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Ever find yourself in the wine and spirits shop in front a giant wall of bottles, asking yourself questions like, "Wait, what’s the difference between whiskey and bourbon again? Do I want rye or brandy for Old Fashioneds? Is $50 for the good stuff really worth it if I’m just going to add mixers anyway?"
Sign yourself up for the Whiskey Social at Village Whiskey and graduate to the next level of brown liquor know-how. On April 18, the swank Center City joint will close its doors to the public and hold a private tutorial on classic whiskey cocktails, followed by some time for socializing, snacking, and of course sampling the drinks discussed during the lesson.
The bar’s general manager, Paul Rodriguez (a real whiskey connoisseur), will guide a relaxed, engaging class, where guests will be encouraged to ask any and all questions about Village Whiskey’s 80-plus whiskey selection, while bartenders expertly whip up and pour essential cocktails, including the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, and Sazerac. There will even be a take-home component: a drink recipe book, perfect for applying this new knowledge at many at-home happy hours to come!
Of course, the snacking will be as elevated as the drinks. Pickled cherry tomatoes and beets, deviled eggs, a variety of sliders, and duck fat fries with beer cheese sauce will be served during the cocktail hour. Since the restaurant will be closed, there will be plenty of room to mix and mingle — a rarity in this perpetually packed spot.
The Whiskey Social is $60 per person, and begins at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18. Tickets must be bought in advance; click here to purchase.
Rum Cocktails that Celebrate the Diversity of Drinks From the Caribbean and Beyond
If the first image that springs to mind when you hear “rum cocktail” is a frozen drink punctured with a colorful parasol, here’s your chance to reimagine the scene — a global one, where rum stars in recipes that don’t require a blender, brain freeze, or idyllic beach. Rum is an international spirit, and a cultural fixture in areas of the world where it is produced. Originally called “Kill Devil” or “rumbullion,” rum’s first recorded history dates to 1650 in Barbados. It became profitable in many Caribbean islands as a result of Europeans who forced Africans to work as slaves. However, the spirit continues to thrive with local pride, and brands around the world are excited to shift the narrative of rum as a spirit made solely for tropical drinks.
“Rum is the most versatile spirit category in the world, with an array of flavors, body, aromas and presentations,” says Ian A.V. Burrell, global rum ambassador to the rum category, and founder of Equiano rum. Although the distilled spirit is made from sugarcane, a common misconception is that rum is always sweet. But while some rums are allowed to add sugar or sweet wines to their blends, many are as pure as bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, or single-malt Scotch. (“Pure” as in unadulterated, meaning no sugar, sweeteners, or additives are used to enhance the flavor.)
In this way, Burrell compares rum to whiskey: Both follow regional “rules” or laws, but have no global definition. “It is produced in many countries, most having their own definition of the sugarcane spirit, similar to whiskey from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, or America,” Burrell says, “and like whiskey, it all depends on where the rum is made. For example, all rums from Puerto Rico must be aged for a minimum of one year before they can be called rum, and in Venezuela, two years. Rums from Jamaica must be made on the island and cannot contain additives such as sugar or spices. And Rhums from Martinique, using their controlled designation of origin (appellation d’origine contrôlée AOC), have many rules, including that they must be made from fresh sugarcane juice from local sugarcane and distilled in creole column stills.”
Likewise, Peter Ruppert, beverage director of Short Stories in the East Village of New York and brand ambassador for Don Papa Rum, compares rum to wine: “Much in the way that the same grape grown in Burgundy can be raised in California, yet produce two very different flavors, the same concept exists for sugar,” he says. “It’s such a delicate balance with many factors, from climate, to the proximity to a large body of water, and even altitude.”
Ruppert continues: “In large part, what I think makes rum such a fascinating spirit is that it’s mysterious, and you always want to know more. It’s not just where it was grown and how it was aged, but how did it get there? Who found it? Where was it brought to, and who did it meet along the way? It simply has a ton of personality.”
And speaking of personality, here is a look into rum varieties around the world that are showing how global and diverse the spirit really is — along with recipe inspiration for each.
Made in: Mauritius and Barbados
Equiano made its debut this year as the world’s first African Caribbean rum. The limited, molasses-based blend is 100 percent natural rum that’s aged in a combination of French Limousin oak and ex-Cognac casks for a minimum of 10 years, then shipped to Barbados and blended with single-blended rum aged in ex-bourbon casks.
“We decided to take rum from Africa (Mauritius) and send it to the epicenter of the rum world, the Caribbean (Barbados), to be blended with local premium rums by the masters. This culminates in a smooth-tasting rum that is bursting with natural aromas, taste, and flavor, without the addition of any sugars or spices,” Burrell, co-founder of Equiano, says.
Burrell’s Kedu Daiquiri is a nod to Equiano rum’s origins and to Olaudah Equiano, the 18th-century writer, entrepreneur, and abolitionist the brand was named after. Kedu means “hello” or “welcome” in the Igbo language of southern Nigeria, near the birthplace of Equiano.
“This cocktail is a simple, refreshing drink that embodies hospitality,” Burrell says. “As Equiano rum has natural tropical notes on the nose and palate, it works well with exotic fruits such as pineapple. Historically, and due to its seemingly exotic qualities and rareness, the pineapple soon became a symbol of hospitality in early America. Because trade routes between America and Caribbean islands were often slow and perilous, it was considered a significant achievement from a host to procure a ripe pineapple for guests.”
Developed by: Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador to the Rum Category, London
Courtesy of Ian Burrell
- 2 ounces Equiano Rum
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce Pina Reàl Pineapple syrup
- 3 dashes of cocoa or chocolate bitters
- Champagne float
- Pineapple leaf as a garnish
- 1. Place all ingredients, except Champagne, in shaker tin.
