Swilling in Chicago

Yesterday I went to the Chicago Rum Festival hosted by Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of Rum. This was a great event, and I had a great time. While I only went to the rum tasting, I am sure the distiller’s seminar, the dinner with the distillers, and the island music festival were fun as well. I missed the first two because of my travel schedule and the last because of a dinner with the fam.

Regardless, the rum tasting was a ton of fun. The pours were generous, and they were as willing to serve you a mixed drink (generally a caipirinha or a mojito) as they were a dram of rum, and there was no hording of the good stuff. You wanted the 18 year Flor de Cana, they were perfectly happy to pour it for you, which, as least to me, is always a good sign. As far as what I drank:

  • Santa Theresa Gran Reserva
  • Santa Theresa 1796 Solera
  • Pritchard’s Fine Cranberry Rum (I think, this was the last rum I had)
  • Old English Harbor 5 Year
  • Flor de Cana Gold 4 Year
  • Flor de Cana Gran Reserva 7 Year
  • Flor de Cana Centenario 18 Year
  • El Dorado 12 Year
  • El Dorado 15 Year
  • Gosling’s Black Seal
  • Gosling’s Old Rum
  • Cruzan Estate Diamond 5 Year
  • Cruzan Gold (Either 14 Month or 2 Year)
  • Cruzan Single Barrel
  • Cruzan Blackstrap
  • Rhum Neisson White
  • Rhum Neisson Eleve Sous Bois
  • Rhum Neisson Vieux
  • La Favorite White
  • La Favorite Vieux
  • Leblon Cachaca
  • Cubana Cachaca
  • Tommy Bahama Golden Sun
  • Sagatiba Cachaca
  • Rubi Rey Single Barrel Reserve
  • Kilo Kai Spiced Rum
  • St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • Alpenz Batavia Arrack von Oosten
  • Scarlet Ibis
  • Red Stripe Jamaican Lager
  • Rio D Cachaca
  • And so many more…
I also had several cocktails, including Mount Gay’s Rum Punch which was outstanding, as well as Sagatiba’s mojito, which was probably the best mojito, and, of course, Gosling’s serving up Dark ‘N’ Stormy’s. The lowlight was probably Rubi Rey, as well as the Batavia Arrack which would probably do well in a cocktail, but, by itself, wasn’t very good. Also I was disappointed with myself that I forgot my camera, and also the Mount Gay Extra Old. Another disappointment was the Rio D Cachaca. The woman there asked if I wanted it as a cocktail, and when I asked for a caipirina, she didn’t know what I was asking for, and just handed me the neat cachaca. On the other hand, I did get a muddler out of the bargain, so I can’t complain too much.

Lastly, Bacardi and the United States Bartender’s Guild sponsored a rum seminar run by Debbi Peek, of Bacardi, Bridget Albert of Southern Wine and Spirits, Charles Joly of the Drawing Room, and Peter Vestinos of Sepia. The seminar covered the Bacardi cocktail, the mojito, the daiquiri and the mai tai. They presented first a traditional cocktail recipe, then a modern interpretation. Debbi did the Bacardi cocktail, then did a strawberry-balsamic “Bacardi” cocktail, which, to my mind was more of a sophisticated take on the strawberry daiquiri than anything else. Then Peter presented the mai tai and his peach mai tai. Next up was Peter Vestinos with a daiquiri and a more sophisticated daiquiri using egg whie, St. Germain, and orange water, which I thought was the best cocktail served. Finally, Bridget presented the mojito and:

The Blueberry Mojito by Bridget Albert

  • 1 oz. – Dried Lavender Syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dried lavender)
  • 10-12 – Mint Leaves
  • 10-12 – Blueberries
  • .5 oz. – Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1.5 oz. – Bacardi Superior
  • Soda Water to top

Muddle mint leaves, syrup, blueberries, and lime juice eight times with a large muddler in a double old fashioned glass. Add rum. Fill glass with crushed ice, and top with soda water. Garnish with a straw and mint leaf, stir to combine.

All in all, a wonderful event. Hopefully I can continue to go to more festivals. If you have the chance to go to any Ministry of Rum events, I encourage you to go. Hopefully I’ll get pictures from Ed to post here.

