Adult entertainment: Eric Andre needs a drink
When Adult Swim mainstay Eric Andre does a standup gig in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 2, he has a few demands. “I want real Kentucky moonshine at my Lexington show,” the comedian tweeted. “I’m also accepting artisanal bourbon.”
Be choosy, Eric. Funnily enough, most so-called small-batch U.S. bourbon, rye and whiskey spews from two mammoth distilleries in Indiana and Kentucky. To spot an imposter, Eat Sip Trip’s Kevin Farrell explains, look for “distilled by” or “bottled by” on the label—signs it probably used to live in a vat. Another red flag: a bottle whose stated age makes it older than its purported distiller. Rick and Morty wouldn’t be impressed.
Please, sir, we want some more: English whiskey bounces back
Between the Brexit bungle and Piers Morgan, lately it seems England can’t do anything right. A resurgent whiskey industry is bucking the trend. The Spirits Business reminds us that Old Blighty shut all of its first wave of distilleries by early last century, having taken an arse-kicking from the Scots for a change. We’ll drink to that.
Not much to sip here yet, move along
But like Oliver Reed after a two-day bender, the biz has pulled itself together again. The past 15 years have seen new players such as Norfolk’s English Whisky Co., which launched in 2006, open their doors. This being the Land of Hope and Glory, its St. George’s Distillery serves afternoon tea. The English’s Original, a 43% ABV single-malt aged in bourbon casks, won gold in the Other Whiskey category at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
OK, but does anyone give a toss? Owing to the revived industry’s youth, there’s little whiskey to be had, and English distillers must compete against Ireland, Japan, Scotland and the U.S. Looking on the bright side of life, lax regulation sets them free to experiment by doing things like age their product in chestnut and mulberry wood. Smashing.
Through a glass darkly: A carafe and dropper for your daily drop
They look like something Darth Vader would inhale from, but these accessories aren’t just for show. Fashioned by Iceland-based designer Sruli Recht, the double-walled Norlan Whisky Glass ($48* for two) marries the classic tumbler with the nosing glass, Norlan co-founder Shane Bahng once told The Whiskey Wash. “He wanted to create a standing wave effect in the glass when you swirl it so as to add air into the water for massive oxidation,” Bahng said of its creator’s attempt to bring whiskey glassware into the modern world.
Now Recht is back with the equally forward-looking Drave Water Pipette & Carafe, made from aluminum and lead-free crystal, respectively. Both can be yours for a mere $350, and the pipette is $65. The drill: after using the pipette to draw water from the carafe, add it to whiskey drop by drop to tease out flavors and aromas. Take your time.
*All prices in U.S. dollars
Can tech bros disrupt whiskey—or will they ruin it, like privacy, restaurant dining and the truth? To find out, 1843 magazine’s Henry Wilkins visits San Francisco’s Endless West, self-described “makers of molecular spirits.”
Rather than go to the hassle of aging its product—so yesteryear—the startup makes Glyph whiskey overnight by extracting molecules from plants and yeasts and adding them to alcohol.
It’s still in beta, right?
Glyph gets mixed reviews from Wilkins and staff members at two SF bars, one of whom enlists ginger ale to give it a fighting chance. The other’s take: “It doesn’t look right. It doesn’t taste like a whisky. It’s really watery. It’s almost synthetic. It tastes like baiju.” Still, Glyph is moving at his joint—proof there’s no accounting for taste.
Pleased to meet you: 6 overlooked bottles with legs
So you’ve tried it all. At the Whisky Advocate, Aaron Goldfarb begs to differ. His list of six choice under-the-radar whiskies kicks off with India’s Amrut Single Malt ($65). “A fruity nose continues onto a more creamy palate, with tropical notes of mango, passionfruit, and peaches,” Hacking Whiskey author Goldfarb says. “The finish adds more citrus and a bit of ginger spice.”
Japan fans will want to seek out upstart Mars Iwai ($35), crafted by high-elevation Mars Shinshu Distillery. What to expect? “Gamey on the nose, it has an intensely fruity palate backed by coffee and milk chocolate.”
Which way to the BBQ?
Stateside, pour us a Whiskey Del Bac Dorado ($56), from Arizona’s Hamilton Distillers. Drying house-malted barley over mesquite smoke yields an aroma “strongly reminiscent of barbecue potato chips with just a hint of apples,” Goldfarb reports, and a palate redolent of “brisket, ribs, and smoked carnitas.” Dang!