe and garnish a flamed orange peel.

LimeofScrimmage 121x150 Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII CocktailsLime of Scrimmage
2 oz Patrón Silver tequila
2 oz fresh lime-lemon sour
1 oz cranberry sauce
1 oz cranberry juice
1/2 oz grenadine
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rock glass. Garnish lime slices/ dry cranberries.

EndZone 117x150 Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII CocktailsEnd Zone Rita
2 oz Patrón silver tequila
1 oz Monin watermelon syrup
1 oz fresh sweet & sour
1 oz fresh lime juice
6 thin sliced cucumber slices
Shake all ingredients with ice, pour over fresh ice in rocks glass. Garnish with a watermelon slice.

touchdownpaloma 102x150 Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII CocktailsTouchdown Paloma
1 1/2 oz Patrón Silver Tequila
1 oz Elderflower liqueur
3 oz pink grapefruit juice
2 oz club soda
Pour ingredients in a Collins glass filled with ice, then stir well and serve. Garnish with grapefruit.

The Bronco Bulldog
2 oz Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka
2 oz Crater Lake Vodka
1 oz cola (note: diet works, but makes it a bit sweeter)
1 splash of half & half
Combine all ingredients over ice in a rocks glass.

dimeback 114x150 Recipe: Super Bowl XLVIII CocktailsThe Dimeback
3/4 oz Ciroc Amaretto
3/4 oz Ciroc Coconut
1 oz simple syrup
1/4 oz lime juice
Combine all ingredients over ice, garnish with slice of lime.

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.29.2014 – Miller Makes Bourbon Beer, Mila Beams Up

miller fortune 150x150 Drinkhacker Reads   01.29.2014   Miller Makes Bourbon Beer, Mila Beams Up Bourbon-finished beer is certainly nothing new on the market. In fact it’s been around commercially for well over a decade. So it comes as no surprise that the big boys are finally getting into the game, starting with Miller. Miller Fortune, as it has been christened, is a “spirited golden lager” that’s been bourbon-flavored and which will retail for about $6.99 per six pack, and will be arriving at your favorite watering hole shortly. In a mildly amusing marketing move, Miller reps are asking bartenders to serve the beer in cocktail glasses. This may prove to be a smart move after the fourth or fifth “cocktail” to forget one is drinking a Miller product. Jury’s still out, and we’re curious as to how this one will taste. (Photo: Miller Fortune) [Business Insider]

Step aside Kid Rock: Mila Kunis has signed on to become Beam’s global spokesperson. The lead actress in such classic direct-to-video films as Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and American Psycho 2 will be the face of Beam in an expansive multi-platform media campaign urging people to “make history”. [Emag]

Hopslammed reports allegations that an Ohio retailer purchased another retailer’s stock of Bell’s Hopslam (which by the way, is excellent and doesn’t need a cocktail glass gimmick to back up its quality) with the intent of reselling it. Bell’s reps and state officials are looking into the matter, which we all know is a big, bonafide “no-no”. [Hopslammed]

As a postscript to the lead blurb, The Full Pint is reporting that Full Sail’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout will be released in early February. Last year’s batch was exceptional, and we’re confident that this year’s will continue in that tradition. [Full Pint]

UPDATE 1/31/14: We’ve recently received a transmission from MillerCoors HQ stating the following regarding the Bloomberg article linked above:

“Miller Fortune is an exciting new beer with a 6.9% ABV. It features a rich golden color, brewed with caramel malt and cascade hops to achieve layers of flavor and a distinctly smooth finish. Our beer was brewed to deliver the complexity and depth that appeals to spirit drinkers. Spirit inspired…yes. Spirit infused…no. As many of you know, the beer industry as a whole has lost seven share points to spirits (five) and wine (two) in the last 10 years. Miller Fortune was created to fight against these losses and take back legal-drinking age spirits drinkers/occasions. So, you can say it has been inspired by the success of spirits competition and it is a darker beer that may look more bourbon-like in a glass.” – Jonathan Stern, Director of Media Relations, MillerCoors

So it is indeed NOT a beer that tastes like a bourbon. Just inspired by one. Either way, we look forward to reviewing it.