- 2. Add ice and shake vigorously to marry ingredients and chill beverage.
- 3. Strain into serving ware (coupette or Martini glass, preferably).
- 4. Float a little Champagne on top of the cocktail.
- 5. Float a pineapple leaf as a garnish.
Made in: Venezuela
Diplomático rums are produced by Destilerías Unidas S.A. (DUSA), an independent, family-owned and 100 percent Venezuelan company, located at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. “Our main advantage to achieve a delicious and distinctive taste profile is our unique rum-making process,” says Edouard Beaslay, global marketing director, Diplomático Rum. “Diplomático rums are distilled using a rich variety of methods, like ancient copper pot stills (British whisky tradition) for complex rums. Using pot stills, arguably the most authentic method of distillation, results in a more flavorsome spirit and richer in congeners.”
Diplomático’s rum raisin cocktail, created by brand ambassador Emmanuel Peña, shows just how many diverse ingredients can elevate rum’s flavor. “Although named Rum Raisin, the star of this cocktail is the fig preserve,” Peña says. “I found that when you dry figs, you’re reducing volume of water, resulting in a similar raisin-y taste, but much more refined. The acidity of the lemon balances everything out and enhances the vanilla notes found in Diplomatico Planas. The color of the fig preserve adds that vibrancy to the cocktail.”
Developed by: Emmanuel Peña, National Diplomático Brand Ambassador
Courtesy of Diplomático
- 2 ounces Diplomático Planas
- 1 bar spoon fig preserve or marmalade
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce agave nectar
- Raisins for garnish
- 1. Add all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, and shake vigorously to combine/chill.
- 2. Serve into desired cupware.
- 3. Garnish with raisins.
Made in: Barbados, Guyana, Spain
What happens when rum is blended and aged in a number of places around the world before being bottled? Dos Maderas is what happens. “A rum like Dos Maderas has a unique system of taking rum that is produced and aged for five years in Guyana and Barbados, then bringing them to Jerez, Spain, where they are blended and aged in sherry casks in the cooler climate and solera system, bringing about a nuance and complexity from the rums that could not happen if they were aged in one place,” says Andy Seymour, owner of Liquid Productions, an agency that develops education and beverage programs. “In a case like this, the rum enjoys the benefit of several places to be ‘from,’ making it even more special.”
Dos Maderas’ Bodega Banana Daiquiri cocktail is the taste of the tropics, without the overbearing sweetness that many Daiquiris fall prey to. “The rum has a balance in flavor that allows some of the spice to really come through on the palate, with the earthy and nuttiness of the Palo Cortado sherry that finish the roundness in flavor and texture, and create a beautiful canvas to build flavors, especially in the tropical world,” says Diana Novak, national director of craft spirits education at Palm Bay International.
“The rum itself has notes that linger with tropical notes, and thus incorporating flavors like banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, even grilled flavors of tropical melon to muddle only bring out more the body of the rum, and round it out with the nutty, earthy flavor notes of the Dos Maderas 5+3 rum,” she says.
Bodega Banana Daiquiri
Developed by: Diana Novak, National Director of Craft Spirits Education at Palm Bay International, Chicago
Courtesy of Dos Maderas
- 1 ½ ounces Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
- ½ ounce Dry Sack Sherry
- ¾ ounce banana puree
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, then shake vigorously.
- 2. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.
- 3. Garnish with banana wheel.
Made in: The Philippines
Though rum production is usually associated with the Caribbean, in recent years, the Philippines has emerged as a strong competitor in the rum market. “Don Papa Rum gets its start in what some believe is the cradle of rum itself. Hailing from the island of Negros, Philippines, or ‘Sugarlandia’ as the locals call it, there is a special variant of sugarcane that is such a trademark of the landscape that it actually grows wild. It’s incredibly sweet and we here at Don Papa like to call it our ‘secret sauce,” says Peter Ruppert, Don Papa Rum brand ambassador. This liquid gold is turned into molasses, then distilled and aged for seven years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels that produce an array of flavors that include honey, citrus, and candied fruit.
If you’ve never thought to combine coffee and rum, let Ruppert’s Don Café cocktail be your inspiration. “Don Papa’s notes of vanilla, honey, and caramel fit like a glove in this warm and comforting coffee cocktail,” Ruppert says. “A little rum can go a long way when paired with the right ingredients and that’s certainly true of the Don Café. Made with Don Papa 7, Grady’s coffee, a touch of Mr. Black coffee liqueur for sweetness and an added kick, then finally just a couple drops of hazelnut, it’s the perfect way to get your day going.”
Developed by: Peter Ruppert, beverage director of Short Stories, New York, and brand ambassador of Don Papa Rum
Courtesy of Don Papa
- 1 ½ ounces Don Papa Rum
- 3 ounces Grady’s Cold Brew Coffee, heated for 3-4 minutes maximum
- 3 ounces water
- ½ ounce Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur
- 3 drops hazelnut extract
- 1. Combine all ingredients.
- 2. Stir and strain into a coffee mug.
- 3. Serve with Stroopwafel wafer cookie.
TEN TO ONE
Made in: Trinidad, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and Barbados
For a true taste of what Caribbean rum is capable of, look no further than Ten to One, which gets its flavor profile from production on four different islands. “Caribbean people have been mastering the art of distilling, aging, and blending rum for over two centuries. Each island has its own distinct flavor profile and when combined with other rums can result in an exceptional blend,” Marc Ferrell, founder of Ten to One, says. “Our White Rum is a blend of rum from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and our Dark is from Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.”
