Whisky in the Glass

 

 

 

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Some folks aren’t very particular when it comes to drinking vessels. Being a true southerner, tailgating just isn’t done without drinking bourbon mixers from Solo cups, but I draw a line when it comes to sipping single malts.  Why so particular? Well, whisky tastes better when served in a glass, but serving in the right glass makes all the difference in the world.

accesories-glass    rocksglass

 

Old Fashioned, highball, rocks, snifter, even stemmed nosing copitas were considered traditional whisky glasses until the advent of the Glencairn, first produced in Scotland in 2001. Now the norm for whisky drinkers world-wide, the Glencairn was designed to enhance the drinker’s whisky experience with its curved shape that focuses the whisky’s aroma at the top of the glass.  uisgebeathawateroflife

This is good engineering, and makes perfect sense, since smell is a large portion of our pallets, and usually boosts the flavor of what we taste. No wonder the Glencairn has been the unchallenged bar ware of whisky lover’s worldwide for years… until Norlan came along.

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Being recently gifted with Norlan whisky glasses, I was taken aback when I unpacked them from the tall black canister I’d only seen online.  The term spaced aged immediately popped into my mind, especially due to them feeling almost weightless, plus they look like a rocks glass swallowed a nosing glass.  On impulse I placed one of my Glencairns between the pair for comparison. I recognized the similarity, and poured a wee nip in each Norlan. Then I poured one into the traditional styled glass. Instantly I liked how well the shape of the Norlan’s outer glass fit my hand, and how the double glass boosted the color of the whisky.  Next, of course, was the true test. At first I didn’t like the feel of the thick edge against my lips, but after a couple of sips, I realized I didn’t have to keep tilting the glass higher to get the last drops. As someone who doesn’t have the financial means to pursue my love of single malts as passionately as I’d like, it pains me to leave even a smidge of residual in the glass, especially when I’m relishing a gifted whisky I normally couldn’t afford, so this revelation was indeed a huge plus for the Norlan.

After several evenings of taste test comparisons, my sweetie, Pete, had a somewhat differing point of view.  Of course, like most men his age, he is a creature of habit, a traditionalist to boot, so the very lightweight feel of the Norlan in his hand bothered him.  The glass itself is borosilicate, the same glass material that is used to make science equipment, due to its resistance to thermal shock. Pete actually thumped the bottom of his glass, trying to determine it was actually glass, and not some type of acrylic, because it’s so lightweight. He did agree that the design enhanced the whisky experience, but he quickly returned to his favorite cut glass Glencairn simply because it is heavier, and as he put it, “Actually feels like I’m holding a  real glass.”

All that being said, am I totally sold on the Norlan whisky glass? Pretty much. I like the light and airy feel, and the way it curves into the palm of my hand effortlessly.  I’ve already told you what I love most about the design, but, I’m also a woman, so  the fact that these Norlan glasses are sleek, chic, and just downright elegant looking add to their appeal.

So, does the container you enjoy drinking your whisky\whiskey from matter? Well, in all honesty, if you’re a real connoisseur, yes it certainly does.  But, if not,  how you like to drink your whisky, is the same as what you choose to drink it from, a matter of personal preference, unless you prefer to swill it straight from the bottle tucked into a paper bag, like a 40 oz.  Can you say…rehab?

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Using the proper glass isn’t the only requirement of responsible drinking. NEVER drink and drive, or let friends drink and drive. The most important whisky accessory is a designated driver!

Slàinte mhath!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

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Whisky Wandering: Heather and Honey the Heart of Highland Single Malt.

 

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After taking a long break to work on a fiction project, I am ready to once again explore the whisky regions of Scotland, without even leaving my own home. Naturally, I’d prefer to visit my mother land in person, but time and money are a major deterrent, as it is for many of us, but that doesn’t have to prevent you from experiencing good scotch.  In my last post, I took you to my favorite whisky region, Islay, so now, we are going to tour the largest land region of Scotland, the birthplace of my Clans MacNab,

MacNab_Clan_Crest      macgregorrobroyandcrest

and MacGregor, the Highlands.

