The Kentucky Derby is one of the longest running sporting traditions in America. While some watch the Derby for the horse racing, others celebrate the cultural event by drinking Kentucky Bourbon based cocktails and spirits.
Horse racing and Kentucky Bourbon go hand in hand. In this article, we’ll highlight the top cocktails you can serve at your 2015 Kentucky Derby party.
The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. Although the original Mint Julep was originally concocted using brandy, today’s Mint Julep is typically made with Kentucky Bourbon.
The most popular Kentucky Bourbon used in Derby Mint Juleps is undoubtedly Old Forrester. Although you may use your favorite Kentucky Bourbon when making your Mint Juleps, try our suggested Kentucky Derby Mint Julep recipe below:
- Mint leaves
- Crushed ice
- Sugar (For Simple Mint Syrup)
- A Bottle of Bourbon, preferably Old Forrester
- Fresh Mint Sprigs
- Simple Mint Syrup
- Stirring Straws – Allows your guests to stir and sip
- Powdered Sugar – To compliment the mint garnish
Yields (1) 8 ounce serving.
You will need to prepare the Simple Syrup for your Mint Juleps first. Simply bring 1 cup of water combined with 1 cup of sugar to a boil in a saucepan for 3 minutes. Let the solution cool to room temperature, then preserve the Simple Syrup in a glass jar.
Take a chilled bar glass and pour 1/2 an ounce of the Simple Syrup into the glass. Take a spoon and mix 3-5 mint sprigs into the bottom of the cup. Try to mash the mint sprigs against the side of the cup to release the flavor of the mint into the Simple Syrup. Take your spoon and remove the mint from the syrup and discard as needed.
Next, fill the cup full of crushed ice and proceed to mix 2 ounces (roughly two shots) of your favorite Bourbon into the glass. Stir the drink with a straw and garnish the drink with mint leaves. Top the drink off with additional ice as needed. Left over simple syrup can be refrigerated and used later in sweet tea.
Kentucky Bourbon Tailgate Sipper
Some Kentucky Derby partiers treat the Run for the Roses as a tailgating party that helps kick off Summer. The Kentucky Bourbon Tailgate Sipper is the perfect addition for your 2015 Kentucky Derby party.
- 4 cups of cubed fresh pineapple
- 1 cup of Kentucky Bourbon (Woodfords, Old Forrester, Etc)
- 1 cup of Cold Perrier Lemon Sparkling Water
- 1/2 cup Southern Comfort
- 1 TBSP of Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 TSP of Vanilla Extract
Using a food processor or blender, drop the pineapple chunks into the device allowing the chunks to smooth out. This roughly takes 30 seconds.
Strain the pineapple mixture using a wire mesh strainer and pour the pineapple juice into a 2 quart container. Be sure to remove any pineapple pulp from the juice and discard the pulp in the trash. Use a spoon to mash all of juice out of the pineapple against the strainer.
Using the 2 quart container, add 1 cup of your favorite Kentucky Bourbon, a cup of Perrier Lemon Flavored Sparking Water, 1/2 a cup of Southern Comfort, 1 TBSP of fresh lemon juice along with 1 TSP of vanilla extract. Stir up your concoction and serve over ice. Add garnishes if necessary.
Spiked Sweet Tea & Lemonade
This super simple concoction is sure to be a hit at your 2015 Kentucky Derby party. To make Spiked Sweet Tea & Lemonade, follow these directions below.
- 3 Cups of Water
- 2 Family Sized Lipton Tea Bags
- 1 Cup of Mint Leaves (Loosely Packed)
- 1/2 Cup of Sugar
- 4 Cups of Cold Water
- 1/2 of a 12-oz. can of frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)
- 1 cup Kentucky Bourbon (Old Forrester, Knob Creek or Woodford)
You can garnish the Spiked Sweet Tea & Lemonade with fresh sugarcane and fresh pineapple slices.
First, take your 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add tea bags and fresh mint to your boiling water. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.
Next, remove the tea bags and mint leaves. Mix the sugar into the minty, sweet tea mix and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once this is complete, mix in your 4 cups of cold water, your Kentucky Bourbon along with the lemonade concentrate. Serve over the Spiked Sweet Tea & Lemonade over ice and use the garnishes suggested above.
