Saturday, April 27, 2013

Winners of The Drunken Botanist (with Five Recipes)

“Do you know of this?” my friend EJ emailed. 
“I just stumbled upon it and think I am going to pick one up.” 
The link in his note was for Amy Stewart’s new book 
The Drunken Botanist
Within seconds I typed back: 
“Buy it immediately.”

Last week, I heaped a bunch of plaudits on Amy Stewart's new book The Drunken Botanist. Her publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, offered to send five copies of the cook to readers of the Whiskey Forge. Rather than simply send a copy to random commenters like those who flock to any and all online giveaways, I put a twist on the rules and stipulated that those who wanted to throw their hats in the ring must also provide recipe in the comments to qualify. To keep it, in other words, among us booze geeks. I want to read about, I wrote,
...your favorite alcoholic drink that relies on plants to give it some distinguishing character — a cocktail, a homemade cordial or bitters recipe, your grandmother's amaro or your college roommate's homemade absinthe. Whatever. But it's got to have booze, beer, or wine (nothing against tea, but tea hardly makes botanists drunk) and it's got to demonstrate some distinctive plant characteristic. What that means is up to you: I want to see what you've got.
The results are in. Thank you everyone who sent in recipes — I'm working all weekend, but my mind keeps coming back to the new drinks I want to make. Five comments (selected using The Randomizer) came up winners. Those five should email me (moonshinearchives at gmail dot com) with mailing addresses ASAP.

First up is Sam K with his recipe for the Pennsylvanian/Lithuanian specialty, Boilo:
Always served warm, it is a soothing companion on a cold winter's night.

4 oranges, peeled
2 lemons, peeled
1 cup honey
4 cups water
1 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cloves
1 Tbsp caraway seed
1 Tbsp anise seed
4 cinnamon sticks
2 750 ml bottles decent blended American whiskey (Four Queens if you can find it)

Take all ingredients except whiskey and bring to a slow simmer for about a half hour. I prefer to peel the citrus to avoid leaching the more bitter oils into the potion. Allow to cool slightly and strain. Add the blended whiskey just before serving.

This will keep for some time. The blended whiskey is the main traditional ingredient here, really, and though I've read that the cheaper it is, the better, that's crap. There really is a substantial difference between, say, Fleischmann's and Four Queens (which has a slightly higher percentage of actual whiskey and is bottled at 100 proof). I know...I've ruined en entire batch by using Fleischmann's.
I suppose you could do even better by using three parts vodka and one part bourbon, but the miners always called for blended, and who am I to argue with tradition? That, plus they'd kick my ass! Second, Nick in Chapel Hill gives his take on a jalapeno honey-spiced Brown Derby:
1.5 oz rye (Knob Creek rye)
1.5 oz of fresh grapefruit juice
.5 oz jalapeno honey (To make: combine 14 oz local NC honey with fresh sliced jalapenos (2) - lightly sauté to release oils. Combine seed and fruit into honey in mason jar; let sit for 5 days prior to use)
.25 oz simple syrup
Splash soda water (or more, depending on tolerance for spice!)

Add rye and honey. Stir to loosen. Add grapefruit. Shake. Serve with crushed ice in rocks glass OR in chilled champagne coupe. 
From the cane fields of south Louisiana, John Couchot contributes his Rum Rickey Gone Local. the flavors of US sugarcane, he writes, "truly shine in this combination."
1 shot Rhum Agricole
1/2 shot of Louisiana made small batch cane syrup
fresh squeezed lime juice
splash of soda
garnish with a lime twist
Sylvan presents a slight twist on Sam Ross' new classic, the Penicillin Cocktail. This is my variation on Sam Ross' wonderful 'cold Scotch toddy'. "I never have 'ginger-honey syrup,'" he writes, "so I usually make honey syrup to order (no need to let it cool) and muddle fresh ginger."
Fresh ginger
2 ounces blended scotch (typ. Famous Grouse or Ballantine)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce honey syrup (1:1 honey/water)
1/4 ounce smoky Scotch (such as Laphroaig)

