Category Archives: Whiskey

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

stranasI apologize to my readers for the recent lull in my posting schedule.  I spent ten days down in Austin then another ten recovering – in not much of a mood for liquor.  The blog may have also experienced some down-time lately, hopefully that should be fixed now.  This week, however, I have something a little different: a “Colorado whiskey” – namely Stranahan’s.

Anyone who has read this blog before might have noticed that I like to cheer on whiskies that originate from outside the Kentucky/Tenessee region.  I like to imagine that the further one gets from the heart of bourbon production, the more willing one is to experiment with production.  While this is blatantly not true – with the wonderful experimentation going on in Kentucky and some traditional products coming from elsewhere – it’s at least an interesting draw into new ground for me.

Stranahan’s is made like a bourbon, except with an all-barley mash instead of a corn-centric one, and aged a “minimum” of two years.  Let’s see how it pans out.

Stats:

$50-60

– 94 proof

– Made by Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Presentation:

The large metallic silver top defines this bottle’s appearance.  It may look like a shot glass and/or serving suggestion, but at this price point, I hope that’s not the case.  Otherwise the steeply angled labeling is simple, with an emphasis on hand-marking.  The background is faux aged and the descriptive paragraph very short.  One appealing aspect is the “Comments” section of the label where “listening to the Pogues” is written in, a charming addition if it’s genuine. These guys might just be small enough for that to be real.

Tasting:

To the nose Stranahan’s comes across with hot asphalt, watermelon, honey, and salty ocean wind.  The latter two Scotch-like notes are probably a result of their common use of barley.  The scent is smooth and without any significant alchohol character to it.

Tasting it again draws likeness to Scotch.  It opens with a big, bright lemony sensation that falls back into a dandelion bitterness that lingers for a bit before fading into a long, dry, warm finish that never really releases that first lemon aspect.

Over all:

I am impressed with Stranahan’s.  If you like your sweet bourbons you won’t be too pleased here since the barley doesn’t have that kind of sugary character, but it is different from any other American whiskey I’ve had lately – in a good way.

Advertisements

The American Hooch 2008 Gift Guide

I’ve gotten questions from many friends and co-workers about what bourbon they should buy for their friend/boyfriend/roommate for the holiday season.  This is always a difficult thing to judge since some of the best wiskies don’t always make for the classiest gift, but on the other hand many of the gift-like bottles aren’t the most original or demonstrative of taste.

With that in mind, here’s my American Hooch 2008 Gift Guide to help you navigate your social relationships with a properly chosen bottle of alcohol.

The Mantle Piece Bourbon

willettThis one is for that someone on your list who wants something to show off to folks stopping by over the holidays.  Willett Family Pot Still Reserve is certainly a fine tasting bourbon, with notes of butterscotch, cherry-sweetness, and honey, but it is most impressive in its profile.  Your receipient will not only be impressed with the pot still shaped bottle, but also the wonderfully gurgly noise it makes when you pour.  I wrote about it here.

This one might be a little tougher to find, but it will make an immediate visual impression.  It will also run you around $40.

Continue reading The American Hooch 2008 Gift Guide

Shine On Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey

While the rest of my borough is out partying, I’ve taken a break to bring a new whiskey into my arsenal.  Shine On Georgia Moon is something that’s caught my eye on the shelf every time I visit my local liquor store, so instead of venturing down to Red Hook to see my usual pushers at LeNell’s I opted to give SOGM a try.

Presentation:

Shine On Georgia Moon is bottled and positioned for one purpose and one purpose only: to hammer home the idea that it is moonshine.  From the name, to the mason jar, to the irregular typeface on the shopping-bag-paper label, this liquor is anything but subtle.  Thankfully they realize that they are so unapologetically forward in their visual presentation that they didn’t find the need to add a hokey little narrative about some old-timey man and his still out in the back woods of Georgia (or Kentucky as is the case here).

Beyond these obvious points, there is one message that seems particularly distictive to this brand – they proult declare that their product is “less than 30 days old” right on the front label.  This is a clear response to the often fetishistic focus on a whiskey’s age that we see in other brands.  SOGM seems to be trying to make the “freshness” of the product a selling point…not a crazy approach in the era of local food and farmers’ markets.

If you take the cheap bottling and quick time to market implied in the “less than 30 days old” tag line, and place these two qualities next to the $13+ price point, what you see is some damn shrewed marketing.  The Johnson Distilling Company has taken the market’s obsession with notions of “authenticity” and manufactured unpretentiousness and turned it into a cheap-to-make, mid-market brand.  Bravo.

Tasting:

Shine On Georgia Moon is no subtler to the nose than its bottling is to the eye.  Before even getting to the nose however, one must struggle to pour the whiskey out of the mason jar itself – not an easy task to complete neatly.  Once in the glass, SOGM definitely smells like whiskey, but very green whiskey.  The dominant scent is (naturally) corn, but it really smells like the mash itself, unaged, unmellowed.

On the palate, SOGM is equally young.  It moves quickly through its seasons: starting with a burst of corn, dropping into the sensation of boiled mash, then disappearing as quickly as it came leaving only a slight remembrance in the clean finish that something had passed this way.  There seem few better ways to describe it than simply as ‘fast’.

Over all:

I would probably never find myself settling down with a glass of neat Georgia Moon any day soon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good uses for a green whiskey such as this.  For instance, I can imagine with a little simple syrup and mint this would make a fine julep; or perhaps replace the mint with a wedge of lime and the simple syrup for cane syrup for a variation on Ti’punch.  In fact, SOGM reminds me more of a rhum agricole than a bourbon or any other American whiskey – so it might be best to treat it as such.