Drinkhacker Reads – 07.21.2014 – ID That Old Whiskey!

Rare is our chance to talk about the world of sports on the site, but this one is worth it: the New England Patriots (an NFL football team, for our international friends) are suing Bacardi after the mega-company walked away from a deal involving a new pavilion to be built on stadium grounds: Casa Bacardi. [Boston Globe]

In other comedy news: Diageo, the multi-billion dollar, internationally-based spirits empire with tens of thousands of employees globally, defends its right to be called a “craft distiller” over at the Spirits Business. Fittingly, this article comes during the latest release in its Orphan Barrel project: “Rhetoric.” Up next: Ford rebrands itself as “artisan,” the Koch brothers are “small businessmen,” and Apple reinvents itself as “a modest little startup”. [The Spirits Business]

In science news: researchers at The University of Texas have genetically engineered worms that can not get drunk no matter how much alcohol they ingest. This could prove promising for future sobriety technologies, such as pill to sober people up immediately. [Independent UK]

Finally today, a site which has been getting a lot of buzz lately is WhiskeyID, an incredible new resource where folks can try and figure out the origin of that old dusty bottle from their grandparent’s attic instead of emailing us about it. Lovingly culled together by some of the most passionate whiskey fans on the net, it’s limited in scope but insanely informative. Expect great things from this site in the near future. We’ll be checking in regularly! [WhiskeyID]

Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 Edition

July 24th brings us another mid-week holiday we can all get together and celebrate: the 2014 edition of National Tequila Day. We offered some great tequila recipes last year, but here’s a few more that have come across our inbox you might want to check out.

Tequila thing 225x300 Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionThe Garden Fresh Skinny Summerita
Created by Travis London, celebrity chef
1 oz. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz. Cabo Wabo Blanco
juice of half a lime
3 sprigs fresh cilantro
3 thin slices of fresh cucumber
3 thin slices of a fresh jalapeño pepper
cucumber wheel for garnish

(NOTE: We did not have any X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, nor did we have any of Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo styled tequila around, but we did have some tequila and other stuff, and things worked out just fine)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (except cucumber wheel) filled with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with cucumber wheel.

summerzap 177x300 Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionBitter Summer Zapatista
Created by Borys Saciuk of 15 Romolo in San Francisco
1.5 oz. Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila
0.75 oz. Campari
0.75 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
0.25 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. agave nectar
Fresh Egg White
Pinch of Indonesian Pepper

Beginning with agave nectar and pepper, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice into a tall glass. Garnish with long grapefruit peel.

Cherry Valance
1 ½ parts Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
½ part applejack
½ part fresh lemon juice
1/3 part pomegranate syrup
Egg white

Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake extremely vigorously until egg whites are mixed well. Serve in a coupe glass.

Este Lado
Created by Mixologists Ben Scorah and Marshall Altier
1 1/2 ounces Don Julio Blanco
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Slice of English Cucumber
Mint sprig
Additional mint and cucumber (for garnish)

Muddle English Cucumber and mint sprig in simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add Don Julio Blanco, fresh lime juice and ice. Shake well. Strain Contents over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig and cucumber wheel.

rosemary Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionBlushing Rosemary Margarita
2 parts Milagro Silver Tequila
1 part fresh lime juice
¾ part agave nectar
4 watermelon chunks
1 rosemary sprig
1 lemon wheel
2 dashes Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters

In a cocktail shaker, muddle fruit and herbs. Add remaining ingredients. Shake and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with Rosemary Sprig and Lemon Wheel.

charro Recipe: National Tequila Day, 2014 EditionCharro Negro
2 oz. Trianon Blanco Tequila
1 ½ oz. cola
Fresh lime juice
Sea salt
Lime wheel for garnish

Rim a glass with salt and fill with ice. Add lime juice, cola and Trianon Blanco Tequila. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.

Review: Berentzen Bushel & Barrel Apple Whiskey and Icemint Schnapps

 Review: Berentzen Bushel & Barrel Apple Whiskey and Icemint Schnapps

Founded in 1758 in Haselünne, Germany, Berentzen is known for its eponymous apple liqueur, as well as some other fruit liqueurs. The company is expanding — hey, 250 years is long enough to wait — recently adding two new products to its lineup. We got ‘em both, and put them to the Drinkhacker test.

