As our dream begins to look more like a distillery and less like a construction zone, I start to envision ourselves witnessing our product flow from the still… and it truly is such a ‘dream come true’ that it’s almost as if we are onlookers in our story. Walking into the distillery on the weekends is very much like walking into another person’s shoes and sometimes seems so far away from our weekday lives. This feeling gave us the inspiration to create our own unique distiller personas.
I wanted to connect to a W.H.H. Murray fictional character; however it is a known fact that Murray did not include prominent female personalities in his books. In fact at a luncheon with several literary men, including Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, there was discussion about feminine characters with Mr. Emerson strongly believing that in order for a story to make the average reader laugh and cry both, it couldn’t be written without a woman appearing in it. It appears Murray and his publisher took this as a challenge, intent to prove him to be wrong.
Because of this lack of feminine characters, I chose to combine two wonderful and totally opposite ‘odd-couple’ male characters, Parson Whitney and Deacon Tubman, from the short story “How Deacon Tubman and Parson Whitney Kept New Year’s” (1888).
Parson Whitney is described as having a ‘frozen’ book-worm personality and Deacon Tubman is a jolly happy man. The Deacon goes to visit the Parson, enticing him away from his anti-social books. The two sixty year old men spend New Year’s Day visiting with the young people of the town.
They realize that it is important to spend time pursuing adventure and enjoying more of the world around them. Experiencing and exploring the outdoors leaves them feeling youthful and invigorated.
The two got so carried away in the excitement of the events of the day, they forgot themselves and entered wildly into the youthfulness of the adventures.
When I feel I am getting too engrossed in the seriousness of responsibility, I remember these two and the New Year’s Day that they let all their hesitations cut loose and follow their youthful instincts.
Whitney and Tubman remind me to relish the sweetness of life.
Looking for an unrivaled unique gift for that adventurous person in your life who enjoys drinking a bit of fine?
I’ve found some pretty amazing items to order online, and the good news is there’s still time to get the spirit lover in your life a perfect gift!
(click photos in slideshows to link to purchase sites)
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Thanksgiving dinner and drink pairings have traditionally meant ‘which wine do I serve with the turkey?’… however, it is never too late to start new traditions and surprise your guests by introducing some spirit to the table!
Friends and Family Greeting:
Many gatherings begin with a toast. When your guests arrive and begin socializing, offer them a sparkling ‘Glory Mora’ and toast to friends and family while nibbling on hors-d'oeuvres.
The ‘Glory Mora’ is a sloe gin sparkling pomegranate drink designed by MFD Company. ‘Glory Mora’ was the stage name of one of W.H.H. Murray’s four daughters, Ethel, who appeared in New York City shows and other performances.
Click here to see the 'Glory Mora' recipe.
Looking at elaborate party dinner menus of the past, the menu frequently began with oysters. This year why not try an oyster appetizer with a Laphroaig Cairdeas. The peaty smoke beautifully pairs with the fresh oyster.
The Main Event:
Celebrate the evening and the main course by raising a glass of vintage cocktail with friends and family. Excite your appetite with The ‘Uprooted Tree’ created by Murray’s Fools Distilling Co.
This cocktail is an excellent gin aperitif and a refreshing sipper during the meal. Gin cocktails are perfect for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner because they are light, pair well with a variety of side dishes and the botanicals form an ideal counterpart for such a flavorful meal.
The ‘Uprooted Tree’ is a Genever and Ginger Apple Hard Cider Cocktail created by MFD Co.
Click here to see the Uprooted Tree recipe.
Click here to watch the Thanksgiving Cocktail video!
The Sweet Spot:
I don’t know about you, but at our house there are usually more desserts than side dishes! This is why it is so fun to offer a flight of Scotches or Bourbons to match and taste with all the sweet treats during dessert.
There are so many different options you could put together, however here are a few ideas to get you started. Murray’s Fools Distilling Co. always likes to look for local spirits to try and we definitely encourage you to do the same, especially when sharing at dinner parties!
