The Booze, the Booze, the Booze We Choose
Seven swanky new swigs for your taste and relaxation
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
12:30PM, Wed. Jun. 9, 2021
Yes, it’s time for another roundup of spirited adult beverages! Because these laudable liquids are new – or they’re new to us, anyway. Or because, for some reason, maybe you haven’t previously heard of them … and if journalism’s about anything, it’s about informing the public, right?
So, ah, hello there, public!
And here’s to your health …
1. Still Austin: Cask Strength Bourbon
We recently had the pleasure of tasting the Still Austin presentation of bourbon that came bedecked with a label by our old pal Tim Doyle. But that expression, released in an edition of only 200 bottles, was sold out even before the bottles were sealed. Lucky for local whiskey lovers, this new, deeper and darker Cask Strength release – featuring the same mash bill as the company’s flagship straight bourbon whiskey (but without using the slow water reduction process, thus resulting in a higher proof of 118) – this new tipple, boasting a night-sky variant of the original Musician artwork by Marc Burckhardt, is produced to the tune of 1,100 cases. And Still Austin will release an additional 1,100 cases in September. We reckon that might be sufficient to get some of us through, oh, late October?
2. Treaty Oak Distilling: Red, White & Blue Single Barrel Whiskey
A recent trip to Treaty Oak for a night of celebrating barbecue masters from across the country reminded us of just how much tradition and camaraderie informs each bottle of booze and each brace of brisket that adds pleasure to this odd and fleeting existence of ours. And now, as the pandemic continues to dwindle in the present’s rearview mirror, that multivalent Hill Country operation (with Alice’s Restaurant right there on the property) offers ever more of the glories that a well-run swath of former ranchland can provide. Right now, though, we’re focused on their latest release: Red, White & Blue Single Barrel Whiskey is a three-year-old Texas bourbon, barreled in March 2018, that was created with heirloom Bloody Butcher corn, white corn, and Hopi blue corn. The distilled excellence was bottled at 123.5 proof and is now available in, ah, well, at go-to-press time there were fewer than 210 bottles left. So, yes, they’ll be selling out and it’s best to get it while you can. Bonus: This bourbon is sold exclusively at Treaty Oak’s distillery (through July 4th or until they run out), so now you’ve got another excuse to visit that rambling patch of heaven off Fitzhugh Road. Double bonus: For each bottle sold, Treaty Oak will donate $5 to USA Cares, a foundation that provides post-9/11 veterans and their families with emergency financial assistance.
3. Garrison Brothers: HoneyDew
My wife, a lovely but sadly whiskey-averse creature who would describe even the most lauded expressions of single malt Scotch blessed by the ghost of Robert Burns as “elevated industrial solvent,” even my wife was impressed with this new Garrison Brothers tipple. “It’s somewhat more pleasant industrial solvent,” she allowed. But you and I, reader, who are not habitual aficionados of *fnord* Coke Zero, we’ll be much more enamored of this elegant liquor. This HoneyDew is not a honey whiskey, per se, but a whiskey that’s been infused with Burleson’s Texas Wildflower Honey. And how was it thus infused? Listen: “Master distiller Donnis Todd transformed used bourbon barrels into small, wooden cubes that were immersed in honey. After fully absorbing that bee-made sweetness, the cubes were placed in the belly of a stainless-steel tank, where the Garrisons’ bourbon soaked up delicious honey flavors for seven months.” Yes – and this elixir is now available in bottles, each distinctively sealed with yellow wax. They’re calling it “the perfect summertime sip,” and you know what? We’re too happily sipping to argue.
4. Slane Irish Whiskey
Sure, this triple distilled, triple casked quaff is a blend of whiskeys aged in new American oak barrels, seasoned Tennessee whiskey barrels, and Oloroso Sherry barrels – and that’s what leads to its rich and smooth taste as it trickles down a grateful craw. But you likely know the brand’s name from the Slane Festival that started in 1981: The concert series at the Slane Castle in Ireland’s County Meath, a series that’s included legendary live sets by Metallica, U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Bowie, Queen, and REM. And, not that we’d judge a company’s liquid assets by the musical greatness they’re pleased to present, but … well, this roundup is hitting the interwebs around Father’s Day, right? And we imagine any rock-loving Dads will appreciate the cultural resonance almost as much as they’ll enjoy the booze itself.
5. Sweetens Cove
Okay, so this Tennessee bourbon is named after a beloved nine-hole golf course just outside Nashville and Chattanooga. And if you’re into that particular, um, sport? If you’re into golf, anyway, that bit of intel may pique your interest from the get-go. And if you’re a sports fan in general, you’ll be stoked to know that both the golf course and this bourbon company are owned by a cadre that includes tennis star Andy Roddick and former NFL hero Peyton Manning, et al, et al. But, while your sports-agnostic reporter is only impressed that Tiff’s Treats co-founder Leon Chen(!) is also part owner of the company, every resident of Whiskeyloverland is understandably buzzing about the newest release from Sweetens Cove: A limited-edition blend of four-year, six-year, and 16-year old bourbons, conjured by master distiller Marianne Eaves, that sells for $200 a bottle. They say it’s available at Spec’s and Total Wine locations throughout Central Texas; but you know the first Sweetens Cove release sold out instanter, so, ah, good luck.
6. Hendrick’s Gin: Lunar
We recently tipped our hat to the arch raconteurs at Hendrick’s due to their spirited – ah ha ha – April Fool’s jape earlier this year … but come to discover that the new Lunar expression, “rich with night-blooming floral essence,” is not at all a matter of humor but of nocturnal moonglow delight, with a subtle citrus finish to each well-calibrated sip. (Need we mention how gorgeous the bottle looks, just sitting there among the treasures of your finest cabinet?) Note: If seeking a literary pairing to accompany such sophisticated imbibing (and which thoughtful human isn’t?), of course any gin will conjure associations with Wodehouse and Saki; but for this tantalizingly tenebral tipple, we recommend nothing other than John Collier’s classic “Evening Primrose.”
7. Pomp & Whimsy
Well. There’s gin and then there’s gin liqueur. For instance, there’s this lower-alcohol (60 proof) spirit that’s “crafted from gin and other lovelies,” and please know that we wouldn’t bother you about its existence at all … except that this Pomp & Whimsy is something you never want to have missing from your arsenal of libations. Lightly sweet and floral without being cloying, a faintly bitter finish but without any palate-thwarting harshness, this refreshing liqueur – in which the “other lovelies” include coriander, grapefruit, orange, lychee, cucumber, and jasmine pearls – goes well over ice all by itself or as the co-conspirator in an astonishingly good G&T. (Add a squeeze of lime to either, and you’ll banish thirst and ennui simultaneously.) The folks promoting this stuff dare to mention it in the same category as Haus Spirits – and you know how we feel about Haus Spirits, right? And yet: Pomp & Whimsy is, with that comparison, displaying neither temerity nor braggadocio, but simply stating the truth. Wow, we say. And sip. Wow. And sip again.
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