Berentzen Bushel & Barrel is “straight bourbon whiskey, neutral spirits, caramel coloring, and natural flavors.” Made with the apple juice-based Berentzen liqueur, this is a credible apple-pie-in-a-glass beverage, featuring silky-sweet apple juice notes balanced by a healthy slug of vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves. Sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and with just hints of those “neutral spirits” that provide a bit of a chemical character by way of aftertaste. Perfectly serviceable for those in love with apple cocktails, but you can approximate the same thing by splashing some standard bourbon into a glass of Berentzen if you don’t need a short cut. 60 proof. B / $22

Berentzen Icemint Schnapps is a “supermint” schnapps according to the company, and I’d say that’s fairly on point. I’m hardly an aficionado of peppermint schnapps, but Berentzen’s offering is surprisingly intriguing. The nose offers a light eucalyptus menthol note, and it’s surprisingly gentle. I couldn’t detect any real alcohol burn in it at all. On the palate it’s equally easygoing. The body is icy cool and appropriately minty, with wispy hints of chocolate, altogether coming across much like an after-dinner mint. It doesn’t drink at all like it’s overproof, which makes it a bit dangerous. Try sipping on a half-shot as a digestif. No more. No shooters. 100 proof. A / $25

berentzenusa.com

Review: Eel River Brewing Emerald Triangle IPA

emerald ipa 104x300 Review: Eel River Brewing Emerald Triangle IPAEel River Brewing Company recently released this new American IPA, which will become a seasonal release. “Emerald Triangle” is sub-brand to Eel River (which you can find listed if you read the smaller text on the side of the label), but really it’s just the world Emerald that you’ll spot on the shelf. The Triangle portion of the brand name is implied in the form of a dark green triangle in center of the bottle. The name is a big ignominious, but makes sense considering Eel River’s Humboldt County-based location.

As for the beer, it’s a hop-forward brew without a lot of nuance. It’s quite earthy, with pungent bitterness and pine tree bark overtones, but it lacks the crisp, citrus finish of so many high-end West Coast IPAs. With the attack is brisk and bracing, the body soon develops the brooding character of the forest floor rather than the needles on the trees. The finish remains on the muddy side, almost mouth-coating rather than cleansing, the hallmark of great IPA.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable beer, but considering the flood of top-shelf IPAs that have hit the market of late, it’s not the best I’ve encountered.

6.7% abv.

B / $NA / eelriverbrewing.com

Review: Green Flash Road Warrior Imperial Rye IPA

green flash road warrior 74x300 Review: Green Flash Road Warrior Imperial Rye IPALet’s not mince words: This brewery may have a cult following, but Green Flash Brewing Company’s logo and labels are decidedly uninviting to the point where they look like they could be marketing a cleaning product. And this is the new label.

Pay no attention to what’s on the label. San Diego-based Green Flash’s just-released Rye IPA is an amazing little brew.

A summer beer designed intentionally not to be sessionable, Road Warrior uses crystal and rye malt along with a huge amount of Columbus and Mosiac hops to make a chewy, delicious red ale — and one that tips the alco-scales at 9% abv.

This beer is dense and bready from the start, like munching on a thick hunk of dark brown German rye. Notes of caraway seeds, sesame oil, tree bark, and dark chocolate complement the intense rye notes, giving Road Warrior ample complexity and intrigue. It’s not as piney or as fruity as many other IPAs, and I think this beer finds strength in that, drawing on more exotic flavors to complement its significant bitterness. I enjoyed drinking this beer from start to finish… which did not take long, I hasten to add.

Available through August.

A / $8 per four-pack / greenflashbrew.com

Review: Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary Blend

Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniv Blend Hi Res Bottle Shot e1404796063243 525x491 Review: Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary BlendCrown Royal is one of the most popular whiskeys on the planet, and for deserved reason. It’s a straightforward, balanced, and dare-I-say-smooth spirit. It mixes well, and it’s an easy straight sipper. Who doesn’t like Crown?

