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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tips from British farmers on hiding your drinking from your wife

A wonderful scotch whiskey and a great story, Sheep Dip is a blended malt scotch whiskey from Spencerfield Spirit Company in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland. I was prompted to try Sheep Dip by its listing in Ian Buxton’s 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die.

The name Sheep Dip is a tribute to a time when British farmers referred to their own “home-made” whiskey as Sheep Dip in an attempt to avoid paying taxes. Love it! Farmers would hide their whiskey in barrels marked “Sheep Dip” and farmers’ merchants would often list whiskey on bills as “Sheep Dip” to hide it from the farmers’ wives. :-)

One of these days I’ll write a post about my own family’s history with home distilling. Almost a hundred years ago, my Grandfather and his brothers and cousins ran stills in the mountains of North Carolina and Wyoming.  It is a great story with a rich history of incidents with law enforcement.  Some of my earliest memories are of my dad’s brothers visiting us and bringing moonshine from NC.

But back to Sheep Dip.

Whiskey: Sheep Dip (Spencerfield Spirit Company)
Type: Blended malt Scotch whiskey
Origin: Scotland

My Review:
This is my kind of Scotch.  It has a light floral, fruity smell with warm hints of honey and smoke.  It has no heavy peat taste that (at this time) doesn’t appeal to me. This light and warm blend of malts, honey, and spices is a perfect introduction to Scotch, in my opinion.  A much better choice than the bottom shelf Scotches that many people try for the first time then declare that they don’t care for Scotch. 

Try it neat. Sheep Dip is a 40% APV (80 Proof) and shouldn’t require much, if any, cutting. Perhaps a few drops of water to suit your taste. I have seen comments that Sheep Dip can be hard to find. Not my experience at all. I recently picked up a bottle at BevMo at a very reasonable price.

Spencerfield Spirit Company is wholly owned and run by Alex and Jane Nicol. The story of the creation of this company and how Sheep Dip got started is told in Buxton’s book and at the Spencerfield website. Check it out and fall in love with this entrepreneurial story. 

If you try Sheep Dip with a cigar, select a lighter flavor cigar. Bolder heavier flavors will easily overwhelm Sheep Dip's light subtle flavors.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Whiskey Quote:

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."

 - W. C. Fields

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Wonderful World of Whisky Art

Ernie Button was about to wash a Scotch glass left out overnight when he noticed... Art?

Thus was born Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch.

Read more at npr's website.

Well, any motivation to empty a whiskey glass is alright with me! 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Neat, On the Rocks, Cutting, Water Bags... Huh?

If you are new to drinking whiskey or are beginning to drink it straight for the first time, you may wonder about the various ways to serve whiskies.  Here are a few of the common terms you will hear:
  • Neat (just the whiskey in a class)
  • On the rocks (over ice)
  • With water (Neat, with just a splash of water – sometimes served with an eyedropper)

The basic answer is that there is no right answer. Try them all and find the way that suits you. Since variety is the spice of life, I suggest you to try the approach of a combination of these methods, especially when trying a new whiskey for the first time.

As a guide to determine your approach, many enthusiasts suggest you first take a look at the ABV (alcohol by volume) or Proof of the new whiskey. This is also known as the cask strength or barrel proof.  Whiskies with higher ABV or Proof (over 50% ABV or 100 Proof) will often benefit from a little addition of water.  Sometimes the higher alcohol content may numb your tongue and muddle the subtle flavors.  By adding the water, you lessen the burn or numbing effect of the alcohol.  This can also be accomplished by adding an ice cube or two and allowing the whiskey to melt the ice a little. You will notice that the aromas and flavors change with the addition of water.

I suggest you become familiar with a new whiskey by trying each of these methods in succession. Start with neat. Breathe in the aromas, taste the whiskey. Add a little water then repeat. Let the flavors play over your tongue. Perhaps have your second on the rocks.