Ten to One’s Manhattan cocktail recipe utilizes the caramelized notes of the rum to balance the herbal flavors of bitters and vermouth in this classic drink. “Rum is not just for spring break and sugary frozen drinks. Rum is extremely versatile and has the ability to uplevel any craft cocktail. Try it in your next Old Fashioned or Negroni in place of whiskey or gin. We promise you won’t be disappointed,” Ferrell says.
Ten to One Manhattan
Courtesy of Ten to One
- 2 ounces Ten To One Dark Rum
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: Amarena cherry
- Glassware: Martini or coupe
Made in: Barbados
Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay maintains the world’s oldest-running rum distillery, dating back to 1703. The recent debut of its Master Blender Collection: The Port Cask Expressions, celebrates over 300 years of expertise and was created by the distillery’s first female master blender, Trudiann Branker. This new blend incorporates the use of Tawny Port casks to create notes of cherry, dried fruit, oak, prune, and almond on the palate.
“Rum is often perceived as something served in a plastic cup with lots of sweet, sugary syrups and soda added,” Branker says. “However, rum is just as sophisticated and nuanced as a single malt or your favorite bourbon. A well-made, balanced rum punch is one of our favorite drinks, but we challenge people to look beyond that and enjoy a rum neat or on the rocks to explore the flavors, aromas, and layers of complexity that come from the different casks we use. There are hundreds of years of expertise that go into making rum, and it’s truly a spirit that you can enjoy and explore, like many other brown spirits.”
XO Coco Hill
Developed by: Mt. Gay
Courtesy of Mt. Gay
- 1. Pour coconut water into ice mold and freeze for at least four hours.
- 2. Add coconut water ice cube to a chilled Old Fashioned glass.
- 3. Top with Mount Gay XO and enjoy!
Made in: Venezuela
The family-owned Hacienda Santa Teresa has been making rum in Venezuela’s Aragua Valley since 1796. Ron Santa Teresa was the first rum producer to be registered in the country — and it remains family-owned five generations later. The sugar cane and water used to make Santa Teresa 1796 come from a rich terroir that provides the perfect environmental conditions for aging rum.
“We’re seeing that consumers are gravitating towards the dark, premium rum category, which features bottles that have a flavor profile more akin to Scotch or whiskey than the typical rum. With the rise in foodie and cocktail culture, expressions like Santa Teresa 1796, which has a rich, refined, and unexpectedly dry finish, are providing discerning drinkers a new, elevated experience,” Geoff Robinson, Santa Teresa 1796 global brand ambassador, says. He adds that drinking the expression is “exploring a myriad of rich flavors, whether it’s notes of honey and vanilla or deep notes of leather and tobacco. Ultimately, every rum is a story of the people, place, and terroir from where it is born, and that is the beautiful thing about rum.”
Santa Teresa’s Negroni enlists rum instead of gin in the classic Italian cocktail.
Santa Teresa 1796 Negroni
Developed by: Santa Teresa 1796
Courtesy of Santa Teresa
Tequila Alternatives: Other Mexican Spirits You Should Try
Cinco de Mayo and margaritas go hand in hand in the U.S. While margaritas are delicious, and tequila shots are still worth doing in moderation, there’s actually a whole world of Mexican spirits to explore. And thanks to online alcohol delivery services, you can still enjoy them even while your local cantina is closed.
Below, find a few of our favorite Mexican spirits besides tequila:
One Mexican liquor that’s gaining notoriety is mezcal. Mezcal was created when the Spanish landed in Mexico, but is often thought of as just a smoky version of tequila. Like tequila, mezcal is made with the piña (heart) of the agave. Unlike tequila, mezcal can be made with a number of varieties of agave and can be made in 11 different Mexican states, rather than just the five states tequila is limited to.
The hearts are roasted in pits with lava stones that give mezcal its smoky flavor before being mashed and distilled. “It’s very unregulated in terms of how it’s made and produced, so mezcal’s sort of a mysterious kind of spirit,” explains Vajra Stratigos, director of food and beverage for Atlanta-based Fifth Group Restaurants. “As a result, there’s many different styles and spheres of influence. It’s really and truly one of the only formative spirits in the world today in that there are rules and processes still being defined.”
Montelobos Mezcal Joven on Saucey (price and availability varies)
As our culture remains obsessed with all things craft, mezcal’s popularity increases. Drinkers who are interested in sipping, rather than taking shots, should try the Montelobos mezcal joven (young). It’s un-aged, but still earthy and rich with smokiness. Those with palates already accustomed to strong smoky notes can try the Ilegal reposado. It’s roasted in clay ovens before being distilled and aged in American oak barrels for four months.
Ilegal Mezcal Reposado at Saucey (price anda availability varies)
However aged you take your mezcal, drink it neat so that the flavors open up (worm salt optional, but encouraged).
Spice up your life with these custom spice creations.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to give as a gift. Here’s one thing you do know…everybody eats, drinks and likes to be happy. Spirits & Spice is such an easy way to give a thoughtful gift of joy. Whether the recipient is a chef, or can barely boil water, we’ve got you covered. Try one of our sets that we’ve thoughtfully put together for perfectly balanced flavor. Give a rare whiskey that will bring a smile to any whiskey collectors face. Whatever you give, be sure to have us personalize your bottle with a short message and we even gift wrap. Maybe you need to get yourself a little gift while you’re at it.
Duh, all food is fun but our ‘Fun Foods’ section is even more fun. These gourmet goodies add a lot of personality to any meal. You’ll find elegantly shaped pastas, balsamic pearls, specialty salts and more that all meet our standards of quality ingredients and decadent flavor.
Let’s celebrate where we come from! Each of our three stores, located in Wyoming, Nevada and Arizona, have roots in their communities that we are excited to share with you. The roots of these vineyards reach into distinct soil with distinct sunlight to create the distinct flavor of the region.