Slice a few (to taste) 1/8" slices of ginger and muddle in a mixing glass. Add blended Scotch, lemon juice and syrup, fill with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass or a chilled cocktail glass and float Islay scotch on top.
Finally, Lucas chimes in from snowy Toronto with his Garden Caesar (that's a Bloody Mary with a dose of oyster liquor or clam juice to us Yanks). He eyeballs the proportions.
Homemade vodka infused with Persimmon Tomatoes (using ISI Whipper)
Tomato juice (boughten is fine)
Oyster liquor
dash or two celery bitters
Fresh grated horseradish from the garden.
a couple of drops of homemade chili oil.
Rim the glass with lime and serve with a plate of oysters.
Setting aside the ambiguity of whether the vodka itself is homemade or just the final infused product is, I like the way you think, Lucas. Not just that ambiguity and the plate of oysters, but the nitrous-charged tomato vodka. This is a technique that didn't start getting traction until the last year or so, although it's been known for several years. Lucas uses the technique laid out in the Cooking Issues blog, but explains further:
I do a rough dice with the tomato, making sure to add the juice to the whipper as well. Seal it up, pressurize with two cartridges, wait a minute, depressurize and strain. I like the persimmon tomatoes because they have tons of flavour and live about ten steps away from the bar.
Cheers! Remember, you five, to email me with a shipping address for your copy of The Drunken Botanist and I'll pass it on to the publisher.

For the rest of you, a lot more recipes (worthy entries, one and all) are here in the comments section. Although the giveaway is closed, feel free to chime in with your own, even if they involve frozen squid swizzle sticks (ahem, Greg).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Homemade Marshmallow Creme

Sticky, fluffy marshmallow creme — sometimes dubbed marshmallow topping or "cream" — can be whipped together in less time than it takes to make a decent cup of hot chocolate. And then, hey, boom, spike that drink with a little whiskey or something stronger and you've got something to put on top of it.

We've discussed real marshmallow syrup before, using actual and esoteric marshmallow plant, but spooning globs of this fake stuff onto hot chocolate, ice cream, milkshakes, or Sundaes is a lot more familiar to...well, nearly everyone.  Legions of American children grew up eating fluffernutter sandwiches, a combination of peanut butter and marshmallow creme, in their school lunches. Some home cooks deploy it as a binder in puffed rice squares and popcorn balls, to add bulk and sweetness in sauces and fudge, and as the base for cake frostings and whoopie pies.

Here's what most home cooks don't do, though: make it themselves and change the base flavor. Vanilla extract is the common flavoring, but why not use mint extract, rosewater, or orange flower water? Pomegranate molasses adds a bit of color and a pleasant bitter note to the sweetness of the glossy white confection. And don't forget liquor: bourbon, absinthe, apple brandy, and dark rums are just the beginning. Admittedly, absinthe-flavored marshmallow creme may have limited uses, but that cup of hot chocolate is a good place to start.

This marshmallow topping can be cobbled together from just a few ingredients common to both bartenders and moms; syrup, egg whites, confectioners' sugar, a pinch of salt, and some kind of flavoring. If you happen to be making ice cream, you may well have those egg whites on hand already. Some confectioners cook a syrup that's a mix of sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. You could tie your shoes with gloves on, too, but why make this harder than it needs to be? Let's drop any pretense of this being at all healthy and use straight corn syrup. See below for notes on flavorings.
Homemade Marshmallow Creme 
2 egg whites
1 cup corn syrup (310g)
1 cup confectioners'/powdered/10x sugar (110g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavoring: see note below)
a knifepoint of salt — no more than 1/8 tsp
In an electric stand mixer (such as a KitchenAid) beat the egg whites and corn syrup with the ballon ship attatchment for a few minutes until the mixture is stiff and white. Stop the mixer. 
Add the powdered sugar in three stages. Add the first third, turn the mixer on low, then increase gradually to the highest speed until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn off the mixer. Add the second third of sugar and repeat until all the sugar is fully incorporated and the mixture is solid white, glossy, and thick enough to hold thick ribbons that plop off a spoon or spatula.
Add vanilla (or other flavoring) and salt and mix until well blended. Transfer to a one-quart container and store covered in the refridgerator; it will keep for up to three days.
A note on flavorings: A half to a full ounce (1-2 tablespoons) of most spirits should suffice (unless they are strongly flavored — use your judgement), a teaspoon of most baking extracts or cocktail bitters, and just a few drops for strong essential oils such as mint or neroli.

