Friday, June 30, 2023

Tornado through the Haystacks

I've used this recipe for a few competitions, and it's always treated me well for preliminary rounds. This started with Diageo World Class but became a go-to at my regular summer gatherings. Most of my friends are whiskey drinkers, and in Texas, it's hard to drink whiskey outdoors in the summertime. You need to proof it down and make it a bit more refreshing. My drink is a lovely blend of oil, smoke, salt, and spice. That sounds like barbeque to me. Come over sometime. I'll make you a plate. 

1 oz. Talisker 10 Yr Scotch
0.5 oz. Cocchi Rosa
0.25 oz. Citric Acid Solution
2.5 oz. Sparkling Mineral Water (preferably Topo Chico)
Julienned Strips of Lemon Peel

Add the scotch, vermouth, and acid solution to a mixing beaker. Peel an entire medium lemon with a julienne peeler (or use a Y peeler, then julienne with a small knife). Add a third of the lemon peel strips to a highball glass. Fill the glass halfway with ice cubes (preferably transparent), then add another third of the lemon strips. Completely fill the glass up with ice cubes and top with the last of the lemon peel. Add ice to the mixing beaker and briefly stir to chill the ingredients. Strain the drink into the prepared highball glass and top it with sparkling mineral water. Add a straw and serve. The final presentation of the drink should have dozens of little strips of lemon peel floating in suspension around the glass.

To make citric acid solution: 
Mix 94g filtered water with 6g citric acid and mix until the acid is dissolved and the liquid becomes clear.

I recently moved to Texas, and you know the first thing I did with my brother-in-law? We cooked brisket and drank some scotch. That's what you do down here. But barbeque takes a long time, and you can only continuously drink whiskey for some hours to smoke a good chunk of meat. Low and no-alcohol cocktails are a great way to keep cool while you're out in the Texas heat standing over a hot smoker. I love pairing whiskey with meat, especially a whiskey with a nice note of saline. Talisker has a beautiful flavor of the sea and the Isle of Skye. Talisker also has a pleasant oiliness that still comes through in this drink. It stacks with all the oil in the lemon peel gets accentuated by the saltiness, and gets carried throughout the glass via carbonation. The highball, like barbeque, started off incredibly simple in concept. Many people regard highball as a broad category, but historically, it's Scotch and Soda. Barbeque is just meat, smoke, and seasoning. Using the finest ingredients with the most straightforward techniques is how you make excellent cuisine. Barbeque needs to be low and slow to get to that fall-apart tender quality all the way through. A highball must be as cold as possible to keep its carbonation and not become overly diluted.  

Fun Fact: We would not have seltzer or soda water were it not for the fourth Earl of Sandwich. The man accredited with popularizing slices of meat between bread was the backer of chemist Joseph Priestly. The Earl commissioned Priestly to create a method of forcing carbonation into water. He thought it might work as a cure for scurvy. Priestly succeeded in impregnating water with air and is credited as the father of the fizzy drink.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Review: Bank Note 5 Year Blended Scotch

Color (5%):  For a five-year whisky, this is quite light. Light golden hay. Quite a bit of thinning on the edges. 4/5

Nose (10%): Very bready and crackery. Notes of lemon peel with grass and hay. Light caramel toffee sweetness. 7/10

Palate (20%): Sort of a root beer quality. Very thin body, no oiliness or syrupiness. Lemon, nougat, black tea, some mild nuttiness, hazelnut. Inoffensive. There is no noticeable smoke to speak of, mild oak. Low to mild burn for 43%. Not unpleasant, but not exciting. 17/20

Finish (10%): A pretty soft finish, very crackery and grainy. Lemon and black tea come through. That's an Arnold Palmer. a little bit of bitterness. Pool weather whiskey, eh? 7/10

Overall Impression and Harmony (30%): This is boring and basic. It's not offensive, but won't make anybody's top 10. Vanilla, lemon peel, caramel, and bread. Okay, that's basically every whiskey, but with no individuality. There's nothing offensive, harsh, or intrusive, but why bother with average. Yes, it's cheap, but you deserve something with flavor. I'll give it to my houseguests I don't love, but I would only restock it occasionally. 18/30

Retry on Ice (25%): More or less the same. The bitterness comes through a bit more. Sweet bread and brioche notes. No improvement. Nothing is lost unless it gets over-diluted. 16/25

Total Ranking: 69% Legendary, AmazingGreatGood, Fair, Average, Tolerable, Swill

Estimated Fair Price: $17
Actual Price: $21

Conclusion: This is well whiskey in a divey bar. There's no need to have this on your shelf. It'll impress no one and satisfy some. I'd be upset if someone offered me a scotch, and I got this. Yes, that sentiment is pretentious, but scotch is supposed to be a treat. My wife drinks vodka drinks, and I primarily drink whiskies. I spend much more money than her, but I've accepted that. I want to enjoy the flavors and experience. Nuance and character are essential when drinking spirits. This is fine for $20, but when you weigh it against all the scotch you see on the average back bar, this has no place outside the well. 

Fact Sheet:
ABV: 43%
Blended and bottled for Stanley Morrison & Sons Ltd. 
40% single malts to 60% scotch grain whisky