Whiskey will always be a favorite drink to some people, and others just aren’t going to be able to bear the strong taste and sting that it has to offer (personally I love it, but everybody has their own favorite). It’s a triple distilled whiskey that made its name through years of vicarious marketing, as well as simply producing a quality liquor for people to enjoy. It’s said to be one of the smoothest whiskey’s out there, and considering whiskey is quite bitter that’s saying a lot. It’s taken the brewery known as Jameson well over a hundred years to perfect this recipe, and say what you will, but that’s a long time to dedicate towards on specific alcoholic beverage. When somebody dedicates that much time towards something it’s going to be the best there ever was, plain and simple; Jameson clearly knew what they were doing with this particular drink.
John Jameson started this entire endeavor in 1780, which is when he realized that the triple-distillation process was the perfect one to use for Irish whiskey, the rest is simply history. It’s a legacy that most of us know as a great time, but John Jameson took his craft to heart (and you can really see that when you get your hands on this whiskey). He may have passed a long time ago, but his alcoholic legacy is still burning brighter than ever. There are 3 main components that make up this drink, and when you finally learn what they are you’re probably going to say “well, that sounds pretty easy”. I suppose it’s all about the technique as opposed to the ingredients used, and John Jameson was the master of distillation techniques. The ingredients used are maize, barley and “pure Irish water”, which must be where they get the Irish portion from.
Getting into deeper details the water originates from the Dungourney River in Ireland, and it just so happens the river flows directly through a Jameson distillery. That sounds like a scenic picture I would love to see, but I’ve never been to Ireland, what a pity. They mill, mash and then ferment the ingredients to the point where they’re ready to be distilled, and that’s when the fun really begins. The triple distillation process is no joke people, they use three types (a wash still, a feint still and a spirit still) and they really do means business when it comes to this technique. The triple distillation process provides an edge to the drink that no other company could mimic, and that’s probably why Jameson Irish whiskey is so popular.
After the drink is distilled it sits in aged barrels in order to mature, and this is known as the maturation process. From there they hold onto the whiskey until it’s ready to be shipped and bottled by brewery workers across the globe, and then they can go through the process of putting the drinks on liquor store shelves within your region!
Usually you get as drunk as possible to deal with school but a new brand of Vodka actually came FROM a school assignment. Pennsylvania resident Melissa Sohmer is turning homework into something much more as she’s released Ch@t Vodka into the world.
There are two things about it that make it different then the vodka you’re used to. The first is the taste. Ch@t Vodka doesn’t use typical methods to give it an unforgettable flavour. They use a process called TerrePure that takes far less time to age the vodka. It takes away the harsh elements commonly left behind when the traditional routes are taken and replaces them with ultrasonic energy leaving behind a smooth subtle taste with character. Think of it as an upgrade.
The other thing helping it stand out is its youthful appearance. While Vodka is enjoyed by drinkers of all ages, it’s marketing demographic is rarely someone in their early 20’s. Ch@t Vodka flips that on its ear by labeling bottles with popular text acronyms, helping younger drinkers relate to its product. It doesn’t hurt that it tastes great and has a fun taste as well! Ch@t comes in two flavours, both named after popular internet acronyms. The original flavour vodka is called P2P (or Person to Person) but it also boasts a fun strawberry flavoured vodka called SMH (or Shaking my Head, something you’ll be doing plenty of the next morning as it tends to go down smooth and easy). If the chosen acronyms seem random, they’re not. The first letter tells you what flavour it is. The P in P2P is for Plain (Vodka flavoured) and the S in SMH is for Strawberry. As the line expands expect future text friendly names.
Like I said above, Ch@t Vodka started as graphic design assignment in college. Her goal was to combine the ever importance of social media and alcohol. Ch@t is truly a family run affair. While it was Melissa’s original idea, she involved her father, who helped her make the prototype and network with experts and distillers, and her uncle Scott, who is assisting with the marketing and making the majority of the sales calls. Right now it’s marketed at just under $30, making it the perfect price for the younger crowd to enjoy. It’s only been a few months since Ch@t made its grand debut but it’s already sold in 10 suppliers in New Jersey, as well as on special order in Pennsylvania, and a select few restaurants with more to be added.