9 Divine Whiskey Cocktails You'll Fall for This Season
After the endless glasses of rosé, fruity cocktails, and frozen margaritas, it's time to throw in the (beach) towel and say hello to fall. Crisp and cool autumn nights call for comforting cocktails made with darker spirits like smoky mezcal, bitter amaro, and &mdash our personal favorite &mdash whiskey. To avoid the same whiskey sour recipe (come on &mdash we know you can do better than that), we've rounded up the best whiskey cocktails to get you ready for fall.
Note: We've listed ingredients you can easily shop online, but perishables and produce we recommend buying in stores.
This cocktail is served at New York City's upscale Mexican restaurant and bar Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown. It's boozy, slightly spicy, and packed with classic cold-weather flavors, including caramel, cherry, and oak. A lighter and slightly citrusy scotch like Glenmorangie 10 works best in this recipe, and we recommend serving this stunning libation in your fanciest coupe.
Mix all ingredients in a chilled coupe glass. Garnish sides of glass with salt.
Recipe courtesy of Inigo Salazar, Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown
It doesn't get much more autumnal than this comforting cocktail featuring Laphroaig Select Scotch Whisky, apple brandy, maple syrup, and bitters from Los Angeles-based mixologist Devon Tarby. The sweetness from the maple syrup and slight peaty smokiness from the scotch make this a well-balanced and damn delicious drink for fall.
Needle in the Hay
Stir all ingredients together with ice until slightly chilled but still boozy. Strain over fresh ice into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Recipe courtesy of Los Angeles Mixologist Devon Tarby
This riff on the classic Hot Toddy from Angry Orchard is the perfect in-between weather beverage to have on-hand as the nights start to get a bit cooler. Hard cider adds extra crispness and acidity to the traditional water- or tea-based libation, mingling with Irish whiskey in a boozy yet savory blend. Now, all you'll need is the perfect glass mug.
- 1 bottle Angry Orchard Crisp Cider
- 4 ½ ounces Irish whiskey
- 3 ounces honey ginger syrup
- 3 ounces water
- 2 ounces lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and set at low heat. Allow to heat up and then serve and garnish with a lemon wheel studded with cloves. If using a stovetop, add all ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat. Be careful not to allow the mixture to get too hot, because the alcohol will boil off.
Recipe courtesy of Angry Orchard
Served at New York's The Rickey at Dream Midtown, this Walnut Sazerac provides a fun twist on the classic absinthe-laced cocktail. Walnut liqueur adds a nutty warmth to spicy rye whiskey, while Peychaud's bitters add just the right amount of subtle citrus.
Chill a rocks glass and coat with absinthe. In mixing glass add Dickel Rye, Nocello Walnut Liqueur, and the Peychaud&rsquos bitters. Add ice and stir to temperature. Strain into chilled, absinthe-coated glass. Garnish with lemon.
Recipe courtesy of Adam Koelb, The Rickey at Dream Midtown
This cocktail is served at New York City's famed Irish whiskey bar The Dead Rabbit. It's boozy, slightly spicy, and packed with classic cold-weather flavors, including ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg. A classic Irish whiskey like Teeling works best in this recipe, and we recommend serving this stunning libation in your favorite old-fashioned glass on the rocks. Cheers!
- 1½ ounces Teeling Single Grain ¾ ounce Marie Framboise
- ½ ounce Fernet Branca
- ½ ounce Giffard Ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla syrup
Stir all ingredients in mixing tin with ice. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over a single big rock. Garnish with orange oils.
Recipe courtesy of Jillian Vose, The Dead Rabbit NYC
This deceptively simple three-ingredient stirred cocktail comes from Jeppe Nothlev of Copenhagen's experimental cocktail club Helium Bar. Single-malt scotch, amber vermouth, and sherry work together to create layers of rich and slightly smoky flavor &mdash perfect to sip by the campfire.
Wings of Orkney
Stir all ingredients together and serve in a small glass. Garnish with two thin slices of apple, caramelized with brown sugar and licorice root. Pin the two slices together to form wings.
Recipe courtesy of Jeppe NothlevHelium Bar
This flavorful whiskey cocktail from Chicago mixologist Patrick Natola takes a traditional Negroni and turns the recipe on its head, subbing in Scotch whisky for gin. What better way to transition from summer to fall than with a clever Negroni riff like this?
Smoke on the Water
Stir all ingredients together with ice until slightly chilled but still boozy. Strain over fresh ice. Serve up or on the rocks.
Recipe courtesy of Chicago mixologist Patrick Natola
From mixologist Sean Taylor of Dallas-based bar The Standard Pour comes this boozy cocktail. From the richness of the house barrel-aged vermouth to the bitterness of the Fernet and Bruto Americano, this whiskey cocktail is most delicious sipped after a meal as a potent digestif or nightcap.
- 1 ounce Templeton Rye Whiskey
- 1 ounce barrel-aged Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
- ¾ ounce St. George Bruto Americano
- ½ ounce Fernet Branca
- Flamed orange peel
Stir all ingredients together with ice until slightly chilled but still boozy. Strain over fresh ice. Stir and serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
Recipe courtesy of Sean Taylor, The Standard Pour
This recipe from New York City's East Village cocktail bar Drexler's combines herbal and spicy Jägermeister with smooth bourbon, citrus, and spices for a warming beverage designed for the chilly nights of fall. We love the addition of star anise for the subtle baking spice sweetness in both taste and aroma.
Rim With a Few
- 2 ounces Jägermeister
- 1 ounce bourbon
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- Apple slice
- Star anise
Build all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain in a chilled coupe glass that's been rimmed with your choice of cinnamon, ginger, or pulverized orange peel. Garnish with an apple slice and star anise.
