Beer Review – Maine Beer Company Red Wheelbarrow


Maine Beer Company Red Wheelbarrow Ale

The other day, G-LO came over to drop off #2 son. Never one to arrive empty-handed (as previously noted, his Mamma raised him right), he brought with him a bottle of Red Wheelbarrow from his favorite Maine brewer (and frequent summer vacation sanctuary), the Maine Beer Company. Of course, you can’t just drop off a child and then run. You really need to make sure they get acclimated to their surroundings; even if this might be the 400th time the boy has been to my house. Suffice it to say, that we found the time to crack open the Red Wheelbarrow while expertly watching our boys. Initially, G-LO was just going to try a little beertography and move on, but as my love for the beer increased, I decided that it was more than worthy of a review.

Here is what the Maine Beer Company has to say about their Red Wheelbarrow:

Like many of our beers, Red Wheelbarrow (which started out as a pilot batch brewed by Brewer Dan Roberts) doesn’t fit neatly into a style category — think of it as a stronger, more hop-forward interpretation of a traditional red ale. Red Wheelbarrow is not, however, a “red IPA” — there is robust malt character (think raisin and fig) on both the nose and palate that temper the abundant hop presence (think citrus fruit).

I found the Red Wheelbarrow to be…

  • Appearance: Cloudy amber with a lot of tan foam.
  • Aroma: Hoppy and malty with hints of toffee and caramel.
  • Taste: Front-to-back an exceptionally well-balanced beer. Lots of citrus and malt balanced with a good bit of hops and just a little hop bitterness in the finish.
  • ABV: 7%

G-LO has been bringing us bottles from Maine for several years now, and I have yet to find one that I did not like. I’ve had Peeper, MO, Mean Old Tom, Collaboration Time 1, and King Titus, and they were all very good. I would put the Red Wheelbarrow right up there. I thought this was a fantastic take on a Red Ale with just the right amount of hops to balance with the sweet malt flavors.

Whisky Review – Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition


Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition

Eighty years, one month and twelve days ago, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. This amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and marked the end of Prohibition, a 14 year period where the manufacture, transport, and sale of liquor was outlawed in the United States.

To commemorate this important moment in our booze loving country’s history, Cutty Sark recently released a new blended Scotch whisky which they call the “Prohibition Edition”. Here is a bit more information about this new expression which was taken directly from their website:

Released 90 years after the end of the era which it celebrates, Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition has been crafted as a salute to the notorious Captain William McCoy, who smuggled Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky into America during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.  Captain McCoy’s impeccable reputation for fairness and dealing only in the finest, genuine and unadulterated liquor gave rise to Cutty Sark being referred to as “The Real McCoy”. Prohibition Edition is bottled at 50% ABV (100 Proof – USA Measure), whilst our regular Cutty Sark blend is 40% ABV. This is a “small batch” blend of the finest single malts and top-quality grain whiskies.  Hand-selected American oak casks give subtle signature flavours of vanilla and citrus fruits, whilst the overall flavours and finish are extremely smooth and thrillingly complex. The black glass bottle has a cork seal – reflecting the traditions of the time.

And now for our thoughts on this whisky…

  • Appearance: Golden yellow with a slight amber tint.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Astringent and buttered toffee. Hints of butterscotch, mint and cough drops.
    • G-LO: Lightly sweet and fruity when I first stick my nose in the glass. Vanilla, almond paste, orange zest, coconut, some light brown sugar, and a touch of dried fruit. If you give it a bit more time, a hint of tobacco and menthol comes through.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Not overly sweet with a bit of citrus tartness (orange zest) and some pepper. A bit like a scotch-soaked Red Hot. Mid-palate, the flavors cascade more than blend to form an interesting procession of sugars, cinnamon and heat. This ends with a long, warm, caramel finish.
    • G-LO: Medium bodied with a touch of oiliness. All of the flavors are concentrated on the front third of my tongue. A touch of sweet smokiness at the start with a warming spiciness of the cinnamon variety that builds slowly as you approach mid-palate. Definitely getting a Sherry vibe on this one with lots of dried fruit coming through. It all comes together at the finish with some sweet tobacco, dried fruit, and cinnamon flavors.
  • ABV: 50%

The Verdict

Limpd: In a bit of a panic purchase, my mom had grabbed a bottle of Cutty on her way to my house one Christmas. While this might not have been my preferred blend, suffice it to say the contents were thoroughly enjoyed and the bottle properly recycled. That said, the Prohibition edition is leaps and bounds beyond Cutty. Maybe it was the higher ABV; maybe it was the healthy pour, but this was a surprisingly good blend. Not overly sweet or peaty or briny, just a nice blend of flavors and a really nice finish.

