Friday, March 25, 2011

Laprhoaigian updates from the podcast!

I recently posted our podcast to the Laphroaig USA Facebook page.  Not a fan yet?  Why not?  Go do it.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

Welcome back.  If you listened to the podcast, you heard me say I didn't know a few things.  Laphroaig's USA Ambassador, Mr. Brooking himself, was kind enough to contact me and explain some of the things I didn't know, or didn't have quite right.

I can't say enough how much I appreciate him taking the time to do that.  It makes one feel like a true Friend of Laphroaig, and not just a dollar sign.  He even thanked me for representing their product, which truly made my day!

On to the information.  Some of this may not make much sense if you didn't listen to the podcast, so here is a link if you missed it.  Episode 16.

There were a lot of questions on barrels I couldn't answer.  Laphroaig only uses their barrels once.  Those barrels are used American bourbon barrels.  When they receive the barrels, they undergo a "de-char/re-char" process.  They scrape the char out of the barrels and re-fire them to reinvigorate the oils in the wood.

After they're done, they sell the barrels to the whisky blenders.  When the blenders are done, they'll sell the barrels to grain whisky producers.

Yeast was a big question.  I never hear it talked about.  Simon tells me Laphroaig has one of the longest fermentation times in the industry - up to 90 hours.  They use a Mauri brewer's yeast and let it ferment out to completion.  Anywhere from 45 to 90 hours.

I did make one real mistake: the Laphroaig Quarter Cask's whiskies are from 5 to 11 years old, not 3 and up as I said.  Also, the bourbon barrels are 200 liters, not 200 gallons.  The quarter casks are 100 liters.  Why not 50?  Because a quarter cask is a quarter of a 500 liter sherry butt.

Simon pointed out that peat is not specifically used as a flavoring agent.  The burning peat is used to start the drying process of the malted barley.  After 15-18 hours of using peat, they switch to force-blown air using the residual heat from the stills.  They dry the barley to 2% moisture content.

He also told me about a smoke-bomb, which I can't wait to try: like an Irish car bomb, but drop a shot of Laphroaig into a glass of oatmeal stout.  I just happen to have some oatmeal stout on tap right now...

So thanks again to Simon Brooking and Laphroaig.  I look forward to more products and tastings in the future!  Slainte!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whiskey podcast in the books

The episode was a lot of fun to record.  My Scottish accent is awful, but the episode was a lot of fun and very educational.

Click here to check it out and let me know what you think!  Episode 16 in the archives.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Talking about whisky on a beer podcast tonight!

I really wanted to get this out earlier, but you know what they said about the best laid plans...

Tonight, 3/19 starting at 8PM EST, we will be broadcasting Final Gravity Podcast live, including a video feed.

I'll be talking about whisky, and I'm sure we'll make at least some effort to tie it into beer.

So please join us!  We love audience participation.  Check out the UStream broadcast here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

As I sit here sipping a dram of Laphroaig 18, I realize just how long it's been since I've made a post!  I started a new job in February.  My hours have been longer and I've had a lot less free time.

I am planning to attend another tasting in Hoboken on March 22nd.  It is once again given by Simon Brooking, but this time he's representing Ardmore.  I was fortunate enough to sample one of their offerings at the last tasting, and it was good enough that I brought a bottle home with me.

So what do I talk about?  I would love to hear your suggestions on things you'd like to discuss.

I'll answer one question: how do I decide what to buy when I go into a liquor store?  I start by looking at whiskies I've never had before.  After that, I usually spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what I feel like trying.  Being familiar with the various regions helps here.  I know what to expect from an Islay, or a Speyside.

Price is always a consideration, of course.  However, I don't worry about it too much.  A bottle of whisky will last me several months, and the difference between a $40 and an $80 bottle isn't really much amortized over a few months.

But even if you don't know a Lowland from a Highland, be adventurous.  Try the one with the label you like best.  It's always worked for me!