Meet me in Kentucky Credit: Matthew McConaughey
Meet me in Kentucky
Credit: Matthew McConaughey

Neat Stuff 21: Matthew McConaughey’s bourbon side hustle, an Old Fashioned dispenser and sizing up whiskey glasses

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All right, all right, all right. Matthew McConaughey brought us eternal adolescent David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, chest-thumping banker Mark Hanna in The Wolf of Wall Street—and now, stoner poet Moondog in The Beach Bum. He’s also been busy making whiskey with Wild Turkey Distillery.

The Kentucky bourbon producer hired McConaughey as its creative director back in 2016, Fortune reports. He crafted Wild Turkey Longbranch, a small-batch offering that spent eight years in charred American oak before filtering through Texas mesquite and oak charcoal, with master distiller Eddie Russell.

The Whiskey Wash’s Sarah Coppola gives Longbranch, which goes for about $35,* a 4 out of 5. “The taste of caramel apples is quickly dominated with spicy, slightly peppery heat and a subtle smokiness, a hint of char and oak, a touch of under-ripe stone fruit in the aftertaste and a nice acidity to balance things out overall,” she says. “Start to finish, there’s a pleasant enveloping warmth that is smooth and soothes going down.” Wooderson would approve.

Don't let the flowers fool you Credit: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Don't let the flowers fool you
Credit: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

Mixed reviews for Bill Murray’s bourbon tour

McConaughey isn’t the only Hollywood star who’s been getting into Kentucky bourbon lately. Bill Murray was spotted in the central part of the state, where he hit Woodford Reserve and restaurant Bourbon on Rye.

Known for roles that include Japanese whisky shill Bob Harris in 2003’s Lost in Translation, Murray didn’t win everybody over. The actor was a “big jerk,” one local griped, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “He treated people like they were nothing. He stepped all over my feet and didn’t apologize.” We like Bill Murray as much as the next guy, and that doesn’t sound out of character to us.

*All prices in U.S. dollars

The best things in life really are free Credit: Whyte & Mackay
The best things in life really are free
Credit: Whyte & Mackay

Call us Old Fashioned, but this whiskey cocktail dispenser could be the way of the future

Drinking in public just got a whole lot easier. From London to its hometown of Glasgow, blended Scotch maker Woodsman Whisky Co. is treating the U.K. to what it calls the world’s first whiskey cocktail vending machine.

At prime locations throughout the country, Brits can fix themselves a free Old Fashioned from the retro wooden dispenser, which is something of a black box, even though its controls include levers and a wheel. What’s not to like? And what could possibly go wrong?

A virtual Jack of all trades Credit: Tactic
A virtual Jack of all trades Credit: Tactic

Out-of-bottle experience

Stateside, Jack Daniel’s has turned to augmented reality to sex up its product. Thanks to AR developer Tactic, the Tennessee Whiskey label now doubles as a pop-out book about the legendary distiller, Jeremy Horowitz of Venture Beat relates. All you need is the free smartphone or tablet app—and a bottle of Jack.  

Woodsman parent Whyte & Mackay has done something similar with its Shackleton blended malt Scotch, a tribute to intrepid British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who set off for the South Pole in 1907 with his crew and 25 cases of Mackinlay & Co.’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky. (The 2007 discovery of some abandoned bottles inspired this re-creation.) The Shackleton AR experience promises to transport you to that gruelling trek, when expedition members lived in their own version of a wooden vending machine.

Lee Marvin gives it his best shot Credit: 20th Century Fox
Lee Marvin gives it his best shot
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Easy there, partner: This master blender wants whiskey drinkers to hold their liquor

Tell us how you really feel, Richard Paterson. At, the blender for Dalmore, Jura and Whyte & Mackay shares his disdain for those who are quick on the dram.

“Probably my biggest pet hate is seeing people drinking whisky like a bunch of cowboys in a saloon,” Paterson seethes. “They are completely missing the quality by just swallowing it back and not taking the time to hold the whisky on their tongue and revere what it is they are actually drinking.”

Tongue tied

Paterson’s rule of thumb: give a whiskey as many seconds on the tongue as the number of years on its label. “The trick is to hold the whisky in the middle of the tongue and then let it slip to the sides and underneath before bringing it back up,” he adds. “By now the whisky will have warmed up and settled down and the tongue will be really saturated with the taste of the whisky.” The countdown is on.

The Glencairn Glass will help you focus
Credit: Crate and Barrel

Sipping point: 8 whiskey glasses put to the test

Not all whiskey glasses are created equal. Just ask Inverse’s Laurence Shanet, who gives eight of them a workout. Shanet starts with the tulip-shaped Glencairn Glass, a go-to vessel for distillers everywhere. His verdict: “This thing really works. Of all the glasses, the Glencairn’s narrow opening concentrated the smells, flavors and alcohol of our sample whiskies the most.”

Also making the grade is the bud vase–like NEAT Glass, whose name stands for Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology. With its wider rim, this one is designed to diffuse alcohol so you can enjoy the whiskey’s aromas without getting burned. “Although the alcohol aspect wasn’t as in-your-face as it is with many other glasses we tried, the NEAT was still able to pick up the secondary notes and subtle differences between various whiskies,” Shanet says. “This was especially notable on overproof whiskies.”

Leave it to beaver Credit: Tamworth Distilling
Leave it to beaver
Credit: Tamworth Distilling

Animal spirits: A beaver and a grasshopper walk into a bar…

Tamworth Distilling’s whiskies aren’t for everyone—at least when you know what’s in them. The New Hampshire outfit offers an experimental series that includes Eau de Musc, Melita Kiely of The Spirits Business explains. Its not-so-secret ingredient? Beaver castoreum, a secretion that the industrious rodents use to mark their territory.

New on tap: 45% ABV Lait de Romalea Bourbon, whose name means “milk of grasshopper.” Yep, you heard that right. Tamworth works wonders with this stinky foam, which is extracted by rubbing the insects’ abdomens. Fermenting it with black tea leaves, the distillery produces a precursor to the molecule that makes roses and bourbon smell so, well, intoxicating.

Lait de Romalea “is said to be a ‘surprisingly delightful Bourbon,’ with a ‘floral, rosy and fruity’ nose that leads to flavours of plum, berry and ‘subtle’ tobacco on the palate,” Kiely writes. All’s well that ends well.

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