Tag Archives: whiskey

Our Top Picks For Dad … and they’re not all whiskey!

It couldn’t be easier. Come in store, tell us a bit about your dad and we’ll help you find the
bottle he’ll love this Father’s Day. Heck we’ll even wrap it for you. It’s that simple. Here are our top picks, a mix of hard-to-find, new-in-store, and just plain delicious.

For The Dad Who Takes Any Chance He Can To Talk About His Whiskey Collection
DSC_4598 copy
Highland Park Valkyrie

The newest offering from Highland Park is the first in a three-bottle series showcasing “Viking Legends.” Don’t let this bottle’s lack of an age designation fool you. It has wonderful fruit and spice flavors and is remarkably smooth at 92 proof. It’s brand-spanking new and is already racking up the awards. Let your father know he’s as important to you as Odin!  $79.99 (750ml)

Glenfiddich Experimental Series #1: India Pale Ale Cask

This brand new whiskey is the first single malt scotch ever aged in IPA casks. It has a totally unique finish with a subtle fruit & hoppy character and is delicious. Very limited availability on this one, so scoop it up for your Dad’s collection before it goes away.  $69.99 (750ml)

For The Classic Dad Who Keeps It Real 
DSC_4618 copy
The Singleton of Glendullan Classic 12yr

A beautiful scotch that won’t break the bank. It was unavailable in Little ‘Rhody for a spell, but now it’s back. It’s delicate and light with a soft finish. It’s a classic malt for a classic Dad.       $36.99 (750ml)

Gordon & Macphail Scapa 10yr

From independent bottlers Gordan & MacPhail this is a classic Orkney malt that will surprise with its unique, subtle peat character and light tropical notes. Not as aggressive as most island whiskies, the Scapa has just the right amount of peat & fruit for summer evenings under the stars. $69.99 (750ml)

For The Dad Who Doesn’t Like Whiskey (They Do Exist!)
DSC_4621 copy
Bumbu Rum

Dad doesn’t like whiskey? We have you covered! One of the best new rums on the market is the Bumbu, out of Barbados. It’s a craft rum made with all-natural native spices and no artificial flavors or colors. It’s distilled in small batches and blended by hand. It has wonderful hints of spice and fruit. We like it best neat, or with a cube or two. $34.99 (750ml)

Grand Mayan Ultra Aged Tequila

Looking for something totally special this Father’s Day? How about a tequila that finishes like a brandy! The Grand Mayan Ultra Aged is simply one of the most unique and delicious spirits we’ve tasted in a long while. It has very little “bite” and appeals to tequila drinks as much as those who favor dark spirits. It’s a terrific gift.  $89.99 (750ml)

For The Dad Who Deserves A Little Extra Special Love This Year
dad_turkey
Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary

A special bottle for the collector’s shelf. This celebratory release commemorates “The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller” Jimmy Russell’s 60 years with wild Turkey. It’s a blend of bourbons ranging in age from 13-16 years old, and will be sought after for decades. A true treat for bourbon lovers. $114.99 (750ml)

Happy Father’s Day!
(Prices subject to change.)

What’s The Deal With Japanese Whisky?

japanese_whiskey_caps_shortNote: in Japan, as in Scotland, it’s ‘Whisky’, not ‘Whiskey.’

As a category, Japanese Whisky has grown over 200% in the last year alone, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Japan’s major distilleries have won many prestigious awards and accolades over the last decade, often outshining their Scottish and American counterparts. So why haven’t you heard of them? And if you have heard of them, why can’t you find them?

When we opened Bottles more than 6 years ago, we had a slew of beautifully aged Japanese Whiskys on our shelves. 12-year-old expressions from Hakushu, 18- and 21- year-old bottlings from Yoichi, among a handful of others. There they sat, lonely on the shelf, gazing with envy at their Scottish single malt buddies who were out having fun.

As the current whisky boom amped up, more and more people began reading articles about different bourbons, ryes, and malt whiskies. Whisky writers and bloggers could explore new areas of the world that people had previously overlooked. Folks started to pay attention and take the leap of faith to try these ‘new’ whiskies from Japan, or Taiwan, or India, or Tasmania. They found a lot to like, and the bottles started moving off our shelves.

When any distillery makes whisky, it invests a tremendous amount of time and money into each release. The whisky must sit in a barrel for a good long time before it’s ready to be bottled, which means the distillers are also forced to sit and wait for years (and often decades) before they make a profit from that work. It’s easy to understand why, without knowing how successful their bottles would be at market, these distillers produced their whiskys in small quantities. Though some of the world’s oldest distilleries are experienced enough to forecast how much whisky they need to distill today so they can ensure that they have enough to meet demand in 8, 10 or 15 years, a lot of the ‘newer’ Japanese distilleries just didn’t have enough of a track-record to predict this massive growth decades ago. Hence the short supply today.

