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-...

Whiskey and Technology

Whiskey and Technology

Has technology in whiskey production taken anything away from American whiskey? So much of the growth of whiskey production in this country has been wrapped up in innovation and technology.  Whiskey production, early in our nation’s history, was limited by how much your local distiller could make in his/her still.  A distiller was limited by how far they could move product.  Roads weren’t great, and rivers only flowed one way.  Once steam boats were invented in the late 1700’s and started being commonly used to navigate rivers in the 1800’s, whiskey had a new way to get to customers.  River traffic created a need for canal systems.  The 1820’s brought the locomotive and the Industrial Revolution.  The 1830’s saw the invention of the Coffey still and now bulk...

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...

Angel’s Share Effect

How does the angel’s share affect my whiskey? A lot of different things affect the flavors in whiskey, not least of which is the addition of water or loss of ethanol from the barrel. The “angel’s share” is the loss of alcohol from evaporation during the aging process. Depending on where and how a whiskey is aged will determine how much is lost. (or how much water is gained) Barrels “breathe”. They are watertight, but molecules of water and ethanol will move in and out. If the microclimate within the barrel changes due to external temperature or humidity changes, the pressure within the barrel will change as well. Anyone who owns a glass barometer knows that pressure affects liquids. The change in the microclimate pushes water and alcohol into or out of the wood....

The Science of Nosing

Why does my bourbon smell like vanilla? There’s no added flavorings or additives, right? Correct. Bourbon can not have anything added to it like colorings or flavor additives. The vanilla you smell is in its chemistry… You may read tasting notes that look like this (for Elijah Craig 12 year old)… “Nose: Quite thick and full. There is a beautiful sweetness with notes of toasty oak, toffee, spicy stewed fruits, a touch of resin and a lovely crème anglaise character. Palate: Full and sublimely smooth with notes if stewed Bramley apples, malmsey, a touch of aniseed and a hint of spice. Finish: Good length with toasty oak notes and a creamy sweetness.” What does that mean? How can whiskey taste like toffee or apples? Let me start by saying that...

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...

Needs More Beautiful Copper…

Copper is beautiful. It seems to glow in the sunlight and somehow evokes warmth and well-being in us. Perhaps that’s why I always want to hug a still when I see one…or perhaps it’s the whiskey… In 1999, when Charlie Downs and Craig Beam moved Heaven Hill operations to the Bernheim distillery in Louisville (after the devastating fire at their Bardstown distillery in 1996), they discovered that the six story column stills on the new site would need some tweaking to produce the whiskey they wanted. Not only did they have to drill out bigger holes to let the beer flow properly, but found they needed more copper. Copper is essential in creating good whiskey because it reacts with and removes dimethyl trisulfide and other sulfur containing...

What are Whiskey Legs?

What are Whiskey Legs?

The “legs” that form on the side of your whisk(e)y glass can be helpful in determining what you’re drinking in a blind tasting. I like to make note of them (how long and close together they are, how long they last) before I taste in my whiskey journal. It is just an observation, not necessarily a quality distinction for me. Legs are caused by the Gibbs-Marangoni effect, which describes the fluid surface tension caused by evaporation. Water and alcohol are both evaporated from the surface of the glass but alcohol is evaporated faster. This reduces the alcohol concentration of the film and a greater proportion of water is left on the glass. The higher the level of alcohol, the longer the legs. Just make the observation. Some people say that legs...