Whiskey is a spirit produced from the distillation of grain. Debate still rages about whether the Irish Celts or Scots were the first to produce the “water of life,” but the first written recording of whiskey’s creation dates to 15th century Scotland. Origin isn’t the only debate concerning whiskey. Spelling is contentious, too. When distilled in Scotland, Canada, and Japan, it is spelled whisky without the e, while whiskey distilled in Ireland and the United States is most often, but not always, spelled with the e. Technically, whiskey is a distilled spirit produced from a fermented grain mash, distilled to no more than 190 proof, and bottled at no less than 80 proof. All whiskey, with the exception of corn whiskey and “white” whiskey, must be aged for some period of time in oak containers. Whiskey is classified by country of origin (i.e. Canadian whisky) and may be further defined by the type of grain used (i.e. rye whiskey) or the way it is produced (i.e. single malt).

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From Barrel To Bottle: How Wood Aging Impacts Whiskey

Review: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Batch #33

By Christopher Null | February 4, 2009 |

I’m not gonna pull any punches here. Stranahan’s is the strangest whiskey I’ve ever experienced. It looks harmless enough, a bright, orange-hued spirit with a relatively mild nose — almost rye-like. Though 94 proof, the nose isn’t particularly hot. Looks promising. Then the tasting. Hmmm. Stranahan’s is a rarity among American whiskeys, distilled from 100…

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Review: Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon

By Christopher Null | February 2, 2009 |

I’ve written about Evan Williams a few times now after seeing the brand rank highly in taste-tests of inexpensive booze. Widely regarded as the best “cheap bourbon” on the market, I figured I’d pick up a bottle and try it myself, tasting it as seriously as I would a $300 Scotch. The price of this…

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Review: Kentucky Vintage Bourbon

By Christopher Null | January 29, 2009 |

The name “Kentucky Vintage” immediately leads one to snicker a bit. Vintage? Bourbon? Really? In reality, this is the fourth (and final) bourbon from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers’ Small Batch Collection — the entire line has been reviewed here now — and it is arguably the least impressive of the series. At just 90 proof,…

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World’s Most Expensive Drinks

By Christopher Null | January 28, 2009 |

I love lists like these (and not just because I’ve had Utopias), mainly because it’s so fun to navel-gaze at this ridiculously expensive booze. That said, I’d love to give the Macallan 1926 a shot. Or two.

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Esquire’s Best Cheap Booze

By Christopher Null | January 22, 2009 |

I expect to see lots of recession-minded lifestyle coverage in the upcoming months. Esquire magazine doesn’t disappoint with this roundup of the best cheap spirits — stuff that’s affordable but which you wouldn’t mind actually serving to guests. The winners: Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP brandy, Brugal Anejo rum, White Horse Scotch, Gordon’s gin, and…

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Review: Noah’s Mill Bourbon

By Christopher Null | January 19, 2009 |

Another entry from the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers consortium, Noah’s Mil is a standout from this bottling group. Produced in small batches, it arrives in the bottle at a downright sweltering 114.3 proof, and sipping without water makes one positively sweat. Add a touch of water to the amazingly dark, toffee-brown bourbon and you get something…

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Review: Clontarf Classic Blend Irish Whiskey (2009)

By Christopher Null | January 17, 2009 |

Named after a famous battle in Ireland (the one in which King Boru, another bit of history that’s become a liquor brand, died), Clontarf produces two Irish whiskeys, a blend and a single malt. Here’s the blend, which is a perfectly acceptable Irish, a light honey and butterscotch spirit that goes down with minimal fuss.…

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Review: Jim Beam Distillers Series Bourbon (2008 Edition)

By Christopher Null | January 13, 2009 |

I’m on record as being a fan of Jim Beam as a totally solid, affordable bourbon, so I had to snag a bottle of Jim Beam Distillers Series — a reserve bottling, if you will — when I heard it was being produced. This new, limited-edition bottle features a line-art representation of each of the…

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Review: Pure Kentucky XO Bourbon

By Christopher Null | January 11, 2009 |

With its big, fat bottle and giant picture of Kentucky on the label, Pure Kentucky doesn’t look from a distance like anything you’d slap an “XO” label on, even as a joke. But this is real, serious bourbon, a whiskey that sweet tooths will love and other bourbon fans can also enjoy. Aged 10 years…

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Review: Glenmorangie “The Original” 10 Years Old

By Christopher Null | January 10, 2009 |

Easy to find and almost as easy to drink, Glenmorangie’s entry-level whisky is a solid and affordable entree into the world of Scotch. Glenmorangie is often noted for its floral character, but here you’ll find a surprising saltiness that interplays in an intriguing way with the caramel and honey notes of from the wood in…

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