The Old-Fashioned Cocktail: Do Bitters Make a Difference?

Old Fashioned CocktailWhile doing a bit of research for this blog post, I stumbled upon the following quote by Leonardo da Vinci:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Simple and sophisticated is the perfect way to describe a well crafted Old-Fashioned. A cube of sugar, a few dashes of Bitters, a teaspoon of water (still or fizzy. It’s your choice),  a couple ounces of whisky (usually Rye or Bourbon), and some ice, all blended together in the glass that you’ll be drinking out of. Sounds simple right? Then again, like most things in life, simplicity is a relative term…

Once you read a bit about the history of the Old-Fashioned, you realize that there have been numerous incarnations of this cocktail over it’s long and muddled (see what I did there?) history. Prior to Prohibition, it was as simple as I described, but once whisky became illegal, the Old-Fashioned evolved into something very complicated, and according to the experts, something positively dreadful since all kinds of stuff was added to this once simple drink in order to mask the flavor of the low quality whisky.

Rather than bore you any further with my rehashing of history, here are links to a few in-depth articles that discuss the evolution of the Old Fashioned (they also include some recipe variations):

So now that you’ve been schooled a bit on the origins of the Old-Fashioned Cocktail, let me tell you a bit about why we’ve decided to write about it…

In early December of 2013, we received an email from the company that hooked us up with Absinthe samples back in late 2012. Since has expanded into the Bitters and Digestif markets, they wanted to know if we’d be interested in writing up a post that featured their Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set by The Bitter Truth. Since you’re currently reading a blog post about a Rye Whisky Old-Fashioned made two different ways, we obviously accepted their offer.

Of the five bitters that were included in the Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set, we decided to use the Aromatic Bitters and Jerry Thomas’ Decanter Bitters since they seemed best suited to this cocktail. For the whiskey, we decided to go with a Rye since that’s what most experts recommend when they offer up Old-Fashioned cocktail recipes, and after reading Shane “How To Drink Whisky” Helmick’s review of the High West Double Rye, I decided to pick up a bottle expressly for this post (FYI, his review is right on the money, i.e. High West Double Rye is super tasty AND reasonably priced!).

After reading several Old-Fashioned recipes, I settled on David Wondrich’s recipe from which recommends using Angostura bitters. Here it is:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Club soda
  • 2 ounces Rye Whiskey

Directions: Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, chopstick, strong spoon, lipstick, cartridge case, whatever. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Serve with a stirring rod.

Here’s how you do it:

Now that you have some Old-Fashioned history as well as the reasons behind this post, lets get on with our tasting notes…

Old Fashioned #1: The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters

  • Limpd: On the nose, I’m getting candied herbal notes that are kind of Cognacish. I’m thinking Brenne and iced animal crackers. As far as the actual taste, it was mildly sweet. Just a very nice blend of the Double Rye and herbs. This drink goes down really easy which leads me to believe that having several of them in a short period of time is not a difficult task.
  • G-LO: Once you add ice to a drink, I have a hard time picking up on the aromas. The Rye definitely comes through, and I get hints of the bitters, but nothing really specific. Drinking it is a completely different story. This is a nicely balanced drink with a tasty mix of Rye spice, sugar sweetness, and a hint of herbal goodness. Much like Limpd, I see this as a drink that goes down way too easily.

Old Fashioned #2: The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Decanter Bitters

  • Limpd: On the nose, I’m not getting as much of the sweetness this time around. This one is definitely more on the herbal side with some celery seed, sage, and Old Bay Seasoning notes coming through. This version tasted a good bit different from the Aromatic Bitters Old Fashioned. It was a tiny bit harsher with very little sweetness. It’s not a bad drink by any stretch, but not as easy drinking as the first one.
  • G-LO: Again, tough for me to evaluate the nose on this one. As far as how it tastes, it’s definitely not as sweet with these bitters. I like it, but prefer the regular aromatic bitters. There was some of that celery seed that I picked up when I smelled the bitters straight which I think threw things off a bit. Still a nice cocktail, but a notch or two below the other bitters.


Our takeaway from all of this Old-Fashioned cocktail making business is this: ingredients matter, and even something as minute as a few dashes of bitters can make all the difference in the world. While we can’t claim to have created the ultimate Old-Fashioned, we have definitely learned to appreciate what it takes to make a well crafted cocktail. There will definitely be many more Old-Fashioned creations in our future!


