Beer Review Poetry – Sixpoint RAD


Sixpoint RAD

There’s a faint smell of beer,

When you put your nose near,

But it’s the citrus bouquet

That takes you away.

Blood oranges, grapefruits, and maybe some lime.

I’d list a few others, if I had some more time.

The citrus is big when you take that first sip,

Like a San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda has just passed your lips.

Though it starts off a bit sweet, it quickly gets tart.

I really like citrus, so it’s winning my heart.

My only regret is it’s REALLY subtle beer flavor,

But on a really hot day, this would be something to savor (though it’s really easy to chug!).

Some call it a RADler, some call it a shandy.

YOU can call it what YOU want, I’ll just call it dandy!

4th of July Beertography!


Photo courtesy of G. Widman for GPTMC

Photo courtesy of G. Widman for GPTMC

I don’t know about you, but to me, 4th of July means firing up the grill, eating a plethora of burgers, hot dogs, and a whole bunch of other stuff, and washing it all down with a refreshing and flavorful Craft Beer. Taking a cue from our friends Ed of The Dogs of Beer blog and Bryan of the This Is Why I’m Drunk blog, I thought I’d share some of my latest experiments in Beertography that will hopefully inspire you to crack open a couple of cold ones on this, the biggest American holiday of the summer season. Cheers!

Casa Noble Tequila – A Tasting with Tapas


Casa Noble Tequila Toppers

We all have a tequila drinking horror story. It usually involves salt, lime, and too many shots of crap tequila, or too many Margaritas on Spring Break in Cancun or some other sun drenched destination. Thankfully, tequila horror stories are not what this post is about…

The Boozedancing Crew brought me in to put my own twist on how I would drink the Casa Noble Tequilas.  G-LO handled the tequila tasting notes and bottle shots, and I’m going to jump in with how I enjoyed the tequilas.  I made a couple of cocktails and paired them with some “tapas,” because if you’re gonna drink, and you don’t want to have a “never drinking tequila again” night, you gotta eat!

Tequila Numero Uno: Casa Noble Blanco

Casa Noble Blanco Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Crystal clear color.
Aroma: Citrus oil. Fresh cut grass. White pepper. Witch hazel.
Taste: Much softer than expected, with a touch of peppery spice in the beginning. At mid-palate it transitions to a vanilla sweetness that carries you through to the finish. Peppery spice comes back at the end along with that vanilla and a hint of citrus.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-7I totally agree with G-LO’s notes on this one, and that’s why I chose it to make a classic margarita.  I really like how the agave flavors held up to the lime and Cointreau.  Salt on my glass? No, thank you.

CasaNoble-6 And since it was such a crisp, clean flavor I paired the margarita with nice, light, red snapper ceviche.  It didn’t overpower the ceviche at all and was really refreshing. Salt on my chips? Yes, please!! This is how you have salt with a margarita.

CasaNoble-5

 Tequila Numero Dos: Casa Noble Reposado

Casa Noble Reposado Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale gold color
Aroma: Vanilla buttercream. Pipe tobacco. Eucalyptus. Citrus.
Taste: So so mellow! Creamy and buttery mouthfeel with lots of vanilla at the onset. Pipe tobacco and a mild pepperiness kicks in at mid-palate. The finish brings it all together, i.e. vanilla, tobacco, pepper, and a bit of lime zest.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-4I got a little more creative with this one and found a recipe for a cocktail called the Rosa Maria from the Schiller’s Liquor Bar cocktail book.  The cocktail is made with pomegranate juice and rosemary which kind of overpowered the tequila, so how did I fix that? Add more tequila!  I paired it with lamb chops marinated in lime, garlic and rosemary.  Don’t you just want to gnaw on those lamb bones?  I do, and did.

CasaNoble-1I also made these little sweet potato bites topped with black bean dip and chipotle creme.  We drank the Reposado neat with these and it was excellent! Those mellow, vanilla-y flavors worked so well with the sweet potato and the spice from the chipotle crema.

CasaNoble-3

 

Tequila Numero Tres: Casa Noble Anejo

Casa Noble Anejo Tequila

G-LO’s Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale amber with a light brown hue.
Aroma: Not nearly as fragrant as the Reposado. Vanilla. Mellower tobacco notes. Light brown sugar. Perhaps a hint of clove too.
Taste: Can it get more mellow? Yes. Yes it can! No harshness at all. Light brown sugar and vanilla to start, with a hint of mild cinnamon heat at mid-palate. Mellow, mildly sweet finish with some herbal notes coming through in the aftertaste.

My Cocktail and Food Pairing Selections

CasaNoble-2

At this point, it was late and I was done cooking but still had to pair the Anejo.  I like chocolate and whisky so I thought, why not pair this with some chocolate? I had some Taza Mexican chocolate flavored with chipotle chile that I got in the swag bag from Whisky Jewbilee.  Could I have found a better chocolate to pair with tequila?? Nope. What was really nice about pairing this with the Anejo was that it brought out the agave flavors at the beginning, then moved to vanilla and ended with a long lingering spicy finish that I loved.

