Review: Wathen’s Kentucky Bourbon Single Barrel Private Selection from SF Wine Trading

San Francisco Wine Trading Company recently sent us its Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection offering, and while it was a knockout, the truth is that private selections of Four Roses Single Barrel are a dime a dozen — sometimes it seems like every liquor store has one.

No SF Wine Trading is out with another private selection bourbon, this one much more unusual: Wathen’s, which is made by the Charles Medley Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky from a mash of 77% corn, 10% rye, and 13% malted barley. (Wathen’s carries a giant number 8 on the front label, but that’s not an age statement: Wathen’s is officially a NAS whiskey.)

Wathen’s isn’t generally regarded as an outstanding bourbon (and that’s reflected in a price that can run as low as $30), and this private selection (with a 50% premium) isn’t overwhelmingly impressive, either. That said, it has enough charm to merit some attention.

The nose is a bit unusual, with notes of raisin, prune juice, and a bit of petrol atop otherwise straightforward notes of toasted wood and somewhat scorched caramel. The palate is a bit more interesting, taking some of those more exotic notes and flipping the script such that vanilla and caramel take more of a center stage, with dried fruit and some new chocolate notes stepping back into the background a bit. The petrol appears again on the relatively hot finish alongside some new wood notes, but neither is overwhelming, and together they manage to end the experience with a semblance of balance.

94 proof. Barrel #0094.

B / $45 / sfwtc.com

Bar Review: Tyge & Sessil, Stockholm

Looking for a good glass of wine in Stockholm? Chances are the local around the corner stocks a few french numbers, maybe a Portuguese and a few Italian bottles, and that’s about it. Those seeking something more adventurous need only venture to Tyge & Sessil, a new wine bar with one of the city’s most enticing wine lists.

Under the management of Maximilian Melfors, who is also the sommelier for Ekstedt, one of the city’s most exciting restaurants, conveniently located around the corner, this small spot (with a few benches for outside seating) specializes heavily in natural and unusual wines. During our visit and a lengthy chat with Melfors, we sipped on orange wine from Italy’s Friuli region, while poring over the lengthy selection of bottlings from Eastern Europe and “it” wines like a number of Pet-Nat bottlings.

Tyge & Sessil — named after Tycho Brahe’s children, who in turn is whom the street on which the bar is located in named — has dozens of wines available by the glass, but Melfors says they’ll open up just about anything for by-the-glass pours if customers ask nicely. “Unless,” he says, “we just can’t.” Of course!

Open 7 days a week, year-round. Drop in for an aperitif or a small bite — a tiny kitchen churns out appropriate food pairings, too.

tygesessil.se

Cocktail Recipes for National Rum Day 2017

Pina Colada Old Fashioned

August 16th is the perfect time of year for National Rum Day. It is smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, where rum fits right in. Below you’ll find a number of cocktails for celebrating the occasion, some of which include a few unusual ingredients. You can find most on Amazon.

To round out our rum celebration, try out the Rum Curry Chicken at the bottom of the page. The chef recommends cooking up more than you think you’ll need because it is that good. Who wants to disappoint folks asking for seconds?

Bacolod Breeze

Bacolod Breeze
1 1/2 oz. Don Papa Rum
3 Tbsp. Nata de Coco (coconut jelly)
3 large ice cubes
1 dash of Calamansi juice (this typically used in Filipino cooking and is nice on grilled chicken or pork)
guava juice
mint leaves

Shake rum and Nata de Coco with ice cubes. Pour into a highball glass (including ice). Fill to the top with guava juice Add Calamansi on the rim of the glass and garnish with mint leaves.

Piña Colada Old-Fashioned
courtesy of Touro – a trendy bar and restaurant in San Juan
1 oz. Don Q Coco rum
¼ oz. spiced pineapple shrub
3 dashes Angostura bitters
dehydrated pineapple
shaved coconut
orange twist or peel, for garnish

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add both rums, pineapple shrub, and Angostura bitters. Stir until well-chilled—about 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel or twist.

Spiced Pineapple Shrub
courtesy of MotherWouldKnow.com
1 pound fresh pineapple, cut into small pieces About 2 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Demerara (raw) sugar
4 cloves, crushed
3 cinnamon sticks, crushed
20 allspice berries
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
¾ cup red wine vinegar

Pour the pineapple pieces, the granulated and Demerara sugar together. Mix them, cover, and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. Add the spices and let the mixture steep an additional day. Mix in the wine vinegar and refrigerate for another 3 days. When the mixture is done steeping, strain it into a pitcher or other container with a lid, pressing the pineapple pieces to get out all the juices.

