Woodford County Cooler

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by Raul Faria

This Saturday I will be making my original cocktail the “Woodford County Cooler” featuring Woodford Reserve at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for AFAN’s the Black and White Party. AFAN “provides support and advocacy for adults and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern Nevada”. It’s a great cause and the Black and White Party is a huge event with live entertainment from some of Las Vegas biggest shows plus the event will feature sponsors like Ketel 1, Sauza 901, Absolut and one of my personal favorites, Woodford Reserve. The Woodford County Cooler is designed to amplify the vanilla and rye spice notes I find in the whiskey with the homemade vanilla grenadine and the ginger beer. Peaches and whiskey are best friends of course so I know I also wanted to use some stone fruit and that’s where the white peach puree comes in. This is a fun summertime whiskey sipper that is really easy to make with a little preparation. Lets make one!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, Hawthorne strainer, our Citrus Press, A jigger with a 1 oz and .75 oz measure and a 16oz Collins glass. To make our grenadine and prepare our garnish we will also need a saucepan, measuring cup and a sharp pairing knife. Our shopping list will consist of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fever Tree ginger beer, Fee Bros Peach Bitters, lemons, peaches, POM wonderful pomegranate juice and vanilla beans. Optional tool will be a Double-Strainer.

2) We have some prep to done first-

Vanilla Bean Grenadine- Begin by slicing a vanilla bean in half and then slicing it through the middle opening one side. Next empty 1.5 cups of sugar onto a baking pan or plate. Now take the split vanilla bean half and grind it into the sugar. let this sit for at least 4-6 hours minimum. We will now add vanilla infused sugar and the vanilla bean into our saucepan. Let’s get our 1.5 cups of POM wonderful into our saucepan and place the heat on high. Stir until sugar is blended in, bring mixture  to a boil, next lower heat to a low simmer and reduce for 10 minutes. Allow to cool then pour into vessel for later use. (This recipe can also be made without the sugar infusion but will yield less vanilla flavor)

Diced Peach Garnish- Slice off the four sides of a white peach leaving the core and the stem. Take the four sides and dice them into small evenly (as much as you can) chunks. Peaches once they are cut pretty much need to be served right away however if you want to keep them fresh throughout a party or shift at the bar add a couple splashes of lemon juice and some water to the the peaches while they are in their garnish caddy or other holding vessel.

3) Lets begin by adding .75 oz of vanilla bean grenadine to our mixing glass portion of our Boston Shaker.

4) Next we will add our .75 oz of lemon juice. You can simply slice the lemon in half and using our citrus press squeeze the lemon juice right into our jigger. Or you can utilize the double-strainer to filter out the pulp and seeds and squeeze the juice into a seperate container for later use.

5) Now let’s add our 1.5 oz white peach puree. Ponthier, Boiron and Perfect Puree are all solid choices. If you can’t find those you can also use Funkin but it does tend to be sweeter and more “applesaucy”. You can also make your own peach puree using a blender and adding just a touch of simple syrup.

6) Time to add the main event, 2 oz of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. The name Woodford County Cooler is in obvious reference to the whiskey itself  but also to the county in which the distillery is located and where the whiskey gets it’s name. Woodford Reserve is distilled in the oldest operating distillery in the United States. Since 1878 the former Elijah Pepper distillery has been making whiskey, with a brief vacation for that pesky prohibition back in the twenties. They were apparently making whiskey at that site all the way back to the late 1700′s but in a less formal capacity. The now named Woodford Reserve Distillery is a registered National Historic Landmark.

7) Lets add 3 dashes of Fee Bros Peach Bitters and ice then shake. Strain into a chilled, iced 16 oz Collins glass.

8) Top off with ginger beer and give a quick light stir to distribute ingredients or pour your ginger beer while at the same time straining your cocktail. Garnish with a teaspoon of diced peaches and a lemon wheel. Enjoy :)

Woodford County Cooler- 2 oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon, .75 oz Vanilla Bean Grenadine, .75 oz fresh lemon juice, 1.5 oz of white peach puree, 3 dashes of Fee Bros Peach Bitters, add ice then shake and strain into chilled, iced Collins glass., top off with 3 oz of ginger beer, give a quick light stir to distribute and garnish with diced peaches and a lemon wheel.

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Little Water and the Modern Mixologist

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by Raul Faria

Vodka, once the darling of the American bartending world from the late 70′s to the early 2000′s due to its versatility is now mostly relegated to $500 bottle service or an afterthought to be mixed with red bull by those not familiar with the spirit’s subtle flavors. Still immensely popular by the consumer but perhaps misunderstood by those who serve and consume it? Todays trends in the American mixology/bartending community tend to favor more flavor forward spirits like Gin, Whiskeys or Agave spirits. The flavored Vodka category on the other hand has exploded, from the standard orange and citrus, to the more exotic chipotle and chocolate to the extreme like whipped cream and Swedish Fish. Europe has had a different relationship with Vodka such as Eastern Europe where it is traditionally served with meals to the Nordic north where it is sipped like a nice whiskey.

The book Vodka Distilled: the Modern Mixologist on vodka and vodka cocktails, really puts the spirit category into focus. It shows you how to pinpoint different flavors and identify styles, grains and regional variations found in vodka. A must read for anyone who really wants a deeper understanding of one of the most popular and perhaps one of the oldest spirit categories in the world.

Personally I turn to vodka when I want the components of my cocktail to be the star and allow the subtle flavors of Vodka to be the backbone of the cocktail. This allows the fresh juices, herbs and spices to shine. Vodka is also my first choice when I want to create a clean, soft and subtle cocktail that will pair with lighter foods.

I spoke with Author and Master Mixologist Tony Abou Ganim about his new book “Vodka Distilled: the Modern Mixologist on vodka and vodka cocktails” that focuses on the aforementioned spirit.

How would you describe vodka? What defines it and separates it from a neutral grain spirit in terms of flavor?

