whiskey

Lost among the ‘dusties’ in Lexington’s House of Bourbon

Lost among the ‘dusties’ in Lexington’s House of Bourbon

Brian Booth tapped the back wall of Justins’ House of Bourbon at just the right point, and the wall swung open to reveal a windowless den behind the shop. It was a veritable speakeasy of some of the rarest vintage whiskeys ever brought together in one vault—old bottles known in the trade as “dusties.” That's a big part of what Justins’ House of Bourbon (601 West Main St., Lexington, Ky.; (859) 317-8609; thehouseofbourbon.com) is all about. Note the placement of the possessive apostrophe. This Mecca for bourbon nerds is the brainchild of Justin Sloan and Justin Thompson, both of whom began collecting vintage bottles of bourbon more than a decade ago. When Kentucky law changed in 2017 to allow the sale—by the glass and by...Read More
Pepper whiskey: haunting spirits rise from the dead

Pepper whiskey: haunting spirits rise from the dead

We do love a good ghost story, especially when the spirit in question is an iconic brand of Kentucky whiskey. Long before Brooklyn hipsters began muttering about “peppery” notes in a sip of rye, “Pepper” was a huge name in the whiskey world. We got a couple of centuries of colorful tales on a tour of the James E. Pepper Distillery (1228 Manchester St. #100, Lexington, KY; 859-309-3230; jamesepepper.com). The ever-so-great grandpappy of the Pepper whiskey line was Elijah Pepper, who began making whiskey around 1780 in Virginia and built a distillery in Woodford County, Kentucky, in 1812. By 1865, the business had passed to his 15-year-old grandson, James E. Pepper. Now part of Brown & Forman, that limestone block National Historic Landmark is the...Read More
Tipperary’s first releases hint of great things to come

Tipperary’s first releases hint of great things to come

With clear spirits grabbing most of the attention these days, it's great to see that whiskey, too, is having its moment. Kentucky's big distilling companies are spawning specialty offspring almost daily, it seems. New Scotch whiskies are proliferating at such a rate that we wonder if the turf-cutters can keep up. And now we have an intriguing offering from an Irish boutique distillery that launched in March 2016. Tipperary Boutique Distillery (Newtownadam, Cahir, County Tipperary; tipperarydistillery.ie) is a joint project of three talents. Jennifer Nickerson, who grew up in the Scotch whisky industry, manages the company. Stuart Nickerson, a 35-year veteran of Irish and Scottish distilleries, advises on the technical issues. Liam Ahearn, Jennifer's fiance, grows the barley on his family's Ballindoney Farm outside Clonmel....Read More
Chocolate and bourbon make best of friends

Chocolate and bourbon make best of friends

We were glad to see Andy Embry behind the counter at the cookware store and demonstration kitchen Mesa (216 Pearl Street, 812-725-7691, mesachefs.com) in New Albany. Mesa offers an ambitious schedule of cooking demonstrations led by local chefs. We had signed up for the bourbon and chocolate tasting program that is usually offered once a month, according to Mesa owner Bobby Bass. Embry had been remarkably engaging and knowledgeable when he guided us through the Evan Williams center in Louisville (see this post). And he had offered some good pointers on tasting bourbon. So we were curious to see how he approached pairing bourbon with chocolate. His partner in the demonstration was Erika Chavez-Graziano, founder of Cellar Door Chocolates (cellardoorchocolates.com), which has three shops in...Read More
WhistlePig launches Farmstock Rye (and it’s good)

WhistlePig launches Farmstock Rye (and it’s good)

As a Kentucky-born grandson of a contract whiskey distiller, my allegiance to bourbon as a spirit of choice is practically genetic. But the older I get, the more I'm inclined toward the drier, spicier sensations of good rye for a serious, contemplative tipple. And I've had to become less of a Kentucky chauvinist ever since master distiller Dave Pickerell (above) and founder Raj Peter Bhakta started releasing aged ryes from WhistlePig (whistlepigwhiskey.com) in Vermont. The distillery has 10, 12, 14, and 15 year old whiskeys in release. Those are all made from stock rye spirit that WhistlePig buys from Canada and Indiana. That's how a new distillery was able to bring whiskey to market even before they built their first copper still in 2015. Their...Read More

Commander’s Palace lives up to the legend

Enjoying a leisurely four-course Reveillon dinner (see previous post) is probably the best way to revel in the holiday spirit in New Orleans. But a fine meal is by no means limited to dinner—or to the historic French Quarter. For office parties and ladies who lunch, many restaurants also offer midday holiday menus. Among them is Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221, commanderspalace.com). This dining institution is housed in a bright blue building in the Garden District, where American interlopers shunned by French Creole society built their own grand mansions in the 19th century. The St. Charles streetcar carries passengers from the edge of the French Quarter to the Garden District in trolleys decked with garlands. Emile Commander opened Commander's Palace in the 1880s. It...Read More

Irish whiskey tells the country’s tale

Judging by the job posting at Teeling's Whiskey, the first new Dublin distillery in 125 years is finally getting ready to open its visitors center. The job? They're looking for fluent English speakers with at least one other language to give tours. The center, located on Newmarket Square in the Liberties section of Dublin (that's Dublin 8 for those who understand the city's postal codes), will be open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Exactly when it first opens for business is still unannounced. Meantime, Dublin hardly lacks for whiskey attractions, some of which we outlined today in a story in the Boston Globe travel section, "Even its whiskey tells an Irish tale". The story includes the new Irish Whiskey Museum (inaugurated in January) at...Read More

Whiskey in a Jar from Dublin’s Quay 14

The Morrison Hotel on the north bank of the Liffey in Dublin has a swanky, modernist feel, but the Quay 14 bar retains a nice clubby atmosphere enhanced by a crew of barmen who really know their craft. It's a good spot for a drink and quiet conversation. In fact, one evening we had a nice chat with Gary Campbell, who used to tend bar in Greater Boston before returning to Ireland and shaking drinks at some of the nicer Dublin hotel bars. Although we prefer our whiskey neat—the best way, we think, to appreciate Ireland's great contributions to the world of spirits—he persuaded us to try one of Quay 14's signature cocktails. It's a variant on the whiskey sour. Made with Bushmill's 10-year-old Irish...Read More

A fine homegrown 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,...Read More