Saturday, March 10, 2012

Whiskey A-Can-Can

Whiskey A-Can-Can

This bit of news caught me off guard, mainly because who would have expected that you would have have Whiskey in a can! Soon you will...
Oskar Blues Brewing (Lyons, CO) is making plans to start canning something new and it’s not beer. It’s Whiskey. Soon Colorado will know Lyon Soul Distilling.

The barn (where the Oskar Blue’s can beer revolution got started, and The Foo Fighters have played) will house a new distillery. The still is already ordered and will be ready by Summer, 2012. Dale Katechis (you know him without knowing him: Dale’s Pale Ale) His grandfather owned a still when he was growing up in Alabama so distilling seems to have always been in his blood. The first two products to be sold will be an Organic Agave Nectar using local Madhava honey, and a whiskey made from brewery mash, aged in french oak barrels.

Ironically, this isn’t the first crossover by Oskar Blues into the distilling world. They brewery used to provide the mash to Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey in the past few years. (Plus they have used Stranahan’s barrels for beer aging.) For those who partake on non-alcoholic beverages, OB is planning on canning their root beer too.

In other news from Oskar Blues: The brewery is collaborating with Sun King to make “Chaka“, and is shipping Deviant Dales in tallboy cans.

I have to say, that's pretty damn cool. Want to know a little more? Here's a standard local affiliate news piece on it.

I'm a big fan of canned beer. I love to take canned beer whenever I go anywhere for an outdoor anything. Why? Because left in my trunk overnight, the beer gets and stays cold. And that's a nice advantage when it comes to cans. They can get really cold, really fast.

Now maybe some of you just don't know much about Whisk(e)y and need some education on the subject. How about we take you on a brief introduction;

Whisky - a distilled spirit made from fermented grain mash and aged in oak barrels (Scotland, Japan, Canada)
Whiskey - the above but from Ireland or the United States

People tend to get a little pissy if you mix up the above terms. Then again, there's people who just don't give a fuck.

The main types of whisk(e)y you'll encounter are:
Scotch Whisky - distilled and matured in Scotland
Bourbon Whiskey - made from 51% corn and aged in new, charred, oak barrels; must be distilled and aged in the US
Tennessee Whiskey - similar to bourbon but sometimes filtered through charcoal and no requirement that it be 51% corn, must be distilled and aged in Tennessee
Irish Whiskey - made in Ireland
Canadian Whisky - made in Canada
Single Malt - a whisky from one single distillery made of malted barley
Blended - whisk(e)y mixed with another whisk(e)y or neutral spirit.
Single Barrel - what it sounds like, whiskey from one barrel, premium product
Small Batch - a whiskey, generally bourbon, mixed from a small number of select barrels, could also be a blend of whiskeys, there is no legal definition, normally produced as a premium product
American Rye Whiskey - made from 51% rye mash and aged in new, charred, oak barrels.
Canadian Rye Whisky - must possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky. Basically this means it could be just about anything.

As for what I would recommend a good way for a novice to get introduced to whisk(e)y. I'd try to narrow it down to something more specific like scotch or bourbons. For some, something like Canadian club goes down smooth and like water. For myself, that brand does nothing for me in the taste department. So you need to find out what seems like the tastiest and least nastiest to you.

Once you do find something you can palate:

1) Stick with the same kind of liquor for a while. Differences between brands will begin popping out at you. Within that type, take the opportunity to try something new every time you buy some.

2) Start sniffing everything you drink. A sniff can become as enjoyable and interesting as a sip. Sniff often. Sniff well.

3) If you're alone and bored, take notes. Keep them private because they'll probably be really stupid. It's okay- the point is to be thinking about what you're tasting. Also it's hard to remember everything you tasted, especially if you're only switching it up one fifth at a time.

4) Forget cocktails, unless you have a favorite which might point the way to the liquor you like best. Forget shots, they are for people who don't like what they're drinking. If it's too rough or the alcohol overpowers any nuance you can detect, try adding a bit of water. If it's still too much, ice. Also, sipping is perfectly manly and there's not a bartender in the world who wouldn't respect you when you order a double of X and a pint of water. The whiskey's for taste, the water's for something to drink.

5) Taste, then read a professional like Michael Jackson's (not the musician) notes on the same thing, then taste again. See if you can spot what they're seeing.

6) Try getting some Glenlivet, that's a very good mellow scotch. Rather than expensive nuanced stuff older than 12, personally I'd start by trying the big mainstays so you can see how things vary and move on from there.

"Smoother" generally comes with age and quality. This can get expensive, so you may want to settle on "smooth enough" while you find where your tastes lie.

Single Malt Scotch: Glenlivet 12, Glenmorangie 10, Macallan 12. Balvenie 12 or the doublewood if it's not that much more. There are many other options, just try SOMETHING and then try something else.

You don't have to go single malt, blends aren't necessarily shit. I believe distillers developed blends partly so they could produce something consistent year after year, a signature flavor. Walker red, black, and green are all good and very different from one another. Famous grouse is great despite its modest appearance, I think that was the first liquor I liked rather than suffered for the sake of getting drunk. I never liked Chivas Regal but lots of people do.

Next time I'll introduce you to the world of glassware - and potentially doing it yourself!

No comments: