Monday, November 15, 2010

Rye, Rye, Rye...Down it Goes in my Belly

With WhiskeyFest in town last week, RyeGirl had the opportunity to try a lot of her favorite spirit in one place. Besides the old favorites, there are some new ones too!

Templeton Rye is made in Iowa from some of the same families that used to provide Al Capone with the "Good Stuff" during Prohibition. The batches are small and aged in big barrels. This latest batch is sweet and smooth. Quite a lovely rye. While they have done quite well despite being in only 2 flyover states, they will have a limited allocation here in NYC and in San Francisco. These two cities are obviously the center of good booze and cocktail culture. Sorry, Philly, Boston, and Chicago. But what to SF and NYC have in common (besides a total lack of eligible men for myself?!)...A cultural history of excellence in food and restaurants. Eventually the rest of the USA will know what good rye is, just as they now know what arugula is...I hope!

Redemption Rye is a straight American Rye aged over 2 years and bottled at 92 proof. It is spicy and smooth with a nutty caramel finish. This rye is priced very well and I would not hesitate to drink it straight or in cocktails. The elegant long bottle and handwritten batch and bottle numbers make this an excellent present for the holidays! Bring a bottle to Thanksgiving and whip up some Ginger Old-Fashioneds. It will go perfect with the turkey and stuffing.

Speaking of Turkey...I spent some more time with the love of my life, Jimmy Russell, master distiller for Wild Turkey. I became a Wild Turkey drinker the day I saw Thelma & Louise. That is some brand loyalty I am proud of. And even at that young age (21 of course, Mom) I knew I liked Turkey better than other bourbons (too hard to find Rye) because the mash has nice spicy rye notes. Of course they have a lovely Wild Turkey Rye bottled at 101 proof. And when you can splurge, the Russell's Reserve 6 year old Rye and 10 year old Bourbon is a special treat.

The other treat I got to sample at WhiskeyFest was some Northern California Old Potrero Whiskey. The 18th century style is aged in lightly toasted barrels and bottled at a very high proof so add water please! The 19th century style is in more familiar charred oak barrels. With a little wink wink nudge nudge I was allowed to try the 15 year old Hotalings. All of Anchor Distillery's whiskeys are made of 100% malted Rye, making chewy, full of grain and nuttiness. The only difference is the barrel aging. Hotaling, in commemoration of the 1906 earthquake is aged in barrels that have been once used. Trying all three together is a wonderful way of tasting the difference a barrel and age can make on whiskey. Its rare to get to try all three. It helps if you know what you are talking about and are not too drunk. RyeGirl is obviously a professional.

Ginger Old-Fashioned

2 oz Rye (I used Redemption Rye)
4 dashes Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Dash of Simple syrup
Candied Ginger
Fresh Ginger
Good Maraschino cherries (only us if the good kind, or find fresh cherries)
Orange slice

Muddle fruit, bitters and syrup in a mixing glass. Add cracked ice, Rye and stir. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with candied Ginger slice.

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