LJ gives #AWBAR a starred review in the 1 November issue. All Saints’ Day, indeed.

*Risen, Clay. American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit. Sterling Epicure. Nov. 2013. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781402798405.$24.95.BEVERAGES
New York Times editor Risen (A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination) deftly combines history and assessment in this informative volume that covers more than 200 of the titular spirits. The introduction discusses regulations that define types of whiskey, the process and ingredients used to make each kind, and the history of production in the United States; it also instructs readers in how to enjoy whiskey, how to organize a tasting, and how to read a whiskey. Risen then tackles particular drinks, including tasting notes, age, proof, price range, and rating for each producer’s brand, along with a high-resolution photograph of the bottle. Descriptors such as lavender, cinnamon, wood, and smoke, among others, will appeal to the reader’s taste, smell, and visual imagination. ­VERDICT This book will delight those interested in learning about the history, traditions, and comparative taste of whiskey, and the gorgeous images will conjure up memories of grandfather’s old favorites. A fascinating read as well as a valuable reference guide, this work is sure to be a hit, especially in regions where the beverage is gaining popularity.—­Ann ­Weber, Bellarmine Coll. Prep., San Jose, CA

LJ gives #AWBAR a starred review in the 1 November issue. All Saints’ Day, indeed.

*Risen, Clay. American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit. Sterling Epicure. Nov. 2013. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781402798405.$24.95.BEVERAGES

New York Times editor Risen (A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination) deftly combines history and assessment in this informative volume that covers more than 200 of the titular spirits. The introduction discusses regulations that define types of whiskey, the process and ingredients used to make each kind, and the history of production in the United States; it also instructs readers in how to enjoy whiskey, how to organize a tasting, and how to read a whiskey. Risen then tackles particular drinks, including tasting notes, age, proof, price range, and rating for each producer’s brand, along with a high-resolution photograph of the bottle. Descriptors such as lavender, cinnamon, wood, and smoke, among others, will appeal to the reader’s taste, smell, and visual imagination. ­VERDICT This book will delight those interested in learning about the history, traditions, and comparative taste of whiskey, and the gorgeous images will conjure up memories of grandfather’s old favorites. A fascinating read as well as a valuable reference guide, this work is sure to be a hit, especially in regions where the beverage is gaining popularity.—­Ann ­Weber, Bellarmine Coll. Prep., San Jose, CA

Risen weighs in on Jeff 18 over at Mash Notes. An amazing pour of whiskey. 

Risen weighs in on Jeff 18 over at Mash Notes. An amazing pour of whiskey. 

Clay Risen is blogging all things American whiskey over at Mash Notes. 

Clay Risen is blogging all things American whiskey over at Mash Notes

Another great blog post at the excellent K&L site by David Driscoll.
http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2012/7/19/the-ndp-dilemma.html

Another great blog post at the excellent K&L site by David Driscoll.

http://spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spirits-blog/2012/7/19/the-ndp-dilemma.html

Clay Risen’s blogsite is up at clayrisen.com. He’ll be chronicling our work together on the forthcoming American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye and other alcohol related matters. Check it out for the good stuff and bad. Scott & Nix

Clay Risen’s blogsite is up at clayrisen.com. He’ll be chronicling our work together on the forthcoming American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye and other alcohol related matters. Check it out for the good stuff and bad. Scott & Nix

Last week the Tuesday tasting took on an interesting mix: Basil Hayden’s 8 YO (80 proof), Jefferson’s Very Small Batch (83 proof), Four Roses Small Batch (90 proof), and Knob Creek Small Batch 9 YO (100 proof). The theme was “small batch” apparently, but I don’t think we planned it that way. The nose and flavors ran the gamut here from butter and lemons and bananas and candy corn to bbq and leather. Not in the same whiskey, of course, but each of these excellent drinks had something to offer. Not a dog in the race. 

Last week the Tuesday tasting took on an interesting mix: Basil Hayden’s 8 YO (80 proof), Jefferson’s Very Small Batch (83 proof), Four Roses Small Batch (90 proof), and Knob Creek Small Batch 9 YO (100 proof). The theme was “small batch” apparently, but I don’t think we planned it that way. The nose and flavors ran the gamut here from butter and lemons and bananas and candy corn to bbq and leather. Not in the same whiskey, of course, but each of these excellent drinks had something to offer. Not a dog in the race. 

Four high test whiskies made the scene at our Tuesday tasting: Fighting Cock [we’re not kidding] (103 proof), Baker’s 7 year old (107 proof), Noah’s Mill (114.3 proof), and Booker’s 7 years 4 months old (129.1 proof). 
Some background: By law, American whiskey must have the “proof” printed on its label. It’s a statement of what percentage of the liquid contains alcohol. For example, an 80 proof whiskey is 40 percent alcohol by volume (often abbreviated as ABV). Simply put, the ABV is half the proof statement.
So, why use the term “proof” at all and not just state the ABV? Tradition, I suppose. If you know better, please tell us. In the USA, whiskey must be a minimum of 80 proof (40 percent ABV) and less than 160 proof (80 percent ABV). Some makers dilute their whiskey with water after aging, some sell their hooch as cask strength at the proof it comes out of the barrel. 
Most brands print both the proof and the ABV, so you don’t need to figure out the math after a glass or two. Whiskey helps most things in life, but definitely not others. Arithmetic and surgery come to mind. 
The whiskies at the tasting last night were definitely all on the upper high end for proof, and it so happens that a few were absolutely delicious. Concentrated fruit and wood mixed with honey, butter, and toffee. Very spicy, too. Cut with a little cool water, they shined even more. Value for money. More delicious complex booze needing less water for less cash. What’s not to like?