Many thanks to for sending us these very generous samples!

Boozy Milkshake Recipe – Divine Chocolate Bourbon Shake

Divine Chocolate Bourbon Shake

Thanks to perpetual snow storms and a Polar Vortex or two, Winter 2014 has definitely been interesting. Just last night we were hit with yet another storm that dumped around a foot of snow on us (just so you know, I’m writing this on 2/13/14, just before midnight, and guess what? It’s snowing AGAIN!).

Given all of the cold weather nastiness that we’ve had to deal with, you’d think that this post would be about a Hot Toddy, spiked Hot Chocolate, or maybe even an Irish Coffee, but no, I decided that tonight would be a fine time to finally try the Divine Chocolate Bourbon Boozy Shake recipe that’s been in my inbox for a couple of weeks. While a cold beverage on a cold day might be considered counterintuitive, everyone’s favorite US Postal Worker, the great Cliff Clavin, says otherwise…

Here is the recipe for this delicious sounding frozen concoction…



  • For the chocolate syrup:
    1. Bring water and sugar to a boil and whisk in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt.
    2. Stir until blended.
    3. Store in the refrigerator for use in chocolate milk and hot chocolate, as well as milkshakes.
  • For the Boozy Milkshake:
    1. Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until frothy.
    2. Serve in a pint glass with two straws, garnished with some chocolate shavings.

Now for the good news and bad news. First, the bad news…

As I was pulling out what I thought were all of the ingredients to make this drink, i.e. Bourbon, cocoa powder, milk, and ice cream, I suddenly realized that I had never read the actual recipe. Once I started reading it, I learned that there was some actual cooking involved. Since I was missing an ingredient or two to make the complete original recipe, I decided that I would modify it a bit and make my own version. Here is what I used to make my version of the Divine Chocolate Bourbon Shake:

Directions: Put everything into a blender and mix until smooth and frothy.

And now for the good news…

While my version may lack the richness of the original recipe (less sugar, no Light Cream, etc.), I was very pleased with the finished product. The bittersweet nature of the cocoa powder and the rich and flavorful Bourbon both came through and complimented the smooth creaminess of the ice cream. I’m sure it’s worth it to go the extra mile to make the chocolate sauce (given all of the delicious ingredients that go into it, how can it possibly be bad?), but in a pinch, my version will do nicely. I’m definitely making this again!


Many thanks to Divine Chocolate and Four Roses Bourbon for sending us the recipe and generous samples!

New Year’s Eve 2013 Cocktail Recipes from Brugal Rum and George Dickel No. 1

Since 2013 is rapidly coming to a close, we thought we’d share a few of the cocktail recipes that have landed in our inbox over the past couple weeks. The “It’s just the booze dancing…” crew wishes all of you a very Happy New Year! 


Brugal Pomegranate Bliss Cocktail

Brugal Rum Cocktail Recipe – Pomegranate Bliss

Created by Micaela Piccolo, Distilled (NYC)

  • 2 oz. Brugal Extra Dry
  • 1 oz. Fresh-squeezed Lime Juice
  • .75 oz. Agave Nectar
  • 4 Basil Leaves
  • 3 tbsp Pomegranate Juice

In cocktail shaker, add basil leaves, pomegranate juice, agave nectar, lime juice, and Brugal Extra. Add ice to shaker, shake and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf and serve.


George Dickel No. 1 Cocktail Recipes

Tennessee Roots

In a cocktail shaker combine:

  • 1.33 oz. George Dickel No. 1
  • 0.33 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.33 oz. simple syrup
  • 0.33 oz. pineapple juice

Shake all ingredients and strain over ice into old fashioned glass. Top with 1 oz. ginger beer. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Mr. Loveless

In a mixing glass combine:

  • 1 oz. George Dickel No. 1
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 0.2 oz. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir all ingredients and strain into old fashioned glass over ice. Finish with lemon wheel.

Southern Spritz

Combine in a cocktail shaker:

  • 1 oz. George Dickel No. 1
  • 0.25 oz. Italian aperitif bitter
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey & hot water)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Top with 3 oz. dry sparkling wine. Garnish with orange twist.

Dale DeGroff’s Holiday Old Fashioned

Combine in a mixing glass:

  • 1.25 oz George Dickel No. 1
  • 1 dash DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
  • 0.25 oz Dale’s Cherry Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • 2 orange slices
  • 2 cherries

Muddle a cherry and orange slice with the syrup and liqueur and the dash of bitters in a bar mixing glass. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Add the whisky and ice and stir. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

Booze Video: Cocktails – Shaken or Stirred?