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Now, Speyside is a part of the Highland area, but I’m going to leave it, and the outlying isles to discuss as their own whisky regions. Honestly, breaking whisky making down into individual regions isn’t as important for distinction among the distillers as it was two hundred years ago, since today, any distiller can make any type/flavor of whisky they desire. Peat doesn’t have to be restricted to Islay, for example, just as not all the Islay distillers produce peated expressions of their single malts. But, knowing your whisky regions, can help you determine which whiskies you enjoy most. So let’s get started with my favorite Highland single malts, and remember, I try to write about what I know, the whiskies I’ve tasted, but there are quite a few I haven’t, so don’t let that deter you from your own sampling adventures.

glenmorangie distillery

When I think of Highland single malts, I immediately think Glenmorangie. Out of all the Highland distillers, in my opinion, Glenmorangie has the most eclectic, and widest range of expressions in differing collections to choose from. Also ranging in price from easily affordable, to investment quality, each collection offers something for everyone.  Being a G.R.I.T. S. (girl raised in the south), one the best tasting things ever is a fresh, ripe, juicy peach, and that is exactly what Glenmorangie The Original 10 Year delivers. From the nose to the finish, the flavor of  ripe peach lingers, blended with  crispness of citrus, warm vanilla, and a soft floral note, this very affordable whisky should always be in your liquor cabinet.  Other must haves from their core range whiskies are what I call the Trianaid, (Scot’s Gaelic) the trinity,  which are The LaSanta (Gaelic for fiery), my fave The Quinta Reuben, and the Nector D’or.  Each carries a unique flavor signature, yet they are all mild enough for a novice scotch drinker to appreciate, and experience new finishes.

The Quinta Reuben is my favorite of the three, mainly due to its rich dark chocolate base note and silky mouth feel.  This expression spends the first ten years of its maturation in American white oak, then it is transferred into specially chosen ruby port pipes from Portugal, where is ages another two years.  The nose is heady with the combination of dark chocolate, and tangerine, with a hint of toasted nut, and pepper.  The palate is perfect for dark chocolate lovers like me, though the heavy chocolate is evenly tempered with light mint, walnuts, dried currants, yet complimented with bittersweet orange.  The bittersweet chocolate lingers in the finish, hints of fruit contribute to the silky texture. The Quinta Reuben is the kind of dram you savor, and relish, and like a good port it is particularly lovely after a meal.

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Nector D’Or takes its name from the Gaelic term for gold, which perfectly describes the color of this scotch.  To me, this is the sweetest of the trinity, so it’s not my top choice, but if you enjoy indulging in French pastries, this is your whisky.  As with each member of the Trianaid, this whisky is aged for ten years in American white oak casks, then it spends another two years in Sauternes wine barriques, where it soaks up that rich flavor.  As far as the nose goes, this whisky smells like Christmas morning, redolent with hearty fruit, spice, and candied citrus peel. The taste takes the richness even further with ginger, honey, tangy lemon, enhanced with the buttery flavor of toasted almonds, much like a savory pastry. Vanilla lingers on the tongue with a smooth, creamy texture, enlivened by the zing of lemon zest, and nuances of spice.  This particular expression makes for the perfect after dinner dram, as it’s sweet enough to satisfy the hankering for dessert, but not overly sweet, yet just as decadent.

Last, but most assuredly not least is the higher range Glenmorangie Signet. glenmorangie-signet-single-malt-scotch-whisky-1

This was my birthday dram last year, and WOW, what a gift it was! This is one of those truly complex whiskies, that each time you drink it, you will encounter a new flavor, or scent. High roast chocolate malt aged in new charred oak  and sherry casks creating a heady aroma of orange peel and espresso, and an even more robust flavor of dark chocolate, bitter mocha with bursts of spicy sweetness. The finish is the hardest to pin down to exact flavors, as I said, each sip reveals something new, but I find it clean, refreshing like a fruit flavored after dinner mint, if such a thing exists. If you can afford it, buy a bottle. If you can’t, at least treat yourself to a dram, which runs about the same as a mani-pedi.

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Other Highland single malts I enjoy, and recommend are The Macallan Fine Oak expressions, and the classic, Macallan 18 yr, which is famous for its dark toffee flavor.  Also, Oban, Old Pultney, and Tomatin are fine, classic whiskies, that I urge you to consider trying.  Although I am a devoted Islay lover, my family history begins in the heather of the Highlands, as does the history of Scotland’s greatest invention, uisge na beatha, the water of life.

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Please don’t drink and drive! Designate a driver!

Peace Love & whisky wishes! Slàinte mhath!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

Whisky Wandering: Meeting the Peat Isle of Islay

Everyone knows Scotland is famous for her fine single malt whiskies, and they are each as unique, and distinctive, as the regions where they are distilled.  Visiting Scotland for a whisky tour is the ideal way to experience the whisky wonders Alba has to offer, but that isn’t financially feasible for everyone, so over the next few Whiskyisms posts I’m going to guide you through each region, and the whisky they offer.  So, let’s kick off our 2016 grand tour with my favorite whisky region, home of the best peated scotch in the world, where distillers have been producing whisky for over 200 years,  the Isle of Islay.

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Peat is not for everyone, a friend of mine equated it to “licking a dirty band-aid that’s been on a horse’s ass” and while I can somewhat agree with her, I still love it. The peatiest of the peaty whiskies are distilled on one of Scotland’s Hebrides islands, the Isle of Islay.  Pronounced “eye-lah” Islay is home to eight of Scotland’s famous distilleries,  Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig.  If you haven’t experienced the hearty flavors of peated scotch, I must warn you, it can be a bit overpowering at first, which is why I suggest you start out with what I call “Islay lite” such as Bowmore Small Batch.  Fresh, crisp citrus, and honey with a subtle waft of smoke that melds nicely to a creamy malt finish. This is my go to summer dram.  If you like a deeper, more savory whisky, Bowmore 15 Darkest is a lovely aroma of dark chocolate, just a light haze of Islay smoke,  and pleasing blend of wood, and fruity treacle, and compliments the sherry finish. A decadent dram for an evening by the fire.

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Graduating up the peat scale Kilchoman (Kill -homan) offers several expressions with a ppm between 20 and 25.  My picks are the Kilchoman Machir Bay,  which I like because I like the taste of salty/sweet, the aging in both bourbon barrels, and sherry casks, mixed with peat and smoke gives it a nice balance.  Kilchoman Single Cask, which is released in a special bottling several times a year. giving each one a singularly unique, and exceptional palate. I really like the sherry finish.  Bunnahabhain is also a lightly peated whisky from Islay with a peat range between Bowmare, and  Kilchoman, some expressions might be a wee bit stronger.  I’ve only been privileged to taste the Bunnahabhain 25 yr, which is a fantastic compilation of creamy fruit, leather, and finishes with a soft, dry spice. The one thing I highly recommend when experimenting with finding your peat capacity, is savor each new Islay you sample, take notes, and make comparisons as you build up to heavier peated whiskies.

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Speaking of heavier peated whiskies, lets wander further up to peat-o-meter, where you will find a similarly peaty, yet diverse group of distillers, such as Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, and my personal favorite, Laphroaig.  Ranging between 35 to 60 ppm, when it comes to the peat, in my opinion, this group of distillers are the heart of Islay whisky.   Aroma is important in a good whisky, because we also taste with our noses, as sense of smell plays a major role in how we perceive flavors and tastes of food, and drink.  I’m a southern gal, so when I take that first heady whiff of Ardbeg Uigeadail, I am reminded of smoked meats cooked over an open campfire, the tang of pine, and sea salt lurking in the background. I can sit and smell the stuff for several minutes before savoring my first sip, and savor is an understatement.  Uigeadail, (oog-ah-dahl) is the Gaelic for “dark and mysterious place” and that is quite appropriate.  The full flavored, mouth coating texture starts sweet, but deep and hearty like a not quite burned pound cake, quickly followed by a soft nip of spice, pine, and salt, that bursts into a sensory delight of sweet smoke, and burnt sugar cane that dwindles to a lovely lingering finish. I always think of thatched cottages deep in dark green woods the scent of crispy pork fat, like the charred fat on top of a brown sugar glazed ham, wafting on the cool, damp air.

Caol Ila (cull-ee-lah) means the sound of Islay in the Gaelic, and the Caol Ila 18 yr also tastes like what I would think the island tastes like. Oily, smokey, earthy, rich with the flavors of sea, land, and open sky. While I don’t recommend this one for a newbie, if you’ve enjoyed your peat exploration so far, give it a shot.  On par with the Caol Ila is the Lagavulin 16yr, which is a classic Islay single malt. Thick, creamy, heavy on the smoke and peat, but sweet with sherry, dried fruit, and vanilla, with a little pop of spicy oak, and a lingering rich finish.  Again, not a dram for beginners.

