Barrels & Drams: The History of Whisk(e)y in Jiggers and Shots
By William M. Dowd
My friend Bill Dowd knows an awful lot about spirits. So, too, do the estimable scribes he's included in Barrels & Drams, an outstanding collection of writing about that most beloved and oft-quaffed fortified liquid, whiskey. Tom Wolfe, David Wondrich, Jim Murray and Daniel Okrent are among the 20-plus essayists included in this fun, conversational ride through the history of bourbon, Scotch and Irish whiskey.
There are profiles of colorful industry icons such as Jack Daniel, John Jameson and the Beams, along with instructive articles on home vatting and distillation. Wondrich's ode to Jerry Thomas, the Father of Modern Mixology, is essential reading for anyone who appreciates a finely crafted cocktail, while "The Case of Capone's Whiskey" by Scottish journalist Jim Leggett is a compelling look at a salvage diver who unearthed one of the Prohibition era's long-lost liquid treasures. In "The Mathematics of Prohibition," Okrent - whose Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is the definitive account of the 18th Amendment - offers a concise breakdown of the demise of that ghastly statute.
And Dowd's no slouch himself when it comes to spinning a yarn. His essay "From Forest to Flask" tells you everything you need to know about the interaction between wood and new-make whiskey. In it, he solicits expert opinions on the essential role cooperage plays in production from the likes of Glenmorangie master distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden and Bob Russell, who oversees the barrel-making operation at Brown-Forman.
The great Mark Twain famously opined that "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough." As Dowd has shown here, the same goes for good whiskey stories. Already looking forward to the next edition. But for now...order Barrels & Drams by clicking here
To your health!
With the launch of their first liquor brand, an upstart company called Fabulous American Beverages (or FAB, if you’re feeling suicidal) is going where no other whiskey-maker I know of has purposefully gone before: Ladies Night at the Jersey Shore.
Kansas Spirit Whiskey is intended "to appeal equally to men and women who typically enjoy vodka," according to Paul Goldman, who was inspired to create the brand while on vacation with his wife, who complained that whiskey "was for old men" and "wasn't cool." All due respect Paul, but I sure hope she's either rich or gorgeous because she ain't much in the intelligence department. For the moment I'll set aside the catastrophic decision-making involved in basing the marketing of a major liquor launch on the offhand opinions of someone who apparently has no real experience in a basic bar, let alone the liquor game. I’ll even set aside the fact that you let your wife tell you what to drink (for now). I’ll just say the obvious: Basing your marketing campaign on the premise that whiskey “isn't cool” is the single most moronic statement I have ever heard in this industry (and trust me I’ve heard some doozies).
Just got the following press release, and not sure what to make of it...
SOUTHERN COMFORT PARTNERS WITH TABASCO BRAND FOR NEW FIERY PEPPER PRODUCT
Two Louisiana Icons Come Together for Chili-Pepper-Flavored Line Extension
October 4, 2011, LOUISVILLE, KY – Southern Comfort announces the launch of Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper, a fierce fusion of Southern Comfort and Tabasco® brand pepper sauce. The new product is set to hit shelves nationally in October 2011.
The new spicy concoction delivers a perfectly balanced mixture of genuine whiskey, and the premium flavors of Southern Comfort, infused with original Tabasco brand pepper sauce. Served as a cold shot or incorporated into a cocktail, Southern Comfort Fiery Pepper finishes off any drink with the perfect amount of heat.
“This partnership between Southern Comfort and Tabasco brand strikes the perfect balance between sweet and heat and brings together two iconic brands for a one-of-a-kind product,” said Mark Bacon, VP, Managing Director, Southern Comfort. “Fiery Pepper gives our consumers another unique way to enjoy Southern Comfort that will challenge their senses and fire up the night.”
“We’re proud to partner with another iconic brand born in Louisiana to create a spicy addition to the classic Southern Comfort line,” said Paul McIlhenny, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company, maker of Tabasco brand pepper sauce. “We look forward to a future of fiery cocktails.”
I've always been a fan of whiskey sours. Something about ordering one always made me feel like a tough guy. Of course, I'm not. Tough, that is. But there's a thin line that separates being a certain way from feeling a certain way, and I've found that line is easily blurred by copius amounts of alcohol. So I drink whiskey sours, and feel like Charles Bronson.
Recently tried a sour made with Wild Turkey Bourbon, at 101 proof. The higher alcohol content delivered a deeper, richer flavor that stood up to the citrus and sweetness of the honey. Try one. You'll like it. Or my name isn't Charles Bronson.
The Whiskey Sour 101
1 1/2 ounces Wild Turkey Bourbon
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce honey
1 fresh cherry
1 ounce Wild Turkey American Honey
Dollop of egg white
Slice cherry from top to bottom five times around pit, and soak in a cup of Wild Turkey American Honey. Combine Wild Turkey Bourbon, grapefruit juice, lime juice and honey in a cocktail shaker. Froth egg white and add a dollop to the mixture. Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with Wild Turkey American Honey-soaked cherry.