Masskara

Masskara
1/2 oz. Don Papa Rum
4 fresh blackberries
1/2 oz. St-Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 egg white
grapefruit bitters
edible flowers

Shake all ingredients, except two of the blackberries, with ice. Garnish with blackberries and serve in a short stem wine glass.

Casa D’Aristi Banana Daiquiri
2 oz. Casa D’Aristi rum
½ oz. lemon juice
1 fresh banana
½ cup coconut milk
½ oz. simple syrup
3 cups of ice
Maraschino cherry

Shake all ingredients vigorously with the ice. Strain into a balloon glass filled with ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry on top before serving.

Sailor Jerry Sangria
1 ½ parts Sailor Jerry Spiced rum
½ cup sugar
2 parts dry red wine
1 part orange juice
1 lemon, lime, and orange

Chill all ingredients. Slice citrus into thin rounds and place in a large pitcher with Sailor Jerry and sugar. Chill for 2 hours to develop flavors. When ready to serve, crush fruit with a wooden spoon; then stir in wine and orange juice. Serve topped with lemon-lime soda.

Cruzan Crush

Cruzan Crush
recipe by Teddy Collins, Miami
4 parts Cruzan Vanilla rum
4 parts Cruzan Aged dark rum
6 parts pineapple juice
3 parts lemon juice
3 parts apricot simple syrup
fresh mint and thyme

Combine lemon juice, apricot simple syrup,and pineapple juice into a cocktail bucket or punch bowl. Lightly smack 10 mint leaves and drop into the bucket along with 2 stems of thyme and muddle softly. Add rums, crushed ice, and stir. Garnish with fresh mint, thyme and 4-6 straws. Enjoy!

To Make Apricot Simple Syrup
Over medium heat, combine equal parts sugar and apricot juice. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Set aside and cool.

Peach and Chile

Rum and Peach Cocktail with Chile Syrup
courtesy of Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary
2 peaches, one chopped into small chunks, the other sliced into 6-8 wedges
¼ cup caster or superfine sugar
½ cup water
½ jalapeño chile
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup good quality rum
Fiery ginger beer (We used Cock and Bull Cherry Ginger Beer)
1 small slice of fresh ginger
1 tbsp caster or superfine sugar
crushed ice
½ red chile or jalapeño cut into small slices

Place the small chunks of chopped peach into a saucepan along with the sugar, water, and jalapeño. Bring to the boil; stir and simmer for 10 minutes, mushing the mixture with a fork every couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, dust the peach wedges in the brown sugar and grill/bbq or griddle each side on a high heat for 1-2 minutes until the sugar caramelizes. Remove from the heat and put to one side.

Take your two glasses and rub the rims of the glasses with a small slice of fresh ginger. Spread the one tbsp of caster sugar on a plate and dip the rims of the glasses in the sugar to coat. Fill each glass with crushed ice and pour 2 tbsp of rum into each glass. Sieve the peach-jalapeño mixture, squashing it down to get all the of the liquid out. Divide the liquid between the two glasses. Top with ginger beer and decorate the glasses with the caramelized peaches and chile slices before serving.

Flaming Volcano

The Flaming Volcano
courtesy of Thrillist.com
1 oz. Dixie Black Pepper vodka
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. falernum
lemon lime soda
¼ oz. blue curaçao
151-proof rum
½ fresh lime

In a hurricane glass, filled with crushed ice, add vodka, simple syrup, and falernum. Top off with lemon lime soda and blue curaçao. Using a manual juicer, hull out a lime half and fill it with 151-proof rum. Float it in the drink. When the tip is lit with a match, the top of the drink is engulfed in flames.

This cocktail is very simple but popular in times past. It was used in place of Navy grog by pirates in the Caribbean and was given to voters during election campaigns in colonial British America. Our own George Washington was reputed to “swill the planters” with bumbo.

