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Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?
10/8/16 Maker’s Mark
Up in Freeport Maine a friend and I had the occasion to sample Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (45% abv). This is the bourbon noted for it’s distinctive bottles sealed with red wax. They’re typically aged for 6 years, in new American white oak barrels. To be defined as a bourbon a whiskey needs to be made with a mash bill that is at least 51% corn, while the remaining 49% could be any other cereal grain, such as rye, barley, wheat or corn. Most bourbons have some rye, which provides a bit of bourbon’s distinctive spice, or bite. But Maker’s Mark is a “wheater”, made with red winter wheat instead of rye. The third ingredient in their mash bill is barley. That puts it in the category of some rather famous and sought-after bourbons, the Pappy Van Winkle family, Weller family, etc. Thoughts? Great color and body, great flavor – and for it’s price, one of the best around. It won’t excite the reviewers who feel the need to drink prized bourbons costing $80 or more per bottle, but Maker’s Mark beats out some higher prices bourbons and Irish whiskeys that I have tried.
10/2/16 Beat 3 Whiskey
I had the privilege of touring Djinn Spirits, a craft distillery located in Nashua, New Hampshire. It is under the proprietorship of Andy and Cindy Harthcock. Easily accessible just off of Amherst Street, it’s in a quiet, unassuming long industrial building, with a friendly store and tasting area in front. Only three years old, Djinn now features several whiskies and liquors.
Beat 3 White Whiskey, Barley mash. Basically, moonshine, filtered, and then “aged” for four days in charred American oak barrels. This moonshine is sweet and powerful. Would be great as a mixer.
Beat 3 Reserve Whiskey, Barley mash. Aged for four months in charred American oak barrels. Gaining in color, and developing some whiskey flavors, this was richer, and noticeably different from the white whiskey.
Beat 3 Single Malt Whiskey, Barley mash. A small-batch whiskey, aged for a year, in 15-gallon barrels. This is where things get really good – I’m normally a bourbon drinker, yet this easy, clean sweet whiskey feels like it could become a daily drinker, taken on the rocks.
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Woodford Reserve is noticeably smoother than the Eagle Rare, although both are good. The alcohol content is the same in both, so the difference must be the mash bill and oak barrel aging. I’ve been noticing that Colonel E. H. Taylor, small batch bourbon whiskey, BiB, has been getting a lot of great press. This is the third time that I’ve tried it, but it’s just not growing on me. It’s a bit stronger, 100 Proof but the flavor profile isn’t to my liking. I brought it to a party, and everybody else seems to like it, and that’s okay. Whiskey is like wine: not everybody likes the same flavor profiles.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Distiller: Jameson Distillery, now owned by Pernod Ricard, a French liquor production corporation. 80 Proof.
Aged in sherry casks, and then in bourbon casks, for at least 3 years.
Here I am getting ready for the Yamim Nora’im (Jewish High Holy Days, Days of Awe) with Irish whiskey and Jewish theology. The whiskey is Jameson, triple distilled, aged for 7 years. An amazingly smooth and delicious spirit. From Smithfield Village, Dublin, Ireland.
The book is Prayer and Penitence: A Commentary on the High Holy Day Machzor, by Jeffrey M. Cohen. The best book I’ve ever come across on this subject.
Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey
My friend Craig and I engaging in purely scientific research, again. From their website: “Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey combines a high amount of malt whiskey matured in former Oloroso Sherry casks, with a sweet, batch-distilled grain whiskey.” Worth trying again – the next time I will be taking notes.
Chivas Regal 12 year old blended Scotch whisky.
Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey, White Label
This is the second time I’ve tried Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey, White Label. Just doesn’t appeal to my tastes. I’m not getting much in the way of pleasant flavor.
As a comparison I tried Courvoisier Cognac VS. It was surprisingly whisky-like, but it had hints of unpleasant organics. I gave it a chance over a couple of days, but I just didn’t like it whatsoever.
5/1/16 Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
This has a high rye content (28%), aged at least 6 years in charred American white oak. Made in the Four Roses distillery. Standing out as something to try regularly. Smooth and flavorful. Bourbon whiskey is always at least 51% corn, but Bulleit is notable for a high rye content, 28% of the mash bill. 91 proof. Quite affordable, too.
Gentleman Jack – I just don’t get the popularity of Jack Daniels. Never liked it. Although Jack is a bourbon, it is marketed as a “Tennessee whiskey”, which is a made-up marketing term, with no real meaning. Although I don’t enjoy regular Jack, Gentleman Jack is an upscale version, and said to be worth trying. It is charcoal-mellowed twice. One before and once after the ageing process. Supposed to be produce a cleaner flavor. Maybe to others, but I found it quite distasteful.
Chivas Regal – Blended Scotch Whisky, 12 year old. A decent drink.
Eagle Rare Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
Aged 10 years in charred American White Oak barrels. 90 proof. Tastes sweet, and a little tart. Smooth body, well balanced.
Maker’s Mark Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
Served here with Lindt Excellence blackberry dark chocolate. Seemed quite a bit like Blanton’s – which is excellent.
My father’s last bottle of whisky. Crown Royal, blended Canadian. L,Chayim, Abba. Our tradition is to say, זיכרונו לברכה – Zichrono li’vrachah, may your memory be for a blessing. Every time I think of my family, and look at my daughter, and know how much she loves you, I know that it already has been a blessing.
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight – over the rocks, this is excellent!. At 100 proof, it does need ice or water. But just an amazing, clean palate.
Chivas Regal – Excellent, straight or over the rocks. Yes, it’s blended, but damn fine.
Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky – 12 year – Clean, good taste, a bit harsher than the Chivas Regal or Knob Creek.
Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon – great! But expensive. In the same class as Knob Creek.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye – Blended Canadian Whisky. Harsher than a few of the others that I have tasted. It does have a distinctive taste, probably due to it’s high rye content. The rye aspect of it is refreshing, but as a straight drink, too much for me. Good with ginger ale.
American Honey (Bourbon Whisky) – I wasn’t expecting this. I thought that this might be whiskey with hints of honey, but it is more of a flavored whisky liquor. Far sweeter than I expected, which may be what some people want. But not what I am looking for.
“Kiddush קִדּוּשׁ Club” refers to an informal group of Jewish adults who congregate during or after Shabbat (שַׁבָּת, Sabbath) prayer services to make kiddush over wine or liquor, and socialize. Traditionally it has been a male-bonding experience, especially in the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish communities. – Wikipedia
There have been kiddush clubs in shuls for as long as there have been shuls. Making a לְחַיִּים “l’chaim” after davening is one of the unique aspects of Judaism; our belief that the mundane parts of life can be elevated to a higher status through prayer is one of the central parts of our faith.
We eat, sleep, drink, etc. with a blessing. The blessing makes the action holy, not just through making it, but also through the reflection one gets from pausing before the act to stop and make the blessing. We think about what we are going to do and we have the intention to perform the act after a religious moment. We bring holiness to these acts through the blessing, through the thought and through our commitment.
Judaism has no prohibition on alcoholic beverages, in fact, one of our most important and sacred acts is to consecrate shabbat and holidays with the kiddush (blessing) over wine. If proper wine is not available, any kosher alcohol or juice may be substituted. It’s not about the drink, it’s about the kiddush.
Kiddush clubs meet any time after the Shacarit service…A quick l’chaim, a little shmaltz herring on a TamTam, maybe some smoked fish or more. Then back to the service and Musaf, refreshed, well fed and ready.
Praised are you, Adonai our God, who rules the universe, through whose word all things exist. – traditional blessing before having whiskey.