Ah, Maker's Mark. What more can I say? You were one of the first bourbons I ever had. The first of many to be paired with a cigar and gently cradled in an icy glass on an old porch overlooking the lake. And you quickly became a go-to sipper whenever you went on sale.
But now... I think you've been replaced.
Not to worry though. I'm staying in the family. In fact, my new favorite corn whisky is your (barely) older brother. Maker's 46, despite it's steep price hike when compared to Maker's Mark ($47.99 vs. $24.99), is nothing more than their standard whisky aged for a few extra weeks with seared french oak staves. These staves add to the smooth, vanilla flavors of the whisky, and the searing caramelizes the sugars in the wood, increasing the sweetness and removing all trace of bitterness.
This is a really fun match up between two single malt island Scotch whiskies. Laphroaig (La-froyg) 10 is the standard island single malt Scotch. If you want to know what people mean when they talk about "peat" or "smoke" in a whisky, ask for a dram next time you're out at the pub. It won't be cheap, and it's an acquired taste that many find initially unappealing. But like a dark cigar, if you put the time in to work your way up to it, you'll be richly rewarded.
You don't have to be a moustached, woodworking, flannel-wearing outdoorsman to enjoy a good whisky. But in this music video, Nick Offerman (best known for playing a gruff, anti-government government employee in Parks and Recreation) makes a good dram appealing anyways. Pay attention to the background, many of these scenes were filmed on location at distilleries in Scotland. I think I spotted scenes at Lagavulin and Oban. Any others that you recognize?
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.
It's June, and cold and flu season should theoretically be over. But the sky is gloomy in Southern California, so to match the winterish weather outside, my body decided (without consulting me, of course) to come down with a cold. What kind of cold? Not the kind with light sniffles and the occasional cough, but a real, honest-to-goodness cold, complete with blocked sinuses, achy muscles and a searingly painful throat.
In dire circumstances like this, there's nothing to do but make the best of it. And that means hot toddies all around. For the uninitiated, a hot toddy is a homeopathic cold remedy that harkens back to auld Ireland itself, where it is also known as hot whiskey.