Drinkhacker Reads – 12.15.2014 – DIY Craft & More Edition

Perhaps it’s the spirit of doing it oneself, or the fact that prices for spirits are increasing at a brisk rate, but home distilling is becoming more and more popular. While still seriously illegal, some folks are giving it at go with their own equipment and becoming bonafide craft distillers. [Greeley Tribute]

The above also pivots nicely into a discussion of what exactly defines “craft distilling.” The general consensus seems to be out to lunch and still deliberating, but Christopher Carlsson over at Spirits Review offers up a modest proposal. It pretty much covers all the bases. Would be nice to see this put into an infographic and distributed widely. [Spirits Review]

The BBC takes a look at the budding craft brewery industry in South Korea and how its giving the country’s big guns a run for their money at the tap. [BBC]

24/7 runs a feature on beers Americans are supposedly no longer drinking. While the article does concede major breweries are taking a hit thanks to the craft industry, by and large folks are still consuming the big names at a healthy pace. This is by no means the end for Big Beer. [247WallStreet]

A new documentary on the history of bourbon is scheduled to premiere Sunday December 21st at 7pm on Kentucky Educational Television. “Kentucky Bourbon Tales” will draw on key figures in the industry to retell some of bourbon’s more colorful episodes in history. Not in Kentucky? Don’t worry, it’ll be available streaming on its website. [WBKO]

Heaven Hill is getting a new logo in time for its 80th anniversary. Not content with a new Web 3.0 visual rebranding, the company is also renaming itself Heaven Hill Brands to reflect the diversity of its brand portfolio. Kinda looks like a sign you’d see for a company hawking whiskey in heaven… which, I guess, is fitting.

unnamed

And finally today, The crew over at Malt Maniacs reveal their best of picks for 2014 in the world of Scotch. Lots of really weird and wild selections to choose from, if you can track them down. [Whiskyfun]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.10.2014 – Maker’s Mark And The $5 Million Headache

The latest “false advertising in spirits” lawsuit to be filed comes against the iconic, waxy red folks at Maker’s Mark, who are being sued by folks looking for about $5 million in damages (???) from the Beam brand, claiming that Maker’s is using false advertising to claim the product is “‘handmade’ when in fact defendant’s whisky is manufactured using mechanized and/or automated processes, which involves little to no human supervision, assistance, or involvement.” No doubt this will be one that makes more national waves as the weeks go on. Stay tuned. [USA Today]

Things aren’t all bad for Maker’s parent company though. Profits seem to be on the up, and the company is planning yet another stillhouse/tourism center. Meetings about a potential “urban stillhouse” are scheduled to happen today between Beam and the Kentucky Tourism Finance Authority today, with the location tentatively scheduled to be on 4th Street in downtown Louisville. [Courier-Journal]

In other bourbon news, Buffalo Trace is getting ready to release the final batches in the 2014 campaign of its long-running Experimental Collection. According to a press release sent to us yesterday:

The Warehouse Floors Experiment was started in 2001, when Buffalo Trace filled 15 barrels with their Wheat Bourbon Mash Bill and placed five barrels on floors one, five, and nine of Warehouse K. This brick warehouse has nine wooden floors in total and was chosen for this experiment due to the variety of tastes it provides during the aging process. “This experiment was an interesting comparison to our rye bourbon warehouse floors experiment, especially since both were aged in the same warehouse and on the same floors, said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “As with the rye bourbon experiment, the higher floors yielded a different taste profile than the lower floors, giving us a richer and full bodied taste. Also, we noticed a higher evaporation rate on the wheat recipe experiment vs the rye bourbon recipe experiment. The wheat evaporated between 42-51% over the twelve years, depending on what floor the barrel was aged. The rye experiment evaporated between 25-49% over the twelve years, with significantly less on the lower floors. This higher evaporation rate is expected in wheated recipes, but it’s interesting to see it up close with the rye experiment.”

The bottles are set to hit stores this month, and will come at its usual retail suggested cost of $46.75 per 375ml. Reviews are forthcoming. [Buffalo Trace]

In case you’ve missed it, Whisky Advocate has been counting down its favorites of 2014 over on their blog, including one that’s a bit of a surprise in the American Whisky category. Lots of great stuff to choose from if you can find any of it at this point in the year. [Whisky Advocate]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.09.2014 – Beer, Bourbon and Business

The march of craft beer continues, this time as we take to the friendly skies as Delta begins offering craft beers from various microbrews across the nation. Of course, this upgrade will no doubt come at an upcharge to patrons, who would perhaps prefer the comfort of more legroom than a can of Brooklyn Beer. In response to this new trend, Spirit Airlines is rumored to be considering upgrading its beer selection to include Budweiser at $15 a can. [Gizmodo]

In other beer news, Arcade Brewery is releasing “6 Pack Stories”, a six pack of beer featuring part of a comic book narrative on each bottle. Festus Rotgut: Zombie Cowboy, is the first in the series, and was illustrated by Tony Moore of The Walking Dead. [Red Eye Chicago]

Forbes presents a lengthy interview with Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wines, on the challenges of starting up the company and handling its rise to gradual success. More business-based than anything, but still an interesting read. [Forbes]

Business Insider publishes an article on the new fad of bourbon hoarding. In response, the Guardian reminds us that there really isn’t a bourbon shortage, and that hoarding is overhyped. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal adds fuel to the fear fire with profiles of three bourbons worth hoarding. Hint: two of the three are wheated and from the same distillery.

