IF YOU LIKE THAT, TRY THIS.

By Jesse King

Hey guys, if you have been really good this year then I bet you have (or will soon get) some gift cards to your favorite wine and spirit shop. This is a great opportunity to step outside of the box and try something new and exciting!  Remember, even your favorite tried-and-true beverage had to be tested the first time.

If Cognac is your jam, enjoying product mainstays like Hennessy and Courvoiser, you might like Armagnac. Both are French brandies distilled from grapes (albeit different grapes). Cognacs aim to keep consistency among spirits while older brother Armagnac likes branching out with different kinds of flavors. Le Marque and Larressingle are two wonderful examples that might just make you a convert!

Everybody loves margaritas and Triple Sec is in most recipes. In addition to the 'Rita, Triple Sec is super important to any home bar. However, have you thought about upgrading to a nicer orange liqueur? A little pet peeve of mine is when someone wants a bottom shelf product because "it's just going to be mixed anyway." Well, if your mixed drink is two thirds crap mixed with one third crap you will have 100 percent crap in a glass. Treat yourself and your guests this year, and see what a difference a couple of extra dollars can make. I suggest Mathilde, Cointeau, or Grand Marnier. Liqueurs like that demand you try a bit in a glass by itself first to see how wonderful "Triple Sec" can really be.

Ok, this is going to be a challenge but I'm up for it! Jagermeister has been popular forever. Everybody loves it. It’s a sweet herbal liqueur best enjoyed ice cold in a shot glass. As you grow older and more mature or simply look at Jager with feelings of nostalgia and nausea, consider trying a bottle of one of my favorite things in the world, Amaro. I describe Amaro to people as Jagermeister without the sweetness. It's spicy, it's herbal, it's absolutely luxurious on the tongue. You can use Amaro in a variety of cocktails as it plays very well with whiskey for starters, and you can use it as a digestif to settle your stomach after that big holiday meal. (It works, no kidding!) I recommend the lovely cola notes of Ramazzoti, or the beautifully crafted Montenegro, bursting with floral notes and smooth as silk on the palate.

Finally, we come to Tequila. I remember many nights (and occasionally not remembering a few) enjoying Tequila Blanco. This is because Blanco is great for shooting; it has spent little time in oak barrels so it is a pure expression of the spirit. If this is what you are used to, then why not live a little and get some Reposado and Anejo in your life.  Buy the aged versions of your favorite go-to Blanco to see how time in barrels have affected your juice. Of course, you can still shoot Reposado or make Margaritas with Anejo (it'll be a damn good 'Rita!) but I suggest enjoying these new versions neat or on the rocks to truly see what makes them unique. Most Tequila brands offer all three, but for a place to start I enjoy the differences between Don Julio, and Tres Generaciones.

Come see me and our knowledgeable staff for more recommendations on how to celebrate more this holiday season!

All sizes and vintages are in stock at the time of publication. In the event advertised vintages sell out, substitute vintages may be offered at the same price.

MY NEW FAVORITE: KETEL 1 VODKA

By Mark Bradham

At a recent tasting, to my delight, I discovered vodka that satisfied not only my taste buds but my love for history as well. Out of all the selections, Ketel 1 was my number one pick because of its ease to sip and for delivering both crisp, balanced flavors and a soft finish.

This ancient-recipe vodka was voted “#1 Best Selling Vodka” by Drink International.  It is the use of carefully selected European wheat and a combination of modern and traditional distilling techniques that result in Ketel 1 enjoying a consistently strong presence in the market. Unique fragrance, flavor, mouth-feel, and finish define Ketel 1; the fragrance shows freshness with hints of citrus honey. Savor the crisp, lively tingle and feel the signature softness coat your tongue. Allow the long finish and subtle flavors to remind you, “This is vodka at its best.”

Ten generations of Nolet Family experience go into every bottle. The Nolet Distillery in Holland, was founded in 1691, and has remained in the Nolet family ever since. Ketel 1 is named for the coal-fired copper still that was originally used for distillation. Ketel 1 time-honored traditions have stood the test of time, and to this day Ketel 1 is still distilled from 100% wheat in copper pot stills. This distilling technique produces the incredibly smooth vodka. After distillation, Ketel 1 is filtered over loose charcoal, and rests in tile lined tanks until ready for bottling.

You will be pleasantly surprised when you compare the price of Ketel 1 to the other top shelf vodka choices in the store. The Nolet Family has managed to keep the price below the competition while producing a superior vodka.

Try Ketel 1 and you will come to the same conclusion. Ketel 1 is the best value in the Vodka market today.