Why Whiskey Knowledge Is Important
It’s entirely possible to enjoy and even appreciate whiskey without having an in-depth knowledge of the industry and insider terminology. But if you’re the type who wants to fully understand the depth of history and craftsmanship that goes into each and every bottle of this world-renowned spirit (and all its sub-variants), then increasing your knowledge base is a must.
Your personal whiskey knowledge is a lot like your ability to drive a car. Yes, anyone who can pass a driver’s test has the right to drive a motor vehicle, but you’re going to get a lot more enjoyment out of the process if you understand the inner workings — both literally and figuratively. Furthermore, the more knowledge you have of the subject, the more you’ll be able to narrow down the things you like and don’t like, making it easier to make informed purchasing decisions in the future. And it makes it a whole lot easier to relate to other whiskey aficionados if you’re keyed in on the lingo. As mentioned, none of this knowledge is a necessity. But if you’re interested in making the best of your imbibing experiences, learning these terms is a step in the right direction.
ABV: Short for “Alcohol By Volume,” ABV refers to the alcohol content of a given liquid — AKA the percentage of the liquid that is alcohol. Typically, when it comes to whiskeys, ABV is referred to by its proof rating, but other industries (like the beer world) prefer to stick with ABV.
Age/Age Statement: Though not always required by law, many distilleries will mark their whiskey offerings with the amount of time they’ve spent aging. Typically noted in years, you can often see these statements clearly outlined on the bottle’s label. The general consensus is that older whiskey is equivalent to better whiskey, though there is a debate to be made that this is not necessarily true.
Angel’s Share: During the process of aging whiskey and due to the porous nature of wood barrels, a small percentage (roughly 2%) of every barreled whiskey batch is lost. Traditionally, it was believed that this whiskey evaporated up to the heavens and, thus, it was coined the “Angel’s Share.”
Barley: One of the earliest grains to be used by man, barley is believed to have been cultivated in Eurasia as many as 10,000 years ago. It’s also the primary grain used in the distillation of whiskey (and beer), having been steeped, germinated, and dried. It is worth noting, while barley is the most common malt grain, it’s far from the only one used in the distillation of whiskey or any other spirit.
Barrel/Cask: Large, cylindrical containers typically made from oak wood staves and bound together via metal rings or hoops, barrels and/or casks are the vessels in which whiskeys are aged — imparting both flavors and aromas into the liquor. These containers are also often charred on the inside to impart smokey notes into the spirits, as well.
Barrel/Cask Strength/Proof: Barrel strength, cask strength, barrel proof, and cask proof all refer to the same basic concept — that a given liquor has not been altered or diluted following the aging process. This usually results in a higher ABV, which typically ranges from 58–66%.
Blend: A single whiskey (or other spirit) which has been created by combining multiple other whiskeys and sometimes also neutral grain spirits, colorings, and flavorings. Sometimes looked at as inferior to “purer” single-malt spirits, blending whiskey is also considered by some to be an art — requiring an immense base of knowledge and careful experimentation so as to maintain the integrity of the end product.
Blender: At some distilleries, a single person (or small team) is responsible for creating spirits by combining multiple batches of whiskey and/or neutral grain spirits, colorings, and flavorings together into a single final product. More art than science, these “blenders” must have an exceptional knowledge of whiskey, superb palates, and a good deal of creativity.
Bottled-In-Bond: Exclusive to the United States of America, these are a class of distilled spirits aged and bottled according to the regulations put into place by the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. In order for a whiskey to meet the requirements, it must be distilled in its entirety by a single distiller in a single American distillery within the course of a single year. Following its creation, it must also go through a four-year aging process under government supervision in a federally-bonded facility (a warehouse owned and operated by the State). And finally, it must be bottled at 100-proof — or 50% alcohol by volume.
Bourbon: A charred oak barrel-aged distilled spirit first invented in the United States in the late 1700s that must contain a mash of at least 51% corn, alongside malt and rye.
Char/Charring: In order to impart smoky flavors and aromas into whiskey, the inner surface of wood barrels (used for aging) are partially burned. Levels of char are rated by time, starting at 15 seconds for Level 1, 30 seconds for Level 2, 35 seconds for Level 3, and 55 seconds for Level 4. Buffalo Trace has even gone so far as to create barrels with a Level 7 char of 210 seconds (or 3:30 minutes).
Chill Filtration: Typically done for cosmetic reasons — like clarifying a spirit to eliminate cloudiness and residue — this is a process by which whiskey is cooled to between -10° and 4° Celsius (14° and 39.2° Fahrenheit) and then fed through a fine adsorption filter. Many whiskey brands have been avoiding this process in recent days so as to preserve the overall integrity of their offerings.
Congener: Chemical byproducts of distillation, these are substances other than the desired ethanol produced during fermentation. These substances — which include things like tannins, methanol, acetone, and more — are primarily responsible for creating the flavors and aroma found in a given whiskey. It’s also suggested that congeners are responsible for the primary symptoms of hangovers, though this has yet to be definitively proven.
Cooper/Cooperage: A “cooper” is a person whose profession lies in the creation or repair of barrels and casks. A “cooperage” is the facility in which a cooper performs his or her work.
Corn: A cereal plant native to North America used in the creation of everything from snack foods to sweeteners and everything in-between. Corn is also heavily used in the creation of whiskey, especially bourbon — which has a required mash makeup of at least 51% corn.
Distillation: When broadly defined, this is the process by which a liquid is purified through a process of heating and cooling. Regarding whiskey, “distillation” is the name for one of the larger processes in its creation — including removing the alcohol created during fermentation from the wash, resulting in a concentrated liquid that will go on to be matured into a final spirit.