So now we wait. The master distillers of Japan are working harder than ever, but you can’t make more 18-year-old whisky without waiting 18 years! In the meantime, please try some of the Japanese whiskies that you can buy, now. They are soft, elegant whiskys, based on a Scottish foundation of whisky-making with a distinctly Japanese style of simple elegance & proficiency.

The Distilleries and Their Whiskys

Beam-Suntory operates three distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakushu, & Chita.

-Yamazaki (Japan’s oldest distillery) opened in 1923 at the convergence of the soft waters of the Katsura, Uji, and Kizu rivers. Nestled in this temperate, humid valley, Yamazaki is known as a soft & supple single malt with a unique house character.

-The Hakushu Distillery opened in 1973 in the forests of Mt. Kaikomagatake. Hakushu takes pride in its waters, clean and crisp from rain and snowmelt filtered through granite. These whiskys are notable for the spice flavors they impart in the finish, and an easy way with their oak aging.

-Chita is the workhorse of the Beam-Suntory stable, producing three distinctive world class grain whiskys (mainly used for blending) out of corn and grain. The Chita Single Grain whisky finds it’s voice in many of the blends that Beam-Suntory produces.

japanese_whiskey_suntory_group

Beam-Suntory Toki – $39.99
Toki is a brand-new expression from Beam-Suntory, comprised of the silky body of Chita single grain, Hakushu’s strength & oakiness, and select older malts from Yamazaki for spice and elegance. A light and approachable blend, equally suited to sipping over a large ice cube or mixing in cocktails. They suggest making a highball, we like it in a Whisky Sour.

Beam-Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony – $64.99
Another blend from the Chita, Yamazaki, and Hakushu distilleries, Japanese Harmony focuses on a more robust experience, with an emphasis on the flavors that different types of casks can impart. The malts are aged in American white oak, sherry butts, and Japanese Mizunara casks. The results drink very much like a fine Scottish single malt, but with less sherry influence. To be enjoyed neat, or slowly poured over a large ice ball.

Beam-Suntory Hakushu 12 Year – $99.99
This is it. Get it while you can. One of the last 12-year-old single malts from Japan we were able to get our hands on. A beautiful spirit, composed entirely of whisky distilled and aged at Hakushu. Subtly smoky, it has flavors & aromas of basil, pine, and green tea. A little water will coax our fruity flavors like green apple, mint, and kiwi.

Nikka operates two distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo.

-The Yoichi distillery was founded on Hokkaido in 1934. To this day, they craft their whisky in copper pot stills, heated with a direct coal fire – an extremely rare and labor intensive practice that produces wonderful results.

-In 1969, Nikka opened a second distillery, Miyagikyo, on the island of Honshu. Known for its pristine water and myriad waterfalls and hot springs, Miyagikyo produces a single grain whisky of uncommon quality and body.

japanese_whiskey_nikka_groupNikka Coffey Grain – $64.99

Named for the Coffey stills they use to create the whisky (there is no coffee in this whisky!), the Coffey Grain is made primarily from corn, and has an impressively silky body, with a touch of vanilla and citrus. It’s best over the rocks, or in a variation of an old-fashioned or manhattan.

Nikka Coffey Malt – $64.99
The Coffey Malt is extremely unusual – a 100% malted barley spirit run off a continuous still. It has a rich and pleasant body, with a fresh grain quality akin to toasty grape nuts and freshly baked bread. It will stand up to most classic bourbon cocktails – we like it mixed with a splash of Italian Alessio Chinato vermouth.

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt – $64.99
The Pure Malt is a delightful blend of spirits from both distilleries. Utilizing a combination of new American, ex-bourbon, and sherry casks, the Pure Malt is much closer to a traditional Scottish malt, with flavors of honey & char, espresso & chocolate, & a final hint of smokiness.

Come by and talk to one of our team members for insight on their favorite bottles – we’re sure you’ll find you’re favorite, too.

 

Kanpai!
-Liam

###

Old Forester’s Enduring Appeal

By now, most of us know that Bourbon, as American as Jazz or Apple Pie (with a slice of melty Vermont Cheddar, thank you very much), has reached a new and unprecedented heyday.

