Dietary Guidelines for drinking unveiled

NEW YORK -- By now, most of us are used to seeing eating guidelines for healthy lifestyles disseminated by various organizations. But, aside from the occasional study linking wine and cardiac health, we don't see many drinking dietary guidelines.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) filled that void with a health briefing on Wednesday, showcasing the role alcohol can play in a healthy adult lifestyle, as contained in the recently released federal Dietary Guidelines.

“A large body of scientific evidence suggests that alcohol can be part of a healthy adult lifestyle, but this must be balanced with the known detrimental effects of excessive consumption,” said Dr. Eric B. Rimm, the associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who served as a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. “The bottom line is the dietary guidelines note the importance of sensible lifestyle choices -- including moderate alcohol consumption -- which can lower the risk of chronic disease.”

He emphasized that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. He also said it may help to keep cognitive function intact with age, which was added in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines on alcohol.

Among highlights of the guidelines, released jointly every five years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS):

• The consumption of alcohol can have beneficial or harmful effects, depending on the amount consumed, age and other characteristics of the person consuming the alcohol.

• Moderate drinking is defined as consuming up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

• A standard drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of 80 proof (40% alcohol) distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol). Each of these standard drinks contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol.

• Moderate evidence suggests that moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages is not associated with weight gain.

• The potential risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption are the same for beer, wine or distilled spirits.

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Scottish distiller using Crimean wine barrels

Crimea region is shown in dark green, Ukraine in light green.

The widespread practice of employing such used barrels as American white oak bourbon and Spanish Olorosso sherry casks in finishing the maturation process of Scottish whiskies is getting a new twist: used Ukranian wine barrels.

The Glenglassaugh Distillery in Portsroy, Scotland, recently received its first shipment of barrels used by the Massandra winery, the oldest in Ukraine.
The casks already have been filled at the Highlanda distillery, some with new spirit for maturation, others with older spirit for finishing.

Sampling is planned for a year's time to check on the progress of the maturation.

The peninsula in the Ukraine that juts unto the Crimean Sea has been home to a wine culture since the 4th century B.C., according to analysis of artifacts such as grape presses and urns found there. Wine grape cultivation didn't begin in the northern part of the country until about the 11th Century A.D.

Massandra is a state-owned facility that in the days of the Soviet Union was the largest supplier of the wines in the USSR. According to Wikipedia, "It came to a disaster in 1986. About 800 km of the vineyards were destroyed, when Mikhail Gorbachev started a campaign for the delimitation of the consumption of alcohol in USSR. Since 2000, the production as well as the export of the wines increased rapidly."

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Summer start for Montana's newest micro-distillery

MISSOULA, MT -- Montana's newest micro-distillery is targeted for a summer opening. Right now, Montogomery Distillery's fermenting equipment is being manufactured in Germany, the center of such production.

Ryan and Jenny Montgomery, husband-wife co-owners of the new enterprise, are beginning renovations on a former tire distributorship building on Main Street -- yes, it is Missoula's main street -- that will house a still and tasting room.

Their initial runs of whiskey will have to be aged for at least three years before being out on the market. Thus, their first commercial products will be vodka and gin, using as many local ingredients as are available.

Ryan attended distillery school in Spokane, WA, then studied at the Springbank Distillery in Scotland. The 183-year-old distillery is the only independent on the country.

Other distilleries in Montana's young and still-fledgling industry include RoughStock Distillery in Bozeman; Flathead Distillers in Eureka; Ridge Distiller in Kalispell; Vigilante Distilling in Helena, and Whistling Andy's, which just opened this year in Bigfork.

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Premium Georgia vodka launched in U.S.

Photo provided
Georgia -- the former Soviet republic as opposed to the sometime U.S. state (think the Civil War) -- is known for a few unenviable things, political repression and governmental corruption among them.

But for the average American consumer that is balanced by Eristoff, a damned fine vodka that this week announced it is entering the U.S. market.

The brand is owned by Bacardi Global Brands (Grey Goose vodka, Bacardi rums), which is counting on the premium-level Eristoff to give it a leg up in that category just as its other spirits labels have done.