Crown Royal’s history dates back to 1939, when a Canadian entrepreneur crafted a local whisky for the then-royal couple, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who were the first British monarchs to visit North America. Crown Royal was born (and named) and the world has followed its lead. Now, the brand is celebrating its 75th anniversary, with Crown Royal Monarch making its limited-edition debut.

Crown enthusiasts will likely enjoy this spirit the most, but for the rest of us it’s hit and miss. It’s delicate and straightforward, and it does offer just enough uniqueness to spark at least some level of interest, but it doesn’t raise the bar completely. The nose isn’t the highlight here: Basic, grain-forward, and a little bit plasticky. The body is a bit of a different animal, where you’ll find the classic silky body of Crown Royal imbued with notes that start with liquid caramel and head to mild blackberry, a touch of cigar, and a bit of green pepper. It’s not at all bad, simplistic and for the most part well-balanced, at least until the finish, which has a touch of astringency to it and a return to that bit-o-plastic character. (Air helps to burn this unfortunate character off.)

Crown Royal’s various special editions are well regarded, but Monarch’s presentation is a bit more interesting than once it’s the bottle.

80 proof.

B / $75 / crownroyal.com

The Drinkhacker Shopping List – 07.18.2014

Welcome to another edition of the Shopping List, our bi-weekly look back at the best and worst of what we’ve reviewed over the last few weeks, and we’ve certainly reviewed a generous amount of stuff. While we did review quite a bit of wine over the last two weeks, perhaps the biggest news was the marathon session of limited edition expressions from Diageo that we had the good fortune of trying, along with the Signature Craft bourbons from Jim Beam. Some of this stuff isn’t out on the shelves yet, but will be in short order. So keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re one of the lucky ones to score some of the Diageo scotches, drop us a line with your thoughts.

TheList0718141 525x1179 The Drinkhacker Shopping List   07.18.2014

Review: Tattle Tea Tea & Wine Infusion Kit

tea wine infusion kit wide 1 300x131 Review: Tattle Tea Tea & Wine Infusion Kit Tea drinkers and wine drinkers can finally come together, thanks to Tattle Tea’s straightforwardly named Tea & Wine Infusion Kit. In case there’s any mystery: You’re infusing the wine with tea. Tattle Tea provides the bags of tea (premeasured to work with a single bottle of wine), you provide the wine. You can get the three-bags-of-Rooibos-tea kit along with a nice pitcher that has a built-in strainer to get the tea leaves out ($30) or with just three bags of tea and no pitcher ($8).

Directions are easy: Dump the tea and a bottle of white wine into the pitcher and refrigerate overnight.

How’s it taste? Awful! OK, I’m being harsh, but this mix of tea and wine is just not for me. The nose is interesting — very tea forward and alluring — but the body messes with your senses in an off-putting way. Maybe it’s the wine I chose (a sauvignon blanc), but I just did not like the mix of earthy tea and tart fruit flavors. Compounding the issue, in the course of a day in the fridge, the wine had clearly oxidized quite a bit, giving the concoction some vinegary notes. Maybe if this is done with very high end wine and only for a short time (or in a sealed container), results will be better.

But why risk it?

no rating / $8 to $30 / tattletea.coffeebeandirect.com

Review: Angry Orchard “The Muse” Cider

angry orchard The Muse Hi Res 89x300 Review: Angry Orchard The Muse CiderSummertime is cider time, at least that’s what I hear.

The latest addition to Angry Orchard’s apple-based specialty cider lineup — called the Cider House Collection — is The Muse, a semi-sweet concoction that’s been aged “on French oak staves” and is sold, Champange style, in a 750ml corked bottle.

This cider pours with gentle effervescence and its bright apple nose offers a collection of experiences that include tart apple, rich forest floor, and hints of vanilla. The body’s almost like a fresh apple tart in a glass. Notes of complex baking spices and more of that vanilla character add a festive element that you don’t often see in ciders, but the mix of tart and sweet apples is what keeps going strong, well into the finish.

From start to finish the cider is quite sugary, and that sweetness only gets stronger and stronger as the finish arrives. One glass is almost too easy to knock back, but after that my palate starts searching for something a little more savory. Share with friends.

7.7% abv.