Well that’s one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding vodka is that it is a tasteless odorless spirit, which is the definition that the US government has put on vodka. In the East, the vodka belt, where vodka is not necessarily mixed into cocktails but drank on its own, its paired with food, the character is much more robust its vodka that really tastes like vodka. One of the reasons I wanted to write the book, not only to debunk the myth that all vodkas are the same, was that through deeper understanding comes deeper appreciation. It’s easy to kick sand on vodka because it is a very neutral spirit but the more you delve into it, if you do the work, you will find vast variations in the subtleties of different styles of vodka, from the raw materials to the distillation techniques, mouthfeel, finish, acidity, and the flavor components that you wouldn’t associate with vodka that make themselves so clear when we taste blind and when we taste vertically. Anyone who thinks all vodka tastes the same needs to do vodka tasting with me.

 

In the book I found very interesting when you talked about the food of the vodka belt “What are you going to pair with that kind of food?” Something light in flavor, so there is flavor and it pairs really well with kind of food right?

 

When I was writing the book I went to Poland, I went to Russia, I went to Sweden, I went to Finland and when you’d go to dinner in Poland you would get a bottle of vodka from the freezer, sure you could have wine, but back in the day ,wine wasn’t readily available and the winters were long and they were hard and they cold and grapes didn’t grow. Grain and potatoes were the ingredients they had to work with. When you think of the food that had to last through the winter, you smoke them, you pickle them, you dried them, things that don’t work well with wine anyway but with vodka it’s just a beautiful pairing. Anyone who hasn’t tried vodka and caviar has missed out on one of life’s greatest pleasures.

 

Why do you think vodka is often overlooked by Mixologists and Bartenders?

 

Well I don’t think that was ever the case until recently. With the craft movement, which is fabulous to see what is happening in our profession, we’ve gone back and we’ve researched the lost and forgotten classic cocktails, the cocktails that were either created or perfected during that golden age of cocktails, that time leading up to prohibition in the United States. We didn’t know vodka in the United States  back then, vodka was a solely an Eastern European product and like I mentioned earlier wasn’t consumed in cocktails. It was consumed neat. Once prohibition was over there was a true shortage of qualified bartenders in the United States and vodka was starting to make its move, it became much easier for perhaps the lesser skilled bartenders to mix with vodka because it does mix very easily and what elevated vodkas popularity is probably what has done it the most injustice with the craft bartender is the mixability of vodka. It mixed with anything, the orange blossom became the screwdriver, even the red snapper once made with gin in the United States is now a very well know vodka drink. So I really believe what made it popular was its mixability and I often wonder if vodka was available during Jerry Thomas’s day would he have been able to mix with it?

 

What do you think the next vodka trend will be? Single grain, barrel treatment or specific flavors?

 

Well with all the artisanal distilleries that have opened up in the United States over the last five years we are seeing a lot of very small handcrafted vodkas being produced. I always say what makes a vodka unique, what makes it special, what makes it wonderful is what’s left in what’s not taken out. We are talking about a spirit that’s distilled to 192 proof, 96 percent alcohol then often times filtered. So it’s what the master distiller is able to retain in the distillate, the character of the vodka that to me makes it special, that makes it unique So its not what’s taken out its what’s left in. I think we are seeing much more of that artisanal style approach to making vodka in the United States because after all if you are making whiskey you’re not gonna sell any of it for at least 2 years and probably anyone who’s smart is leaving it in the barrel much longer. So by making gin by making vodka, it allows you to be able to practice that art of distillation, generate some cash flow and do some really fun things that celebrate the raw materials. You mentioned the single grains, I think that is really what we are seeing now, more of the celebration of the character of vodka.

 

Are there more books planned focusing on individual spirits? Is this going to be a series?

 

If I only had another 12 hours in the day. That was the original plan, I’m currently working on another cocktail book but a cocktail book where the modern mixologist celebrated my takes on certain classics and my original recipes over my 30 plus years behind bars. This next book is going to be very interesting the working title is things “What I love to Drink” or “Drinking with my Friends” but looking at existing classic recipes in a kind of a different way. I’m really having a great time writing it the research has just been
anytime you’ve gotta make the same kind of cocktail 5 or 6 different ways, that’s just tortuous as you can imagine. I’m sitting around my house mixing and drinking wonderful spirits turned into wonderful cocktails. It’s a fun book that I’m really excited about it will probably come out in 2016 and stay tuned. I’m excited for you to take a look and hopefully enjoy drinking it as much as I am writing it.

 

What separates the Modern Mixologist line of bar tools from others on the market?

 

I started that project five years ago because I was frustrated with what was currently available to the professional bartender as well as to the home mixologist at that time. There was no Cocktail Kingdom, there was no products being imported from Japan and that’s all beautiful tools as well. So I got everything I could get my hands on and hired a design firm out of Chicago and I met with them and took all this stuff there. “I said I think we can make this better. I like this about this spoon but Id like to have the angle of the spoon 24 degrees and a blunt tip and this is the length and the balance
” I like to say they are bartools for bartenders by a bartender. There are little things I incorporated into them that I was looking for and I think they turned out beautifully, Im really proud of them. They’re still affordable but the quality supersedes the price. I believe that a professional bartender be it my tools or whoever’s tools, needs to have great bar tools to be recognized in this craft as a professional. Tools are so important. You would never see a Chef without their knives and rollups and implements. So much has happened in the last five years since I started that project, now there are great products available and to see a bartender show up to work with his or her bag of tools it just makes me so proud to be part of this profession.

 

The Modern Mixologist Hawthorne Strainer has a unique shape, is there a practical advantage or was it aesthetics?