Scotch Dessert Flight
The Macallan 18 Year (full-bodied rich whiskey): Great with desserts like sticky toffee pudding, gingerbread, and anything dark chocolate.
Dalwhinnie (light fragrant with a little sweetness): So wonderful with soft cheeses, bread puddings and custards.
Balvenie Medeira Cask 17 Year (rich, deep and complex): Excellent pair with pecan or apple pie.
or try this flight....
Bourbon Dessert Flight
Elijah Craig (full, sweet, toasty oak bourbon): Beautiful balance with pecan pie and toffee desserts.
Booker’s Bourbon (intense fruit and oak flavors): Delicious with apple pie!
Bulleit Bourbon (high rye content with vanilla aroma): Works great with anything chocolate.
Loosening the Belt:
The table is cleared and you are sitting back in your comfy chair loosening your belt… cue the digestif. The most important drink of the day, a post-dinner digestif cocktail! After the feast, move yourself away from the table and sit back and relax with a Brandy Alexander in your hand!
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce Crème de Cacao
1 ounce fresh cream
Add everything into a shaker of ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with nugmeg.
Cheers to You and Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Our Whiskey Tasting Club all started with a sip…Keeping the passion burning was the trick! | Four Ways To Rekindle Your Club's Fire
The Murray’s Fools team moved our private home into a new (but historically old) neighborhood a few years ago. We immediately learned that there were a lot of fun, interesting, intelligent and like-minded foodies in our 120+ household community.
We enjoyed whiskey and thought it might be fun to start a whiskey tasting club in our neighborhood. We did our research on how to create a place where we could taste new spirits, share some of our favorites and build camaraderie around brown spirits.
We began our neighborhood’s Whiskey Tasting Club in September 2013. At our first meeting we had ten interested neighbors show up, and we talked about and voted on how we would set our new club up all while tasting a very large variety that included Scotch, Rye, Bourbon, Irish Whisky and a Canadian Whisky. Now, two years later we are still going strong with 32 members!
All of this came about long before Murray’s Fools was even a twinkle in our eye, and now it is so much sweeter to see the club really flourish as we are in the process of launching our own spirit business! It is a dream of ours that our spirits will be part of a tasting by the group in 2016.
I won’t say it was all smooth sailing to get a club like this to keep its momentum. We did have a few dips in interest, but we managed to rekindle the fire. Here’s how we did it with FOUR easy adjustments:
4 Helpful Hints to Keep Your Whiskey Club Momentum Going:
1. Structure: Create clear guidelines of what the group is for, what is expected from each member financially and as a host. We have a written set of guidelines that we shared with members via our Private Facebook page:
Who the group is for? All of our tastings are held at our member's private homes, and therefore it was determined that the group was specifically for neighborhood residents only. That doesn’t mean guests are not welcomed, it is required, however, that the person bringing a guest let the host know when they RSVP.
What is financially expected of each member? In the beginning we set membership at $100/year, and we rotated around the neighborhood for hosting. We found that paying membership fees didn’t really work, and that setting a $100 maximum/3 different bottle minimum hosting budget, and relying on regular attendees to host at least once a year works well for everyone, and this has encouraged new members to join (and host)!
When to host? We do our best to host regularly scheduled meetings. We’ve found hosting on a weekday towards the end of the work week (i.e. Wed/Thurs) at 7pm worked well for most people. Keeping a routine schedule helps members remember and plan.
2. Communication: Establish a place for the group to keep in touch and keep camaraderie going outside of the monthly tasting. We chose to create a private Facebook page as our communication hub.
What to share? Our club members post all kinds of information regularly on our page. Everything from whiskey cocktail recipes, other local tasting events, jokes, our own tasting event photos to club information is shared in our online Facebook community.