A- / $15 (750ml) / angryorchard.com

 

Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection – Soft Red Wheat and Rolled Oat

jim beam harvest 525x308 Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection   Soft Red Wheat and Rolled Oat

Discontent to let Buffalo Trace have all the fun with experimental whiskeys, Jim Beam has been hard at work with its annual Signature Craft releases to show how little changes can have a big impact on a finished spirit.

Now it’s pushing boundaries even further, with a series of six Bourbons called the Harvest Bourbon Collection (technically a sub-group of Signature Craft). The spin on this project is that these six whiskeys each incorporate one unusual grain into the mashbill. They’re all still Bourbon — made with at least 51% corn and some amount of malted barley — but in each whiskey that extra grain is used in a significant amount in the mash (though in undisclosed and variable proportions). All six expressions were aged 11 years before bottling at 90 proof.

The six expressions include: Soft Red Wheat, Brown Rice, Rolled Oat, Triticale, High Rye, and Six Row Barley. The first two on that list arrive in September 2014. The other four will ship through 2015.

Some of these are more unusual than others on that list, of course. Wheat, rye, and barley are all common whiskey components, though here Beam is using different strains or proportions. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye, which leaves two big oddities on the list: Rolled Oat and, especially, Brown Rice. Both are common supermarket grains that are nonetheless bizarre to find in a whiskey. Color me curious on how these things turn out.

For now, we’ve got our hands on two of the six: Soft Red Wheat and Rolled Oat. Without further ado, here’s how they turned out.

JB SC Harvest Wheat 134x300 Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection   Soft Red Wheat and Rolled OatJim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection Soft Red Wheat – Made with Kentucky and Indiana wheat, a common ingredient in Bourbons like Maker’s Mark. This initially struck me with a slightly funky, sweaty nose, but I let it settle down and things started to clarify, revealing a more straightforward wood character, with hints of earthiness. This is well-aged whiskey and it shows from the start. On the palate, hints of cherry (not unusual for Beam products) and ample, almost overpowering oak character. Even with a healthy amount of water you can’t push that wood character down, a fact which I chalk up more to the aging regimen than to wheat being in the mashbill. Surprisingly tough to muddle through. B-

Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection Rolled Oat – I’ve had a few whiskeys that incorporate oats and I always find them fascinating, at least for a diversion. Here Beam has produced a whiskey with a distinct sweetness on the nose, almost like baking spices with cinnamon and cloves, with rich wood notes underneath. On the palate, again it is quite hot on the tongue, and water helps to bring out the unique charms of the spirit. This is a far different whiskey than the Red Wheat expression, a much softer, gentler, and more engaging spirit on the whole. Cinnamon sugar notes play well with a caramel/dulce de leche base, with that woody nose melting into a pulpier, piney character on the palate. All of this plays well together, giving the Rolled Oat expression a balance that the Red Wheat doesn’t have. Perhaps it was simply better able to stand up to the aging regimen? Either way, it’s a winner. A-

This is a fun start to an interesting lineup. Hopefully we’ll have reviews of the other four expressions for you in the Harvest Collection soon!

each $50 (375ml) / jimbeam.com

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.16.2014 – Upcoming Fall Releases

As Christopher’s review earlier today indicated, the new Beam Signature Craft series offering isn’t out until September. However, it’s just one of many exciting releases coming up this Autumn, which has turned into the American whiskey equivalent of NYC’s Fashion Week. The venerable, Pappy-addicted website Bourbonr (with a little help from our man Sku) has a thoroughly detailed roundup of the new releases you can expect to see — or in some cases not see due to limited supply and high demand — this upcoming season. We tried an early sample of Willet’s Exploratory Cask Finish at a tasting this past spring and it was exceptional, possibly a contender for one of the best of 2014. Looking forward to the final results! [Bourbonr]

Rumors are going around the party chat line that Diageo might mega-merge with Miller (SABMiller), creating one the biggest drinks companies on the planet. The Street takes a look at what this collision might mean for both companies. [The Street]

In tech news, the domain name .bar went into registry form on Monday, and over 100 companies have already registered for potential new URLs. Early on it looks like only one beer brand jumped on the bandwagon: Miller. Check out who else is joining up. Might be time to go register and launch drinkhacker.bar. [Domains]

