August 8, 2006

Buffalo Trace Bourbons Win More Awards

buffalotrace.jpgTo be honest, we're not quite sure why we haven't reviewed Buffalo Trace yet. We remember getting a bottle...for Christmas we think. We remember drinking it, and we remember liking it a bunch. But for some reason those notes we scribbled never got translated onto the Web.

Oh well - we can tell you it was really good, and if you don't believe us maybe you'll pay attention to a little thing like the International Wine & Spirits competition where a whole slew of Buffalo Trace whiskeys cleaned up in the 2006 awards.

  • William Larue Weller -- Gold Medal & Best in Class
  • Sazerac Rye Whiskey, 18 year -- Gold Medal & Best in Class
  • Van Winkle Special Reserve -- Gold Medal & Best in Class
  • Blanton's Original Single Barrel -- Silver Medal
  • George T. Stagg -- Silver Medal & Best in Class
  • Eagle Rare Single Barrel -- Bronze Medal
via Yahoo! Finance

Learn more at, and check out the full award announcements over at the IWSC site. Plus, read up on a bunch of the varieties and buy them online at Internet Wine & Spirits.

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July 13, 2006

Pioneer PureMalt Whiskey-Soaked Speakers

Whiskey SpeakersWe're from the school of thought that a splash of whiskey makes everything better, from baked beans to making love (as long as by "making love" you mean "pushing rope"). Pioneer seems to have had the same thought - they're making the cabinets for their new set of speakers out of the barrels used to age whiskey. Seems like a great idea to us...we're no audiophiles but we do have a theory.

When we drink enough whiskey our worldview skews a bit, people around us become incredibly attractive and we feel like the handsomest guys on the planet. So wouldn't it make sense that whiskey-soaked speakers might play the same trick on our ears and make any old crap from Aguilera to Shakira sound like gold?

...check the latest rev of the "PureMalt" speaker line-up from Pioneer made from the 100 year old oak used to barrel-age whiskey (or is that whisky?) before retiring in your bookshelf HiFi. As to the specs, well, if this is the kind of marketing ploy that appeals to you, then do you really care about the inclusion of Pioneer's Technical Audio Devices (TAD) technology usually found in their professional speakers? Didn't think so.
via Engadget

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May 14, 2006

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

Stranahan's Colorado WhiskeyWe're huge fans of high-quality spirits distilled in places you wouldn't expect (like a Texas Vodka, for example), and we've just stumbled across a whiskey made in, of all places, the Colorado Rockies. Now we know most American Whiskey is made in the south, and we're intrigued by the idea of getting Rocky Mountain high off this new liquor, called Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. They definitely get points for the simple and direct name, and they're generating all sorts of buzz, especially in the Colorado area.

The company just tapped its first barrel, and we're itching to get our hands on a bottle. Not only is it a unique whiskey, it's also got a pretty cool backstory:

The story behind the whiskey is the stuff of legend. When businessman George Stranahan's barn went up in flames seven years ago outside Aspen, (Jess) Graber was a volunteer firefighter who responded to the fire. After the blaze, Graber and Stranahan got to talking and discovered they had a mutual interest in the alcoholic beverage business. The idea began brewing there.

Stranahan, co-founder of Flying Dog Brewery, is a major investor in the whiskey business. The distillery relies on the nearby brewery to get its mash, a mixture of hot water and crushed grain that is an early step in the production of beer.

Thinking back to the fire at his barn, Stranahan, who attended Thursday's party, clearly is proud of the new venture that sprang forth from the ashes.

via Rocky Mountain News

The stuff retails for $54.95 per 750ml bottle, and good luck getting your hands on it. It's currently only sold in Colorado right now, and it's apparently so popular that liquor stores can't keep it in stock. Learn more at the Stranahan's site, plus find a list of stores that carry it for the next time you're in the Centennial State.

