A Couple New Micro-Distilleries

While going through the emails piled up in my inbox - which isn't nearly as fun as a big stack of paper mail used to be after a long vacation - I came across articles about two new micro-distilleries whose whiskies have recently hit the market and sound quite interesting.

The first article was about Reservoir Distillery of Richmond, VA which just came out with a very small-batch bourbon that's currently available only in 375 mL bottles and only by special order in Virginia which has a notoriously silly state-run system of liquor stores.

The other new-to-me whiskey that I read about in this article is an unaged corn whiskey that's also made in Virginia with a 1933 vintage copper still and a pre-prohibition recipe. The Belmont Farm Distillery grows and mills its own corn on-site for its Virginia Lightening, and also offers a triple-grain whiskey called Kopper Kettle that should have a very unique flavor after spending time in locally-sourced apple wood and white oak barrels.

Since I don't have any plans to head to Virginia in the near future I'd love to hear from anyone who has a chance to try either of these whiskeys.


Did Ya Miss Me?

After a very relaxing couple of weeks traveling around Canada, the Caribbean, and New England and completely ignoring the internet and other modern technologies I'm back in action and I have plenty to write about. I picked up several cool bottles of whiskey during my travels and I look forward to reviewing those over the next few days. I was also forced to drink lots of rum and fruity cocktails (see below) while in the Caribbean, so look forward to a series of posts about whiskey-alternatives that might appeal to your inner beach bum.

Check back over the next week or two for these and more exciting posts.


Saturday Night Whiskey Song IX

And good 'ol boys were drinking whiskey and rye...a classic - American Pie, performed here by Don McLean, Garth Brooks, and Nanci Griffith. Sure to keep your weekend rocking.


Whiskey Jim's Manly Manhattan

I usually drink my whiskey straight - with a couple rocks in the summer. I like to think of myself as a rugged frontiersman swilling whiskey in a dusty saloon most of the time. However, on occasion, this image just doesn't fly. When you want to appear more civilized, but still crave a taste of whiskey go for a Manhattan. You'll look just as classy as any wine or martini drinker you're forced to converse with, and you'll have a delicious, manly drink to enjoy.

Here's how I make my Manhattans, although it's certainly a recipe worth playing around with to match your tastes.


Oh Taste & See: Four Roses Bourbon

I've always been intrigued by Four Roses Bourbon. I think the mystique comes from the fact that it wasn't available in the U.S. for over 40 years while the brand was owned by Seagram's. During that time Four Roses became immensely popular around the world - it's Japan's #1 selling bourbon - and it has finally started to become widely available again in the U.S. over the last several years. As soon as I saw a bottle for sale in Pennsylvania I scooped it up and started enjoying this very nice everyday sipping bourbon. The "yellow label" bottle is the standard Four Roses expression, although they also make several small batch and premium products as well, some of which still aren't available in the U.S. In Pennsylvania Four Roses Yellow Label sells for $18.99 - in the same range as Jim Beam or Wild Turkey - but carries a bit more mystique than those more commonly-known brands. It also has a distinct flavor profile that makes it extremely smooth and easy too drink - no wonder it's so popular worldwide.

Color: Classic young bourbon - pale caramel color with a bit of an orange tinge to it.

Nose: Very light nose, with an almost neutral watery scent at first. After a few swirls it opens up to hints of grain, char, and a peppery spice.

Flavor: Four Roses is a light, almost fruity bourbon. It tastes very fresh and has all the requisite bourbon flavors (oak, vanilla, grain, char) without letting any of them come through too strongly. There's also a hint of sweet butter in the taste. Four Roses blends 10 different straight bourbons to make their Yellow Label expression. Perhaps this blending is why it's such a very drinkable, classic bourbon but is also fairly nondescript and unoriginal.

Finish: Smooth and quick, a little spiciness left behind, but that's it.

My verdict is that taste-wise Four Roses is good. Certainly as good as other bourbons in the $15-$20 price range, and very smooth and light if you're looking for an easy-sipping drink. It would also make a good mixer in drinks where you don't want too much bourbon flavor. Still, the best thing about Four Roses is its mystique: if you're going to take a bottle of bourbon to a party and your budget max is $20 you can't go wrong with one of the world's favorite whiskeys that many Americans still haven't heard of.