Having tried both kinds it’s easy to see why this will be successful. The regular flavoured Ch@t vodka (P2P) goes down much smoother, as advertised, with less of that harsh taste. If flavoured vodka is more up your ally you’ll definitely enjoy the strawberry flavor (SMH). It has a fruity taste but not enough to overpower the vodka and make it too sweet. Whichever you prefer Ch@t Vodka is doing things their own way and making drinking with friends even more youthful.
Connect with CH@T VODKA – Click Here
Think back to the last beer commercial you saw on TV. Do you remember which brand it advertised? It was probably Molson or Coors, right? Over the last decade a particular brand has anchored itself in the beer world without throwing millions of dollars into billboards and television. Pabst Blue Ribbon, or PBR as its commonly abbreviated, experienced a huge uprising simply by doing what others aren’t; staying cheap and avoiding marketing. Keeping prices low keeps it in the public eye and popular with college students low on funds.
Today’s youth would be surprised to learn PBR’s heyday was the late 70s. It targeted a completely different demographic; the blue-collar working class. As the decades passed, its popularity fell by the wayside. In fact it wasn’t until 2002 that sales started to rise. Suddenly it wasn’t the beer your dad used to drink. College students started choosing it for their lower prices, and the fact that no one was telling them it was the hippest and sexiest choice worked wonders for the brand.
When you really break it down, it isn’t even known for its quality or taste. That itself is impressive. It’s not about what it tastes like but what it represents. All of a sudden it has a huge following for the reasons no multi-million dollar brewery would expect. Pabst’s aversion to traditional advertising is a new tactic for them. While the brand was started by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1844 there was a multitude of television commercials starting in the 1950s and onwards. They depicted the brand far more working class than today’s drinkers. Ironically its cheaper price point wasn’t one of their selling points back then. It was more about sophistication and taste. The company went into decline until it became hip to drink again.
Since its rise in power in the earlier 2000’s Pabst Blue Ribbon changed management. It was bought out by investor C.Dean Metropoulos in 2010. His pop culture savvy sons Evan and Daren, both in their late 20’s, represent the exact type of demographic Pabst avoided advertising to years ago. Since the leg work of revitalizing the brand was done it was all about keeping it up and the brothers were more than up to shining the beer in a new light. To put into perspective how much money they had, Daren purchased Hugh Hefner’s mansion for 18 million dollars in cash.
Since the buy out the brand has remained popular amongst youth. In both 2011 and 2012 the brewing company won the “Large Brewing Company of the year” award at the Great American Beer Festival. It’s still a strong seller in bars but since the buyout prices has gone up. While it still costs less than it’s competitors its taken a glitzier and more glamorous approach and tries a bit harder to be noticed by the movers and shakers of the entertainment world. For the most part the college crowd doesn’t care. They’re saving money and being seen with a brand people love.
Everyone has a pre-drinking ritual before they go out. Whether it’s blasting their favourite song before hitting the bars or downing their favourite shot everyone preps differently. Drinking Games are a popular choice and have been a mainstay at parties for decades. You may know about King’s Cup and Flip Cup but here are some “alternative” drinking games sure to impress your friends at the next party.
1) Bottle Blow – All you need for this game is an empty bottle, which shouldn’t be hard to find, and a deck of cards. Put the deck of cards on the top of the bottle. Each of your friends take turns blowing cards off of the deck. The last person to blow a card drinks a beer. There are additional rules you can add to increase the fun. For example if you blow a Queen card off you drink a beer or if you blow two off, two beers and so on. The flexibility adding rules adds to the madness.
2) Quarters – If you’re short on ideas and game pieces, this one is great because it requires no additional pieces other than a quarter. The game starts by spinning a quarter to see who goes first. Whomever the antlers are pointed at is the first player. The object is to bounce a quarter off the table and into the glass. If the coin goes in the shooter picks who must drink. If the quarter doesn’t land in the glass, the next player starts their turn.
3) Edward 40 Hands – Not only is this game not for the faint of heart, it’s not recommended if you have somewhere to be in a few hours. The rules are simple. A 40 is duct-taped to each of your hands and you cannot remove them for any reason. You’re forced to drink both 40s, before even going to the bathroom.