Distiller/Distillery: A person or company that creates liquor the facility in which liquor is created.
Distiller’s Beer: Not simply a colloquialism, this is a thick, fermented mash comprised of water, yeast, and cooked grains. By definition, it is in fact a beer and is perfectly drinkable with an ABV of roughly 7-10%. However, in order to create whiskey, this liquid must be further distilled — often multiple times.
Dram: Technically, this refers to a liquid volume of exactly 1/8 fluid ounces. However, it is also colloquially used to describe a small drink of whiskey or other distilled spirits.
Ethanol: A colorless, volatile, flammable liquid created by the natural fermentation of sugars. Ethanol is a type of alcohol — specifically, the type that can be imbibed by humans as in whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka, etc.
Expression: The term used to describe variations on a given whiskey recipe. This can be the result of changing a spirits ingredients, the distillation process, its age, the amount of char on barrels, or any other minor alteration that does not change the overall spirit too much from the original recipe.
Fermentation: The chemical breakdown of a substance — in this case, the breakdown of sugars by yeast resulting in the creation of ethanol. This is an absolutely essential process in the creation of whiskey and beer — even non-alcoholic varieties.
Finger: An imperfect measurement of volume, this refers to the amount of liquor it would take to fill a rocks glass to the width of a single human digit wrapped around the base. This amount should span roughly 3/4 of an inch and equates to roughly an ounce of liquor — of course, that also depends on the width of the finger in question.
Finish: This actually refers to two different and distinct things regarding whiskey. First, “finishing” is a reference to a secondary aging process at the end of the creation of a whiskey — in which the spirit is removed from one barrel or cask of a particular origin before being moved into another of a different origin. The second meaning is a reference to the tail end of a drink of whiskey — specifically, the flavors that become apparent after you’ve swallowed the whiskey in your mouth, AKA the aftertaste.
Foreshots/Feints: “Foreshots” refers to the first vapors to burn off during the process of distillation — often containing dangerous volatile alcohols, such as methanol. “Feints” refers to the unfavorable remnants left after the tail end of a distillation run and are often returned to the still for later batches.
Mash/Mash Bill: The specific mixture and proper ratio of grains used to make whiskey. Many distilleries utilize the same mash bill for many different offerings — similar in concept to a signature or secret sauce you might find at a restaurant.
Master: An honorific title granted to top-level professionals — usually with years and years of experience — in the whiskey industry, e.g. Master Distiller, Master Blender, etc.
Nose/Nosing: As you may be aware, smell and taste are inextricably connected — meaning flavors are dulled when you are unable to smell. Thusly, smelling or sniffing (AKA “nosing”) whiskey is an important part of the process. This skill can be improved by learning the proper technique and choosing the right glassware. Those with more advanced palates are capable of identifying certain profiles in a given whiskey simply by smelling it alone.
Oak: An acorn-bearing tree and the primary source of lumber used in the creation of whiskey barrels and casks.
Oxidation: An essential part of the whiskey tasting process, this references what happened to a given alcoholic liquid once it is exposed to ambient oxygen. It is widely understood that, in order for a whiskey to achieve its true potential regarding its flavors and aromas, exposure to oxygen is an absolute necessity. It’s worth noting, however, that oxidation starts as soon as a bottle is opened and will continue, even if you re-cork it. Thusly, over time, oxidation can negatively impact the flavors of a whiskey. As such, it’s best to enjoy a bottle of whiskey over a relatively short period of time once you’ve opened it.
Palate: In regards to whiskey (and spirits in general), this is a generic term that refers to one’s ability to discern and appreciate the nuances of flavors, aromas, and textures of an alcoholic beverage. Someone with a “distinguished palate” is one with a high aptitude for whiskey tasting.
Peat/Peated: A brown, soil-like deposit created by an absorbent moss native to boggy regions — and found en masse in the country of Scotland — that is often cultivated and dried to be added to whisky recipes. Peat is one of the primary ingredients that gives scotch its distinct smoky flavor and aroma. A “peated” whisky is one that has peat added to its recipe. Interestingly, peat has also been used as a fuel source, like coal, for centuries.
Proof: An alternative measurement of the alcoholic content of a given beverage — defined as twice the ABV (alcohol by volume) measurement. For instance, a 100-proof spirit contains 50% alcohol.
Rackhouse/Rickhouse: Regardless of your choice of spelling, the definition is the same these are facilities in which barrels containing alcoholic beverages are stored on racks (sometimes several stories high) during the aging process.
Region: A broadly defined term that refers to the locale from which a particular whiskey or whisky hails. This can include extremely wide areas, like countries, but can also be much smaller — including specific counties or towns. Specifically-defined regions also help consumers distinguish the differences in spirits from various parts of the world. Regions are especially important when it comes to Scotch whisky, as there are several distinct, defined areas of the country — each with its own whisky style as defined by the local ingredients and resulting flavor profiles.
Rye: A cereal grain related to barley and wheat used frequently to create flour, beer, bread, whiskey, and even vodka. A “rye whiskey” is one whose mash bill is comprised primarily of rye grains. Rye is grown around the world.
Scotch: A malt or grain whisky made, from start to finish, within the borders Scotland and adhering to a specific set of legal guidelines — including that it must be made from water and malted barley (although it can have other grains added), aged in oak barrels for at least three years, and be at least 80 proof.
Single Barrel: A premium category of whiskey in which each individual bottle is comprised exclusively of an aged spirit from a solitary wood barrel or cask.
Small Batch: Though ill-defined in regards to actual quantity, this term refers to a whiskey offering created from a limited number of select barrels of the aged spirit. There are no legally-defined parameters as to what makes a whiskey “small batch.”
