Liquor.com’s Noah Rothbaum Toasts With the Women’s Whiskey League

The League is reeling from a truly awesome night last night.  We were lucky enough to have Noah Rothbaum, Editor in Chief of Liquor.com, in our presence for a Whiskey 101 lecture and tasting.

Whiskey101

That’s the best part about the League.  We’re a bevy of ladies, and though our level of knowledge surrounding whiskey varies, we all share an interest in learning more.   And that’s part of the beauty of the whiskey category too:  even when you know a lot, there’s always more to know.  The category is dynamic, exciting and ever-evolving.  Much like our palates.  The more you know (and taste), the better you pick up on the nuances of these complex spirits.

Noah’s story is truly awesome.  He’s a seasoned spirits writer who has written for a wide variety of publications.  When we first met, he was the spirits guy for Men’s Fitness.  5 years later, he’s Editor in Chief and Founder of Liquor.com, a wonderful resource on the industry that, like our lecture last night, shares insight for spirits fans of every knowledge level.

We had a whopping 33 folks in attendance, and for the first time ever, we allowed our ladies to bring their significant others.  We usually talk about them anyway behind their backs at League, so we figured why not be able to do it to their faces for once.  And I have to say, the addition of some of the dudes in the room was really nice.  They asked poignant questions and shared a totally different perspective.  Let me be clear: we are a WOMEN’S league, so this is a once-a-year type thing, but it was a nice, refreshing change-up.

Now, much of what we covered has already been shared in previous posts (whiskey basics), but here are some of the biggest takeaways:

ON WHISKEY…

  • As we’ve said before, one whiskey isn’t necessarily better than another.  It’s all about preference (I hear my mother right now, she’s saying, “that’s what makes horse races”).  And that’s the beauty of the whiskey category (and the spirits industry on the whole): there are literally HUNDREDS of different whiskey styles (Bourbon, Rye, Tennessee, Irish, Scotch, Japanese, Indian, Single Malt, Blended, etc.) in every price category.  What works for some doesn’t do it for others.  I’m an Islay freak myself, but most of my girlfriends tell me I smell like the creepy old man at the bar everyone seems to recognize because he’s ALWAYS there and reeks of Marlboro Reds.  Whatever, I’m into it.

ON AMERICAN WHISKEY…

  • Bourbon is perhaps the most regulated of all whiskey types, and the U.S. government works rigorously to defend the category and encourage other countries to recognize it as a distinctive product of the U.S.  Bourbon cannot be Bourbon unless it’s made here at home.
  • Rye is the original whiskey grain.  It was rye whiskey that was made back when George Washington was a distiller (it was the predominant grain found along the East Coast).  Though we’ve seen a massive rye boom in the last few years, it is really our nation’s first whiskey grain.  Corn later became a primary the ingredient as it grew better in areas like Tennessee and Kentucky.

ON IRISH WHISKEY…

  • Don’t tell a Scotch purist, but the Irish claim to have created the first whiskeys when Irish monks brought distilling techniques to the Green Isle.

ON SCOTCH WHISKY…

  • We tend to forget that although we all focus on Single Malts, somewhere between 80 and 90% of all Scotch whisky sold is blended whisky.  Single Malts, while really great, are a tiny little drop in the bucket in the Scotch whisky industry.

 

Lastly, I leave you with a fun celeb fact that Noah shared with us.  As if we didn’t already love him enough, we love him more for knowing that the way to a lady’s heart is through her irrational fascination with all things celebrity culture.

Did you know that Isla Fisher, one of our favorite actresses, who also wins brownie points for her adorable Australian accent and self-deprecating humor, is named after my favorite island in the world, Islay?  

Like I needed a reason to love her more.  Lady Leaguers, I’m officially claiming this name for my first born.  I called it first, so don’t cross me…

Until next time, you can keep up on your whiskey knowledge by following Noah over at Liquor.com.

It’s Suntory Time! Japanese Player Jumps into the American Whiskey Game, Acquires Beam

Bill Murray’s Iconic Suntory Scene in 2003′s Lost In Translation (via FT)

For those of us already in the industry, we’ve seen a large number of major acquisitions and consolidations over the past several years.  These kinds of deals are increasingly common.  Beam, whose portfolio includes global bourbon behemoth Jim Beam, plus other high-performing brands like Maker’s Mark, Cruzan and Pinnacle Vodka, has been purchased for $13.6 billion from Japanese company Suntory (perhaps best known by name for its ridiculously awesome role in the amazing Lost in Translation).

The buyout details aren’t necessarily relevant to the average whiskey-slinging woman.  Instead, here are two small but important takeaways:

1)      American Whiskey isn’t just local, it’s global.   Yes, it’s made on our home turf, but American Whiskey has a global presence.  Not only are some of the largest brands here owned by foreign companies (like Wild Turkey, owned by Campari), but a massive percentage of product made here in the States is now allocated for sale in foreign markets.  Last year, Jack Daniel’s sold more whiskey outside the U.S. than in the U.S.  That’s a pretty staggering fact.

2)      American Whiskey continues to thrive.  Beam has been an acquisition target for the last few years because of the stunning growth rate of our beloved American Whiskey category.  This is great news for both the producer and the consumer, as the number of American Whiskey products on shelves continues to grow.  The growth is fueling great innovation, new flavors and experiments, different techniques in aging, and in turn (and most importantly), drawing in new whiskey drinkers.

It’ll be exciting to watch what happens next.

 

Hey New York: Winter Vortex Got You Down? It’s Toddy Time!

Hot Apple ToddyHot Toddy

Hot ToddyHot Toddy

We know, New York, it’s cold out there.  Not just your average winter day, but the kind of day that makes you:

  • Spend the morning hours on Kayak in a last ditch effort for hacker fares to any city over 30 degrees.
  • Research average monthly rents in Miami and Los Angeles (which in turn makes you all the more nauseated that you actually pay exorbitantly to be tortured by this arctic freeze).
  • Reinforce your belief that the Seamless delivery guys are actually the hardest working people in New York.

Here’s the silver lining:

  1. Acceptable winter attire during these days includes blanket coats (you know, the kind that look like you were too lazy to get dressed so you made a toga out of your duvet) and Ugg boots (we know, we know, they’re so 2006).
  2. There is no yummier winter drink than a hot toddy.  And they couldn’t be any easier to make.

Here are two easy toddies to keep you warmed up on this cold day.

Classic Hot Toddy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon  (I love using a sweeter, corn-forward bourbon like Maker’s Mark so I don’t have to use as much honey)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Juice of 1/3 lemon
  • Hot water
  • Cinnamon, cloves and star anise

To prepare, add bourbon, honey and lemon to a mug and mix until honey is dissolved.  Top with hot water.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick, cloves, and/or star anise.

Hot Spiced Apple Toddy

  • 1.5 ounces Cognac
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Apple cider, warmed

To prepare, add Cognac, syrup and lemon to mug and mix until incorporated.  Top with piping hot cider.  Garnish with an apple slide or lemon peel.

Happy sipping!