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Next up is my all time favorite Laphroaig, the first single malt scotch I ever tasted, and I’ve been in love ever since.  Some say whisky like Laphroaig is an acquired taste, and for some perhaps it is. I’ve always been of the mind that either you love it, or you hate it, especially considering that the first sniff smells like someone threw a box of band-aids in the fire, and tried to put it out with iodine.  Laphroaig 10 yr, Quarter cask, and Triple Wood are each excellent expressions I enjoy equally, but the one dearest to my heart is Laphroaig 15 yr, which just recently enjoyed a come back in the distillery’s 200th anniversary edition.  From the nose to the finish, Laphroaig 15 is everything I imagine Scotland must be, poured into a bottle, the sea, the moors, the peat, the burns,  deep, dark lochs, windswept isles, and craggy mountain peaks.  When I sip this whisky it tastes like everything good about home, leaving a warm and cozy trail of love that tingles down my throat all the way to my toes. It dredges up my happiest memories of campfires, being covered in mud riding ATV’s in the woods, sitting on the beach while eating raw oysters still dripping with seawater, my mama’s butterscotch pies she made every Christmas, and snuggling by the fire beneath my favorite quilt. I realize it sounds pretty silly to romanticize, and rhapsodize a particular whisky, but I don’t care. Laphroaig 15 yr is MY dram, and it always will be.

bruichladdich

I saved Bruichladdich for last, because in my opinion, they offer the widest range of whisky in both  peated, and unpeated expressions.  Right in line with Laphroaig 15 yr, and Ardbeg Uigeadahl, Bruichladdich produces some of my top whisky choices.  The Classic Laddie is always a good “go to” pour, but my two picks in their unpeated category are the Islay Barley 2009, a clean, crisp whisky with notes of fruit, sweet grain, and light spice of oak. A great dram for a warm summer evening. My most recent Bruichladdich acquisition is a delight like no other, truly magic in a bottle. Black Art 4 1990 is everything an unpeated scotch should be, and more. Intoxicating from nose to finish, ripe with the aroma of honey and a zing of lemon/lime, this whisky is one of the most aromatic I’ve ever tried. It is also one of the most potent. Before adding a few drops of water to open up the flavor, that first wee nip is powerful, yet well aged, and mellow. Adding water only ratchets up the flavor index, evoking rich chocolate, and fruit infused with spices, and barley sugar, building to a lingeringly sweet and tangy finish.  Perfectly spell binding!

Distilling whisky on an island famous for it’s peated whiskies, Bruichladdich took lessons from Islay’s history, by revisiting the long defunct Lochindaall Distillery in the nearby village of Port Charlotte, famous for it’s long ago peat fired malting process.  Their Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated Islay Single Malt is a true homage to Port Charlotte’s peated whisky history, embracing the earth, salt, and iodine aromas, and flavors that make Islay single malts so distinctive. Rich, hearty,  flavors that represent the place where the earth meets the sea, melding salt, and sweet, with smoke, and grain with bursts of citrus, and toffee, that warms to a relaxed oak finish. A peat head’s delight!

There is peat, and then there is PEAT. Ardbeg may have taken the peat to the outer limits with its Supernova, a whisky that resulted from space age experimentation and boasts a ppm of 100.  In spite of its high phenols, Supernova is a wee bit too peppery, although the sharpness of it isn’t at all overpowering, I just prefer the Uigeadahl. Go figure.  So far in my foray into the world of whisky, I have yet to encounter such a thing as “too much peat.” Is there such a thing as too much peat? Well, Bruichladdich certainly put that notion to the test with their highest ppm whisky, Octomore 6.1, one in a series of Octomore expressions, clocks in at 167 ppm.  This edition is brash, bold, sweet smoke, and brine. Freshly shucked raw oysters immediately come to mind with the first sip, once water is added, I can pick up on the crisper taste of oak, and barley.  Octomore 6.1 is a young whisky, only five years old, but deceptively smooth and mellow.   Definitely the peat lover’s nectar of the gods.  1414-whisky-octomore-6-1

I have yet to set foot on the soil of my ancestors, and while my family clans hailed from the Highlands, my whisky lover’s heart belongs to Islay.  Our next leg of the journey will be to visit the Highland distillers, but in the meantime, enjoy exploring the peat.