G-LO: I gotta admit, my expectations weren’t very high for this whisky. While there’s nothing really wrong with standard issue Cutty Sark, it’s a bit too light for my taste. Thankfully, the Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is a completely different animal. Given it’s suggested retail price of around $30/bottle, I’d say that this is one hell of a Scotch whisky bargain. And when you factor in the relatively high octane and smooth, rich flavors, this is an absolute steal! I really like this whisky and would definitely buy a bottle.

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Many thanks to Vicki Loo of 360 Communications USA for sending us this very generous sample!

Have Yourself a Boozy Little Christmas…


Curious George The Maker's Mark Ambassador

Why is this monkey smiling? Because he has booze in his hands!

By the time you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’ve already had your Christmas breakfast, and that you’ve opened all your presents. That is most definitely what happened at the G-LO residence, since there’s no such thing as sleeping late when you have little ones about.

While the kids are always in search of toys and electronic gizmos, the only thing that interests Papa G-LO is Booze and Craft Beer. Here’s hoping that all of YOUR Christmas wishes came true!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Event Review – 2013 Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza at The Union League, Center City Philadelphia


Booze Dancing Reserved

If I were to play word association with most people, the first word that would pop into their head when I say October would most likely be Halloween. Not so for yours truly! Whenever someone mentions the month of October, the first thing that pops into my head is WHISKY! If you’re a regular reader of our little blog, then you’ve probably read about our adventures at the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee, as well as our friend Aaron’s adventures at WhiskyFest New York and WhiskyLIVE LA. All three of these events took place in the month of October.

One event that I always look forward to is the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Philadelphia Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza which usually takes place during the last week of October at The Union League. This year, the Philly Extravaganza took place on Friday, November 1st, and 2013 marks the 7th year in a row that we’ve attended this event. In addition to Limpd, The Wookie, The ROK, and I, we were also joined by our friends Bill, Rob, The Rick, and Pete.

Once again, rather than just give you my opinion of the event, I have enlisted the help of my friends and fellow attendees to tell you about all that went down at this year’s Extravaganza, because here at “It’s just the booze dancing…”, we’re all about a well balanced review…

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Rob

The Whiskies: This is a night that never disappoints! My favorite whisky collection was Glenmorange, and the most interesting whiskey collection was Abelour.

The Whisky Panel: While I certainly enjoyed the Whiskey Panel, I wish that the Brand Ambassadors would have been given the opportunity to speak more. The moderator took up a great deal of time. 

Food and Venue: The Union League is the perfect venue for this event and the food was very good, but I think they ran low on the turkey.

Possible Improvements: While I truly enjoyed the whisky selections at this year’s event, I couldn’t help noticing that there were several distilleries missing from prior years. Where was Diageo with their Classic Malt and Johnnie Walker offerings? And how about Laphroiag? They’re always there! I really missed asking Simon Brooking the annual “What’s in the boot?” question.

Final Comments: This is easily one of the the nicest group of attendees of any Whisky event anywhere and I think it’s obvious that the Booze Dancing crew are among this event’s most loyal patrons! This is the event at which I have the most laughs of the year. Truly enjoyable! 

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The Wookie

The Whiskies: I highly recommend an event like this if you are just getting into whisky and want to try a wide variety in one night. However, if you are a seasoned whisky drinker, this year you wouldn’t have seen anything too exciting. Highlights include some great selections from the SMWSA and the Classic Cask. While there were a lot of whiskies, it was disappointing to see so few distilleries represented. For an “Extravaganza”, I would expect the event to showcase new whiskies from around the world, or rare gems from Scottish Distilleries.