4) Clown – Another game that requires only a deck of cards. Everyone flips over their card and if anyone has the same numbered card they must turn to the person and yell “Clown”. Speed is important for this game, because whoever doesn’t say it fast enough has to drink whatever the number on the card says.
5) Celebrity – This game is a little more social. It’s a great way to loosen up and break the ice if not everyone knows each other all that well just yet. Everyone writes down a celebrity’s name on a post it note and puts it in a bowl. Without looking, everyone reaches in and puts one of the names on their forehead. Once on, everyone takes turns asking yes or no questions to figure out who is written on their post-it note. Any time you get “No” as an answer you drink. If you get a “Yes” you hand out a drink to someone of your choosing. The first person to figure out their celebrity now has the ability to hand-out drinks to anyone they choose until the end of the game.
Tweet It! #BestDrinkingGames!
St.Patrick’s Day is the only day of the year when you can be as Irish as you want, regardless of your heritage. March 18th is the perfect day to try something new so here are ten cocktails to make your Irish eyes smile.
iCohol Presents..The Top 10 Drinks for St. Patricks Day!
1) Irish Car Bomb – A classic for a reason.
Ingredients: ½ pint Guinness Stout
½ oz. Irish Cream
½ oz. Irish whiskey
Instructions: Fill the beer glass with the Guinness. Fill a shot glass with the Irish whiskey and Irish Cream. Drop the shot glass into the stout and enjoy the coffee flavoured surprise.
2) Irish Highball – A taste of Ireland.
Ingredients: 2 oz Irish Whiskey (preferably Jamesons)
4 oz Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Instructions: Simply pour the whiskey over ice and fill the glass with Ginger Ale.
Ingredients: 1 ½ oz of Irish Whiskey
1 tsp of green crème de menthe
½ oz of dry vermouth
Instructions: Stir all the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Serve with the olive.
4) Irish Old Fashioned – A sweet treat
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of sugar
1.5 oz of Irish whiskey
1 lemon peel twist
1 Maraschino Cherry
1 slice of orange
Instructions: Pour of the ingredients, minus the fruit, into a highball glass. Stir the liquids together. Garnish with the fruit and serve cold.
5) Irish Shillelagh – A fruity twist
Ingredients: 1.5 oz of Irish whiskey
Half ounce of gin
1 teaspoon of sugar syrup
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Peach Shnapps
1 teaspoon of White Rum
Instructions: Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker as well as some chipped ice. Shake. Pour the drink into an old fashioned glass without straining it.
6) Irish Rose – A light cocktail
Ingredients: 1 ounce of lime juice
1 ounce of Irish whiskey
6 ounces of Ginger Ale
1 ounce of pomegranate syrup
Instructions: Mix the ingredients together and serve over ice.
7) Hot Irish Whiskey – Perfect for a cold night
Ingredients: 1 ounce Jameson Whiskey
2 cups boiled water
¼ slice of Lemon
2 teaspoons sugar
Instructions: Pour whiskey into glass. Add sugar and fill glass with boiling water and stir. Place 4/5 cloves into the lemon slice and add it to the drink. Serve hot.
8) Irish Coffee – What a way to wake up in the morning
Ingredients: 1 ounce Irish Whiskey
3 ounces hot coffee
Sugar (to taste)
Instructions: Pour coffee into a warmed mug. Add desired amount of sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add whiskey and top with whipped cream.
9) Fuzzy Irishman – Unforgettably sweet
Ingredients: 1 ounce Butterscotch Shnapps
1 ounce Irish Cream
1 ounce Raspberry Liqueur
Instructions: Mix all with crushed ice in a glass. Add mint leaves to taste.
10) Irish Hammer – Refreshing
Ingredients: 1 ounce Irish Cream
1 ounce Jack Daniels
1 ounce Irish Mist
Instructions: Mix with crushed ice in a glass and add mint leaves to taste.
