It’s January; and the New Year is well upon us. The Holiday get-togethers have come and gone, and we’ve all got a long lull until we need to dress our homes in a certain theme and invite all those sometimes friends over. What’s next, Valentine’s day? Not exactly akin to ragers. St. Patrick’s Day is somewhere in there too—though that’s maybe too susceptible to spontaneous binge-drinking. Groundhogs day is antiquated and silly, and you’d be laughed out of most super bowl parties for bringing anything not in an aluminum can with “lite” written somewhere on it (because American football is kind of a joke and you know it).
Screw it, then. If 2017 is going great for you already, maybe it’s time to throw an I’m-doing-well party. Got a raise? How about a look-at-my-sweet-new-computer/quad/virtual reality console shindig? If you’re more the modest type, (loosen up a bit, would ya?) then try a random theme party based on some celebrities birthday or something. Listen, it’s not my job to tell you how to throw a party, you’ve been to college (or at least a college party, right? You’re cool, right?). It is, however, my job to tell you what liquors to stock up on impress the Quinten Tarantino movie-themed pants off of your guests (good theme, right?).
Rye makes for a complicated whiskey. Carrying basically 0 sugar content and holstering a medley of intense and stern flavors, it can be a tricky grain to distill with unless you get it just right. Knowing this, Cooper Spirits decided to lean into that challenge and alchemize a bunch of those crazy whiskeys together in a process they’ve called vatting. This process is tricky, as you’d imagine, but Cooper spirits pride themselves on being innovative and creating spirits that have both initiative and integrity. As such, the hard working team behind the Hochstadter scoured the Americas to find the most accommodating and agreeable that whiskeys they could. In the end, a series of single-origin ryes between the ages of 4 and 15 years entered the vat, and one mighty liquor exited, combining the sweet sting of a great rye with the complexity of a smart blend.
Hochstadter uses its unique versatility to bridge the gap between enthusiast’s cabinet piece and bartender’s mid-shelf go-to. Its blood-orange and cherry notes shine particularly brightly in a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned, while the molasses and tangy nutmeg hang on the palate when sipped with ice. Hochstadter’s (average) age of 8 years gives it a decidedly smoother feel than many of its blended cousins. In fact, Hochstadter has very little in common with its cousins and predecessors. If the rye whiskey family were a smart metaphor, they’d be a farming family in the middle of the Midwest; Hochstadter being the clever younger sister who fled to the city to pursue a career as a novelist. If I were a wittier internet writer, I wouldn’t have had to explain my lackluster metaphors.
It’s unique. It’s sharp. It’s got a bright future. Got it?
Limoncello is an Italian-invented liquor that invokes thoughts of whimsy, sun-soaked days, and sensual nights. It’s a drink of leisure, made for sipping on the beach, or in the hot tub. Truly, no liquor captures the essence of the lax and carefree nature of the Italian lifestyle like limoncello—hence why a limoncello made by a few Portland-based engineers is sure to raise an eyebrow or two.
The Crescendo team sought to recreate the enchanting aesthetic of this fruity Italian liquor by perfectly recreating the limencello process, but with one caveat—they intended to use all natural, GMO-free, organic ingredients. Beyond this, Crescendo vowed never to add anything superfluous to their product, resulting in a liquor that is “free of anything but what nature provides”. This unique quality in a typically oversweet drink gives the limon(as well as lime and orange)cello a tighter, yet simply delicious feel.
If the simpletons you’ve invited into your home don’t seem to appreciate the nuances of fine liquor alone, Crescendo is there for fantastical cocktail backup. The options are as diverse as they are listed on Crescendo’s website. We’re talkin’ lemon drops, martinis, lemonades, teas, shandys, etc… So if all else fails, dust off the old shaker and get behind that wet bar (still) covered in old Christmas decorations (from 2015, you don’t have many parties lately, huh?), and get ready to impress.
There may be a few ryes on this list. It’s sort of a phase that I’m going through; though not without good reason—mind you. In fact, I thought I was more of a scotch guy until coming across a few of these bottles. Don’t get me wrong, the world of scotch is a deep and expansive one filled with complex, peaty flavors, citrus bursts and woody surprises, but ryes carry an unexpected brightness and charisma that I’ve not found in whiskey for a long while. So excuse me while I indulge in a few more of them—while bringing you along for the ride.