 

I cannot tell how much time went in to designing these tools. Like I said I started this project five years ago they were three years in development, back and forth, back and forth. The Hawthorne was one of the hardest tools to get right, the spring tension was crucial and with the Modern Mixologist Hawthorne strainer you can often eliminate the need to doublestrain because the spring tension catches so much of the muddle fruit or even the smaller ice shards. The weight and the shape allows it to fit in the mixing beaker which is hand blown and the mixing tin of the Boston Shaker. So it can be used for shaken drinks and stirred drinks from the mixing beaker. I love that piece the, I just love the way it feels in your hand, the weight of it, the spring tension again, the little trigger so you can get that nice froth from the egg white, I love working with that piece.

 

What’s next for the Modern Mixologist line of tools? Copper?

 

Its funny that you mention copper, due to be launched next week is the Modern Mixologist Moscow Mule cup. So those will be out soon and who would have foreseen the revival of the Moscow Mule, what a wonderful drink. A vodka based drink, very simple to make, when made with great ingredients. It needs to be served in a copper mug, with great ice, with great ginger beer, with fresh hand extracted lime juice. Simple but there is a drink that really lets you showcase vodka. That is a vodka based drink. I’ve never made one for someone who hasn’t loved it. We are doing our Moscow Mule Mugs and there is talk of doing a Mint Julep cup because again I think those drinks deserve to be served in their classic vessels. We’ve designed a line of glassware, hopefully the first of next year and then the plan is to add additional pieces to the tool line itself, a tea strainer, we also have some tongs in development, so stay tuned there’s some fun little things coming down the pike.

 

Can you tell us about the Helen David Relief Fund?

 

Helen David was my first mentor, she taught me to be a bartender in 1980, she’s my cousin, she opened the Brass Rail Bar in 1937 with her mother at a time when it wasn’t common to see women running saloons. Three years after the repeal of prohibition we are in the middle of the great depression, they had an ice cream parlor, her father passed away, she was 21 years old and her mother said “Helen we are gonna be put out on the street if we don’t turn the ice cream parlor into a saloon.” Helen said “Mom, proper ladies do not run saloons.” Her mother said “A lady is a lady no matter where you put her but she’s gotta have a buck in her pocket.” Helen went on to run the Brass Rail for nearly 70 years until her death at the age of 91. They actually took her from her barstool and take her to the hospital. Helen was a two time survivor back in the time when very few people survived breast cancer and she was a big advocate for the cause. In her memory we’ve started along with the United States Bartenders Guild, the Helen David Relief Fund that benefits Bartenders and their families who’ve been affected by breast cancer. Im very very proud of that association.

 

Where do people go to find out more and donate to the Helen David Relief Fund?

 

The idea behind the Helen David relief Fund is to help with those day to day expenses, you still have to pay the rent, you still have to buy groceries, your kids still need shoes, so this is where the Helen David Relief Fund will benefit bartenders. If you visit the USBG website you’ll get more information and we are just launching it now. Events like “For the Love of Cocktails” that was our kick off fundraising event. What a fabulous event, talk about the community coming together it was amazing. I get goosebumps again just thinking about that night. That is going to grow into an annual event here in Las Vegas so look for the love of cocktails coming next year. Please come out, it’s a great event featuring some of the city’s finest mixologists making fabulous cocktails with great entertainment for a great cause. The Helen David Relief Fund benefitting bartenders affected by breast cancer.

Be sure to visit modernmixologist.com to pick up a copy of “Vodka Distilled: the Modern Mixologist on vodka and vodka cocktails”, check out the line of bar tools and find out where you can catch Tony next. You can also visit “The Lobby Bar” at Caesars Palace and have your very own Tony Abou Ganim cocktail.

For more information on the Helen David Relief Fund that benefits bartenders affected by breast cancer check out their facebook page here and usbg.org.

Check out pics from the last “For the Love Cocktails” put on by Backbar USA and more info on upcoming events and learn how to make my cocktail “the L word” here.

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Live Love Leblon

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by Raul Faria

I received the opportunity to visit the Leblon Cachaça distillery in beautiful Patos de Minas, Brazil. Leblon Cachaça has been a favorite spirit of mine for a long time and we’ve used it in many of our most popular recipes like the Garden Smash and Suika Caipirinha. It has a big fresh flavor with tons of citrus and vanilla notes and really captures the flavor of fresh cane juice. So just what is cachaça? Well it is a sugar cane distillate that utlizes sugarcane juice and is a distinct product of Brazil. According to Brazillian regulations it is to be between 38% to 48% ABV and can only be made from sugarcane juice and it also must be made in Brazil. In this post we will walk through the process of making Leblon Cachaça, speak the the man who started it all and provide you a glimpse into what an artisinal spirit production looks like.

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First step to superior Cachaça? Sugar Cane. Cachaça is a sugar cane distillate, similar to rum but differs in that it uses sugar cane juice and not molasses. Now there are rums that utilize the sugar cane juice as well like Rhum Agricole from Martinique but as we stated above, cachaça is a distinct product of Brazil and can only be made in Brazil. Leblon actually owns its supply of sugarcane and has 104 acres of farmland so it is absolutely a farm to bottle operation. This is important as the sugar cane juice must be pressed within 24 hours in order to capture the fresh sugar cane flavor. Having the distillery right next to the source makes that possible.

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Start the presses! The sugar cane must be cut, cleaned, pressed and the juice pumped into the fermentation tanks all within 24 hours. This is crucial in capturing the fresh flavor of the cane juice for the final product. For the entire 104 aforemtioned acres of farmland Leblon owns they have 6 people to cut and 9 people to clean. They keep a tight, dedicated crew to produce their spirit. Definitely an artisinal production.

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It’s all about alambique. After the juice is fermented it is pumped into the alambique stills. The copper alambique stills help separate Leblon from the majority of cachaça on the market. Their use of copper pot stills help capture more of the fresh cane juice flavor while helping isolate the desired heart of the spirit. Many other cachaças on the market are “cachaça industrial” and are column distilled which can mute the fresh flavors of the cane.