The Scribe


Again With the Lateness

Hello everyone. Today I did the review I meant to do last week: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey. I found it to be quite yummy. On a related note, I’m leaving Friday night for Chicago. I will be making an appearance at Ed Hamilton’s Chicago Rum Festival for the tasting Saturday afternoon as well as the Windy City Series, where I am sure the White Sox will tackle that other team they are facing quite handily. Of course, I will also be able to see lots of friends and family. I will be back in Boston on the following Monday, but in the meantime, I will be posting from Chicago. But anyway, onto the review:

Bulleit Distilling Co.: Frontier Bourbon Whiskey

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed the Bulleit as a nightcap after a day of leisure. As per usual with spirits, I enjoyed it first neat, then with water, and finally a cube of ice in a brandy snifter of approximately eight ounces.

Eye: The most striking thing about Bulleit is its packaging. The packaging is clearly inspired by images of the old West. The form is vaguely reminiscent of an over sized hip flask. The cork fits well. The glass is embossed with the words “Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey” and then a label below repeats that information as well as all the other information that is needed. The spirit is a pleasant amber with slender legs. It is bottled at 90 proof and I could not find an age statement, though I would appreciate an idea of its age if anyone knows.

Nose: The first sniff really burned my nose. Again, a snifter might not have been the best idea, and I would generally drink this in a rocks glass anyway. The aroma is not the most pleasant with turpentine being the dominant note. Beyond that there are strong apple notes and a lot of nuttiness, with peanut especially strong.

Mouth: On the mouth this is gorgeous. Despite the aroma, it is silky smooth. It tastes almost like a Whatchamacallit bar with toffee and peanut tastes quite strongly. the peanut dominates the front with toffee and honey coming in on the middle and a vanilla notes finishing it out. A second sip leaves me nothing else, though I should note that the strength is quite evident with just a little numbness in the palate necessitating a brief wait between sips. Next up, the addition of water. I added just a dribble diluting it by no more than one part water to three parts whiskey. The water really doesn’t change too much perhaps bringing out the vanilla just a bit more. Next up, the addition of a cube of ice. A swirl to cool and a sip… The ice really tones back the peanut flavors, which is to the good. It reveals more fruitiness which could be the apple I smelled. It also really brings the toffee notes to the fore, and adding them to the finish. For me, I think a cube of ice is the way to go with this spirit.

Conclusion: I really like the Bulleit. It is wonderful. It’s like drinking candy from a first class confectioner. It is not overly sweet, and I found it a bit nutty until I added the ice, but with a cube of ice, this began to sing. It also works great in an old fashioned, especially when I used maple syrup or a vanilla syrup. This could well become a staple of my liquor cabinet.

Wishing you green pastures,
The Scribe

Picture to follow.

It’s A Peach!

For me, two fruit have always signified the height of summer: The peach and the cherry. Today, I am tackling peaches, and cherries will have to wait for another day. The peach, along with it’s half sister, the nectarine, were always around in our house during the summer. I picked up a half dozen peaches the other day at the grocery, and, naturally, I felt a need to make stewed peaches. The recipe is very simple. Take a syrup of two parts water to one part sugar, and add one other flavour element that plays well with peaches, in this case a healthy splash of vanilla extract (yes, yes, the bean is better, but being a poor college student, I have extract). Bring the syrup to a simmer and toss in halved or quartered peaches, and let them cook in the syrup until somewhat softened. Pull out the peaches, and reduce the syrup by half to a quarter (giving you 1-1 or 2-1 syrup). Serve the peaches with vanilla ice cream and a splash of syrup. Store the remaining peaches in syrup.

But what to do with the syrup? Well, peaches are a southern thing. What else is a s’uth’n thing? Bourbon. What takes syrup and bourbon? An old fashioned! Sooo….

Scrivenal Peach Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. – Bourbon (A smooth bourbon with nice vanilla notes would work great, but all I had was Boulleit.)
  • .5 oz – Vanilla Peach Syrup (described above)
  • 2-3 dashes – Bitters (I used Angustura Aromatic, but Fee’s Peach might be nice.)

