A couple of years back I told you about Angel's Envy, a premium bourbon produced by Louisville Distilling Co., the team of master mixers put together by Lincoln Henderson. You may know him as the man who basically invented Gentleman Jack and Woodford Reserve during his long career at Brown Foreman. His new company specializes in taking good whiskey and making it great by blending it and finishing it in creative and innovative ways. The original Angel's Envy benefits from a final repose in port barrels to offer a complexity not found in most bourbons that haven't been stashed away for two decades in a warehouse.
His latest creation is Angel's Envy Rye, a truly special spirit that deserves a spot in the front of your liquor cabinet. Lincoln chose a mix of locally sourced 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley to create the base spirit. After six years in new charred oak barrels, the whiskey has been finished in Caribbean rum casks. These particular barrels began their careers as small French cognac casks, so the combination offers some unique flavors and characteristics that just aren't present in your average whiskey barrels. The Angel's Envy team sourced and sampled more than 100 different rums to choose the exact one they thought contributed just the right richness to their rye whiskey. (And you thought I had the best job in the world ...)
As for Yelp Drinks Week, participating locations will feature at least three adult beverages priced at 50 percent off. Yelp says just go into any of the participating bars during business hours now through Saturday, April 20, and check in on your Yelp App to take advantage of the promotion. If you don't have a smartphone, you can also just mention the Yelp promotion.
Here are the participating Yelp Drinks Week 2013 businesses and their 50 percent off drink specials:
Recently I've been hearing some buzz about a new unique single-malt that has been developed by a young lady who used to be a regional representative for Balcones. Allison Patel enjoyed working for the Texans but knew she wanted to create her own spirit. The result of her passion is Brenne, a single-malt from France that's made using organic barley from a seed-to-spirit farm/distillery in the Cognac region. After being twice distilled, the whiskey is aged in new French Limousin barrels before being finished in used cognac casks.
The resulting spirit is really quite special, with a creamy nose of orange peels and chocolate. You definitely want to drink this out of a snifter so you can get your sniffer down in there to enjoy the aromas. The first attack of taste is very fruit-forward, with more of the orange and some banana. As the flavor recedes, strong elements of chocolate/caramel and vanilla appear, reminiscent of a nice creme brûlée. But even with these sweet, fruity notes, there are plenty of tannins from the oak to keep your tongue interested and the flavors in balance.
I've even become a fan of places like Holland House and Rolf and Daughters where the bartenders are doing some amazing things with amaros and quinine-infused wines like Cocchi Americano to add an element of bitterness to cocktails. And you can't make a decent Sazerac (which I do) at home without some authentic Peychaud's bitters.
Maybe that's what's been wrong with the attempt to integrate bitters into the home bar in the past. It used to be that if you had a bottle of Angostura and some Peychaud's, you probably had twice as many bitters as most places. Now mixologists both home and in cocktail bars have discovered a whole range of other bitters and tinctures to pep up their concoctions. Since you only need a few dashes in each drink, the big bottles last forever and are pretty expensive. Do remember, though, that a dash is not a drop. So if the recipe calls for three dashes, get your shoulder into it!
Luckily, the folks at The Bitter Truth have come up with a perfect solution to expanding your repertoire of bitters with their handy Traveler's Set. This little box of fun contains five different varieties packaged in 20 milliliter bottles. This means that not only are they TSA-compliant in case you want to mix a proper cocktail on your next flight, but you can experiment with various flavors without investing in big bottles. If you particularly like any of the flavors, you can always buy the full-size 200 ml bottles from their website or from your favorite spirits retailer. Remember that these are alcohol-based products and must be purchased from a liquor store, unlike other mixer ingredients.
Here is what you'll get in The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler's Set along with some tasting notes from the company:
And, frankly, I was a little hesitant. My only experience with vermouth resulted in ruining a couple of perfectly good jiggers of gin in the making of a martini. Apparently, I’m not alone in this sentiment; the creator of Atsby, Adam Ford addressed this concern with the crowd as he welcomed us. Y’see, vermouth isn’t a liqueur; it’s a fortified wine (as Chris mentioned in his post about Atsby). But it is often stored as a liqueur, so it will go bad over time without proper storage like a wine. So, if you’ve had vermouth, you’ve probably had bad vermouth, and it’s time to try good vermouth.
And the good vermouth to try is Atsby. At the party, we first sampled both the Armadillo Cake (the sweet-ish one) and the Amberthorn (the drier one) on their own. And they were fantastic.
The Armadillo Cake is made with caramelized muscavado sugar, so it has a real depth. Plus, it’s made with a dizzying number of herbs and other aromatics to create a very complex scent and taste. I think it would be wonderful to serve warm instead of cider in the winter. The Amberthorn also smells amazing; there are a lot of different herbs and aromatics combined to smell, like, maybe the best chai you’ve ever smelled.
The resulting liqueur is made in small batches without the addition of artificial additives or colorants, and it tastes fresh and complex either straight up chilled or as an ingredient in creative cocktails. The small team behind Domaine de Canton has been showcasing their product through a dinner series that moves across the country introducing new fans to cocktails and food made using their ginger spirit.
