Unusual Drinks (Part 1): Grand Teton Brewing Gose, Pisco Porton, La Caravedo Pisco, Fos Liqueur, and Stolen Smoked Rum

pisco-portonThere is something very satisfying about having a go-to drink. After a long day of work and kid care, a glass of whiskey is very welcome. The Kosar house bourbons include Four Roses Small BatchBuffalo Trace, Weller 12-year (and Special Reserve), and Woodford Reserve. Big bottles of Bulleit and Old Forester can be had for a song, and are oh-so worth it. My preferred Tennessee firewater is George Dickel — the 8-year, usually, and the 12-year if I feel like I’ve earned it.

And don’t get me started on the glories of gin. Plymouth martini’s, Beefeater gin and tonics… these are the drinks that make the gloaming bright. And we are in the golden age of gin.

Some days, however, I want something different, something that will throw a screwball at my palate and brain. So I roam, and crack open things that make my brain think “Whaaaat?” look or give me an unsettled, nervous feeling.

Starting this bibacious journey, I aim for something light — Gose (pronounced Goes-uh). This German-style of beer features can be hard to find in the U.S.A. It’s a strange brew, that is made with a lot of wheat and is both salty and tart. (Most beers tend toward the bitter side of the flavor spectrum, with America’s mega-IPA’s being the bitterest of them all.) Fortunately, Grand Teton Brewing of Idaho produces a delicious Gose. It is spiced with coriander, which tops off the riot of flavors.

Moving right along to the potent stuff, Pisco began pouring into America in the past decade. It is the South American cross between brandy and grappa. Like brandy, Pisco is wine distilled into spirit; like grappa, Pisco usually is not aged. Pisco Porton is very fine brand, that offers up slightly sweet and herbal heat. La Caravedo is another Pisco worth a look — it is lighter, dryer, and gentler than Porton.

Wandering further into white spirits, we come to Fos, a Greek liqueur made from the mastiha tree sap. This is one of the stranger drinks I have ever tasted, and I say that as a compliment. The nose is surreal — it smells like bark, and in the mouth the hooch has a light sweetness that is utterly dissonant from the aroma. A sip of Fos takes your taste into a whole new realm of possibility.

Closing out this trip into unusual drinks, we go dark. Flavored rums are plentiful these days, and Stolen Smoked Rum is a recent and wild addition to the bunch. Rum from the Caribbean (Trinidad?) is aged in whiskey casks, then injected with coffee, vanilla, and Moroccan fenugreek (a clover-like herb found in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Indian subcontinent. That fenugreek is used to increase maternal milk supply and constipation is a confounding discovery). This liquor floods the mouth and head with intense flavors, the Arabica coffee notes being the most intense. Mixed with lime and ginger beer, it makes a robust Dark and Stormy.

Variety is the spice of life, and thanks to globalism and the dynamism of capitalism tipplers have more drinks to explore than ever.

(This post first appeared on the American Spectator.)


Tonight’s Tipple: Grand Teton Brewing Company Black Cauldron Imperial Stout

Source: AlcoholReviews.com
Source: AlcoholReviews.com

Grand Teton of Victor, Idaho makes terrific beers. This stout is another one of their “cellar reserves.” It serves up sweet chocolate and roasted notes. Black Cauldron is a really rich brew, a meal unto itself, and a real delight on a cool night. Anyone who enjoys big stouts (like Brooklyn Chocolate Stout and Mackeson XXX) will really dig this beer. (Rating: Excellent)

Read more about it at http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com/BCIS.html.


Grand Teton Brewing Co. Double Vision Doppelbock

Grand Teton Brewing Co Double Vision DopplebockYeah, we like this brew.  This bottle-conditioned beer is 8% alcohol by volume, and very flavorful.  Quoth the brewery:

Our Double Vision Doppelbock is brewed with Idaho 2-Row Pale and German Munich, CaraAroma, CaraMunich and de-husked Carafa malts to an original gravity of 24 Plato (1.096 SG). The malts provide a dark leather color with ruby notes, a luxurious tan head, and a bready aroma with a hint of smoke. It is lightly spiced with Liberty hops, an American version of the noble German Hallertau Mittelfruh, and fermented with lager yeast from a monastery brewery near Munich. In the traditional manner, Double Vision is fermented cold (48 F) and lagered a full 10 weeks for smoothness.

It is one the the brewery’s “cellar reserve” beers—-brews they bring out at various times of the year—so Double Vision won’t be around for long.

You can try to locate some bottles by contacting the Grand Teton folks at http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com.


Blue Ice Vodka

The first thing about Blue Ice (80 proof) that will grab you is the bottle: oblongish, icy blue tint, no paper label. Look upon it after it has sat in the freezer for a time and you’ll get the impression that it drifted from a glacier- frost coated and the back of the bottle has a hewn-from-ice texture.

Blue Ice is made in America, in Idaho, to be specific, from Russet potatoes. It’s four times distilled and a five-stage filtration process.  It costs only about $20 a bottle and what bang for the buck it provides! It’s extremely smooth, and when super chilled it offers a faint toffee note. As it warms it becomes sweeter, shows an almost charcoal like note, and generally becomes more fragrant. That said, it’s not as sweet and flavorful as some of the Polish vodkas (which can boom with nuts and toffee).  Thus, if you want smooth, easy vodka that still has a pleasant flavor, Blue Ice delivers (Rating****1/4).

To see if our retailer currently has this vodka, click SHOP FOR VODKA and type “Blue Ice” or “Vodka” or “Idaho” in the search engine and click the magnifying glass image. For further details or to see the cool packaging, surf to BlueIceVodka.com or contact the folks at 21st Century Spirits in Rigby, Idaho.


American Harvest Organic Spirit (Organic Vodka)

Well, isn’t this an uber handsome bottle!  A liter bottle of American Harvest is a looming 14+ inches tall and 4 inches across.

We confess some confusion over the what and where.  This is a vodka, yet, its name does not carry the word “vodka”; rather, it is American Harvest Organic Spirit.  And what distillery makes this vodka is not listed on either the bottle or the website.  (We have our guess—Distilled Resources of Rigby.)  But perhaps we are just getting old and dense and should not be fussing over such things.

American Harvest (80 proof) is a new hooch with limited distribution so far.  Which is a pity, as it is pretty darn good.  It appears to be made from winter wheat, and offers a slightly sweet taste and a bit of a mocha note.  (Rating ****)

You can read more about American Harvest Organic Spirit at http://americanharvestspirit.com/, and you might be able to get a bottle via our preferred retailer.  A liter runs about $25.