Just thought we’d share some cocktail making tips from the pros, courtesy of WhiskyCast HD, while we’re away exploring the magical libations that Disney has on offer at their Orlando, Florida theme parks and aboard one of their cruise ships. Stay tuned to hear all about our findings…

Booze News: Halloween Cocktail Recipes From Beluga Vodka and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum


With Halloween just seven days away, I thought I’d share a few of the Halloween Cocktail recipes that have found their way to our inbox over the past week, because as the saying goes, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!”. So once you tire of raiding the candy stash, mix yourself a couple of these tasty sounding concoctions from Beluga Vodka and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon

Are you brave enough to imbibe this dark berry booze? Poison your guests with this party-perfect punch!

  • 2 oz Beluga Noble Russian Vodka
  • 2 oz berry juice
  • 1 oz black currant liqueur

Muddle blueberries and blackberries into a glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice, berry juice, black currant liqueur, Beluga Noble Russian Vodka. Stir, add more ice, garnish with berries & enjoy!

Cauldron Punch

Cauldron Punch No Bottle

  •  3 oz. Ahoy, Captain tea, brewed (can be substituted with Rooibos)
  • 1 oz. Captain Morgan® Original Spiced Rum
  • 1 tbsp. agave (or sweetener of choice)
  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries & blackberries

Brew two teaspoons of tea (or two tea bags) in 6-8 ounces of water for four minutes and flash-chill. Combine 3 oz. of brewed tea with 1 oz. Captain Morgan® Original Spiced Rum and sweeten with agave or sweetener of choice. Muddle in fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with blackberries. Optional Halloween garnish: puree raspberries to “bleed” down the side of glass.

Witch’s Brew

Witches Brew

With subtle hints of basil, lemon and cucumber, this ghoulishly-green cocktail is perfect for veggie lovers!

  • 0.5 oz “basil” syrup
  • 1.5 oz Beluga Noble Russian Vodka
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Basil

In a large glass add ice, green basil leaves, “basil” syrup, Beluga Noble Russian Vodka and lemon juice. Stir, top off with soda and garnish with a slice of cucumber & a sprig of basil.

Ghostly Captain

Ghostly Captain No Bottle

  • 3 oz. Owl’s Sunrise tea, brewed (Can be substituted with White Tea and fresh Lemon & Orange Peels)
  • 1 oz. Captain Morgan® Black Spiced Rum
  • 1 tbsp. agave (or sweetener of choice)
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice

Brew two teaspoons of tea (or two tea bags) in 6-8 ounces of water for four minutes and flash-chill. Combine 3 oz. of brewed tea with 1 oz. Captain Morgan® Black Spiced Rum, a and sweeten with agave or sweetener of choice. Add a splash of cranberry juice and a splash of orange juice. Serve over ice in a rocks glass. Optional Halloween garnish: black cherry, and puree raspberries to “bleed” down the side of glass.

Beluga’s Zombie Reviver

Zombie Reviver

Melon and banana liqueur give this cocktail it’s zombie-green hue. A few of these and you’ll feel like the walking dead the next day.

  • 1.5 oz Beluga Noble Russian Vodka
  • .5 oz banana liqueur
  • .5 oz melon liqueur
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • grapes

In a shot glass pour in layers of banana liqueur, melon liqueur, lemon juice and Beluga Noble Russian Vodka. Garnish with grapes & enjoy!

Punt E Mes vs. Carpano Antica Part I: Which Vermouth Makes a Better Negroni?

Punt E Mes vs Carpano Antica

Ever since we received samples of Punt E Mes and Carpano Antica Vermouth back in late June, Limpd and I have been kicking around the idea of doing a post in which we would try to determine which of these Vermouths will make the better Manhattan cocktail. As is always the case, work and family obligations have gotten in our way, so we have yet to pull this  “Vermouth Showdown” together.

