Thursday, April 28, 2005

Is it Grappa, Marc,Baguciera,or Vodka ?

A recent controversy has been what is vodka. Or, what are the allowable ingredients for vodka.
Pressure from more or less traditional vodka countries within the EU to make a ruling that everything except grapes (see above for some of the names of those clear alcohol spirits) could be used to make vodka. Spirit made from grapes had to be called something else - usually a name with zero recognition beyond the country of origin and even within those countries the names had generally negative connotations. This was obviously a attempt at protectionism. This rule was recently shot down after a fight by the Gin and Vodka Association in England.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tequila is a mescal but mescal is not a Tequila

Mezcal is a distilled product of the agave plant family. There are over 30 varieties of agave that can be used. Tequila uses a specific one, the weber blue agave. It also comes from a specific area in Mexico. Mezcal can be made from several different species of agave and is usually made in the Oaxaca area of Mexico. Tequila is a form of mezcal that is rather specialized and is distingushed from other mezcals for the most part because of the unsavory reputation mezcal had for years.
A basic analogy is the differences between cognac and armagnac. Mezcal is the country cousin, much less well known, earthier and in it's case much more traditional in its preparation than tequila ( which again is a form of mezcal).
The 'worm' by the way is actually a butterfly larvae (read catapillar) and is not present in Tequila.
Also a new trend is to replace the 'worm' with a scorpion. Look for my upcoming reviews or mescals at

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Single Malt, Single Barrel, Single Single,Straight,Vatted Malts and Blends

Here are some other terms that can confuse and confound aspiring Whisk(e)y connoisseurs .

Single Malt: Usually applies to Scottish Whisky ( note lack of "e" ) or to whiskies ( again note Scottish spelling) that are trying to emulate the style. It means that the whisky comes from a single distillery and is not blended with whisky form another distillery but is probably the blending of a multiple barrel "dump" as it is called in the industry to create a distillery signature and consistent style.

Straight Whiskey: Whiskey that is made in a single distillery. The term or definition used in the United States ( for the most part) to describe what a Scot would call a single malt in terms of production ( not in taste !)

Single Barrel: This term is most commonly used in the United States to describe a bourbon whiskey (note the "e") that is from one distillery and bottled from one single barrel . Bourbon Whiskeys (again note spelling) are all single malts using the above definition although their composition and aging requirements set them apart in different ways. A single barrel bourbon is a further refinement in individual character as again the whiskey comes from a single barrel and is not blended with other barrels. That being said the barrels chosen usually represent a distillery style or signature that while consistent will vary within a certain range to keep peoples interest. Barrels to far outside the style are not selected as single barrels and will be used to blend "Straight" bourbon whiskey from the distillery or sold on the open market.

Single Single or Singleton: The Scottish version of a single barrel, see above. These are rarely done by the distilleries themselves and are usually encountered as merchant or independent bottling. You have to read the labels carefully as a merchant or independent bottling can be either a single malt or single single. If it is a single single it is usually referred to as a single cask bottling or singleton.

Vatted Malt: A blend of single malt whiskies only. No grain alcohol (rectified spirit) or other spirits can be added. It is a type of blend but is specific as to the type of ingredients. Just blended malt is a rather more slippery category as to allowed ingredients or components. That being said there are good blends out there. I am merely trying to distinguish the ingredients and definitions not the quality .

Blended Whisk(e)y: This is the most slippery term of the bunch. It usually means it is a blend of whiskey, grain alcohol and can include gods only know what else. Colorants, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, etc., There are some good blends out there that are outstanding examples of the blenders art but usually it means bottom shelf whisky that is cobbled together from various ingredients of doubtful origin.

Zen Riddles of Booze

Tequila is a mescal but mescal is not a Tequila, Cognac is a Brandy but a Brandy is not necessarily a Cognac, Bourbon is a Whiskey but not a Whisky, Scotch is a Whisky but not a Whiskey.
If you understand all this you do not need to read the next installment. If you don't, pour yourself a drink and read the next installment. Everything may not become clear but the headache will hurt less.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Paul Pacult, Jim Crile of The Glenlivet and Colin Scott of Chivas Brothers Picture By Mischa mack of the Thomas CollectivePosted by Hello

Press Release from The Double Scotch Party


Alex Lange (



New Book by Noted Spirits Writer F. Paul Pacult Chronicles Two Top Scotch Brands

WHITE PLAINS, NY – Pernod Ricard USA, importers of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet, is pleased to announce the publication of “A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons,” a new book by noted author and spirits writer F. Paul Pacult (Wiley, April 2005, $24.95, Cloth). “A Double Scotch,” which chronicles the two brands that made Scotland's national drink a global phenomenon, was recently launched at a book signing at Keens Steakhouse in New York, where Jim Cryle, The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, and Colin Scott, the Master Blender of Chivas Regal, joined Pacult to do a tasting of the range.

“We’re pleased to have such a notable writer as Paul Pacult to tell the story of The Glenlivet and Chivas Regal,” said Kevin Fennessey, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Pernod Ricard USA. “Paul’s reputation as one of the premiere spirits writers in the industry is the perfect match for communicating the legacy of these two top Scotch brands and his knack for engaging storytelling make this a unique must-read for any Scotch enthusiast.”

“A Double Scotch” tells the intertwined success stories of Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet—two Scotch whisky brands recognized the world over for their unparalleled quality. Seen through the prism of two families, it is an insightful, storied history of how two Scottish grocers from Aberdeen named Chivas, and one pistol-packing Highlands distiller named Smith, changed Scottish history over the span of two centuries. Overcoming severe taxation, illicit distilling, smuggling and world wars, they went on to


produce benchmark whiskies that became standards of quality the world over. Staged within the mysterious, breathtaking landscape of Scotland, “A Double Scotch” provides a window into how these enterprising people inextricably linked their spirit to its national heritage.

The book also includes an enlightening question-and-answer section with The Glenlivet’s Jim Cryle and Chivas Brother’s Colin Scott. Through this intimate exchange, Scotch enthusiasts will discover what makes these two brands superlative, as well as how these masters are able to maintain consistency over time. Today, Chivas Regal, at three million cases sold annually, is the world's most famous prestige blended Scotch. The Glenlivet, recognized as the quintessential single malt Scotch, is the #1 selling single malt in the United States.

About the Author

F. PAUL PACULT is the founding editor and publisher of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit JournalThe Quarterly Independent Guide to Distilled Spirits, Beers, and Wines newsletter now in its 15th year of publication. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s # 1 Bourbon (Wiley, 2003). He is the wine and spirits columnist for Sky – the Delta Air Lines magazine, a contributing editor and the spirits tasting director for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, a contributor to CARGO, a special projects editor for The New York Times Magazine and the judging director at the annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. He is also honored to be the only journalist worldwide to be a member of The Bourbon Hall of Fame, a member of the Armagnac Company of Musketeers as well as a life member of The Keepers of the Quaich Scotch Whisky Society.

About Pernod Ricard USA

Pernod Ricard USA is an American producer and distributor of fine spirits and wines. The company produces Wild Turkey Bourbon and Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin and in addition to Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky and The Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky, they import Jameson and Bushmills Irish Whiskeys, Martell Cognac, Jacob’s Creek and Wyndham Estate Wines.

New Series of Mildly Education Value

I'm going to start a mini series of pieces on various aspects of names and nomenclature of spirits that will cover proper names and designations, definitions and spellings interspersed with whatever else comes to mind in between. Please keep checking back. Also if you are reading be sure to hit the refresh button every so often ( like every week or so) otherwise your browser will serve up the old version and you will miss new reviews.