Weekly Whiskey - Auchentoshan Three Wood

Auchentoshan is a Lowlands Distillery near Glasgow, Scotland. They produce an impressive lineup of not-so-classic Single Malt Whiskys, dubbing their movement the "New Malt Order". Today I'm featuring their Three Wood, which as the name suggests is finished in 3 different types of casks. Each wood imparting its unique flavor profile on the finished product. Bourbon, Spanish Oloroso, and Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks bring color, flavor, and complexity to this smooth-sippin juice. 

Let's talk specs- coming in at 86 proof, this 100% malted barley starts its life in a lauter tun, and sits in Oregon Pine (as opposed to stainless steel) before distillation. An exception to most Scotches, this brew is triple distilled, refining the grain characteristic, and giving a smooth finish and mouthfeel. 

According to Auchentoshan's website

If a spirit wants to be called Single Malt Scotch Whisky, it must be matured in oak for at least three years - no less. We go much further.

Our whisky is matured in casks which held bourbon, sherry or fine wine. A selfless act of recycling? Not quite. It's an essential step in creating Auchentoshan - the spirit and the wood work together over many years, lending colour and flavour to the finished whisky.

So it's no surprise we spend so much time and effort selecting precisely the right casks - or indeed in balancing the unique flavours each cask imparts. That way, we create a whisky with flavours right across the spectrum.

 

Weekly Whiskey- The Emerald 1865 Ransom Straight American Whiskey

Last year I had the pleasure of attending Cuts Camp at Ransom Distillery in Sheridan, Oregon. Creating a batch of Old Tom was exciting to say the least, but tasting my way through the entire Ransom portfolio was mind-blowing! You can taste for yourself at their tasting room in Mcminnville, Oregon.

Sitting pretty at 86 proof, Ransom has truly outdone themselves with this throwback mid-19th century Irish style whiskey. The mash bill of this exquisitely handcrafted spirit is using 67% two row malted barley, 7% unmalted barley, 15% rye, and 12% oats. 

Irish whiskey often incorporates unmalted barley, as it was historically a way for distillers to avoid taxes on malted barley products. This also creates a unique flavor profile, which is a little less sweet than single malt spirits.

Oats are not often used in mash for beer or whiskey because they create a viscous gummy mess that is difficult to handle. Some anti-coagulants can be used to prevent clumping, but many whiskey recipes avoid using it altogether. Why? Well, the more surface area of the grains are exposed, the faster and more evenly the yeast can break down the sugars in the grain.

Since Ransom is doing small batch, by hand, they are able to replicate this recipe from 1865 which has a small percentage of oats. Oats, like corn, cannot be used alone as it does not contain the correct enzymes necessary for making the brew. 

From the Ransom Spirits Website:

"Thanks to colorful folklore passed down through the generations, we know that the Irish whiskey of today little resembles its 19th century predecessors. Trouble was, there was none left of the traditional whiskey to taste in our quest to recreate the long lost gems of the Emerald Isle. Fortune gave us two good turns; a British excise agent who recorded an Irish mash bill in 1865, and our friend David Wondrich, who found said recipe poring over the microfiche annals of history and passed it along to us. With this mash bill as our guide, we set out to create our own interpretation of a traditional Irish whiskey. To call our version modern might be a stretch— We grow a percentage of the barley organically on our farm, our grains are milled, mashed and fermented in small batches at our distillery and farm in the emerald hills of Sheridan, Oregon, and we distill according to our senses in our handmade, direct-­‐fired alembic pot still. The Emerald matures in a mix of French and American oak for three years, and is hand bottled, capsuled, and labeled.  The result is a highly aromatic spirit with the weight, richness, and complexity of its forbearers."

Bacardi Legacy Competition 2016 - Seattle Battle

Bartending is more than a job, it is a career and passion for many. One way that bartenders flex their creative muscles is by participating in cocktail competitions. You might remember that I participated in Bombay Sapphire's Most Imaginative Bartender competition earlier in 2016 with my cocktail recipe Par La Racine

One of the legendary international competitions is Bacardi Legacy. I had the honor to participate and compete amongst some of the best and brightest in the Pacific Northwest. Other semifinal cities include: Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington DC, New Orleans, and Miami

How it works:

  • First, recipes are submitted online and finalists are invited to the nearest regional finals (for me, this was Seattle, Washington)
  • Regional Finalists present their recipes to 3 judges (judges were a rep from USBG, Bacardi, and a local influencer)
  • The presentation is timed (3 minutes setup, 7 minutes to present, and 6 minutes to clean up and judges can ask questions)
  • The competition was streamed live on Facebook with spotlights (not scary at all, hah)
  • Competitors had 7 minutes to make 4 cocktails
  • Cocktails were judged by several factors: Name, technical skills/flair, appearance, aroma/balance of flavor, ingenuity & innovation, inspiration & story behind the recipe, drinkability, and product knowledge
  • Semifinalists will go on to compete nationally, and 2 finalists will go on to compete in the global finals

In our competition, there was such a close score between the top 2 scoring bartenders, that there was a daiquiri-off round which was finally awarded to Cameron George of Barrio in Seattle, Washington. These events are fun, stressful, and entertaining all at the same time. My absolute favorite part is by pushing myself and learning from other influential bartenders in the industry.

Congrats to all the U.S. Finalists: 

Check out last year's winner: Gn Chan