Since I’ve been really curious to find out how these two Vermouths stack up against each other, a couple weeks ago, I had a few hours to myself on a Wednesday night, so I decided to do my own “Vermouth Showdown” via one of my favorite cocktails, The Negroni. In addition to making two versions of The Negroni, I decided that in order to better understand Punt E Mes and Carpano Antica, I would first try them on their own (i.e. neat). But before I get to my Vermouth and Negroni tasting notes, let’s find out a bit more about the cocktail and the Vermouths…

Here is what I was able to find out about the origins of The Negroni courtesy of the good people at

Like most dudes called “Count” in turn-of-the-century Florence, Count Camillo Negroni could party. So they say. And his liver, salty as a soldier, wasn’t much moved by comparatively candy-ass aperitifs like the then-popular Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and soda). So he asked his bartender to substitute gin for the soda. And the Negroni — granddaddy of all before-dinner cocktails — was born. So they say. No one really knows, because they were all drunk on Negronis back then. But it’s a nice story.

And now for some information about Punt E Mes and Carpano Antica from the Vermouth 101 website:

In Torino, 1786, Antonio Benedetto Carpano invented the commercial model for what we know today as red vermouth, possibly even coining the term “vermuth.” The Carpano brand was formalized some years later by Carpano’s nephew. The red vermouths of subsequent producers, such as Cinzano and Gancia, were their own riffs on what Carpano first successfully marketed. Today, production is in Milano, Italy.

Punt e Mes dates to around 1867 and is simultaneously amongst the bitterest and sweetest of vermouths. Punt e Mes is a rare example of a “vermouth amaro,” or “vermouth con bitter,” a style of vermouth with extra bitters added. Adulterating Vermouth di Torino with bitters or vanilla flavoring—almost like a cockail—when drinking it is an Turinese custom almost as old as vermouth itself; this style has bitters built-in. Although it is not typically described or marketed as such, Punt e Mes can be thought of as a bottled vermouth cocktail. Punt e Mes is Carpano’s top-selling vermouth.

Antica Formula is a highly-regarded product first introduced in the 1990s. Antica Formula is an example of the “vermouth alla vaniglia” style: a red vermouth with added vanilla flavoring and sugar to balance. Note: Antica Formula is based on an old recipe, but it is not Carpano’s original vermouth recipe.

Now that we have the back story and history lesson out of the way, let’s get on with the Vermouth tasting and Negroni showdown…

Punt E Mes

  • Color: Chestnut brown with ruby red highlights.
  • Aroma: Having a difficult time picking up any specific scents. It smells like an herbal and lightly sweet fortified wine. The nose reminds me of a cellared Barleywine or Belgian Quad.
  • Taste: Reminds me of an aged Balsamic vinegar though nowhere near as syrupy. Overall, I found it to be lightly sweet with a good bit of herbal notes and just a touch of bitterness at the very end.
  • ABV: 16%

Carpano Antica

  • Color: A much lighter shade of brown with a brighter ruby tint.
  • Aroma: Much easier to decipher this one. Picking up a distinctly nutty note that reminds me of Torrone candy (nougat with almonds) that I had in Sicily many years ago. Also getting  a hint of bittersweet chocolate.
  • Taste: A tiny bit sweeter than the Punt E Mes with those Torrone and chocolate notes carrying through to the palate. Also quite fruity with black cherry and dried fig in the aftertaste. Overall, very smooth and easy drinking.
  • ABV: 16.5%

The Verdict: Considering that both Vermouths originated from the same company in Turin, i.e. Carpano, it’s truly amazing how different they are. Punt E Mes is definitely more bracing while the Carpano Antica is infinitely more mellow and easy drinking. I think this one will come down to personal taste and mood since I enjoyed them equally.

The Negroni Challenge!

Now let’s find out what effect each of these Vermouths had on The Negroni cocktail. Here is the recipe I used:

  • 1 ounce Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Vermouth
  • Orange zest
  • Oodles of ice

Directions: Fill a pint glass with ice and add the Gin, Vermouth, and Campari. Stir for about 10 seconds. Pour into an ice filled Old Fashioned glass and garnish with a twist of orange zest.

And here are the results…

  • Color: The Punt E Mes Negroni was slightly darker and definitely leaned towards the brown end of the color spectrum while the Carpano Antica version was much more reddish.
  • Aroma: Tough to tell the difference between the two.
  • Taste
    • Punt E Mes: Much more herbal and slightly astringent. There was a definite Sherry or Port like quality coming through in this version of the Negroni, and there was a a soothing bitterness as you approached the finish.
    • Carpano Antica: The flavors are slightly more mellow with a touch of that nuttiness and chocolate coming through. This is a kinder and gentler Negroni for sure.

