Of course, the number one rule about enjoying spirits is that you should enjoy a spirit just the way you like it; whether neat, on the rocks, from a fine snifter, or out of a red plastic cup. That’s a freedom of choice we celebrate and encourage at Murray's Fools Distilling Co. – there is no right or wrong way. Well, maybe just one wrong way. I’m going to say there is one wrong way – shooting spirits – especially when “tasting” spirits.
It is impossible to “taste” a new spirit by taking the sample provided in the shot glass and throwing the liquid into the back of the throat in one quick move. In fact, that move is the antithesis of the “tasting” experience. By rapidly depositing the spirit in the back of the throat, one is bypassing the sensory organs designed to allow us to experience the spirit. About the only thing one obtains from shooting the spirit is a brief ethanol burn.
Spirit “tasting” is intended to be an opportunity to explore the taste, texture, aromatics and other sensory characteristics of the spirit. Taking the time to experience a spirit during a “tasting” allows you decide whether you like the spirit or not, and to further define the qualities of spirits overall that appeal to you, as well as those qualities that you dislike. Ideally, the “tasting” experience is a learning experience for all involved.
So, by all means drink spirits anyway you prefer. If you want to add ice, add ice. If you want to add water, add some water. Do not let anyone tell you that there is a wrong way to drink your favorite spirit. Follow Frank Sinatra’s advice and do it your way. However, when it comes to “tasting” spirits, please take time to experience the spirit as much as you can.
Don’t shoot the spirit. Savor the spirit.
I just finished reading Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. This book offers a great look at how top performers (both physically and intellectually) achieve the peak performances that define them as elite. One of the elements of the book I found most interesting was the role that rest played for all of the cited top performers. Not just any rest, but purposeful rest. These athletes, workers and intellectuals all viewed rest as a critical part of their training programs and routines. Rest was not just an inconvenience that was to be tolerated, but an essential component of success. As one who has often lamented having to sleep, and viewed rest as a waste of precious time, I found the role of rest presented in Peak Performance eye-opening to say the least.
Sarah and I are now charging forward with the final build-out of our tasting room and the necessary bathroom at the distillery. Of course, we are doing this while still mashing, distilling, marketing, selling and all of the good stuff that goes with operating a craft distillery. Our current goal is to have our tasting room open by June. My goal is to be done with the build out by Memorial Day weekend. In the spirit of Peak Performance, we have promised each other a weekend of rest and retreat!
Even though the “back to school” displays are in the stores, it’s still the middle of August and still summer! When we are not working at our day jobs or working at the distillery, we spend as much time outdoors as possible. Recently most of our down time has come after 8 or 9pm, but we still manage to find the outdoors through sitting on porches and decks (depending on our location). These are usually quiet moments of rest, reflection and sometimes a nice cocktail.
This summer, I have been fixated on a cool cocktail I refer to as a modified whiskey cooler. My whiskey cooler concoction consists of whiskey, Grand Marnier, ginger ale and sometimes a rhubarb syrup or a dash of sugar. Bourbon or Rye will work as the base spirit, but I think rye works better here. Served with ice, it makes a great summer cocktail.
I have also just discovered Ardbeg Corryvreckan. I bought the bottle on our way up to Maine, and am so glad I did. It’s a beautiful and delicious scotch whiskey. Of course it’s from Islay and that means a load of peat. The smoky creosote greets you as soon as you pour from bottle to glass. I also smell a lot of dark chocolate. Corryvreckan is a super chewy and spicy mouthful. It’s all there and then some. Sarah likes it too.
The holiday movie season is here! This year brings us the next installment of the Star Wars legend, among other promising films.
Thinking of Star Wars often brings to mind the iconic Cantina scene. Just what were those aliens drinking? Bantha Blaster? Pink Nebula? Romulan Ale? Maybe, but that reminds me that there are many identifiable (and very real) adult beverages that have been featured in Hollywood films throughout the years.
Here is a list of blockbuster booze and legendary film cocktails that I put together:
Perhaps you can think of some others?
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona. NY