Monday, February 28, 2011

"Drink.Think," Talkfest By Booze Writers, Set for March 1

On Tuesday, March 1, I will participate in the second edition of "Drink.Think," the oxymoronically titled event in which liquor writers read from their work. Some will be reading from their latest book. Other, more lowly creatures (such as me) will read from their published journalism. The event will take place at 7 PM at Jimmy's No. 43 at 43 E. 7th Street in the East Village. From what I hear, there will be free things to drink. So, there's motivation. And don't worry: nobody will be allowed to read for more than five minutes.

Here's the line-up:

1. Anne Mendelson, excerpt from "Milk"

2. Nora Maynard, Tokyo travel piece involving booze and coffee
3. Annia Ciezadlo, the secret history of Muslim wine
4. Robert Simonson, Brandy Old Fashioneds
5. WR Tish, wine "stand-up comedy"
6. Lisa McLaughlin, Guinness and whiskey and a pub in Dublin
7. Dania Rajendra, milk and coffee, "but more about milk."
8. Jason Wilson, "something about wine" or a "Boozehound" excerpt
9. Andrew Gottlieb, "Drink" excerpt (probably related to Ireland)
10. David Wondrich, "Punch" excerpt

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Beer At...O'Hanlon's Bar

Actually, there's yet another O'Hanlon's out in Forest Hills, Queens, I've learned. There are probably others as well. I'm not going to go to all of them. From Eater:
A Beer At...O'Hanlon's 
I was a paragraph or two into writing up this 14th Street pub when I realized this is actually the second time I'm portrayed a bar called O'Hanlon's in this column. The first such subject was the 72-year-old dive by that name in Astoria. Lovely place, that. This tavern, in Manhattan, is not nearly so old. But it was founded in 1974, which is something.
The corner of E. 14th and First Avenue must have been a pretty rough crossroads back then. O'Hanlon's bartender would have been equal to the scene. Small, wiry, and with the face of a longshoreman who just got off his shift, he was no ray of sunshine. "Is it still happy hour?" I asked. I had seen the sandwich board outside that said all domestic drafts were $3 during happy hour. He shrugged. Assuming that was a sort of "yes," I ordered a Brooklyn Lager. "Five dollars," he growled. "That's why I asked if it was still happy hour," I complained. "Brooklyn Lager is always five dollars," he answered. I was going to say something about how he should change his misleading "all domestic drafts" sucker sign, but I order a Bud instead.
O'Hanlon's used to have an old hand-carved sign outside. That's been replaced by one of those garish, faux-Irish frontages that are always painted some garish color. This one's red. This interior is appealing: low tin ceilings, wooden floors and iron pillars that sit a few steps below street level, giving the place the feel of a cozy den. The space is long and deep (it was a restaurant for decades before it became a bar). There's a pool room and then, further back, a dart room. Sit at a table across from the bar and the traffic between the front door and the back never quite ceases.
The clientele is varied, aside from the unifying fact that none of them put on airs. There are old men sitting at the bar; a crowd of just-off-work, loosened-tie office mates around the pool table hashing over the work day's events; husbands getting beers for their waiting wives. This is a sports bar in several ways. Green Bay Packers fans congregate here on Sundays during the football season. Dart tournaments are held in the back. And some take their pool seriously. While I was there, a stout woman came in and greeted a friend. She didn't attract my interest much until she opened a black case and started screwing together her silver custom pool cue.
The relaxed atmosphere was broken slightly by the clatter of a disabled young man and his service dog, a tall white poodle mix, noisily trying to maneuver his walker down the entryway. No one got up to help him, but no one looked surprised to see him either. I opened the door for the man. "Thank you," he said and made a labored beeline for the back room. A while later, I drew back the red curtain that concealed the room. Darts were off. It was open mike stand-up night. The young man with the walker was doing a bit on green beer. His dog sat in the audience.
—Robert Simonson

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aguardiente: The Hooch of Colombia

Whenever a friend travels to a far-flung country, I say "Find out what they drink there, and bring me back a bottle!" I usually add, "Something I can't buy here!"

I asked this recently of a friend who frequently has business in South America. She went to Colombia and brought back a pint of Aguardiente Antioqueno.

