The Marketing Mess!

A customer approached me the other day in the tequila aisle and asked a very interesting question that I would like to address today.  He asked me if Patron is the best tequila on the market.  While Patron is an excellent top-shelf tequila, it is more a pop culture phenomenon and not necessarily the best tequila out there.  Much of the liquor industry is centered around image and marketing.  Many of the products that society and marketing stipulate to be the best are generally excellent products, but I would never call them the best.  Grey Goose and Patron are both very good products, just as their advertising campaigns dictate.  However, my recommendation to you is that, as a consumer, don’t let yourself be marketed to.  A determination of the best can only be decided upon by the consumer.  Drink what you like, not what other people tell you that you should like. Continue reading The Marketing Mess!

Why Grain Reigns!

In this post I am going to discuss the world’s most popular spirit: that’s vodka of course!  Most people believe that vodka can only be made from potatoes or grain, but nowadays this is just not the case.  Vodka can, in fact, be made out of any starch/sugar rich plant matter.  Some vodkas are made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, sugar beets, milk,  and sometimes even byproducts of oil refining or wood pulp processing.  I tried a vodka recently made from the now trendy super food called quinoa.  It was surprisingly good and I plan on stocking it in the very near future.  We currently stock vodka made from milk sugar (Vermont White), maple syrup (Vermont Gold) and grapes (Ciroc).  Each of the less common bases creates a distinctly different flavor, but in general each produces a spirit that tends to be sweeter than its grain or potato brethren. Continue reading Why Grain Reigns!

The Forefathers of Bourbon

Due to Bourbon’s popularity these days and the recent passing of our nation’s birthday, I thought it would be appropriate to discus the history and the exact requirements that go into producing our country’s official spirit. It is fairly easy to figure out how Irish whiskey or Scotch Whisky got their names, but the way Bourbon got its name is slightly more convoluted.  How Bourbon became Bourbon is really an interesting story.

It all started in 1791 when the Continental Congress put a tax on whiskey production in order to help pay for America’s debt.  So angry were the the settlers of Western Pennsylvania that they refused to pay!  As tensions escalated George Washington was forced to send the Continental Army to stop a potential uprising.  However the situation turned out to be trickier to solve than anticipated and in order to prevent any political humiliation and further trouble with the stubborn Scotch-Irish, Washington came to an agreement with them by offering them incentives for moving to Kentucky (then part of Virginia). Continue reading The Forefathers of Bourbon

The Different Styles and Characteristics of Gin


Now that the warm weather is upon us, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss gin because it always tends to be a cocktail favorite during the summer months.

Gin is a spirit produced from a mash of cereal grains, usually consisting of corn, rye, barley and wheat. The spirit’s predominate flavor and aromas come from the botanical, juniper berries. Other botanicals that are traditionally used to round out the flavor profile include –but are not limited to– coriander, lemon and orange peels, fennel, cassia, anise, almond and angelica. Gin by law cannot carry an age statement and generally ranges between 80 and 94 proof. Continue reading The Different Styles and Characteristics of Gin

Blended Scotch Versus Single Malt Scotch

One of the most common misconceptions in the spirits world is that ‘single malt scotch’ is of a higher quality than ‘blended scotch.’  This is completely unfounded and untrue. The designations single malt and blended are simply different ways of expressing the same product.

Blended Scotch was first made around 1860 after the introduction of column stills in 1830 led to the creation of un-malted grain whisky (otherwise known as ‘grain’).  The smooth and mild mannered aspects of the grain helped to tone down the the more assertive characteristics of the malt whisky.  The resulting blended whisky proved to be subdued and much more appealing to foreign consumers, particularly the English, who took to Scotch during the 1870s after phylloxera affected the supply of Cognac and Port–two mainstays of British culture. Continue reading Blended Scotch Versus Single Malt Scotch

Discovering Rum

Most people think of rum as the main ingredient to popular cocktail such as the Mojito, Cuba Libre and many other tropical concoctions.  To most rum is seen as a mixer and not thought of as being in the same echelon as fine spirits such as scotch or cognac.  However, this preconception that rum is an inferior spirit that is best used for mixing is a complete fallacy. There are a countless number of fine aged rums on the market that are designed to be enjoyed straight, just like scotch or cognac.  In-fact, aged rum can be an utter epiphany on the palate, capable of standing its ground against the finest whiskeys the world has to offer.  However, rum does all this at a fairly modest price-point compared to today’s currently bloated single malt scotch prices.  For the price of an in expensive single malt you can purchase a wonderful aged rum!  Also for all you cigar lovers out there, rum can be an excellent compliment to your fine stogie as well.  The two pair up beautifully and why wouldn’t they? They both are derived from tropical climates, so it is only natural that they would go hand in hand. The following rums are some personal favorites of mine: Continue reading Discovering Rum