As always, drink responsibly, designate a driver. Peace, love and whisky wishes! Slàinte mhath!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

Have a Cup O’ Cheer!

jack Daniels barrel tree

Holiday time is here, and whether you are hosting a big soiree’, or just want to be able to offer visitors a cup of Christmas cheer, I’m here to offer some helpful hints, and advice on how to serve your fave spirits, to both whiskey, and non-whiskey (I know, what the hell is wrong with those people?!) drinkers.

I know it sounds tacky as hell, and well, it is, but I put the cheaper stuff out for party guests, especially if most of them aren’t whisk(e)y drinkers.  Why waste your premium liquors on people who are either going to turn their noses up at it, or swill it like rotgut with no appreciation?  Save sharing the special bottles for friends who know and love good whiskies, so you can all enjoy as you compare notes.

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By “cheaper” stuff I simply mean less expensive, yet quality whiskies that are perfect for mixing in cocktails, or sipping alone.  Always on my bar is a bottle of Maker’s Mark, as it is not only one of my favorites, but delicious anyway you pour it. Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, are also popular brands, that won’t break the bank.  Glenmorangie 10 yr is a great single malt, also easy on the pocketbook, and of course, you can’t beat Jameson, or Tullamore Dew to round out the variety offered.  The main thing is, whether you’re throwing a huge bash, or a small gathering, keep it simple. My rule of thumb is one straight bourbon, one blended, one rye, and a nice single malt.  Adding an Irish is optional, and you might want to include something special like a bottle of Drambuie, or Paddy Irish Honey, that can be enjoyed as is, or as a mixer.

Speaking of mixers. always have on hand an assortment of colas/sodas for mixing drinks, but if you really want to impress your guests, go the extra step, and add a bottle of Angostura Bitters, simple syrup, Grenadine, Triple Sec, or Cointreau, individual containers of sliced oranges, lemon/lime wedges and Maraschino cherries, for a do-it-yourself style set-up, or go all out and designate a volunteer as bartender.  Since this is a whiskey blog, I’m focusing on whiskies, but it is always a good idea to keep beer, and wine in stock for those who eschew hard liquors. Glassware, depending on your budget, and how much time you care to spend washing glasses, is up to you, although I have never been offended by having to drink out of a red Solo cup, so do whatever makes your life easier.

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When mixing cocktails, again, the best thing is to keep it simple, and using what I’ve mentioned above, you can create recipes for three or four easy drinks, jot them on festive note cards, and display them next to the main ingredients. You can also experiment with adding flavors to simple syrup, such as rosemary, jalapeno, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, vanilla beans, etc. I advise testing your recipes, and perfecting them before springing them on your guests.  I like to make a large pitcher of a libation of my own creation (yes, that rhymes on purpose) that I like to call Jingle Juice. You can also make it ahead of time, keeping it in the freezer if you want to serve it slushy.

Nancy’s Jingle Juice

1 2liter bottle of Ginger Ale

1 small bottle club soda

1cup (okay, sometimes I get a little pour happy and it may technically be MORE than a cup, there have been some batches that may have had closer to 2 cups, but hey, it’s not chemistry so don’t whine about it, just drink the shit and hush!)  of straight Kentucky bourbon (I use Buffalo Trace)

Depending on how much you like orange flavor,( and on how carried away you get with the bourbon) a 1/2 cup, to 1 cup  of Triple Sec, or Cointreau, or Grand Marnier. I’ve used all three, they all work, no one has ever fussed about it, although one or two have been rendered speechless after a couple of glasses, so use any orange liqueur you like.  Now, since I don’t like sugary sweet cocktails, I taste test so I can add more of any ingredient if needed, the club soda helps temper the sweetness, then I give it a little zing with a couple of squeezes of fresh lime juice, and if I’m not going to serve it frozen, then I’ll add some lime wedges, and a few Maraschino cherries to make it look all festive. This recipe can easily be doubled, to accommodate a large crowd, and you can make your own substitutions, or alterations to it, such as using diet ginger ale, or ginger ale/cranberry soda, even ginger beer would work, so have fun with it.

As always, and especially at this time of year, PLEASE drink responsibly, DESIGNATE a driver, or take advantage of the TIPSY TAXI services sponsored by many cities across the country. NEVER drink and drive!