Goes well with:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bookshelf: The Drunken Botanist (and a giveaway)

“Do you know of this?” my friend EJ emailed. “I just stumbled upon it and think I am going to pick one up.” The link in his note was for Amy Stewart’s new book The Drunken Botanist. Within seconds I typed back: “Buy it immediately.”

Scroll down for a chance to score a free copy
The last decade has witnessed an avalanche of drinks books: encyclopedic cocktail guides; histories of various liquors; reproductions of early bartending manuals; buying guides; essay collections; paeans to bars from New Orleans to Wisconsin. Most are undistinguished. Many cocktail manuals in particular are interchangeable. Some released only in the last few years have begun to feel like remnants of trends not yet played out, already dated. Not Stewart’s.

The Drunken Botanist is the most useful and entertaining drinks book of the year and one of the most engaging of the last several years.

I've been to liquor stores with distillers, bartenders, and go-go boys but never a botanist. Until I manage that, this little green tome can serve as a crash course in what's actually in those thousands of bottles. Sure, cocktail recipes — good ones, too — are scattered throughout the book but those are not the reason I've been heaping plaudits on it. Rather, it's the unrelenting thoroughness of Stewart's writing that's so impressive. The book is an exploration of plants (and a few bugs and fungi) that contribute flavors, aromas, colors, tactile sensations, and base materials for fermentation and distillation.

Stewart frames the scope in her introduction:
Around the world, it seems, there's not a tree or shrub or delicate wildflower that has not been harvested, brewed, and bottled. Every advance and botanical exploration or horticultural science brought with it a corresponding uptick in the quality of our spirituous liquors. Drunken botanists? Given the role they play in creating the world's greatest drinks, it's a wonder there are any sober botanists at all.
Bartenders beware.
Since Caesar famously divided Gaul into three, authors have followed suit. Stewart breaks down over 150 plants we drink into three sections. First come plants that, when fermented (and sometimes distilled) yield beer, wine, ales, and various spirits. These include obvious selections like corn, apples, grapes, sugarcane, wheat, and barley as well as fermentable bases less often seen in the North America or western Europe such as tamarind, sweet potato, jackfruit, banana, and marula. Next are those used to flavor those spirits and low-alcohol brews: coriander, anise, meadowsweet, hyssop, wormword, fenugreek, vanilla, cinnamon, elderflowers, saffron, Douglas fir, oak, mastic, and dozens more. Finally, flowers, berries, herbs, and others added a la minute to drinks — think celery stalks in a bloody mary, cucumber in a Pimm's cup, and tiki drinks garnished with endless pineapple, mint, and cherries. They are all here, each backed up with horticultural, chemical, medical, historical, anthropological, and ethnnobotanical research.

The Drunken Botanist covers much of the same ground Brad Thomas Parsons reached for in his Bitters, but where Parsons stumbled, Stewart soars. Her graceful, easy style belies the sheer amount of facts and data packed into nearly 400 pages. Line drawings accompany many of the entries. Each plant entry starts with the common name immediately followed by its Linnean taxonomic designation and the family to which it belongs and then a page or more on its use in alcoholic drinks.

Take myrrh, for instance. Commiphora myrrha to botanists, it's in the torchwood family, more properly known as Burseraceae. Wait. WAIT. Do not let your eyes glaze over. Myrrh was one of the gifts of the biblical wise men. If Jesus was down with myrrh, you can give it a minute. Stewart writes:
Myrrh is an ugly little tree: scrawny, covered in thorns, and nearly bereft of leaves. It grows in the poor, shallow soils of Somalia and Ethiopia, where it is a gloomy gray figure in a barren landscape. If it weren't for the rich and fragrant resin that drips from the trunk, no one would give it a second look.
The rest of the entry concerns its use among ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, including the Roman practice of blending it with wine to offer during crucifixions. Well, ok, maybe Jesus wasn't always a fan. We learn that in modern times it is a common ingredient in vermouth, bitters, aromatized wines, and cordials such as Royal Combier and that bartenders' favorite, Fernet Branca. The Fernet mention leads us to a discussion of aloe (also found in Fernet Branca), which is related to agave, and that brings us to tequila, and from there to Damiana whose supposed aphrodisiac qualities led one doctor to write in 1879 that it could be given to female patients "to produce in her the very important yet not absolutely essential orgasm." On and on they go, these analog hyperlinks, each entry suggesting another, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book for drinkers.

