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Cobra Whiskey Pairings

Spirits

Cobra Grass Snake Whiskey

This stuff is supposedly quite the aphrodisiac, but to be honest, it scares the hell out of me. As if having a cobra in your whiskey isn’t enough, this particular bottle also has a grass snake in it, which is actually in the cobra’s mouth.

The only real use I can see for this is for proactive parents wanting to deter curious teenagers from rummaging around the liquor cabinet. I mean, kids are typically nervous enough when they are rummaging through cupboards like a liquor bandit, can you imagine if they grab a bottle thinking they hit the jackpot, only to find a friggin’ king cobra with a grass snake in its mouth IN the bottle…problem solved. See the full post »


3 comments 09.04.2008 |

Fireball Whisky Dispels Internet Rumors

Beverage News

Fireball Whisky

Fireball Whisky is feeling some heat after some North American product found its way to Europe. While perfectly safe to drink, the North American Fireball wasn’t in compliance with local laws in Europe where a slightly different recipe is needed. The culprit? Propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration up to 50 grams per KG, with Fireball containing less than 1/8th of the amount allowed by US FDA regulations. Propylene glycol is used in many different products, including products we consume like soft drinks, sweeteners, some foods and alcoholic beverages.

While there isn’t an issue in North America, there was in Finland, Sweden and Norway who have asked Sazerac, the parent company of Fireball, to recall those specific batches, which will be replaced within three weeks.

The damage, however, has been done with articles like “Fireball Whiskey Recalled In Europe For Containing Too Much Of A Chemical Used In Antifreeze” spiraling like wildfire across social media, prompting Sazerac to quickly work to dispel them. “All Fireball formulas are absolutely safe to drink and the use of PG in Fireball creates no health risk whatsoever,” said a company representative. “There is no recall in North America. Fireball fans can continue to enjoy their favorite product as they always have.” College students everywhere were certainly worried about potential health risks but were quickly put at ease after assurances by the company.

And this breaking news just in … Fireball contains dihydrogen monoxide! We’re also following up on leads that Fireboall contains ethanol, a biofuel additive to gasoline. Pandemonium ensues.


Comments Off on Fireball Whisky Dispels Internet Rumors 10.29.2014 |

Firestone Walker Announces 18th Anniversary Ale Blend

Beer

Firestone Walker XVIII Anniversary

A highlight for many beer enthusiasts each year is the release of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.’s anniversary ale. The beer, which was first created to commemorate their 10th anniversary, brings together over a dozen Central Coast vintners to blend a beer that, this year, consists of over 227 oak barrels and nine different beers.

“These winemakers are practicing experts in the art of blending, so it makes perfect sense to seek their counsel,” Firestone Walker’s brewmaster Matt Brynildson said. “It’s like bringing in the ninjas.”

The winemakers are paired off and given the gamut of barrel aged component beers that can be used for the blend, which are then presented to the group, blind tested, and voted on. The beer with the most votes becomes that year’s anniversary ale. The blend chosen to create Firestone Walker XVIII was created by Russell From and Philip Muzzy of Herman Story Wines. See the full post »


1 comment 10.27.2014 |

The State of Agave

Spirits

Jalisco Agave Fields

A well-made margarita is the most challenging cocktail riddle for any bar that prioritizes serving quality drinks. Yesterday, at our little mezcaleria in Houston, The Pastry War, I served around 400 margaritas. With skyrocketing agave prices, the current lime crisis, and increasing agave syrup demands, each of those liquid darlings represent one more ice-cold step towards the edge of sustainability’s cliff and bar margins that seemingly get thinner every day. Unfortunately, unlike droning on and on about historically accurate Aviation specs, bartenders around the globe seem content to simply complain about the unwillingness of ingredients to arrive perfectly at their bar doors.

Limes grow on trees, subject to weather, and they are traded by people, subject to political disputes and cartel activity. The idea that perfect, cost-effective limes should be available whenever we want them isn’t only reflective of a relatively new era of globalization, it demonstrates widespread ignorance about these issues within our industry. I get it. Most of us fell under the irreverent bar siren’s call and fell in love with hospitality, avoiding hypercritical discussions of agriculture, global trade or other real issues outside of the walls of our very comfortable bars. Nevertheless, it isn’t acceptable for those who represent themselves as leaders of our industry to ignore the thousands of lives our bars impact every year through the products we choose to pour at bars—juice and otherwise. No, it isn’t an easy discussion, but I like to think that the persistent claim that “this industry is all about taking care of people” applies to the people we have never met that make the products we serve as well. See the full post »



New Spirit Releases to be on the Lookout For

Spirits

New Spirits This Fall

Glenfiddich Excellence 26 Year Old
Matured exclusively in American Oak Bourbon casks for a minimum of 26 years, Glenfiddich Excellence 26 Year Old is the first single malt from the Speyside distiller to use Bourbon casks throughout the entire maturation process to become a permanent addition to this premium line. Glenfiddich Excellence 26 Year Old will be available nationally at fine wine and spirits retailers starting fall 2014 for a suggested retail price of $499.99 / 750ml (43% ABV).

