Archives For Spirits
Articles about all matters of distillate. Brandies, rums, gins and all forms of whisky. Aged and new, mixed and straight.
Craft bourbon, like craft beer, is in the midst of a boom: In the past 15 years, the number of distilleries in the U.S. has surged from just a handful to around 600.Why are Americans buying more bourbon?
According to author Reid Mitenbuler, one reason is that we’re being seduced by clever bottles and throwback labels. Along with enticing branding, some of these bottles of “craft bourbon” boast hefty price tags. Take Pappy Van Winkle, a craft bourbon with “family reserve” editions that retail for thousands of dollars.
And yet “the term ‘craft’ is little more than an ambiguous buzzword,” Mitenbuler writes in a new book, Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey. Behind all the craft buzz, Mitenbuler says, are actually just some “carefully cultivated myths” created by an industry on a roll.
Minnesotans, like people all around the country, are in the midst of a whiskey craze. Consumption of all whiskeys in the U.S. was 22 percent higher last year than in 2004, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. And Minnesota ranked ninth in per capita consumption of spirits, with whiskey the most consumed spirit in the state.
There has been much speculation surrounding the elusive idea of whisky and terroir. Raw evidence for an influence of terroir on the flavour of whisky is usually sought from the density and mineral content of water, the locality of barley or the microclimate and location of maturation. Yet these remain at best intangible aspects of terroir’s influence on whisky and, in some cases, easily dismissible ones. Despite this though the sense of location, geographic and geological identity in a glass of single malt remains a powerful one. How often have we fallen in sway to the little organoleptic rhythms of the sea or the forest floor; the farmyard and the industrial?
The only spirits that arrived in our house, when I was growing up, was vodka of dubious provenance brought from Poland. It acted like a magic charm as all the men became slightly flushed and started wild dancing while the women looked bemused. My lexicon of spirits was severely limited; gin and tonic sounded like something horrible that old people would drink. I remember my first sip of this deliciously refreshing bitter, fragrant, citrus-scented drink even now. It was baptism into the intriguing, perfumed, beguiling, slightly dark and mysterious world of gin.
Today is one of Scotland’s two competing International Days designed to celebrate Whisky/Hoovers/Childish Bickering. In honour of this moderately notable occasion Whiskysponge journalists contacted the legendary deceased writer and drinks journalist Michael Jackson to see what he makes of today’s whisky world.
A lot has changed in just a few years. Now, ornately labeled bottles of amari like Meletti, Braulio, Ramazzotti, Cynar and Amaro Nonino are shaking off the dust of the back bar and making their way front-and-center in many high-profile bars and restaurants across the country from Sotto and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles to Amor y Amargo and Maialino in Manhattan. At Balena in Chicago, the amaro-spiked cocktail menu even ranks their drinks with a 1-10 scale of bitterness to help you navigate the list and land on the perfect bitter note.