Distilled: From absinthe & brandy to vodka & whisky, the world’s finest artisan spirits unearthed, explained & enjoyed

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Books: Today’s world of spirits is experiencing an explosive increase in craft distillers and pioneers of new distillates. It’s about men and women tearing up rule books and creating new spirits with extraordinary personality and passion. Distilled uncovers the best spirits the world has to offer. These are not necessarily the best-known examples on the planet – though if they are good, they have a place here – but the best crafted and most interesting. Spirit by spirit Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley explain what you need to know to appreciate a spirit – its ingredients, its classic forms, the choices a distiller makes in creating it – and offer their picks to ‘Drink Before You Expire’ – the world’s best examples of their type, from gin and rum to shochu and tequila. There are plenty of suggestions for how to drink too, with innovative and classic cocktails and their insider tips on getting the best out of your spirits.


WhistlePig Makes “Old World” Rye a Permanent Expression in Portfolio

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WhistlePig is proud to announce that its newest permanent expression, the Old World, will soon be available across the United States. The Old World combines the boldness of American rye with an elegance imparted from the finest European Sauternes, Madeira and Port oak wine casks.

“WhistlePig’s Old World delivers an exquisite balance of flavors through its unprecedented aging process and careful finishing in the highest quality wine casks,” said WhistlePig Founder and CEO Raj Peter Bhakta. “This new release is the culmination of years of innovation at WhistlePig.”

After studying the best techniques of the Old World — particularly Scotch whiskies — Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and the WhistlePig team finished 12-year-old rye in premium European Sauternes, Madeira, and Port wine casks, releasing these single wine barrel finishes individually as the Old World Series in limited quantities this spring.

The series debuted with the Sauternes finish, making WhistlePig the first company to age American rye in casks from this highly rare, sweet white wine. The Madeira finish was inspired by America’s first President, George Washington, who was a passionate drinker of Madeira wine and also a distiller of rye whiskey himself. The port finish combines the bold taste of rye with the sweetness of the Portuguese wine, perfectly combining the old world with the new world.

WhistlePig then carefully married the three whiskeys into the Old World, highlighting their distinct flavors to create an exceptionally balanced spirit. This ultra-premium straight rye is distinctly American, yet harkens back to its stately Old World roots.

“The result is a new form of America’s first and boldest spirit, rye whiskey, with the essences of Madeira, Sauternes, and Port, adding a level of complexity and refinement that is rare in a whiskey,” said Dave Pickerell.

The Old World comes from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley and has a suggested retail price of $117.99. Barrel-finished and bottled by hand at 86 proof on the WhistlePig Farm, the Old World Series won the 2015 Double Gold Award for best rye at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. More information here.

Tasting notes for the Old World

  • Composition: 30% Sauternes, 63% Madeira, 7% Port
  • Nose: Caramel, vanilla and winter fruit
  • Palette: Rye spice, apricots, plums, raisins, dates, and honey
  • Finish: Dark chocolate, winter fruit, caramel, and vanilla

Geddes Farms Ghost Pepper Honey

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Food: Honey can be a great ingredient in numerous cocktails. Geddes Farms have taken the ghost pepper, one of the world’s hottest chili peppers, and submerged it in 100% raw honey to create Ghost Pepper Honey. The result is the ultimate combination of sweet and spicy. Add to a cocktail of your choice or simply combine it with any food you are cooking up. Use the ghost peppers inside to garnish your cocktail or eat for extra heat.

Details:

  • Unaltered
  • Non-pasteurized
  • Polyfloral Source – Wildflower Honey
  • From sustainable sources
  • Made in the USA – Florida
  • Net Weight 16 oz.


Sixfold Leather Beer Carrier

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Gear: The Sixfold Leather Beer Carrier is made of vegetable-tanned English Bridle leather and American walnut that come together like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Each Sixfold folds flat and is built by you by sliding the walnut spines together before folding in the leather and securing it on the spine’s tabs. And when your Sixfold is empty, you can disassemble making it easy to carry until you are in need to use it again, and hopefully that won’t be too long.


Think Jerky

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Food: As you all know we here at Bourbon & Oak are big jerky fans. We’ve been enjoying and making this treat for years. Today we want to introduce you to an upcoming product we know all jerky fans are going to enjoy. Think Jerky is beef jerky that’s healthy, natural, and crafted by top notch chefs in a state-of-the-art facility. The beef is grass-fed and no antibiotics or hormones are added. If you are looking for a delicious, healthy jerky, look no further than think jerky. Now we just have to see if they will make a bourbon flavor.


