Archive for the ‘bourbon’Category

A fine homegrown single malt whiskey

Westland American Single Malt whiskey As a lover of good whiskey — whatever its Gaelic or hillbilly pedigree — I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole new category that’s just become available in the Northeast. Based on a tasting of Westland Distillery’s American Single Malt, the folks behind this Seattle distillery are visionaries. The Pacific Northwest has been, arguably, the source of some of the most exciting craft beer making in the last 15 years. Part of that is due to the great barley-growing areas of Washington State and Idaho, and the localized skill in creating specialty malts.

To my taste buds, though, it’s a big jump from craft beer to a sipping whiskey, and I’m pleased with the fruity, not-too-sweet Westland house style. I’m typically a bourbon drinker, and this single malt barley whiskey is frankly less assertive and less sweet than high-end corn-bred bourbons. But it’s a very civilized sip that picks up a lot of subtlety from the complex grain bill (Washington select pale malt, Munich malt, “extra-special” malt, pale chocolate malt, and brown malt). The mouth heat I’d normally associate with 92 proof is tamed by aggressive aging in new American oak for at least 24 months (with some mellowing in sherry casks and port pipes). The flavor starts as an assertive graham cracker sweetness, quickly mellows to caramel crystal (like crème brûlée), and gives an aftertaste full of white chocolate and toasted spice.

This is Westland’s first release in New England, and will be followed soon by a peated single malt with strong smoky phenolics. I’ll be happy to see how both styles fare with a little more time in the barrel before bottling, but to borrow from the film Casablanca, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Next time I’m in Seattle, I definitely plan to visit the distillery for a $10 tasting and tour (offered Wed.-Sat. at 11 a.m,, and 2, 4, and 6 p.m). The distillery is at 2931 First Avenue South, Suite B, Seattle (206-767-7250, westlanddistillery.com). Suggested retail for Westland American Single Malt is $79.

30

09 2014

Sipping a Seelbach Cocktail on Urban Bourbon Trail

Seelbach Michael Anderson I always think of the mint julep as the classic Kentucky drink, but there’s more than one way to imbibe the Bluegrass State’s signature spirit, Kentucky Bourbon. As I reported in the January 12 issue of the Boston Globe Travel section, I’m only two drinks away from claiming an Urban Bourbon Trail T-shirt. It’s offered to anyone who visits six of the 20 participating bourbon bars and restaurants in Louisville. (Click here to see the Globe story.)

The Seelbach Cocktail, named for the classic hotel where it was invented in 1917, is one of those great accidents that seem to happen at bars as the night wears on. The drink originated when champagne overflowed into a Manhattan, beverage supervisor Michael Anderson (above) told me. “It’s a cocktail with whiskey for people who don’t like whiskey,” he opined.

Seelbach drink 2 The recipe disappeared during Prohibition. but was rediscovered in 1995. Here’s how Anderson makes it today, using fewer bitters than the original 14 dashes, but sticking with Old Forester, America’s first bottled bourbon.

SEELBACH COCKTAIL

1 ounce bourbon (Old Forester)
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Champagne

Stir the bourbon, Cointreau, and bitters briefly over ice. Strain into a flute and top with brut Champagne.

24

01 2013