Chopin SINGLE Potato 2012
This limited edition, once-distilled spirit is made entirely from Zuzanna and Hinga potatoes harvested at the peak of their starch content. While many vodka are distilled multiple times, this is distilled just once in order to retain its unique flavor and character. Other expressions in the SINGLE line include Young Potato, Rye, and Wheat.

Penny Blue XO Rum
Named after the Mauritian Penny Blue stamp, one of the rarest stamps in the world, this single estate Mauritian rum is distilled at Medine, the island’s oldest operational distillery first opened in 1926. Penny Blue is a small-batch vatted rum, natural in color and non-chill-filtered, that is entirely produced on a single estate – from growing the sugar cane, to distillation, maturation and bottling. Imported by Anchor Distilling Company, only 7,000 individually numbered bottles of Penny Blue XO Batch #002 will be sold in the United States and Europe with 3,000 bottles currently allocated for the U.S. See the full post »


Comments Off on New Spirit Releases to be on the Lookout For 09.10.2014 |

Wine Enthusiast Announces 2014’s 40 Under 40

Miscellaneous

Wine Enthusiast announced today their 2014 40 Under 40 list, which highlights America’s tastemakers and leaders in beverage culture. One on the list is Mutineer Magazine’s founder Alan Kropf, who is now the Director of Education at Anchor Distilling Company.

This list appears to be very well thought out and includes many very passionate and game changing beverage personalities.

Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40

Alan Kropf, 31
Director of Education, Anchor Distilling, San Francisco

A jack of all trades, Alan Kropf is certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Cicerone Program and National Bartenders School. He is also founder of Mutineer Magazine, and, last year, he joined Anchor Distilling Company.

Gordon Little, 32
Co-founder, Little Peacock Imports, New York City

After moving from Melbourne, Australia, to the U.S. in 2008, Little was dismayed at the dearth of wine selections from his homeland. He founded Little Peacock to not only import and distribute Australian wine in the U.S., but also to provide wine that Aussies actually drink, helping to ­reshape American perceptions of wine from Down Under.

Nicolas Mestre, 29
Founder, COO, Williams Corner Wine, Charlottesville, VA
Born and raised in France and a veteran of the restaurant business, Mestre seems to have been destined for his current role. Virginia-based Mestre founded Williams Corner Wine, a wine importer and wholesaler, at the age of 23. Since then, he has been integral in introducing little-known, well-made natural French wines to the U.S.

Lex Kiefhaber, 29
Wine Director, Smith & Wollensky, New York City

At only 29 years old, Kiefhaber, wine director at legendary New York City steakhouse Smith & Wollensky, is bringing a fresh approach to one of Manhattan’s most storied wine cellars. Kiefhaber, a Yale graduate, worked previously in a variety of restaurant roles—bartender, server, manager and writer—before taking on his current challenge.

DLynn Proctor, 34
Brand Ambassador, Treasury Wine Estates, Napa, CA

One of the men featured in the documentary SOMM, Proctor works as brand ambassador for Penfolds wines, helping to spread the gospel of high-quality Australian wine. He’s also actively involved in training and mentoring new generations of aspiring sommeliers.

Melanie Krause, 37
Winemaker, Cinder Wines, Boise, ID

In 2001, Krause began work as a vineyard technician at Stimson Lane in Woodinville, Washington, where she also started making some of her own “homemade” wine. After working at Chateau Ste. Michelle, she moved back to Boise and started her own winery consultant business, Krause Consulting, LLC, which is bringing much-needed expertise to this emerging wine region. Together with husband, Joe Schnerr, she now owns Cinder Wines, named after the layers of volcanic remnants found under the vineyards in Idaho.

Meg Gill, 28
Co-founder, Golden Road Brewery, Los Angeles

While attending Yale, Gill spent her time studying Latin, which she says, “is about putting pieces of the puzzle together, and the same thing is true of getting beer on the shelf.” Gill’s Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing—which produced 15,000 barrels last year—is one of the fastest-growing breweries in the U.S. Ever the go-getter, Gill expects to double that output in 2014, and expand distribution beyond Southern California.

Charles Joly, 38
Beverage Director, Aviary, Chicago

Joly started out as a bar back, but never dreamed he would make his career in the bar industry. Leading a crew of dedicated ice chefs, Joly runs Aviary’s bar more like a kitchen, snagging the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2013 and being named Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2014. See the full post »


Comments Off on Wine Enthusiast Announces 2014’s 40 Under 40 09.02.2014 |

What is Authentic Shōchū?