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Wood working. The woods utilized in the aging of cachaça are also another variant from the cane juice rums. Cachaça can generally use a wide variety of woods for aging but typically utilize balsam and native woods. Leblon utilizes used XO congac casks for their cachaça and new French oak barrels for the Leblon Reserva.

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I also got a chance to speak with Leblon CEO Steve Luttman about his cachaça. No one has done more to spread the spirit category of cachaça interantionally more than Steve and his team at Leblon. Not just the brand but the spirit category as a whole. Most would simply have described cachaça as “Brazillian rum” and be done with it. Not Steve and certainly no one at Leblon. That is why in 2009 they launched thier “Legalize Cachaça” campaign supporting the Brazillian Goverment’s official petition to have the American Governement recognize chachaça as a distinct product of Brazil made in accordance to Brazillian laws and regulations. The legalize chachaça movent had their vicotory in 2013! This allows cachaça producers today not to have the word “rum” on their labels. So while Steve and his team had been focused on not just advancing their brand but the spirit category of cachaça they also ended up promoting some Brazillian culture along the way.

Tell us how Leblon started? Why Cachaça?

Leblon started in 2005.  I basically quit my job and started the company with my Brazilian family and some friends.  We found a distillery in Minas Gerais – Patos de Minas to be exact – and it really went from there.

Cachaça was a natural fit for me because Brazil is my ‘adopted country,’ and I have a lot of passion for the people and the culture.  It’s a magical country.

Cachaça is basically where Tequila and Mescal were 40 years ago, and I saw the opportunity to produce and present higher quality artisanal alambique Cachaça both in Brazil and throughout the World.  to many, Cachaça is viewed as a low quality distillate i.e. ‘it gives you a headache’ ‘rocket fuel’ etc.  not much different to how people viewed Tequila years ago.  however, artisanal alambique cachaça is the ‘100% agave’ equivalent, so to speak.  the taste differential is just as significant…

What does the copper alambique still bring to the table in terms of flavor?

Alambique distillation is a small batch process that allows you to segregate the highest quality distillate from the impurities, particularly at the ‘head’ and the ‘tale’, this is different than continuous ‘industrial’ distillation, which segregates ‘nada’.

Copper is very important as it interacts with the distillate, and specifically neutralizes the undesirable flavor emitted by sulfur.

Can you walk us through the aging processes for Leblon and Leblon Reserva? How does your choice of woods affect the flavor of Leblon?

Reserva Especial is aged in new French Oak (as opposed to the XO Cognac Casks, which is used for our Leblon Pura).  it’s aged up to 2 years on average, with a blend of Cachaças aged as long as 4 years.

French oak has a very classic flavor, and really works well with the aroma of fresh cane cachaça.  it’s very smooth – not bitter – but it does not impede what Cachaça brings to the party sensorially.

What was the inspiration for Leblon reserva?

Reserva was initially a distillery ‘hobby’ –  we set aside some juice and put it in some new oak casks, and would sample with friends only.  we still don’t have a lot of it, which is why we put it in a 375ml bottle.  and the packaging was done by Helen, who manages our barrel aging, and also happens to be a fine artist and calligrapher on the side. The liquid tastes great, especially on the rocks.

Where do you think Cachaça goes from here? Where is the opportunity for it to grow as a spirit category internationally and also in its home country of Brazil?

I think this will develop much like Tequila did over the past 40 years.  it’s right now still very ‘foreign’ to many people, just like Brazil.  but this changed a lot over the past 8 years, and the World Cup had a huge impact in making Brazil and Cachaça more ‘familiar’ to many people. We think the Olympics in 2016 (Rio) will also have a big impact.  

Like anything, it will take time, which is fine.  But Cachaça, like Brazil, will continue to grow for the next 25 years. there’s no doubt about that.

In Brazil, there is a huge reassessment of local categories amongst the new generations. Unlike their parents, who did not ‘like Brazil’ and wanted to only consume ‘imported,’ Brazilians are becoming proud again of Brazil, and are re-valuing their own culture. There is also a huge local ‘foodie’ movement in Brazil, in which people are looking for high quality, natural, and locally made products
  combine this with the continued long-term economic growth, in which more and more consumers are entering the middle class and can afford ‘better,’ and we have the current ‘artisanal cachaça movement’ happening in Brazil, which we’re at the forefront of…

How did Çedilla come about? What inspired its creation?  Can you walk us through the process a bit?

Cedilla was another in-house hobby – a project of Gilles, who is a well-known liqueur maker in France.  he has been experimenting with a number of fruit macerations, and our Açai version really rose to the top.  it’s a basic fruit maceration – for two months in the cachaça (un-aged Leblon) – with orange peel, ginger root, and lime zest, with cane juice added for sweetness.  

We are also playing with other fruit macerations as well. We have a Brazilian Maracuja (passionfruit) liqueur that is really out of this world. Hopefully you’ll get to try that soon
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Below are some more pics from our distillery tour. Be sure to visit leblon.com for more information about their products and look forward to the recipes from the other competitors as well.

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Beachcomber Cocktail

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by Raul Faria 

Beachcomber Cocktail is #28 in our mission to recreate all the cocktails in the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan. I find it to taste like a cross between rum Kamikaze and a Daiquiri. You definitely taste the rum in this one! It’s a pretty easy cocktail to make so let’s get started.

1) Let’s get our tools together; we will need our Boston shaker, Hawthorne strainer, citrus press, a jigger with a 1 oz and a .5 oz measure and a chilled 8oz cocktail glass. Optional tool- double-strainer. Our shopping list will include light or white rum, triple sec or Cointreau, limes and maraschino liqueur.

2) Begin by adding our .5 oz lime juice to the mixing glass. To get the juice we can slice the lime and squeeze directly into our jigger using our citrus press. You can also squeeze the juice through a double strainer into a separate container. This way you will have the juice ready to go, pulp free and it’s a bit easier to pour into your jigger.

3) Next we can add our .25 oz of maraschino liqueur. If your jigger does not have a .25 oz measure you can eyeball half of the .5 oz or use two barspoons. I use Luxardo Maraschino at the bar. It is distilled from marasca cherries and herbs then sweetened with honey. It is aged in large ashwood vats and has a distinct sweet herbal flavor that really works in many different cocktail categories. I really find it fun to use in Tropical, Tiki style cocktails.

4) Now let’s add 1 oz of triple sec to our mixing glass. I like to use Bols but Hiram Walker or DeKuyper will work. If you sub for Cointreau be aware that it is a bit stronger so you may need to balance it with the maraschino liqueur.

5) Time to add our 2 oz of light or white rum. Bacardi, Cruzan, Don Q and Caña Brava are all solid choices.

6) Lets add ice and shake. Strain into chilled 8oz cocktail glass. Enjoy :)

Check out our video walkthrough and sign up for our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Joy of Mixology by Gaz Regan and visit gazregan.com plus sign up for his always entertaining and informative newsletter.

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What is Baijiu?

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by Raul Faria

Baijiu, meaning white liquor and pronounced “bye-joe” is coincidently the name of a Houston based company that is working hard to introduce the number 1 selling spirit in the world to the US. You read that right. Number 1. Outselling every spirit category on the planet. Vodka? Nope. Rum? Pfft, not even close. Whiskey? Negative. Baijiu is the undisputed champion of the spirits war and it seems as though now it’s got its eyes on the Western market.

I was introduced to this spirit by a friend of mine who travels to China for business often and  he said “This is what people are drinking over there.” He produced a beautiful bottle with really cool artwork and Chinese characters on it, Wuliangye it said. I opened it right away… and it was most definitely not love at first sight BUT I will tell you this, I freaking love the stuff now. LOVE IT. My first experience with Byejoe was a hit right away. Baijiu in general is perfect for adding to and playing off of tropical and stone fruit flavors, beer cocktails, and to pair with beers as a boiler maker. Byejoe makes mixing that much easier due to its filtration and balanced flavor profile.

So what exactly is Baijiu? Well it is a spirit distilled primarily from sorghum but often backed up with a mash bill of other grains like rice, wheat and corn. It is typically aged in clay pot containers stored in cool temperatures or sometimes in pits depending on the region. Regionality also plays a big role in the flavor profile as well. There are five different aroma types in Baijiu. From the Strong Aroma type that has very potent yeast strains and bacteria that yield strong flavors of both ripe tropical and stone fruits to the other side of the spectrum, Soy Sauce Aroma, that is softer and milder with subtle savory notes. These and the other aroma types, Mild Aroma, Rice Aroma and Other Aroma are often attributed to specific regions in China. Traditionally baijiu was distilled in pot stills, today many are produced with a sort of pot still steamer hybrid which help retain the potent flavors throughout distillation without coming off as harsh as the elder versions.

In my tasting impressions below I’ve featured two baijiu from the Sichuan region that utilize yeast strains with strong stone fruit aromatics. The yeast combined with the sorghum, mixed saccharification (starch to sugar conversion) and fermentation, and unique pot still/steamer used in the distillation produce a fun, funky flavor like no other. Baijiu and its regional variations began in China around the 9th-12th century and the Chinese have a long history of fermenting beverages all the way back to 7000 bc. In short, the Chinese know their booze and knew for a lot longer than anyone else.

In China, baijiu is a drink of both sophistication and tradition consumed by both the blue collar and the suit and tie guys alike. Prices range from around $15 to the tens of thousands, giving the distilled grapes from France a run for their yuan. So much diversity in this spirit category in terms of flavor and regionality, it truly is an amazing spirit that is so much of an unknown quantity on our side of the pond.

I spoke with the folks at Byejoe about the spirit and why they think the time is right for Baijiu in the states.

How would you describe baijiu?

Baijiu is the #1 most consumed spirit on the planet, with over 1 billion cases consumed annually, 99% in China. For reference, baijiu’s 1 billion cases is more than the world’s consumption of vodka, Tequila, rum, whiskey etc combined. It’s the most popular spirit in the world that you haven’t tasted yet.

How is baijiu enjoyed in China? Is it a straight? Served chilled? Sipped? Served with beer?

Baijiu in China is consumed straight at room temperature always with meals, during celebratory banquets, at the close of business deals at weddings and other happy events.

Where does the distinct flavor of baijiu come from? The yeast, The Grains? The aging or all of the above?

All of the above.

What seperates Byejoe from baijiu overseas?

Byejoe is the original 100% Chinese spirit, imported in small batches to America, and filtered using patented ultrasonic technology to create ultra-premium quality. We focused on making Byejoe something that both Chinese and Westerners would enjoy. We also totally revamped the packaging from its original, commissioning a world-renowned bottle designer to reinvent the ancient spirit for sophisticated consumers. The tall, sleek, transparent bottle alludes to ultra-modern Shanghai, which boasts the tallest skyscrapers, fastest bullet trains and billion dollar IPOs. Our design won the coveted Double Gold medal for packaging design, among other awards, at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.

Why baijiu and why now?

A bar is like a mini U.N., with every country and every culture having its representative. Tequila from Mexico, vodka from Russia, whisky from Scotland, rum from the Caribbean, sake from Japan…but where is baijiu? Where is the spirit of China? We made it our company’s mission to introduce the oldest and most popular spirit from the East to the West.

What are the different products in the Byejoe line?

So far we’ve launched two products: Byejoe Red amd Byejoe Dragon Fire. Red is the original Chinese spirit distilled from 100% red sorghum, a high protein super grain that is naturally high in antioxidants and naturally gluten free. Its also low calorie, with only 65 calories per ounce. Byejoe Dragon Fire is the first baijiu in the world to infuse Asian fusion flavors of dragon fruit, lychee and hot chilies.

Most importantly, where can our readers pick up a bottle of Byejoe?

