Thursday, September 27, 2012

Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris Interview

Full is how you'd like your bottle of Woodford Reserve to be!
Back at the beginning of August, Total Wine's Education Director Greg Tuttle asked me if I'd like to interview Chris Morris from Woodford Reserve in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month. I think I said something articulate like, "Um, duh!" It's no wonder that I was asked, right?

Chris is the Master Distiller of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and is also its Brand Ambassador. So I tried to come up with a set of interesting questions that stretched beyond the distillery. I'm pretty sure I came up with a few that aren't asked every day, too. Oh, and I also needed to try to outdo the interview Total Wine did with him last year! Surely you expected that of me!

The interview is published on the Total Wine Blog in two parts. Chris delivered an awesome interview: informative, entertaining, personal, and didn't let my hypothetical questions distract him. Start by enjoying Part 1 and follow the link to Part 2 from there. Or if you're a weirdo, go ahead and start with Part 2.

The picture above I stole from the Total Wine Facebook page. The post there was so popular that Greg tried to "friend" my FB "stalker" account. Don't hold your breath, Greg!

Anyway, I've also recently decided that Bourbon is my favorite. And if you don't believe me, this is what I'm up against at my house right now. Two empties of Woodford Reserve, a sad day in South Florida. I'm saving up for the 1.75 L big bottle now--a very impressive piece it is!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grand Marnier Quintessence

Today I decided to take another small taste of Grand Marnier Quintessence. About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to receive and first try a sample of this fabulous spirit. Since I rationed then, there was still enough to write another review and article here on this site.

I only have photos of the beverage since the sample bottle is not really meaningful. I did copy the media photo from the Grand Marnier website so you can get an idea as to how the $900 bottle is packaged. Yeah, I know, pricey! And that bottle comes in a mirrored display case as well. The presentation really is quite beautiful, and even moreso in person. Look for yourself at your local liquor store.

Quintessence is a blend of the finest cognacs that the Marnier-Lapostolle family has in their private collection, one dating all the way to 1906. That cognac blend is then further blended with the famous orange essence which has been double distilled. Finally, that combination is aged and becomes one during an oak barrel maturation.

Beautiful orange aroma jumps out of the glass, clean, floral. Add some sweet honey and a sharp rind contrast, just spectacular. I bet you'd criticize me if I said it smells like butterflies and sunshine... but then you'd be wrong.

Wowsa! So spectacular, the flavors. Oranges and baked goods meet spices and violets. This gem feels great in the mouth, covering the palate entirely and making it tingle. My taste buds are very happy right now. Intense and delicate at the same time. Candied orange rinds bring sweet and bitter together. Lovely fruit flavors. An excellent finish and warmth in the chest are how you will remember this, and those violet flavors last on and on and on.

Considering the price tag, doing this frequently is impossible, but what a terrific little nip I just had! Quintessence is definitely the spirit that will make you switch!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Original Bauer's Obstler

Today... My first Obstler. "Obst" means fruit, and an obstler is a fruit brandy. I'm trying the award-winning Original Bauer's Obstler made by Nannerl (Google Chrome is happy to translate for you) in Austria. This sample was provided to me by their US importer Wein-Bauer. I was told that the Bauer in this obstler name is the same Bauer as in Wein-Bauer.

My 1 L bottle has a swing-style cork attached. The label is very simple yet clean looking with a small colored contrast of an apple and pear. This obstler is made from a 70% apple and 30% pear blend. 40% alcohol.

Great pear and apple aroma. The website description suggesting a custard-like aroma is perfect. Think also of freshly-made doughnuts.

Wow. I wasn't quite expecting the initial sharpness on the palate. I guess I will attribute that to an aroma that was very much a fruity lullaby. Wonderful fruit flavors, apples and pears unsurprisingly are dominant. This is extremely dry as well.

The alcohol certainly provides some heat in the chest along with some spicy peppery jabs at the palate. Great texture. The violet and flowery aftertaste is quite pleasant. Check it out, perhaps as an after-dinner brandy as suggested by the company.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bohemia Old-Fashioned Cocktail

My wife left for a vacation with her mother and cousin in Lisbon and Budapest a little while ago. I decided to take the opportunity to prepare the Bohemia Old-Fashioned cocktail recipe, a twist on the classic drink created by Chef Rick Bayless using Bohemia beer. Rick is of course an author and owner of the award-winning Mexican restaurant Frontera Grill in Chicago. Besides this cocktail, he's also created dozens of other recipes using Bohemia Clasica.

Below is the recipe from his website. I kept mine on the sour end and used the equivalent of what 2 tablespoons of sugar would be here. For bourbon, I used the fabulous Woodford Reserve. This bottle of Bohemia and actually the idea to pursue this recipe was provided to me by their agency. If you're interested in seeing what I think about the beer alone, well that exists too! Finally, I didn't rush out to buy maraschino cherries for a garnish. I just used red seedless grapes.

Serves 4
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons superfine sugar to taste
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 to 2 cups Bohemia beer
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish
  1. Mix lime juice and sugar in small pitcher until sugar dissolves. Stir in bourbon and chill until needed.
  2. Fill 4 short “rocks” glasses with ice. Top each with ¼ of the bourbon mixture. Fill the glasses the rest of the way with Bohemia. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

I found out I'm not very good at juicing limes and in fact did squirt some right into my eye. That was the only mishap though. What a nice drink! Refreshingly bitter with small nibbles of sweetness here and there. Of course the lime really is acidic and a little biting. The bourbon stands out on its own as well, also offering a little sweet relief. And the Bohemia showed some of its grainy characteristics in addition to the nice carbonation. The grape garnish worked well--three crunchy sweet pauses in what turned out to be a fairly bitter drink. Next time I might go a little further with the sugar, perhaps to three tablespoons.

What do you think of my pictures? Better than the professional ones? And let me fill you in on a little secret--it was raining on me when I took them. Check this cocktail out!