Brad and Leo dress the part Credit: Sony Pictures
Brad and Leo dress the part
Credit: Sony Pictures

Neat Stuff 27: Brad Pitt’s new favorite drink, North Korea’s whiskey launch and 11 great Japanese drams

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Hollywood square: Brad Pitt pours himself a glass

Quentin Tarantino is a bit of a nut job, but we can’t wait to see his latest film. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the director’s ninth, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as fading actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth.

The movie, which is set in 1969 Tinseltown and revisits the Manson Family murders, fails to match Tarantino’s best work, according to this Variety review. But it does give both main characters a favorite drink: bloody Marys for Cliff and whiskey sours for Rick.

It does a body good

Whiskey also makes an appearance in a shot of Pitt and Tarantino from this Esquire piece on the almost-three-hour epic. For Madeleine Aggeler of New York magazine, seeing the pair “reclined in pool chairs, a gold bar cart parked between them topped with whiskey, cigarettes and…yes, Brad’s full glass of milk” was too much.

“What is happening?” Aggeler asks. “Who came up with this combo? Why can’t I get this horrible taste out of my mouth? Help me, please. And help Brad Pitt.”

What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?*

Fair enough, but Pitt already helped himself by getting off the sauce in 2017. For good reason—two years earlier, a French actor who worked with him said he “lives on whiskey.”

In a GQ  interview after getting sober, Pitt cited alcohol and other drug abuse as a cause of his divorce from Angelina Jolie. “I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something,” he admitted. Sounds like quittin’ time.

*With apologies to W.C. Fields

Can you stand us a drink? Credit: Bram Hageman (Flickr)
Can you stand us a drink?
Credit: Bram Hageman (Flickr)

Nice legs! That thing whiskey does when you swirl it explained

Tears? Cathedral windows? Nah, let’s call them legs. At, the Whisky Professor explains that those trails left down the glass after a swirl speak volumes about a dram.

As it turns out, legs form because alcohol evaporates faster than water, which has a higher surface tension than booze. More water pulls whiskey up the sides of the glass before it slips back down under its own weight.

Getting a bead on it

OK, but what do those legs mean? “Put simply, the more rapidly the legs move, the lighter the whisky will be in the mouth; the thicker and slower they are, the heavier it will feel,” the Whiskey Professor says. “The inside of the glass therefore can be said to replicate in some way the inside of your mouth.”

Then there’s the beading test, which you can try at home by covering a glass with your hand and shaking it. The more bead action on the surface, the stronger the dram, the good Professor notes: “No beads will form in a mature whisky if it is under 50% ABV.” Good to know.

Bottle rockets from the Hermit Kingdom Credit: crg339 (Reddit)
Bottle rockets from the Hermit Kingdom
Credit: crg339 (Reddit)

On the launch pad: North Korean whiskey

Execution by flamethrower, seal penis liquor, the man Jon Stewart once called a nuclear Elvis—North Korea has given the world many things. Now the twitchy dictatorship can add its first whiskey to the list, the BBC reports.

For this glorious news, thank a China-based tourism operator that snagged some of the stuff. Producer Samilpo Distillery freely admits to ripping off Johnnie Walker for the design of its black- and red-labelled bottles, 40% and 42% ABV, respectively.

Let’s produce more world-competitive famous products and goods!*

No word on how the two drams taste, but they come with the kind of hyperbole we’ve grown to know and love from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Samilpo says its product is rich in amino acids that will make it kinder to your liver. Yes, and we’ve got some farmland in Chagang province to sell you.

Understandably, the fine people of Reddit have cast doubt on whether it’s even whiskey at all. Either way, chances are Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, who digs Jim Beam and other imported spirits, will give it a miss. If you want your own bottle, be prepared to visit Pyongyang when Samilpo launches later this year. Beats a ballistic missile any day.

*With apologies to the Workers’ Party of Korea

KBA, we’re officially jealous Credit: Angel’s Envy
KBA, we’re officially jealous
Credit: Angel’s Envy

Living the dram: Kentucky Bourbon Affair opens doors to 19 distilleries

Got plans for June 4-8? You’ll be cheating yourself if you don’t make time for the Kentucky Bourbon Affair. Billed as the Ultimate Fantasy Bourbon Camp, the sixth annual gathering features 45 events and 19 distilleries in Louisville and beyond, from Angel’s Envy to Maker’s Mark to Woodford Reserve.

For bourbon fans, KBA is no ordinary behind-the-scenes tour. Just ask longtime attendee Dana McMahan of the Courier-Journal: “When else can you pick a Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel in Wild Turkey’s oldest warehouse with masters Eddie and Jimmy Russell; blend your personal bourbon with Bulleit Bourbon’s master blender; or tour and taste at Old Forester with president and fifth-generation family member Campbell Brown?”

Many KBA events have sold out, but you can search for tix here. Save us a seat on the bus!

Reeling in the years with Hakushu Credit: Suntory

National tour: 11 Japanese whiskies worth tracking down

If you haven’t heard about the Japanese whisky shortage, maybe you’ve been living in North Korea. Here comes’s Jonah Flicker with 11 bottles to sample before it’s too late.

Among the tougher-to-score offerings—priced accordingly—is the 18-year-old single malt from Suntory’s rural Hakushu Distillery ($205*). Flicker calls it outstanding, “with fresh notes of fruit and malt, along with just a hint of smoke and dried cherry.”

They’re playing our song

Or how about a 12-year-old Yamazaki ($195), another Suntory number? “The whisky is light with dry spice notes and loads of fruity flavors, easy on the oak with a finish that lingers for awhile,” Flicker says. “Yamazaki 12 is aged in a variety of casks, giving it a nice balance of flavors that, like a well-rehearsed orchestra, complement each other and result in something greater than the sum of its parts.”

Japan is famous for its blends, but let’s do another single malt—Akashi by oceanside White Oak distillery, matured in bourbon, brandy, wine, shochu and other casks. Flicker’s review: “There are competing flavors of toffee and stone fruit that come into play from all the different barrels the whisky is aged in. All of this somehow falls into harmony over its solid malty backbone.” Yours for just $40, while supplies last.🥃

*All dollar figures in USD

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