• Wild Turkey American Whisky

    One of the more intriguing aspects of bourbon’s revival is the way in which its stubborn old guardians have been proved right. None more so than Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell. A glance at the Wild Turkey distillery confirms that this place doesn’t abide by convention.

    As other firms are tidying up their plants, the iron-clad, black-painted Wild Turkey sits teetering on the brink of a gorge, steam rattling out of various chimneys. It is one of those places which feels alive, as if the plant is humming with the measured rhythm of the staff. And, overseeing it all, is the avuncular Jimmy.

    Take a walk with Jimmy through his distillery – it may be owned by Pernod-Ricard, but this is Jimmy’s place – and it comes alive. The swirl and changing colours of the ferment; the wheeze, hiss and whistle of the still – these are not inanimate functions, but part and parcel of a creative, living process.

    No surprise, then, that he’s a firm believer in the human touch. ‘People are one of the most important things in making bourbon,’ he says. ‘It’s people who are doing the work here, people with generations of experience. All these proud people feel that Wild Turkey is part of them’.

    He talks of understanding the meaning in the weird music of the still. ‘You have to have a stillman there, watching and listening to it. The sound tells him what is going on. We can hear a funny noise and know what’s happening. You can’t have that hands-on control with machines’.

    Jimmy is no technocrat. His pride in his distillery and his whiskey springs from the heart. ‘There are things which you cannot prove scientifically. You can’t prove why copper works better than stainless steel, but you sure can taste the difference. So, for me, making whiskey is a craftsman’s process, an artistic process if you like. That artistic element is coming back as bourbon’s image improves, and small batch and single barrel brands appear. People are coming back to an old-fashioned way of making whiskey and old-fashioned flavours’.

    This belief in flavour is a crucial factor in making Jimmy’s the tastiest bourbon of all. “Old-fashioned’ is often used in a derogatory sense, but when distillers such as Jimmy Russell use the term, they’re talking of a style of bourbon made before the ‘light is right’ brigade began to throttle the industry to death. These days, people like him have been vindicated, as the whisky-drinking world (re)discovers flavour and complexity. They wanted us to go lighter and lighter, but we never did change,’ he smiles. ‘You’ll see more and more flavoursome, top-end bourbons in the future: but we didn’t have to change anything, we were already there!’

    Everything in the production of Wild Turkey is done to maximize flavour. The mashbill is heavy on rye and barley malt, it’s distilled to a lower proof than any other bourbon and aged for longer than average. Jimmy also insists on using ‘the old, natural ageing process’, by rotating the barrels in the warehouses – taking the barrels from the hot top floors and replacing them with those that have started on the cool lower floors. It gives a more even maturation profile for the Wild Turkey brands, though it’s the middle floors which provide the whiskeys that go into the small batch Rare Breed and single barrel Kentucky Spirit.

    Superb though they are, it’s Wild Turkey 101° proof, 8-year-old which defines top-end bourbon. Uncompromising yet charming (like Jimmy himself), the fact that Hunter S. Thompson rates it as his favourite bourbon is no surprise, and speaks volumes about what to expect.

    TASTING NOTES

    Wild Turkey
    80°proof Big nose, mixing geranium orange peel and dark fruit. Some smoke on the palate, which is rich with light cinnamon/perfumed notes, then a crisp vanilla/toasty finish. Solid stuff. ***

    Wild Turkey 8-year-old
    lOTproof Wonderfully rich and complex nose of acacia honey, caramelized fruits/creme brulee, faded roses and dried spices. Starts sweetly then sits heavily in the mouth. Hugely rich, mixing tingling sweet spices, honeyed fruits, vanilla and some red fruit. Succulent, and a meal in a glass. * * * * *

    Wild Turkey Rare Breed
    108.6°proof Slightly sweeter than the 8-year-old 101 °: more barley sugar/candy notes. Big and honeyed, with a light floral lift. Lovely mix of roses, fragrant spice, plum, nectarine and cigar box. A slow, soft start in the mouth, then a lift of charred wood, honeyed wood and a mix of chocolate and lemon on the finish

  • Understanding a Scotch Label

    To grasp the understanding of a scotch label takes the ability to understand many things. National laws, marketing, tradition, as well as whim are placed on the label of this fine product. This simple guide can get you through the confusion of what’s inside the bottle.

    If you are looking for a true scotch whisky then the label should say exactly that, if the spelling is different, than that it is not made in Scotland rather it is made elsewhere. Look for the words single malt they can be broken up yet they will say single malt if that is what it is. The only way to identify a true single malt whisky is to do research, never take the name as it’s word on quality; many names have been forged to hide the identity of the true distiller.

    If the alcohol content per volume reads more than fifty percent then it would be best to water down this malt as it is rated by cask strength and will be stronger please do not mistake percentage with proof.

    And finally check the date of bottling it does not age once bottled.

  • The Origin Scotch and Irish Whiskey

    The origin of Irish whisky is a little cloudy, no one is actually sure when it was 1st created, it is summised that brewing started sometime in the 12th century.

    Irish whisky is barley, malt whisky made in Ireland. Irish whisky resembles Scotch whiskey in that its ingredients and formulation is slightly different.