Boozehounds, brewers, distillers, oenologists, sommeliers, bitters-makers, bartenders — even tea freaks and soda makers — will find this a timeless reference work for understanding not only what's in the spirits we drink, but perhaps ways to craft new ones. Her engaging prose and attention to detail all but assures that Stewart's latest book will remain a useful tool even a century from now for those who make drinks at home or work.

Amy Stewart (2013)
The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks 
400 pages (hardback)
Algonquin Books
ISBN: 1616200464

Goes well with:
  • My review of C. Anne Wilson's Water of Life, an exhaustive examination of the origins and progress of spiritous distillation. 
  • A look at Brad Thomas Parsons' Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas. A qualified success, but still worth buying. 
  • Volodimir Pavliuchuk's 2008 recipe book Cordial Waters: A Compleat Guide to Ardent Spirits of the World. 
  • Do It to Julia! A look at pink cloves and gin as Winston Smith's habitual (I'll refrain from calling it his "favorite") tipple in Orwell's 1984.

How About That Free Copy?

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, the publisher of  The Drunken Botanist, has offered to send a free copy of the book to five Whiskey Forge readers. There are only two rules: (1) winners must have a US or Canadian mailing address and (2) readers must leave a recipe in the comments below to qualify.

A recipe? What? Hell, yes. I want to read about your favorite alcoholic drink that relies on plants to give it some distinguishing character — a cocktail, a homemade cordial or bitters recipe, your grandmother's amaro or your college roommate's homemade absinthe. Whatever. But it's got to have booze, beer, or wine (nothing against tea, but tea hardly makes botanists drunk) and it's got to demonstrate some distinctive plant characteristic. What that means is up to you: I want to see what you've got.

Next Friday (April 26th), I'll post the names of five randomly chosen winners here.  Each will have until Friday, May 3rd to email me a shipping address.

NOTE: The giveaway is now closed and the winners (plus their recipes) are announced here. The comments, however, are still open. Please feel free to chime in with your own recipes. [edit 27 April 2013]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Booze Collecting: Scope Out Mom & Pop Liquor Stores

When shopping for liquor, mom & pop bottle shops are some of my favorite places to score regional specialties and discontinued bottlings. Unlike larger, corporate stores, small owner-operated outfits may hang onto dead stock for years just because they don’t know what to do with it. Shoved aside and forgotten, it can sometimes be had for pennies on the dollar. If you know what you like — or are willing to experiment — and know the going rate for spirits, the bargains are unbeatable.

A sale shelf or “bargain bin” of discontinued items is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to snoop around in less obvious places. Look on the bottom shelves. Don't just glance at what you can see from where you're standing — orphaned and discontinued bottles collect dust here; shift things around, move the front bottles aside to see what's really there. Also investigate overstock areas; owners often put rare, expensive, or odd bottles on shelves above and behind the cash registers. Out of sight, out of mind. Find out what's up there. If you’re not shy, ask what dead stock they’ve got the basement or in backstock.

I’ve found Herbsaint, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, genever, cachaça, and various whiskeys, brandies, and bitters at steeply discounted prices in these little stores. Recent finds include several bottles of old-formula Campari made before the shift to artificial dyes, an older bottling of Bols genever (at $17/liter versus about $30 in larger stores), and a few bottles of La Grande Passion, a discontinued cognac/passionfruit blend from the Grand Marnier folks. A case of the stuff had languished, forgotten, in the basement of a little Wisconsin store that's been around for decades. At $9.99 a bottle, it was priced to move. Good stuff, too. Pity it never found its market here.

Don't be shy about venturing into neighborhoods with stores run by families whose first language is not English. Here you may find obscure Eastern European brandies, one-time imports of tequila or mezcal, and other treats that owners consider part of their cultural patrimony, but might be perplexed that outsiders would even know about, much less want to buy. You won't necessarily score great bargains with this method, but you may well end up with bottles none of your friends have ever seen and spirits they've never tasted.

Dusty bottles are ok, but steer clear of leaking bottles, those with obvious evaporation, those with dried or cracked corks, and bottles with sun-faded labels — if the label’s degraded by light, the liquor likely is, too.

Happy hunting.

Note: a version of this originally appeared in The Zenchilada's newsletter.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Damn, Another Bumper Crop of Loquats

This morning's crop.
Our loquat trees have started dropping fruit again. This is my second year with them since moving into the new house and they remain as exotic to me now as they did when we first looked over the property. I like the long, dark green leaves, the shade and screening they provide, and the sight of limbs so laden with small yellow fruits that they bow under the weight and bend lower than my shoulders.