G-LO’s Final Thoughts

While he definitely enjoyed all tres expressions, he said that the Crystal was his favorito with the Reposado coming in segundo. He thought that the Anejo was far too mellow for his taste since it lacked the prominent agave flavors that he craves whenever he drinks tequila. (I need to get him to try it with that chocolate and see if he changes his tune.) Using Scotch whisky as a reference point, he compared the Anejo to drinking an older smoky Islay whisky, i.e. aging a heavily peated whisky diminishes the peat smoke flavors in a big way.

G-LO’s advice: If you like the taste of peat, stick with younger Islay whisky expressions. If you like the taste of Agave, stick with Silver or Blanco Tequilas. And if you’re a middle of the road kind of Tequila drinker, then the Reposado is what you should be drinking.

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Many thanks to Casa Noble Tequila and The Baddish Group for hooking us up with these very generous samples!

Event Review – 2014 Whisky Jewbilee


Whisky Jewbilee 2014 was SOLD OUT!

The following is a series of emails about the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee (and other sundry topics) between myself and Limpd…

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G-LO: Whew! Looks like we dodged another bullet. I thought for sure that baseball and softball schedules would interfere with our latest NYC Whisky Excursion! While I do feel a healthy dose of parental guilt for missing my eldest son’s final game of the season (a championship game no less!), I think dealing with the heat and humidity in NYC may count as penance, especially that last walk from Keens to Studio 450 where the event was being held. It’s like our forward progress through the city at rush hour was blocked at every turn.  Thanks Obama!

While the weather was pretty dreadful (Hazy, Hot, and Humid!), I am really pleased with how the day turned out. It was like a moveable feast all afternoon long. Lunch and a beer at St. Andrews. Snacks and a whisky at Keens. And then the icing on the cake: the 2014 Whisky Jewbilee!

Limpd: Dodged a bullet or just delayed the impending double tap? I felt a little guilty not holding a practice for tournament softball. Missing my kid’s championship game… I’m not sure anyone would have allowed that to happen. My Benevolent would have made a strong suggestion that I attend (see prior double tap reference).

Anyway, the train to NYC was swift and the weather not altogether unbearable. Of course, I could have done without the long sleeve shirt. If only I didn’t need the shirt pocket to hold my cheaters so that I could read the bar menus and bottles. Can we get large print bottles? I guess not. St. Andrew’s was a great first stop, and the fried oysters were pretty good. Then again, what isn’t good fried! What did you think of the Bellhaven?

I find it a bit of a challenge to hold any kind of a meaningful discussion at a tasting; too much to sample and too little time for chit chat. So it was great to meet up with Aaron, Mr. & Mrs. Shane, and Allison and her current intern for a little pre-game festivities.

After St. Andrews, the walk to Park Avenue Liquor was longer than I remembered (or maybe it was just hotter than last time). That place is amazing! If we had a few boxes, a Sherpa, and a larger budget, we could really do some damage there. And then we were off to see the lovely Miss Keens

I had my obligatory Dallas Dhu (that Signatory bottling was awfully good!) and I thought splitting our little snack (thick cut bacon and an order of fries) was a great end to the pre-game. And what a pleasant surprise to see Raj there. I guess all your social media douchery actually works! (Do you ever do any actual work???) And then there’s Sarah. That girl is crazy for Uber! While the AC in a sedan would have been nice, getting to the Jewbilee late would have been a big no no. Gotta admire her persistence though! And was it just me, or did Susannah pop in for a quick Scotch Egg pit stop on the way to the main event? My short term memory ain’t what it used to be!

I really didn’t mind the walk so much. It was definitely steamy, and blocking the streets at rush hour (thanks Obama!) is really inconvenient, but I needed to walk off some of the food (mostly the salmon club from St. Andrews, my earlier beer, and the Dallas Dhu). By the time we got to the venue, I was ready for some more liquid refreshment. What did you think of the venue? A little off the beaten path and in need of a new elevator, but the views were outstanding.

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

It took us much longer than expected to walk from Keens Steakhouse to Studio 450 thanks to a Presidential visit to NYC during rush hour. Thanks Obama!

G-LO: Yeah. Payback for missing The Boy’s game is most likely in the works. As we like to say, sleep with one eye open! That’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Oh wait. I was doing that anyway.

Totally with you on the pregame summary! Lunch was superb and that Bellhaven was fantastic. I think I may prefer it over a Guinness as a session beer (think that comment will get me banned from Ireland?). As I’ve said to many people, St. Andrews is an oasis of food and drink on an otherwise dreadful block of Midtown Manhattan.