Brazil may have hosted some big parties over the last few weeks involving sports, but the country’s thirst for cachaça may be drying up, according to a new report issued by Just Drinks. Global sales of the sugar-based hooch fell 3% in 2013, selling a new record low 79.3 million cases. As Brazil accounts for 99% of cachaça sales, this isn’t exactly what cachaça CEOs need to hear. However the news isn’t all bad, as international sales grew 1% over the same time frame, with sales in Portugal and Chile leading the way. [Just Drinks]

And finally today: don’t call it a comeback, but maybe just a tiny shot of botox and some nips and tucks here and there. Shanken is reporting that major players within the rum industry are gearing up this fall to launch new products to help re-establish the spirit as one of the top drinks of choice for consumers. After a major decade long surge, sales slumped over the past three years, largely thanks to competition from bourbon, tequila, and our perennial favorite: flavored vodkas. [Shanken News Daily]

Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finished Small Batch Bourbon 2014

JB SC Quarter Cask e1404621828786 525x830 Review: Jim Beam Signature Craft Quarter Cask Finished Small Batch Bourbon 2014

For the third installment (and second annual release) of Jim Beam’s Signature Craft series (find reviews of the first limited annual release and the permanent member of the series here), the company is offering a curious concoction. While it’s called “Quarter Cask Finished,” that’s a little misleading. The whiskey is actually a blend of standard five-to-six year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon that is married with a separate Bourbon that has spent from four-to-six years in quarter casks. (Craft whiskey and Laphroaig fans know that quarter casks are exactly what they sound like: Barrels that are 1/4 the size of regular ones, and which tend to mature much more quickly.)

Semantics aside, this is an intriguing new, limited edition whiskey from Beam, and the use of small barrels (at least in part) makes it a considerable departure from the norm. Thoughts follow.

Jim Beam Quarter Cask Finished Bourbon starts off sweet and doesn’t let up. The nose offers notes of caramelized fruit — Bananas Foster, I would argue — along with sugared orange peel and vanilla-scented sugar cookies. The body brings that home, with heavy doses of vanilla caramels, milk chocolate, and hints of cherry. Wood notes start to develop, particularly on the finish, as the whiskey settles down in the glass. It’s not particularly hot, at 86 proof, but it does benefit from a little air time, which allows the various flavor and aroma components to meld.

I like this whiskey a lot, though it’s not at all what I was expecting (a bruiser heavy on wood and tannin) and ultimately doesn’t venture all that far from the winning Beam formula. Bottom line: With ample fruit and sweeter elements in abundance, there’s a little something here for Bourbon fans of every stripe.

86 proof. Available beginning in September 2014.

A- / $40 / jimbeam.com

Review: 2011 Brancaia TRE Rosso Toscana IGT

Brancaia 2011 Toscana IGT Tre Red Blend 750ml 80x300 Review: 2011 Brancaia TRE Rosso Toscana IGTHere’s a very simple wine, one of the most gentle Italian reds I’ve ever encountered. This blend of Sangiovese (80%), Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon is named for both the three varietals and the three vineyards it is sourced from.

The nose nods at both cherries and milk chocolate, but the body is pure fruit. Almost maraschino cherry, even strawberry in character, the fruit is balanced with notes of brewed tea and touches of vanilla. Some wood overtones come along on the finish… but it’s never able to muscle the fruit out of the picture.

B+ / $23 / brancaia.com

Contest: Knob Creek Campout

Do you like Knob Creek? We think they’re pretty swell. So we were excited to get an email detailing a contest Knob Creek is throwing for ten lucky winners: a campout on the Beam/Knob Creek distillery grounds.

Here are the specifics:

What: Ten lucky folks head to the Knob Creek Distillery in Clermont, KY for an on-site campout and full-flavored grilling experience. One lucky winner from eligible markets (CA, FL, GA, KY, MD, NY, NC, TX, VA and PA) and a friend will join other winners from across the country at the Knob Creek Campout. This weekend long campout will include:

  • Fred Noe, 7th Generation Master Distiller and 2013 Bourbon Hall of Fame Inductee, will host a fireside chat on the history of Knob Creek, followed by a pig roast dinner.
  • VIP BBQ cookout with Celebrity Chef Michael Symon, who will prepare his exclusive bourbon-inspired recipes.
  • Performance by an authentic Kentucky bluegrass band.
  • Behind the scenes distillery tour to see how Knob Creek’s award-winning bourbon is produced.
  • Each winner will receive round-trip airfare for two, ground transportation to the distillery and a Big Green Egg.