Slàinte Mhath! and Nollaig Chridheil!

Peace, love, & wishing you all a very Merry Whisky Christmas!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

 

Confessions of a Whisk(e)y Snob

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Price is not indicative of quality, and taste is as individual as one’s fingerprint, hence the old adage, “there is no accounting for taste”.  This certainly applies to whisk(e)y.  Age is a another factor that leads people to think older means better, and sometimes it does, depending on the myriad environmental factors involved in the aging process of fine whiskies.  But what is it that makes one particular whisk(e)y out shine all others?

Now, I will admit, I tend to be a snob when it comes to whiskey, especially single malt whisky, and I have distinctive taste preferences, although I pride myself on keeping an open mind.  I will also admit that while my tastes tend towards premium drams, my pocket-book is unfortunately rotgut, which makes the chance of experiencing more expensive offerings that much more of a treat.  But, as previously stated, price doesn’t denote flavor, and apparently other whisky connoisseurs share the same opinion,  considering Jim Murray’s 2016 choice for the number one world whisky.

I’ve never particularly cared for Canadian made whiskies, nor am I a great fan of rye, although I am learning it can be quite delicious in cocktails.  Woodford Reserve Rye, and Knob Creek Rye are my rye whiskey preferences. So, when I heard the news that shocked the whisk(e)y world, I immediately thought, “Crown Royal? What the hell?!” Then as I read the tasting notes, and Mr. Murray’s opinion of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, my second thought was, “Well damn, reckon I’ll lower my standards and taste it”, with a set prejudice against Canadian, as well as rye whiskies, and no real hurry to find a bottle to try.

Then, as luck would have it, on my next visit to my favorite whiskey bar’s (Lock & Key in Baton Rouge) free tasting Tuesday happy hour, the whisky to be sampled was the newly crowned Crown.  As is my usual habit, I didn’t wait for the tasting to order a dram, so I was sipping Glenfiddich’s Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 yr  (fodder for another blog post) before the tasting began, but I doubt that had any influence on what I was about to discover.

From the very start, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was a pleasant surprise, beginning with the delightful aroma.  Rich,  warm with dark fruit, and the tang of grain, and spices.  The first taste startled me, as I was expecting that peppery bite common to most rye whiskies, but instead I was gobsmacked by the crisp sweetness of warm butterscotch, tempered by oak. Adding a few drops of water brought out the vanilla spice, and a hint of tobacco that melted into a creamy peppered finish.  My first response, “Holy shit, this really is GOOD!”  And it really is, very good, and ridiculously economical with an average price under $35 .

So, I offer apologies to both Crown Royal, and Mr. Jim Murray for doubting the reliability of experience, excellent taste, and exceptional whisky making.  Thank you both, for humbling an inexperienced whisk(e)y snob.

Please, designate a driver! Don’t let friends drink and drive! Drink responsibly!

Slàinte Mhath!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

 

Grains of Gratitude

Glencairn_Whisky_GlassJust a silly wee “duanag”(ditty or poem) in honor of Thanksgiving and my most favorite thing in the world……

Grains of Gratitude  (Courtesy of me and a dram or two of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley)

I’m thankful for the grain ripe fields, from which my fave elixir yields    If not for barley, corn, or rye, and even wheat, there would be no whisk(e)y to sip on the rocks or neat

No bourbon would make for a truly sad place, I can’t imagine life without Buffalo Trace.  Existing without Maker’s Mark, the world would feel so  empty and dark.  Therefore be they corn or rye, if there was no whiskey, I just might die.

Same goes for barley, there nothing else made, as lovely as whisky from the land of the plaid.  Smoke and peat, or port and sherry finished, a dram with friends is sure to refresh and replenish.

Scots, or Irish, they pass my taste test, so try a dram o’ Laphroaig,  Balvenie, Green Spot and Red Breast.  Glenfiddich and Ardbeg are verra fine too, or toast  Slàinte mhath with some Tullamore Dew.

So be grateful to those who take on the tasks, from the malting floor through to the aging casks. Whiskey, or whisky, there’s plenty to spare, why even the angels get their own share!

