Category Archives: Richard’s Blog

Did You Know #2: Beware the Burn

Did You Know…that you can burn your taste buds on higher proof whiskey?

Opinions vary about the preference for or against difference proof strengths of whiskey.  Some folks chide the 80 proof while rallying behind cask strength whiskeys and vice versa.  Regardless of your preference you should note that the higher the alcohol content the more likely you are to burn your taste buds.  It may seem really manly (or womanly if you’re so inclined) to drink all your whiskey straight all the time.  That’s all well and good when your bottles are in the 40% to 46% ABV range.  However, once you start knocking back glasses in the upper 50’s, 60’s, and heaven forbid 70’s without any water then you’re looking for a hurtin’.  I’m not talking about the level of inebriation but rather the effect the alcohol has on your tongue and it’s subsequent ability to taste.  All that alcohol “burns” or essentially numbs your taste buds to further experiences for some period of time there after.    If you are eating grandma’s okra and squash surprise (I’m from Georgia remember) then that may not be a bad thing.  But if you want to actually taste and enjoy your whiskey, not to mention subsequent whiskeys, then you need to be careful.  Sipping slow and adding a little water won’t call for an automatic revoking of your man-card.  I promise. 

On a related note, if you’re engaging in a tasting of multiple whiskies it is a generally good idea to go from lowest alcohol content to highest.

– Richard

Did You Know #1: More Than a Shelf Can Show

I thought it might be a good idea to post little nuggets of whiskey related advice, knowledge, or wisdom from time to time to help out our readers.   Some people may say that these are all “common sense” but in life, like whiskey I find that “common” sense is a little less common than we think.  A number of you may already know most or all the bits of information that we’ll share under the “Did You Know” banner but if we can enlighten just one reader then in my opinion the post was helpful.  So here goes…

Did You Know…that your local liquor stores have access to a lot more selection than you see on the shelves? 

Have you ever gone into your local purveyor of the water of life just to sigh as you see the same old bottlings again and again?  You may find yourself wondering why your local shop only carries the same 5 bourbons, 2 ryes, 2 Irish, and 4 scotches?  The answer?  Supply and demand.  I’m not going to give you an economics lesson but suffice it to say that if your local shop sells their selection just fine then why change?  However, if they see a growing demand for something else that they can get their hands on then they may start stocking that too.  Try talking to the local store manager/owner and see if they are willing to order specific whiskeys for you.  You may be surprised when they pull out the book they get from their local distributor and then ask you which of 50+ additional scotches on that list you are interested in. 

There are limits of course.  Some producers don’t sell in certain areas.  There are plenty of scotch bottlings that don’t make it stateside.  Japanese whisky is all but completely absent here.  Even a great brand like Buffalo Trace doesn’t send any of their standard bottling two states south to Georgia.  So don’t go in expecting to get  the most hard to find and esoteric whiskey imaginable.   On the other hand, see what they can get.  You may just be surprised.  If enough people start doing it then you may just see that standard selection increasing a bottling at a time.

One additional note about price – generally speaking the liquor store will probably charge you a little more for your special order bottle than if you bought it off the shelf.  Why?  Well, it’s either because they can (you obviously couldn’t get it elsewhere or you wouldn’t be coming in and special ordering it) or because what they pay for a single bottle is a good bit more than the per bottle price if they order a case/box of a regularly stocked item.   Either way, as long as they don’t completely screw you on the price then fair is fair.  They are getting a decent profit and you are getting the whiskey you’ve been looking for.  What’s not to like?

– Richard

Good Times, Great Friends, and Greater Whiskey

This past weekend I had the distinct honor of having Mr. & Mrs. Matt down in Atlanta for a visit.  I don’t really get to see them that often and the distance between NYC and Atlanta seems much farther upon their departure than the two hour flight it entails.  We had BBQ, good conversations and a considerable amount of great whiskey. 

So what does all this mean for our readers?  Well of course we were working during this visit too.   I’ll get the reviews of that lovely 30 Year Old Highland Park I got for my birthday posted soon.  We also did a great single malt comparison for the Gateway series that is soon to come. 

Why am I just telling you about it all instead of posting it?  I don’t know.  Lazy I guess.  To make up for the delay let me give you something that is just too good not to pass along.  Sometime between BBQ and bourbon we came across a great milkshake recipe that we all agreed must be posted for the greater good.  This recipe is for Bourbon Ball Milkshakes.  The recipe was created by Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY.  It was recently printed in Martha Stewart Living.

Bourbon Ball Milkshakes (makes 4)

12 large scoops (about a 1/2 gallon) vanilla ice cream

4 ounces (1/2 cup) bourbon, preferably Woodford Reserve

2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus 1/4 cup, whipped, for serving

1 cup walnut halves, plus more chopped for serving

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Puree ice cream, bourbon, heavy cream, walnuts, and chocolate chips in a blender. Divide among four 16-ounce glasses.

Top with whipped cream. Garnish with walnuts and chocolate chips.

I didn’t have any Woodford Reserve on hand (gasp!) or walnuts so we made it with Basil Hayden’s but its was still fantastic.  Go ahead and whip up a batch, you won’t be sorry.  And I promise to get those reviews posted soon.

– Richard

Greatest Wife In The World

My lovely wife Elizabeth is the greatest wife in the world.  Why?  Well, today is my birthday.  I turned 30 today.  To mark this special occasion she gave me a very special present.  I just received a bottle of 30 Year old Highland Park Single Malt Scotch.  Yep, that’s right.  Eat your heart out.

How does it taste?  Matt’s coming back to Atlanta next week and we’ll sit down for a dram when he’s here (Matt’s also 30 for another three months or so) and work out our thoughts with a formal review to follow.  John Hansell gave it a 94/100 so you should expect to hear good things. 

Let’s from any of you out there about the great whiskeys you’ve  received.

– Richard

Summer Whiskey?

As June draws to an end we find ourselves in the midst of summer.  At least in Atlanta anyway.   I don’t think there’s been a high below 90 in the last two to three weeks.  With the change in climate has your whiskey drink of choice changed?  Now if you’re like me you have more than one bottle or favorite in the local bar so it’s not like you have to be exclusive to just one.  What I’m really asking is, does your desired beverage profile change in the warmer months?  Do you gravitate away from peaty Islay malts in favor of  whiskey sours? 

Personally, I tend to be a mood drinker.  I drink whatever strikes my fancy at the particular moment.  That said, I’ve noticed lately that I do tend to gravitate toward or away from certain whiskeys depending on the time of year.  Peaty scotches just seem to go with cold weather for me.  Maybe I secretly picture myself blasted by cold scottish winds on the coast of Islay.  Who knows?  Fiery bourbons also seem to fit well.  I guess I’m keeping out the cold from the inside out.

When it’s warmer I’m still not much of a cocktail drinker but my tastes do change.  Sweeter bourbons, Irish whiskeys,  and lighter Scotch tend to be the drams I reach for more often than not.  But again, all this is more of a general trend.  There are plenty of whiskeys of all types that I’d be more than happy to drink anytime of the year.  What about you?

– Richard