But here's the thing; the fruit's no good. Oh, they're ok. I don't mean they're bad or nasty, just that they're insipid. The taste is something like a whisper of passionfruit or half-remembered peaches. Cooks make crumbles and jams out of them. Some just eat them off the tree. Loquat brandy had undeniable appeal, but at the end of the day, there's so little reward for the work it takes to skin and seed the fruit. That time could be better spent preparing just about any other fruit that has actual stand-out flavor. Passion fruit, for instance, or peaches.

Even my initial thoughts of tropical loquat/rum cocktails have fizzled. And so I've begun shopping for a chainsaw. Down comes the tree in front. Down with the cluster along our property line in back. In their place? Avocado trees, a pair of them. Over time, they'll grow huge and dwarf the cleared-away loquats. If we could grow respectable apples here, I'd plant them, but as odd as it is to think of them as exotic, that's what good apples are here in San Diego where blood oranges, loquats, avocados, and cherimoyas grow as if they were weeds.

Goes well with:
  • I've Never Eaten Paw Paw, a piece musing over the kinds of trees we eventually would want in the yards, written a few weeks after we moved in, and in which one of the drinkers at a cocktail party lets slip a howler of an admission.
  • Prepping Next Year's Garden, in which I discover a concrete sidewalk and 1914 garage pad buried under our back lot.
  • A landscape designer kept pushing for succulents all over the property here and wasn't getting the message that I didn't want any succulents at all — until I laid down the law. "If it doesn't end up on my plate or in my glass," I told her, "I don't want it in my yard."  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shameful Pleasures

As a kid, I ate things that, upon reflection, were probably better off uneaten. Not mud or hair or other inedible things that whisper "Let me in" to the unbalanced. Proper food, just...not the way one is meant to eat them. Pats of butter, for instance. Christ, I loved butter. Not on rice or noodles or toast (though that happened as well when Mom prepared meals). No. The best butter (salted, of course) was pilfered little slabs, sheered from the end of quarter-pound blocks while nobody was looking and the refrigerator door stood open. And the best place to eat them? Behind the couch in a sunbeam, hidden from view like some feral little beast with a fresh kill.

The last time I snarfed a tablespoon of butter behind the couch, Elvis still performed for sell-out crowds. While my tastes have evolved, my relationship with food remains just as intense; every once in a while, old memories and primal cravings rise to the surface of my thoughts with sudden, compelling urgency.

And so I found myself recently assembling an old kit I hadn't thought about in decades: a box a graham crackers, a half-gallon of milk, a pint glass, and a spoon. Another ritual from childhood. As precise and predictable as any junkie's kit, this has no name. There is no recipe. It's merely a thing I do. It could not be more simple: jam as many graham crackers into a glass as will fit. Then break more and stuff them into the gaps along the side. Fill just to the top of the crackers with milk. Wait a beat. Dig in. The balance of crunch and mush slides along a tipping scale until, at the end, it's a mess. A slurpy, sloppy, chuggable mess.

I may be a grown-ass man with work to do and bills to pay, but now and again, knuckling under to childhood food cravings allows me to put aside thoughts of that work and those bills.

Repeat, as the shampoo bottles advise, if necessary.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Medals Awarded for ADI's 2013 Annual Judging of Artisan American Spirits

The American Distilling Institute announced medal winners in Denver this evening for its 7th annual judging of artisan American spirits. As in years past, I was one of those judges (see last year's winners here). 140 distilleries submitted a total of 317 spirits. The tastings were blind — that is, judges did not know who made the spirits. Each glass in each flight was labeled simply A, B, C, et cetera. Only at the end of the second day of evaluations, when each panel of judges was allowed to view the bottles, did we learn who made what.

Rum expert Martin Cate was on hand.
Smart judges who had taken note of their favorite A, D, F, or whatever samples during the tasting took even more notes on those bottles when we were let into the pouring room — and set out to find those bottles when they returned home. Below, you'll see some of those favorites for yourself.

