Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another #Gameday edition of #WakeyWhiskey as LSU takes on (Go To Hell) Ole Miss late tonight and maybe into tomorrow morning.  A few days ago I was looking through my liquor collection and looking through some previous wakey whiskey posts and realized that I've never featured this Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon.  I've had this bottle for years, I believe it was actually a Christmas present from Jay, but due to its large size and unusual shape it always ended up on the "top shelf" of the liquor cabinet and rarely found its way down.  Rather than keep that trend continuing I decided to pull the bottle down and make it this week's featured whiskey.

Willet Pot Still Reserve is produced by the Willett Distillery, which is also known as the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.  It's still an independent distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, and in addition to the Willett brand they produce Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Pure Kentucky, and more labels.  The bottle that I have is actually a 1.75l bottle styled after a pot still, and is a single barrel version of the Pot Still Reserve.  Around 2015 Willett switched from a single barrel labeling to a small batch labeling, but like I said, this is one of the older bottles in my collection, obviously pre-dating that switch.  It even says on the neck label that this is bottle no. 91 of 117 from single barrel no. 870.  (I think it's 870... the last number is cut off, but it's something round so either 870 or maybe 876... doesn't really matter...)  

Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

Upon pouring and taking the picture, I noticed that the bourbon left in the bottle has a reddish tint to it while the bourbon in my glass is more of a traditional brown.  That's just the light playing tricks though, I can promise it's all the same and I wasn't pouring koolaid back into the bottle.  This is bottled at 94 proof (47% abv) and the aroma is a very pleasant combination of oak, vanilla, and a hint of citrus.  The taste is a smooth note of vanilla, with some charred oak coming through as well as a bit of sweeter caramel, all balanced well by the alcohol.  I think this 94 proof bourbon is right in the sweet spot between the standard 80 proof bourbons and the high proof barrel-strength offerings.  It makes for an interesting complex bourbon without being so strong that it takes away from the flavors.

I know you won't likely be able to find this single barrel version, but if you see some Willett Pot Still Reserve out in the wild, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.  Cheers, and Geaux Tigers! 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof's Voodoo Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Tin Roof's Voodoo Pale Ale
Good morning everyone!  It's Friday, so let's talk a little beer.  Originally I wasn't planning on going back to back with the Tin Roof beers, but that was before the news broke last Saturday that Tin Roof Brewing captured the first ever gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for the state of Louisiana with their Voodoo Pale Ale!  They won in the Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale category, which featured a whopping 132 entrants.  

Voodoo has been around in some form since Tin Roof's beginning, originally labeled as the Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale it was one of the original flagship brews next to the Perfect Tin Amber.  The original recipe was more of a balanced pale ale, with caramel and crystal malts providing a base and plenty of bittering hops throughout.  A few years ago the recipe was changed up completely and the "Bengal" was dropped from the name, giving us the Voodoo Pale Ale and the current look of the cans and tap handles.  Chuck P even wrote a blog post about it! Since then the recipe has undergone a few more tweaks until you have the current iteration of the Voodoo Pale Ale, which can now add GABF Gold Medal winner to its resume.  

The current recipe is even simpler than the interim version, with pale malt serving as the lone base malt and then malted oats, flaked oats, and wheat malt added as specialty grains to give some body and contribute to the haziness.  The hops were reduced to a simple combination of Citra and Simcoe, giving a combination of citrus and tropical fruit flavors from the Citra (duh!) and pine flavors from the Simcoe.  It's a sessionable 5% abv and a palate-pleasing 20 IBU with the vast majority of the hops going in as later additions and dry-hopping.  

I'm sure most of you out there reading this have tried Voodoo and plenty of you likely keep some around in your beer fridge on a regular basis, but if you haven't had one recently, don't hesitate to grab a 6-pack and give it another try.  Winning any sort of medal is a huge deal at GABF, but winning a gold in such a highly contested category should absolutely be celebrated.  

So congrats to Tin Roof, and Cheers! 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and HAPPY GAMEDAY!  LSU takes on Louisiana Tech tonight, and gameday means it's time for another #wakeywhiskey and this morning I'm going to finish off a bottle of Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey.  I've featured Rogue Spirits before with their Dead Guy whiskey, so I won't go too far into the details of the distillery, but I will happily talk about this particular bottle.  It's crafted primarily from rye malt grown in Rogue's own farms, plus two other specialty barley malts that Rogue refers to as their Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malt.  

Very similar to the Longrow scotch I reviewed last week, Rogue controls every step in the process, from the growing of the malts to the bottling of the spirits.  Their barrel aging facility is right on the saltwater in Newport, Oregon, and the Oregon Rye Malt is "ocean aged" for a minimum of three years. It's bottled at 80 proof for 40% alcohol and is available year round in 750ml bottles. 

Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey

The pour is a light amber color, translucent as any spirit should be.  The aroma isn't heavy on the cinnamon notes like some rye whiskeys but instead is very clean with a hint of peach and almonds. The taste is clean and smooth, with the cinnamon spice coming through a little stronger than on the aroma and a grainy bready flavor from the malted barley.  This is an easy drinking very pleasant whiskey that would be a great introduction to rye whiskey for someone looking to try some new spirits.  

That's all for now, happy gameday and #GeauxTigers!       

Friday, September 21, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof's Côte Ouest IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, on this beautiful first day of Fall!  Oh wait, it's still a billion degrees outside, but at least it's football season, right?  And at least cold cooler weather is on the way!  So I've been told, next weekend should finally start to feel a little like Fall, but this weekend is going to feel a little like the surface of the Sun.  

For today's Feature Beer I went back to local brewery Tin Roof for their latest specialty release, the Côte Ouest IPA, brewed in collaboration with Blake Winchell and Bill Childress of Brasseurs A La Maison.  As the name suggests, this is a traditional American IPA in the West coast style as opposed to the trendy New England style that's all the rage right now.  That means more malt balance, more bittering hops, and usually less back end dry hopping.  It also traditionally means a departure from the hazy "juicy" feel of the NE style, although this particular example retained some haziness.  

The Côte Ouest is draft only, but the batch resulted in about 10 barrels of finished product, so expect to see it on tap at the Tin Roof taproom for several more weeks as well.  Since cans weren't available, I grabbed a crowler on my last visit to try later.  First thing though, check out that fancy tap handle!  Apparently Blake didn't even know he was going to be features so prominently until he showed up to the release party, so I guess the joke is on him.  

Tin Roof's Cote Ouest IPA

On to the beer!  First the stats... 7.5% abv which is right at the cut off between IPA and DIPA, and approximately 70 IBU.  The pour is a dark orange-ish color with a bubbly white head and a decent amount of haze.  The hop aroma is still strong but more floral and traditionally bitter rather than citrus.  The taste is strongly bitter, and despite the darker color, there isn't a huge malt presence, rather the Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Amarillo hops come through with a combination of floral and piney bitterness with still a hint of citrus but not an overpowering presence.  All four of those hop varieties are produced in the Pacific NW and are prominent in the American IPA's surge in popularity, so it's great to see them used so generously in this beer.  

This won't be on tap for too long, so if you like hoppy bitterness and are looking for a change of pace and a bit of a throwback, head over to Tin Roof and give this a taste.  Cheers! 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wakey Whisky: Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our first SEC gameday of 2018!  The LSU Tigers face a tough road test today against the War Eagles/Plainsmen/Tigers of Auburn.  I've pretty much always hated Auburn, although they've never been at the top of my SEC hate list, they've always been in contention, in my case back to the cigar smoking on the field days of 1999.  Dick move, Auburn.  Dick. Move.

Now, I have no Alabama whiskey in the collection, so I'm going to have to get a little exotic and break out a new bottle of scotch for this round of #wakeywhisky.  As I'm sure any regular reader knows by now, scotch drops the 'e' from whiskey in their spelling, so this is a bottle of whisky rather than whiskey.  This particular bottle is the Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt, which is a double distilled and highly peated single malt variety. 

Campbeltown is one of the traditional five regions of scotch production, along with Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, and Islay.  Campbeltown is the smallest of the regions with only 3 active distilleries, including the J. & A. Mitchell & Company which independently operates the Springbank distillery which produces the Longrow scotch that I'm drinking today.  This is the only distillery in Scotland that carries out the full process of malting, mashing, fermenting, distilling, aging, and bottling all under one roof.  Very few distilleries malt their own barley, and quite often they outsource the mashing process to brewing facilities.  

Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Okay, so, on to the whisky, this one pours a very light color, which indicates to me that it's not a crazy long aging, or it's possibly a very light char on the barrels that they use. The smell is without a doubt peat heavy but it's not so powerful that it's all I can smell.  There are notes of honey, honeysuckle, smoke, and vanilla, all melded together into a delicious sip of whisky.  The smoke builds as I continue to sip with a bit of a bitter astringent note adding another layer of complexity.  The finish is smoky, peaty, with a definite hint of oak. 

This is really one of the more complex scotches that I can remember trying.  So many have a complexity to them, but they are usually still dominated by a distinct note, whereas this whisky really doesn't have a dominant note and instead is a mashup of flavors that compliment each other extremely well.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this new bottle to my collection, but I'm immediately a huge fan.