Invitations and RSVPs: Provide an area that everyone in the club has access to for sending invitations and collecting RSVPs. Since all of our members are on our Facebook page, we use the event invitation application on there. One of the administrators posts the event at the beginning of the month, inviting the entire group membership.
3. Club Documentation: Learn what’s important for the group to have knowledge of and keep the information and documents regularly updated through your established communication channel. The three most important documents for our group are:
4. Fun and Flexibility
Enjoy yourselves! Don’t let your members fret over having the ‘right’ food or best tasting. Everyone hosts differently, and that’s what makes it interesting and fun! It is all about trying new things and sharing the experience.
Be flexible: It doesn’t always have to be about the whiskey. We’ve had cocktail events where members experience the brown spirit in the form of three different vintage cocktails. We’ve also had members who have traveled and brought back favorite spirits of different countries which weren’t necessarily brown spirits. We’re also planning new adventures in 2016, e.g. a ‘Progressive Drink and Dine’ where we will stop at select members’ homes for a drink and an appetizer or two; a potential bottling party at a local distillery, as well as visits from local distillery owners.
A whiskey tasting club is truly a fun group to be a part of whether you are new to whiskey or a connoisseur. If you’re interested in hosting your own whiskey tasting and don’t know where to start here are some general ideas of what you might need:
Whiskey: (Rye, Bourbon, Scotch, Irish, Canadian etc.) Our group likes to have at least three different bottles to sample at each tasting, whether it’s a theme or an eclectic variety it doesn’t really matter.
Tasting Glasses: Small 5.5/6 oz. glasses work well.
Water: Have a pitcher of water handy for those who like to add a small splash to their drink or for cleansing in between tastings.
Tasting notes: These are always fun either oral or written. We’re all there for the tasting AND the learning. Our hosts spend time researching which bottles to select, and then share the information they’ve learned about the distillery, tasting notes and any other notes of interest.
Food : Some purists say eating food at a tasting is unrefined, but we like to ensure our guests have something to eat while they’re imbibing. There doesn’t need to be a lot of food, and it doesn’t need to be gourmet. However, those interested in whiskey tasting generally do have some pretty complex tastes.Here are some suggestions that can be simply prepared and should please everyone:
If you have any other questions about how we’ve started our club or how our members host a tasting, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my very best to answer your query!
New York State Continues to ‘Belly Up to The Bar’ in Favor of The Craft Farm Distilling Industry | Latest Legislation Brings Even More Revenue Opportunities To Sustain While Aging
This weekend, as we approach the third year anniversary of the passing of a law that has allowed Murray’s Fools Distilling Co. and many others to seize an amazing opportunity in New York State, I thought it appropriate to blog about just how far New York has ‘bellied up to the bar’ to open up sales potential through legislation. These opportunities enable small batch distillers, like Murray’s Fools Distilling Co., to not only build our business but sustain it and keep it revenue producing as our product matures by conducting tastings and making direct sales at farmers’ markets and state and county fairs.
In an industry that, less than a century ago, was severely restricted by government there is great promise and new potential. With fewer regulations, New York, with fifty-one (51) New York State licensed craft farm distilleries currently listed as producing whiskey, or have plans to produce whiskey in the near future, is proving to be one of the best states in the country to be a craft distiller. (list count as of 9/28/2015 (http://recenteats.blogspot.com/p/the-complete-list-of-american-whiskey.html#NY)
New York State recognized early on that the increase in small-batch farm distilleries (and breweries, cidereries and wineries) creates jobs, fosters tourism and injects money into the state’s agricultural economy!
To give you some numbers to think about, the increase in New York State farm distilleries that have been added during Governor Cuomo’s Administration has been 370% (up to April 2014)!
The very first small batch distillery to open in NYS since prohibition is been said to have officially opened in 2003, and things have sure have changed for the better for those guys as things have progressed! I’ve pulled together a timeline of legislative events to outline the progress NYS has made in this industry over the short period of twelve (12) years.