Basically unsellable throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, when bottles of Pappy Van Winkle gathered dust on store shelves, we now can’t seem to find (or drink) enough of our favorites. New brands show up every day, while stalwarts continue to grow almost unchecked in popularity each year.

Throughout Bourbon’s rocky history, through the boom times and the bust, through prohibition and the current craze for anything brown, there is one brand that has somehow weathered the storm intact: Old Forester.

old_forester_blog

The first Bourbon to be exclusively sold in bottles (as opposed to being dispensed from a barrel) to ensure authenticity and quality, Old Forester is also the oldest continuously produced brand in America. During prohibition, it was one of 10 brands allowed to produce whiskey for ‘medicinal’ purposes – probably due to its claims of superior quality from their sealed bottles, which were usually sold out of pharmacies. There aren’t many brands with that claim to fame, and it’s a testament to Old Forester’s flavor and broad appeal.  

The best part is Old Forester remains an affordable option on our shelves. Each of its five offerings over-deliver for the price of admission, and all of them can be enjoyed equally neat, on the rocks, or in your favorite cocktails. If you’ve never tried one of their Bourbons, come by Bottles and pick one up. We’d love to chat and get you safely home with an affordable, approachable, delicious bottle of pure Americana.

Old Forester 86 Proof
The workhorse. Simple & dependable, Old Forester 86 is at home on a Tuesday night over a handful of ice. A little fruity, with a short and clean finish, it won’t get in the way of all the heady aroma in a classic Mint Julep.

Old Forester Signature 100 Proof
The stalwart. The difference, as the name would suggest, is in the proof – but what a difference. The extra oomph adds a layer of complexity and nuance to the whiskey, bringing out bright spicy rye notes and hints of brown butter and leather. That heat balances perfectly in a Manhattan, especially with floral Peychaud’s bitters and fruity Alessio vermouths.

Old Forester 1870 Original Batch
The throwback. A tribute to George Brown’s original recipe, sourced from three different distilleries and blended to his specifications. Today’s 90 proof release is comprised of whiskey from three distinct warehouses at three separate proofs. The result is a soft Bourbon, full of subtle clove, cinnamon and citrus flavors. This is the Bourbon for a night with good company and the lingering sunset of one of the season’s last grill sessions.  

Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond
The powerhouse. Minimally filtered, and bottled at 100 proof, it’s a robust, intense, spicy kick to the palate. A splash of water, a big honkin’ orange peel, a giant ice cube, and you’re in heaven. Pairs best with Saturday nights and subsequent lazy Sunday mornings.   

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style
The Bedeviler. Old Forester was one of only 10 brands allowed to distill and sell whiskey during prohibition for ‘medicinal purposes’. In a tribute to the style of the time, Old Forester 1920 is bottled at 115 proof (!), just as it would have come out of the barrel a hundred years ago. Bright and hot, with spicy rye flavors, this Bourbon wants a splash of water to temper the heat. Enjoy in small, lingering sips…

Old Forester Cocktails

By now everyone knows how to make a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Mint Julep, right? Here are a few fun, different, and interesting recipes to try with Old Forester:

The Old Forester Prospector:
2 oz. Old Forester 86 Proof
¾ Oz. Honey Syrup (mix 2 parts honey to 1 part hot water. Let it cool & use in cocktails, tea, water, coffee, glazes, sauces, etc…)
¾ Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake everything over ice & strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a big lemon peel.

Modified Toronto
2 Oz. Old Forester 100 Proof
¼ Oz. Fernet Branca
¼ Oz. Simple Syrup (or the honey syrup you just made!)
2 Dash Angostura Bitters
(optional) – pinch of sea salt

Stir all ingredients over ice & strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice.

Bourbon & Ginger
Make it as spicy or sweet as you want with your choice of Ginger Ale. For the daring, try this:
1 Oz. Old Forester 86 Proof
4 Oz. Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
2 Dash Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters

Drop bitters, then Bourbon, & finally Ginger Beer over crushed ice in a big glass. Drink deeply, my friends.

-Liam

###

Bottled-in-Bond: What it Means and Why it’s Important

What does “Bottled-in-Bond” mean and why should we care? Whiskey Professor and two-time Whiskey Man of the Year Bernie Lubbers visited Bottles recently to let us know just why. And we believe him. If you’re getting your dad a Bottled-in-Bond bottle of whiskey for Father’s Day, why not learn what makes it so special!

The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 laid out a set of regulations and standards for distilled spirits; more specifically it made the government the authenticator of a spirit’s quality. At the time, some whiskies were adulterated out of greed — things like iodine and tobacco were used for coloring or as flavoring agents. Folks wanted to trust that they were drinking the real deal, so the government stepped in.