Sour Mash/Sweet Mash: “Mash” is a generic term that refers to a mixture of crushed malt or grain meal (also known as “grist”) that’s steeped in hot water — used primarily in the creation of alcoholic beverages. “Sour mash,” the most well-known type that’s used in the creation of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, requires that a small amount of already-used mash is returned into the following batch — much like a sourdough bread starter. “Sweet mash,” by contrast, uses fresh yeast in its fermentation.
Spirit: A generic term used to refer to any distillate, or alcoholic liquid comprised of ethanol and water made from a mash. You’ll see this word used often as a synonym for “liquor.”
Still: Also called a “pot still,” this refers to an apparatus — most often constructed from stainless steel or copper — which is used to distill alcoholic spirits like whiskey, cognac, or similar.
Straight: As defined by United States law, “straight” whiskey refers to a spirit distilled from cereal grain mash to a concentrate that does not exceed 80% ABV and is subsequently aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years at a concentration not exceeding 62.5% at the start of the process.
Tun: A large (usually stainless steel or sometimes copper) vessel designed to hold the ingredients of a given whiskey, including liquids, used especially in the process of mashing — AKA the conversion of the starches in crushed grains into sugars for fermentation.
Unicorn: An unofficial, colloquial term used by whiskey/whisky fans to describe a particularly difficult-to-find offering. Rarely seen and even more rarely enjoyed, unicorn whiskeys can be likened to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Wheat/Wheated: A cereal grain utilized in the creation of food products around the world, wheat is sometimes used as a replacement for barley in the malt of a whiskey, beer, or other spirits. It does not change the distillation process, but it can alter the flavor. By contrast, if a spirit is “wheated,” that means it has wheat added to its recipe not as a replacement for barley (or whatever other grains the liquor might contain), but rather as a flavor-adding element. This is often seen in bourbons, or “wheated bourbons.”
Whiskey: A distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. This particular regional spelling — which originated in Ireland — is used commonly to denote spirits from Ireland, the United States, and various other locales. It’s been suggested that this spelling is common in the USA thanks to Irish immigrants and is sometimes used simply as a preference of a given distillery.
Whisky: A distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. This particular regional spelling — which originated in Scotland — is used commonly to denote spirits from Scotland, Japan, Canada, and various other locales. Sometimes, this spelling is also used as a distillery’s preference and there are no laws denoting how it must be spelled.
White Lightning: Also known as “White Dog,” this once referred exclusively to colorless, corn-distilled bootlegged moonshine. Today, it’s a colloquialism for virtually unaged “white” whiskey — usually clear in its appearance, harsh in its flavors, and high in alcohol content.
Yeast: A microorganism used widely in the creation of alcoholic beverages, especially whiskey and beer. This microscopic fungus is capable of converting sugars — like those found in a whiskey mash — into alcohol and carbon dioxide. And different types of yeast can result in vastly different flavor profiles. Some brands even own their own proprietary strains.
The 12 Best Bourbons You Can Buy
Now that you’ve edified yourself as to the terminology surrounding this magnificent inebriant, it’s time to drink some! Pick out the best bottle to sip neat, on the rocks, or in a classic cocktail from our list of the best bourbon whiskeys you can buy.
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Five All-American Cocktail Recipes from the Nation’s Top Mixologists
Move over, apple pie—sipping a cocktail might be the most American way to celebrate our country's history. While mixing drinks in some form had been done in the centuries before our country's founding (often as a punch or a grog), the first references to a "cocktail," and the first recording of recipes, happened on American soil.
In 1806, the word "cocktail" first appeared in print in the New York-based Balance & Columbian Repository. (It's possible that the word was used even earlier, in 1803, though no physical proof of this remains.) It was defined as "a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters.” The Sazerac, considered by many historians to be the first recorded cocktail created and named by a bartender, was invented in New Orleans in 1838, following this formula. Less than 30 years later, across the country in San Francisco, bartender Jerry Thomas published the world's first book of cocktails, "The Bar-Tender's Guide," claiming the cocktail as a uniquely American institution, though it would soon spread globally.
This year, to celebrate the lush history of cocktails in America, the Smithsonian Channel, in partnership with Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, launched Raise a Glass to History, an interactive website dedicated to craft cocktails inspired by America's "spirited past." With James Beard award-winning author David Wondrich overseeing the project, Raise a Glass invited 14 of America's top mixologists to concoct custom cocktails related to American history. Each week, a new cocktail will be added to the website, along with a description of its mixology and a short how-to video.
Here are five backyard-BBQ-ready cocktails, courtesy of the Smithsonian Channel, to help you raise a glass to America this summer:
dashes orange bitters (50/50 blend of Regan’s and Fee Brothers Orange)
dashes Absinthe (Emperor Norton – Absinthe Dieu)
oz Jamaican Rum (Appleton Estate V/X)
oz Straight rye whiskey (Old Overholt)
In an Old-Fashioned glass add the sugar cube, bitters, absinthe and a bar spoon of club soda. Muddle into a paste. Add the rum and rye. Stir and then gently add a large rock of ice to the glass. Stir again briefly and garnish with a long lemon peel.
This cocktail, courtesy of Los Angeles bartender Eric Alperin, harkens back to one of America's original, timeless cocktails—the Old Fashioned. It's a perfect choice for Alperin, whose Los Angeles bar, the Varnish, is known for back-to-basics cocktails that recall a time when Los Angeles' cool cocktail lounges defined the American drinking scene.
dashes of Angostura Bitters
Add large ice cube, if possible, or 2-3 smaller ones. Stir well and sprinkle a little Edible Gold Glitter on top as garnish.
*Stir 2 parts Grade B maple syrup and 1 part water together until homogenous. Bottle and refrigerate.