Food and Venue: The food was good, about what you expect for a buffet food service. Not the full power of what the Philadelphia Union League kitchen can produce, but not bad. I have always wondered why they don’t seek to create a menu paired more with the whisky, or that uses whisky as an ingredient (whisky sauces, salmon from Scotland, etc.). If you want to sell more whisky, use more whisky! The Union League is a great historic venue, but I prefer a more informal and open venue. Repeat events at the Union League give the event consistency, but something new would be a nice change of pace. The main room at the Union League can at times feel like a dark cave. A nice location open to the outdoors or with a great view would be awesome.

Service: The crowd was smaller than other years making it easy to get to every table. Pourers ranged from professionals who knew how to keep the whisky flowing AND educate the crowd, to those who were clearly just there for the night and didn’t know much about what they were pouring. Everyone was friendly and above or on par with other events that I have attended. Big kudos to the Society for adding Ricky Crawford to their team. The man is an encyclopedia of whisky knowledge, has ninja like pouring skills, and oodles of Scottish Charm!

Favorite Whisky of the Night: I loved some the Society’s single cask whiskies, but for me, the big surprise of the evening was the Ardbog from Ardbeg. Typically, peaty Ardbeg whiskies are not my favorite, but the Ardbog has just a hint of peat and is slightly sweet and salty. Great balance, and a little like the best that all Scotch whiskies have to offer blended into one expression.

Possible Improvements: Give Ricky Crawford the mic and let him speak to the masses, or let him host a “Master Class” type session featuring Society bottlings (something similar to the Macallan events that I have attended on numerous occasions). For me, the hardest part of buying Society releases is investing $100+ in something that you may or may not like the taste of. I would love to taste more of the Society’s single cask selections and would perhaps buy more.

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Bill

The Whiskies: My favorite whisky collection was Glenmorangie, and the most interesting whiskey collection was the Classic Cask.

The Whisky Panel: Unfortunately, the Whiskey Panel was dominated by the narrator who was unusually long winded this year which resulted in just a few questions being answered.

Food and VenueThe location is perfect! I love The Union League. Food was good as usual.

Possible Improvements: More reps to assist in pouring the whiskies, especially at the Classic Cask table which was constantly bottle necked.

Final Comments: A big thank you to the lovely ladies that were pouring for Dewar’s. Not only were they incredibly friendly, they also made it extra special for Limpd’s Dad by joining him for dinner, and they were also kind enough to part with the elusive ice bucket which made for one very grateful Bucket Bill (my new nickname courtesy of the Ex Swag Master Rick). Can’t wait till next year!

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Limpd

The Whiskies: My most memorable whiskies of the night were the Aberfeldy 21, Ardbeg’s Ardbog, and the 40 year old from the Classic Cask.

Food and Venue: Still high quality, but it seems to be getting skimpier each year, i.e. no potatoes for the beef or turkey, no butter for the rolls. As far as the venue, I love the Union League – great service, great architecture, great location!

The Whisky Panel: I missed the panel this year; in prior years, I felt that the moderator talks a bit too much, and there should be more whisky during the panel.

The Pourers: You have one job: to pour the whisky. Carry on all of the conversation that you want but you need to pour the whisky. So you either hire a number of people to just pour while the Brand Ambassador carries the weight of the Q & A (Aberfeldy/Dewars & Glenlivet), or you hire a Brand Ambassador that can do two things at once (Ricky Crawford is THE Man!). I felt that The Balvenie table was a little slow, and the Classic Cask was just about at a standstill which was too bad as they both had an outstanding line-up, but it just simply took too long to get a pour.

The Service: The Union League’s service is always exceptional, the ambassadors are always great, and the Aberfeldy girls went above and beyond the call of duty by spending some time with my Pappy.

Possible Improvements: Something needs to be done about the date. Each year, the number of brands on offer dwindles. Can’t they pick a date that is a day before or a day after another event so that there might be more ambassadors in town (kind of like what the Jewish Whisky Company did when they scheduled their Whisky Jewbilee)? Here are just a few of the brands that were MIA from this year’s event: Johnnie Walker, the Classic Malts, Isle of Jura, Jameson, and Michael Collins. One brand that they really need to get for the Philly event is Compass Box.