Spirits

Shōchū

Saké is an alcoholic beverage brewed from rice. So what is shōchū? It all started in the Middle East with an ancient spirit called arak. This traditional beverage is distilled from grapes and infused with aniseed. Arak served as a base beverage concept that evolved as it spread around the world. It was brought over to Asia where it transformed into lao lao in Thailand. When it arrived in Okinawa, Japan, the crafts of distillation and rice kōji-making combined to form awamori. The art of making spirits arrived to mainland Japan in Kagoshima about 500 years ago. Local ingredients were combined with the ancient craft, and shōchū was born!

The use of kōji mold is what separates shōchū from other spirits. Yellow kōji produces the flavors, fermentable sugars and lactic acid in saké. Shōchū production uses black kōji which is a strain indigenous to Okinawa. Black kōji also produces fermentable sugars, but with a different set of flavors and citrus acid. When spirit production arrived in Japan, with it came black kōji. Long grain rice used for Okinawan awamori was replaced with Japanese short grain rice. Kagoshima’s famous sweet potatoes and other starchy grains like barley are also used as the main ingredient.

Just like saké, shōchū quality suffered during World War II. The idea was to produce the maximum amount of alcohol with the minimum amount of ingredients. Column stills were used to produce high proof alcohol that would be diluted down to produce cheap flavorless shōchū. This vodka-like shōchū is still made today in automated factories and used as a cocktail base. See the full post »


Comments Off on What is Authentic Shōchū? 07.29.2014 |

In Preparation of National Scotch Whisky Day: 5 New Scotch Whiskys You Need to Try

Spirits

National Scotch Whisky Day

With July 27 being National Scotch Whisky Day, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to highlight several new Scotch Whiskys that have recently popped on our radar.

Scotch, obviously, comes from Scotland and, more specifically, is produced in five regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown. Through a combination of terroir, heritage, and technique, each region produces whisky with distinct qualities and characteristics of that region. While not all regions are represented below, here are a few new whiskys we recommend trying.

anCnoc Flaughter
anCnoc (pronounced a-NOCK) recently released two new expressions that are all about the peat. Flaughter (pronounced FLAH-ter) is named after the Flaughter spade used to remove the top layer of peat which is richer, more rooty and produces more peat reek. Flaughter is part of a Limited Edition Peaty Collection that explores the bolder, smokier aspect of their classic Highland flavor in three different expressions. Pale gold in color, Flaughter is heavy on the peat, weighing in at 14.8 PPM of peat. It is robust and earthy and full of warm smoke, fruit, and honey.

Auchentoshan American Oak
Released in May 2014, Auchentoshan American Oak is a triple distilled single malt aged in first fill bourbon casks hailing from one of the Lowland’s last remaining distilleries. This is a great whisky for someone looking to get into scotch, especially if they already enjoy bourbon as notes of vanilla and caramel are readily available much like one might find in American whiskey. The level of smoke on this is low so it’s a great scotch to introduce to those who are still unsure how they feel about peat smoke.

The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel Sherry Cask
Balvenie, the Speyside Single Malt Scotch distillery famous for their DoubleWood, has announced their newest release: The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel Sherry Cask. Much like their original Balvenie Single Barrel 15, each bottle will denote the barrel number it came from and what number bottle it is from that barrel. As I have personally found between different bottles of Balvenie Single Barrel 15 from different barrels, as well as having nosed casks in Speyside, the variation between casks is enormous. For this release, no more than 650 bottles will be drawn from each European oak sherry butt, which this whisky has been exclusively aged in for at least 15 years. Looks for notes of dried fruit and nuttiness coming from the Oloroso sherry casks.

The Glenglassaugh Distillery Revival
Making its American debut is Glenglassaugh and their Revival Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Appropriately named, Revival is the first whisky from the re-born Glenglassaugh distillery which was first opened in 1875 and mothballed in 1986 until production resumed in 2008. Revival is aged in a mix of ex-red wine and first fill bourbon casks before being finished in rich sherry casks and bottled at 46%. Look for notes of orange, sherry nuttiness, charred oak, and honey.

Laphroaig Select
Laphroaig, the Islay distillery known for the smoky peat and essence from the sea characteristics of their scotch, has just released a new expression: Laphroaig Select. Laphroaig Select takes some of their benchmark offerings–Quarter Cask, PX Cask, Triple Wood and Ten-Year Old Casks–and blends them together to create a whisky that creates a harmony of peat, oak and sweetness. To finish, during the peak of Scottland’s summer, final maturation takes place in new American Oak, which is rarely used in Scotch.


1 comment 07.25.2014 |

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