Byejoe is currently distributed in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. We will be launching soon in Nevada and the rest of the 50 states! Your readers can visit our website to purchase online and find retail locations in their neighborhood.

Below are my impressions of Byejoe Red, Byejoe Dragon Fire, Wuliangye and Mianzhu Daqu-

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Byejoe Red- made from 100% red sorghum. 40% abv

Aroma- Notes of ripe tropical fruits like starfruit and overripe pineapple and grainy aromas like fresh baked pumpernickel.

Taste- Notes of drier tropical fruits like starfruit and dragonfruit with lush juicy pear.

Finish- Finishes tannic like eating fresh green grapes.

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Byejoe Dragon Fire- Byejoe that has been infused with lychee, dragonfruit and spicy pepper. 35% abv.

Aroma-Big Lychee, banana and ripe pear with faint savory black peppercorn notes.

Taste- Silky texture with lush, juicy lychee right up front and peppery heat mid palate.

Finish- Finishes long with juicy lychee and peppery heat.

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Wuliangye “New Wuliangye Liqour”- Made from sorghum, wheat and corn. 52% abv.

Aroma- Strong over ripe and big, pungent, sweet stone fruit aromas of peaches and apricots.

Taste- Sweet stone fruit flavors with notes of banana and bubblegum plus from faint pineapple.

Finish- Alcohol heat with lingering banana and bubblegum.

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Mianzhu Daqu “Time Honored Brand”- Made from sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat and corn. 52% abv.

Aroma- Big bubblegum, ripe banana and pineapple with faint notes of doughy rye bread.

Taste- Spicy rye like grains balanced with notes of bubblegum and pineapple.

Finish- Finishes with spicy rye notes and lingering banana.

Be sure to visit byejoe.com for all the information about Byejoe Red and Byejoe Dragon Fire plus find out where to pick yourself up a bottle or where the next Byejoe event will be!
If you want to know more about baijiu as a spirit category definitely check out the amazing blog “300 shots of greatness” or the book “Baijiu: the essential guide to Chinese spirits” by Derek Sandhaus.
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Pineapple Basil Gin Fix

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by Raul Faria

The Pineapple Basil Gin Fix was my entry into the Broker’s Gin Bowler Cup this year and is based on an old style of cocktail known as a “Fix”. Fixes were essentially sours; spirit, sugar and citrus. Now the fix incorporated fruit into the sour template either with juices or the sugar componenet via flavored syrups. Popular choices of the day were raspberry and pineapple; with the Pineapple Basil Gin Fix I obviously chose the latter. I also added an easy make rosemary syrup and fresh basil to play off the botanicals found in Broker’s Gin. Let’s fix our self up a fix shall we?

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston shaker, muddler, a citrus press, our Hawthorne strainer, double-strainer, a jigger with a 1 oz and a .5 oz measure and a 10-12 oz rocks or double old fashioned glass. Our shopping list will consist of Broker’s Gin, pineapple juice, sugar, lemons, fresh rosemary and basil. We will also need a measuring cup, a saucepan and a pairing knife for our prep.

2) Begin by getting the prep out of the way-

Rosemary Simple Syrup- add 1 cup of sugar to the saucepan followed by 1 cup of hat water. Next add three large rosemary sprigs (or more if you really want the rosemary to shine) to the pan. Be sure to break up the sprigs a few times to get the infusion party started. Stir until sugar blends in and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer. Continue the simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool remove the boiled rosemary and double-strain into a pourable container like a squeeze bottle or mason jar. Add 1 fresh rosemary sprig and store for later use.

3) Start by adding 3-5 basil leaves (depending on size) to our mixing glass portion of the Boston shaker.

4) Lets add .75 oz of fresh lemon juice to our mixing glass. You can either slice the lemon in half and squeeze directly into our jigger or utilize the double-strainer and squeeze the juice into a separate container for later use.

5) Next let’s add .5 oz of our home made rosemary syrup.

6) Now we can add 2 oz of pineapple juice.

7) Time for the star of the show, our 2 oz of Broker’s London Dry Gin. Broker’s London Dry Gin is a classic expression of the style and is distilled in a 200 year old distillery, based on a 200 year old recipe, in copper pot stills, foregoing the modern column still methods of some gins.

8) Add ice to our mixing glass and shake. Double-strain into our chilled, iced 10-12 oz rocks or double old fashioned glass then garnish with a basil sprig. Enjoy!

  

Pineapple Basil Gin Fix- Add basil, 5 oz rosemary syrup, .75 oz lemon juice, muddle contents, add 2 oz Broker’s London Dry Gin, 2 oz pineapple juice, shake, double-strain into chilled, iced 10-12 oz rocks or double old fashioned glass, garnish with a basil sprig.

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MMS live at Jack Daniel’s Distillery

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by Raul Faria

Since 1875 Jasper Newton Daniel has been making whiskey in the great State of Tennessee. He was dedicated to his brand he dubbed “Old #7” and his dedication led his whiskey to become the highest selling American whiskey in the world. Jack Daniel’s Old #7 is now sold in over 160 countries and its iconic bottle and label is known world wide. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to visit Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg and it is definitely a worthy vacation destination for any whiskey lover. Here are some highlights of the trip with some notes on the production of the various whiskeys produced at the distillery.

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The original statue of Jack Daniel now greets almost 250,000 visitors a year at the welcome center that serves as the Tasting Room, White Rabbit Saloon, Engraving Area and Tour Scheduling. To honor his Uncle Jack, his nephew and head of the comapny at the time, Lem Motlow commisioned the statue and had it placed at “the Hollow” in 1941. The Italian marble, life-sized statue (Jack was 5″ 2″) sat in front of the cave spring water source until September of 2000.

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The Rickyard is where the sugar maple wood pallets are stored and burned and where the Lincoln County process begins. All the sugar maple trees used in the making of the charcoal is sourced locally. The wood is burned right out in the open underneath the large hood vents pictured above. The hood vents direct the smoke and fire away from the Rickyard. Jack Daniel’s distillery has a team of employees that are also certified firefighters on hand to ensure the safety of the wood burning process.