Cheers

Mark Bradham

A SCOTCH FOR EVERY TASTE

Joshuah Lingo

 I am always surprised when someone tells me that they enjoy all whiskeys with the exception of Scotch.  Scottish whiskey, or Scotch for short, has a diverse array of flavor profiles, ranging from sweet fruit to salty smoke, with every combination you could possibly imagine in between.  Hopefully this blog will shine some light on the regional profiles of Scotch and help guide you in your search to find that Scotch that makes you say, “Hey, I do like Scotch and WOW! It’s delicious!” It’s out there waiting to be discovered.

Much like its American counterpart, bourbon, Scotch has a strict set of criteria that must be met in order to earn the label Scotch.  First and foremost, Scotch must be produced in Scotland from water and malted (germinated) barley.  Other grains may be added if proper designation is used during labeling of the whiskey.  For example, single malt requires only water and malted barley from a single distillery be used; grain scotch requires the whiskey be made from any other grain, malted or un-malted; blended malt must be a blend of 2 or more single malts produced at different distilleries; and blended Scotch must be a combination of 2 or more malt Scotch and grain Scotch.  In addition, the processing of a mash, fermentation using only yeast, and pot distillation must all occur on the grounds of the distillery.  The spirit must be distilled at less than 94.8% alcohol, stored in oak cask for a minimum of 3 years, and bottled at no less than 40% alcohol strength per volume.

Unlike bourbon, the oak barrels used to age Scotch are not restricted to first fill American oak, meaning that they can be recycled barrels of any oak variety previously containing sherry, bourbon, port, etc.  This stipulation helps to create flavor diversity in Scotch because every cask has something different to offer.  Ex-bourbon barrels create vanilla and honey notes with heavy oak tones in the whiskey.  It's important to remember that these are qualities created by the American oak, which is a requisite of bourbon.  European sherry and port casks, on the other hand, offer notes of rich dried fruits, toffee, orange peel, and spice.  Other attributes to the characteristics of Scotch come from the water source (i.e., water sources closer to the sea offer salt notes or a briny quality) and the use of peat during the post malting drying process of the barley, which creates smoky flavors in the whiskey.

Next it is important to understand the locality of Scotch by learning the five designated regions of Scotch production and the characteristics of the malt whiskeys created in these regions.

The Malts of Scotland

Lowlands –  The demand for grain whiskeys has wreaked havoc on the malt production of this region, and today only the Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie and Bladnoch distilleries remain.  These whiskeys have a wonderful earthy quality of leaves or grass, floral notes, and tend to be creamy with subtle spice influences.

Island –  Island single malts offer an eclectic mix of flavors, from light-citrus to smoke, brine, and pepper, with an oily consistency.  Highland Park, of the Orkneys, offers smoke, honey sweetness, toffee, and fruit notes.  Jura original is light with apple notes, honey, malts, toffee and licorice. Talisker, from the Isle of Skye, produces whiskeys with smoke, pepper, salty brine, citrus, and apple/pear notes.  Ledaig is also a peat monster with lots of smoke, brine, and a wonderful oily quality that makes it a great winter whiskey.  

Islay – These whiskeys are known for a full-bodied mouthfeel, rich peaty smoke, and taste of the sea--ranging from subtle brine to strong iodine notes and seaweed to kipper, citrus and tropical fruits. These are very complex whiskeys.  There is truly nothing better than warming up during the cold of winter with nice neat glass of Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, or Bowmore, to name a few.

Campbeltown – Once a booming whiskey town of 34 distilleries, sadly, only the 3 distilleries of Springbank, Glengyle, and Glen Scotia remain.  These whiskeys are known for their complex flavors of smoke, brine, fruit, and vanilla.

Speyside – Speyside can truly be called the heart of single malt production, with 60% of single malts emerging from this region.  These whiskeys are known for barley/malt flavors, big fruit notes both dried and fresh, sweetness and spice, big oak, and lots of body with no smoke.  Macallan, Glenrothes, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Glen Grant, and Aberlour, are a few of my Speyside favorites.

Highlands –  These whiskeys spread over the largest geographical area in Scotland and offer a vast variety of flavor profiles.  Rich fruitcake and chocolate of Dalmore; bitter orange, honey, and smoke of Oban; peaches and almonds of Glenmorangie original expression; or heather, brine, lemongrass, and cinnamon of Clynelish. The diversity of the Highlands offers a whiskey for everyone.  

From salty/smoke of the sea to sweet/spice of Speyside, one thing I know for certain is that if you have tasted one Scotch then you have only tasted one Scotch because no two are alike.  Each is unique with very distinct combinations of flavors.  Come by and let’s visit, so we can find your perfect Scotch.

Cheers–

Joshuah