Monday, July 27, 2009

The Cask: Part 2

It's been about 2 months since I've put some of Wasmund's un-aged rye spirit into my little aging cask, which you can read about here.

According to heresay, the whiskey is about halfway done toward being appropriately aged. So of course, I'd like to monitor the spirit's progress. I turned the cask's nozzle to let loose some of the liquor. The color now is that of a gold rum, and perhaps about 2/3 as dark as I expect it will be in the end.

The smell of the spirit so far is still fairly strong... I imagine it's still fairly high above 80 proof, and will even stay so after a few more months; alcohol still wafts boldly from the cup. The aroma is mostly of smokey butterscotch, which is certainly not one that I've smelled on any whiskey before. Near the end, the slightest whiff of traditional rye whiskey comes through, finally.

The sip doesn't burn as much as it did when it was clear in color, about 2 months ago... now it's just warming, like a whiskey should be. My guess is that it's about 100 proof right now. As soon as it hits the tongue, there's a fleeting sweetness. The fullest flavor in the spirit is still that pungent rye which blooms on the tongue, and it's not without a touch of fruitiness, staying long after you swallow. Smoke again fills the throat once it's gone.

This would be quite an interesting spirit, if something like this were sold, but it's still a bit too fiery and bold, not unlike a tequila. I would indeed say that this stuff is halfway aged to something apropos, and perhaps a bit less than halfway toward perfection.... but that's a different post. :)


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Original Sweet Tea Vodka Cocktails

I shouldn't really need to talk about sweet tea vodka too much. Myriad others have blogged about it already, and for good reason: it's delicious. While some claim that it's crappy vodka infused with cheap tea flavors, I disagree. As a self-proclaimed Southerner and sweet tea champion, I say that the stuff is mighty fine, and it's a little more versatile than you might think. (Yes, that may or may not be an empty handle of Firefly to the right... ahem.)

While it's mostly drunk on ice (and rightfully so), I propose that a squeezed lemon wedge makes it miles better, and strangely enough, I usually hate lemon in my sweet tea. A sage friend of mine proposed a dash of peach schnapps into her glass, and the result was wonderful. Peach bitters couldn't produce quite the same full-bodied taste that the schnapps did, by the way. (Yeah yeah yeah, I realize that there already exist lemon tea and peach tea flavored vodkas, but one artificial flavor in my spirit is enough, thanks.)

But enough of this. Surely sweet tea vodka can be properly mixed into a cocktail, and I'm not just talking about your John Daly. Try these original recipes, let me know what you think.


Porch Swing

1.25 oz sweet tea vodka
.5 oz Southern Comfort
.25 oz lemon juice

Shake ingredients over ice, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a half wedge of lemon.

The words you read are that of a southern boy. If you've ever spent much time east of the Mississippi and south of the Mason Dixon, a sip of this drink should instantly tint your vision to a shade of dusk, with the occasional flash of fireflies... you should hear the sound of crickets, and perhaps feel a subtle rocking motion. If southern sweet tea ever had a moonshine version, this is it. I'm just lucky that my old Uncle Buddy never had this stuff on hand... he just stuck to his homemade wine... that's another story altogether.

Southern Soprano

1.25 oz sweet tea vodka
.75 limoncello

Build in a cocktail or aperitif glass over crushed ice.
Garnish with a lemon twist.

This spirit has a tough time escaping lemon, but it's not the only one. This is a nice cocktail after dinner, and it gets better the longer you let it sit on ice. If you're impatient, give it one good shake before you pour it into the glass. Call this the John Daly in high heels.

Rustler's Saddle

1 oz sweet tea vodka
.5 part bourbon
.5 part gold rum (a pungent one, Pusser's preferred, Jamaican and Barbados are ok)
1 dash lime juice
1 dash aromatic bitters

Shake the ingredients with ice, and strain into a... cocktail glass? Hell no. Instead, a small whiskey or old fashioned glass please, and no garnish, BECAUSE COWBOYS DON'T NEED NO DAMN GARNISH!!

This cocktail with the leathery name will give you leathery notes on the palate, something with which aged rum fans should be a little familiar. This cocktail is quiet and soft, comforting and satisfying. I can imagine this coming out of a shaker in an executive's corner office at 5:01 PM. The whole thing isn't the same unless you use the strongest (in flavor) gold/dark rum that you have; my first choice is Pusser's, 2nd is Cockspur 5-Star, and 3rd is Appleton Estate V/X, maybe even Appleton Estate Extra, if you're feeling special. As for bourbon, use the best one that you have closest to 80 proof; much stronger than that, and it will take over.