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About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.

Cheers!
Mike

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thoughts on Vodka

I have one post about vodka.

In that post I say:

"I'm not a big vodka drinker. It's not because I have anything against vodka per se but I do not like what vodka has become to most people in this country. Vodka is not supposed to be the clean and flavorless spirit it is marketed as in the U.S.  It's not a blank palette on which one can throw any number of flavoring agents... [i]t can be distilled from anything that can ferment... [e]ach base product creates a different tasting vodka. Some are distilled many times, others are filtered but the idea that the true essence of that base product can be captured in a final distillate."

I still stand by most of this statement but I have to revisit one item, namely the "distilled many times" point.

According to the U.S Code of Federal Regulations, vodka is a neutral spirit distilled to 190 proof (95% ethanol) that is "treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color." You'll also notice that most items follow that "190 proof" guideline. Here, the alcohol distillers have won a battle to create their economies of scope - one grain neutral spirit is the base for all sorts of different spirits. So for all of you caught in the "moonshine" craze that is hitting this country, I'm sorry to inform you that it's just unfiltered vodka.

Anyway, here's the funny thing about that proof: subsequent distillations will not purify the ethanol much more (only to 191.2 proof - 95.6% ethanol). So whenever you see a label claiming a vodka has been distilled "x" number of times, it doesn't matter. It was distilled to the minimum 190 proof, and you can't get much purer than that.

Furthermore most vodkas are column distilled, which is a continuous process, so there is no such thing as "x" times distilled.

So is filtration the key to making vodkas so different from one another? Probably.

Charcoal filtering removes certain volatile organic compounds, leaving other molecules behind. Further "filtration" through precious metals adds new molecules to create different "mouth-feels."

Further thinking: when people complain about hangovers on "cheap" vodka, they are probably more likely to mix "cheap" vodka with sugary sweet mixers and drink to excess. These things are more likely the causes of your hangover rather than the quality of the vodka.

Also, vodka is naturally gluten-free even if it's distilled from grains like wheat or barley. Gluten is a protein, which is too "heavy" to be distilled. Unless you drink a sweetened/flavored vodka, there is no gluten.

So when you buy vodka, stay away from flavored vodka and find ones filtered an acceptable number of times (for your own sake) if you're looking for a "clean" vodka.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pure Kentucky XO

How can you spell the name of your own state wrong?

You may remember my previous post about KBD bourbons and my interest in trying a few. Pure Kentucky XO was on that short list so I opted for this one this time around.

In the small print on the back label, you can see it's aged for at least 12 years before it is blended and bottled. Since it's called "XO" then it's probably aged for at least ten years, because XO brandies are aged at least ten years. You may also notice the spelling error just above it. If you didn't, I graciously underlined it in the picture above.

However, make sure to read the back label of this bourbon if you decide to buy it! Some of the other bottles had a different label, missing both the spelling error and "age statement."

First thing to note about this bourbon is its proof: 107. Water this one down before drinking otherwise it's too hot and the alcohol is overwhelming on both the nose and palate. This must be a high-rye bourbon because it's very peppery, with a hint of citrus. It also has aromas of sugar-sweetened nuts, reminiscent of a pecan praline.

Initially, I wasn't very impressed, but that's before I watered it down (probably around 90 proof). With my second tasting tonight, I'm getting to know this bourbon a bit more. Is it the best one I've had? No, but it's still pretty good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quadruple Scotch Tasting

So many scotches, so little time
In September, my friend's mother traveled to Scotland and promised to bring back a bottle of scotch for me. She couldn't decide what to bring back, so she brought back four different bottles for me.

This was one of the greatest gifts I ever received.

As one can see in the picture, the four are Auchentoshan 12YR, Tomintoul 14YR, Edradour 10YR, and Bowmore 18YR. Here are my reviews of these four whiskies:

Auchentoshan 12YR - A very light-bodied, dry, lightly-peated scotch. Not a lot of character but easily drinkable.

Tomintoul 14YR - honey, biscuits, and floral notes on the nose. Same on the palate entry, with a slightly herbal and smoky end. Those years of aging over their 10YR really make a difference.

Edradour 10YR - the most impressive of the bunch. Toffee and pepper on the nose and slightly herbal/vegetal. Has a wonderful nutty, salty caramel flavor with medicinal notes and a long, herbal finish. An excellent scotch!

Bowmore 18YR - pretty dark, and "sticky" sweet - caramel coloring? Pepper, brine, iodine, leather, and honey on the nose. Opening is sweet, "nose" in the center, wood smoke on the end.

It was a nice range of scotches to try. All from different regions and each one pretty representative of its regional style, too.

Also, if you find the Edradour 10YR, get it.