If I could make one bourbon related wish come true, it would be to taste all the different blends and varieties side-by-side. While I'm waiting for that to happen... I did manage to do a double tasting of Bulleit and Four Roses. These are widely available bourbons that you can usually find in the $15-25 range (for the lower price, you'll have to wait for a sale), and both are quite drinkable. I'll write up my tasting notes at the end of this post, but first, a little about each bourbon:
"How can a $10 whiskey be this good?" That was my first thought upon taking a sip of this golden nectar, which was quickly followed by a second: "Why have I never tried this before?" Dipping below $17 with any liquor is always a little questionable, whether it's whiskey, vodka, tequila or something else, but occasionally you find a gem. And Rebel Yell bourbon is in that category.
Exploring the dark depths of my liquor cabinet this weekend, I made the happy discovery that I had two similar-but-different bottles of Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon hiding in the shadows behind a nearly empty bottle of dry vermouth and a forgotten bottle of Amaretto that I still haven't figured out how to use.
Evan Williams (or Evan Williams black label) is a middle shelf whiskey most people are familiar with. As a straight Kentucky bourbon, it's aged a minimum of four years and is produced at the Heaven Hill distillery in Louisville, along with a number of other recognizable brands like Heaven Hill and Elijah Craig. Although some version of "Since 1783" appears on every bottle of Evan Williams, whiskey historians (yes, that is a job) have pointed out that it has not been operating continuously that entire time, and a more accurate date might be somewhere in the early 1900s. Because of it's affordable price point and (relatively) smooth flavor, Evan Williams black label is the second best selling bourbon in the world, following only the value priced Jim Beam.
It's one of those rare rainy fall days in Los Angeles, which can only mean one thing: It's time to break out the Islay Scotch. For those unfamiliar with the nuances of Scotch Whisky (not Whiskey... that's Irish), it comes from 5 basic regions: Highland, Speyside, Lowland, Campbeltown and Islay (although some will drop Campbeltown and only refer to 4 regions, others will also include the Islands). Scotch Whisky regulations are strict about labeling—you can only label a whisky as being from a locale if it was actually distilled there, although distilleries are allowed more specific about location if they should so choose. For example, a whisky distilled in Orkney can be labeled as Orkney Scotch Whisky, rather than by a more generic geographic term.
Laphroaig is one of my favorite island whiskies. It's dense peaty nose and complex flavors transport me to the isle of Islay every time I pour myself a dram. Right now, Laphroaig is attempting to set a world record by having a global toast, so tune in!
From the Laphroaig website:
LAPHROAIG LIVE 2015 RETURNS HOME TO THE ISLAND OF ISLAY TO CELEBRATE 200 YEARS On Thursday 24th September at 8pm local time the ninth annual Laphroaig Live will broadcast live on the web from the island of IslayLaphroaig is this year celebrating 200 years and to mark this very special anniversary we are returning to the home of Laphroaig, the island of Islay to showcase four phenomenal whiskies as well as going behind the scenes at the distillery with Laphroaig’s very own distillery manager on this auspicious year John Campbell who will be joined by no less than five of the previous distillery managers! The first time they have all been together.
This year we will be tasting 4 very special expressions. The one off’ Laphroaig 15 YO – The official 200th Expression, Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015 (distilled using only the original small stills), Laphroaig 21 YO –Created for the Friends of Laphroaigs 21st Birthday and a unique Laphroaig 32 YO 100% sherry matured-A very rare, special expression.
Coming live from Laphroaig’s famous floor malting’s (one of only a handful left in the whisky industry), John Campbell and our five previous distillery managers will be joined by 2 experts Bernhard Schafer - Whisky journalist and Master of the Quiach, and Emma Andersson -Editor of Allt Om Whisky. Also joining Jon will be famous Scottish actor Sam Heughan - best known for his role in the series Outlander and Marcel van Gils – Author of the official 200th book about Laphroaig as well as many of our ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ from many countries around the World.
But our main audience, who will as always be posting in their questions to the panel live on the night – is our worldwide audience of Laphroaig lovers, including a live link to Laphroaig US whisky ambassador Simon Brooking who will be joined by 75 friends of Laphroaig via a live link from the New York.
To celebrate this special occasion, Laphroaig will be attempting to set a world record by encouraging the whole global audience to raise a toast to Laphroaig on their 200th anniversary!
"I need to drink less alcohol." We've all heard, and probably used, that phrase. After all, drinking less is a great way to spend less money and improve your all-around health (let’s be honest—alcohol is not on anyone’s weight loss plan). But most people have a hard time changing a habit they enjoy.
We're not talking about quitting cold turkey (if that's what you are looking for, click here). Life is meant to be lived, and all good things are here for our enjoyment. So even if the only six pack you have is chilling in your fridge, here’s five easy tips to help you drink less without even trying.
1. Start later: Cracking a cold one when you get home from work is a nice way to relax after a stressful day (if you commute, you might be reaching for something a little stronger). And there's nothing like a glass of wine while you cook to make you feel like a gourmet chef. But if your goal is to drink less alcohol, wait a little longer before your first glass. If one drink when you get home turns into two when you start dinner, and three before bed, move your schedule back. Pour the wine while you make dinner, instead of when you get home. Or save or beer for after your meal, instead of drinking it while you eat. If you wait until later to start, you’ll have less time to drink, so you'll drink less.
3. Spend more for less: Most of us are not willing to do shots of expensive alcohol unless someone else is buying. When you're home and drinking your own hard-earned money, two fingers of Jeremiah Weed often turn into a finger and a half of Jack, or a single finger of an 18 year old Glenmorangie. If you’re downing half a bottle of two buck chuck on a nightly basis because it’s cheap, find a nice $5 wine that you like and you’ll find that your drinking magically reduces to a glass a night (if a $5 bottle won’t do it, increase the price point until psychology kicks in. At some point, this will work… hopefully somewhere south of a dom perignon).
4. Drink with friends: You might need to ignore this one. If you and your roommates are putting away a 12 pack every night, you can skip this step. They are part of the problem, not the solution. But if you tend to drink alone, and you are drinking more than you would like on a regular basis, make it your goal to only drink with friends.
5. Keep an empty refrigerator: I learned this from a doctor I used to live with in Indianapolis. He would buy a huge case of Moosehead beer, but only chill one at a time. If you have a six pack in your fridge, you’ll be more tempted to drink it. If you only have one in there, you are well on your way towards building a habit of moderation and self-control.
What tips have you found helpful for drinking less?