And finally today, America’s favorite ascot enthusiast Fred Minnick takes on Pink Panty Dropper Watermelon Moonshine for its label design and general existence. While we’re generally annoyed with the brand concept as a whole, it’s the absolutely absurd use of typography and general graphic design that has us grinding our teeth this morning. [Fred Minnick]

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 12.05.2014

Hello and welcome to the 75th edition of the Drinkhacker Shopping List, our regular look back at the best and worst products reviewed over the last few weeks. Plenty for everyone to choose from this time around, including some incredible (and incredibly pricey) scotch. In case you missed it: We’ve also published our annual Gift Guide, our best spirits of the year guide, including picks for the ideal gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

TheList120514

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.03.2014 – Weird Science and Expensive Beer

Once again science confirms what barstool wisdom has taught us all along: we evolved with the taste for alcohol, and we’ve been doing it for millions of years. Researchers in Gainesville, Florida, have been able to detect in our ancestral lineage where the ability to product the enzyme to break down alcohol first appeared in our bodies. [AZ Daily Sun]

Elsewhere in science news, researchers at Brown and Yale have been awarded a grant to determine how memory serves a role in alcohol preference and how certain parts of the brain help to block alcohol’s negative effects. [Brown Daily Herald]

Brown-Forman reports 2nd quarter growth thanks to sales of Jack Daniel’s Honey and overseas growth, offsetting losses in other areas. [CNBC]

A. Smith Bowman Distillery has announced a new limited edition vanilla bean-infused whiskey. Aged a total of seven years and six months in the barrel, it is bottled at 90 proof. It’s currently on sale in very limited quantities, mostly available only in Virginia at a suggested retail price of $70. [A. Smith Bowman]

The Telegraph has published a quiz for readers to test their knowledge on which wines contain the most alcohol by volume. The quiz was constructed in response to a public health official warning that people “have no idea how much alcohol they’re drinking.” [Telegraph UK]

A beer recently sold for $500,000 on eBay. The St. Louis Post Dispatch looks into the details behind the auction, and how exactly the lucky winner might be paying for this bottle. [St Louis Post]

Everyone’s favorite E! news correspondent has figured out the solution to leftover wine for moms craving just a single glass and not a whole bottle. Perhaps you’ve seen the billboards. [People]

And finally today, for those wishing to smell like single malt wherever they may go, textile developers have “hand crafted” a fabric to permanently smell like whiskey. There are a number of scenarios in which this product could become problematic, but we’re glad the capability to forever smell of peat and smoke now exists.  [BBC News]

The A-List – November 2014

Welcome to this month’s edition of the A-List, our compendium of the best of the best we’ve reviewed in the last 30 days. Lots of great stuff for everyone this month, including a very rare “A+” rating to the latest Tun offering from the Balvenie. Not seeing anything you like here? We’ve also just published the 2014 edition of our annual Gift Guide with a generous amount of high quality suggestions for your upcoming holiday affairs.

AList1114

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.01.2014 – Diageo Loves America, Europe Loves Microbrewers

Welcome back from the holiday weekend. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, might we interest you in our 2014 edition of the Holiday Gift Guide? It’s full of solid recommendations covering some of the “best of the best” we’ve reviewed this year.

While the rest of the world is looking a bit grim for Diageo when it comes to spirits sales, America is a shining beacon welcoming cases of the brand’s finest with open arms and open minds. Even the orphans seem to be getting a little love. Sales are booming, and this is a good thing, as Diageo’s prized Chinese market is slipping drastically in profits. [The Economist]

It’s well known that the craft beer industry has been surging in recent years over in the States, with Big Brewers getting a bit antsy; scrambling to keep up and keep innovating to win drinkers back. Now the frenzy is heading to Europe, with more folks overseas discovering and turning to microbrewers for new experiences. [Financial Times]

Shanken runs a profile on how Bacardi plans to lure bourbon drinkers over to its brands via a new product line and new expression of an old favorite. [Shanken News Daily]

And finally today, a group of armed thieves hijacked and stole an estimated 2,500 cases of gin and whiskey in broad daylight last month. Police are currently working on the investigation with relatively minimal leads at this point. No doubt this stolen product is going into the exact same warehouse currently storing the missing Pappy Van Winkle from a year ago. [Independent]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.26.2014 – Early Thanksgiving Edition

Unlike most people who have already packed up and shipped off for the holiday weekend, we never stop working here at Drinkhacker. Going forward into that great November night, we’re still here scouring the wires for the latest news and reads. We find this duty to be especially important today, given that we’ll all need an excuse for something to read while avoiding political discussions with relatives. So without further adulation, let’s get to it!