New York State Law Craft Distilling Permit | 2002
Immediately after 2002, work began on re-defining the law to open up more opportunities for this new sector.
Farm Distillery Act | 2007
After the 2007 act was passed there was HUGE growth within the industry, which prompted the most important opportunity of all; self-sales off premises.
New York’s Farm Distilling Law –2012/2013 (result of First Beverage Summit)
By signing this Farm Distillery Bill, Governor Cuomo opened up a very integral part of a small craft distillers revenue, by providing more options for direct sale of farm distilled spirits. This helped start-up spirit makers stay in business long enough to properly age their spirits.
Since early 2011, New York’s farm distillers have grown to 61 from 10, according to the New York State Liquor Authority.
Craft New York Act –2014
Passed in June, and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November, the legislation was - designed to ease regulations and promote growth for the state’s already emergent craft-beverage industry.
August 2015 Legislation
All of this legislation is designed not only to create more craft spirit producing distilleries, but to also create a new tourism sector in New York!
The administration has been very supportive by modernizing the antiquated laws that made it difficult to do business in the past and helping with promotional opportunities. The changes have helped create new businesses in New York State that are adding jobs, tax revenue, tourism and benefits to local farms; hiring new employees, working with other local businesses.
NYS doesn’t stop there though, the state sees the craft beverage industry as yet another benefit to NYS, and therefore in further support provides grant money to not-for-profit organizations that will promote and market small craft distilleries through grants! A Craft Beverage Marketing and Promotion Grant Program, which was created to increase the profile, awareness and sales of New York State produced wine, beer, spirits, and hard cider, provides matching funds for the marketing and promotion of craft beverages. Also available is money for the State’s Craft Beverage Industry Tourism Promotion Grant, which grows tourism across New York State by promoting destinations, attractions, and special events explicitly related to the craft beverage industry.
Currently craft distillers account for only around 2% of total US distilled spirits by volume but this metric has steadily increased on a monthly basis and is predicted to reach 8% in five years! This rise in craft distillery creation has mirrored the craft brewing movement and we now find ourselves at a very similar point as they were in the late 80’s/early 90s.
This means the BEST IS YET TO COME!
The story of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. (MFD Co.) is based on our co-founder, Randall Beach’s, great-great-grandfather W.H.H. Murray (Adirondack Murray), and his advocacy of the Adirondacks and outdoor life. Considered by many to be the “Father of the Outdoor Movement,” Murray wrote and published Adventures in the Wilderness in 1869. This book brought huge, adventure seeking crowds into the Adirondacks, creating what the media of the time dubbed 'The Murray Rush'. So many people arrived after the book was published that there weren't enough accommodations, guides, etc.; hence these crowds were called 'Murray's Fools'. Later, these ‘Murray's Fools’ built hundreds of 'Great Camps', hotels, vacation homes and clubs in the Adirondacks, making the Adirondack Mountains the destination place of the privileged, as well as the growing urban class.
Murray believed in protecting and conserving the Adirondacks, and often spoke about the “Ownership of the Adirondacks.” He believed no one state or individual owned the wilderness, but rather that it existed in trust. Murray said the Adirondacks stood for forces that affect the mind, body and spirit of men to such a degree and so salutarily that they are lifted above monetary classment.
Murray's belief was that to be a full person one must combine intimate knowledge of nature with a civilized education. It was Murray who brought laughter to the Adirondack scene, and it was the kind of laughter which he brought that filled (and still fills) his book with vitality. Murray's laugh is that of the involved participant, and its outcome is a distillation of a sense of warm humility in the face of nature.
Murray’s Fools Distillery Co. seeks to create and provide fine spirits to those who, just as the original Murray’s Fools, have independent streaks, courage, adventurous souls and live for nature’s quiet moments.
“I wish that you may find, in excursions which you may make into the wilderness, the health and happiness which have, upon its waters and upon its softly murmuring pines, come to me.” - W.H.H. Murray
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona, NY