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...

Hip Flasks

Hip Flasks

I bought myself a porcelain hip flask and it got me to thinking about the history of these ingenious devices. The flask is the descendant of the canteen and, even older, the pilgrim bottle of medieval times (associated with the pilgrimages to the holy land, it was flat on one side and round on the other with loops around the neck to allow for a strap). European travelers in the middle ages once carried hollow gourds, leather bags or animal bladders that would serve as a canteen. It’s believed that the first flasks were used by Norwegian nomads that needed to keep warm on long journeys. The hip flask, as we would recognize it today, was most likely designed in the early 1800s. In the early 19th century, glass blowing techniques were being used to create individual...

Corks- Why Are They Still Used?

Corks- Why Are They Still Used?

Why is cork still used to seal whiskey bottles? Seems like a bad idea in the modern times we live in. Collectors know that one should only store whiskey bottles upright on the shelf. Unlike wine, wet corks are bad for whiskey. Cork, in commercial use, is usually harvested from Quercus suber, also called the Cork Oak. Now, we all know that oak is the material used in barrel production. What happens to oak when whiskey interacts with its surface? The flavors in the oak are imparted into the solution. Here in lies one of the troubles. Do you want your whiskey to taste like cork by interacting with it? Our next problem comes from the fact that the cork is adhered to a plastic cap in most cases. That cap is held on by glue. Now your whiskey will have subtle notes of...

Is Cask Strength the Best Way To Buy Whiskey?

Is Cask Strength the Best Way To Buy Whiskey?

Is cask strength whiskey the best whiskey? Seems like a question most people you’d ask would answer “Yes!” to right away. There’s quite a bit to consider here, however. The vast majority of whiskey bottled by distillers is watered down to 40% abv/ 80 proof. Legally to be called whiskey, you have to be at least 80 proof. (There is an allowance of three tenths of a degree for loss of proof during bottling, but anything lower than that must be labeled “diluted whiskey”.) Whiskeys go into a cask/barrel at no more than 125 proof, so most cask strengths are going to be near that (60-65% alcohol) when bottled. Barrels, depending on where they are stored in a warehouse, may loose alcohol (or water) and volume to the angel’s share which alters their original barreling...

Larceny is the new Old Fitzgerald?

The Larceny brand of bourbon by Heaven Hill is a nod to the legend of John Fitzgerald… Max Shapiro’s daughter, Kate Shapiro Latts, is the business savvy designer of the marketing behind Larceny. Who doesn’t love a good story? (Not to mention a great label) During the Civil War, the Internal Revenue Act of 1862 authorized the Federal government to impose a temporary excise tax on distilled spirits. This act was intended “to provide Internal Revenue to support the Government and to pay Interest on the Public Debt.” The act created the positions of storekeeper and gaugers. Storekeepers oversaw the administrative operations, including records and tax filings. They oversaw physical operations and controlled access to the grains, still,...

Old Forester-The First Bourbon Bottled in the U.S.

Did you know that Old Forester was the first bourbon exclusively sold in bottles? In 1874, salesman-turned-distiller George Garvin Brown, in Marion County, Kentucky, first bottled his own “Old Forester” Straight Bourbon Whisky (this brand has no “e” for whatever reason) in labeled and sealed bottles (seems a bit late to get around to this seeing as industrial bottle production started around 1815). Whiskey had moved from the barrel to the bottle! The idea swept the industry because it created trust between the salesperson and the consumer. Think about it- there’s no tampering with a sealed bottle! Before the 1870’s most whiskey was sold in barrels and glazed jugs. In glass bottles, you can see the finished products’...