Archive for October 4, 2016

London’s First Wheat Whisky Made in a Transatlantic Partnership

History was made on October 6, 2016 when Sonoma County Distilling Company of California, USA partnered with the UK’s East London Liquor Company to make London’s first ever wheat whisky.


“Working with Sonoma County Distilling was the perfect opportunity to do our very own wheat.  We were able to get help and advice from Adam Spiegel, who’s had lots of experience developing his own wheat whisky, while still making the resulting whisky unique to us,” said East London Liquor Company’s Whisky Distiller Andy Mooney about the transatlantic collaboration.

The Whiskey Wash

The Whiskey Wash

The mash bill was made by Mooney in partnership with Sonoma County’s Distiller, Adam Spiegel and incorporates  60% wheat grown in the UK, 5% corn and 35% Pale Ale Barley.

Speaking a little about the mash bill,  Spiegel, stated his rationale for the addition of Pale Ale Barley to the mix.  “While we’re sort of tasting chocolate notes on the back end of it right now…[Pale Ale Barley] will give it a real vibrant flavor.  Wheat is a soft grain and plays off the environment in which it lives, so adding a distinctive barley will give it a lot of extra attention and give it sort of a little kick.”

The wash tasted sweet and pleasantly grainy, maintaining a certain weightiness on the palate.  I tried to imagine how the wash would eventually develop into whisky form. The base was admittedly delicious, so logic would dictate that this would be a whisky worth pursuing. Unfortunately, for those curious to taste the end product now, there is three years of barrel aging ahead of its eventual release to the public.

“As two businesses, we’re both fairly young. I’ve been open for six years and they’ve been open for two, so we’re kind of getting our feet wet, and still figuring out what we like to do,” said Adam Spiegel.


Sonoma County Distilling Company currently has on offer a Rye Whiskey, an in-house made Bourbon they call West of Kentucky Bourbon, and, of course a Wheat Whiskey.

“We’ve scaled ourselves up from a nano-distillery to a micro-distillery.  I hope in the future we will be considered the whiskey distillery of California,” said Spiegel about  Sonoma County.


East London Liquor Company currently offers a variety of premium Gins, Vodka, a Rum and Whisky, not to mention this new Wheat Whisky collaboration.  They also boast a bar on their premises, for those interested in a trying a variety spirits from around the world.

“Since we opened in 2014, we have worked continuously to produce honestly-priced, innovative spirits for the UK and we are delighted to be bringing whisky production back to the historic distilling area of East London following the casking of our pioneering London Rye® in 2015,” said Mooney of East London Liquor Company.

2014: Another Solid Vintage for Bordeaux Region’s Cru Bourgeois Wines


The 2014 vintage in Bordeaux started off choppy with variable cold and damp weather patterns, forcing winegrowers  to up their game in order to keep their vineyards both healthy and on track developmentally.  Luckily, as harvest approached, the weather stabilized  gracing winemakers with an above average warm Indian Summer that brought the fruit through to a good level physiological ripeness.   By all accounts, 2014 appears to be a solid vintage, not to the level of the much touted 2009 or 2010 vintages, but one that can nonetheless provide much drinking enjoyment.

It has been a few weeks since the release of the 2014 vintage Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux wines and the vintage includes  crus from 278 estates representing seven AOCs: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe .  The wines have robust colors, firm tannins, balanced by primary black and red fruit flavors on the palate.  The concentration and tannins present indicate wines that have some ageability with some wines are already showing finesse.




There are a few different classifications of Bordeaux wines, so it is interesting to take a step back to look at the history of the Cru Bourgeois classification to understand the wines better.  The origins of Cru Bourgeois dates back to the Middle Ages and Bourg, a town in the Bordeaux region.  Bourg was the home of many of the Bordeaux wine region’s wine merchants and vineyard owners.   During the period of English rule, the Bourgeois were given special privileges and rights including tax exempt status on the sale of their wines.   Enriched by international trade, by the fifteenth century, the rich Bourgeois bought the best properties in the region and thus earning the name “Crus des Bourgeois.”

The intervening centuries marked by the French Revolution, the classification of 1855, the First World War and the Great Depression all impacted  the Crus Bourgeois wines in some fashion or other.  War inevitably caused disruptions in their local and export markets and sometimes the removal of preferential tax statuses.   And, the 1855 classification incorporated some of the Crus Bourgeois, listing 248 different chateaux mostly considered just a bit below the cru classes.  Nonetheless, despite all of these challenges the term Cru Bourgeois has continued on to the present day with a slight interruption in 2007 when the Administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux annulled the 2003 official classification of the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc.  By 2008, a new system to determining Cru Bourgeois was set into motion.

Cru Bourgeois du Médoc  can come from vineyards located in one of eight Médoc AOCs:  Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe.    This designation is subject to a blind tasting of samples from the estates , tasted and scored by a jury of experts made up ofprofessional tasters recognized  in the industry,  with six tasters per session.  Average of the scores are taken, if the wine obtains a score greater than or equal to the representative sample, it is a “Cru Bourgeois”.   According to Conseil des Vins du Médoc , 2014 produced 30 million bottles, from 278   estates, mostly from AOC Medoc and make up 33% of Médoc’s production.

Some Compelling Examples of the 2014 Vintage:










Chȃteau l’Argenteyre Medoc   – meaty, red currant,    raspberries, cherry made  from 55% Cabernet  Sauvignon, 30% Merlot,  15% Petit Verdot.














Chȃteau Bégadan Medoc –  deep ruby color, tea, black  plum, black raspberries,    full-bodied, firm tannins.



Chȃteau Bournac Medoc – Tannic, blackberry, brambly, very extracted, good backbone.  70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot.

Chȃteau La Gorre Medoc – Fragrant violet, floral notes herbal dill notes, black fruit: plums, black cherries.  60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot.



















Chȃteau Aney Haut-Medoc  - red fruit: red currants, raspberries, plums. 65%  Cabernet Sauvignon,  25%  Merlot, 7% Cabernet  Franc, 3% Petit Verdot.
















Chȃteau du Cartillon Haut-  Medoc – Very lush,    blackberries, black plum,  firm tannins yet lush.  67%  Merlot, 28% Petit Verdot,  5% Cabernet


Sauvignon.Chȃteau Lestage Listrac-Medoc – Fragrant sweet red and black fruit, lots of firm tannins balanced by concentrated fruit. 62% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot.
















Chȃteau Liouner  Listrac-Medoc – Plummy  black fruit, very firm tannins.  70% Merlot,  30% Petit Verdot.


















Chȃteau Pomeys Moulis-en-  Medoc – Good  backbone,  violets, plums, black fruit.  55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet  Sauvignon.