Tweet It!: #StPatricksDayDrinks
Rye Whiskey Review: Templeton Prohibition Era Whiskey Rye
One of the most delightful surprises that’s come about in the past few years is the American revival of micro-distilleries producing almost-forgotten home-based spirits. Home distilleries were common during the Prohibition era in the United States, and while most of these “micro-distillers” were producing bath-tub gin and moonshine, there were a few that were making what is still called “the good stuff”. One company that’s leading the “good stuff” revival is Templeton, whose rye whiskey is based on the original Prohibition era recipe developed by residents in a small Iowa town.
Right off the bat, Templeton Prohibition Era Whiskey Rye is worth a try just for its historical value; who doesn’t want a taste of what people were drinking during the U.S. ban on alcohol? However, although the novelty value is there, the product is much more than a one-trick pony. This is one rye whiskey with a depth and character that will knock your socks off it’s so good.
The history of Templeton Rye is very interesting. The residents of Templeton, Iowa, began to illegally make rye whisky in their incredibly small town of 350 residents. Before long, because their product was smooth and superior to everything else that was available, it became known as “the good stuff” and is said to have been Al Capone’s beverage of choice.
Templeton Rye continued to be made illegally even after Prohibition ended for die-hard, loyalist aficionados. Finally, in 2006, Templeton Rye became legally available eighty-five years after it first appeared.
But what really makes Templeton Prohibition Era Whiskey Rye “the good stuff”? Is it all marketing hype, or is there something to back up the claims?
It’s not just marketing hype. First of all, Templeton Rye is not mass-produced; it is only made in small batches in order to maintain high standards of production. Second of all, Templeton uses the original Kerkhoff family recipe – which consists of a 90% rye grain mash. Modern “rye” whiskies only need to have a 51% rye grain mash to be considered true rye whiskies. Thirdly, the rye used is locally grown or comes from the United States, Canada, or Europe, and only the highest quality grain gets selected to ensure the best flavor. An interesting side note is that 45% of the rye sent to Templeton gets rejected.
Surprisingly, the Templeton distillery doesn’t use the old-fashioned copper wash pot stills that some other micro-distillers seem to favor. The distillers at Templeton’s philosophy is that high quality ingredients are what matter most when it comes to making quality rye whiskey, and modern distillation technology works just fine.
The stout and round little bottle might make pouring difficult, but the visual effect is charming and it looks like a bottle old-timey products may have come in. The label is nicely done, and works as a good frame for the amber-colored liquid inside. Right off the bat, this looks like something interesting to drink.
This is where things start to get intriguing. The color alone might suggest a caramel note, but the aromas present are dry, grassy (think of freshly-cut lawn), and spicy, like a good quality garam masala or the spices used in a Christmas punch. This bouquet is unexpected, but very pleasant.
Here is where the expected caramel and toffee notes come in, along with hints of allspice and butterscotch. Everything combines together smoothly.
This is another important aspect that contributes a lot to the Templeton Rye experience. The body is a little bit “chewy”, but it goes well with the rich amber tones.
This can sort of be described as an “aftertaste”, and many lesser-quality spirits may taste nice up front but may leave a bitter, sour, or generally unpleasant lingering effect. The finish with Templeton is clean, smooth, and the balance has been described as optimal.
How to Drink Templeton Prohibition Era Whiskey Rye
As mentioned earlier, Templeton is “the good stuff”, and what you don’t want to do is drown this magnificent beverage in a run-of-the-mill soda, masking all of its gorgeous characteristics. Templeton Rye on the rocks is a favorite of rye connoisseurs, but another way to enjoy Templeton is in a cocktail specially formulated to highlight all of its subtleties.
One such cocktail is the Boulevardier, a pre-Prohibition favourite. Campari, a bitter apéritif combines well with the caramel and toffee aspects of Templeton Rye, and the vermouth adds just a hint of sweetness to balance everything. This is a cocktail that’s actually recommended by the Templeton Distillery.
1 cocktail glass
2 ounces Templeton Rye
¾ ounce Campari
¾ ounce sweet vermouth
Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and stir everything for about thirty seconds. Strain into the glass, and garnish with a slice of orange.
Tweet It! #TempletonProhibition
Rum Review: Ragged Mountain Rum
Rum is one of those things that we usually don’t pay much attention to: if we’re hosting a party and planning on making some piña coladas or daiquiris, we’ll run to the liquor store and pick up a bottle of rum that we are familiar with. We’ll probably pick up a nice bottle of Barcardi, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with Bacardi rum, the truth is that we are limiting ourselves when we think of rum as a drink to consume in shot form or only in cocktails.
