Tess and Mark Szamatulski, Clone Brews: 2nd Edition

Tess and Mark Szamatulski, Clone Brews: 2nd Edition, Recipes for 200 Brand-Name Beers (MA: Storey Publishing, 2010)
Home-brewing is fun, but let’s be honest—it is a bummer to work up a batch, wait weeks for it to be ready, open a bottle, then say, “Huh, this isn’t that good.”
Our advice?  Don’t brew blindly.
Here is a swell book for home-brewers.  Clone Brews includes recipes that aim to replicate some of the tasty beers around, like Guinness Extra Stout, Pilsner Urquell, Chimay Red, and more.

12/2010 AlcoholReviews.com 2010 Gift Guide

Need advice on what to give this year?

Well, then, peek at the AlcoholReviews.com 2010 Gift Guide.

We’ve re-examined the dozens of products we’ve reviewed over the past year or so and selected the top items for the gift guide.

There are beers, spirits, wines, books, a video, and an age-it-at-home whiskey kit.  Click here to scroll through the 20+ nifty gifts.

If after checking all these items out you still can’t figure out what to buy, well, feel free to send us an e-mail (alcoholreviews [at] gmail[dot]com).  Tell us roughly what you’re looking for and we’ll try to provide you with additional suggestions.


Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey

This is an interesting product. Bourbon, according to law, must contain at least 51% corn in it mashbill.  (The mashbill, put simply, is the grain recipe used to produce the whiskey.)  Many distillers use much higher portions of corn, and then toss in a little barley or rye.

This Tuthilltown Bourbon uses rye, wheat, and barley in addition to corn.  And it seems to use them in pretty significant proportions, as this whiskey is not as sweet as Bourbon usually is.  The rye adds a spiciness, and thee wheat and barley are less forward but present.

Although it is a solid 92 proof, it is very easy to sip neatly.  Very impressive.  (Rating ****1/2)

You can read more about this product at Tuthilltown.com., and you can order a bottle or two or three by clicking here or here.


Ribeiro Vina Mein 2008

Tired of the usual white wine selections at the grocery store?  Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigo… These wines all can be done very well (or very badly), but there’s more to white wine than these three varietals.

Take this Spanish white wine.  It is a combination of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello, 5% Loureiro, and 1% to 2% each of Albariño, Torrontés, Albilla and Caiño.  When’s the last time you had any of those grapes!

This bottle retails for $18 to $20, and it is a wonderful break in the routine.  It has a floral nose and one picks up a touch of honeysuckle.  In the mouth it is a little spicy and shows citrus and some hard-to-identify herbal notes.  It was a delight to sip, and would be terrific with seafood.  (Rating ****)

For further details, surf to the website of the U.S. Importer, De Maison Selections, and Astor Wines of New York City is selling it online.


Cardhu Single Malt Scotch Whisky 12 Years Old

We often get asked a question that goes, roughly, like this: “So, I want to get my father-in-law/uncle/boss a nice bottle of Scotch.  He likes single malts, but I don’t know much else.  And I want it to be something that is about, well, not over $50.”

An easy response for us is, “Cardhu 12 Year Old.”  We’ve a few reasons for this.

For one, just look at the bottle.  When gift-giving, appearance usually matters, and Cardhu just oozes class.  The bottle for this Speyside malt has a fat wooden stopper and is pinched at the sides.

The price is also right—you can find a fifth of Cardhu in the United States for $40 to $50. (Our retailer sells it online for $49.99.)

And when gift-giving, there’s nothing wrong with handing over a well-known brand of whisky, like Johnnie Walker Black or Glenfiddich.  But we think it adds a little something if the recipient opens the package and says, “Aaah, well, now what’s this?”

Lastly, there is the taste. Cardhu (80 proof) is neither overwhelming nor wimpy.  It offers a perfumey nose, and flavors of honey, caramel, pear, and a little iodine and peat.  It can be enjoyed neat or with a little water or ice.  (Rating ****)

The holidays looms; so get shopping!