Build in a tumbler as you would a normal old fashioned. If you can think of an appropriate garnish, let me know, but maybe a peach wedge.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to photograph the drink, but it was darn tasty. And yes, I don’t really garnish drinks for my own personal consumption. I make them how I like them, so I don’t need the ability to customize the drink.

Pleasant drinking,
The Scribe

A Willing Foe and Sea Room

Today at 8:00 this morning over one hundred boats set sail from Newport to battle wind, waves, and most importantly, each other to be the first to Bermuda. The biennial Newport Bermuda Race is one of the highlights of the racing schedule and at the send off party last night one drink was being consumed far in excess of any other. I speak, of course, of the dark and stormy. The dark and stormy is one of my favorite drinks, and, for me at least, a unique drink because it is the only drink I mix by colour.

The story goes that shortly after the Great War, the Royal Navy started offering ginger beer instead rum in an attempt at temperance. Upon being asked whether they wanted ginger beer or rum, limeys answered that they would take both. They poured both rations together, drank it, and thus was born the dark and stormy.

It’s a nice story but some variation of the rum and ginger has been around for ages. In fact, it hardly starts with rum. Ginger is a flavour that tends to go well with most amber spirits. Some experts believe that the first spirit and mixer style drink was likely ginger beer and brandy.

Now all that history is nice, Mr. Scribe, but how does one go about making a dark and stormy?

The Dark and Stormy

  • Gosling’s Black Seal or Bundaberg rum
  • Bermuda stone ginger beer (Barritts or Regatta work well with Gosling’s, or use Bundaburg with Bundaberg)
  • Lime wedge

In a long glass pour a healthy measure or rum and add ginger beer to taste. When I make it, I pour ginger beer until it has roughly the color displayed to the right. Squeeze the lime wedge if you like, stir gently to mix, and add ice to fill.

Now we just came to one of the huge debates in making the dark and stormy: to lime or not to lime? In Bermuda the lime is verbotten. In the States, and most of the Caribbean, ubiquitous. Were I a bartender, or entertaining, I would simply provide the lime wedge as garnish and allow my guest to use the lime as he or she saw fit. As for me, I like it both ways. If I am in a bar, I drink it as provided. In Bermuda, I drink it without the lime. When my father makes it, he adds lime. When I make it, it depends on my mood. The one I was drinking this evening can be seen to the left, and, as you can see, has a lime.

Now I had hoped to make a cocktail out of the dark and stormy. I was thinking rum, ginger liqueur, and perhaps lime bitters. Unfortunately, while I did see ginger brandy, I had heard bad things about it. As for something decent like Giffard’s Ginger of the Indies or Canton, well, the cheap liquor (Hillside Liquors) I go to for staple products would never carry something like that, and the more upscale place I go to for my sippers and specialty liqueurs (Downtown Wine & Spirits) was in the process of remodeling and didn’t have it in stock. Meanwhile, my housemates with cars were working ten hour days and didn’t feel like driving me to Kappy’s. So we needs must languish without the cocktail and leave it for another day.

And so, in the spirit of Friday and the Race, I wish you,

A willing foe, and sea room to race her,
The Scribe

The Old Jameson Distillery

Silvio from Refined Vices contacted me the other day about a more in deapth review of my tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. I was happy to oblige. You can now read the review over on his site. It seems Irish whiskey has been getting a lot of play here recently…

The Scribe

Better Late Than Never

I meant to go with the whole MxMo Bourbon thing and whip out a review of the Bulleit which was enjoyed in so many concoctions recently, including my own. Unfortunately, Wednesday rather snook up on me, and I did not recall that I owed you all a review until about three minutes ago. Unfortunately, with almost five minutes until midnight, I cannot really review a new product in the detail it deserves. Luckily, in addition to dozens of beer reviews stocked away, I also have a single spirit review as well. While I was really trying to keep the third Wednesday to sippers, I guess I will have to make an exception this week. I present you:

Old Bushmills Distillery: Original Irish Whiskey

Tasting Conditions:
I was at a party where we were each supposed to bring some nips (50 mL bottles) of different spirits to try. Since my liquor store gets the same price for Bushmills and vodka, the choice was easy. At the end of the night, I brought this spare bottle home. I decided to pop this one open since it was a glass bottle and I was moving. It was stored in indifferent conditions for under a week, and tasted in a snifter of approximately eight ounces.