You may find that whiskies with lower cask strength (less than 40% ABV or 80 Proof) don’t need the water.  Still, try it out. Play with trial and error, especially with new whiskies.  A little water can sometimes make dramatic changes in the aromas and flavors. Some people report that a little water can allow the drinker to enjoy subtle nuances.  In some whiskies you may find that the water makes the spirit taste watery. Play around and find out what works for you. Professional tasters/reviewers often add substantial amounts of water to allow them to detect every flavor.

When I am at a bar and drinking something like Jack Daniels, I prefer to drink it neat. But I will order a water bag (water on the side) so I have the option of adding water or just drinking the water to cleanse my palate. OK, let’s be honest, often I substitute beer for the water to “cleanse my palate.”

So let me repeat the rule: order your whiskey the way you like it. Enjoy it. But I encourage you to be courageous and try new things, new whiskies, and new methods of drinking your whiskies.  This exploration can only result in a better, more fulfilling relationship with this wonderful spirit.

Experimentation is the key! I’ll say it again and again, quoting my son Tim at age four, “not everyone likes the same things.” Discover the varieties of flavors and aromas, identify the differences and similarities, and educate yourself on what is out there in the wonderful world of whiskey.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Whiskey Quote:

“It was so quiet, a reservation kind of quiet, where you can hear somebody drinking whiskey on the rocks three miles away.”

 - Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More than a fine Bourbon, an American Legacy

As a fan of bourbons, Buffalo Trace, was destined to be a favorite of mine. It is such a pleasure to drink (neat with a splash of water), and is very reasonably priced. I always have a bottle in my cabinet and it is one of my “go to” standards.

Whiskey: Buffalo Trace (Buffalo Trace Distillery)
Type: Straight Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky, USA

Although Buffalo Trace Distillery has been producing some of the world's best bourbon for more than 200 years, I discovered Buffalo Trace when I came across it in 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die (thanks Susan). This is a fine reference book on whiskies and I recommend it as a great way to educate yourself on various brands and types. Let’s face it, Buffalo Trace caught my eye first because I am a sucker for all things western and the bottle design sports a great sketch of a majestic buffalo. The company’s website is beautiful and very informative.  Here is an excerpt from their site:

More than just a spirit, more than just whiskey, this bourbon is a tribute to all that is uniquely American - a celebration of our country's rugged history, its fight for freedom and independence, and the fierce pride governing its heritage. Inside each bottle is the essence of courage, a sense of adventure, a quest for the unknown and a thirst for discovery. This is the legend and legacy of our rich ancestry, captured and embodied by Buffalo Trace Distillery.

My Review:
Buffalo Trace has an excellent aroma and on first sip has a bit of a spicy bite (one reason why I like to add a little water). It delivers the satisfying smoky warm flavors that make me love bourbon, with hints of vanilla, honey (or maybe molasses), mint, and a tang of orange.  It is a beautiful golden color. The finish is smoky, tangy, and leathery, with hints of tobacco. An excellent bourbon to accompany a fine cigar.

Here are just few of the recent awards, the whole list is very long:

  • 2012       Double Gold Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2012       Excellent/Strong Recommendation - Ultimate Spirits Challenge
  • 2011       Silver Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 2010       Silver Medal - International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • 2010       Silver Medal - Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition

Buffalo Trace is the flagship bourbon from the distillery. But the Buffalo Trace Distillery has an immense selection of labels. Check out the distillery’s website to learn more about Buffalo Trace's fine products.

All in all, I can't recommend Buffalo Trace highly enough. I predict it will become a staple in your liquor cabinet.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whiskey Quote:

"Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it's time to drink.” ― Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

It's Friday!


So in the spirit of the weekend, enjoy a good whiskey and help a guy out.

I am trying to build some traffic to the blog, so if you enjoyed something you read PLEASE SHARE IT!

You can also support The Whiskey King blog by following our Twitter account, liking our Facebook page, +1 us on Google+, and by subscribing to the blog (see right hand column). Whether you do or don't, I'll keep writing, drinking, and sharing photos, but if you can spread the word it will inspire me. Thanks in advance. Cheers and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My type of Baptist Preacher!