Rum is incredibly varied, and depending on the region where it’s made, it can be a light refreshing drink, or it can be a beverage that can quite possibly put some hair on your chest. The point is that if we only stick with the familiar brands of silver or unaged rum, we are really missing out on a world of flavor. What is doubly tragic is the fact that there are plenty of micro-distilleries in the United States that are making sublime rum that gets ignored on the shelves of alcohol markets.
One American rum that is underappreciated but is quickly gaining fame is Ragged Mountain Rum from the Berkshire Mountain Distillers in Massachusetts. Established only five years ago, this distillery is already producing prize-winning spirits such as gin along with their Ragged Mountain Rum. Like other recent American distillers, the spirits are handcrafted, meaning more flavor and depth remain, and the unique character of their products is attracting legions of fans who are bored of mass-produced, soul-less spirits.
Ragged Mountain Rum is produced only in small batches in traditional pot stills, which further adds depth and complexity to the liquor. According to the website, the over-proof raw spirit is first aged in oak barrels, before any water is added to it. After aging, when water is added, the only water used comes from an on-site spring which is famous for its outstanding levels of purity. The resulting rum is full-bodied, complex, and an absolute delight to drink.
Taste and character
Appearance: The plain, bulge-neck bottle is the first thing one notices; a Spartan label lets the beautiful amber color of the rum speak for itself; no fancy bells and whistles are needed to see this is a rum of quality.
Aroma: One of the biggest complaints that non-rum drinkers have about lower-quality rum is that it smells of old molasses. Ragged Mountain, however, is different; hints of freshly-cut grass, roasted nuts, cinnamon, and oak make for a very pleasant olfactory experience.
Taste: What makes Ragged Mountain Rum a real delight is that rather than having the somewhat flat taste of regular bar rum, it has a taste reminiscent of burnt cane sugar and cinnamon mixed with the brightness of a faint hint of copper. The roasted nut aroma is reflected in the palate as well, and the finish is nice and long, tasting of good quality cinnamon and light-bodied toffee. The taste was much more complex and pleasing than expected.
Tasting and Aroma summary: This is an American rum that is equal to and even surpasses the majority of the Caribbean rums that are on the market. If you’re looking for something different than the traditional Spanish, English, or French versions of rum, then Ragged Mountain Rum will not disappoint and will probably become your favourite.
How to Drink Ragged Mountain Rum
Ragged Mountain Rum works very well as a mixer if you’re a person who finds drinking rum neat to be a little difficult. While rum is traditionally taken by itself and sipped, there are also some fantastic cocktails that feature rum. Because of Ragged Mountain Rum’s hint of cinnamon, it can be taken as an after-dinner digestif, served in an old-fashioned glass with or without a lump of ice; it can also take a cocktail up to the next level. Here are two recipes that are certain to please:
Ragged Mountain Daiquiri
1 cocktail glass or large martini glass
2 ounces Ragged Mountain Rum
¼ teaspoon extra fine white sugar (use more for a sweeter drink)
½ ounce lime juice
Pour the rum, sugar, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker that’s full of ice. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, then strain and pour into the glass.
Hot Buttered Rum
1 coffee mug
2 ounces Ragged Mountain Rum
About 4 ounces boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Squeeze of lemon and 1 inch lemon rind
One teaspoon butter
One or two teaspoons brown sugar
Boil water in a pot along with the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, squeeze of lemon and lemon rind. Boil for two or three minutes until very fragrant. In the coffee mug, mix together the butter and brown sugar in the mug until a paste is formed. Add the boiling spiced water, then stir in the rum and serve. This drink is perfect on a cold day and has also been used as a home cold remedy for centuries.