When you purchase a “Bottled-in-Bond or “Bonded” bottle, you can rest assured that what’s in the bottle is just good old USA-made whiskey and time.

In order to be labeled “Bottled in Bond” or “Bonded” the whiskey must:

  • be the product of a single distillation season
  • be from one distiller at one distillery
  • be aged in a federally-bonded warehouse for at least 4 years
  • be bottled at 100 proof
  • identify the distillery in which it was made or the location where it was bottled

We have several Bottled-in-Bond bottles at Bottles – come by and let us help select the right one for you!

Here’s to Bottled-in-Bond!

###

9 Great Irish Whiskeys, Part Two

Last week we presented 6 Irish Whiskeys that we think hold their own against the world’s best spirits. Today we share 3 additional very special bottles that are worth their weight in gold. (A good ole’ Irish pot-of-gold, that is.)

middleton_rare
Midleton Very Rare
Created in 1984 and released annually since, this special bottling of hand selected Midleton whiskey has aromas of cane sugar, vanilla, milk chocolate and ripe green apples. It’s very soft and mellow, with a “confectionary” sweetness. The charred oak and barley lend a wonderful complexity on the finish.


Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Named for Midleton’s Master Distiller, this bottle expresses his taste and is comprised of his personal selection of Single Pot Still whiskeys aged in bourbon barrels. It’s quite delicate, with notes of lime, pear, and sweet green pepper, and has flavors of vanilla, pepper, and citrus. It finishes with an oaky, mandarin orange sweetness.

greendotGreenspot
Only small quantities of this very special spirit are produced each year. It’s comprised of Pot Still Whiskeys aged between 7-10 years & matured in bourbon and sherry casks. It has aromas of spiced apples and pears and toasted wood; it’s full-flavored with spice, citrus, green apples and oak. It’s harder to find than a leprechaun, so be sure to grab it while you can!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

###

9 Great Irish Whiskeys, Part One

Last week we gave you the who, what, where, when and hows of Irish Whiskey, and presented our case for why we believe many can stand up to many of the best bourbons and single malts on the market today. Here’s further proof.

powers_gold
Powes Gold Label
A complex blended whiskey matured in American oak, full of spice and honeyed notes. Aromas of cinnamon, apples, pears and charred oak lead to flavors of pepper, nutmeg, orchard fruits and toasted wood.


Powers Single Pot Still “Signature Release”
This “Signature Release” is intense, rich and complex thanks to its aging in American oak and first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. It’s redolent of herbs, nutmeg, figs and black pepper, and is round with flavors of vanilla, black licorice, fresh melon and green apple.

wers_john
Powers John’s Lane
A special whiskey whose distillate is matured for no less than 12 years in American & Iberian oak. It’s earthy, with aromas of leather, tobacco, dark chocolate and toffee and is thick with full-bodied flavors of spice, vanilla, honey and dried apples.


Redbreast 12-year
A favorite of whiskey lovers everywhere, the 12-year is getting harder and harder to come by, unfortunately. It garners its trademark full-bodied fruitcake character and robust flavor from the distillate, which is matured in Oloroso casks.

redbreast_15
Redbreast 15-year
This full-bodied, mellow and succulent whiskey, aged in Oloroso sherry casks & bourbon barrels, has a rich, spiced flavor, with notes of toasted wood.

redbreast_21
Redbreast 21-year
A beautiful example of the signature sherry style of whiskey with aromas of fresh, lush tropical fruits, and notes of vanilla, toasted oak and licorice. Flavors of luscious fruit round out the creamy mouthfeel. One of a kind.

Stay tuned. Next week we’ll reveal the three remaining whiskeys we think are among Ireland’s best.

###

The Irish Butter Cup (of Coffee)

This delicious recipe, reminiscent of the classic Irish Coffee drink, is the latest from Bottles’ in-house cocktail guru, Lily. It relies on iced coffee, rather than hot-from-the-pot joe, which means it’s not just for brunch or after dinner. The less conventional choices of butterscotch and sea salt combine to make a delightful iced Irish Coffee with a satisfying creamy texture.

powers_buttercup
The Irish Butter Cup (of Coffee)
makes 1 cocktail

1oz Powers whiskey
1 1/4 oz butterscotch schnapps
3 1/2 oz cold brew medium or dark roast iced coffee
3/4 oz light cream
1 small pinch of sea salt

Add ingredients into shaker, and top with ice.
Shake until frost forms on the outside of the shaker.
Pour over ice into a highball, and spoon the remaining whipped cream froth atop the ice.
Garnish with a straw and add a few additional grains of salt over the top if desired.