Here's hoping the LSU Tigers play as well as this scotch tastes, if so we might be seeing a big upset this afternoon.  Cheers, happy gameday, and GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Tin Roof / Gnarly Barley's Liger Juicy Pale Ale

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  It's another Friday and that means another featured beer here on Bite And Booze.  I'm going with a local collaboration today, the Liger Juicy Pale Ale which was brewed by Tin Roof and Gnarly Barley to celebrate last week's LSU vs. SELU football matchup.  Tin Roof brews the Bayou Bengal, a licensed LSU beer, and Gnarly Barley out of Hammond brews the Lion Up, a licensed SELU beer, so it only made sense for the two to combine forces for a Rivalry Edition beer.  

I'm a huge fan of local breweries collaborating together on beers like this, as well as local breweries collaborating with regional and national breweries.  It's a great way to get new ideas, new beers, and new exposure for these craft breweries that support a lot of local jobs.  This beer sold out quickly in cans at the brewery last weekend, but as of Wednesday night there was still plenty on tap, and they were selling crowlers of it to go.  So, as I'm an LSU fan, I grabbed a Tin Roof glass and gave the beer a try...

Tin Roof / Gnarly Barley's Liger Juicy Pale Ale

The first thing that hit me is the hop aroma as soon as I popped the can, citrus flavors dominate due to the galaxy, citra, and mosaic hops used.  The color is a pale yellow, not quite orange juice color, but hazy and vibrant.  The aroma out of the glass is more of the same, strong citrus hop flavors which invite me in for a sip.  On the tongue the hops continue their dominance, with a medium body and a minimal malt presence.  This is basically a toned down pale ale version of a "juicy" NEIPA and they nail it.  At 5.5% but bursting with hop flavor, this would be a great game day beer or perfect for breaking out after mowing the lawn, which is exactly what I in the picture above!

Here's hoping this makes it into the regular rotation for either Tin Roof or Gnarly Barley, I know I'd drink plenty more if it was readily available.  In the meantime, hit up the Tin Roof taproom and grab a crowler or two for the weekend.  Cheers! 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Ole Smoky Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans and welcome to an undefeated week 2 and a huge jump in the polls following an ass whipping of Miami.  I'll admit, I didn't see that coming, I expected a good game and wouldn't have been shocked with a win or a loss, but going out to a 30-point lead on a top 10 team was unforeseen.  So I guess the question really is, was Miami overrated, was LSU underrated, or was it some combination of both?  I'm not a genius prognosticator, but with Southeastern Louisiana University (SELU) coming into Tiger Stadium this week, I feel like 2-0 is a strong possibility.  On a side note, Baton Rouge's Tin Roof Brewing and Hammond's Gnarly Barley Brewing put out a collaboration brew to commemorate the meeting of the two teams.  Tin Roof brews an official LSU licensed beer, and Gnarly Barley brews one licensed by SELU, so the collaboration makes perfect sense.  Look for that one out now and coming soon as a Feature Beer Friday?

Back to the wakey whiskey (#wakeywhiskey) though... last weekend I was in Knoxville for the game, and of course I hit up a local liquor store to buy a few local bottles.  I had already picked up a few directly from Postmodern Spirits in Knoxville proper, but I saw this bottle from Gatlinburg that caught my eye.  It's the Ole Smoky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the term "straight" means that in addition to all the qualifications for a bourbon, this one has been aged for at least two years. Ole Smoky primarily makes mooonshine, although more of the flavored variety as opposed to the illegal variety, but they also produce some flavored whiskeys and a few unflavored bourbons.   

Ole Smoky Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Now, the whiskey itself, because that's the important part, right?  The color is a little darker than caramel with a bit of an orange hint to it.  The smell is fairly muted, with hints of vanilla and oak but nothing too overpowering. The taste is a little on the harsh side at first, but once it settles down the typical bourbon flavors come out like corn sweetness, a bit of a mineral quality, a little vanilla, and the oak char comes out even stronger.  After a few sips neat to work out the palate, I added an ice sphere to see what opens up, and found first that the oak flavors on the aroma come through stronger than before.  On the tongue the initial harsh notes are reduced and then the whiskey flavors emerge with vanilla on the strong side.  I feel like this one benefits from the ice to open up the flavors.  