The Verdict: Once again, I can’t really decide between the two. I love the soothing bitterness of a Negroni, so when I want a stronger tasting version, I’ll go with the Punt E Mes, and when I’m in the mood for something smoother and more easy drinking, I’ll go with the Carpano Antica.


Many thanks to The Baddish Group for sending us these very generous samples!

Boozy Milkshake Recipe: The Frankie Valli

The Frankie ValliOn August 27th, a conversation erupted on Twitter between Josh Feldman (@TheCooperedTot), Johanne McInnis (@Whiskylassie), @ScotchBlog, @AaronMKrouse, Susannah Skiver Barton (@WhatTastesGood), Las Vegas Whisky (@LVWhisky), and myself. It all started with my tweet about Josh Feldman’s most recent blog post which was a review of Rob Gard’s (@WhiskyGuyRob) self published memoir “Distilling Rob“. From there, the conversation went off on all kinds of tangents. The discussion went from Whoopie Pies to Poutine to Unibroue beer to cheese soaked in Whisky, and eventually ended just before midnight with a list of boozy milkshake concoctions (click here to read a big chunk of the conversation).

Although the conversation pretty much ended that night, I couldn’t get the thought of a boozy milkshake out of my head, so the last time I went to the supermarket, I decided to pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream so that I could experiment a bit with one of the boozy milkshake recipes that we discussed.

Here’s what I came up with…

The Frankie Valli

Directions: Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour it into your favorite glass.

While I have seen the boozy milkshake popping up on cocktail and dessert menus in several Philly restaurants, this is the first time that I am actually having one.  So how was The Frankie Valli? I absolutely loved it! While the creamy coldness of the ice cream and milk definitely toned down the alcohol punch of the Bunnahabhain 12, the chocolate fudge and cherry flavors paired perfectly with the Sherry cask influence of this whisky. It was as if the ice cream was made with booze filled chocolate covered cherries. I will definitely make this again!

Of course one question remains: Why do I call this The Frankie Valli? Here’s why…


Limoncello Cocktail Query Part II: Vote For Your Favorite Limoncello Cocktail Recipe!

LimoncelloOn July 18, I shared the following dilemma with you:

I now have 6 bottles of Limoncello and 4 bottles of Vanillacello in my basement, and I have no idea what to do with them. I realize that I could simply give a few of them away, but before I do that, I am hoping to gather some interesting cocktail recipes that I could include as serving suggestions when I finally start gifting bottles of this tasty stuff to friends and family.

Although I dabble in the occasional cocktail creation, I am far from an expert, so I am asking for a bit of help from you, our Dear Readers. Here’s the plan:

  • Step 1: Readers will give us some cocktail recipe suggestions in the comment section or email us directly at
  • Step 2: We will do a follow up post that lists our favorite Limoncello based cocktail recipes and ask you to vote for your favorite one.
  • Step 3: The cocktail recipe that gets the most votes will be featured in a third and final post with full credit being given to the cocktail creator (with proper shout outs on TwitterFacebookDrinkwireInstagram, and Pinterest!).

With Step 1 out of the way, we can now move on to Step 2…

I am happy to report that we received some tasty sounding recipes, so without further ado, here are my six favorites listed in the order that they were received (my apologies to Ed of The Dogs of Beer blog for not including his suggestion, but I don’t think pouring Limoncello into a shot glass counts as a cocktail):


“Scurvy’s Bain” by Oliver Gray of the Literature and Libation Blog

  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Midori
  • 2 oz pineapple juice

Mix vigorously in a tumbler over ice. Strain into a martini glass, decorate with mint.


“Limoncello Ricky” by Limpd

  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • Club Soda
  • Ice
  • Wedge of lemon

Fill a Collins with ice. Pour in the Limoncello and Hendrick’s Gin. Pour in the Club Soda. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.


“Gin-Limon Refresher” by Susannah of the What Tastes Good Blog

  • 3 cucumber slices
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • Ice
  • Seltzer

Muddle the fresh cucumber slices, basil leaves, and pineapple chunks in the bottom of a highball glass. Add the gin and limoncello. Stir to combine. Top with ice and seltzer. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.


“The Italian Sidecar” by the Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide Blog

  • 1/3 brandy or cognac
  • 1/3 Cointreau (triple sec is just fine)
  • 1/6 limoncello
  • 1/6 lemon juice
  • Orange wedge or maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine ingredients in glass shaker, give it a shake, and pour in the glass of your choice.