Enjoy!

 ###

Irish Whiskey 101

Irish Whiskey is surging in popularity across the globe and no wonder, says us: we believe that a well-made Irish Whiskey is delicious, and stands on it’s own against the best Bourbons & Single Malts the world has to offer.
irishwhiskey101_web

 

Irish Whiskey has been around forever. It’s a widely held belief (among all except the Scots), that it was the Irish who were most likely to have started distilling whiskey, as the Bushmill’s Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, dating back to 1608.

And since then, up until only the past few years, all of the Irish Whiskey available, no matter the brand name, came from one of only three distilleries on the island: Bushmill’s, Midleton, & Cooley. Today, to the joy of Irish Whiskey lovers everywhere, that number has expanded to 12, with nine new distilleries that have been built, or will soon be completed: Echlinville, Kilbeggan, Teeling, Glendalough, Tullamore, Alltech, Blackwater, Dingle, & West Cork.

Many today find it hard to believe that Irish Whiskey was once the hottest style of whiskey in the world, with a popularity that dwarfed other styles. In the early 20th century it began its decline, in two main waves:

1) The Easter Rising & the Irish War for Independence. As punishment, England levied trade embargoes on the Irish, which kept their whiskey from entering England, and therefore much of the rest of Europe.

2) Prohibition. (Oops.)

At the start of this century, a resurgence in interest for Irish whiskey came about, presumably as a result of several factors including its price (Irish is usually cheaper that it’s Scottish counterparts), a resurgence in the popularity of Bourbon (which shares many similar flavor profiles), a market of curious consumers eager to try something “new,” and the wider availability of quality-made whiskeys from Ireland.

Here are our favorites:
Power’s Gold Label
Power’s John’s Lane (limited importation – get it when & if you can)
Green Spot (if you can find it – extremely limited importation)
Glendalough Triple Barrel
Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt
Redbreast 15 Year

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and Slainte!

 

Bourbon 101

Whether we’re turning neophytes onto bourbon or introducing new finds to long-time aficionados, we at Bottles love talking about bourbon. We love talking about it, writing about it, sipping it, mixing it, discovering new distillers and re-discovering old distillers. We just flat out heart bourbon.

To spread the love to team members that are new to the store, we give them a crash course in the beloved brown spirit. A “Bourbon 101” to prime their palates for the joys ahead.

And given the sheer volume of questions we get in-store about bourbon we’re sharing our primer with you. What follows is meant to give you the basics on what it is and how it’s made. Once you’ve got that down, come in to the store or give us a call for the fun stuff: the flavor differences between styles and producers, which is sweetest, which is strongest, how best to enjoy bourbon and which makes the best Manhattan (just our opinion , of course).

Did we mention we love talking about bourbon?

Cheers!bourbon101_info-color

 

 

Pumpkin Whiskey Cocktail Recipe & Two Tasty Twists on Classics

Looking for the perfect cocktail to make this season?

Here are 3 tasty recipes that you and your guests will love for the fall, Thanksgiving, and beyond.

These all feature a local whiskey distillery, Sons of Liberty Spirits, and are fun twists on cocktail classics. Visit the SOL Spirits website for even more cocktail ideas!

Cheers!

HOP_TONIC

HOP WHISKEY TONIC

This whiskey is dry-hopped like a beer! Woah. It makes for an idea tonic for a beer lover.

INGREDIENTS

2 oz Hop Flavored Whiskey

5 oz Tonic Water

GARNISH

Lemon wedge

DIRECTIONS

Serve whiskey and tonic water over ice. Stir & garnish with lemon wedge.

PUMP_MAN

PUMPKIN MANHATTAN

Sons of Liberty’s Pumpkin Spice Whiskey has won best flavored whiskey in the world. Now that’s a Manhattan.

INGREDIENTS

2 oz Pumpkin Spice Whiskey

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

GARNISH

Luxardo cherry

DIRECTIONS

Stir ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with cherry.

RUSSIAN

DARK RUSSIAN

No comment necessary.

INGREDIENTS

2 oz Loyal 9 Dark Chocolate Vanilla Vodka

1 oz coffee liqueur

1 oz heavy cream or half-and-half, lightly whipped

GARNISH

Dust with grated nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Shake vodka and coffee liqueur with ice. Strain into ice-filled glass. Float lightly whipped cream on top of drink. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

 

-ENJOY!