Will you go back?: While we have definitely considered trying some of the other whisky events that happen in the NY/DC/Philly area, my situation is a little different because of Pappy. He really enjoys the night out and I get to spend a night drinking whisky with him (What could be better than that?). We’ve been to a number of great events at some great locales, but since they’ve been spread across a number of rooms, floors, etc., I’d be afraid an event at another venue might be too spread out for him to get the same level of satisfaction. As his mobility is limited, the event at the Union League is a great night out.

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The ROK

The Whiskies: Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 45 was easily my favorite whisky of the night, while the Classic Casks had the most interesting and diversified table, i.e. they had everything from 15 year old to 40 year old whisky.

Food and Venue: The food lines can get long, but they keep it moving. I think they ran out of turkey early, but overall, the food was very good. The Union League is always a great location. It’s fun to get a bit dressed up to sip new and interesting whiskies. Overall, it was a great night!

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G-LO

The Whiskies: While there were definitely fewer distilleries in attendance at this year’s Philly Extravaganza, there were several whiskies that were true standouts. I particularly enjoyed the Ardbeg Ardbog, Aberlour A’bunadh, Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams and Malt Master’s Edition, Glenmorangie Signet, and several of the Classic Casks and Society bottlings.

Food and Venue: I have no complaints about the quality of the food, but I am almost positive that the selection has been dwindling every year, particularly with regards to the desserts. What happened to the mini Creme Brûlée??? As far as the venue, I love that the event is held at The Union League. Such a classy place! My only wish is that they lift the jacket requirement since given the time of year, it gets a bit stuffy and warm in there.

The Whisky Panel: I really enjoy listening to the Brand Ambassadors field questions from the attendees, but as others have stated, the moderator tends to dominate the conversation instead of just letting the Brand Ambassadors talk.

Possible Improvements: My number one recommendation would be to scrap the Whisky Panel and make it a three hour tasting. In lieu of the Whisky Panel, I agree with The Wookie about some sort of Master Class during the event. It would be great to have a small group session led by one of the Brand Ambassadors where we get to taste a new release or a limited edition bottling. As other have said, “Ricky is the Man!”, and he would totally rock something like that. Also, why not open the event up to Bourbon? It’s not like the event is exclusively Scotch whisky. There has been Irish and Japanese whisky in years past, as well as rum and liqueurs. Bring on the Bourbon!

Final Comments: Although I mentioned a few minor quibbles, I still love this event and look forward to attending it again next year. For me, this is one of the few opportunities during the year where we all manage to get together at the same place and at the same time. I mean, is there anything better than spending time with good friends and enjoying some great whisky together? I think not!

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Many thanks to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for providing us with two complimentary passes to the event. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

But wait, there’s more…

For your viewing pleasure, below are a few photos from the event. Cheers!

Beer Review – Founders Porter


Founders Porter

During our 10/10/13 excursion to NYC for the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee, Limpd and I stopped into Rattle N Hum, a Craft Beer-centric pub on East 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, for a quick lunch before our #WhiskyFabric meet up at Keens Steakhouse. This would be our first visit to Rattle N Hum, a place we knew nothing about until it was recommended to us by our friend Ed “The Dogs of Beer” Morgan.

During our brief visit, we ordered up some food (a six pack of sliders, some spicy fried calamari, and an order of curry fries) and a round of beers. Limpd went with an Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout and I went with the Founders Porter, the subject of this here review. Since I loved this beer the first time around, I decided to pick up a bottle during a recent beer run so that I could find out if it loses any of its luster when not on draught.

And now for a few words about this beer from the good people at Founders Brewing Company:

Pours silky black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders’ robust porter the full flavor you deserve and expect. Cozy like velvet. It’s a lover, not a fighter.

Let’s find out if this beer is as good the second time around…

  • Appearance: Deep, rich mahogany color. Not much in the way of head or lacing, just a thin bead of tan foam that hugs the inner edge of the glass.
  • Aroma: Rich and roasty with lots of bittersweet chocolate and espresso coffee notes. A hint of lemon hops in the background.
  • Taste: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. A delicious balance of coffee and chocolate flavors from beginning to end with a soothing bitterness that builds slowly as you approach the finish. Dry and astringent finish with a lingering bittersweet chocolate finish.
  • ABV: 6.5%

As I’m slowly working my way through this glass of beer (ya gotta sip and savor it!), the following thought crossed my mind: How would the Founders Porter stack up against Anchor Brewing Company’s Porter or Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald Porter? Given how delicious this is, I’m thinking that these three beers would be evenly matched and stacking the three of them against each other would make for an interesting tasting session, and quite possibly, a really interesting blog post.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, this is my second time having this beer in a little over a week, and while the bottled version is delightfully delicious, it’s not quite as luscious or creamy as it was on draught. Draught is better, but only by a very small margin. That being said, whether on draught or in the bottle, I highly recommend this beer.