Four high test whiskies made the scene at our Tuesday tasting: Fighting Cock [we’re not kidding] (103 proof), Baker’s 7 year old (107 proof), Noah’s Mill (114.3 proof), and Booker’s 7 years 4 months old (129.1 proof). 

Some background: By law, American whiskey must have the “proof” printed on its label. It’s a statement of what percentage of the liquid contains alcohol. For example, an 80 proof whiskey is 40 percent alcohol by volume (often abbreviated as ABV). Simply put, the ABV is half the proof statement.

So, why use the term “proof” at all and not just state the ABV? Tradition, I suppose. If you know better, please tell us. In the USA, whiskey must be a minimum of 80 proof (40 percent ABV) and less than 160 proof (80 percent ABV). Some makers dilute their whiskey with water after aging, some sell their hooch as cask strength at the proof it comes out of the barrel. 

Most brands print both the proof and the ABV, so you don’t need to figure out the math after a glass or two. Whiskey helps most things in life, but definitely not others. Arithmetic and surgery come to mind. 

The whiskies at the tasting last night were definitely all on the upper high end for proof, and it so happens that a few were absolutely delicious. Concentrated fruit and wood mixed with honey, butter, and toffee. Very spicy, too. Cut with a little cool water, they shined even more. Value for money. More delicious complex booze needing less water for less cash. What’s not to like?

We really hit the good stuff this week at our Tuesday tasting: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Limited Edition (12 YO), Black Maple Hill Red Label Special Edition, Elijah Craig Single Barrel (18 YO), and Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve. We also had our largest group of tasters to date—twelve brave souls did their civic whiskey duty (11 men and one intrepid lady).
When the whiskey is exceptional, it can be a struggle to tease out what makes it so appealing. (When the whiskey is bad, it’s just plain fun.) One knows what one likes, of course, but capturing that perfect aspect ain’t easy. Do I smell marzipan and salted peanuts? Is that Cocoa Puffs?  Why is there some sort of bubble gum and banana flavor going on?  Am I drunk?  With half-ounce pours, you’re not drunk (yet), but it’s like that old saw that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Writing about what one tastes and smells, aside from being extremely subjective, is just challenging in and of itself. Another saying comes to mind. Goethe said “Architecture is frozen music.”  Perhaps great whiskey is just music in a bottle?
(Thanks to Roman Mars and the excellent 99percentinvisible Podcast for the inspiration.)

We really hit the good stuff this week at our Tuesday tasting: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Limited Edition (12 YO), Black Maple Hill Red Label Special Edition, Elijah Craig Single Barrel (18 YO), and Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve. We also had our largest group of tasters to date—twelve brave souls did their civic whiskey duty (11 men and one intrepid lady).

When the whiskey is exceptional, it can be a struggle to tease out what makes it so appealing. (When the whiskey is bad, it’s just plain fun.) One knows what one likes, of course, but capturing that perfect aspect ain’t easy. Do I smell marzipan and salted peanuts? Is that Cocoa Puffs?  Why is there some sort of bubble gum and banana flavor going on?  Am I drunk?  With half-ounce pours, you’re not drunk (yet), but it’s like that old saw that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Writing about what one tastes and smells, aside from being extremely subjective, is just challenging in and of itself. Another saying comes to mind. Goethe said “Architecture is frozen music.”  Perhaps great whiskey is just music in a bottle?

(Thanks to Roman Mars and the excellent 99percentinvisible Podcast for the inspiration.)

We’ve devoted quite a few of our Tuesday tastings to rye whiskey this year. Turns out there are many rye whiskey brands out there from both large producers and smaller boutique distilleries.
Rye whiskey tends to be much drier and lighter bodied than “bourbon.” We chose four ryes last evening: Old Overholt, Pikesville Supreme, Copper Fox, and Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye.
Most American whiskey is distilled from corn mixed with other grains, such as wheat, malted barley, and, of course, rye. How much the makers use and in what proportion varies a good deal. A few distillers even make a 100 percent rye, like Whistlepig from Vermont or in the case of Copper Fox, they use 75 percent rye and 25 percent malted barley. Hadn’t heard of this proportion before.
Rye can really brings those “high and dry” and floral flavors to whiskey that corn and wheat mixtures can’t on their own. The whiskies last night had a nice range of “rye-ness” to them. 

We’ve devoted quite a few of our Tuesday tastings to rye whiskey this year. Turns out there are many rye whiskey brands out there from both large producers and smaller boutique distilleries.

Rye whiskey tends to be much drier and lighter bodied than “bourbon.” We chose four ryes last evening: Old Overholt, Pikesville Supreme, Copper Fox, and Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye.

Most American whiskey is distilled from corn mixed with other grains, such as wheat, malted barley, and, of course, rye. How much the makers use and in what proportion varies a good deal. A few distillers even make a 100 percent rye, like Whistlepig from Vermont or in the case of Copper Fox, they use 75 percent rye and 25 percent malted barley. Hadn’t heard of this proportion before.

Rye can really brings those “high and dry” and floral flavors to whiskey that corn and wheat mixtures can’t on their own. The whiskies last night had a nice range of “rye-ness” to them.