Bourbon at Belmont

 

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On Saturday May 4th I attended the Bourbon at Belmont whiskey festival.

The event was held at Belmont Park which is located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, just over the New York City border in Nassau County. Belmont Park is one of the remaining thoroughbred horse racing facilities in the New York City area that at one time had several. The raceway was opened in 1905 and hosts the Belmont Stakes which is the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown. The first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby was held on this Saturday.

The festival was held in the Grand Stand overlooking the racetrack and featured over 30 whiskey.  Though advertised as a Bourbon event, it was an all-American (with one outlier, a Mexican distiller) whiskey event that featured many Rye and whiskey blends as well as Bourbon whiskey. In addition to whiskey, Bourbon barrel aged craft beer was served.

It was a “live” racing day with horseracing throughout the afternoon and a live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby later that afternoon. Of course while sipping on whiskey, you had the option to place a bet on any of the races.

There was a good selection of high end whiskey with a couple of new producers that I had never tried before.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Clyde May’s: Straight Rye, Straight Bourbon

Elijah Craig: Small Batch Bourbon

Finger Lakes Distilling: McKenzie Bourbon, McKenzie Bottled in Bond, McKenzie Wheated Bourbon

Hudson Whiskey: Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye, Maple Cask Rye

Hillrock Estate Distilling: Estate Single Malt, Solera Aged Bourbon

High West Distilling: American Prairie Bourbon, Double Rye, Campfire

Jefferson’s: Ocean Aged, Very Small Batch, Very Old Small Batch

Kings County Distilling: Straight Bourbon, Bottled in Bond

Larceny: Very Special Small Batch Bourbon

Montauk Hard Label: Original Whiskey

Russel’s Reserve: 10yr Straight Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon

Splinter Spirits: Slaughter House American Whiskey

Sierra Note Mexican Whiskey: Yellow, Black

Taconic Distilling: Dutchess Private Reserve, Barrel Strength Bourbon

Widow Jane Distilling: 10yr Bourbon, American Oak and Applewood Aged Rye

Whistle Pig Distilling: 10yr Straight Rye, 12yr Old World Cask Finish

Wild Turkey: Longbranch

 

 

Brooklyn Whiskey Fest Spring Edition 2019

 

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On Saturday March 30th I attended the Brooklyn Whiskey Festival which was held at an event space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at 141 Flushing Avenue.

This was my first event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an historical industrial zone that has been transformed into an industrial park with many commercial business that include a movie studio and a distillery.

The festival had an afternoon session and an evening session of which I attended. They served 100+ spirits, with a very nice selection of brown spirits such as Bourbon, Rye, American Whisky, Scotch and Irish whiskeys with some gin and vodka thrown in. Some of the usual big name and artisanal brands were in attendance pouring but I was also able to try some new brands as well. I enjoy a good Rye so I focused my attention on available Rye whiskey for the most part but sampled others as well.

Food vendors were on hand and a DJ provided the musical entertainment.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Black Button Distillery: Straight Bourbon, Citrus Forward Gin.

Brockmans: Gin.

Catoctin Creek: Single Barrel Rye.

Evan Williams: Single Barrel Vintage, 1783.

Endless West: Glyph Molecular Whiskey.

Four Roses: Small Batch Bourbon, Single Barrel Bourbon.

Glen Moray: Speyside Malt Scotch.

Hepple: Gin.

James F.C. Hyde: Sorgho Whiskey.

J.J. Corry: Irish Whiskey.

Pikesville: Straight Rye.

Red Saw: Rye, Bourbon.

Rittenhouse: Straight Rye.

Sagamore Spirit Distillery: Signature Rye, Double Oak Rye, Port Finish Rye.

Tommy Rotter Distillery: American Whisky, Gin.

Taconic Distillery: Founder’s Rye, Dutchess Private Reserve, Double Barrel Bourbon.

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey: Bourbon Cask Aged, Signature Reserve.

The Ambassador: Barrel Proof 12 year Rye.

The Senator: Barrel Proof 6 year Rye.

The Splinter Group: Whip Saw Rye, Straight Edge Bourbon, Slaughter House American Whisky.

Westland Single Malt Whiskey: American Oak, Sherry Wood, Peated Malt.