The food and drink was great at both establishments, but for me, the opportunity to have a wee get together where we can actually talk with everyone made it that much better. Great to see Aaron, Shane and Mrs. Shane, Allison and her intern Kelly, Raj, Sarah, AND Susannah (guess you don’t need to have that neurological work up just yet. But if you’re truly concerned about your short term memory, I know a guy…) in our travels. They are a super fun bunch! I’m still shocked that Aaron made it out. The West Coast Office (WCO) is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

I mean seriously, he took the red-eye in from LA on the day prior to the event and then flew back home on the morning after the event. That’s what I call a true whisky lover! MADNESS!

Re: Keens, you do love your Dallas Dhu. I’m surprised that they don’t have your name engraved on the bottle at this point. Have you ever NOT ordered it?

Studio 450 was really interesting. Agreed on the walk, location, and elevator: all three were a bit odd, but well worth it once you made it upstairs. I loved the layout and thought that it was a big improvement over the last venue since there was plenty of room to wander and explore what was being poured. The two level layout and outside space worked really well, and with 350+ people on hand, it never felt crowded.

There was SO much to try during the event and so much that was new to me! Where do I even begin? Thankfully, running into some of our other friends proved to be a huge help when it came time to pick my next whisky. Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast and Stephen of The Malt Imposter blog were particularly helpful since they guided me through the Laphroiag and Tomatin offerings.

Did you have any favorite whiskies of the night?

LimpD: You get to sleep with one eye open. I just lay there and pretend to sleep just in case.

The camaraderie among the bloggers is really amazing. You’d think there would be some sort of competition, but instead we seem to be much more about the actual whiskey rather than the number of hits that our respective blogs get. And I concur, Aaron is a loon (unless of course, that kind of comment is offensive to loons – then I apologize wholeheartedly to any offended loons and then refer to Aaron by some other, less offensive ornithological name; perhaps a blue footed booby would be better).

For taking a red-eye, Aaron was in rare form. I’m not sure if that is the result of sleep deprivation or if he really is a bit unbalanced; either way, it was great to see him. And, it was really nice to meet up with Sarah, Susannah, and Raj before the event.

I order the Dallas Dhu for two reasons: (a) Keen’s is one of the only places where I have found the now shuttered distillery, and (b) it is really really good! I had the Dun Beagan bottling last time and the Signatory this time. I’ll have to see if they find another bottle the next time we go.

Studio 450 was a really nice place (elevator aside). I like the two levels as it seems to spread the crowd. I do not like the steps. Old, creaky bones and lots of whiskey are a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, I was driving later so I had to hold myself in check. And I really enjoyed the outdoor section with the cigars. Open air with an expansive view and a good cigar. What more could you ask for? I should have loaded up a glass and done a little dipping, but I was trying to pace myself and decided to hold back.

Outside, I really enjoyed the Talisker Storm and the two that I tried from the Single Cask Nation (a Glen Elgin 18 and the Catoctin Creek). I think my winner was from Raj. I liked the 23 yr. old Strathmill from Blackadder so much that I bought a bottle (and no, you can’t have any!. It’s going under the house for safe keeping). Although I really enjoyed the offerings from Bruichladdich (even the Octomore 6.1!), Tomatin (the Cu Bocan, the 18 and the 30 were all good), Elijah Craig (the 23 and the Barrel Proof) and Evan Williams (the Single Barrel Vintage 2004), I wish I had more time to savor each one or the opportunity to pour off a wee sample for later. But this was more of an event than a blog post (although this appears to be a blog post), so I will have to note my favorites and try them all again later.

I’m sure you had a favorite or two. Let me guess, something charred and smoldering?

G-LO: Geez. So much to say! Here’s my reply…

Lay there and play possum? Interesting strategy. I’m one step away from making like an ostrich and burying my head in the sand. Safety first!

It really is a great group of people. It’s all about the banter, whisky, and shared experiences. The whisky is fabulous, but the excellent company takes it to the next level. I’m already contemplating the next gathering, whenever that happens to be. And Aaron is neither a loon nor a blue footed booby. He is a hawk, much like the one owned by Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums. He too shall be called Mordecai!

The greatest cure for jet lag and lack of sleep is whisky and non-stop conversation with excellent company. That’s what kept Mordecai going for those 48 to 72 hours. Everyone knows this! Where you been?

Dallas Dhu. I’ll be sure to put it on the suggestion list next time somebody approaches me with the “What can I get Limpd as a gift?” question. Dhuly noted. Ha!

Agreed on the stairs situation at Studio 450. It’s a recipe for disaster with the wrong crowd, but thankfully, as far as I could tell, this was a well behaved and “serious about their whisky” kinda crowd, so it definitely wasn’t amateur hour. I loved the view and outside area too. Even though I don’t really care for cigars (I like them, but they don’t like me. Especially the next morning!), I was oh so tempted to try one that night. Maybe next time.

