A Whiskey Valentine

My first and truest love will always be wine – we share a perfect marriage that’s worth celebrating every day. But some of you may know I have a little thing on the side with whiskey, until recently strictly single malt. Bourbon never really caught my eye, but I’ve been hearing so much recently about American Rye Whiskey that I couldn’t ignore the suggestion to visit ‘Noorman’s Kil Whiskey and Grilled Cheese’ in Williamsburg (the north side of Brooklyn) when I visited New York City. I didn’t know Rye Whiskey well and I wanted to learn more; who was this dark stranger that everyone now wants, that is suddenly every bartender’s best friend and specialty of the house?

In this chilled out, very simple but amazing bar I did become convinced that grilled cheese sandwiches really are the best accompaniment to whiskey (they have over 400 whiskies from all over the world), which is lucky because all that was on offer was seven different kinds of, you guessed it, grilled cheese sandwiches. Delicious though they were, it was the Rye Whiskey I was most keen to acquaint myself with and, I must confess, I’m beginning to suspect a new love affair started that night.

Before I wax lyrical, a little background on American Rye Whiskey. It is, of course, made from rye – you know, like the bread. You may not also know that Bourbon, for example, is usually made from corn, which gives it that sweet, fruity flavour. Rye Whiskys are much drier, spicier and more robust in flavour. They show more intensity and complexity, with layered flavour profiles revealing intriguing elements such as smokiness. These characteristics are very appealing to my palate and somewhat explain the interest bartenders are displaying in American Rye Whiskey because they lend a very distinctive flavour to cocktails.

So, what else did my impromptu American Rye Whiskey tasting reveal? Two producers of Rye Whiskey stood out on the night – High West and Colonel E.H. Taylor. The High West Rye Whiskey was the softer, more delicate of the two; definitely the place to start if you’re in unfamiliar territory. If, like me, you’re a Single Malt enthusiast you could think of it as the equivalent of a Macallan Single Malt 12yo from Scotland’s Highland region: enjoyable for a subtle, unpretentious simplicity that entices you to sip just a little more. Thinking along the same lines, the Colonel E.H Taylor is more of a Lagavulin Single Malt 16yo from Scotland’s Islay region: it ignites a passion of flavours that gets your heart pounding, your senses raging and your head trying to work out if maybe you have finally found THE ONE for you. For those unfamiliar with Single Malts from Scotland’s Islay region, perhaps think of a passionate slap in the face! Honourable mentions must go to the Willet Distillery and a local Brooklyn outfit, Noah’s Mill. If you intend to explore Rye Whiskey further, more classic producers to remember are Sazerac and Hudson Rye Whiskey.

I’m yet to find out whether this fling with Rye Whiskey is just a holiday crush or something longer lasting. At this stage I still prefer my Single Malts, but that’s the thing about a new love, isn’t it? There’s still so much more to discover… Happy Valentines Day, wine and whiskey lovers.

My February Blog Mixed Dozen Selection

When I put together the February mixed dozen I was looking for wines that, to me, showcased varietal expressions of each grape variety.  The wines I decided on are delicious, straight forward drinks – not wines we need to sit and ponder but ones that are balanced and full of flavour. Whether these warm Summer nights bring a BBQ, picnic or casual mid week dinner,  if you purchase this mixed dozen you’ll be prepared with a selection of vibrant, energetic, and simply good, wines.

For $188 the February Mixed dozen includes two bottles of each of the following wines:

  • The Sum Riesling 2013, Great Southern
  • Tallboy Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, Margaret River
  • Dowie Doole Chenin Blanc 2013, Mc Laren Vale
  • Fat Bastard Pinot Noir 2012, Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Butch + Morgan Shiraz 2012, Barossa
  • Protocolo Tempranillo 2011, Spain

You can order more than one mixed dozen, but the selection of wines is fixed and you will receive two of each of the above wines per dozen. You can order the mixed dozen by opening the order page below. Once you have submitted your order, I will be in touch to arrange payment.

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