    Note that Irish whisky is written differently.Peat is almost never used when malting Irish whisky, resulting in a whisky with a smoother, sweeter flavour. In most Irish whiskys, the smoky, earthy flavors of Scotch are absent.

    Common wisdom says that the Irish invented whisky, but it is speculated that the Scots perfected it. Both claims are open to doubt, if “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” then “perfection is on the tongue of the glassholder.” In other words it is a question of taste. The word whisky comes from the Irish Gaelic term “uisce beatha” which translates as “water of life” (“uisce” is pronounced ish-ka).

    There are fewer distilleries of Irish whisky than there are distillers of Scotch. Economic difficulties in the last couple of centuries have led to great number of mergers and closures.

    Currently there are only three distilleries operating in the whole of Ireland (although each produces a number of different whiskies.) Irish whisky, like Scotch, comes in several forms. Like Scotch whisky, there is single malt, (100% malted barley and grain whisky.

    Grain whisky is much lighter and more neutral in flavor than single malt and is almost never bottled as a single grain. It is instead used to blend with single malt to produce a lighter blended whisky.

    Unique to Irish whisky distilling and something that the scotch have never followed on, is pure pot still whisky (100% barley, both malted and unmalted, distilled in a pot still). The “green” unmalted barley gives the pure pot still whisky a spicy, unique Irish quality. Like single malt, pure pot still is sold as such or blended with grain whisky.

    Irish whisky is believed to be one of the earliest distilled beverages in Europe, dating to the mid-12th century). The Old Bushmills Distillery also lays claim to being the oldest licensed distillery in the world since gaining a license in 1608.

  • The First Bottle: History of Scotch

    Scotch is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages of all time, after all it has been around for hundred of years however, little thought is usually given to the actual origin of this popular drink. As the name suggests, Scotch was originally produced in Scotland by Friar John Cor. After distillation was introduced by Scottish monks in 1494, fine scotch became a popular drink.

    To the dismay of Scotch and other whiskey drinkers, whiskey was first taxed in 1644. This caused a rise in the number of what we would today call “bootleggers” who made and sold Scotch whiskey illegally. Later in 1823, the Scottish Parliament made it easier for one to own a licensed distillery and harder for illegal whiskey stills to stay in business. This began the modern production of Scotch whiskey.

    Today, fine scotch whiskey production is much more technologically advanced: It has to be in order to keep up with the demand for this popular drink. However, you won’t find fine Scotch made here in the U.S, in order to adorn the name “Scotch” the whiskey must be distilled and matured in Scotland.

  • German Beer Types

    German Beer Types

     

    German beer – you have to admit, is one of the finest tasting beers you can drink. German breweries are pretty secretive about their “how tos”. They all seem to say it’s in the water. I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but what really gives the beer it’s great flavor is the hops which is traded as seriously as grapes for wine makers.

    Most German beers are great tasting because all are vegan (no animal products are used). Bavarian purity laws limit them to four ingredients only: water, grain, hops and yeast. Real German beer is also not pasteurized as many American beers are, which lets you taste the beer’s real flavor.

    Listed below are some of the different types of German beers typically found in Bavaria and what you can expect should you order one of these types.

    Ein “Helles”, bitte ( A lite beer)

    The standard light beer, when you order a “Helles” in a pub or restaurant you’ll most likely end up with a pint. Depending on the brewer it can be quite refreshing. Some beer gardens have responded to the public’s demand for smaller quantities and now also offer them outdoors, the “real” beer garden only serves the “Mass” (one quart) – pronounced “maus”. By the way, Germany has laws governing the quantity of liquids served to the public, that is why you will find level markers on each glass. If your Mass looks like it is not quite 1 liter after the foam settles, just go back and ask for “bitte nachschenken”. The man at the keg will be impressed that you know your way around.

    Ein “Pils” (A Pilsener)

    If you like a more bitter and less malty taste try the pils which is also called pilsner. You can order them in restaurants and special pils bars. Take a closer look at the time consuming process of serving a foam crowned pils with perfection. You will see dozens of glasses filled with foam only, waiting to settle. It can take a good quarter of an hour for the foam refills to turn into the golden liquid.

    Ein “Dunkeles” (A dark beer)

    Against popular beliefs it is not the most powerful in alcohol contents. It is basically a lager bottom brewed beer containing “toasted” malt.

    Ein “Weissbier” (A white beer)

    A very good idea when the sun is shining and you prefer being refreshed by a lighter tasting beer. Weizen means wheat, often called a Weissbier (white), and is served in tall and elegant 1/2 liter glasses. But beware of its “light” character, it is the strongest in alcohol. While some will serve it with a slice of lemon, do not put one in your Hefe (yeast) Weissbier. The Hefeweissbier comes only in bottles, a professional will wet the glass and pour the bottle at a steep angle. With the foam that remains at the bottom of the bottle he will collect the yeast (swirling action) and add it to your beer.

    Ein Bock und Doppelbock (A Bock beer)

    Bock is term used for a stronger beer (doppel meaning double even more so). Fasting monks found an ingenious way of compensating the lack of food – they started brewing very strong beers. March and October are the two most prominent seasons for brewing these special beers.