Now, my experience of the preferred alcohols of South American and Asian countries is that they are, basically, fire water. This is no exception. "Aguardiente" means, literally, "burning water." The term is a Spanish-language equivalent of eau-de-vie or aquavit or what have you. It's a clear distillate. In Colombia, it's distilled in pot stills from sugar cane, which would seem to make it a kind of rum, and a cousin of Brazil's Cachaca (which, I know, I know, Leblon, is not actually rum). Except that Colombian Aguardiente is—like so many liquors around the world—anise flavored. I am told that Aguardiente is the most popular liquor in Colombia, particularly the Andean region, and is usually drunk straight.

The kind my friend bought me is the most popular brand in Colombia. "The good stuff," she told me. My bottle is additionally "Sin Azucar," without sugar, which is the way real drinkers drink it. It's 29% alcohol. The top comes with a built-in plastic stopper, so I guess they don't want you to drink it too fast. Smell? It smells like licorice, of course. The taste, however, is nothing like Sambuca, Anisette or whatever sticky, anise-flavored booze you care to mention. Why? Because it's Sin Azucar. It's a very dry and clean dram, not cloying in the least.

That said, I don't know how much of it I could drink, even if trapped on some Andes mountaintop.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The '70s Live Through Cocktails at Fatty Johnson's

Who says today's mixologists don't have a sense of humor?

On Feb. 16, Brian Miller and Toby Cecchini, two of the more talented bartenders in New York, deigned to employ their nimble fingers in the creation of such cocktail world bête noires as the Alabama Slammer and Appletini, and other creations of the 1970s and 1980s—the era considered to be the nadir of cocktail culture of drinks historians. On Facebook, they christened this evening "The Night the Cocktail Died." The menu at Fatty Johnson's read "Goose and Maverick Present Lipstick on Pigs." ("Top Gun" did not play on the bar's television sets. Rather we were treated to a swath of Chevy Chase films.) Cecchini, whose early work at Odeon was partly responsible for the popularity of the Cosmopolitan, showed particular good humor by including that "Sex and the City" staple on the list.

Of course, mixologists will be mixologists, and Miller and Cecchini couldn't let well enough (or bad enough) alone. The Jello shot on offer was a Bramble, the highly regarded, modern classic created in London. And nobody was using DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker for the Appletini. There was even an "off-menu" special, the super-trashy Flaming Dr. Pepper, made up of Luxardo Amaretto and Lemon Hart 151 Proof Demerara Rum lit aflame in a shot glass and then dropped in a glass of Brooklyn Pilsner. And, yes, it did taste like Dr. Pepper.

Lemon Hart 151 Rum on Its Way Back to U.S.

Lemon Hart 151, a high-proof rum distilled in Guyana and bottled in Canada, is an essential ingredient in many classic tiki cocktails and a product beloved by bartenders and rum patrons. But it has been hard to find for some months, owing to the sale of the brand by liquor giant Pernod Ricard to Mosaiq in February 2010.

This past weekend, however, brought news that the coveted rum may soon be back on the shelves in certain states. A posting on the Lemon Hart Facebook site read "At 9:39pm Feb 18, 2011 the COLA [certificate of label approval] for the last 481 cases of Lemon Hart 151 bottled by Pernod was approved for import to the US... There are a lot more papers to file, taxes to pay and state approvals to get but this is a huge step in the right direction." First shipments will go to New York, California, Illinois, Washington DC, Louisiana, Colorado and Hawaii.

According to the website A Mountain of Crushed Ice, the holdup was because, "in order for the last cases of Lemon Hart 151 that Pernod bottled to be sold, Mosaiq has to make a deal with a US importer to import and market this rum. Then in addition to paying for the rum, there is the Federal Tax that has to be paid when the rum is carried across the border. The old labels say ‘Imported by Pernod.’ This isn’t a big deal but it takes time to get a letter of exception for the rum to be imported by a third party or a sticker has to be added to the bottle."

What Would Valentino Drink?

Queens needs as many good cocktail places as it can get. Until last week, there was just Dutch Kills. Now we have The Astor Room, and M. Wells on the horizon. The Astor Room is the name that has been given to the old cafeteria at the famed Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria (see above for how it once looked; the dude in the powdered wig is Valentino), a place now outfitted as a swank 1920s-style supper club and open to the public. I sipped a few cocktails with mixologist Lynnette Marrero the other night and can safely declare the drinking to be good at this basement lounge, and relatively cheap. (Get the Filmograph for a rare experience of the onetime mixer Kola Tonic.) I would recommend swinging by between 5 and 7 p.m. on weekdays to take advatage of the free food available during the "apertivo service."