There was a plethora of really special whisky on hand! Between the photodouchery and the talking, I barely scratched the surface of what was being poured. And quit trying to pigeonhole me! I love the smoky drams, but that’s not all that I love when it comes to whisky. Here are my highlights: Blackadder Strathmill 23, Octomore 6.1, Tomatin 30, Talisker 18, Highland Park Freya, Laphroiag PX cask (and a couple others that I can’t remember), the new Tamdhu (no longer a Tam-don’t!), Arran Amarone Cask, Bowmore 25, Brenne, Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary, GlenGarioch Founders Reserve, Kilchoman Sherry Cask and 100% Islay, Smokehead, a couple of Single Cask Nation bottlings, and last but not least, the Westland Single Malt. Ok, so maybe that’s pretty much everything I tried that night. Sue me!

Seth, Jason, and Josh pulled together a really spectacular event. A great selection of whiskies in a relaxed and comfortable environment. No jackets or ties required. Gotta love it! Just so you know, the 2015 event is already on the calendar for 6/9/2015. Start scheduling the softball and baseball practices NOW cause you’re going whether you like it or not!

One last thing…

This was our 4th or 5th NYC whisky excursion, and we once again made it back to our neighborhood by almost exactly 1AM (give or take a few minutes). That’s kinda weird right?

LimpD: So, we call Aaron Morty? Sounds like an old guy selling carpet remnants, but if that’s the way you want to go with it, it’s ok with me!

Wow! For someone who had (by his own admission) at least 20 samples, that is some kind of recall. I cut my list a little short as I omitted the Highland Park Freya, the Laphroiag PX cask and the Westland Single Malt. I was particularly surprised by the Westland. Only two years old and really good.

The fellers at Single Cask Nation did another fine job. My only gripe (like I only have one or rarely have one) is the swag. The Nation gives me nice bag of stuff and yet we “only” get samples from the tables. I was hoping for another Glen Cairn or a flask or something. I know; “they pour out an almost unlimited amount of whisky so quit being greedy”. But my Pappy raised me to look for more. I should have taken the tactic of the one pourer I saw in the elevator on the way out. She had a number of bottles in her bag. Probably flashed her smile (or something else) and suggested that rather than ship an open bottle back, she would “help” them out and take it off of their hands. I say well played!

As respects the 1AM arrival, you seem to forget about the magic of whisky time. I think if we drink enough, some sort of time portal must be opened. In this portal, time accelerates to 1AM and then seems to stop. This has happened after multiple trips to NYC and many times on The Barthenon. Maybe we should have Stephen Hawking take a look at this phenomenon.

G-LO: You just won’t quit will you? Fine. Here are my final thoughts (as if we haven’t rambled enough!)…

Morty? Interesting. Reminds me of the guy from Goodfellas that tipped off Henry and Jimmy about the Lufthansa heist. He sold rugs. The kind that I need on my head to help with my follicular challengedness (grammar and correct spelling be damned!). Morty it is! Or was that Morrie???

Regarding my memory, I kinda cheated, i.e. I went over the 2014 pour list and played the “had it, had it, had it…” game. No duds to be had by me that night, so they all made my list! And yes, that Westland was delicious. Gotta revisit that one fo’sho!

You have gripes??? Seriously? And what the f#%$  is a feller? I’m not gonna dignify your “lack of swag” comments with a response. You greedy bastard! And yet somehow I’m always the douchey one cause I take a few hundred pretty photos or write an elaborate tasting note (or should I say 500 elaborate tasting notes?). Life just isn’t fair.

I forgot all about “whisky time”. Silly me! Until next year…

Days of Wine and (Four) Roses


I was a little intimidated when the Booze Dancing crew asked if I would guest post on their blog. I’m no whiskey, beer or really “anything” blogger, I just blog about what I like. But after reading many posts on “It’s just the booze dancing…” and seeing how often they referred to WWD, I felt like I was in my wheelhouse. Any blogger who regularly refers to Women’s Wear Daily, THE fashion newspaper, is a kindred spirit. And one I would like to write for.  And without further adieu…

whiskychoc-14The subject here:  Whiskey and Chocolate.  Specifically, Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, Templeton Rye and the Vosges Mash Bill Truffle Collection.  I brought my generous supplies provided by the Baddish Group to a BBQ hosted by Stacey Snacks for an impromptu tasting.

whiskychoc-3The beautiful box was promising.

whiskychoc-5And it wasn’t long before Stacey and I broke into the chocolates.  Stacey forewarned me that she does not like truffles.  Then after she ate one she proclaimed, “Mmmm! Mmmmm! Mmmmm! I don’t like it!  I love it!”

whiskychoc-4The Whiskey truffle infused with Templeton Rye, tart cherry and tobacco was our favorite.  I can’t say I was able to really taste the rye, but it was delicious and complex.

