Does Terroir Influence Whiskey?

Does Terroir Influence Whiskey?

When a wine maker talks about what sets his/her wine apart from others, you can be sure terroir will be a part of their explanation. Terroir is “the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.” So, the same grape varietal grown in southern France, when it is grown in the Napa Valley, will taste very different. The influence of the local vegetation, pollen, decomposed matter and mineral composition in the soil, morning dews, how many hours of sun and shade a location has, seasonal rainfall, among many other things, all affect the grape harvest every year.  The effect of the environment on the grapes will, of course, affect the flavor and scent of the wine that’s made from them. ...

An Opinion on Metallica’s Blackened American Whiskey

An Opinion on Metallica’s Blackened American Whiskey

So…Metallica has its own whiskey now. Ugh.   Everyone has their own whiskey, it seems. Nothing new, of course. Celebrity sells. There have been celebrities moving distilled products since advertising’s infancy. Beautiful people, famous people, successful people…from doctors recommending a brand to silver screen actresses insisting that a brand will make you irresistible…it’s all been done. Here are just a few modern celebrities selling booze- Matthew McConaughy- Wild Turkey and Longbranch Whiskey Mila Kunis- Jim Beam Christina Hendricks- Johnny Walker David Beckham- Haig Club Dan Aykroyd- Crystal Head Vodka Ryan Reynolds- Aviation Gin George Clooney- Casamigos Tequila (though I think he sold that) Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt- Miraval Rosé Drew Barrymore-...

Stoll & Wolfe

Stoll & Wolfe

There are many new distilleries popping up in Pennsylvania, but none carry the Pennsylvanian distillery torch quite like Stoll and Wolfe. You see the name Stoll and Wolfe, which is named after founders of the brand, Dick Stoll and Erik Wolfe, was originally named Bomberger’s as a tribute to the old Bomberger’s Distillery (known to most as Michter’s). They planned to reopen the distillery in Lititz, PA where Mr. Dick Stoll was distiller in the 70’s. Mr. Stoll is now famous for being the man behind the famous A.H.Hirsch Reserve 16 year old bourbon that every collector longs to own. The attempt to resurrect the Bomberger’s brand was not to be, however. Michter’s brand name was already owned by Chatham Imports in Kentucky. A lawsuit kept the brand name in limbo for a...

New Distilleries in Pennsylvania

New Distilleries in Pennsylvania

The American Whiskey Convention in Philadelphia was a bit of an inspiration for me to spend a bit more time discussing the boom in whiskey distilling here in Pennsylvania.  The “White Dog Row” element of the Convention showed off 11 new make spirits from 8 different local distilleries.  White whiskey is the backbone of any distillery.  It shows the character of the grain, the flavors contributed by the yeasts and the potential of the spirit.  No amount of aging can fix a bad white whiskey foundation.  I think it was important to highlight the potential of our local distilleries through their white dogs.  It also gave a chance for the distillers and representatives from those distilleries to speak directly to the public about their work and their visions for the...

What is a Sour Mash Whiskey?

What is a Sour Mash Whiskey?

So what is sour mash whiskey anyway? The term sour mash gets thrown around a lot, but it’s really just a technique used in making whiskey.  It is not particular to any one brand of whiskey.  In fact, most whiskeys are made using this technique. Before you can distill, you have to make the alcohol.  Distillation is just the process of removing and refining the alcohol that yeasts produce in the fermentation process beforehand.   The whole reason that distillers are so concerned with quality of grain is because they want their yeasts to have the best grains that can produce the best food for them to “eat”.  The distiller cooks those grains in a big pot called a mashtun to create a delicious, warm, sugary mash for their yeasts to feast upon.  Those yeasts, when not...

What Are Congeners?

What Are Congeners?

What the heck is a congener? The easy answer is that they are the flavor bits that yeast leaves behind after “digesting” sugar during fermentation.  Yeasts are the wonderful little micro-organisms that are responsible for alcohol!  We would not have beer, wine, whiskey or any other fermented beverage without it. Yeasts convert simple sugars into mainly ethanol and carbon dioxide, but there are other bi-products produced called congeners. Congeners, in Latin, means born together. They may be aldehydes, esters, high alcohols such as fusel oils, or acids.  Each species of distillers’ yeast may produce different congeners that affect the flavor of each fermented mash they produce.  A distiller may be very protective of their proprietary yeast strain for its ability...

Why So Defensive About Sourced Whiskey?

Why So Defensive About Sourced Whiskey?

I was asked at the Dram Devotee’s Whistle Pig tasting on Thursday, “Why do you sound so defensive when you are speaking about sourced whiskey?” It must be true that I sound defensive or it wouldn’t have been noted by one of my guests.  I can tell you that a lot of my defensiveness stems from the commentary that I read on the internet.  I suppose I do feel the need to defend those companies that source their bourbons and ryes, but also manage to put out a consistently great product. I’ve seen all the lists of sourced whiskeys from LDI/MGP (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana/Midwest Grain Products).  (For those that have not seen the list, you can find information here- (http://recenteats.blogspot.com/p/the-complete-list-of-american-whiskey.html.) There is a lot...

Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year for 2016 goes to…

Jim Murray’s World Whisky of the Year for 2016 goes to…

So the news is out that Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye was named the 2016 World Whisky of the Year by renowned whiskey writer Jim Murray. This news will most definitely affect sales for Crown Royal, but it may affect a bit more. Rye whiskey is making a comeback all over North America! Let’s be clear that the term “rye” does not carry the same definition in Canada as it does in the U.S. We know rye whiskey, here in America, to mean that at least 51% of the mashbill is made of rye grains. Original styles of rye whiskey grew out of Pennsylvania and Maryland and were crafted based upon which surplus grains farmers from those regions accumulated after their harvests. In Canada, the original style of whiskey produced there was made of wheat. Early in Canada’s...