Drinkhacker Reads – 01.12.2015 – Contaminated, Aged and Deceptive Beer Monday

Time magazine publishes an article about 5 beers that are largely considered or were once imported that are now brewed in the United States. Amusingly, Fox News publishes an article on the same topic on the same day. Total coincidence, we’re sure. [Time]

The Napa Valley Register gives its predictions on what will be trending in the world of wine this year. It looks as if mixers, sparkling, and sweetness are making a comeback, which no doubt will please Messrs. Bartles and Jaymes. [Napa Valley Register]

Whisky Advocate reports that Crown Royal is entering the single barrel market, a first for the Canadian brand. Crown Royal Single Barrel Whisky comes in at a sturdy 51.5% ABV and a price tag of about $55. The first 500+ barrels have been already issued, each of which are exclusive to a particular retailer — and only in Texas. Our review will be up in short order. [Whisky Advocate]

Like most people, the staff here at Drinkhacker tend to other jobs throughout the day unrelated to our love of all things spirited and yeasty. However, there are a select few souls whose job is to sit around all day and drink bourbon. CNBC takes a closer look at one of them, Brown-Forman’s Master Distiller-in-training, Marianne Barnes. [CNBC]

In other beer news, over 70 people have been confirmed dead and over 100 hospitalized after drinking contaminated beer in Mozambique this weekend, with rumors of foul play and poisoning coming out. Police believe that crocodile bile was the contaminate.  [The Guardian]

And finally today, NPR takes a look into the trend and recent demand for aged beers. Not sure how big of a trend this will become, but if the demand for aged bourbon/scotch is any indication, don’t be surprised if it keeps rising. [NPR]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.07.2015 – Turmoil in Tuscany and Texas

Lots of interesting stuff for your consideration today, so let’s get to it:

Trouble in Tuscany: Irate Italians plagued by wine counterfeit scandals. [USA Today]

And now for our weekly update in the wild world of Balcones: Ousted master distiller Chip Tate is now filing a defamation lawsuit against the distillery manager’s wife. And we thought this was turning into a season of Dallas before this lawsuit…. [Waco Tribune]

The Beer Bloggers conference has assembled its second annual 20 Most Influential Beer Websites list. [Beer Bloggers Conference]

Buffalo Trace delivers another ominous message: We may never catch up to meet demand. [The Spirits Business]

With a newly published study, science confirms what we already know: Binge drinking hurts your immune system. [Science Times]

With a newly published study, science finds out why women who drink white wine get depressed or upset. [Tribune]

Shanken reports that analysts believe sparkling wine will help drive industry growth in 2015. [Shanken News Daily]

CNBC investigates Taiwanese whiskey, which won the Malt Maniacs Awards in a big way this year. [CNBC]

Insider Monkey lists out the most expensive rum brands in the world. Saving you a click to the end: J. Wray & Nephew’s $54,000 bottling tops the list. [Insider Monkey]

Gizmodo takes a look behind the scenes at the science and art behind barrel making. Informative for those who are unfamiliar with the process. [Gizmodo]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.05.2015 – Great Lakes Brewing Rebrands, Gandhi Gets a Beer

We’ve heard the phrase “new year, new you” all over Twitter in the past few days, and that’s good news to hear. We can think of many people who need to take this mantra to heart. One company really going for it in ’15 is Great Lakes Brewing, which has announced a total overhaul of its packaging, and released its seasonal schedule for the entire year. [Beer Pulse]

Our nation’s capital is about to welcome in a third distillery opening within its borders. One Eight is on target to open this Saturday (January 10th), and WTOP spills the details. Elsewhere in DC, Mitch McConnell and the entire bourbon industry is still holding on to hope that the now mythical “Bourbon Summit” will eventually take place between he and President Obama. [WTOP]

New England Brewing Company is coming under fire for putting Gandhi on a beer label. The bewildering Gandhi Bot features a cyborg replicant of the famous non-violent, fasting-prone resistance leader. The company has since apologized but insists that Ganhdi’s grandkids “admired” the artwork. [BBC]

Japanese whisky legend Takeshi Taketsuru has passed away at the age of 90. The Nikka master distiller and son of distillery founder Masataka Taketsuru was credited with the much of the brand’s modern success. [The Spirits Business]

Cosmos magazine tackles the debate of whether or not wine making is an art or science. Who says it can’t be both? Haven’t most scientists over the ages felt there was beauty and grace in their work? [Cosmos]

RoyalSaluteChivas has unveiled a new look for its 21 Year Old expression. It is expected to be released in February and will arrive in three different bottle colors: sapphire, ruby and emerald. There’s also a 28 year old Aberfeldy coming out soon, and Sku digs up two new Jack Daniel’s expressions: a single barrel rye and a barrel proof version of the original recipe.  [Billionaire]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.30.2014 – End of Year Wrap Up Edition

Things are winding down for 2014 and we’re getting ready to welcome in 2015 with a bang tomorrow. Here’s what’s been happening since we were on break for the holiday season:

• In case this wasn’t already obvious to everyone, a new report claims we drink more in the winter months than any other time of year. [CBS Detroit]

• In another victory for evolutionary theory, scientists got a bunch of birds drunk to find out if they slur their speech. They do. [Washington Post]

• NPR’s Noah Adams files a report about the demand for bourbon barrels reaching record levels. [NPR]

• The New York Times‘ Clay Risen provides an excellent and balanced account of the Balcones Saga. As an epilogue to the story, Chip Tate’s lawyers are now suing him for legal fees. This whole situation could very well serve as Season 2 for Serial. [New York Times]

• This one’s for the ladies: NPR (which now stands for National Pub Resource apparently) continues the much-needed coverage of women in the whiskey industry. Bustle supplements the article with a listcle of things one should not say to a lady ordering whiskey at a bar. [Bustle]

• If you’re in the UK, it might be a good idea to switch from vodka to something else this year. A warning has been issued over deadly, fake vodka now on sale around the country. [Telegraph UK]

• Finally — and most importantly today — while you’re enjoying New Year’s Eve, please do be mindful to enjoy in moderation. And should you find yourself being a bit overserved, do err on the side of caution and find a ride home. There are plenty of local free ride services available, and we want you back for more fun in 2015. Have a safe and happy time kissing 2014 goodbye!

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.22.2014 – Budweiser Myths, Pappy Preferences, and More

Forbes takes on the myths and trends behind the recent major brand vs. craft distillery sales conversation. [Forbes]

• This latest round of diplomatic talks between Cuba and the United States could have major ramifications for the rum industry. Bring on the Havana Club! [The Daily Beast]

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old outranks everyone else in consumer ratings, according to the Spirits Business and an app called Distiller. [The Spirits Business]

• The documentary Kentucky Bourbon Tales is now available for streaming on Kentucky Educational Television’s website. While it’s beautifully shot and produced, there are a few things missing, according to Chuck Cowdery.

• Tom Bulleit of Bulleit bourbon pens an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader thanking everyone for their support in making his dreams come true. [Herald-Leader]

• Researchers in France have discovered that shaking your bottle of Champagne actually decreases the overflow. [Daily Mail]

• Cheaper gas and oil prices are good, but of course there are other consequences. Namely, the price of wheat and grains may increase, which will have a direct impact on the cost of some drinks. [Vox]

• Related: Putin is also encouraging his constituents to drink less beer and more vodka. [Quartz]

• Business Insider investigates why and how Trader Joe’s Three Buck Chuck wine is so cheap. [Business Insider]

• And finally today, an Indiana Supreme Court decided that being drunk and annoying in public is illegal. [WSJ]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.17.2014 – Quick Links Edition

• In what has to be one of the best whisky ad campaigns of 2014, Laphroaig offers up this hysterical holiday set of ads. set to Christmas carols. Well done. [AdWeek]

• More on the march of the craft distillers in America, this time from the Financial Times. They also take us to China to look at the rise of premium spirits among the growing Chinese upper class. [Financial Times]

• The Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of the ideas companies are using to sell their wares. From chairs to a vapor mist made from Johnnie Walker Blue, it seems as if the gimmicks are becoming more outlandish year after year. [Wall Street Journal]

• Belvedere announces its new partnership with the James Bond franchise. For those fanboys playing along at home, this will mark return of Bond to the vodka martini after he ditched it for beer and scotch in the last film. The newest addition to the Bond saga, Spectre, is slated to be released in November 2015. Some of us can hardly wait. [Economic Times]

• The Sydney Morning Herald takes a quick inside look at the Yamazaki distillery, and we suddenly get awfully thirsty. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Caribbean Journal has announced its ten best rums of 2014, and Men’s Journal offers a list of non-Bourbon, non-Scotch whiskeys that made an impact during the year. Just a friendly reminder with your last minute shopping that we also publish a rather swell gift guide every year.

• Oliver Sweeney Shoes: now with a bottle of Johnnie Walker hidden inside. [Business Insider]

The Spirits Business makes some predictions (oddly, not many) for some of the world’s largest spirit brands and where they’re headed in 2015. Also, it’s got the scoop that Suntory/Beam is going to be upping the price on many of its beloved brands, including Yamazaki. [The Spirits Business]

• Fox News reports (you decide) on the most commonly searched beers, according to Google. [Fox News]

• And for you folks who just can’t wait for the final episode of Serial tomorrow, here’s an update on the Pappy Thief case. The police think they know who did it, but proving it may be very difficult. [Bourbon Blog]

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]

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]