Death’s Door White Whisky

This story was recently published (in German) in the latest issue of Mixology Magazine.

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Let’s say I placed two glasses in front of you. In one glass I poured some vodka, and into the other, some newly distilled whisky.

Could you, without tasting, tell me which was which?

Of course you couldn’t – as all newly distilled spirits are colourless – a fact that surprises some. There are those who do not realize that whiskies (unless artificially coloured) gain all of their colour from the oak casks in which they are aged.

And interestingly, while the oak maturation is the main factor in creating the flavours of aged whiskies, newly distilled whisky (called “New Make Spirit” and often referred to as “White Dog” by American whiskey distillers) have flavours which are distinctive to the ingredients with which and process by which they were distilled.

New make spirits are often floral, fruity, slightly sweet and show a distinct graininess. Many are pleasantly surprised to find that new make spirits (when properly constructed) can be quite enjoyable – while often bearing little resemblance to the whiskies they will become.

In the UK, where whisky must be aged a minimum of 3 years before it is eligible to be sold as whisky, start-up distilleries often turn to bottling and selling new make spirit as a short term solution to bridge the gap between start-up costs and profitability.

These new make spirits are something of an oddity – rarely achieving wide distribution – often only available at the distillery.

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Singlemalt TV brings you the Bourbon Festival

If you didn’t get a chance to get to the Bourbon festival this year, don’t fret. SMTV was there.

Here’s one of the reports.

Last week Singlemalt TV took their full show on the road, working round-the-clock from
a historic former library in downtown Bardstown as preparations for the 18th Kentucky
Bourbon Festival commenced. Camera crews worked to capture all the offerings of
Bourbon Country, shooting at distilleries and on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail in the
days leading up to the festival.
After filming a live webcast each morning, camera crews set out on assignment to
various locations around the region. Upon returning from each location, crews turned
over their footage to a video editor working from the Bardstown headquarters who
meticulously cut each segment for a nightly show. For six days and nights Singlemalt
TV’s on-location staff worked to deliver exclusive up-to-the-minute coverage of the KBF
as it unfolded, maintaining their exacting broadcast-caliber standard throughout.

Reader Question: American Whiskey Tasting

Kevin, 

I have been a reader of your blog for the last few years. First of all thanks for taking the time to do it. I have a question that I thought you might have some opinions on, and might be interesting for your readers as well.
First a small bit of background, I live in DC and some friends and I have been organizing small (15-20 attendee) Scotch tastings about every 6 months, we’ve been picking regions and having 4 or 5 different scotches to sample (usually 2 or 3 $40-$50 bottles and 1 or 2 $70-$90 bottles). It’s been a lot of fun, and I think we and our friends have gotten too snooty for our own good, and the good of our pocket books.
So, for this next time around we decided to be a little cheap/patriotic and have an American whiskey tasting. Myself and a few of my roommates have begun some private research, and I have had real difficulty finding whiskies that stand out. Do you have any recommendations? I’d just like to find a few whiskeys that are complex enough to discuss as well as enjoy.
Thanks so much for your time, 
Nathan C.
My short list response:
  • Maker’s Mark is one of my favorites…and different than most Bourbons in that it uses wheat and no Rye.
  • Bulleit is a fantastic Bourbon at a good price.
  • Buffalo Trace and it’s slightly more expensive older brother Eagle Rare are both fantastic whiskies.
  • Stranahan’s (Colorado Single Malt) is really really good.
  • Jim Beam Black is a great whiskey for the price
  • Russel Reserve and Russle Reserve Rye are tops and I suggest that you include a rye whiskey in the tasting.
  • If you DO choose only one Rye – select Sazerac…the 6 year old. It is amazing and I use it a lot.

And don’t give me crap for leaving your favourite off the short list . . . there are so many American whiskies available that this was not meant to be an exhaustive list of excellent whiskies – but it was a list of readily available, priced right whiskies that anyone looking to explore American whiskies should try.

Of Course there are a number of other American Whiskies I enjoy – Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old Family Reserve; Four Roses, Bernheim, Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden, Old Forrester – are among my favourites, but availability can be sporadic or,  to be completely honest, didn’t spring to mind immediately.

Anyway, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments for the good of Nathan, his friends and other American Whisky drinkers.