 

Brooklyn Whiskey Fest

 

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On Saturday evening, December 1st I attended the Brooklyn Whiskey Festival. The event featured over 100 styles of whiskey and craft spirits that included All-American Ryes and Bourbon and locally produced whiskey from New York State in addition to Japanese Whiskey, Irish Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Tequila, Gin and Vodka. There were also some specialty spirits that were flavored with ginger, lemon and in one case, root beer.

There were many spirits both brown and clear from New York State and New York City because of the explosion of new distilleries to open in both the state and city. That’s because in the early part of the 21st century the state of New York loosened the post Prohibition rules which made it difficult to open a new distillery. The distilleries are able to take advantage of the agricultural bounty of the state to use those local products to make the various craft spirits.

There were plenty of big name labels at the event as well as small, artisanal producers pouring. To focus my efforts I avoided clear spirits and concentrated on the whiskeys, stopping for an occasional Negroni for a change of pace.

The Festival was held at the Brooklyn Expo Center located at 72 Noble Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Lately, this venue has become increasingly popular for wine and spirit events.  

Some of what I sampled:

 

American Whiskey

Bulleit: 95 rye, bourbon

Bernheim: small batch wheat whiskey

Catoctin Creek: organic rye

Copper & Kings: reserve cask brandy, bourbon

Elijah Craig: small batch bourbon

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel: select, rye, barrel proof

Journey Man Bourbon

Jefferson’s: very small batch, ocean

Michter’s: straight rye, sour mash, American whiskey

Misunderstood: ginger spiced whiskey

Old Forester: old fine whiskey, original batch

Pine Barrens Single malt

Rough Rider: the big stick rye, bullmoose rye, straight bourbon

Rocktown Bourbon

Ragtime Rye

Taconic Distillery: straight bourbon, founders rye

Van Brunt Stillhouse: rye, bourbon

 

Others

IWAI: Japanese Mars Whisky

J. J. Corry Irish Whisky

Sexton Irish Whisky: single malt

Root Out: root beer whiskey

The Real McCoy Rum: 3yr, 5yr, 12yr

The Funk: Jamaican Pot Still Rum

Chief Gowanus Gin

 

 

Rum Fest New York 2018

 

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On September 29th, the Rum Lab.com held their 2nd annual rum festival in New York City. They have produced similar festivals in Puerto Rico, California, the Midwest and Seattle. The Rum Lab is “focused on becoming the official rum expo throughout the northern east coast.”

Rum is made around the world but most associated with the Caribbean. Generally, there are three principle styles of rum in the Caribbean that reflect the terroir, climate and who colonized the country. There is the Spanish style ron which is molasses based and are generally lighter in body, the English style rum which are also molasses based and tend to be bolder, and the French style rhum agricole which are based on sugar cane juice and have many of the place of origin rules that wine have, they tend to taste of herbs and the earth.

The event was held at Sounds of Brazil, a music venue located at 204 Varick Street in lower Manhattan. There were a good selection of rum from around the world and since I enjoy aged rum, I began the tasting by trying whatever was the oldest rum at the table.

Some of what I sampled:

Montanya (Colorado): Oro, Exclusiva, Anniversaria.

Owney’s (New York City) Distiller’s Reserve, Superior Quality.

English Harbor Reserve (Antigua): 5yr, 10yr, port cask finish, sherry cask finish.

Chairmans’ Reserve (St. Lucia): The forgotten cask, 1931.

Ron Barcelo (Dominican Republic): 30yr Anniversary Reserve, Imperial.

J Bally (Martinique): 2002.

Clairin (Haiti): Sajous, Vaval, Casimir.

Diplomatico  (Venezuela): Single vineyard 2002, Ambassador.

Plantation Rum (Barbados): XO 20th Anniversary.

Clement Rhum (Martinique) VSOP, XO.

Flor de Cana (Nicaragua): 18yr, 25yr.

Rhum JM (Martinique): 1999 Reserve.

Denizen (Jamaica): 3yr, 8yr.

Barcardi (Puerto Rico): Limitada.

Boukman (Haiti): Botanical Rhum.

 

 

Mexico In A Bottle

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Mexico In A Bottle is a website founded in 2014 by Susan Coss and Max Garrone that celebrates “food, art, mezcal, life”. They sponsor North America’s biggest agave spirit tasting, an annual tasting and celebration of more than 500 years of Mezcal history and culture. In 2018 the tour has stopped and will stop in Washington DC, San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco and on September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, the tour stopped in New York City.