Tweet It!: #RaggedMountainRum
Scotch Whiskey Review: Ardbeg Ten Years Old
A lot of people who enjoy single malt whiskies from Scotland unfortunately usually stick to a few of the well-known, popular brands that can be found in liquor stores everywhere. While these famous whiskies are superb and are well-loved for good reason, there are some whiskies that come from the country’s smaller distilleries that are simply phenomenal and so full of character that they make the famous brands seem almost bland in comparison. One single malt whisky that has been a favorite of connoisseurs for a few years now is Ardbeg Ten Years Old, a terrific liquor produced by the Ardbeg distillery on Islay, a small island off Scotland’s west coast. While very uncommon in shops around the world just a few short years ago, Ardbeg is rightfully gaining a large, incredibly loyal fan base.
A little history
The Ardbeg distillery was founded in 1815, and in 1887 output was over 1.1 million litres of whiskey per year. In 1911 the name Ardbeg was registered as a trademark, however, in the 1980’s production came to a standstill and the distillery was closed more or less permanently until 1997, when Glenmorangie purchased it. In 1998, Ardbeg 1975 was launched, and a year after re-opening, Ardbeg was voted Distillery of the Year. In 2000, Ardbeg Ten Years Old was launched, and ever since then, Ardbeg’s various fine single malt whiskies have been winning awards such as the World Whisky of the Year. Fortunately, because of their fine products and loyal growing customer base, the Ardbeg distillery is highly unlikely to ever close again.
Taste and character
Ardbeg Ten Year is known in whisky connoisseur circles as the best whisky in the world, in fact, for three years in a row it has actually been voted as “Best Whisky in the World”. What makes Ardbeg so incredibly good is that it is peatiest and smokiest of all the Islay whiskies, which are known for being smoky and peaty. However, what separates Ardbeg from competitors is that it strikes a balance; it has a fruity floral aspect to it which prevents the smokiness and peatiness from taking over. The result is a sublime experience. Distillers at Ardbeg say that because the whisky is non-chill filtered, its ABV is 46% rather than the industry standard 40%. This means that all the flavor is retained, but at the same time more depth and body get added.
The complex aroma is what tasters first notice; peat, citrus, dark chocolate, smoky fruit and ocean minerals, along with black pepper, graphite, bell peppers and pear juice. When a drop of water is added to the whisky, even more aromas are released; briny sea spray, pine forests, vanilla and hazelnut scents make a person’s mouth water in anticipation.
The taste can only be described as an explosion; peat, citrus, garam masala, toffee, brine, bananas and currants are only some of the sensations a person can experience. The finish is like a very dry espresso, with hints of liquorice and smoke, and it doesn’t end there; because the finish is so long a person will also experience ephemeral notes of aniseed, toasted almonds, and fresh, ripe pears.
How to drink Ardbeg Ten Years Old
Ardbeg is absolutely a single malt that you want to drink by itself with just a drop or two of water to open up the flavors and aromas to their maximum potential. Ardbeg can be consumed without ice or water; however, only about half of its characteristics can be experienced when no water is added. For those who like their whisky to be cold, ice can be used, but rather than use ice cubes one large lump of ice should be placed in the glass. This is to ensure the ice doesn’t melt too soon and water down the whiskey too much. While plain tap water is recommended, carbonated mineral water can be used as long as it is the Highland Spring brand that is found in Scotland. Other brands tend to adulterate the flavor.
Cocktails and mixers
All experts agree that Ardbeg should not be used in a cocktail; it is meant to be enjoyed with only water. However, if you are convinced that Ardbeg will make a lovely mixed drink, keep in mind that it will not mix well with sweet flavors. Therefore, if you simply must make a cocktail, try the classic Bannockburn where Ardbeg’s smoke and peat character will blend well with the other ingredients.
1 Old Fashioned glass
1.5 ounces Ardbeg Ten Years Old
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1.5 ounces Tomato juice
1 Slice of lemon
1 “lump” of ice
In a cocktail shaker packed with ice, stir the Ardbeg, Worcestershire sauce and tomato juice for about thirty seconds. Strain and pour in an Old Fashioned glass, and add one lump of ice. Garnish with a lemon slice.
For more information about Ardbeg Distillery products, visit www.ardbeg.com.
Vodka Review: Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Vodka brings certain images to mind like cold weather and Red Square in Moscow. However, one man’s dream is slowly but surely revolutionizing the way we think of the clear liquor; Tito Beveridge of Austin, Texas is showing that one of the world’s best vodkas is actually from the U.S.A.
