Saturday, February 25, 2012

Espresso is Manly

Espresso is one of the best hobbies for men for so many reasons.  I'll list them.

1.  Machines are manly.  Steam powered machines are even manlier.  There's a reason trains are so cool, and so are espresso machines.
2.  It's an active hobby.  I open a beer and pretty much drink the brewer's vision.  No such thing with espresso.  You will waste a lot of great coffee learning how to prepare that cup properly, but you also get to experiment and tweak it to your liking.
3.  This is related to the last one.  There is always more to learn.  Making espresso is a simple but highly nuanced process which I believe is impossible to perfect, but gives enough positive feedback that you will keep trying.  The way all the variables interact is magical... or scientific.  It really doesn't matter if you are an artist or engineer personality type.  Both approaches can work.
4.  Ever play with a chemistry set?  I have scales, various sizes of cups, scoopers, baskets, tampers...
5.  When you get it right you will say "wow" to yourself.  Then you will try to make espresso for everyone who enters the immediate vicinity of your machine to make them say it too.  *BAM*  "It's for you!"
6.  I can enjoy a complex beverage at 9am and no one will look down on me for it.  An early morning whiskey not so much...

The downside - You will hardly ever be able to order a coffee when you're out.  Most of it is terrible!

I'll do an equipment post outlining my current setup at some point, but I will probably not do too many guides.  I'd just be regurgitating what I learned reading Home-Barista.  It's the best place to learn about coffee online (or off for that matter).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ratings by the (Non)Numbers

Numbers are difficult.  Trying to pin tastes, feelings, circumstances, and biases into a line and then dedicating myself to upholding the sanctity of that line is hard.  I can love a bottle tonight while knowing that it's not as good as a bottle I thought was kind of mediocre last year.  The whole experience around the drink can dictate how the drink feels, and there is no way to separate that from what comes out of the bottle.

For those reasons I knew I didn't want a rigid rating system, but I do want a rating system.  I tend to recall how I feel about things with vague impressions which might be as simple as "good", "disappointing", or "boring", or might imply a bit more like "horse vomit".  My system is going to be ratings by association.  The rating is a word of phrase that evokes the spirit of the spirit.  If this doesn't make sense, just know that if I give something a rating of "boobies" I really, really like it.

Rittenhouse Rye BiB

Grand plans!  Hey, I'll start a whiskey blog.  Oh I like a lot more than whiskey, I may as well throw all that in too.  If I'm at one post a week during my fresh new blog push I might not last too long at this.  Lets drink a cheap rye.

Cheap and rare is an interesting combination.  Rittenhouse is $20 a bottle, but the release is limited.  Even the local retailer marks it limit 3.  And while it's put out by Heaven Hill, it was distilled by Brown-Forman, and soon enough that will be changing to Bernheim.  No one knows how that change will effect the whiskey, but the current iteration will be gone.  That makes Rittenhouse BiB a candidate for the next hot discontinued whiskey.

The mash for Rittenhouse is 51% rye.  In the glass it's a deep bronze.  Smelling it I get golden raisin, black pepper, vanilla, and a mustiness that's reminiscent of an old attic.  Becca, who doesn't drink whiskey but does like to play "the tasting game", pulls out pineapple that I don't get.  The fruit note changes from raisins to orange  rind when taking a sip.  The pepper and rye spice remains.  The 100 proof makes itself known with a bit of burn while vanilla notes round out the flavor.  I'd say it's slightly unrefined, but there is big flavor that's not often found in this price bracket.  This was a test bottle for me, but I will be grabbing a few next time.  It's a good sipper neat when you're feeling spicy and a great base for Manhattans.

Rating:  Spicy Meatball!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A First Post

I started drinking whiskey a few years ago.  My fiancee and I live close to her parents, so we go over to their house often for holidays and family events.  Once we're there, we usually end up staying for a while.  Thankfully I found a retreat, in the den watching sports with her Grandpa.  He always drank Chivas Regal on the rocks, so I started drinking Chivas Regal on the rocks with him.  That was my gateway beyond using some Beam as a mixer with coke.  I started drinking scotch at home too, learned to drink it neat, tried American bourbons and ryes, and am really enjoying the whiskey thing.

I'm marrying his granddaughter this coming summer.  We were looking forward to him being there, but unfortunately he passed away in the fall a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.  I received one of the bottles he left behind as a gift for the holidays.  It's an unopened Chivas Regal 18 year old and it made me sad he never got to drink it.

I have a natural tendency to collect.  When I get a nice bottle it's hard for me to open it because I'll feel guilty when it's gone.  However, I'm adopting a new philosophy starting now, which is to drink the good whiskey as fast as I can.  This blog is a record that will contain notes and thoughts on what I've been drinking.  It's going to make it easier for me to open and finish bottles if I have this memento of the experience (and blog posts are a lot easier to store than empties).  Hoarding doesn't even make sense.  There is always a new conquest and another great whiskey around the corner.  I encourage everyone to drink them up with me.

Cheers to Grandpa!