Beer Review – Fuller’s London Black Cab Stout


Fuller's Black Cab Stout

While in search of the Samuel Smith Apricot and some Magner’s Pear Cider, I hit the English wall at Kress Liquors and picked up a couple of bottles of Fuller’s Black Cab Stout. I have had a number of beers from the Fuller’s lineup  (the Fuller’s ESB, the London Porter, the London Prideand the Gale’s Prize Old Ale), and engaged in a discussion regarding aging when I came across a 2010 Fuller’s Vintage Ale (and put the theory to the test with 2009 through 2011 bottles). So, the folks at Fuller Smith & Turner are not an unknown. The Fuller’s London Black Cab Stout is classified as an Irish Dry Stout and is rated as a very good example of the style (Top 40) by Beer Advocate. While known for the London Pride, Fuller’s is the only brewer to have had three of their beers (London Pride, ESB, and Chiswick Bitter) named Champion Beer of Britain.

Here is what Fuller’s has to say about their Black Cab Stout:

Brewed with a combination of five different malts, some heavily roasted for a near jet black appearance, Black Cab Stout is 4.5% ABV and beneath its dark exterior features luxurious red berry notes, toasty aromas on the nose and culminates in a dry, bitter finish.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Chestnut brown with lots of tan foam.
  • Aroma: Roasted chocolate malt and dried fruits (raisins, dates).
  • Taste: Creamy with light carbonation, lots of chocolate flavor (Ovaltine) and the aforementioned dried fruits.
  • ABV: 4.5%

While not as good as the ESB, the Porter or the Pride, the London Black Cab did not disappoint. This was a very drinkable and very refreshing beer with lots of sweet chocolaty flavor and just a slight hint of coffee in the finish.

2013 Whisky Jewbilee: A #WhiskyFabric Crowdsourced Review!


2013 Whisky Jewbilee Bottling

On Thursday, October 10th, Limpd and I played hookie from work so that we could head on up to Manhattan for the Jewish Whisky Company’s 2013 Whisky Jewbilee which took place at Zanger Hall on West 34th Street, just one block away from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

A couple days after the event, as I was trying to figure out how I would write up all that went down on 10/10/13, I had an idea. Rather than the usual event recap where I get to use the words “douche” or “douchey” ad nauseum, I decided that I would instead reach out to all of the whisky bloggers (aka the #WhiskyFabric) that we had the pleasure of spending time with before and during the event, and ask that they email me their thoughts about the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee. Below are the questions that I asked:

  1. What did you think of the venue?
  2. How was the food?
  3. What was your “get”, i.e. was there a whisky that you just had to try?
  4. What was your most memorable moment?
  5. What would you want them to improve for next year?

I am happy to report that everyone I contacted responded to my email and either answered my questions directly or went off in their own direction. Their email responses ranged from very straightforward to a wee bit off the wall. Here is what everyone had to say about the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee…

Allison “The Whisky Woman” Patel

Awesome idea G-LO! I will gladly share my experience from the other side of the table (I was pouring My Baby, aka Brenne):

  • The Venue: Perfect! It was big enough to fit a wide variety of brands on each floor. I like that there were 2 rooms, but only 2 for I think if there were any more, it would have been too much. The space was intimate enough to be able to meet people, but not so crowded that you felt like you had to stand on top of one another.  From a person who has been to a bunch of these across the country this Fall, I really liked the acoustics in the room as well. It wasn’t too lofty of a space which kept sound reverberation to a minimum. This helps those who need to be talking and those who are trying to listen!
  • The Food: I only tried the smoked/cured meats and they were exceptional!
  • The “Get”:  The goodies on the Jewish Whisky Company’s table, particularly their 15 YO Single Cask Bourbon that was the special event bottling. YUM!
  • Memorable Moment: Being able to connect with so many of the bloggers at Keen’s before the event kicked off.  The NYC whisky family (I’m including the BoozeDancing crew) is my “first family of whisky”, and it felt like a homecoming to reconnect with everyone.  Totally elevated the excitement of the event for me  as I was already really looking forward to the night.