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Here is a barrel full of the maple charcoal in which the various whiskies of Jack Daniel are filtered. The process is actually slower than what people may imagine. There are six pipes that slowly drip whisky being pumped in from the still house through 10 feet of packed charcoal in much larger barrels. I saw at least six (out of almost 70) of these enormous barrels working through the Lincoln County Process of maple charcoal filtration. Gentleman Jack actually utilizes the process twice to achieve its desired mellow flavor.

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This is the cave from which the Jack Daniel’s Distillery sources its water for their whiskies. The cave, often referred to as “the Hollow”, is remarkable for its high limestone content which strips away impurities, especially iron, that makes it ideal for whiskey making. This cave is immense, so much so that the folks at Jack Daniel paid a spelunking to team to chart the cave. They got a mile in before they had to call it quits. This location was very important to Jack Daniel and he refused to be outbid when whiskey makers Hiles & Berry put the 142 acres up for sale in 1884. Jack knew he was on to something special and according to his biography offered the winning bid of $2,180.40. Not a bad deal.

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This new statue now greets guests at the Hollow and was created out of bronze. Created for Jack Daniel’s 150th birthday, this statue is said to better capture the spirit of Jack Daniel and is often referred to as “Jack on the Rocks”.

 

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The Barrel House at the distillery holds over 6,000 barrels of whiskey but there are over 78 warehouses at various locations in Moore County full of Jack Daniel’s whiskey in barrels working their magic

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Almost 25 million gallons of whiskey are produced here in Lynchburg by Jack Daniel’s distillery. It is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week operation too. These mash tuns and stills are enormous and through rotation all the stills are operational at all times unless they are being cleaned or serviced. Interestingly enough the area surrounding the fermenting mash smell like fresh baked sourdough bread, very tasty. The trees closest to the stills are jet black, green leaves but a otherwise healthy tree with a black trunk.

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Jack Daniel’s old office is still located at the distillery and is a registered landmark. Inside the office his desk and other antiques from his time at the distillery are still there, including the infamous safe that he kicked and ended up with gangrene as a result of the infected wound. The Legend goes like this- One morning Jack came in early to the office and needed to check the safe. Convinced and frustrated that “the darn thing was broken” he gave the safe a swift kick and seriously injured his foot in the process. This led to a string of health problems and is said to have caused his death.

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If you want to know more about the life and times of Jack Daniel check out the book “Blood and Whiskey” by Peter Krass. Very informative and clears up a lot of the questions people have about Jack and the birth of Tennessee Whiskey

Special Thanks to Cami Novak and everyone at the Brown Forman Corporation for their hospitality. It was an amazing opportunity to see the operation up close and see what makes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey so special.

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Fire Potion

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 by Raul Faria

Fire Potion was created with and for Golia Vodka. Its tart and a little spicy plus it’s a pretty straightforward cocktail to make. When creating cocktails for Golia vodka I’m always inspired by the Mongolian Empire and its leader
Genghis Khan. I imagine a sprawling Empire full of warriors, elders and alchemists. Fire Potion draws it’s inspiration from the alchemists of the old Empire. I wanted to utilize easily accessible ingredients that would also fit in with what would have been available in the ancient marketplaces. I’m assuming jalapeno peppers are not native to Mongolia but I had to sacrifice some thematic accuracy for easier access :) Lets make a Fire Potion!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our Boston Shaker, a Hawthorne Strainer, Double-Strainer, a pairing knife, a jigger with a 1 oz and a .5 oz measure, our citrus press and a rocks or double old fashioned glass. Our shopping list will consist of Golia vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, POM wonderful, lemons, sugar, and jalapeno peppers.

2) We will need to some prep done beforehand-

Jalapeno slices- We will need 4 jalapeno slices per cocktail. Three for the cocktail itsef and one for the garnish. Now a couple of things when preparing spicy peppers. First I would highly recommend using latex gloves during preparation. Trust me. Youre eyes will thank you when you go to take your contacts out at night. Begin by slicing off the stem and discard it. Next simply cut your slices. If you prefer it less spicy you can remove the seeds from the slices with your knife.

Simple syrup- Simply mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. I prefer a 60/40 ratio of sugar to water and I use hot water to help it dissolve.

Lemon Juice- Slice your lemons in half and using our citrus press squeeze directly into your jigger as needed or you can utilize a double-strainer and strain into a separate container for later use.

3) We can begin by adding three jalapeno slices to our mixing glass portion of the Boston Shaker.

4) Next lets get our .25 oz honey syrup into the mixing glass.

5) Now we can add our .75 oz lemon juice.

6) Add our 1 oz of POM wonderful pomegranate juice. POM wonderful is the best and also the most accessible 100% pomegranate juice on the market. If you can’t find POM or prefer to use fresh pomegranate juice feel free to substitute.

7) Time to add the star of the show, our 2 oz of Golia vodka. Golia is definitely a product of its environment, the beautiful, rugged, frontier like coutryside of Mongolia. Golia’s water is sourced from underground well water that is drawn from the KhĂŒiten Peak, the tallest mountain in Mongolia, assuring the water is pure and untouched by pollutants. It is made from winter wheat that is farmed organically and utilizes no tilling farming techniques. The final product is then run through silver and platinum filters.

8) Now we can add our .75oz of Yellow Chartruese to the mixing glass. We’ve used Yellow and green Chartreuse in a few other recipes like The “L” Word and Bitter Betty. Full of herbal flavor with notes of black pepper.

9) Add ice to our mixing glass and shake. Double-strain into our chilled ice filled rocks or double old fashioned glass and garnish with a jalapeno slice and a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

Fire Potion- 2 oz Golia Vodka, .75 oz Yellow Chartreuse, .75 oz lemon juice, .25 oz simple syrup, 1 oz of POM wonderful, 3 jalapeno slices, add ice, shake, double-strain into ice filled rocks or double old fashioned glass, garnish with a jalapeno slice and a lemon wedge.