Nashville was lucky enough to be the first stop on this year's 12-city tour, with chef Thomas Cook of Prime 108 at Union Station Hotel creating an inventive menu to match with Canton cocktails. In general, cocktail suppers are harder to plan than wine or beer dinners because the complex flavors and tongue-anesthetizing characteristics of spirits can interfere with the enjoyment of food.
Chef Cook did an admirable job incorporating Canton's flavors into his menu of sweet tempura lobster rolls, scallops, Peking duck and a delightful dessert of blood orange financier, candied orange zest, Champagne-ginger sorbet and ginger gelee.
Sweet or dry vermouths are aromatic fortified wines which add unique botanicals to cocktails. Traditionally, the best vermouths have come from France or Italy, but a new American company is seeking to change the game. Atsby Vermouth is based out of New York and wants to disprove the old idea that the base wine of the product needed to be bland and that all the secrets were in the botanicals added. They wanted to make a vermouth that could stand on its own as an apertif and also be an excellent addition to a cocktail recipe.
To that end, they created two new products: a drier blond vermouth named Amberthorn and a sweeter version they call Armadillo Cake. (Like in Steel Magnolias.) Now Atsby has finally made their way to Nashville and they're throwing a glitzy launch party for industry professionals. However, along with the good folks at DrinkMusicCity.com, they've promised two pairs of tickets for lucky Bites readers. See below for all the details of the shindig — and all you have to do to win is leave your favorite vermouth cocktail in the comments. Personally, I like a Perfect Manhattan with both sweet and dry vermouth and a nice spicy rye. We'll draw the winners on Monday, March 11, and notify the lucky winos then. Watch this space for news.
But these two products have been the entirety of the company's U.S. product line since 1999. Now it has finally made the leap into the world of premium bourbons that have a little more age on them with a new product, Bulleit 10. Unlike the orange label bourbon, which is bottled at 90 proof after at least six years in oak, Bulleit 10 is slightly hotter at 91.2 proof and is aged for at least a decade, thus the name.
The extra time in wood is immediately apparent on the nose, as a strong aroma of oak masks the more delicate maple and vanilla essences that characterize Bulleit. Give it a second to open up, and the oakiness will dissipate to reveal the caramel notes. At first taste, the flavors are more familiar to fans of Bulleit 10's little brother with the expected caramel and vanilla attacking the palate. But it's not long until the oaky tannins of the aging process start to dry out the sides of your tongue. It's not unpleasant and is certainly very different from most younger bourbons.
A lot of 10-year-old and older bourbons seek to try and smooth out the edges of the whiskey. Since many of them have higher wheat content thanks to that grain's ability to age a little more gracefully, the character of other premium whiskeys is much more muted. Bulleit 10 doesn't aim for the middle of the flavor zone.
He came back without the bourbon, but with one of my favorite pieces.
Mirroring the nation’s bourbon craze of the moment, Nashville’s Pappy hysteria crosses subgenres: sorority girls, hipsters, housewives, entertainment industry minions trying to secure a bottle for musicians and actors breezing through town, naïve everyguys who saw it on an episode of Justified and plenty of yuppie couples trying to build a home bar using dog-eared pages of Garden & Gun.
A product that once used to sit on shelves for months at a time is now sought with zeal, largely for a variety of non-bourbon drinking reasons, thus feeding a nasty black market. A note to hunters: After more than a week of calling Midstate liquor stores, I could find only one bottle for sale, at a liquor store in downtown Nashville. The price tag is five times the former going rate.
If you’re willing to abandon the pretension of “Pappy or bust,” all is far from lost: Right now at any number of local stores or bars, someone can assist you in purchasing a similar bourbon with similar results, depending on your palate. This is a renaissance for bourbon, and the choices have never been greater. Even rye whiskey, once the rotgut of choice for true salt-of-the-earth blue-collar laborers, has been smoothed, spiced and repackaged for curious new fans.
Nashville is at a particular disadvantage for an honest drinker looking for elusive bourbons. Multiple merchants I spoke to admitted that tourists frequently seek out an expensive bottle of whiskey simply to say they bought it in Nashville, the home of … bourbon?
“Yeah, they don’t quite get this isn’t Kentucky, or don’t know it comes from Kentucky, or just don’t care,” one floor rep grumbled.
“Man, I hope they don’t mention it on the TV show,” a store clerk across town worried.
Damn all that equity in our municipality’s “it” status. With Pappy leading the way, the high-end booze wave of demand has crashed down on otherwise unpretentious, humble local boozehounds.
Now Whisky Advocate magazine, formerly Malt Advocate, has named the distillery's Triple Smoke as "The Artisan Whiskey of the Year." Whenever anyone asks me about Corsiar, Triple Smoke is the first product I talk about. It's not a traditional American whiskey, but it's not a scotch either. It is a truly unique spirit that really speaks to the boundaries that Corsair is pushing. Whiskey lovers and mixologists all over the country know this as Corsair's calling card product.
Here's an excerpt from the Whisky Advocate article announcing the award:
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