Bourbon & Oak Interviews Mark McDavid from Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling

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Bourbon & Oak had the chance to interview Mark McDavid from Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling. Mark is Co-Founder/Sales & Marketing and is one of three managing owners along with TJ Miller, head distiller, and Dennis Rylander, who’s in charge of Finance/Accounting. Ranger Creek makes a variety of beer and whiskey products that have been heavily awarded. I’v had the pleasure of trying and reviewing four of their products and I quickly became a big fan of the distillery. Below is our interview with Mark, be sure to check out their site to learn more about Ranger Creek

Tim: How did the idea for Ranger Creek come about and how long have you been crafting products? 

Mark: The idea for Ranger Creek was born when my two business partners and I met in corporate America.  We were beer and whiskey guys, and San Antonio needed a brewery and a distillery.  Instead of picking one or the other we decided to do both.  This was unprecedented here in Texas, so we broke new ground here.  But we followed in the footsteps of what Rogue, Anchor, and New Holland were doing in other states.  We were the first production brewery in San Antonio of the modern era, and we were one of the first three Texas whiskey distilleries.  We’ve held our corporate day jobs while we built the business on nights and weekends.  We started operations in November of 2010.  That’s when we sold our first keg of beer and started filling our first whiskey barrels.   

Tim: Where did the name Ranger Creek come from?

Mark: Ranger Creek is an actual creek right outside of San Antonio.  If you drive through San Antonio on I-10 you’ll see an exit off the highway for “Ranger Creek Rd”.  We try to honor Texas by using local ingredients and a do-it-yourself mindset.  The “Ranger” part of the name reflects the Texas Rangers, who carried many of the pistols that our whiskies are named after.  The “Creek” part of the name reflects our commitment to using local ingredients and the local climate to produce things that are authentic and uniquely Texan.

Tim: I’ve been fortunate now to have tried four of your products. What is the story behind the small caliber idea? 

Mark: Traditional big barrels of whiskey take years to mature, even in a hot climate like San Antonio.  We’re working towards the release of our traditional big barrels, but we wanted to have some fun, experimental, craft whiskey to drink and enjoy while we waited for those big barrels.  That’s what the Small Caliber Series is all about.  We age the whiskey in small barrels and have fun with the recipes.  The small barrels age in about 12-18 months instead of taking years.  They are hand crafted and small batch, and every single bottle is hand labeled and written on by hand.  The small bottles visually represent the small barrels in which the whiskey was aged.  Similarly, when we release the more traditional big barrels, we’ll put those in big bottles.

Tim:You make whiskey and beer at your facility, do you have a favorite product from each category, or an overall favorite product? 

Mark: Yes, we make everything from grain to glass, and we’re very proud of that.  We don’t source any pre-made alcohol.  Personally, I’m the kind of drinker who likes a different beer or whiskey for every occassion, so I appreciate the diversity of our lineup.  I probably drink the most of our .36 Texas Bourbon and OPA.  But I’m probably proudest of our Rimfire Mesquite Smoked Single Malt and our Texas Bourbon Barrel Imperial Brown Ale because they are so unique to us and really represent what we stand for.

Tim: Ranger Creek has won several awards for products can you describe the overall feeling of this and what each award means?

Mark: The awards we’ve won have been incredible.  Exciting and humbling all at the same time.  Our Smalle Caliber Series was supposed to just be fun and limited edition, but it has been kicking butt in competition.  That’s really cool to us because there has been a debate about if you can make high quality whiskey in a small barrel.  I think we’re proving that you absolutely can.  Our .36 Texas Bourbon has won a Gold medal in almost every competition we’ve entered it in, and in many of those competitions we’re going up against the biggest names in Kentucky bourbon.  That’s really cool to me.  We also won Best of Show in the 2015 American Craft Spirits Association competition for our .36 Single Barrel, and that was a HUGE honor.  We accepted the award during a big dinner in front of all of our craft distilling peers.  Balcones won it the year before, so at least we kept it in Texas!  I joke with TJ that he hasn’t earned the title “Master Distiller” until he wins a gold medal for every single whiskey we sell.  But all joking aside, Rimfire is the only one that hasn’t won a gold medal so far, and it has won a silver medal, a bronze medal, and an 86 point rating from Jim Murray. 

Tim: I am a craft beer guy turned spirits enthusiast, how do you feel about bourbon-barrel aging trend currently going on with craft beer?

Mark: I LOVE the bourbon barrel aging trend going on with craft beer.  Personally, these are some of my favorite beers.  What a perfect marriage for beer and whiskey guys!  From a Ranger Creek perspective, I love it to.  We created our Texas Bourbon Barrel Series last year to highlight the beers that we age in our own whiskey barrels.  That’s a really cool thing that only a brewstillery like us can do, and we can do it really well.  That’s the main reason that our Texas Bourbon Barrel Imperial Brown is the beer I’m the proudest of. 