Bumbo
2 ounces rum
1 ounce water
2 sugar cubes
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Mix rum, water, and sugar cubes in a rocks glass. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on top and serve. Garnishes are optional. A related drink is the Traitor, made with orange juice, rum, honey, and nutmeg,

The Macua (The National Drink of Nicaragua)
courtesy of BarNoneDrinks.com
1 1/2 oz. Flor de Cana Gold Label rum
1 oz. guava juice
1 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/3 oz. simple syrup

Fill 3/4 of a cocktail shaker with ice and add Flor de Cana rum, guava juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and simple sugar. Shake well for 30 seconds, serve in a Tom Collins glass with ice and decorate with an orange slice. Raise your glass, hike through the rain forest, or surf down a volcano and celebrate Nicaragua’s National Independence Day on September 15.

Tshunk

Tschunk (a German cocktail)
courtesy of Tshunk.org
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 oz. golden rum or dark rum
1 lime
Club-Maté

Dice limes, put them together with the brown sugar into a high glass and crush both. Add crushed ice and pour the rum over it. Top off with Club-Maté and add a straw.

Club Maté is a caffeinated drink from Germany. It is hard to find in the U.S. Here are instructions to make your own. You can skip the boiling the tea steps if you buy Yerba Maté already brewed in bottles or cans. We’re including the complete directions in case you prefer to make it from scratch.

Club Maté Copycat
courtesy of instructables.com
3 Tbsp. Yerba Maté
2 cups hot water
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. citric acid
Refrigerated carbonated water

Fill the yerba maté into tea filter, add hot water and let it sit for at least 7 minutes. Then remove the tea filter, add the sugar and citric acid; stir until dissolved. At this point, the “maté base” may get a little cloudy and will taste way too sweet and sour at the same time. Don’t worry about that, as it will get fixed in the next step. Let the “maté base” cool down (add ice cubes if you’re impatient) and put it in the fridge for some minutes. Shortly before drinking, combine carbonated water and the cold “maté base” in a 1:1 ratio. This makes sure you always have a fizzy drink.

Coquito

Coquito
courtesy of allrecipes.com
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 (12 fluid oz.) can evaporated milk
1 (14 oz.) can cream of coconut
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup white rum
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. real vanilla extract

In the top of a double boiler, combine egg yolks and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly, cook over lightly simmering water until mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer mixture to a blender, and add cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum, water, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass bottles and chill overnight.
Note: This also makes a nice addition to coffee, in place of normal creamer.

Curry Rum Chicken
courtesy of cooks.com
1/4 cup light rum
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chicken bouillon (granules or cubes)
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

In a large frying pan, combine 1 cup of water, the rum, bouillon, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat to medium/low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn over chicken and simmer for 15 minutes more. Serve on a bed of rice or noodles. (The “sauce” is great over cooked noodles and you can easily double the sauce ingredients initially and have lots to pour over noodles or rice).

Review: Westland Garryana Native Oak Series 2017 Edition 2|1

Westland’s single malt “Garry Oak” series continues with this second edition, a follow up to the inaugural 2016 release. I won’t rehash what a Garryana oak is, but will instead focus on how this release differs from the first. The main thing: No peat.

Like its predecessor, Edition 2|1 features Garry Oak as the lead note in a broader composition that brings together a variety of distillates and cask types. The most noteworthy change from last year to this is the absence of a peated component. This is an intentional inquiry. Garry Oak contains a relatively high amount of natural phenols, and so we felt compelled to see how its particular brand of smoke expresses itself when it doesn’t share the stage with the peaty kind. If Garryana 1|1 was a grand gesture; this edition portrays an expression of subtle depth.

Garryana 2|1 is also bottled at a somewhat lower proof (50% abv)… and is on shelves with a somewhat higher price. As with the first release, there’s no age statement.

Let’s move on to the tasting…

The nose is a touch odd — a bit sweaty, with notes of roasted vegetables, fresh-cut lumber, and dusky cloves. The palate however has more in common with a typical American single malt. Grain-forward, but not overly so, the wood influence is powerful, giving the body ample tannin plus notes of burnt sugar and roasted hazelnuts — the latter a common thread from the first edition of the whiskey. The finish sees the emergence of additional spicier elements — nutmeg and cinnamon, dried red berries, and a lightly sweet, milk chocolate note. The wood grips at the back of the throat as the finish fades, providing a curiously saccharine note to the conclusion.

It’s a strange whiskey — and one that’s quite different than its predecessor.