The grain vodka is triple distilled and charcoal filtered. The distiller says it is made from an original 1806 recipe created by one Prince Ivane Eristoff in the northwest Georgia province of Racha. The last members of the Eristoff family were Prince Nicolai Alexandrovich Eristoff, whose name appears on every bottle of the vodka, who died in 1970, and his sister, Olga, who died in 1991. Neither had children.

The family logo is a wolf howling at a crescent moon, homage to the gray wolf which has for centuries been part of Georgia's and neighboring Russia's folklore. The logo is embossed on the bell-shaped Eristoff bottle with the imperial crown, Written in the Cyrillic alphabet around the base of the bottle is "Original Recipe of Prince Eristoff of 1806."

Eristoff is being made available in three of its five expressions: Original (80 proof), Red (40 proof), with a red color and sloe berry flavoring, and Black (40 proof), a dark color from its wild berries flavoring. Lime- and caramel-flavored versions available in Europe are not part of the U.S. launch. Suggested retail prices: $13.99 for a 750 ml bottle, $16.99 for a 1-liter bottle and $23.99 for a 1.75 liter bottle.

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Master of Malt releases new Scotch liqueur

Photo provided
Master of Malt today announced the release of a new whisky liqueur aimed at single malt Scotch whisky drinkers.

It is made exclusively with sherry-matured, 10-year-old single malt whisky "from a very famous Speyside distillery," the English company said in a somewhat secretive statement. "It is flavored with many Christmassy spices including cinnamon and cloves, and two kinds of orange peel."

The whisky purveyor suggests trying the liqueur neat or in a Rusty Nail cocktail. (The classic cocktail is a 2½-to-1 proportion of Scotch whisky and Drambuie -- a Scotch-based liqueur --  garnished wiht a lemon peel. This new liqueur would sub for the Drambuie.)
Says Ben Ellefsen, M of M sales director, "We wanted to go against the grain and say 'Here’s a liqueur that a whisky connoisseur can enjoy.' ... The flavors we added were chosen to complement the Scotch, and bring it to a new level –- this is in contrast to many of the mass-marketed liqueurs which use huge levels of sweetness and flavorings to hide the lack of complexity in the whiskies they are based on."
Master of Malt 10 Year Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur is priced at £26.95 in the UK, which translates to about $44 U.S. Purchasing information is available from the company online.
M of M is located in Crowborough, East Sussex, England.

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New products, new facility for Heaven Hill

Activities at Heaven Hill Distilleries have been fast and furious in recent weeks.

• The Kentucky company's Burnett's Flavored Vodka line has been expanded by the addition of Limeade and Orange Cream, expanding its range of flavored vodkas to 23.

The first 21 (shown above right) are  Blueberry, Cherry, Citrus, Coconut, Cranberry, Espresso, Fruit Punch, Grape, Lime, Mango, Orange, Peach, Pink Lemonade, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Sour Apple, Strawberry, Sweet Tea, Vanilla and Watermelon.

The vodkas are available in 1.75L, 1.0L, 750ml, and 50ml sizes, bottled at 35% alcohol by volume (70 proof). Suggested retail price is $9.99 for a 750ml.

• The company's Christian Brothers Brandy has added a Honey version, being rolled out nationally this month.

• Yesterday, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear cut the symbolic ribbon at Heaven Hill's Bardstown, KY, headquarters to help dedicate Rickhouse "J." The new whiskey aging warehouse is part of a nearly $5 million expansion to the company’s bourbon barrel storage capacity, the second largest in the world at 900,000 barrels.

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Knob Creek unveils its first single-barrel

The Knob Creek distillery has just released its first-ever single barrel bourbon, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve.

The new bourbon expression is naturally aged for a nine years and bottled at a very potent 60% alcohol by volume (120 proof)).

Each barrel of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is cut with water and bottled individually in order to preserve its integrity and unique flavor profile. This process allows for variations in taste, color and aroma in each batch of bourbon.

"We pay close attention to the barrels we select for Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve as we want to ensure that we're bottling an extraordinary bourbon with a complex balance of aroma and taste," said Fred Noe, seventh-generation Beam family distiller. "I recommend enjoying this new bourbon neat, on the rocks or cut with a bit of water in order to best appreciate its depth and fullness of flavor."

