Archive for October 17, 2013

Chilling Your Favorite Whisky with Rocks from Vermont

Teroforma Whisky Stones 6 WebHave a friend who is a Whisky aficionado and don’t know what to get him/her? Or, are you looking for something to add to your own Whisky experience?  Whisky Stones are a modern take on an old Scandinavian tradition whereby cold stones are used to chill down the temperature of spirits.

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co-Founder Andrew Hellman came up with the idea of making Whisky Stones after he found a bag of loose stones in his own grandfather’s liquor cabinett and learned the tradition of how they were used to chill down alcohol.

Whisky Stones are handcrafted in Vermont from soapstone by the Vermont Soapstone company, one of America’s oldest soapstone workshops in the country. Soapstone, a talc-schist comprised mostly of the mineral talc has the benefit of being flavor neutral, non-absorbent, and can retain either heat or cold for a relatively long period of time.  The stones are light weight with no sharp edges, so drinkers don’t have to be afraid of the stones damaging their glasses.

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Falling for Whisk-e-y in Fall

Now that we are heading into colder weather, what could be better for a nippy Autumn night, but a fabulous whisk(e)y?  Do you like peaty flavors in your whisk(e)y?  Something sweeter and more complex? A little fruit maybe?

Below, are some Whiskies that that might fit what your palate: italy 281 Made at Kilchoman, the first distillery to be established on Islay in 125 years and one of a few still practicing floor malting.  Kilchoman has brought back the tradition of the farm distillery to Islay by being the only to do all parts of the production process at the distillery from growing their own barley to bottling.

Their spirits are matured in first fill bourbon casks from Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky and first fill Oloroso sherry butts from Miguel Martin in Jerez, Spain.

This 2008 single cask release has plenty of butterscotch, vanilla, some spicy fruit and smoky, peaty notes.  Logging in at 61% alc, the only downside to this whisky is that you can only find this bottling at the Whisk(e)y Exchange.

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Easier to obtain, but no less good, the 2007 vintage is made by using 80% Bourbon barrels and the balance from Sherry Butts.  This is the oldest whisk(e)y available at the time of any given release.  The 2007 vintage has salty peat, clove, vanilla, nutmeg and smoked fruit notes.

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From the Highlands in Scotland, Balblair has been making Scotch since 1790. Balblair is unique in its production of only vintage Scotch, signifying the year it was made.

Balblair is typically fruity, smooth and complex.  Their 1975 bottling made 100% with Sherry Casks is no exception.  The complex, smokey, spicy-sweet aromas are followed by honey, citrus, vanilla and spice notes on the palate, finishing long with a touch of coconut, vanilla and smoke.

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Ok, this is rare and retailing for 2,500 GBP, so not exactly affordable. But, it is too delightful not to write about after having tasted it!  On the nose, lots of fresh fruit aromas; citrus, stone fruit and some herbal, mint notes.  On the palate some toffee, spicy fruit, a touch of apple and herbal notes.  Very long on the finish, ending with smoky, vanilla flavors.  So perfectly integrated and at its peak, this is worth seeking out.

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AnCnoc is another Highland whisky, also typically fruity with complex, spicy flavors and aromas.  Lots of fresh citrus and apple flavors with some nutmeg and ginger, finishing with notes of smoke and vanilla.

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Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr was considered to be one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, combining classic with modern bourbon making techniques and innovating climate control ageing in warehouses.  E.H. Taylor Jr’s Small Batch is made by hand and aged in the very warehouses the Colonel constructed over a century ago.

Full of apricot, peach and butterscotch flavors this bourbon has sweet popped corn/salted caramel notes.  The long finish ends with some smoky tobacco flavors. italy 290

Rock Hill is a “Rye Recipe” Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  Bourbon in general must be made from at least 51% corn, meaning that this “rye recipe” bourbon just has more rye than the average bourbon.  In addition, Bourbon can not be distilled to more than 160 proof, nor can additional flavorings or colors can be added at any time.  Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in new charred oak barrels.

The Rock Hill is very spicy and nutty, with dried red fruit, caramel, toffee and almond paste flavors.  Smooth and honey-like on the finish finishing with notes of butterscotch, toffee and almond.


Great Whisky and Food Pairings

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There is always a lot of talk among foodies regarding wine and food pairings, but it isn’t often that one connects whisky as a possible partner to both savory and sweet dishes.  At a recent tasting, I had the opportunity to taste a variety of whiskies paired with everything from Turkish Delight, Chocolate, oysters to sausage.  Below are some pictures of these pairings:

Dried sausage with a wee dram of Kilchoman

Dried sausage with a wee dram of Kilchoman Machir Bay

This pairing probably is one of the more obvious ones. The meaty sausage flavor combined with the peaty, iodine smokey notes of this Islay delight is sublime and a nice alternative to the normal tapas combos.

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Turkish Delight with the Balblair 2002

Turkish delight with whisky?  Beats me, but somehow the sweet rose flavors of the Turkish Delight took the Balblair 02 scotch to another level.

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Glenmorangie Signet paired with Artisan du Chocolat truffles

The Glenmorangie Signet paired with a variety of chocolates courtesy of Artisan du Chocholat of London was heavenly.  Ok, I could have stayed here all night long.  The chocolates were off the hook and the scotch which had sweet notes of chocolate, orange and coffee note. Glenmorangie uses a chocolate malted barley for this whisky, which they attribute to an important component to making this pairing work.