Not a bad pour, not the best I've ever had, but I'm all about trying new whiskeys and this one definitely has a place on my shelf.  Now, time for LSU to get to work and make it a 2-0 start.  Geaux Tigers!  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Pretentious Brewing IPA Flight

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  I recently returned to Baton Rouge from a long weekend trip to Knoxville, TN with Mandi and Brooks, and definitely took the opportunity to check out a handful of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, and even a distillery that will be featured on an upcoming Wakey Whiskey post.   Knoxville, for being about the same size metro area as Baton Rouge, is killing us in the craft beer department, and we only made it to about half of the breweries in the area.  One of the best that we did get to try, my favorite was Pretentious Beer Company in the Old City neighborhood just to the North of downtown.  

Upon arrival I was impressed to see an array of beers on tap including multiple NEIPAs, so a flight was in order.  After careful consideration I opted for the #trendyAF, Waka Flocca Flame, Floc The Line, and the #supertrendyAF.  

A flight of NEIPAs at Pretentious Beer Co. 

All four of my selections are variants of NEIPA, with the "Floc" names being a play on the term flocculation, which is the suspension of the yeast in the beer that contributes to the haziness of the unfiltered NEIPA style.  Even though I wrotet hem down in one order, the bartender recommended a drinking order for me which happened to be the exact reverse of my selections, so I took her suggestion and started drinking right to left.  

Up first, the #trendyAF, which is a milkshake NEIPA (typically indicating the inclusion of lactose) with mosaic hops and pomegranate.  A deliciously hoppy and smooth beer, and the flight was off to a great start.  Up next was the Waka Flocca Flame, 7.1% and triple dry hopped with mosaic, giving a dank slightly onion-y bitterness.  Third on the lineup was the Floc The Line, 6.4% and triple dry hopped with galaxy, mosaic, and citra cryo hops, giving it a much more balanced and complex hop character than the Waka Flocca Flame.  Last up is the #supertrendyAF, which obviously is a variant of their #trendyAF milkshake NEIPA.  This variant features blood orange and vanilla, and is described as "taking creamsicle to the next level."  I found it a little on the sweet side, but also bitter and delicious, and it really reminded me (in a humbling way) of the Peach Hoppler Milkshake IPA that my team put together for the canceled Iron Brewer event.  We used peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla, and the sweet flavors worked extremely well with the hops, just like they do in this #supertrendyAF from Pretentious Beer Co.  

In the end I left extremely impressed, and I didn't even get past the NEIPA list before it was time to make our way to the next stop.  Next time you get the chance to swing through Knoxville, make this a stop on your tour, you won't be disappointed!  

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning all and HAPPY M'F'IN' GAMEDAY to you all!  We wait all off-season for this day with a bit of hope that this season is going to be the one.  This season LSU is going to beat Alabama, win the SEC, go to the playoffs, and win the WHOLE DAMN THING.  We also all know that this isn't likely, but hey, for now, I'm saying there's a chance.  LSU is starting off the season with the University of Miami, which is a tough test right out the gate, both for the Tigers and for my wakey whiskey selection.  I try to tie what I'm drinking in to who the team is playing, or where they are, or just something that makes a connection.  

Well, I don't have any Miami whiskey.  I don't even have any whiskey from the state of Florida.  Do they even make whiskey in Florida?  What's "Florida Man" up to these days anyway?  In the absence of a Miami connection, I had to go with the backup plan, base my selection off of where I am at the time.  Well it turns out for this Labor Day weekend I'm on vacation in Knoxville, Tennessee, and in the Bite and Booze collection just happened to be a bottle of Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey from the Sugarlands Distilling Company in nearby Gatlinburg.  

Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey

This is a blend of three barrels from the same batch that were all barreled at 118.42 proof back on May 29th, 2015, then aged for two years and five months prior to bottling at barrel strength.  The final proof on this whiskey is a robust 120.98 for 60.49% alcohol by volume.  As mentioned before, this is a straight rye whiskey, with a grain bill of 51% rye, 45% corn, and 4% malted barley.  All of that information is right on the bottle (plus more) which is phenomenal for a whiskey geek like me.  

Now, the whiskey, this was aged in 25 gallon barrels so even though it's only around 2.5 years aged that increased surface area per volume will augment the aging process.  This sped up process leaves a rich copper colored whiskey with hints of red and orange.  The nose is potent with alcohol but also some cinnamon and vanilla notes.  The taste is strong with a pronounced alcohol burn (to be expected!) then the oak and vanilla comes through from the barrel char as well as more cinnamon notes which is very typical for rye-heavy whiskeys.  This is definitely a sipper that will probably benefit from an ice cube of a splash of water (maybe next pour) but it's a good sip just served neat and room temperature.

I'm glad to have tried this one, now I need to look for some other Sugarlands products while I'm up in Knoxville.  Cheers! and GEAUX TIGERS!