Where: Jim Beam/Knob Creek Distillery in Clermont, KY.

When: September 26th – 28th, 2014

How: All eligible participants can enter for a chance to win by visiting knobcreek.promo.eprize.com/sweeps

Who: All legal US residents, 21+ who reside in the below ten states can enter the Sweepstakes: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia

Contest registration ends July 31st, so hop on over and enter. And save us some brisket.

Review: Talisker 27 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

Talisker1985 bottlebox High Res 525x742 Review: Talisker 27 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

The final whisky in the 2013 Diageo Special Releases series comes from venerable Talisker on the Isle of Skye. It’s a 1985-distilled spirit aged exclusively in American refill casks, so this whisky’s considerable age should be the main focus here rather than any finishing it encounters.

Sure enough: This is classic Talisker, a peaty, green-tinted malt loaded with aromas of wood smoke and seaweed, with just hints of citrus fruit. The body’s got ample peat, but it’s not overwhelming, with just a bit of vegetable character to it — green bean and green tomatoes, perhaps. Lots of salt splashes you on the finish, showing off this maritime spirit’s true colors.

Final analysis: Very enjoyable, but it never ventures far from its roots.

112.2 proof. 3,000 bottles produced.

B+ / $815 / malts.com

Review: The 50 by 50 Pinot Noir and Rose

The 50 by 50 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 175x300 Review: The 50 by 50 Pinot Noir and RoseAre we not men? We are Pinot!

(Sorry.)

Devo founding member Gerald Casale is the man behind the new wine label The 50 by 50, which is named for a never-built home that doesn’t exist on a property that’s wedged between the Atlas Peak AVA and Wild Horse AVA in Napa County. (How very Devo, no?)

The 23-acre estate is planted with Bordeaux varietals, but those don’t seem to be ready to turn into wine yet, so for now Casale is offering two wines from the Sonoma Coast, both from Pinot Noir grapes. (Watch for the Bordeaux style estate wines in 2019 or so.) Meanwhile, thoughts on the current releases follow.

2013 The 50 by 50 Rose of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – Big strawberry and raspberry notes on this rose, right up front and lasting well into the finish. This high fruit, high acid wine is an iconic summer sipper, offering hints of tropical fruits and melon as the wine fades from the tongue. B+ / $20

2012 The 50 by 50 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A simple but totally enjoyable expression of Pinot Noir, offering tart cherry notes up front, tempered with touches of coffee, tree bark, dark chocolate, and a bit of cloves. Drink this one slightly chilled; at room temperature it comes across as a bit thin. My wine snob wife was a much bigger fan. B+ / $30

thefiftybyfifty.com

Drinkhacker Reads – 07.14.2014 – Cheap Wine and Luxurious Repositioning

The Daily Mail is reporting the wild statistic that one in five bottles of big-brand wines sold at retailers could very well be fraudulent. In what sounds like a plot to an independent movie, local gangs are forging labels, placing them on bottles and then selling them to stores at a reduced price. Apparently this trend has been going on for quite some time, as the BBC ran a feature on this in 2011, complete with pointers on how to spot the fake bottles. [Daily Mail]

In order to better align with its core business brands, First Drinks is rebranding itself as William Grant & Sons, and looks to reposition its portfolio (Glenfiddich, Grant’s, Balvenie, Hendricks, Sailor Jerry, and Tullamore Dew) in luxury markets. As a direct result of the reorganization, the Spirits Business is reporting that William Grant also “reappraised” 30 employees from its staff, possibly because the employees weren’t preening and positioning themselves as luxurious enough. [Spirits Business]

In a recent report issued by report overlords Technomic, Americans like their wines cheap, with competition being the toughest in the $10-20 price range. The report also includes a spiffy infographic detailing some other findings. [Restaurant Hospitality]

And finally today in science news: global warming is making Shiraz less alcoholic and scientists are now reversing their position back to their original stance that too many daily drinks is not good for your heart. Oh yeah, and Chris scored a major article in Wired last week. Did you read it? If not, here’s your chance.