Limpd

  • The Venue:  The space was a little too small, and the stairs connecting the basement and ground floor rooms looked downright treacherous. I’m glad I hit the downstairs first, otherwise there may have been a Gerald Ford pratfall in my future.
  • The Food: Since I rarely partake of kosher cuisine, I’m not exactly sure what I was eating. I did however dive in twice, so it was definitely tasty!
  • The “Get”: Since we recently had the Ginger Liqueur from Koval, I was intrigued to try their whisky line up. For the record, I thought their Four Grain was the best. Other “gets” included Old Pulteney 21 (very tasty!), the Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan virgin oaks (not that different from their regular bottlings), the varied selections at @WhiskyRaj’s table (the English Whisky Classic was quite tasty), and the Hakushu Peated Cask.
  • Memorable Moment: The Wemyss table! What a great example of whisky evolution as the 8 year olds mature into 12 year olds. I especially liked that each bottling was a good representation of the region that it was from.
  • Possible Improvements: If the event is at the same locale next year, perhaps a little better direction as to where to locate the pours. I totally missed the Kavalan table and would have missed the Glen Garioch if G-LO hadn’t pointed them out. Other than that, it was a fantastic event!

 Johanne “The Whiskylassie” McInnis

  • The Venue: Although smaller than I expected, it was quite lovely (the stained glass windows were truly beautiful!), and the flow of traffic worked very well.
  • The Food: I’ve never had such deliciously prepared kosher meals, and the variety was particularly impressive. The traditional dishes were amazing!
  • The Whisky: Such a great selection!  I love how the organizers ensured that there was everything you could possibly imagine, i.e. Blends, Scotch, World Whisky, Rye, and even a Millet!

Just so you know, I purchased tickets for another “Big” whisky event that was taking place later that weekend.  The ticket price was double what I paid to attend the Jewbilee, the venue was loud and very full, and the food was just meh. And as far as the actual Whisky on hand, although I can only think of one that I was truly impressed with, the selection wasn’t all that different from what was available at the Jewbilee.

If you are headed to New York City in October 2014, I would highly recommend the Whisky Jewbilee. For me, it was a case of David vs Goliath, and proof that bigger and more powerful is not always better. Congrats to the Jewish Whisky Company for pulling together such a great little gem!

Aaron “I Don’t Blog, I Just Tweet” Krouse

It’s a rare day to be asked my humble opinion of anything, let alone whisky. Is this a joke? Will one of those Jackass jackasses pop out of nowhere and kick me in the bourbon balls as soon as I hit SEND? Oh, whatever. I could use the excitement…

The long trek to NYC from LA was well worth it on so many levels. One, I love getting up at 3:00 am to go the airport. Two, I love meeting folks face to face that I’ve only met via Twitter or e-mail. Just meeting all of these wonderful people that are part of the #WhiskyFabric made the weekend wholly enjoyable.

The boys at Single Cask Nation are friends and a great bunch. Our little group, South Bay Whisky Tribe out here in Southern California, was lucky enough to host a tasting that Jason and Joshua ran for us in June. We’re highly indebted, and highly supportive of their efforts. Heck, they had chopped liver, fried chicken skin and kugel at Jewbilee! This is enough to put them in the Hall Of Fame of Whisky Events (Is there a Hall Of Fame of Whisky Events???). The food from their Kosher cater was reminiscent of my grandmother’s Eastern European heart-attack making delights but there were enough other unique salads and caviar(!) to fake your cholesterol out to take away the guilt for a few hours.

Personally, I loved the venue at Zanger Hall. I’m partial to old architecture and history and the West Side Jewish Center is all that. I could have taken pictures of that place all night. But there was whisky to try so go find your own pictures!