The new bourbon is available in limited quantities and retails for a suggested price of $39.99 for the 750ml bottle.

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RTDs added to Jack Daniel's lineup

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RTD. By now, the acronym is becoming well known in the beverage world: RTD, ready to drink. As of next month, it will be even more so when Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey-based RTDs are released to the U.S. market.

The beverages will contain 5% alcohol by volume (10 proof) and be available in both Jack & Cola and Jack & Ginger flavors in early March, with Jack & Diet Cola arriving in late March.

All varieties will be available in four-packs of 12-ounce recyclable aluminum bottles -- which the company says are the first aluminum bottles on the market -- with four-packs of 12-ounce recyclable cans available in select states. Suggested retail price for the four-pack: $9.99.

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The latest tastings from the spirits world

What do these things have in common?
  • Two Irish folk heroes
  • A South American brandy
  • A “new” Scotch based on a 108-year-old recipe
  • The first maple-finished Canadian whisky
  • A distiller’s return to bourbon production
They all are newly reviewed on my Dowd’s Tasting Notes blog. Join me there for all the details and background information.

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Collingwood maple finished whisky a genuine eye-catcher

Photo provided

The range of artistry inherent in liquor bottles has been growing exponentially in recent years as more and more brands and expressions vie for shelf space and consumer attention.

That has made me an unabashed fan of the designs to the point at which I am loathe to toss away any empties. (Just ask my friend Terry who has a hobby of making lamps from bottles.)

That is why I was so taken with the newest Brown-Forman  product -- Collingwood, the only maplewood mellowed Canadian whisky. Although it is made at B-F's Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario, it is an entirely separate product, with a different mash still and different barrels.

Later this month it will make its debut in Florida, Kentucky, Texas and Louisiana, then be rolled out to other U.S. markets as the year wears on, carrying a suggested retail price of $26.99 for the 750ml bottle.

I was fortunate to acquire a bottle in advance and immediately was taken with the unusual design, created in-house by the media and design group at Brown-Forman in Louisville. It has a flask shape with a slightly concave back, an over-flap covering and silver-colored seals front and back. The label is black with silver raised lettering.

Once the overflap is removed, a standard screw-on cap, sealed with black strips, is revealed.

And, once that cap is unscrewed? Ah, for that you'll have to click over to Dowd's Tasting Notes to find out. See you there.

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Old Pogue aiming for old home works

Maysville (KY) Ledger-Independent 
MAYSVILLE, KY -- The Old Pogue Distillery is hoping to bring bourbon making back to Maysville and Mason County.

On Monday, members of the Maysville Board of Adjustments will be asked to consider granting the Pogue family a conditional use permit for production of bourbon at its location on West Second Street.  The Ryan-Pogue House, located across the road from where the original Pogue Distillery once stood, was purchased by the Pogue family in 2009.

The application isn't for a large scale distillery, but rather a small scale distillery. ...Peter Pogue said ... if the Board of Adjustments grants the conditional use permit, the next step is to apply to the federal government for a distilled spirits permit. ...

The Old Pogue Distillery now produces its Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in Bardstown, but Pogue said bringing a small scale distillery operation back to Maysville "would be the fulfillment of a family dream."
Go here for the complete story.

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Bitters operation moves to Brooklyn

The original recipe.
BROOKLYN, NY -- For years, the Fee Brothers operation in Rochester that makes an extensive line of bitters, was THE king of bitters in the state. Now it has some competition: Bittermens Very Small Batch Bitters.
The company, originally a Boston enterprise, was founded in 2007 by the entrepreneurial husband-wife team of Avery and Janet Glasser. They recently moved it to 216-218 Conover Street in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, where they have found better production and distribution facilities.

The couple got involved in the boutique bitters game while living in San Francisco in early 2007. Their first commercial product was Xocolatl Mole Bitters, made from a high proof spirit and a variety of herbs, peels and spices to create an extract of a traditional Mexican cooking sauce. They then moved the operation to rented quarters in Boston, but phased that out over the past summer as they migrated the operation here.