As far as pairing them with the whiskey, that didn’t happen.  There was a lot going on in the food department thanks to Stacey’s great cooking.

whiskychoc-1That’s not to say they weren’t imbibed.  They were.  And for me, there will always be something reminiscent of Maraschino Cherries when I drink bourbon or rye.  Maybe it’s the memory of stealing that little red beauty out of the bottom of my parents’ Manhattan as a kid, but I always feel that there is one lingering nearby when I’m drinking one of those whiskeys.

whiskychoc-10And as coincidence had it, Stacey made a cherry cake.  Which was fabulous with the whiskey.

whiskychoc-11And the chocolate.

whiskychoc-12She even brought me a Maraschino cherry to enjoy along with it.

 These happened to be beautiful pink ones that have no red dye or corn syrup.

whiskychoc-9We also enjoyed a delicious Barbaresco with our cake which was very fruit forward – specifically, cherries!  As you can see above, bourbon, rye and Barbaresco may lead to talking with your hands.

And a night of whiskey, wine, cake and chocolate may lead to a very fun evening with friends.

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Thanks to the Booze Dancing crew for letting me ramble on their blog, and thanks to the Baddish Group for the delicious samples!

Event Review – The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons.


Itty Bitty Bottles of Hibiki 17

On May 8, 2014, Miracle Max and I attended an event in New York called “The Art of Hibiki. A Blend of 24 Seasons”, the official launch of Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 in the United States. Much like last year’s Suntory 90th Anniversary event at the Noguchi Museum, the organizers had something very special for us to experience which made the same day roundtrip journey from Philly to New York so so worth it! Here are just a few of the highlights…

A Deconstructed Tasting of Hibiki

Three years ago, the Booze Dancing crew did a “deconstructed” tasting of the Sam Adams Latitude 48. In a nutshell, the Boston Beer Company released a 12 pack which contained their Latitude 48 IPA (made with several different hop varieties) along with a series of single hopped IPAs. The whole point of this release was to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of each hop variety when used on their own, and to show how they work together to make a better IPA when used to make the Latitude 48.

This “deconstructed” Hibiki tasting, which was led by Seiichi Koshimizu, Suntory’s Chief Blender, was very similar to the “deconstructed” Latitude 48 tasting, but with one significant difference: while a few of the single hop IPAs were rather ho-hum, the component whiskies that go into the Hibiki blend are like a Japanese Whisky All Star team (think 2012 USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team) that join forces to take on the best in the world when blended together to create Hibiki.

This wasn’t the first time that I’d heard of the Yamazaki single oak whiskies that are used to make Hibiki (click here to see what Miss Whisky had to say about these whiskies back in 2012), but it was the first time that I had the opportunity to actually experience them. During this tasting, we sampled the Chita Grain Pure Whisky, Yamazaki American White Oak Malt Whisky, Sherry Cask Malt Whisky, and Mizunara Cask Malt Whisky (the  Hibiki 17 and Hibiki 21 served as the grand finale). While all four component whiskies were delicious, I was most intrigued by the Chita Single Grain Pure Whisky which smelled and tasted absolutely fantastic (luscious vanilla buttercream comes to mind). When you first start learning about whisky, you are led to believe that grain whisky is like adding breadcrumbs to meatloaf, i.e. it’s just a filler or binding agent. Take a sip of Chita or Compass Box Hedonism and you will quickly learn that beautifully crafted grain whisky can easily hold its own against many a Single Malt. In case you couldn’t tell from my not so random keystrokes, this tasting was a truly eye opening experience which not only taught me the importance of blended whisky, it also taught me to appreciate all of the care that goes into balancing each of the individual elements that go into the finished product.

Water and Ice Matters

If you’ve read any of my whisky reviews or heard me talk about my whisky drinking habits on a WhiskyCast Virtual Tasting, then you already know that I rarely add water or ice to my whisky, regardless of ABV. There are two reasons for this: (1) I really like the intensity of whisky served neat, and (2) adding water or ice makes the whisky way too easy to drink, which leads to me drinking way too many of then in too short of a time. Basically, drinking it neat helps me pace myself and not get COMPLETELY schnockered.

The Japanese have a very different view of water and ice as it relates to whisky drinking. Throughout the evening, we were schooled on the art of drinking whisky with water and ice. In addition to the ice ball carving demonstration by Hidetsugu Ueno of Tokyo’s Bar High Five that you saw in the above YouTube video, we were also given the opportunity to sample Hibiki 12 Highballs, which were a refreshing change of pace from my usual whisky drinking habits. While I still prefer to drink my whisky “as is”, I have definitely learned to appreciate the subtle flavors that come through when you dilute your whisky a bit (I was enjoying a Cutty Sark Prohibition Highball during the photo editing process. Yum!). Watering and cooling it down also makes it much easier to pair your whisky with food, which leads to the next highlight of the evening…

Finger Food Pairing with Bouley & Brushstroke

The first rule of drinking is that you gotta eat! Thankfully, the event organizers thought of everything and had us covered on the food front. They once again secured the services of Chef David Bouley and Chef Isao Yamada of NYC’s Brushstroke (they handled the food/whisky pairing at last year’s Suntory event). We were treated to ten different snacks that were walked around throughout the night by a cadre of well dressed and highly professional waiters. “Slow Poached Pink Shrimp with Ginger Aromatic”, “Canadian Fuji-Pork Belly Confit with Peach, Sweet Ginger Vinegar Sauce”, “Barcelona Anchovy with Artichoke Puree, Aged Balsamic Reduction on Toast” (my favorite of the night! I must have had around 20 of them. I’m not kidding!), “Kuzu Crisp with Aligote, Black Truffle”, “Wagyu Sirloin Beef Jerky”, and “Hibiki 17 Infused Vanilla Macarons” were my personal favorites of the night, but truth be told, everything was beautifully prepared, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. A drink in one hand and a delightful, bite sized snack in the other. It was like I died and went to food and whisky pairing heaven!