Eye: In the bottle, Bushmills is a yellowish flaxen color. In the glass, the color doesn’t change at all. A swirl reveals legs that start thick, but get quite narrow as they slide down the class. The whiskey comes in a square bottle that tapers as it gets to the top. Certainly compared to the other nips I bought, it was the nicest. Having seen the full size bottle, it is quite similar to the nip.

Nose: There is a nice aroma with just a hint of smoke. The aroma is fairly smooth without too much alcoholic kick. Otherwise the aroma is slightly bready and quite nutty, though the two are fairly similar. There was also a hint of vanilla and a lot of peanut.

Mouth: I started, as I always do, with neat spirit. The taste was quite rich, and surprisingly smooth for such an inexpensive spirit. The front was buttery and smooth with a bit of honey and caramel, and perhaps a touch of vanilla. As it moved towards the back, the caramel became almost more like a nut brittle, and I got a lot of peanut butter on the finish. There was also a somewhat spicy element there as well. I moved on to the second stage: dilution with still ice water. The water did not change the flavor noticeably, though it became even smoother with less bite. The spiciness was also a touch more noticeable. The texture became slightly more buttery, but not much. For the final taste, I added a cube of ice. The ice really brought out the nuttiness on the front, while it became less noticeable on the finish. It also brought vanilla notes to the fore.

Conclusion: This is a wonderful whiskey, certainly for a beginner, which I undoubtedly am. It was smooth and yummy and creamy, and, most important, extremely cheap. At $15 for a bottle (buying nips), this is almost the same price as drinkable vodka or decent white rum, and yet it’s completely sipable neat even by palates that aren’t so used to straight spirits. I would be interested in using this as a mixing spirit. This is definitely staying on the shelf. How you drink it is up to you. I am not sure how I will, because it’s quite good however you enjoy it.

I should add that I enjoyed this spirit a week or so later. I didn’t find it quite as nice. Perhaps it was the choice of glassware…or lack there of. While it faired nicely in a snifter, when moved to a plastic keg cup, it didn’t do nearly as well.

I meant to have a picture to post, but unfortunately I forgot to take one. Next time!

Best of health,
The Scribe

MxMo: Bourbon – Catch a Bulleit

Good afternoon lover of boozahol the world over. It is time for this month’s installment of Mixology Monday. This month we are focusing on the wonderful product of the a bunch of rummers who didn’t want to pay taxes: Bourbon whiskey.

Just like last time, I have two drinks for you one is a sour, and the other I just recently came across. For our first trick we go with the same inspiration for last month’s post: the whiskey sour. This time, however, instead of staying fairly tradition with the mixers, and changing up the spirit, we keep the spirit traditional and change up the sweetener. Now, this drink is as much an invention of necessity as anything else. Being freshly moved in, I looked in my fridge and said, “What ingredients do I have in my fridge?” The answer was exactly two fruits: mango and orange. Luckily, one is sweet and the other tart, which gives quite nice balance, and the two flavours work well together. Thus, it is my honor to give you the Amber Daughter:

The Amber Daughter:

  • 2 oz. – Bourbon Whiskey (Bulleit)
  • 1 oz. – Finely Chopped Mango
  • 1 oz. – Orange Juice
  • Dash – Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Muddle the mango and orange juice together in the bottom of a short tumbler. Fill with ice, and add whiskey. Simple syrup can be added to taste.

I apologize for the quality of the photo. I am just learning to take pictures of drinks, and this one was a little haphazard anyway. Sill it was quite enjoyable. I think a splash of lemon would have made for a better drink, or, perhaps, lime.

While I was having lunch yesterday, I came across another interesting drink: The Mark and Stormy. Combine Maker’s Mark bourbon with ginger beer to taste. Garnish with a lime. I will be trying it as soon as I get Maker’s Mark and ginger beer.

Happy MxMo,
The Scribe