100 proof. 2600 bottles produced.

B / $150 / westlandgarryana.com

Is Boxed Wine Any Good? Tasting Boxes from The Naked Grape, Vin Vault, and Liberty Creek

Don’t look now, but boxed wines have come leaps and bounds since you last snuck a sip from that box of Franzia in your parents’ refrigerator. Designed for big groups, low budgets, beach venues, or for folks who just want a glass every now and then without a whole bottle going bad (most large-size boxes will last for a month due to the airtight construction of the bag inside), boxed wine is a credible solution for any number of occasions.

That is, if the wine inside is any good. We put three recent bottlings — er, boxings — to the test. Let’s start sipping!

NV The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio California – A perfectly credible “house white,” this spritely wine is brisk and acidic, with notes of pineapple, melon, and lingering lemon and lime on the back end. Cleansing and fresh; uncomplicated but plenty pleasant. B+ / $20 (3 liters)

NV Vin Vault Cabernet Sauvignon California – This one’s barely drinkable, a fruit bomb that tastes more like strawberry-flavored syrup and jelly than it does any wine I would rank as palatable. Chocolate, marshmallow, and vanilla notes give it a distinct dessert-like bent, particularly on the gummy finish. D / $20 (3 liters)

NV Liberty Creek Chardonnay California – This is a workable chardonnay, minimally oaked (or treated) and featuring just a hint of vanilla that works fairly well as a companion to a lemon-heavy palate, which is otherwise lightly sweet but approachable enough for afternoon porch-sipping. Nothing complex, but I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve it. B / $4 (500ml)

Review: El Tesoro Tequila Reposado

Carlos Camarena is an icon of the tequila world, and of the several brands he shepherds, El Tesoro is his baby. A few months back I had the pleasure of dining with Camarena and hearing all about how this tequila is made, from harvest to bottling, and today we finally take a formal look at one of El Tesoro’s bottlings, its well-regarded reposado, which spends a lengthy 11 months in barrel before bottling.

The tequila offers a classic nose of vanilla well-mixed with pungent agave, with a healthy subtext of orange peel. On the palate, it’s aggressive for a reposado, with loads of peppery agave, notes of sage and thyme, and — finally — a cool vanilla layer that washes over as the finish starts to take hold. Warming but balanced, the drinker is left with notes of milk chocolate, some coconut, and a grate of nutmeg to reward his efforts.

Quality stuff.

80 proof.

A- / $45 / eltesorotequila.com

Review: Beers of East Brother Beer Co.

Richmond, California, is a rough-and-tumble suburb north of San Francisco, and it’s also the home of the new(ish) East Brother Beer Co., which was founded with the goal of creating “familiar, classic styles with precision and a modern sensibility.” No grapefruit IPAs here: East Brother uses traditional ingredients to put its own (modest) spins on the classics of brewing.

Reviews of four of East Brother’s beers — the Wheat IPA was unavailable — follow. Look for them in East Brother’s taproom, at your local Bay Area watering hole, or in 16 oz. cans.

East Brother Red Lager – A bit on the bitter side for a lager (this one a Vienna-style number), with a bit of an herbal element to it. The finish is quite dry — again, particularly so considering this is a lager, not an ale — with notes of rhubarb, roasted nuts, and sunflower seeds. 4.6% abv. B

East Brother Oatmeal Stout – This is a brisk and quite solid rendition of oatmeal stout, mouth-filling but with enough carbonation to let the lighter elements — some berry fruit, a squeeze of citrus — shine past the core of roasted walnuts, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds. Surprisingly refreshing. 5.4% abv. A-

East Brother Bo Pils – A lovely “Bohemian style” pilsner, it’s got ample malt, a pleasantly light bitterness, and layers of fruit on top of all of it — lemon, lime, and pineapple — plus just a hint of oregano. Incredibly drinkable, the toasty, bready backbone soothes the palate as well as the soul. 5.0% abv. A

East Brother Red IPA – Another malt-forward brew, a clear departure from the typical IPA format, with nuttier elements up front, leading to a fruity, lively expressionality (not a word, but I can’t come up with anything better) on the palate. The finish sees some modest hoppiness — nothing any IPA fan will even shrug at — but ultimately the balance between malt and hops proves to be surprisingly deft. 6.8% abv. A-

prices $NA / eastbrotherbeer.com

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