Spending Time With the #WhiskyFabric

While the whisky and food was an absolute delight to taste and experience, what makes every trip to NYC truly special is spending time with the #whiskyfabric family. All of the usual suspects were in attendance: Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast, Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot blog, Susannah of the What Tastes Good blog, and Allison Patel of Brenne and The Whisky Woman blog. In addition to these wonderful people, we also had the pleasure of finally meeting Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things blog. Without people like this to share in the experience, this event would have been just another whisky tasting!

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In keeping with the Hibiki inspired themes of harmony and balance, I would like to give my #whiskyfabric family members an opportunity to chime in with their impressions of the event. Here’s what they had to say..

Miracle Max

It was a great event with everything being practically flawless, i.e. the space, the whisky, the people, the food, the generosity, and the hospitality were all excellent, but to me that wasn’t the most important part of the evening. I used to believe that the master blender’s job was to miraculously take a variety of ingredients that were a bit “off” and magically hide their flaws to create something at least “drinkable”. “This is too dry. This is too sweet, blend them. This is too woody, this is too flavorless, blend them!” Similar to how I try to make a meal using left-overs, a little of this. A little of that. OK! That’s “good enough”.

Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve been very pleased on numerous occasions by a blended whiskey, but my preconceived notion was that the ingredients were flawed, and that the blend was a great solution to their underlying issues. Those ideas of mine are now gone! Sure, that may be the case with many blended whiskeys, but not with Suntory’s Hibiki whisky. It was all laid out before us. Here are the component whiskies used to make the blend, they are great on their own, now we use them to create an even better product (and that’s saying something based on those component whiskies). This wasn’t hiding flaws, this wasn’t using left-overs, this was assembling an orchestra using the best musicians. A supergroup of kick-ass rock stars! I can’t believe we have to wait until the fall to get more of these great whiskies, but I’m sure glad they’re on the way. Maybe I’ll get a bottle of the 12 for the wait. :)

Sarah of the Beautiful Tangible Things Blog

Being a “newbie” to whisky events, I think I’ve been set up for disappointment in the future because this whisky tasting was just phenomenal!. It was so special to taste all of the components of Hibiki, and to hear Allison and Josh’s tasting notes (Max & G-LO kept their thoughts to themselves). I really loved the variety (and quantity!) of the passed finger foods (pork belly!!! Anchovies!! Truffles!!!). And of course, the company shared trumped it all. I was honored to be able to travel to Tokyo with you, friends, for the evening!

Susannah of the “What Tastes Good” Blog

Suntory brought together a disparate crowd of whisky buffs, media people, and Japanese ex-pats with surprising grace and elegance. The industrial space worked well, incorporating a nifty video installation and killer bar setup (with beautiful, Godzilla-sized, hand-chiseled ice cubes) and encouraged conversation among attendees. Passed hors d’oeuvres, focusing on simply presented seafood, nodded to Japanese culinary tradition and paired very well with the Hibiki, available in the 12, 17, and 21 year old expressions. Especially classy: the 21 year old Hibiki (rather than a younger, less expensive pour) was the “passed whisky” that roving servers brought around.

Even though I missed out on the educational part of the evening, I enjoyed hearing from the Master Blender and brilliant, entertaining bar owner who was overseeing the drinks (both of whose names escape me at the moment). And Josh Feldman (The Coopered Tot) had saved a few drams of the component whiskies that go into Suntory’s 17 year old so I could taste them. I particularly enjoyed the spirit aged in mizunara oak—a brand new set of flavors and aromas for me that I hope I’ll get to taste more of in the future. I’m looking forward to Suntory’s brands becoming more widely available now that they’re moving more deeply into the US via Beam Global.

Also: the theme of balance that pervades Suntory’s whiskies perfectly underpinned the evening to the point that I didn’t even overindulge! That’s how you know it was a superb event.

Allison of “The Whisky Woman” Blog

Suntory is a name that, to me, is becoming synonymous with: extreme attention to detail, elegance, and fun. No detail was too small to overlook and all seemed to be done with absolute perfection for a seamless and truly fantastic event. A few things of note: the origami tied silk scarfs around the press kits, the perfectly angled spot lights-meet-dim-mood-lighting, the music that was never too loud or jarring to take too much notice, but was never too quiet to make the event feel stuffy … it’s easy to think of every detail and be in awe (should we talk about the food!? Delicious and plentiful!), but at the end of the day, what we were all really there for was the whisky. And it was fantastic!

