What you’ll be sipping tomorrow: Whiskey stars call the year ahead
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” Nobel Prize–winning physicist Niels Bohr reportedly said. Or as Suntory shill Keanu Reevesput it more bluntly in The Matrix, “I don’t know the future.” Still, it’s worth a guess. Scotchwhisky.com’s Matt Evans recently asked nine industry heavyweights what they think lies in store for 2019.
Ian Chang, master blender at Kavalan Pure Taiwan, wagers that more whiskey makers will realize age is just a number. After all, no-age-statement (NAS) whiskies are having a moment, and switching to them would loosen up supply. “Portfolios are set to swing more to NAS, and to fill some of the space left by age statements I believe distilleries will invest in greater releases of limited editions,” Chang says.
Less is more
Watch for more personalization and smaller batches, predicts Cara Laing, director of whisky at Glasgow-based bottler Douglas Laing & Co.: “We are well aware of the fact consumers want bespoke, unique offerings that are smaller volume, higher value.”
In Finland, Kyrö Distillery Co. founder and CEO Miika Lipiänen wants his peers to get serious about embracing diversity. His bet for 2019? “We’re going to see the Old World—for example, Scotland, Ireland and the U.S.—starting to do our take on the New World style of whiskies,” says Lipiänen, whose distillery specializes in rye whiskey and gin.“That means we’ll see more rye and bourbon-type whiskies coming out of Europe.”
The bourbon cure: Drink one and call us in the morning
With flu season at its height, Robitussin isn’t the only salve for a stuffy nose and a hack worthy of the Kremlin. Maxim recommends something much more delicious and probably just as effective—a whiskey cough syrup. The magic ingredients: lemon juice, honey and a double shot of bourbon. One a day—we’ll hold you to that!—should keep the doctor away.
Holy terroir: Whiskey gets a piece of the action
Winemakers never shut up about terroir, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the combination of factors including soil, climate and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character.” Turns out whiskey is no slouch in that department either.
In a new study whose participants included Waterford Distillery, researchers analyzed two varieties of whiskey-making barley grown at different sites in southeastern Ireland. As The Drinks Business relates, preliminary results suggested that environmental differences have an impact on flavor.
For example, new-make spirit distilled from one grain was higher in compounds that deliver a “sweet, bready, caramel and woody taste,” while the other grain produced a spirit higher in compounds yielding “earthy, nutty, fruity and bubble-gum flavors.” Can’t wait to see what three years in oak will do. Take that, Francis Ford Coppola. (One of a long list of other Hollywood types who have shilled for Japanese whisky, by the way.)
History repeats itself
In other science news, master distiller Marianne Eaves used her chemical engineering chops to re-create flavours from a century-old bourbon, NPR explains. While renovating Kentucky’s historic Castle & Key Distillery, co-owner Eaves found and relished a 1917 bottle of Old Taylor made on the premises.
Determined to bring the same rich butterscotch note to her own product, she broke the antique liquid down into its constituent compounds. Those deets helped point to what grains bourbon industry pioneer Col. Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. had distilled—and to a yeast yielding a similar flavor profile. Mm, butterscotch…
California dramming: Where to drink whiskey in L.A.
We once sank a bourbon too many at The Brig on Abbot Kinney—which reminds us: we’re way overdue for a trip to the City of Angels. Priming us for the journey is L.A. Weekly’s Janelle Bennet, with a guide to Tinseltown’s best whiskey bars.
After giving short shrift to Ireland and Canada in a long Whiskey 101 preamble, Bennet gets to the good stuff. High on our list is downtown Mrs. Fish, a shrine to Japanese offerings at all price points. Thanks for showing the way to it and nine other watering holes.