My Whisky hit list included the Suntory line, Angel’s Envy Rye, Kilchoman Single Cask, Talisker Storm, Loki, Peat Monster, and Delilah’s. All were highly enjoyed. I may have to gets me a bottle of the AE Rye, though it’s shape is really going to screw up my liquor cabinet. Note to Industry: Space management is important for the end user. Single Cask Nation’s special bourbon bottling was BIG. It had YOWZA written all over it. Only 87 bottles and all were pre-sold that night. Going… Going… Gonzo! Happily I got on the list. And the Still Waters cask strength Single Malt shocked many by its taste for its youth. Thanks to @WhiskyRaj for letting us sample that one!

The amazing moments were many, but easily led by meeting many of the #WhiskyFabric. Ladies first: Johanne McInnis (my favorite Canadian), Susannah Barton (a true nut; in a good way) and Allison Patel (distiller extraordinaire). Shane Helmick (they don’t make them any nicer), Limpd (packaging, packaging, packaging. Just put it on the Underhill’s tab), Josh Feldman (learned more from him about whisky in 30 minutes than all the reading I’ve ever done), G-LO (name withheld due to legal issues; my bro from Philly was the fireball of fun I fully expected). Basically, this is the ’27 Yankees of the whisky twitterverse. I bow in your presence and hope not to hit my head on G-LO’s camera. Also, nice to meet Severin Clemens form Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits and get a retail view of the goings-on.

I can’t say enough about Jason, Joshua and Seth from Single Cask Nation. I go to trade shows big and small and can’t fathom how hard it would be to SET one up…when it’s NOT your day job! And to knock it out of the park like they did for the Whisky Jewbilee makes your mishpacha (look it up) from LA proud. Mazel Tov!

Susannah “What Tastes Good” Skiver Barton

  • The Venue: I had difficulty navigating the two room/two floor layout, going from the brightly lit downstairs to the dark and moody upstairs. On the other hand, it was nice to have two different rooms in which to spread out.
  • The Food: Food was pretty good overall, especially the nice salads. And bonus points for the trays of whole roasted garlic! One minor quibble: I would have liked a menu or cards identifying each dish.
  • The “Get”: So many whiskies, so little time! I particularly enjoyed the Compass Box Delilah’s and the 125th Anniversary Four Roses.
  • Memorable Moment: As is always the case at events like this, I really enjoyed meeting a whole lot of cool whisky people, i.e. industry folks, media/bloggers, and regular enthusiasts. The relaxed and laid back atmosphere is what really made this event special. It wasn’t a typical “corporate” whisky event with a lot of rules and rituals that get in the way of the dramming. I really appreciated that everyone—from event staff to vendors to attendees—was having such a great time! And the staff were all very helpful!
  • Possible Improvements: A program with a list of vendors and (if possible) what they would be pouring would have helped to maximize my time so that I could find those extra special whiskies. Also, PLEASE have more water available since one bottle per welcome bag is not enough. Some large water coolers, refillable pitchers, or a table in each room with extra water bottles would be great.

G-LO

  • The Venue: I really liked the two room set up since it gave the 325+ attendees the opportunity to spread out and explore a wide variety of whisky without ever feeling overcrowded. My only gripe is with having to navigate the concrete steps to get from the main room on the ground floor to the second room in the basement of Zanger Hall, especially after having a plethora of whisky samples. Two words: liability nightmare!
  • The Food: Between taking photos at the event and talking to vendors and friends, I didn’t eat all that much, so I can’t really comment on the food. I will say this, I did try some of the cured salmon and some of the kosher salami. Both were delicious! All I want to know is, how the hell did I miss the fried chicken skin and caviar???
  • The “Get”: In addition to the social aspect, i.e. chatting with industry people as well as the other aficionados, my main objective when attending these types of events is to try something new and exciting. The Whisky Jewbilee definitely did not disappoint on that front! Here are just a few of my “gets” that night: Stalk & Barrel, the Koval line up, the Four Roses 125th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon, the Wemyss line up, Glengarioch, Parker’s Heritage Collection, Hakushu Heavily Peated, the Jewbilee 15 YO Heaven Hill Bourbon bottling, Highland Park Loki, Compass Box Delilah, and so much more!  With all of that variety, how the hell can you narrow it down to just one “get”?
  • Memorable Moment: So many wonderful things happened on 10/10/13! Here are just a few of them: a surprise visit by Johanne “The Whisky Lassie” McInnis that nearly gave Josh “The Coopered Tot” a coronary; meeting Jennifer and Shane Helmick, Steve “The Smoky Beast” Zeller, and Aaron Krouse; getting together again with Susannah Skiver Barton, Allison Patel, Josh Feldman, and the Jewish Whisky Company founders; watching Jim Rutledge of Four Roses rinse my smoky dram coated glass with Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon  and then having him fill it with their 125th Anniversary bottling so that I could taste it; and so much more!
  • Possible Improvements: Having the event in one big room would be my number one request, but if that means moving far away from Penn Station, then I say leave it where it is (for purely selfish reasons of course). Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well done Lads!