Judging instructions for these spirits (almost entirely from American distilleries) are slightly different from those of other competitions. Part of the purpose of the judging of these spirits is to encourage American craft distillers, some of whom are accomplished, some of whom are still learning the business. In addition to numeric scores, judges give each sample additional tasting notes, suggest improvements, note what they like about the spirit, and — when appropriate — identify particular flaws such as high fermentation temperatures or scorched tastes that come in part from improper filtration. Understanding some of those specific flaws can help distillers improve their spirits.

While individual spirits are assigned scores on a hundred-point scale, medals are not strictly awarded according to that score, nor was the highest-scoring spirit in each category made the gold. Scores between 80 and 89 do not automatically yield, for example, silver medals, nor are those that score from 70-79 awarded bronze. Rather, the rubric the four panels of judges used for awarding medals took into consideration additional questions:

Gold medal — Would you happily buy this spirit for yourself?
Silver medal — Would you give this spirit as a gift to a valued friend or loved one?
Bronze medal — Would you be happy getting this as a gift?

Some classes didn't have winners of every medal. Some had multiple bronze or silver medals. So let's get to it. Here they are — the spirits the judges wanted for our greedy selves, the ones we'd buy our moms, and those worthy bottles we'd like someone to drop on our desks now and then.

First, the BEST OF CLASS winners:

Ballast Point Spirits - Devil’s Share Malt Whiskey
Valentine Distilling Co. - Liberator Gin
Balcones Distilling - Texas Rum
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine - Apple Pie Moonshine
Jepson Vineyards - Old Stock Mendocino Brandy

Now on to the categories, as broken down by ADI staff:

Clear Whiskey

Best of Category - Silver Medal
Myer Farm Distillers - White Dog Corn Whiskey
Silver Medal
Dark Horse Distillery - Long Shot White Whiskey
Bronze Medal
Middle West Spirits - OYO Rye Whiskey
High West Distillery - Silver Whiskey - Western Oat
Indian Creek Distillery - Elias Staley
Cornelius Pass Roadhouse Distillery - White Owl Whiskey
Asheville Distilling Co. – Troy and Sons Platinum Heirloom Moonshine

Aged Corn Whiskey
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Balcones Distilling - True Blue

Bourbon (under two years)
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Yellow Rose Distilling - Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon
Silver Medal
Kings County Distillery - Kings County Bourbon
Bronze Medal
Rock Town Distillery - Arkansas Young Bourbon Whiskey
Cacao Prieto - Bloody Butcher Bourbon Whiskey

Straight Bourbon
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Balcones Distilling – Fifth-Anniversary Texas Straight Bourbon
Silver Medal
Dallas Distilleries - Herman Marshall

Rye Whiskey
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Grand Traverse Distillery - Ole George Rye Whiskey
Silver Medal
Mountain Laurel Spirits - Dad's Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey
Bronze Medal
Distillery 291 - Colorado Rye Whiskey
Catoctin Creek Distilling - Roundstone Rye Cask Proof

Malt Whiskey (under 2 years)
Best of Category - Gold medal
Balcones Distilling – Texas Single Malt
Gold Medal
Deerhammer Distilling Company - Down Time Single Malt Whiskey
Bronze Medal
Long Island Spirits - Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky

Straight Malt Whiskey
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits - Devil's Share Straight Malt Whiskey
Silver Medal
New Holland Artisan Spirits- Zeppelin Bend Straight Malt

Wheat Whiskey
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Middle West Spirits - OYO Wheat Whiskey
Bronze Medal
American Craft Whiskey Distillery - Low Gap Whiskey Single Barrel No. 1
American Craft Whiskey Distillery - Low Gap California Whiskey

Whiskey non-typical
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Glacier Distilling Company - Wheatfish Whiskey
Silver Medal
Rogue Spirits - Dead Guy Whiskey

Smoked Whiskey
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Corsair Artisan - Wildfire
Silver Medal
Corsair Artisan – Salamander

Hopped Whiskey
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Corsair Artisan - Demeter
Silver Medal
Corsair Artisan - Falconer’s Flight
Bronze Medal
Corsair Artisan - Centennial
Corsair Artisan - Pacifica
Corsair Artisan - Titania
Corsair Artisan - Amarillo

Flavored Whiskey
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Sons of Liberty Spirits Company - Seasonal - 2012 Winter Release

Straight Bourbon

Best of Category - Silver Medal
Cacao Prieto Distillery - Widow Jane Bourbon Whiskey
Silver Medal
Tatoosh Distillery & Spirits - Tatoosh Bourbon