When Anu Apte, owner of Rob Roy cocktail bar in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, had to pick a cocktail, she decided to go for a take on the very first one, which called for a spirit, some sweet element and bitters.
oz. Thomas Tew Pot-Still Rum
—¼ oz. raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar
—¼ oz.ك:1 Hughes’ Family sorghum syrup*
dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters
Fill glass with cracked ice, stir and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass containing a large cube of fresh ice, if possible, or 2-3 cubes regular-sized ice.
*Create by stirring together 3 parts sorghum syrup and 1 part very warm water in a separate vessel.
Dave Wondrich, cocktail historian and expert, calls Greg Best, head bartender of Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch, "one of the pioneers of the cocktail revival in the South." He is best is known for combining classic cocktail preparation with fresh, local ingredients.
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice (this will add to the drink’s head). Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled coupe and garnish with blackberries and raspberries.
*A simple way to make blackberry syrup is gather a bowl of blackberries and cover them with white sugar. Set it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. Strain and use.
Creating unique cocktails is nothing new for DC-based bartender and proprietor Derek Brown, whose projects in the capital include the acclaimed Columbia Room and Mockingbird Hill, a sherry bar. For his unique take on the American cocktail, Brown chose to pair one of America's favorite spirits, rye whiskey, with a bright fruity blend of blackberries and lemon juice—perfect for relaxing in the shade on a hot summer day.
oz. Angel’s Envy finished rye
oz. Bulleit 10 year bourbon
—½ oz. Sandeman’s Founder’s Reserve ruby port
Stir and strain into a Barbados Plantation Style pipe tobacco smoked glass. Twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top, discard and garnish with a sprig of mint.
*Stir 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water together in a small saucepan over low heat. Add 1 cup mint leaves and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, strain and bottle.
Brandon Casey, bartender at the popular Phoenix, Arizona, joint Citizen Public House, is a trained anthropologist as well as a mixologist. The tobacco smoke infuses the glass with a smoky flavor and doubles, he says, as a symbol of gunpowder from the War of. According to Wondrich, the cocktail represents the American ideals of strength and courage, as well as democracy, blending cheap and available whiskey with more exotic (at least for colonial America) spirits like Italian liqueur, British port and French brandy.
In addition to winning TDN and competing in the PDX Cocktail Invitational, I had another exciting adventure at Portland Cocktail Week – participating in Shaker Faces. Sponsored by Combier, Shaker Faces is a good-natured contest where bartenders (and the occasional aficionado) give their best shaker face and the public votes. I was a bit apprehensive [&hellip]
2 oz FAIR. quinoa vodka
0.25 oz Cocchi Americano
0.25 oz sweet vermouth (Vya)
2 dashes citrus bitters (Urban Moonshine)
Stir over ice until as cold as an Andean glacier, strain into a cocktail glass.
The Black Bourbon Society Offers Community and Camaraderie to Whiskey Lovers
The community has roughly tripled in size since quarantine began, with virtual tastings, happy hours, and recipes geared towards home drinkers.
There’s a chill in the air, the night begins earlier, and autumn approaches. This is the time of year for bourbon.
Brown spirits are delightful throughout the year, but there’s something about the yellowing leaves of fall that brings that urge more immediately to mind. If you miss the gaiety of sipping bourbon at your favorite neighborhood bar, you can still find community and companionship online as a member of the Black Bourbon Society.
The BBS is a tiered membership club created to bridge the gap between the industry and amateur bourbon lovers. Chief Bourbon Enthusiast Samara B. Davis founded the group in 2016 to help spread knowledge in her own circle of brown spirit devotees. With a background in event planning and experiential marketing, she realized that there was a lack of direct consumer marketing geared towards Black people in the upscale spirits industry.
She noticed that the industry was plagued with racial stereotypes and biases in their marketing outreach, as well as a lack of diversity in the board rooms where decisions were made. She noticed the erasure of the significant historical contributions of Black people to the bourbon industry. She saw a void that needed to be filled. So, she created a group where Black bourbon enthusiasts could gather to celebrate, taste, and learn.
From the onset, the Black Bourbon Society gained visibility from their events, creating the kind of annual celebrations that members were willing to travel for. Their signature affair, the Bourbon Boule, brings together bourbon brands, mixologists, and enthusiasts. In 2018, the event hosted 50 people in New Orleans, and in 2019, the number jumped to 128. This year’s Bourbon Boule was planned to be bigger and better and was already in the works when the world stopped. Now, it will take place online from September 25th to 27th. Like everyone else, the Black Bourbon Society has had to pivot.
“We created a society where folks connect and become friends, we have members who travel to meet up. And now we are digital creators, at this point,” said Davis, who is a certified Executive Bourbon Steward and co-hosts a weekly podcast with her life partner, Armond Davis, called Bonded in Bourbon. “When we saw it happening in March, with shelter-in-place and quarantine, our intention became keeping spirits tied with spirits. We need human interaction. We need camaraderie and hugs, and to go out and see people.”
People seeking the camaraderie that bars provide can find a close approximation online. The initiative and community-based sensibility of the Black Bourbon Society has managed to translate well during the era of COVID-19 they have successfully pivoted from in-person to virtual events, keeping their members happy with bar-side chats and virtual happy hours.
“We really want to keep our members engaged, so we’re creating an online space that feels comfortable and natural, where we can relax amongst ourselves and not talk about politics or job losses,” said Davis. “We have actually tripled in size since the quarantine began.”
Right now, the Society has around 19,000 members. They’re seeking ambassadors in major cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Louisville, and Los Angeles. Membership has its privileges for the gamut of participants, from dyed in the wool connoisseurs to newbies looking to learn more about brown spirits in general.
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