Elijah Craig

Whiskey: Elijah Craig (Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.)
Type: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky, USA

Like Bourbon? You are in for a treat!

Elijah Craig is a 12 year old, small batch bourbon whiskey. It is bottled exclusively from a dumping of 70 barrels or less. It was awarded a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It has twice been awarded “Best of the Best” from Whisky Magazine.

Heaven Hill Distilleries says this bourbon is named for Rev. Elijah Craig, a Baptist preacher from the 18th century, who discovered the method of making true Kentucky bourbon by storing his wares in barrels that had been charred in a fire. Based on this, he is often credited to be the inventor of bourbon. It is a darker amber in color, with hints of vanilla and a toasty oak flavor. There is also a bit of a spicy cinnamon "on the nose." This bourbon has a nice warm, full body with a rich texture that is a pure pleasure to "chew on."

I recommend trying Elijah Craig neat. Breath it in and take your time. Perhaps cut it with a bit of water, but not much. You can of course try it over rocks, but this exceptional flavor is easily lost when diluted too much. Be patient, relax and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Drinking Whiskey for my Health

I'm in!

Researchers identify health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, especially whiskey.

"Whiskey is a grain-derived alcohol that is created by fermenting rye, barley, wheat or corn. People all over the world make and drink the different varieties of whiskey, and each whiskey has a distinct taste. Although any type of alcohol can be deadly in excess, the medical community has found some health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, especially whiskey."

Read more here: Livestrong

Now you can relax and enjoy your drink.


“There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren't as good as others.” ― Raymond Chandler

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today, as you search for the perfect drink to celebrate the Irish, consider the many great Irish Whiskies. Here are three that I sampled recently at a wonderful Irish bar in Washington D.C. a week ago in anticipation of this great day.

First, the bar! The Irish Whiskey. If you are in the D.C. area today, I don't think you can do better than the Irish Whiskey. Stop in and meet the friendly staff. Our bartender had several recommendations as well as a engaging personality. A great time!

First Whiskey: Michter's Single Barrel Rye Whiskey
All right, I'll admit it, I am a huge rye fan and love the fact that it is on the rise in popularity. Get a bottle of Michter's single barrel rye whiskey, pass on the green beer, and enjoy a day with this smooth and mellow whiskey. Even though this is an American Whiskey (Est. 1753), it was served to me at The Irish Whiskey, SO CLOSE ENOUGH!

Second Whiskey: Mickey Finn
So this whiskey (Mickey Finn Apple Whiskey Liquor) wasn't really my "cup of tea," but I long ago realized (with the help of my son Tim at age 4 as I tried to get him to enjoy tomatoes) that "Not everyone likes the same things." Order a shot of Mickey Finn when you are ready for a change of taste or a break from the Michter's. This whiskey has a strong green apple taste which is delicious, but a little too cloying in my opinion. The other issue that gives me pause is that although this is marketed as an Irish whiskey, Mickey Finn is also an American. O for 2... What kind of Irish theme is this? OK, so as you will find, I am not a purest and I am always willing to roll with marketing themes, so I salute Mickey Finn's slogan "American By Choice, Irish By Nature" and offer this whiskey as you celebrate St. Patty's.

And the Third: The Knot
A great way to end your evening. This sweet, smooth whiskey is like slipping into a delicious, warm bubble bath. It is delicious, rich, with a hint of vanilla (or is that butterscotch). Unlike the Mickey Finn's, this is not too sweet and does not seem too rich or wear you out as you enjoy a glass. Definitely try the Knot as a pinnacle to your Irish celebration.

So have a Happy St. Patrick's Day, sport the Green, enjoy your family and friends, and most importantly, enjoy a fine whiskey.


Saturday, March 16, 2013


It is about 2am.

Tonight, I enjoyed a wonderful small batch rye American whiskey by Bulleit and I had this wonderful idea of documenting my whiskey journey online. So this is my first post. As you read this, I hope you will join in and share your experiences, try new varieties, explore the subtleties, and grow in your love of whiskey.

Welcome to The WhiskeyKing Blog.