Besides consulting with bars and restaurants looking to develop signature in-house formulations, Bittermens produces its original recipe as well as Hopped Grapefruit, ‘Elemakule Tiki, Boston Bittahs and Burlesque Bitters.

There is no retail service at their new HQ, so if Bittermens interest you you'll have to contact the Glassers directly.

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A Bloody Mary heaven in the Big Apple

NEW YORK -- When it comes to ordering a Bloody Mary, your choices usually are with or without alcohol. Period.

True, recipes vary from establishment to establishment, even country to country, but the basics are the basics. In a move to relieve the monotony, the newly revamped Rum House in the Edison Hotel that offers a huge range of cocktails is offering six different weekend Bloody Marys from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

They are:

• The Classic (Polish vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, tomato juice and hot sauce, garnished with a celery stick)

• The Caesar (like The Classic except this is the Canadian version, so Clamato juice is used instead of tomato juice)

• Con Sangre (tomato juice, tequila or mezcal, habañero hot sauce, garnished with a pickled carrot)

• The Andrew Jackson (White Rye whiskey, smoked paprika, tomato juice, garnished with hot salami and olives)

• The Colonial (tomato juice, gin, sriracha hot chile sauce and basil, garnished with cucumber)

• The Rum House (tomato juice, white Haitian rum, ginger, allspice and a pickled pepper; garnished with a piece of candied ginger)

Each one goes for $12, except the Mezcal version of the Con Sangre which is $17, a steep surcharge for a lesser spirit than the tequila-infused version.

The Edison Hotel is located at 228 West 47th Street between 8th and Broadway.

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SKYY adds two new vodka infusions

SKYY vodka has added a pair of additions to its line of all-natural infusions.

The new flavors are Dragon Fruit and Blood Orange, just now being rolled out nationally.

Bottles carry a suggested retail price of $18.49 for the 750ml size and $26.49 for the one-liter size.

SKYY, an American label, already had citrus, cherry, grape, raspberry, passion fruit, pineapple and ginger infusions.

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'Bar Rescue' coming to Spike TV

Host Jon Taffer
Watching Gordon Ramsay harangue people on his "Kitchen Nightmares" Fox series makes me want a drink. I wonder if a new Spike TV series called "Bar Rescue" will make me want a sandwich.

Spike TV, which has ordered 10 episodes, says "Host Jon Taffer will use his in-your-face style along with his renowned method of management called Taffer Dynamics to transform the bar into a vibrant, profitable establishment. He will utilize everything from state-of-the-art science such as eye tracking technology, monitoring of body temperature and even reading pheromone output in patrons in order to create an ambitious plan of action.

"Taffer will focus on one establishment per episode from cities all around the country. Taffer’s wife, Nicole, will appear in the show along with a rotating group of experts."

Taffer’s resume lists owning and operating bars, nightclubs and restaurants as well as serving as a consultant in those fields. His client list includes Ritz-Carlton Hotels, InterContinental Hotel Group, Marriott Hotels, Molson-Coors Canada, DB Brewery-New Zealand, Rainforest Café, The Hollywood Palace and Hooters.

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Early Times returning to the bourbon world

Photo by Bill Dowd
Early Times, once a major player in the bourbon industry, has been absent from that category for 28 years. That absence is in the process of being rectified.

The brand is returning to its bourbon roots, releasing Early Times 354 Bourbon to the market early this month in 17 markets. "354" is the original permit number for the Louisville, KY, distillery. The 80-proof (40% abv) bourbon will sell for $15.99 per 750ml bottle.

The distiller will continue to make and distribute its Early Times Kentucky Whisky as a companion product.

Brown-Forman, the drinks giant that has owned the label since 1923, changed Early Times, which had been the world’s best-selling bourbon in the 1950s, from a Kentucky bourbon to a Kentucky whisky in 1983. It got its name when its original maker, Jack Beam, built his own distillery at a place called Early Times Station in Kentucky.

"Early Times is the second oldest continually produced Kentucky whiskey on the market, second only to Brown-Forman’s Old Forester," said Chris Morris, master distiller for Brown-Forman.

The new bourbon comes in a retro design bottle similar to the 1930s Early Times bottle.

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