I started this little blog, as a folly,  therapy for myself really, because I love to write, and I love all whiskies, yet, to my delight, and shock, it has grown, and is growing more every day. So, at this time of year, and the other 364 days, I want to tell you all how truly grateful I am to each and everyone who takes time to visit whiskyisms.com, whether to take a quick peek, or peruse each post.  Tomorrow marks a day to give thanks, and also kicks off the holiday season, a time to share with friends, family, and all of our loved one, near and far.  Thank you, for your time, attention, comments, tweets, shares, and retweets. Thank you for indulging me in my two passions, whiskies, and writing, and whether you enjoy it or not, thanks for telling me you do anyway! Hahaha!

Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, safe, peace filled Happy Thanksgiving, and Holiday season! Remember to designate a driver! Don’t drink and drive! Drink Responsibly!

Peace, Love & Whisky wishes! Slàinte Mhath!

Nancy McGehee Guillory

The Cure for What Ails

makersmarks

My first taste of straight Kentucky bourbon was quite likely experienced before I had any memories, as my grandmother, (we called her Nana, pronounced “nah-nah” with a short a vowel sound) firmly believed in the medicinal abilities of “corn whiskey” to sooth a colicky baby, and ease the pain of teething. After raising seven of her own during the depression, and praying all four of her sons home from active war-time duty ranging in age from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, her daughter in-laws dared not protest when their mother in law dipped a pacifier in her toddy, or rubbed sore infant gums with a finger coated with Old Crow.  If nothing else, grand babies slept well at her house.

Bourbon has always been a staple of southern culture, and my daddy was a true southern gentleman, who enjoyed his whiskey on the rocks, with a splash of water  right from the tap. His version of bourbon and branch.  One of my earliest, and favorite memories  is of me sitting on daddy’s lap, watching the evening news (this is how I came to learn every swear word I know. Daddy was very vocal while watching Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather) while he sipped his evening “toddy”.  I loved the smell of his bourbon, and the taste, as I would snuggle close and sneak a sip when he got distracted.  Throughout my childhood, bourbon was also the main ingredient for soothing a sore throat, mixed with honey, lemon, and hot water, the proverbial Hot Toddy is a tried and true home remedy. As I got older, and adolescence progressed into early adulthood, during my teen, and even as a very grown woman, a slug of whiskey helped take the edge off monthly menstrual cramps.

chicken cock whiskey

During prohibition, six distillers were allowed to produce government controlled amounts of “medicinal” liquor, that required a prescription allotting each recipient a pint every ten days. Since the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was pretty  much negated by Prohibition, these medicinal whiskies technically did not have to meet the act’s requirements.  Now, Prohibition is long past, and pharmaceutical companies combined with modern medicine have eradicated the use of medicinal libations, but if you find yourself feeling a tad “peaked”, and nothing helps, allow me to suggest  a few of my favorite restoratives.

Luckily, no prescription is required, and unlike many pharmaceuticals, a bottle of premium bourbon won’t break the bank. As a matter of fact every brand mentioned in this post is priced well under $50.  So, I’ll start with the most economical, and one of my favorites because it’s just as smooth, well aged, and delicious as much higher priced whiskies. Four Roses, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Four Roses Small Batch, all three individually unique, yet each one  well below $40 a bottle.  Alone neat, on the rocks, or with a mixer, you can’t go wrong with this bourbon.  In the same price range is my next pick, Buffalo Trace. I prefer this one for mixing in cocktails, especially with ginger ale, or in an Old Fashioned.  Next up, my “go to” Maker’s Mark, and Maker’s 46, both affordable, yet each have their own distinctive flavor.  When life  has me feeling all peely-wally, I find that Maker’s on the rocks with a splash of Cointreau brightens up my outlook considerably. Another exceptional choice, Elijah Craig 12 yr is easy on the finances, offering a hint of spice that blends nicely with a sweet, creamy finish.  I highly recommend giving any one of these a try.

four-roses-small-batch

I haven’t even come close to covering all the amazing, affordable, Bourbons available, and we all know medicating with alcohol should never take the place of real health care, but there are those days when enjoying a really great sipping  whiskey makes everything better. When it comes to curing what ails you, sometimes nothing is more soothing to the spirit than…well spirits, as in Straight Kentucky Bourbon, or good ol Sour Mash.

Drink responsibly, designate a driver, don’t drink and drive.

Slàinte!

Nancy McGehee Guillory