Bourbon (cask finished)
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Hillrock Estate Distillery & Malthouse - Solera Aged Bourbon
Bronze Medal
Big Bottom Whiskey – Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Zinfandel Cask

Straight Rye Whiskey
Best of Category - Silver Medal
35 Maple Street - Masterson's 10-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey

Malt Whiskey
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Virginia Distillery - Virginia Highland Malt Whisky

Classic Distilled Gin

Best of Category - Silver Medal
Rock Town Distillery - Brandon's Gin

Classic Rectified Gin
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Captive Spirits Distilling - Big Gin
Gold Medal
Bull Run Distilling - Aria Portland Dry Gin
Silver Medal
Veracity Spirits – Vivacity Native Gin

Contemporary Distilled Gin
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Myer Farm Distillers - Myer Farm Gin
Silver Medal
Dancing Pines Distillery - Gin
Dancing Tree Distillery - Gin
Treaty Oak Distilling - Waterloo Gin
Bronze Medal
Corsair Artisan - Steampunk
Maine Distilleries - Cold River Traditional Gin
StilltheOne Distillery - Jarhead Gin

Contemporary Rectified Gin
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Valentine Distilling Co. - Valentine Liberator Gin
Gold Medal
Maison De La Vie - Golden Moon Gin
Silver Medal
San Juan Island Distillery - Spy Hop Gin
Bronze Medal
Sweetgrass Farm Distillery - Back River Gin
Southern Artisan Spirits - Cardinal American Dry Gin
Spring 44 Distilling – Spring 44 Gin

Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Oregon Spirit Distillers - Merrylegs Genever Style Gin
Bronze Medal
Corsair Artisan - Genever

Navy Strength Gin
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Few Spirits - Standard Issue Gin

Old Tom Gin
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Ransom Spirits - Old Tom Gin
Silver Medal
Downslope Distilling - Ould Tom Gin
Bronze Medal
Corsair Artisan - Major Tom

Barrel-Aged Gin
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Corsair Artisan - Barrel Aged Gin
Silver Medal
Wood's High Mountain Distillery - Treeline Gin, Barrel Aged

White Rum
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Cape Spirits - Wicked Dolphin Rum - Silver
Bronze Medal
Dancing Pines Distillery - Rum
Donner-Peltier Distillers - Rougaroux Sugarshine

Amber Rum
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Ballast Point Spirits – Barrel Aged Three Sheets Rum
Silver Medal
Montanya Distillers - Montanya Oro Rum
Van Brunt Stillhouse - Due North Rum

Dark Rum
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Real McCoy Spirits - The Real McCoy
Bronze Medal
Turkey Shore Distilleries - Old Ipswich Lab & Cask Reserve

Overproof Rum
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Balcones Distilling - Texas Rum
Gold Medal
New Holland Artisan Spirits- Freshwater Superior

Flavored Rum
Best of Category – Silver Medal
Dogfish Head – Brown Honey Rum

Spiced Rum
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Dancing Pines Distillery - Spice

Merchant Bottled Rum
Best of Category - Silver Medal
35 Maple Street - Kirk and Sweeney

Clear Moonshine

Best of Category - Gold Medal
Dark Corner Distillery - Moonshine Corn Whiskey
Silver Medal
King's County - Corn Whiskey
Bronze Medal
Deerhammer Distilling Company – Whitewater Whiskey

Aged Moonshine
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Fog's End Distillery - Monterey Rye

Flavored Moonshine
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine - Moonshine Apple Pie
Silver Medal
Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine - Moonshine Blackberry
Bronze Medal
Pinchgut Hollow Distillery - Captain Mick
Pinchgut Hollow Distillery - Rise N Shine

Pear Eaux de Vie
Best of Category - Gold Medal
McMenamin's Edgefield Distillery - Pear Brandy
Bronze Medal
Peach Street Distillers - Jack and Jenny Pear Brandy
Harvest Spirits - Harvest Spirits Pear Brandy

Eaux de Vie
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Coppersea Distilling - Peach Eau de vie
Bronze Medal
Bellewood Distilling - Apple Brandy Eau de Vie

Best of Category - Silver Medal
Huber's Starlight Distillery - Huber's Applejack
Silver Medal
Tom’s Foolery - Applejack

