****Tasting is 6-8 pm with Brenda from Blueprint Spirits****
Catoctin Creek Single Barrel Roundstone Rye 92 Proof ($49.99) Virginia From the producer: "This whisky is the culmination of several years of planning. 'For a few years now, we've been putting whisky away for storage,' remarked Becky Harris, Chief Distiller and President of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. 'We pulled some of the more interesting barrels from the back of the barn and decided to release these at a higher proof: a whisky specially curated for flavor, while still being remarkably smooth, as is our existing 80 proof Roundstone.'
Think of it as our 'Distiller's Reserve' version of Roundstone Rye. Only one in every ten barrels gets selected to be in the Roundstone Rye '92 Proof' whisky."
From me: Organic, single barrel, 100% rye from a solar-powered, family-run, grain-to-glass distillery: what more could you want? Delicious flavor with the perfect balance of spicy bite and smooth mouthfeel? It's got that. Sip it neat or make a great cocktail with it--either way, you'll love this rye.
Black Button Bourbon Cream ($31.99) Rochester, NY From the producer: "Whiskey and cream seem to be such a natural fit together and this, the only farm fresh New York State bourbon cream around, combines our hand finished Bourbon and local cream for a drink that delights. Bourbon Cream is similar in concept to an Irish Cream but discloses a richer feel. The bolder vanilla and caramel flavors make this a unique spirit that can be used on its own, in a cup of coffee or in a cocktail. We recommend trying it in a Root Beer Float!"
From me: Drink this, not that! This stuff is incredible. It's sweet without being cloying or syrupy, and the creaminess is not overbearing. Black Button is a grain-to-glass distiller in Rochester that produces quality spirits. This contains a blend of their own bourbon, bourbon from another small distiller, and local NY cream. It will ruin you for other cream spirits!
Bloomery SweetShine Black Walnut Liqueur ($24.99) West Virginia From the producer: "Bravely Bold with a Double Gold! 2015 San Francisco World Spirit Winner
Like our Limoncello this is a traditional Italian digestivo, a straight from the bottle sipper after dinner finishing very smoothly. Unlike limoncello this is not as sweet and offers many spice flavors in the finish. The dark color is from all natural unripe or green black walnuts and a mix of spices creating a unique flavor for you to savor!
Black Manhattan The Manhattan has been a perennial favorite but we found a way to truly update this to something very special. Over ice start with 3 oz of bourbon or rye whiskey, add 1/2 oz of sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz of Black Walnut SweetShine and a dash of bitters. Garnish with a cherry. Big City in the name, big flavor in the glass, big smile on your face!"
From me: This is a delicious and unusual liqueur, in part because of the black walnuts, and in part because of the high alcohol content (73.4 proof!). West Virginians mean business when it comes to "shine!" The flavor is deep, dark, and smooth, and just sweet enough to be enjoyed on its own, but the Black Manhattan will knock your socks off.
Bloomery SweetShine Ginger Liqueur ($24.99) West Virginia From the producer: "Bloomery’s all natural SweetShines® are made the way the old timer’s used to do it, by hand, with 190-proof corn likker, pure cane sugar and farm fresh ingredients. We grow lemons, yes, lemons in West by God Virginia! And Hawaiian ginger, raspberries, black walnuts and pumpkins. What we don’t grow we try to source from other small American family farms. Farm to table. Garden to glass.
Best if served at room temperature.
Mercury 49 This drink, like its namesake, is reminiscent of the early bootleggers featuring traditional tastes yet taking a new side road to deliver happiness. One part Bourbon, 1 part Ginger SweetShine, ½ part fresh lemon juice. Pour everything over ice into a cocktail shaker then “Shake it like you stole it” for 15 seconds. Pour into an old fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint."
From me: This liqueur has really authentic flavor, and though it's sweet, it's got the spicy kick that you get from a slice of ginger. Like all of Bloomery's products, you can drink this straight in a little cordial glass, but it's great in cocktails.
pür•likör "Spice" Blood Orange Liqueur ($24.99) Germany From the producer: "Aromatic blood oranges, hints of apricots spiced with cinnamon and cloves. The creation of superior liqueurs is a form of art that has been perfected with pür•likör spice. Handcrafted in our artisanal distillery, this intensely flavorful spiced blood orange liqueur balances the sweetness of the blood orange with the spice of cinnamon and cloves. It is a pleasure to sip and serves as a distinctive accent in cocktails where its intensity stands up well to other spirits and flavors.
During the colder season, it provides depth and warmth in cocktails inspired by the classics. Try pür•likör spice in an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, a Negroni, a Silent Third, a Side Car, a Hot Toddy. In the summer months, pür•likör spice adds variety and spices up Margaritas, Daiquiris, Pisco Sours, Caipirinhas, French 75s and Cosmos. For the Tiki bartender’s palette, this spiced blood orange liqueur is a great bonus for fun takes on a Mai-Tai or any drink that uses triple sec or spices. In holiday punches, experiment with red wine, bourbon, honey and pür•likör spice."
From me: This is a truly versatile liqueur that's beautiful on its own or in cocktails, and that can be enjoyed year-round. Its flavor is boldly dark citrus with just the right amount of spicy kick. It's a little sweet, but not too overwhelming--it will stand up to other spirits without taking away from their particular character.
1. Taste with as clean a palate as possible. Try to avoid smoking or chewing gum just beforehand. If you have just eaten, drink some water to clear the flavors of the meal.
2. Keep an open mind. Try new things! We all get into ruts when it comes to our palates, but the fun of a tasting is that you don't have to commit to the whole bottle. If you don't like what you've tasted, you can spit it out.
3. Spit or swallow--it's up to you! Just make sure you use the spittoon!
4. See, swirl, smell, sip, savor. Give attention to all aspects of the wine. Here are a couple of links that explain the process:
5. Have fun! Wine tasting has an air of elitism around it, but unnecessarily so. Your palate is your own-it's as individual as you are-and the most important part of appreciating good alcohol is knowing what you like and why you like it. You don't have to use fancy words or spend a lot of money on a bottle. As the kids say, you do you!