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April 21, 2006

Southern Comfort Whiskey Liqueur Review

Southern Comfort
Peach Flavored Whiskey Liqueur
70 or 100 Proof (35%/50% ABV)
Typical Price: Around $15 per bottle - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits

SoCoA few weeks back, we posted a little story about our Editor in Chief, and the not-so-fond memories he has of a run-in with Southern Comfort back in college. He remembered liking the taste, but that was the problem, and he's had trouble even seeing the bottle since then. With some coaxing and gentle ribbing (read: challenges to his manhood) we convinced him to try SoCo again. No shots this time, but he did try it both straight and mixed in drinks. So what was the verdict?

The Color:
Southern Comfort had a light amber, brownish color, that almost seems reddish when we held it up to the light. Very similar to your typcial whiskey, and the untrained eye might not be able to tell the difference.

The Nose:
Sweet and fragrant, with hints of peaches and citrus. It didn't smell overly sweet, which was a selling point for those who are concerned about how cloying the typical liqueur is. One intern said he whiffed a hint of children's chewable aspirin when he sniffed the glass, but we're pretty sure he'd already been hitting the bottle.

The Taste:
The taste of whiskey was definitely apparent, but there was a sweetness there too, which is brought by the mix of peach liqueur and fresh peaches that are added to the liqueur. It wasn't syrupy, as some had feared, and it had a tangy tartness to it. We liked it on the rocks, but it was just sweet enough that we weren't a huge fan straight. We couldn't wait to try it in a mixed drink, because as soon as we initially mentioned it, everyone and his brother had a recipe for us to try.

The Recipes:
This is where we get to the good stuff. We had onerecipe we were dying to try - the SoCo Lime. It's basically a shot of SoCo and a splash of Rose's lime juice, shaken over ice and strained into a shot glass. What'd we think? It was damned good - as good as we'd been lead to believe.

The next thing we tried was a recommendation from our contact over at SoCo - she said she likes it with club soda and a twist of lime. We liked that just fine, but we also one-upped her a bit. We mixed up a SoCo Lime shot, poured it into a rocks glass ice and all, and added club soda. We're pretty sure we've found our favorite new mixed drink.

We also mixed up the same drink with with a shot of Soco, a heavy splash of blood orange bitters, and club soda...and found our second favorite drink. As we mixed them up and tried them, we could only agree...the Editor in Chief is an idiot for giving up on a booze this good just because of some moderate to heavy vomiting.

As much as we usually drink our liquor straight, this is a booze made for mixing. We mixed it with just about everything in the house, and every drink we made tasted great. Our big surprise - mix SoCo with orange juice for a citrusy pick-me-up that puts the screwdriver to shame.

The Verdict:
We love our whiskey here, but we also like to hit the mixed drinks on occasion. Southern Comfort is the best of all worlds, because it's a whiskey (liqueur) we don't feel remotely guilty about throwing in a mixed drink. The sweetness is moderate, the flavor is delicate, and the desire to mix a second drink is high. Not for your typcial booze snob, but it's a good fun party drink, and we can't recommend it enough if you're looking for that rare liquor everyone can find a mixer for.

Oh...and what was the Editor in Chief's response? He was sheepish at first, but after he took his first swig, he was in love again for the first time. Plus, now that he's got a few years and (slightly) better judgment in him, he'll be able to drink the stuff at least quasi-responsibly, and avoid vomiting up a lung. In his own slurred words, the Comfort has been his blind spot for too long...and he's finally re-opened his eyes. Whatever that means.

The Site: Check them out at

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April 18, 2006

Michael Collins Irish Whiskey Review from Scotch Blog

Michael CollinsWe've been excited about Michael Collins Irish Whiskey for months now for a few reasons. For one, it was the brain child of of one of our idols (RIP, Mr. Frank). For two, we love Irish Whiskey - in fact, even though our Editor In Chief is Scottish, he likes the Irish better than the Scotch. Please don't tell anyone from the Highlands or he might have to return his kilt.

We haven't gotten our hands on a bottle yet, but our good friend Kevin over at The Scotch Blog has, and he posted a review of both the blended and single malt versions over at his site. Here's his roundup on the background of this interesting whiskey:

Developed by Sidney Frank with the partnership and whiskey production expertise of the Cooley Distillery, Michael Collins has been released in two versions, a Blend and a Single Malt. Michael Collins was developed for the U.S. market, but will be available at select upscale retailers as well as Duty Free in Ireland.