Aged Brandy (Other than Grape)
Best of Category - Silver Medal
Peach Street Distillers - Pear Brandy

Aged Brandy - Other
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Dakota Spirits Distiller - Bickering Brothers Neutral Brandy

Best of Category - Gold Medal
Peach Street Distillers - Muscat Grappa
Gold Medal
Maison De La Vie - Golden Moon Colorado Grappa
Bronze Medal
Peach Street Distillers - Viognier Grappa
Magnanini Farm Winery - Magnanini Grappa

Brandy (Aged less than 6 years)
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Huber's Starlight Distillery - Huber's Brandy - Reserve
Bronze Medal
Colorado Gold Distillery - Colorado Gold Brandy

Brandy (Aged more than 6 years)
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery - Old Stock Brandy
Silver Medal
Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery - Signature Reserve Brandy
Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery - Rare Brandy

Flavored Liqueur
Best of Category - Bronze Medal
Sidetrack Distillery - Nocino
Bronze Medal
Cacao Prieto – Chamomile Liqueur
Bottle Tree Beverage Company - Hoodoo Chicory

Fruit Infusion
Best of Category - Gold Medal
Huber's Starlight Distillery - Huber's Raspberry Infusion
Silver Medal
Huber's Starlight Distillery - Huber's Blueberry
Sidetrack Distillery – Cassis Liqueur
Bronze Medal
Stone Barn Brandy Works - Quince Liqueur

Excellence in Packaging
Craft Distilled Spirits
Sidetrack Distillery - Cassis Liqueur
Merchant Bottled Spirits
35 Maple Street - Kirk and Sweeney Rum

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sucking Weisswurst

Well, I'm not dumb
but I can't understand
why she walked like a woman 
but talked like a man.

Ray Davies 
Lola (1970)

This Spring, I'm spending time in Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Preparation for that trip includes reading daily news from Germany and the Netherlands; watching Dutch and German films to get the rhythm of the languages again; and drawing up lists of specific spirits, foods, and antiquarian distilling and charcuterie books to track down. It was while reading Culinaria: Germany, though, that I was brought up short by a claim that simply strains credulity.

The entry concerns that Bavarian specialty weisswurst, a  sausage made of veal and typically eaten mid-morning with soft pretzels, mild mustard, and beer — not sauerkraut, as one might encounter in other parts of the world or even other regions of Germany. Should some tourist fail to ask for traditional accompaniments and order sauerkraut, the editor maintains,
A native Bavarian sitting nearby will either turn away in horror, or be quick to offer advice when, in addition, he sees the "foreigner" wielding a knife and fork, cutting the sausage up into small pieces. He will explain that the correct way to eat this sausage is to zuzeln it — a verb for which the foreigner, even if he is a German citizen, will search his dictionary in vain. It is a Bavarian dialect word meaning "suck," and describes the proper way to eat Weisswurst: you cut it in half with a knife, pick it up in your fingers, dip it in sweet mustard  no other kind will do  and suck it out of its skin. The experience is primeval and sensuous; it is no coincidence that "sucking" the sausage suggests associations with breast-feeding.
Now, I'm an historian and retired museum curator, not an eminent psychoanalist, but even I understand that international and cross-lingual jokes concerning sausages' phallic shape had been worked pretty hard long before the 19th-century supposed invention of weisswurst. Nor, it must be admitted, am I thoroughly versed in all the ins and outs of Bavarian culture, but to suggest that anyone happily sucking away at a juicy, fat white sausage is reliving infantile experiences of breast-feeding...well.

Sucking a weisswurst is primeval, as the text notes. It is sensuous. But ignoring an elephant of that magnitude in the room takes a special kind of denial.

Goes well with:

  • Christine Metzger (2008) Culinaria: Germany. f. h. ullman. ISBN: 978-3-8331-1030-6. Amazon vendors sell the paperback for over $300. That's ridiculous; the hardback sells for under $30 here
  • If you'd like to take a run at making your own weisswurst, Bernhard Gahm's 1998 German language book Würste, Sülzen, Pasteten selbstgemacht will set you right. If you prefer English-language instructions, try Rytek Kutas' cornerstone sausage-making book, Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing. Finally (and it's a bit pricey), multiple French versions of white sausage — boudin blanc —are presented in volume one of the Professional Charcuterie series by Marcel Cottenceau et al (Van Nostrand Reinland, 1991).