Tim: Do you have a favorite cocktail recipe using one of your whiskies?

Mark: Our .36 White is really the whiskey made for cocktails, and I created a beer cocktail that is my favorite right now.  It’s called a White Whiskey Radler, and it uses the .36 White, lemon juice, and simple syrup as a base, then adds ginger beer and our Love Struck Hefe.  It’s a really unique and refreshing cocktail that integrates both sides of our business, plus it quenches your thirst during our hot Texas summers!

Tim: Where will Ranger Creek go from here? Are there more products on the horizon?

Mark: We’re working really hard to keep up with the demand of our Small Caliber Series but also to fill a lot more big barrels and get ready to release those.  Our business really changes when we can finally get the big barrels released.  It’s a huge investment in time and money, but we’re getting closer and closer.  Our first big barrel release will be our .36 Texas Bourbon, and it will be a Texas straight bourbon.  We do have a VERY limited release of our 2015 .36 Single Barrel planned for this holiday season, too.  We’re also always experimenting with new ideas, but we don’t have anything that we’re ready to talk about yet. 


Blood Oath Pact No. 1 Bourbon Review

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Name: Blood Oath Pact No. 1 Bourbon

ABV: 49.3%

Proof: 98.6

Nose: Vanilla, Honey, Fresh Herbs

Palate: Wheat, Cinnamon, Mint, Honey, Vanilla

Finish: Moderate finish with a mint flavor that slowly fades away

Overall: Blood Oath Pact No. 1 Bourbon is a blend of bourbons ranging between 6 and 12 years old. On the nose there is a light vanilla and honey aroma with a hint of mint in the background. When I sensed the mint on the nose, I had a feeling it would be noticeable throughout the whiskey. On the palate I was able to taste a very sweet wheat flavor, light vanilla and honey, and spicy cinnamon with a nice cooling mint flavor. The finish was moderate with a straightforward mint flavor that left my mouth cool and lingered for quite a while before slowly fading out. This is a bourbon you are going to want to drink neat or with a drop of water. I enjoyed Blood Oath Pact No. 1 and thought it was a good whiskey. I wanted it to be a bit more spicy than what it was considering the proof, the mint seems to cool this one down quite a bit. Blood Oath retails for around $90 a bottle which is slightly pricey in my opinion for what you get, although you are getting a good solid whiskey. Overall, I do recommend Blood Oath to anyone who enjoys a good bourbon as it will not disappoint. Blood Oath Pact No. 1 was released in limited quantities, if you are looking to pick up a bottle, you are going to want to act fast.

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History: Blood Oath was blended and bottled by hand at the Luxco bottling plant early this year. The package is topped with a custom, eco-friendly natural cork and labeled with a heavy certificate-style paper stock marked with Rempe’s signature, the bottle’s creation date and the story behind the pact. Each year a new pact will be released. 

Note: This rare whiskey by Blood Oath is able to be paired easily with a bold yet smooth Camacho Liberty Cigar. The rich Habano wrapper blended with the Corojo binder creates perfect combination of sweetness and spice that will bring out the sweet honey, mint, and vanilla flavors in this bourbon by Blood Oath. 

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Camacho Liberty Cigar available at Famous Smoke Shop


Quality Liquor Store

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Trying to track down rare or hard to find whiskey and spirits can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. You can shop online at Quality Liquor Store. Quality Liquor Store, a neighborhood store in San Diego, California since the early 1900’s, has been standing above the rest for quite some time.  The past 16 years they have been owned by the same family. They serve a great collection of Craft Beer, Liquor, Wine and much more to their community and now they have expanded that community online. What I enjoy about it, obviously, is the great whiskey collection. They offer a great collection of rare and hard to find whiskies, beer, and other spirits.

Quality Liquor Store also has their own expression of Blanton’s Bourbon. They received several samples of Blanton’s Whiskey, pulled together a a tasting panel consisting of store personnel, industry veterans, and certified spirit specialists. They conducted a series of blind taste tests and on April 7th, 2015 barrel #36 was bottled. At 93 proof, each rare and precious bottle of Blanton’s for Quality Liquor Store is hand labeled and individually numbered from #1 – #264 and reserved for your personal pleasure and enjoyment. What makes Quality Liquor Store standout besides their excellent collection of products is the customer service. If you have trouble finding what you’re looking for, they will do they best to find it and stock it and you are always treated like family. I was able to pick up Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Whiskey from them the other day online and received it two days later.

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If you are looking for a great selection of whiskey, craft beer, and other spirits check out Quality Liquor Store.

Use the code BOURBON&OAK at checkout and receive 10% off your purchase.