In a major victory for great taste, more Americans are drinking craft beer than Budweiser. Now mind you this doesn’t include the entire Budweiser stable of brands, and it’s really only folks in the 21-27 year old demographic. But it’s still good news, right? In response to this information, the marketing folks have decided on a bold new strategy to woo those back who have left: not using its famous Clydesdale horses in its ads. How about just making better tasting beer? [Slate]

In science news, a look into the mystery behind the gorgeous photographs of whisky rings, and why they occur. No doubt we’ll be staring blankly into the bottom of a glass this week in order to avoid family conversation. Elsewhere in science news: bubbles in a glass of beer help to prevent spills better than other liquids. [Scientific American]

Balcones has agreed to drop its restraining order against founder Chip Tate. Hopefully this means they can also drop the drama and get back to making some pretty good whiskey. [Waco Tribune]

And finally today, just a reminder that while tonight is one of the busiest bar nights of the year, it’s also one of the most dangerous days for drunk drivers. Please have yourself a safe, happy, enjoyable Thanksgiving and stay tuned for Friday when we’ll publish the 2014 edition of our annual Gift Guide — chock full of suggestions of things to take to your next holiday affair.

Recipe: 2014 Thanksgiving Cocktails

Traditionally at our house “Thanksgiving cocktails” means Stroh’s beer or lots of neat bourbon to numb yet another loss on national TV courtesy of my hometown football team, the Detroit Lions. This year looks to be different with the Lions actually performing well and family members willing to eschew their normal comfort zone and try something new. Here’s a few that I’m going to be forcing upon my family, along with a few others that may prove interesting for your holiday gatherings.

Old Fashioned RyeOld Fashioned Thanksgiving
(Created by Jon Gasparini @ Rye)
2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 rye
1 tsp pumpkin spice black tea syrup
2 dashes Bar Keep Apple bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in an old fashioned glass over a large ice cube and stir.

Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup:
2 parts cane sugar
1 part strong pumpkin spice tea
Brew pumpkin spice tea (one tea bag for every 6 oz. of water). Combine tea and organic cane sugar. Bring to boil, stir as sugar dissolves. Let syrup cool completely before using.

image003

Ketel One Pumpkin King
1 oz. Ketel One Oranje
¼ oz. Godiva Caramel liqueur
¼ oz. pumpkin liqueur
1 teaspoon whipped cream

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake over ice. Strain into a martini glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a dust of cinnamon powder.

punchThe Sea Fire Grill Cider Punch
(courtesy Sea Fire Grill)
4 oz apple cider
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz Ron Zacapa 23 year old rum
A pinch of fresh nutmeg
A pinch of fresh cinnamon
1 clove
1 Granny Smith Apple, quartered and peeled
1 fresh orange, quartered

Mull apple cider, Granny Smith apple, orange and spices together. Remove orange and blend. Mix in Grand Marnier and rum with cider mixture. Chill and strain, add garnish if desired. Can be served hot or cold.

blackberryBlackberry Blitz
2 oz bourbon whiskey
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
4 oz IZZE Sparkling Blackberry
Rosemary sprig for garnish

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with IZZE Sparkling Blackberry. Smack a sprig of rosemary between palms to release aromatics and add as garnish.

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.24.2014 – New Bourbon Fetches $25K at Auction, Grand Marnier For Sale?

The Upshot takes a look at how the oil industry could learn a thing or two from the bourbon industry. This immediately prompted a response from Forbes bluntly titled “Why Oil Is Not Like Bourbon.”

We reported on the opening of Boundary Oak Bourbon last week in Reads, and this week it turns out that the freshly-minted distillery now holds the record for the most expensive bourbon to be sold in the U.S. Via online auction, bottle #1 of Boundary Oak fetched an impressive $25,000. The winner opted to remain anonymous, but the proceeds from the sale will be going direct to their charity of choice. [The Spirits Business]

Need help brewing your own beer? There’s an app (and machine) for that. Brewbot helps the new homebrewer with the brewing process step by step. The machines are in the process of being manufactured, with 80 pre-orders already lined up and a predicted ship date in early 2015. And for those not willing or able to spend $4,000, one could always just hop on down to the library and read a book. Or hop online to read some tutorials. [New York Times]

In other new product news, the Sonic Decanter claims to make one’s wine taste better using sound waves. Does it really work? Huffington Post test drives the machine, scheduled for release in May of 2015. [Huffington Post]

Grand Marnier Group, the French cognac maker, is exploring options which include putting itself up for sale. No idea yet on which companies are potential suitors for the potential acquisition, but this could prove to be more interesting than some of the more noted acquisitions and mergers in 2014. Our complete and total speculation: look for an announcement by year’s end. [Bloomberg]

And finally today, in a bit of a head scratcher, police in the metropolitan Nashville area are looking for a bandit who has been robbing liquor stores, but not taking the predictable Pappy thievery route. They’re snatching up Canadian whiskey by the caseload. [Associated Press]