Austin, Texas isn’t exactly the first place you think of when you’re looking for an excellent smooth vodka. Former geologist Beveridge wants to remedy that by making small, hand-crafted batches of vodka in Texas’ first and oldest distillery. Unlike vodka producers who make their product on an industrial scale which usually sacrifices quality, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is distilled six times to ensure a pure, wonderful-tasting drink. To compare, Grey Goose, the French vodka which is considered to be the first true premium vodka on the market, is distilled five times. If you think Grey Goose is a good vodka (which it is by all means), then even without tasting it you can imagine how sublime Tito’s Handmade Vodka will be.
What makes it unique
According to Beveridge, there are two things that make Tito’s vodka unique in the vodka industry. First of all, the vodka is not distilled in modern column stills; everything is micro-distilled in the same type of old-fashioned pot stills that high-end Cognac and single-malt whisky makers use. Pot stills are more labor-intensive to operate, but assure a higher quality product at the end of the day, much to the delight of vodka fans in the United States. The second thing that makes Tito’s unique is yellow corn, which gives the vodka an ever-so-light sweet aftertaste. Almost all other vodkas that are on liquor store shelves are made from wheat or potatoes and are purposely made to have very little character or distinguishing characteristics.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka has been winning awards for more than a decade now. Commercial production started in 1997, and by 2001, it had unanimously won the San Francisco World Spirit Competition Double Gold Medal for vodka, a category with over 70 competitors. Spirit Journal has also given Tito’s Handmade Vodka four-star ranking twice; once in 2001 and again in 2007. This outstanding product will surely continue making a name for itself on the international scene.
If you’re used to wheat-based vodkas, then Tito’s is going to be quite different. First of all, the texture of the vodka is a bit thicker when it touches the tongue, but it is still smooth. There is very little burn, and very little nose. As mentioned earlier, unlike other vodkas which don’t have much in the flavor department and also have an unpleasant bite (especially vodkas made from potatoes), Tito’s has a surprising aftertaste that is mildly sweet. Many reviewers claim this characteristic makes it a beautiful sipping vodka (“perfect for marinating ice cubes” according to one expert) that shouldn’t be mixed; however, other reviewers state that this slightly sweet aftertaste makes for an incredibly deep dry martini.
An interesting note that some reviewers made is that after drinking Tito’s Handmade Vodka, hangovers were minimal or even non-existent. Even though too much of any type of alcohol will usually result in feeling rotten the next day, the distillation process for Tito’s which produces the incredibly smooth character of the vodka, filters out impurities that can make a hangover worse. Tito’s is distilled six times; products of lesser quality are only distilled three times, and this is why cheap vodka or spirits can cause hangovers of almost epic proportions.
How to drink Tito’s Handmade Vodka
What’s nice about this product is that it’s great for connoisseurs and it’s also great for people who simply want a tasty cocktail. If you are a lover of vodka, then the best way is to simply drink it neat, undiluted, and slightly chilled with no ice. If you can’t chill your vodka first, then it is all right to add a few ice cubes to your drink. If you don’t like the thicker consistency of Tito’s, then adding an ice cube or two will also adjust the consistency to something you’re more familiar with.
Mixers, infusions, and cocktails
Tito’s is also great as a mixer; it’s a neutral spirit with a slight hint of sweetness that will add depth to any cocktail. It will also infuse well to make a flavored vodka; just go visit titosvodka.com for a few ideas. If you’re a mixed-drinks fan, here are two recipes featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka that you’ll surely enjoy:
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Martini
1 martini glass, chilled
2 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
¼ ounce or a spritz white vermouth
1 cocktail olive on a toothpick or one twist of lemon
Pour the vodka and vermouth in a cocktail shaker that’s full of ice and stir with a long spoon for at least thirty seconds. Pour into the martini glass, add olive or the lemon twist and serve.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka Lemon Drop
1 martini glass, chilled and rimmed with fine sugar
1.5 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce sugar syrup
1 lemon twist
Pour the vodka, lemon juice, and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker that’s full of ice. Shake for at least thirty seconds, and pour into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.
Tweet It! #TitosVodka