I most appreciated the guided tasting hour prior to the party. I found it extremely fascinating to explore the various whiskies as individuals that go in to making the Hibiki blend and certainly liked some more then others, though it would be hard to choose a favorite (however, let’s not pretend the ample pours of Hibiki 21yr weren’t divine!!!). Very grateful to Suntory and the amazing people at Exposure for inviting me to participate in such a special evening. It’s always wonderful to have some time to hang with members of the #whiskyfabric! I’m talking to you, G-LO, Susannah (What Tastes Good), Josh (Coopered Tot), Mark (WhiskyCast), Miracle Max, Sarah, and Bram! Can’t wait for Hibiki 17yr to be available in the US!

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Many thanks to the good people at Suntory USA and Exposure for inviting us to this outstanding event!

Event Review – 2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest


 

2014 Philly Farm and Food Fest

This past Sunday, Mrs. G-LO and I dropped the kids off with their grandparents and headed in to Philly for a couple hours of grazing at the Philly Farm & Food Fest (the organizers were kind enough to give us a couple of media passes). For those of you that are not familiar with this annual event, here is a bit more information taken directly from their website:

In 2011 Fair Food Philly and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) teamed up to create a new annual marketplace for farmers and local food producers. Our shared goal was to assist small businesses in growing their bottom line by providing a low-cost venue accessible to a diverse audience of potential customers.

Fest is also a fundraising event for Fair Food and PASA, with proceeds going to support our non-profit educational and technical assistance programs for food producers.

The first Fest was held in 2012 and drew nearly twice as many visitors as expected. Since then Fest had grown exponentially each year. 2014 marks a doubling in size from our first show, and will feature:

      • Over 150 exhibitors
      • Libations Lounge guided tasting of local spirits, beers, wines
      • Shellfish Salon guided tasting of local oysters and clams
      • A distinguished speaker and panelists
      • Cooking demonstrations
      • A Marketplace of select restaurants supporting local farms
      • Health & beauty products, sustainable service providers, and much more

The event was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex on North Broad Street and was spread out across three different areas on the ground floor. It was essentially a huge Farmer’s Market with an incredibly diverse selection of food and drink made in and around the Philadelphia area. Cookies, bread, ice cream, popcorn, popsicles, coffee, tea, soups, pickles, cheese, jerky, jam, candy, and so much more was available to sample. If you’re the type of person that likes to sample a wide variety of food, then this is definitely the event for you.

Going from vendor to vendor and sampling their wares was great fun, but what intrigued me most about the event was the Shellfish Salon and Libations Lounge…

The Shellfish Salon was an opportunity to sample oysters and clams from South Jersey and the Chesapeake Bay via a tasting seminar hosted by Sam Mink of The Oyster House. During the tasting, we were able to try several different oyster and clam varieties while we listened to representatives discuss the many different aspects of oyster and clam farming. Topics ranged from the health benefits of shellfish to the environmental impact of what they do. It was a very well run tasting and as an added bonus, we were able to sample some truly delicious shellfish.

The Libations Lounge took place on the other side of the room and was essentially four different tastings led by representatives from various Philadelphia area based “adult beverage” producers. Our 3PM session featured Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, Frecon Farms Cider, Sly Fox Brewing Company, Stonekeep Meadery, and Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Each representative was given around 10 minutes to talk us through what we were tasting and to tell us a bit about their company.

While the Sly Fox and Weyerbacher beers were tasty, the most interesting parts of the session involved the cider, mead, and rye whiskey, mostly because they all offered something that was very new to both me and my better half. Dad’s Hat brought a barrel aged Manhattan, Frecon brought two different sour ciders, and Stonekeep brought two different types of mead. All were really interesting and we definitely enjoyed the opportunity to expand our “adult beverage” horizons. My only quibble (love this word!) would be with the format of the Libations Lounge. While I truly enjoyed listening to all of the presenters and sampling their products, I thought that it was a bit too formal. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word lounge, I think comfy seating, dim lights, and a big bar, not banquet tables and upright chairs. Here’s hoping that they tweak the format a bit for next year so that fussy, spoiled, and overindulged people such as myself will have one less thing to whine about.

Overall, Mrs. G-LO and I enjoyed our time at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. It definitely gave us a greater appreciation for all of the hard working and imaginative people that are helping to cement Philadelphia’s reputation as a destination for superb food and drink. We are definitely looking forward to attending it again next year!

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 Many thanks to the good people at Fair Food for providing us with media passes. Cheers to all of you!

Boozing and Disney Cruising Part Two


Sunset in Nassau

Sunset in Nassau

If you’re a regular reader, then you are well aware of the G-LO family’s last vacation which was a four night cruise aboard the recently “re-imagineered” Disney Magic. For our second Disney Cruise in under six months (this time around, we went on a three night cruise aboard the Disney Dream), Mrs. G-LO and I decided to leave the kids at home with the grandparents.