“Sun Tea Alla Napoletana” by The Hip Flask

  • Ice
  • One part Limoncello
  • Three parts Sun Tea
  • San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda
  • Lemon wedge

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the Limoncello and Sun Tea. Add a splash of Blood Orange Soda. Stir to combine, but don’t overdo it. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.


“Limon Pledge Punch” by The Wookie

  • 2 cups Limoncello
  • 8 cups Cranberry Juice
  • 2 cups Cruzan Black Strap Rum
  • 1 cup Aged Silver Light Rum
  • Add some sliced fruit (one sliced lemon, orange, lime, etc..)

Mix, chill, find some friends, serve over ice in a Red Solo Cup, and garnish with a lime wedge.


Now that you’ve read the recipes, it’s time for you to pick the winner. Please take a moment to vote for your favorite Limoncello Cocktail recipe:

Many thanks to everyone that submitted a recipe. May the best bartender win!

Stay tuned for Part 3…

Whisky and a Cocktail Review – SMWS Cask No. 3.188, The Camping Trip

SMWS Cask No. 3.188

“Never go in against a Sicilian when whisky is on the line!”- G-LO

I enjoy Roulette, March Madness and Super Bowl pools, and even buying a lottery ticket every so often, but I would never consider myself to be a gambler. Like most people, I don’t like to lose, so unless there’s a chance that I will at least break even, I keep my gambling to a minimum. But every once in awhile, a sure thing comes along and I just can’t resist making a wager…

Several months ago, during one of our late night dram sessions, the conversational tangents found their way to one of the few topics that I can actually talk about extensively without sounding like a complete idiot (note the word complete), i.e. movies. Somehow we started talking about Quentin Tarantino, which led to us talking about Reservoir Dogs, which led to Limpd insisting that Mr. Tarantino did not direct it.

As I said two sentences ago, I know a thing or two about movies (well, I used to know a lot more, but my knowledge of anything made after 2004 is pretty much useless unless it was made my Pixar or Dreamworks Animation. Such is the life of a father of two!), so I of course corrected him and said that it was his directorial debut. He insisted that he was right, so I of course rebutted with the tried and true, “Do you wanna make a bet?”. Being a gambling man, Limpd replied with the tried and true, “Certainly! I’ll bet you a bottle of whisky.”.

I am rarely 100% sure about anything, but this I knew. I remember when Reservoir Dogs came out. I remember The Philadelphia Inquirer comparing it to Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. And I especially remember how I didn’t care for the film when it first came out (I have grown to like it very much over the years). Like I said, this bet was a sure thing, and thanks to the geniuses behind IMDB (we’ll call them our virtual referees), the bottle of whisky that you see in the above photo is mine. Many thanks to Limpd for honoring his bet!

And now for a bit of whisky research…

Here is what the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has to say about The Camping Trip:

Remember the last time you were camping? The smell of the dew touched grass in the morning a distant memory as the sweat, deep heat and old tent pierce your nostrils. An oily smoked fish caught earlier in the day mixes with the aroma of roasting marshmallows and ash. The barbecued green peppers, mushrooms and lemon dressing on the palate make way for heat and lavender. When the water is added, the campfire smoke intensifies, the petrol used to light the fire maybe wasn’t such a good idea as it catches the nose, but that won’t retract from the comforting beach aromas and the budget chocolate bar you’ve been sitting on all day.

One more nugget of knowledge about this whisky: per The Whisky Portal and their handy dandy Scotch Malt Whisky Society distillery decoder, the whisky inside this particular bottle was sourced from the Bowmore Distillery on Islay.

Let’s find out if Limpd gave me a winner…

  • Appearance: Burnished copper color.
  • Aroma: The nose is much more subdued than I was expecting. While the smokiness is definitely there, I don’t find it to be overpowering. Definitely more of a smoked fish or meat kind of smokiness. Also getting a good bit of sweetness with hints of butterscotch, vanilla, and nutmeg.
  • Taste: Slightly oily mouthfeel, but not much in the way of viscosity. Starts off with a dried fruit sweetness backed with vanilla and cinnamon. At mid palate, the peat smoke makes an appearance with cinnamon and chili pepper heat starting to build. Ends on a slightly medicinal note with a good bit of sea spray, iodine, and anise coming through. Long, soothing finish.
  • Cask Type: Refill Sherry Butt
  • ABV: 58.8%

If I had to compare this to another whisky, I would have to say that it’s like a Bunnahabhain 12, but with a good bit of peat smoke added in. The Sherry cask influence is readily apparent, but thanks to the peat smoked barley, the sweet notes of a Sherry cask matured whisky are toned down quite a bit. I particularly enjoyed how the flavors evolve as you work your way through a healthy pour. If you like a lightly sweet and smoky dram, then this is the whisky for you.