Review: The Singleton of Dufftown 28 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

Singleton 28 bottlebox High Res 525x773 Review: The Singleton of Dufftown 28 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

Whisky #8 in the Diageo Special Releases series is an installment from The Singleton line, this one from Dufftown. (There have been many whiskies in “The Singleton” line, but only Dufftown is current.)

This old fogey is from an actually operational still in Speyside, aged completely in American oak for its 28 years. (It was distilled in 1985.)

This is a big, malty whisky. The nose is rich with wood notes and hints of oatmeal, and there’s a little acetone character in there as well. As noted, bit malt notes are the key element here. It’s a big bowl of cereal (good cereal, mind you) with raisins, maple syrup, and a squirt of honey. It sweetens up as air gets to it, and it also brings out more of its well-aged wood notes.

The Singleton of Dufftown 28 may start off simple, but its complexity grows as the whisky matures in the glass. I was ready to dismiss it as almost boring at the start, but eventually it won me over as a warm and inviting new friend.

104.6 proof. 3,816 bottles produced.

A- / $400 / malts.com

Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA (Unreleased)

sierra nevada beer camp 96x300 Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA (Unreleased)Who likes beer fests? Sierra Nevada’s got a huge one coming up this summer, a seven-city traveling beer festival that’s called Beer Camp Across America and which will feature more than 700 total breweries in total.

As an “invitation” to the festival, we received this 24 oz. monster bottle of Sierra’s Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA. You can’t buy it in stores, but presumably you’ll be able to try it at the event if you sojourn to an installment near you. (See schedule below.)

Beer Camp is a Double IPA, thick and syrupy and overall a very “big” beer. However, the hops in this brew are dialed back to let the malt shine through. While it’s got plenty of bitterness, particularly on the finish, it’s the almost marmalade-like sweetness up front that makes this brew so curious — and so memorable. Shipped out in 24 oz. bottles, I didn’t make it through half before turning to something a little less palate-busting. But for that first round with Brew Camp, I was taken to some interesting places… a campfire, a carnival, a backyard BBQ. When you try it, maybe you’ll go to those locales too… before moving on to the next table for a taste of something else.

8.5% abv.

Here’s the schedule. Have fun!

• Sat, July 19: Northwest Edition at Sierra Nevada Hop Field in Chico, CA, 12-5 p.m.
• Sun, July 20: Southwest Edition at Embarcadero North in San Diego, CA, 1-6 p.m.
• Fri, July 25: Rocky Mountain Edition at Civic Center Park in Denver, CO, 5-10 p.m.
• Sun, July 27: Midwest Edition at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL, 12-5 p.m.
• Fri, August 1: New England Edition at Thompson’s Point in Portland, ME, 5-10 p.m.
• Sat, August 2: Mid-Atlantic Edition at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, PA, 12-5 p.m.
• Sun, August 3: Southeast Edition in Mills River, NC, 1-6 p.m.

B+ / $NA / sierranevada.com

Review: Port Ellen 34 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

Port Ellen 34yo 2013 High Res 525x742 Review: Port Ellen 34 Years Old Limited Edition 2013

Whisky #7/9 from the Diageo 2013 Special Release series comes from Port Ellen, Islay’s cult distillery which was shuttered way back in 1983. This spirit was produced in 1978, just five years before the stills were mothballed. Aged in American and European oak, it’s one of the oldest whiskies ever to be bottled from this distillery.

Port Ellen is always heavily peated, and this expression is no exception. The nose is rich with barbecue smoke, salty, with citrus overtones. The body’s a big burner, rich with barbecue sauce, both sweet and peppery. Water is of considerable benefit here, but that serves mainly to tame the beastly body rather than coaxing out additional character. In Port Ellen 34 the smoke never lets up, but it does find a few companions in notes of orange pulp, rosemary, and honeycomb. Surprisingly restrained, this is a decidedly simple example of Port Ellen — plenty tasty, but not a powerhouse of complexity.

110 proof. 2,958 bottles produced.

B+ / $2,570 / malts.com