The Templeton name was born on the railroad. A small Iowa town by the name had a reputation for stashing bottles of rye whiskey into train cars bound for Chicago and ultimately: Al Capone. Spoken about in hushes and through smirks, Templeton whiskey was said by those who had gotten themselves a bottle to be extravagant—fit for the mob boss himself. Today, the story is different, but the whiskey isn’t. The trains are still there, carrying shipments of grain through the Midwest and beyond. Meanwhile, the Templeton Distillery sits, active as ever, manufacturing its notoriously extravagant spirits.
To celebrate this history, Templeton is (legally) releasing a 4, 6, and 10 year variant on its signature liquor. Locally grown grains make for an authentic rye spice signature that Templeton fans have grown to love, while the extra age in the distilling process gives the whiskey a little extra spice and character, a longer finish, and a smoother mouth feel. If you’re looking to impress next time your might-be-in-the-mafia uncle is over, give him a sip of this. Show him the hand-labeled bottle number on the side, mentioning that there were only a few over 6,000 of these produced. He seems like the type who you’d want to be on your side, knowwhaddahmean?
Ah yes, gin—the original head-turner. The perpetual eyebrow-raiser, if you will. It isn’t for everybody, sure, but when you’re a gin person, you’re really a gin person. As such, it’s important to have a bit of it around when expecting company. We’ve touched on Death’s Door Gin before, and with good reason. They strive to be a gin of utility, bridging the gap between complexity and accessibility. Boasting flavors of classic juniper alongside sweet and smooth fennel notes and punchy coriander, Death’s Door will impress when sipped by itself, or in an expertly-stirred (James Bond is a tactless oaf) martini.
But, like I said, we’ve been over that a time or two before. What we’re here to highlight this time around is the meticulous science and design that has gone into the creation and unveiling of their new bottle.
Death’s Door seeks to be the new American standard in gin. Lofty a goal as it may seem, they’re well on their way with the new bottle they’ve just released. Thinner glass and flattened sides make for a lighter, more eco-friendly bottle without sacrificing stability. A longer neck makes for easier handling (and sweet flip tricks) by bartenders. Sleeker style means a bit more attention from your guests. Most distilleries would stop at the contents of their bottle; maybe release it in something boring and round. Not Death’s Door. If you’ve never indulged, now’s the time.
If your neighbors/coworkers/friends/family/dungeons and dragons crew aren’t impressed yet, then you’re plum out of luck. You’ve tried to catch their interest with every bottle in your cabinet, from sweet limoncello to bold and stunning gin, and you’ve come up short. You’ve explained the subtle intricacies of rye whiskey. They don’t seem to care.
Well, I guess that’s it. If you were a weird-looking kid, break out an old photo album. If you’ve got twister, maybe that could be fu—wait. I know what to do. You need a whiskey with experience. You need a whiskey that’s been meticulously tasted to ensure that 16 years was just the right amount of time—not too long, not too short. You need a whiskey that’s as smooth, confident and spicy as you wish you were as the host of this failing party. Time to break out the ol’ Lock Stock and Barrel.
As the extravagant grandfather of rye whiskey, the LS&B 16 maintains an unprecedented intense flavor while creating a balance of aromatic and sweet, dried fruit flavor and deep, complex spices. The Lock Stock and Barrel is made of 100% rye grain in copper stills, with hand-picked grains that masters of their craft call “robust”. Cold weather aging over a whopping 16 years brings out flavors not usually seen in any whiskey—think roasted acorns, sour grass, wild cherries, stewed blackberry, dried pear and sassafras. Complicated indeed. If you’re not convinced because maybe you don’t believe the opinion of any ol’ internet writer, (thanks, jerk) then consider that this particular spirit won the prestigious double gold (yeah, that exists) at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, as well as “Best Rye”. Do you get why I’m on a bit of a rye kick lately?
So go forth, bold party hostess, and send those Facebook invites. Let me know how it goes (find my twitter below).