Monday, March 31, 2008

I am not going to get into the details of the Scotch Whisky Association's new legislation concerning labeling, I will just say that I think it is a bad move.

Here is a petition to to keep it from happening. I highly encourage you to sign it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I was lucky enough to meet with Ralph Erenzo (and Dustin from Domaine Select) Distiller and sales manager for Tuthilltown Spirits out of New York. Firstly, these are both very nice guys, I was a solid 25 minutes late and the paid it no mind....I hate being late.

On to the product. I tasted most of the line, all of which is well-made, but was really blown away with a few products in particular.

Hudson Manhattan Rye: Solid toasted color, plenty dark and warm. Nose was all about the grain, not overly oaked at all. These two aspects made me ask how old it was, he had already told me that they use new barrels, so I was a bit puzzled by how dark it was compared to how gentle the oak was in the bouquet. "3 months," was the answer. HUH!?!? I don't see how that is possible. Well here is how they do it.

To start, they use small barrels. In Scotland I heard these called Quarter-casks and bloodtubs. Laphraig has a quarter-cask bottling that is super powerful. The idea is that a smaller barrel provides a higher ratio of surface area to spirit volume, i.e. more oak per gallon. This is cool, but not ground breaking. The other move is pretty outrageous. Apparently, Brian Lee, one of the men behind the spirit, is a sound guy. He devised a way to hyper infuse the spirit into the wood using sound waves. At night they crank up a subwoofer in the warehouse and vibrate the resting barrels. I think the result is undeniable.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Two Wine Enter, One Wine Leave.

Rueters had a funny piece about the rivalry between Napa and Sonoma as wine growing regions. I personally find it funny as the bulk of the world has no idea what they are talking about. I would think even most people in the US who claim to be wine drinkers would be a little hard pressed to sum up the differences between the two in a quick and succinct couple of sentences.

The reason I find this interesting is that I am starting to feel a little of the same rivalry in the cocktail world between New York and San Francisco. Like the wine industry, there are actually a very limited number of people who are really versed in both scenes, but plenty who think they are. As well, the two schools of cocktails are pretty different when you get in close and study them. In the end however, we are all just trying to make good drinks, just as the wine makers are just trying to make good juice. So what if we might have different ideas as to what that means.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New kid on the pretty fantastic.

The San Francisco World Spirit thingy just convened and there were a couple of cool aspects this year. Firstly, Absinthe....'nuff said. Secondly, a cachaca won best in show for white spirits. I was very surprised when I heard this a few days ago. Seeing as how I have anounced that we are in a gin boom, I kind of figured everyone else would go along with me. Weber Hauz has put their sandaled foot down however and done it a very smooth way. I was able to taste their white today and it blew me away (the pic above is an old bottle, the new package is great.
The nose is grassy and malty, kind of reminding me of a brewery. I can only think that that must be the yeast coming through. It is bottled kind of light at 38% so I will not sing the praises of it's smoothness yet, but I will talk about how clean it is....It is very clean. The 'funk' level is very low and there is a great grassiness on the finish.
I also tasted a 4 year aged in Brazilian oak and balsam. It was a little weird for me personally (kind of minty), but a very well made spirit for sure. I understand they just got their organic certification for process, not just the ingredients (pay attention Rain!). All in all, I am pretty impressed.
There are shipping direct at the moment, but should have distribution soon and I am predicting great things.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I dare you not to fall in love with Islay Whiskey after watching this.

Jonny Raglin, Walter Moore and myself had the pleasure of running around the warehouses at Bruichladdich with Mr. McEwan a few evevnings last summer.....Magic!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lifted shamelessly from the Modesto Bee:

Looks like there is another American Gin coming to a cocktail glass near you, New Amerdam. It seems Gallo is getting in on the 'gin-boom" (yeah, I just made that up) we seem to be in. In the last 5 years we have seen Sarticious, No. 209, Aviation, Junipero (I am actually not sure when Anchor started selling this, but it was new to me 5 years ago), Blue Coat, North Shore, g'Vine, DH Krahn, Death's Door, Leeds, Dogfish Jin and Rehorst Milwaukee Gin come to market. Historically speaking, this has got to be some kind of record. If this happened every 5 years we'd be swimming in the stuff.

Man do I love Scotland!
Here is another beautiful bottle from the land of sheep and malt. Ola Dubh (think Oila-Doob) is a super dark-roasted malt stout called 'Old Engine Oil' that has been finished in ex-Highland Park barrels. The Expression I sampled was from a 12 year old barrel and it was great. It pours heavy, almost gloopy with a fairly intense nose of toast and caramel, but drinks effortlessly with a very restrained body. There are the faintest whispers of peat which may even be my imagination, but I honestly don't care.
We have been pairing it with sweets and cheese with much success and am hoping fervently that more comes to the US. The Brewer's website,, says that more bottles in the same line are in the works. I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So we have playing around with Anchor Distilling's Genevieve recently. This beautiful bottle garners many questions from guests, a portion of which will inevitably order it with tonic. We pretty much think this is gross, so we needed a quick 'go-to' cocktail to twist it into.
The first one that worked out great was the French 75. We prefer this cocktail served in a flute (I just can't get my head around ice and wine in the same glass). The maltiness of the Genever shows very well when tempered by sparkling wine and seems much less aggressive with lemon.
The second came about when I had a guest order it in a Martini. The conversation was going very well till the guy exposed himself as a cocktail tourist by throwing the word 'dirty' at the tail end. I knew this wasn't going to be good, so I used the force and moved him on to an idea that had been forming as we talked. Genevieve sits kind of fatty on the tongue, so I wanted something to cut through that wasn't acid. Grappa was the answer. Equal parts Genever, Dry Vermouth and Grappa (I really don't think it matters what it is made of in this instance, sure they will be different, but certainly not better). Stirred and garnished with a generous zest of lemon, I call it the Resistance