The event took place at the House of Yes, a nightclub, performing arts space and event venue located at 2 Wychoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over 50 brands were represented and considering that Mezcal, unlike Tequila which can be made with only with blue agave, Mezcal can be made from up to 30 varieties of agave which means that many producers make a wide range of Mezcal from different varietals as well as from different villages. There were a staggering quantity of spirits at this event. .

I recognized a handful of producers but for the most part many of the producers were “mom and pop” operations that still make Mezcal in the traditional way and most of the labels were unknown to me. Most had the signature smokiness that Mezcal are known for but many had more nuanced flavors of grass, herbs, butter, stone fruit. I would have loved to pick two or three producers and go through their line to taste the differences in the types of agave used. Personally, unlike rum, I like my Mezcal/Tequila joven, clear instead of aged. Interesting food item at the event were crispy Chapulin (aka grasshopper).

Some of what I sampled:

Erstwhile Espadin, Cuishe, Espadin Limited Edition

Los Amantes Joven, Reposado

Wahaka Ensamble, Reposado con Gusano

Amaras Espadin, Cupreata

5 Sentidos Papalomentl, Sierra Negra

Mezcal Union El Viejo

Nuestra Soleda Del Rio, 3 Mezquitos

Los Siete Misterios Coyote, Barril

Mezcal Vago Tobala, Espadin

Nobile Coyote Jabali, Coyote

Mezcal Nacional Tobala, Ciral

Los Nahuales Espadin

Mezcal De Leyenda San Luis Potosi

Amormata Masparillo de La Cruz

Mezcal Los Javis Espadin

Ancho Reyes Chile Ancho Liqueur, Chile Poblano Liqueur

Blue Nectar Tequila Silver

 

Bacon & Bourbon At Astor Center

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The Astor Center is the event space of Astor Wine & Spirits which is located at 399 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. Throughout the year they hold all sorts of spirits, cocktails and wine events and classes at the Center.

On February 17th they held their 10th annual Bacon & Bourbon event. It was a walk-around tasting of over 60 All-American whiskey that was accompanied by copious amounts of bacon and bacon infused snacks (including ice cream). Many of the well-known whiskey companies were in attendance pouring their small production (and expensive) specialty whiskey as well as smaller not as well known producers many of which produced proprietary whiskey for Astor.  The event was open to the consumer and there were two sessions. I attended the afternoon session and it was a nice way to spend a snowy afternoon.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Jim Beam Masterpiece Bourbon

Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon

Maker’s Mark Astor Private Select Bourbon

Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Cask Strength Single Barrel (121°-125°)

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Bourbon

Booker’s Sip Awhile’ Small Batch Bourbon

Four Roses Astor Cask Strength Single Barrel Bourbon (122.2°)

Smooth Ambler Contradiction Bourbon

Barrell Bourbon Batch #12 Bourbon

Barrell Bourbon Full Proof Astor Barrel (126° 174 bottles produced)

Black Dirt Bourbon

Black Dirt Single Barrel Bourbon

Charles Medley 12yr Old Kentucky Bourbon

Kings County Distillery Peated Bourbon

Balcones Brimstone Smoked Corn Whisky

Balcones Texas Old Single Malt Whisky

Pikesville Straight Rye

Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye

A.D. Laws Straight Rye

A.D. Laws Bottled In Bond Rye

 

 

Cider On Long Island

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Cider was once a staple of the early American diet. New laws promoting craft beverages is creating a cider renaissance in New York State, the second largest producers of apples in the United States.

On the north fork long island wine country, a couple of wineries bottle cider and a couple of cider houses opened showcasing cider made from local and New York State apples.

 

Lieb Cellars  13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue. The tasting room is in a converted barn.

Rumor Mill sparkling cider: Made from east end apples, yellow with tints with green apples and mowed grass on the nose.

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Woodside Orchard  729 Main Road, Aquebogue. Not only do they make hard cider but pies and doughnuts as well.

Traditional Cider: Pale yellow, fizzy when poured with greenish tints, crisp off dry with tart apple and ginger notes.

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Riverhead Cider House  2711 Sound Avenue Calverton. New place that opened recently. On a slow superbowl Sunday they had a good crowd. Large room with entertainment and a deli. Large selection of local beer and cider.

Prickly Pear Rosé Cider: I asked for the driest cider and this is what they poured me, amber in color, cotton candy on the nose, off dry with cherry candy notes on the fruit.