Under all that leather, Shaft is a complicated guy Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Under all that leather, Shaft is a complicated guy
Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Neat Stuff 29: Richard Roundtree sells Scotch, whiskies for National Bourbon Day + Father’s Day, and a Glenfiddich whisky bus

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Cue the immortal theme song by Isaac Hayes, and pour us a Scotch while you’re at it. Forget Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie Usher: we’re watching the new Shaft movie for Richard Roundtree, who played the badass PI in the original 1970s films.

Just in time for Father’s Day, the first black action hero is back as John Shaft I, progenitor of a crime-fighting tradition carried on by his son and grandson. (They’ve also adopted his turtlenecks and leather trench coats.) “Back in the day, we didn’t need guns,” he tells Shaft III (Usher). “All we needed was our bare knuckles.”

And a dram, apparently. “Shaft is the sort of man who can drink five fingers of Scotch without gagging or his eyes watering,” New York Times film critic Vincent Can wrote of the first movie in 1971.

Can you dig it?

Besides fighting crime onscreen that decade, Roundtree helped sell Scotch to his fellow African-Americans. He sat—tweed-jacketed and cross-legged in an armchair—for a 1970 Ballantine’s ad that appeared in Ebony magazine.

Such efforts were part of a push to draw black consumers that whiskey makers have recently revived, the Times notes. Fellas, it isn’t too late to ask Mr. Roundtree back.

 *With apologies to Shaft in Africa

Smooth bourbon for a Black Monday price Credit: Beam Suntory
Smooth bourbon for a Black Monday price
Credit: Beam Suntory

Double trouble: National Bourbon Day + Father’s Day

For anyone who likes to drink, give or receive whiskey, this weekend lineup is almost too good to be true. National Bourbon Day falls on June 14, followed 48 hours later by Father’s Day.

A big holiday in Kentucky, NBD is toasted across the U.S., with celebrations everywhere from San Diego to Cincinnati. Louisville has already been partying for two weeks, in honor of the Old Fashioned, named the city’s official cocktail in 2015.

Here’s to you, Dad

At Forbes.com, Brad Japhe has kindly chosen these bourbons and ryes with Father’s Day in mind, but some can do double duty for NBD. As Japhe points out, you don’t need to drop thousands on a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle to wow Dad.

For example, in a recent blind tasting by the Beverage Testing Institute, American whiskey drinkers found Jim Beam Black ($23*) smoother than a bourbon that fetches as much as $3,000. “The data prove that when you can’t see the bottle, taste means more than hype,” Japhe says.

Made in Japan—and Kentucky

With Japanese whisky growing costlier by the day, why not go for a bargain-priced bourbon that captures some of its magic? Legent, a collaboration between Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and Suntory chief blender Shinju Fukuyo, can be Dad’s for a mere $35.

Japhe also recommends Basil Hayden’s limited-edition Caribbean Reserve Rye, which blends Kentucky and Canadian ryes with blackstrap rum: “This unique fusion brings together brown sugar, marzipan and notes of black pepper into a bottle that retails at just $44.” Sold.

*All dollar figures in USD

Glenfiddich ambassador Luke Sanderson with our definition of a magic bus Credit: Glenfiddich
Glenfiddich ambassador Luke Sanderson with our definition of a magic bus
Credit: Glenfiddich

Sweet ride: Glenfiddich whisky bus pulls out all the stops

In our youth, we rode plenty of double-decker buses, but none as special as this one. Glenfiddich recently launched the Glenfiddich Whisky Wanderer, a mobile lounge painted the Speyside Scotch producer’s forest green and stocked with some of its finest bottles.

The catch? The bus, a refurbished 1972 Leyland with a pop-up roof, is in whiskey-loving Australia, Alex Raso of the AU Review reports. Onboard, visitors can sample everything from Glenfiddich’s 15-year-old Solera Reserve to its experimental India Pale Ale Cask single malt.

We’re not in Scotland anymore

Along for the ride with Glenfiddich brand ambassador Luke Sanderson is Aussie chef and restaurateur Matt Moran, who will do food pairings. If you like what you taste, there’s also the option to create a personalized bottle.

Oh, and no rush to catch the Whisky Wanderer. For its 5,600-mile debut tour, the bar on wheels will spend three years traversing Oz, with stops in Sydney in late June and Brisbane in October. They call Australia the Lucky Country for a reason.  

Triticale never tasted so fly Credit: Dry Fly Distilling
Triticale never tasted so fly
Credit: Dry Fly Distilling

Size matters: 6 great small American whiskey makers

We’ve got nothing against the big guys, but whiskey needs its indie players. At Uproxx, Zach Johnston takes us on a tour of six favorite small U.S. distilleries.

New England bourbon, you say? Ayuh. Sons of Liberty Spirits Co., in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, has carved out a niche by basing seasonal spirits around—yay!—seasonal beers.

Battle Cry—a single malt whiskey fermented with Belgian-style ale yeasts—and their rye-heavy (read: spicy) bourbons are fantastic bottles to have on hand for any serious whiskey drinker or cocktail mixer,” Johnston says. Battle Cry won gold in the Best American Single Malt category at the 2017 and 2016 World Whiskies Awards.


Western stars

We’d also go a round or two with Dry Fly Distilling of Spokane, Washington, a “farm-to-bottle” operation that sources ingredients from local suppliers. Besides wheat whiskies, Dry Fly makes a triticale number, Johnston explains. “That’s a hybrid grain that blends barley and rye into a single grass, giving the whiskey a one-of-a-kind whiskey flavor of spice, malt and herbs.”

Out Montana way? Stop by Glacier Distilling Co., near the resort town of Whitefish and Glacier National Park. “It’s a corn-based wonder that’s almost too easy to sip,” Johnston says of the outfit’s North Fork, a 92-proof whiskey with some rye in the mix, aged in charred American white oak. This is one road you’ll want to take.

Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Grain gain: Oat Scotch whisky makes a comeback

Once upon a time, Scots stood while eating their porridge, out of respect for the oat. InchDairnie Distillery is showing the same love by bringing oats back as a whiskey grain.

This could be the first time in a century that a Scotch maker has put them to use, Kenny Smith of Scottish Field relates. InchDairnie, led by founder Ian Palmer, just distilled the oats and plans to see how maturation goes before launching.

 

The first of many for a cereal entrepreneur?

If it pans out, the oat dram will be the first in the distillery’s PrinLaws range, “a collection of unique flavour-led whiskies from different yeasts, cereals and oaks,” Smith says. Because there are no rules for making whiskey from oats, InchDairnie has cribbed from the U.S. definitions of bourbon and rye, so they must account for at least 51% of the mash bill, or grain mix.

Bonus: the Scotch will age in American oak ex-bourbon and Portuguese Muscatel casks. Here’s hoping it’s worth the wait. 🥃

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