The whiskey is named in honor of "The Big Fellow" who spearheaded the fight for Irish independence and who was assassinated in 1922 at the age of 31. Both are bottled at 40% and aged in small oak casks to accelerate the maturation process.

Kevin's notes on both the blend and the single are quite interesting, so head on over and read the review to see what he has to say.

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April 11, 2006

And the 2006 Whiskey of the Year Is...

Rittenhouse RyeRemember how much we said we liked Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey last year? Turns out we're not as crazy as everyone says we are (at least on this topic, anyway) because it just won North American Whiskey of the Year at the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.

BARDSTOWN, Ky. – In what can only be termed an upset of Final Four proportions, Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond Rye Whisky was named “North American Whiskey of the Year” at the recently-completed 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The annual competition is among the most prestigious spirits competitions in the global distilled spirits industry, judged by a panel of industry luminaries.

In capturing the trophy for top North American Whiskey, Rittenhouse first had to be judged a double gold medal winner in its Rye Whiskey class, meaning it was unanimously awarded gold medal by all judges in a blind tasting. It then had to top all other double gold medal winners in the North American Whiskey category, including Bourbons, Canadian Whiskies, and a number of artisinal spirits made by smaller “boutique” micro-distilleries. And the Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond, a traditional rye made in a time-honored method, left these much more heavily advertised and merchandised whiskeys in the dust on its way to the title.

Read the full release at the Heaven Hill site. If you can get your hands on this stuff, do so before it all goes to their heads and the price goes up or something. We liked Rittenhouse a whole lot, and we were extremely disappointed when the bottle ran out, which was even quicker than normal.

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March 15, 2006

Southern Comfort Arrives For Review

Southern Comfort BillboardA couple weeks ago, we told you about our fearless Editor-In-Chief and his run-in with Southern comfort when he was in college. He was more than a little bit shook up, and he hasn't brought a glass of SoCo to his lips since that fateful night. So imagine how he must have felt when we marched into the office with two bottles of the stuff - one, the regular old 70 proof stuff, the other the high-test 100 proof stuff. We expected him to faint on sight, and while he did look a bit white, he's made of stern he never turns down a drink.

We'll be organizing a review in the next few days, and we'll be certain to check out some Soco Lime, as well as some other recipes that've been suggested to us. Maybe we'll even get the reviews done in time for St. Patty's Day - last time we checked, limes are green. While we're drinking and reviewing (and drinking responsibly, of course), check out

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March 5, 2006

A New Look At The Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned, Greatest Drink EverAs Whiskey Week winds to a close, it suddenly hit us that we've mostly been focusing on straight Bourbons without thinking about cocktails. That's a great tragedy, because it just so happens that our favorite drink recipe in the world contains whiskey - the Old Fashioned. We were going to compile a ton of information of this amazing and underappreciated drink for your education and edification, but it turns out Robert Hess over at DrinkBoy has already done so, and he did an amazing job.

First, his thoughts on this misunderstood mix:

Only a few other cocktails that have survived to modern day that comes from the era of the Martini and the Manhattan. There is one cocktail of similar lineage, but holds nowhere near the same level of respect and esteem as either the Martini or the Manhattan. This cocktail is the Old Fashioned. But instead of being held in any sort of awe, the Old Fashioned is often seen as just one of those old slop drinks that isn’t worth the time it takes to make it. And to taste it the way many modern bartenders serve it, it’s no surprise.
And a tragedy that is, because it's one of the best drinks going out there. Here's Robert's recipe, which is the exact same one we use when we're looking to get Olde Tymey.

Old Fashioned

  • 1/2 orange slice
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey
Muddle orange, sugar, bitters together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Fill glass with ice, then add the whiskey. Garnish with a marachino cherry, and perhaps an additional orange slice. Serve with a swizzle stick and/or straw

We recommend you give it a try, but make sure you mix your own or carefully monitor the bartender you give the task. Oh, and while you're at it, check out some Old Fashioned historical information and a few other recipe variations in Mr. Hess's article Renewing An Old Fashion.