 

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Motlow’s Mule

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by Raul Faria

Motlow’s Mule was named after and inspired by Lem Motlow, one of the earliest Master Distillers at Jack Daniel’s Distillery (behind Bill Hughes and Uncle Jack of course) and nephew of Jack Daniel himself. He was always focused on moving the ball forward by increasing production and expanding the Old #7 brand. He was head of the company during its most trying times and eventually set the course for Jack Daniel’s Old #7 to become an American classic recognized all over the world. Incidentally he was also owner of one of the largest and most successful mule trading companies in the south. Motlow’s Mule….get it
.MULE
cuz it’s like a Moscow Mule but with Motlow
he owned mules
ahem. After reading the book “Fire and Whiskey” by Peter Krass I suspect that Lem liked to experiment and try new things. Much like current Master distiller Jeff Arnett with Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, the soon to be released Jack Daniels Fire and the new and exciting Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey. The second I tasted it I knew I wanted to mix with it. Motlow’s Mule feels like something Lem or even Jack himself would have mixed on the farm for a cocktail party or gathering by the big piano. It’s very easy to make and utilizes simple, fresh ingredients. Lets make a Motlow’s Mule!

1) Lets get our tools together; we will need our muddler, our citrus press, a mixing glass, our Hawthorne strainer, a Lewis Bag, a Mallet, and a Jigger with a 1 oz and a .25 oz measure. Our shopping list will consist of Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey, Lemons, Honey, Mint and Ginger Beer. Optional tool- Double-strainer, measuring cup and Copper Mug.

2) First lets get our 6-8 mint leaves into our mixing glass. Begin by rinsing off the mint then start picking the leaves off the stems, leaving the top 3-5 mint leaves attached to the stems to create sprigs we will use for later.

3) Now let’s add our .25 oz lemon juice. We can simply squeeze the sliced lemons right into the jigger or you can strain into another vessel ahead of time and utilize our double strainer to catch all the pulp and seeds. Be sure to slice a few wedges to use for the garnish and for your guests to squeeze in if they like it a bit more lemony and tart.

4) Time to add our .25 oz of honey syrup. For the Motlow’s Mule we will be utilizing a 2-1 ratio honey syrup. I’d begin with a 2 cup sized measuring cup. Add 1 cup of honey, then add .5 cup of hot water. Stir until well blended and viola! Honey syrup. If you dont have a measuring cup handy just use your jigger and keep a 2-1 ratio.

5) Lets muddle our mint. We are just pressing the mint not grinding it. Our goal is to get some mint oil into our honey and lemon.

6) Now let’s add the star of the show our 2 oz of Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey. This is a preview product of the upcoming release of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rested Rye. While we are waiting on the barrels in Lynchburg to work thier magic we can enjoy the limited release of the unaged version. Especially in our Motlow’s Mule :)

7) We are now going to get our mug ready. Lets add ice to our Lewis bag and smack it with the hammer until we get crushed ice. Scoop it out of the bag into our mug and strain the contents of our mixing glass (utilizing our Hawthorne strainer to keep out the mint) over the ice

8) Lets add 4 oz of ginger beer to the mug. I like Fever Tree or Goslings for ginger beer but feel free to use your favorite brand. Give it a light stir, pack with more crushed ice and then garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon wedge. Be sure to smack the mint awake for release those oils for full aromatics effect. Enjoy!

Motlow’s Mule- 6-8 mint leaves, .25 oz honey syrup, .25 oz lemon juice, muddle, add 2 oz Jack Daniels Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey, add crushed ice, top off with 4 oz of ginger beer, quick light stir to distribute, pack with more crushed ice and garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.

Note on the copper mug- The Copper mug has its roots in the original cocktail the Moscow Mule. The creators of the cocktail wanted something flashy to get people to drink their vodka and they had access to someone in the copper products industry. Period. No magical Russian tradition of drinking out of copper. Marketing and access to the materials plain and simple. Back then vodka was something new and exotic from Russia and was not the spirit of choice in America so in 1941 John G Martin of the Hueblin Company that had recently acquired the Smirnoff brand and Jack Morgan owner of the Cock and Bull Tavern in Los Angeles served a copper mug to guests who ordered the new Moscow Mule cocktail they invented and even engraved the names of celebrities who drank one at the bar. Mules can be made in a chilled glass but copper is a better conductor of energy and will maintain a cooler temperature than glass. Copper mugs are super expensive and the chilled glass works just fine for the cocktail so I’d say go with what you got but if you’re feeling fancy and have an extra $20-30 each to spend I say go for it.

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Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey

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by Raul Faria

Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye Whiskey is a limited release due to the exciting prospect of the forthcoming Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey. While the new product is aging in barrel, the folks at Jack Daniels, including Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, decided to release a small amount of the unaged rye for us to try while we eagerly await the release of the aged version. Its very interesting to see how rye whiskey affects a mashbill. This bottling is a perfect way to really get a sense of what it brings to the table. Everything on the palette is so smooth, light and mellow then right and the end you get that distinctive, spicy rye pop right at the end. This is usually why whiskey makers include various amounts of rye to balance notes like caramel, oak, and vanilla. So I would definitely recommend picking up this limited release while you can so you can experience this yourself. As far as mixing goes I could see it in a Sour, a Cosmopolitan, a Sake Martini, and I think it would make a killer Motlow’s Mule (stay tuned for that original recipe). Check out my impressions below.

Aroma- big aromas of fresh baked sourdough bread, warm rye breads, with faint notes of ripe stone fruit.

Taste- a slick slightly oily texture with very mild and light in flavors of sourdough and water cracker followed by a burst of spicy rye notes.

Finish- finishes clean with mild notes of bread and crackers.

 

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