Shane “How To Drink Whisky” Helmick

JoshAndShark

Halfway though the show I saw Josh chainsaw a shark in the face!!! What the fuck was that about?! Best. Jewbilee. EVER!

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Many thanks to Josh, Jason, and Seth of the Jewish Whisky Company for inviting us to the 2013 Whisky Jewbilee, and also to the lovely and talented #WhiskyFabric for helping out with this review! Slainte!

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns


My apologies for straying off topic with today’s post (i.e. no beer or booze), but I’m really enjoying these Weekly Photo Challenges. Here is some information about this week’s challenge:

Today’s challenge is inspired by Evan Zelermyer‘s stunning urban, abstract, and architectural images from his “Shape, Line, Texture, Pattern” post published earlier this week. I’d love to see your interpretations of these elements, so grab your camera, get outside, and snap a great shot of shapes or lines that you stumble upon, or a cool texture or pattern that catches your eye.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside


Lindemans Kriek Lambic

Lindemans Kriek Lambic. That’s what you see inside the glass in the above photo. And that is my answer to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. Here is what this week’s challenge was all about:

This week, share what you see on the inside. It could be something literally inside, like these birds in the rebar or the inside of your home or favorite hideaway. If you’d like, go in a personal direction — share a photo of your best friend laughing, showing how she feels on the inside, or an arresting shot of your son’s blue eyes (windows to the soul, dontcha know).

And here is a bit more information about this Belgian beer taken directly from the Lindemans Brewery website:

In origin, this sweet-acid drink was obtained by adding fresh black cherries to a barrel Lambic of 6 months young. The addition of fruits provokes a new fermentation in the oak barrels. After another 8 to 12 months, only peels and stones left and the Kriek-Lambic is ready to be filtered and bottled. The residual sugar can be adjusted with straight-on fruit juice to give a refermentation in the bottle. This traditional type of fruit beer is more acid and less fruity.

Because of the limited availability of the “Schaerbeekse Cherries”, just as to brew a less sour and more fruity Lambic beer, Lindemans farm brewery developed an unique alternative natural method using pure cherry juice from unfrozen cherries. This straight cherry juice is blended with selected Lambic of different ages.

Kriek has a pink-red color and a delicious taste of sparkling cherry champagne.

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV


SMWS Cask 3.188, The Camping Trip

As Seen Through a Glencairn Glass

The above photo of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Cask No. 3.188 is my answer to The Daily Post’s “Weekly Photo Challenge”. Below is a bit more information about this week’s challenge:

Go out and take photos and share a shot that reveals a new and different POV. You can take a picture of a familiar subject in a fresh way, as I did of the iconic London Eye in the image above. Instead of a more traditional shot — placing the structure in the middle of the frame and taking it from a more straightforward angle — I focused on the paper art plastered on a red telephone booth along the embankment, further away, and placed the London Eye in the left of the frame, seemingly insignificant.

You can consider other approaches, too:

Use something natural (window, tree, wall of a building, etc.) to frame your shot.

      • Get low on the ground to take a picture from a very different angle.
      • Focus on a specific part of a person, object, or structure (instead of all of it) — or intentionally cut off a part of your subject or scene.
      • Place something in between you and your subject/scene to offer a distinct perspective.

So what do you think? Did I properly answer this week’s challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you’d like to read a bit more about this delightful whisky, click here to read my somewhat elaborate post. It involves a wager, Quentin Tarantino, a whisky review, and a  simple cocktail recipe.