But wait! There’s more…

The Camping Trip Highball

The Camping Trip Highball

  • Ice
  • 1 part SMWS Cask No. 3.188
  • Lemon Peel
  • 3 parts Sparkling Water

Instructions: Fill a tall glass to the rim with ice. Pour in the whisky. Drop in the lemon peel (remember to give it a squeeze in order to release the oils). Fill it to the rim with sparkling water. How simple is that?

I’m not one to water down my whisky, particularly when it’s something as delicious and flavorful as The Camping Trip, but ever since trying the Whisky Highball made with Hakushu 12 at the Suntory event in NYC this past May, I’ve been curious to try this cocktail again.

Since we are in the middle of a mini heat wave as I am writing this, I decided that I would try The Camping Trip as a Highball in addition to trying it neat for this review. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an icy cocktail on a warm summer night? Overall, I found The Camping Trip Highball to be an interesting and refreshing diversion from my usual whisky drinking regimen. Since this is a cask strength whisky, there was still plenty of flavor in my glass after watering it down with sparkling water. While the smoke is definitely toned down, it still manages to come through, but instead of the usual charcoal smokiness, it’s coming through as licorice or anise flavored. I also like what the lemon peel brings to the table since it adds a subtle citrus element to this libation. While I definitely enjoyed this drink, I doubt very much that I will have it all too often. This goes down WAY too easy, which means that I could probably drink at least two or three of these within an hour. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster, then I don’t know what is. Proceed with caution, especially if you’re a fast drinker like yours truly.

Cocktail Query: What Would You Do With a Plethora of Homemade Limoncello?

LimoncelloBack in December of 2012, Mrs. G-LO and I got together with some friends to celebrate Crafty Day, an annual holiday gathering that involves a plethora of food and drink as well as a bit of crafting (i.e. the ladies of the group get together to make something that they will then gift to friends, teachers, and family). During last year’s Crafty Day, our good friend Rob decided that the men should also do a craft while we sampled whiskies at his basement bar. Since Rob is well versed in the art and science of fermentation (he makes his own wine and occasionally brews his own beer), he decided that our craft would be of the boozy variety, i.e. we would be making a batch of Limoncello.

As we sipped and savored our whiskies, Rob, his brother in law Rash (short for Horatio), and I carefully peeled a mountain of lemons. Once we were done with the peeling, Rob filled a couple jars with the lemon peels, and then filled them to the brim with Everclear. Since it would take at least a month or two for the Everclear to do its job (i.e. suck every ounce of lemony goodness out of the lemon peels), we immediately scheduled a dilution and bottling session for a later date.

In early April, we went back to Rob’s house to finish up the Limoncello. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but those two jars of lemon infused Everclear yielded 20+ bottles of Limoncello (750 ml each). In addition to this, Rob also concocted a vanilla vodka based version that he called Vanillacello (not sure if this is a real thing or not). Never let it be said that Rob does anything half assed.

So here’s my dilemma…

I now have 6 bottles of Limoncello and 4 bottles of Vanillacello in my basement, and I have no idea what to do with them. I realize that I could simply give a few of them away, but before I do that, I am hoping to gather some interesting cocktail recipes that I could include as serving suggestions when I finally start gifting bottles of this tasty stuff to friends and family.

Although I dabble in the occasional cocktail creation, I am far from an expert, so I am asking for a bit of help from you, our Dear Readers. Here’s the plan:

  • Step 1: Readers will give us some cocktail recipe suggestions in the comment section or email us directly at
  • Step 2: We will do a follow up post that lists our favorite Limoncello based cocktail recipes and ask you to vote for your favorite one.
  • Step 3: The cocktail recipe that gets the most votes will be featured in a third and final post with full credit being given to the cocktail creator (with proper shout outs on Twitter, Facebook, Drinkwire, Instagram, and Pinterest!).

Now that we have all of that out of the way, let the games begin! Thanks in advance for all of your help and we look forward to hearing all of your great ideas. Cheers!