Before you start saying things like “You went on a Disney Cruise without your kids? I’ve never heard of such a thing!”, let me begin by telling you that this was a triple celebration, i.e. my better half’s (the legendary Mrs. G-LO!) 10th anniversary of her 30th birthday, my 47th birthday, and our 15th wedding anniversary. Fine dining and drinking were on our agenda, so leaving the kids at home was ABSOLUTELY mandatory!

Your next question is probably, “But can you do any of that on a Disney Cruise? Isn’t it all Mickey Mouse, chicken fingers, and juice boxes?”. And my answer is: Yes, Virginia! You can wine and dine to your heart’s content, and no, it isn’t all Mickey Mouse, chicken fingers, and juice boxes.

Here are just a few of the highlights from our short, but extremely enjoyable vacation delivered to you via a few photos. Since Disney Cruise Line allows you to bring your own alcoholic beverages aboard, I decided to pack a couple whisky samples that I received from Limpd and Aaron. That being said, I will also include some rum and whisky tasting notes.

A Visit to John Watling’s Distillery

John Watling’s Buena Vista Rum

  • Age: 5 years old
  • Barrel: Virgin American Oak
  • Color: Deep amber. I might even call it bronze.
  • Aroma: Caramelized pineapple and banana. Dark brown sugar. Vanilla. Nutmeg.
  • Taste: Very smooth with just enough alcohol burn to remind you that it’s 40% ABV. Silky mouthfeel with a bit of spice mixed with those sweet and fruity notes that I picked up on in the nose. The flavors are consistent from start to finish. Very subtle and easy drinking. I’m far from a rum expert, but I definitely enjoyed my generous pour of John Watling’s Buena Vista Rum. It would be a great after dinner drink to have along with dessert.

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Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island in The Bahamas

 

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Whisky Tasting

As you can see in one of the above photos, there wasn’t anything particularly unique or exotic on offer during the 90 minute whisky tasting that I signed up for, but it was still a very relaxing and enjoyable time. The woman that led the tasting did a really nice job of keeping us informed and entertained, and I tried my best to not act like a douchey know it all, i.e. I tried not to comment every time she asked a question.

While the tasting didn’t give me the opportunity to try anything new, packing a few whiskies for sampling in our stateroom more than made up for it. Here are tasting notes for two of the whiskies that I sampled…

Longrow Red Cabernet Cask Peated

  • Appearance: Pale copper color.
  • Aroma: Peaty fruit or fruity peat? I’m not really sure which way to go. Definitely a different whisky. I picked up dried figs, strawberry jam, light brown sugar, vanilla, a hint of pipe tobacco, and licorice.
  • Taste: Light bodied. Starts off with a healthy dose of licorice and peat smoke. At mid palate there’s an odd mix of sweet fruit and light spice. The Cabernet cask influence shows up at the end with a red wine tannin-like astringency. Medium finish with a lingering combination of smoke/licorice/red wine tannins.
  • ABV: 52%

Definitely one of the more unusual whiskies I’ve ever had. I like the potency and how it starts off, but the finish puts me on the fence. Love the smoke and fruit, yet confused by the wineyness. I will say this, I can never call this whisky dull.

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Scapa 16

  • Appearance: Pale amber color.
  • Aroma: Lightly spiced fruit scents. I’m thinking baked apples made with cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and vanilla.
  • Taste: Definitely has some weight to it thanks to a lightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors are concentrated on the front 2/3 of my tongue. A bit of brown sugar and honey sweetness at the onset immediately followed with a soothing baking spice type heat. Levels off as you approach the finish. Ends on a lightly spiced and fruity note.
  • ABV: 40%

A smooth and flavorful whisky with a lovely balance of sweet and spicy flavors. As is usually the case, I would love to try this at a higher octane. FYI, this went really well with the smoked gouda that we ordered from room service as a pre-dinner snack.

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A Few More Photos…

While it would have been great to get away for more than just a 4 day weekend, I have absolutely no complaints about our time spent aboard the Disney Dream. Maximum fun with minimum effort. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes


Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetThis #Beertography post is my answer to the The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Below is a bit more detail about this challenge:

In a nutshell, a three-picture story is a way to help you think about storytelling with images. To create a three-picture story, gather:

  1. An establishing shot: a broad photo of your subject.
  2. A relationship: two elements interacting with one another.
  3. A detail: a close-up of one part of your subject.

You don’t necessarily have to take your photos with this in mind — you can simply use it as a guideline for choosing three photos you’ve already taken, or try cropping photos to focus on the key details.

I like to think that I’ve accomplished this challenge two times. The first time by taking a photo of three beers from the same brewery, and the second time by photographing each of these beers on their own. What say you? Have I successfully completed this week’s challenge? Let me know in the comments below.