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Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbon
18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
90 Proof (45% ABV)
Typical Price: About $40 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits

Elijah Craig Single BarrelWe had already developed our opinion of Elijah Craig when we tried his 12 year old Bourbon, so when we drank the 18 year old we expected it to be half again as good. The 18 year old is another single barrel whiskey like the Evan Williams 1996 we tried, but even our first whiff told us it had a very different character. So how did Elijah's older offspring measure up?

The Color: Wait For It...
Yes, like all the other Bourbons we've reviewed thus far, Elijah Craig is brown.

The Nose: Sweet And Nutty
We smelled caramel and nuts, sweet and appealing. Sweet and nutty...that makes it the Rose Nylund of Bourbons. Wait, is that the second Golden Girls joke we've made during Whiskey Week? It might be time to detox.

The Taste: A Hot 18 Year Old
There are quite a few flavors running through this one, vanilla and wood and honey and smoke among them. The honey is the most assertive, matched only by the smoke. In fact, this is an interesting one - it's very smoky, and where there's smoke there's fire. We liked the charred taste, and we also liked the throaty burn we could feel when the rye reared its head. It was viscous and oily, and you can expect the finish to hang around for a while even after you swallow it.

The Recipes: Don't You Dare
Seriously - don't mix this one. It's great straight, so don't bother with even water or ice. Seems like this would be a great Bourbon to go along with a cigar, but we didn't have any stogies around the office.

The Verdict: A Great Drink For Special Occasions
This one's complex and exciting, but it might be a bit much for people who don't drink a lot of Bourbon. It's definitely five-star stuff, but not one you'll want to use to bring someone into the fold. If you're an enthusiast and you haven't tried it yet, however, give it a shot and let us know what you think. We were quite pleased, and it's on our list for special occasions and gifts for bosses.

The Site: Learn more and see more reviews about Elijah Craig Single Barrel at the Bardstown Bourbon Society.

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March 4, 2006

Very Special Old Fitzgerald Bourbon Review

Very Special Old Fitzgerald
12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
90 Proof (45% ABV)
Typical Price: Around $45 for 750ml - Buy it at Internet Wines & Spirits

Old Fitzgerald Very SpecialUsually, when something is called special, it puts us in mind of short buses and drool mops. When something is called "very special," it reminds us of chintzy 80s TV - "and tonight, on a very special episode of Golden Girls, Blanche learns the true meaning of friendship when the rest of the girls help her hide her herpes outbreak..." You know, that kind of stuff. When we saw Very Special Old Fitzgerald staring up at us from its squat, ugly little bottle, we were brought to mind of something along both of those lines.

It's a good thing we didn't let that pre-judgement keep us from trying a taste, however, because we would have been missing out on something truly...well...special. And we mean that in the nicest sense of the word.

The Color: Lovely Brown
It's very, special, old and brown.

The Nose: Caramel Apples
The first smell we took in was a delicate whiff of apple blossoms, followed by caramel. All in all it was very delicate, almost floral, with a leathery tinge at the end.

The Taste: Hi, Honey, I'm Home
The first taste was tart, with honey and brown sugar and fruit all very prominent. The fruit was a touch of the apple we smelled, mixed with a citrusy undertone. It smelled like leather and unsmoked tobacco, but It also reminded us of the bigger, older brother of Bernheim's Wheat Whiskey, and were we glad of that. We did a little reading, and we found out that Old Fitzgerald replaces most of the rye in its mix with wheat, so we weren't too far off in that comparison.

With the lessened amount of rye there was very little fire to it, and all in all, it was clean, sweet and perilously tasty. In fact, it was everything we could do not to muscle through a good portion of the bottle in a sitting.

The Recipes: Don't Even Think About It
Drink this one straight, or add one or two drops of cool water - resist the temptation to add ice or mix it.

The Verdict: Very Special, Indeed
This stuff is officially one of our favorite Bourbons. Pour a nice snort of it in a snifter, not a rocks glass, and sit down with your favorite book (or liquor-related website). Hold it up to your nose, swish it around in the glass, take a taste. This is Bourbon that makes you glad you drank all those other brands, because it lets you appreciate how good the one in your glass is.

The Site: Read up on Old Fitz at the Bardstown Bourbon Society.

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