Read on, from my Diner's Journal item:

Cocktails Where the Stars Once Lounged
By Robert Simonson
Where Valentino once ate cafeteria food, film buffs can now dine on lobster Thermidor.
The onetime commissary at Queens’ Kaufman Astoria Studios — long closed to all but those show biz pros who worked at the historic film center — has reinvented itself as a supper club — the Astor Room — and cocktail bar and thrown its doors open to the public.
Chris Vlacich, owner of the longstanding Astoria favorite Piccola Venezia, remodeled the basement space and drafted the chef John Doherty, formerly of the Waldorf-Astoria. Together, they fashioned a menu redolent of the Gilded Age, offering new twists on old school dishes like beef tartare, sole meuniere and oysters Rockefeller.
For the cocktail program at the Beaver Bar — named in honor of the animal whose pelts enriched John Jacob Astor, the man for whom Astoria was named — the mixologist team of Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns (formerly of Rye House) were brought in. They assembled a line of period-correct cocktails — the Mary Pickford (in which rum meets pineapple juice, grenadine and maraschino liqueur), the Filmograph (a sidecar variation that features hard-to-find Kola Tonic), and the Fairbanks (a martini variation) — as well as a couple of libations of more modern vintage that struck a similar tone, like the Valentino and the Astor martini.
When the studio was founded in 1920, the space served as the film workers’ chow house. In 1942, however, when the Army took over the building and began producing military films in the studio, the cafeteria became an officer’s club. It remained in military hands until 1970. Real estate magnate George Kaufman bought it in 1980 and restored the studio to it’s original purpose.
Little of the old cafeteria, aside from the general layout of the rooms, some original tile work on the walls and the marble staircase, was retained in the renovation. The new Art Deco look is anchored by a bar that was modeled after a 1920s bar Mr. Vlacich spotted on the Internet.
The Astor Room will be open for lunch and dinner, and, from 5 to 7 on weeknights, will offer an “aperitivo service” with various free food like shrimp salad canapés, cheeses and charcuterie laid out across the bar. Eventually, after the restaurant settles in, Mr. Vlacich plans to offer an eclectic array of late-night entertainment.
In addition to regular dining service, Mr. Vlacich plans to cater food to the various shows and movies that film at the studio. “Men in Black III,” which began shooting in December and will return in spring, and “Nurse Jackie,” which films here, are possible future clients. At present, the main catering client is “Sesame Street.”
“Elmo loves our iced tea,” Mr. Vlacich quipped.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drink to Bartenders' Health!

Worthy—and, at $40, quite affordable—benefit to aid ailing bartenders will be held on Feb. 21 at Freemans in Manhattan. Read about it below, from my Diner's Journal item:

A Benefit to Keep Bartenders Healthy
By Robert Simonson
Tipplers can drink to the future health of bartenders on Monday at Salud! Bartenders for Healthcare, a charity cocktail party co-sponsored by the United States Bartenders’ Guild. The event will be held on the second floor of Freemans, the Bowery-area bar that has produced some of the city’s best mixologists. Proceeds will help pay bartenders’ medical bills.
Recently, the bartending trade has grown increasingly concerned about the injuries hard-shaking mixologists sustain in the execution of their back-, shoulder- and wrist-straining work.
“Bartenders have extremely physical jobs,” said Lynnette Marrero, a bartender who is helping to arrange the evening. “We suffer from a lot of ailments caused by the repetitive motion of shaking and standing for 10-hour shifts. In addition, we work late at night and are vulnerable to accidents. If a bartender is injured they cannot work. The United States Bartenders’ Guild is really focused on making affordable health care available to all their members.”
Tickets to the event at Freemans, 191 Chrystie Street (Rivington Street), (212) 420-0012, are $40. That buys you unlimited drinks prepared by the likes of Ms. Marrero and Jim Kearns (Peels), Jason Littrell (Death & Co.) and Marshall Altier (1534), as well as snacks from the Freemans kitchen and cheese from Stinky Bklyn, and a performance from the folk-rock trio the Crooners. For more information or to buy tickets,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

M. Wells Taps Dutch Kills Bartender for Cocktail Program

The owners of M. Wells, the new/old chrome-sided diner in Long Island City that serves a kind of Quebec-New York fusion food, has reached out to another new LIC business for help with its cocktail list.

Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin, a bartender at Dutch Kills, will devise the list for M. Wells. The program is still in the works; there is no cocktail menu at this time. But a Kold Draft ice machine is expected in the next week or so, and drinks should follow by mid-March. Thirsty patrons should expect separate cocktail lists at brunch and dinner. Gelnaw-Rubin—who will remain with Dutch Kills—will work closely with Chef Hugue Dufour to create a menu of all original cocktails that will match the style of the restaurant's food menu. Said Gelnaw-Rubin: "The space is an old diner, and chef wants the diner spirit to run through all his offerings, so don't be surprised to find bright red maraschino cherries or curly straws in your cocktails."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Red Hook Winery Rolls Out Entire Line for Tasting

The Red Hook Winery—which for the past couple years has been carting in grapes from Long Island to vinify in its snug headquarters in the Brooklyn neighborhood of its name—showed off all its wares this past weekend, holding a tasting of every single wine it has bottled since opening for business. That amounted to 25 different offerings—not bad for such a young outfit.

All the wines at Red Hook are made by either Abe Schoener or Bob Foley, two California-based winemakers of very different character. I've tasted a number of these wines before, but this sampling confirmed that both vintners are doing good work with the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling they are bringing in from various East End vineyards. (There is a single Finger Lakes wine, a Riesling.) But each man has his strengths. Broadly speaking, Schoener is making Red Hook Winery's best whites, while Foley is turning out its best reds.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Highland Park Releases at 50-Year-Old Scotch

The above item is a bottle of Highland Park's newly released 50-year-old single malt whiskey. Or, rather, a facsimile. The bottle is real, but the contents, I was told, are simply some nameless brown liquid. You can't leave a $17,500 bottle sitting around where the greedy and drunk might get at it, particularly since there are only five of these babies in the U.S. (all nearly spoken for) and 275 in the world.

However, there was a bottle open somewhere at Jean-Georges on a recent Tuesday, because all present at the tasting event were treated to a thimbleful. How does a 50YO Highland Park come to be? Well, it's one of those stories that you hear more and more often these days. The folks at the Orkney Islands distillery thought they didn't have any barrels sitting around going back further than 1964. But, lo and behold, then they found some dated 1960. Some were no good, but some were great, so into a bottle they went—a bottle placed inside a custom-made, sterling silver holder designed by a Scottish-born, New York-based jewelry maker named Maeve Gillies (She was there, and a tall, fetching and youthful lass she was.) Highland Park will be rolling these out slowly. Future 50YO's will be made from the 1964 barrels mentioned above.

Before we nipped at the 50YO, we tasted through the rest of the Highland Park line. (No great burden). The 18YO, 25YO, 30YO and 40YO. Highland Park uses American oak barrels that have been filled with Sherry barrels, lending the Scotch a sweetness that contrasts nicely with the smokiness of the Orkney peat. The 25YO is casked half in first-fill Sherry barrels and half in refill Sherry casks. The 30YO and 40YO, meanwhile, come from 100% refill casks.

Given this information—and the facts that the recipe for the Scotch is not different in the various expressions, and the whiskey is aged in the same regions (20% of the casks on the islands, the rest on the mainland)—it was remarkable, and somewhat confounding, how different the 30YO and 40YO were from each other. Both boasting basically the same alcohol content, the younger scotch was sweet and savory, with strong notes of vanilla, caramel and citrus. The 40YO, meanwhile, was markedly smokier and spicier. Caramel and vanilla, yes, but lots of wood and volatility. Both excellent, but very different.

So, the 50YO. Well, again, here we had basically the same whiskey—though it was transferred from the first-fill casks in which it was found to spend its final months in refill casks. But it was quite apart from the previous expressions. It had a beautiful, deep amber color. The toffee nose was very candied, and, on the palate, it was closer to brandy than Scotch—silky, elegant, mellow, wine-like, with plenty of candy,  raisins, spice, vanilla, coffee and caramel, and a clove and iodine finish.

Would I buy it? Silly question. Journalists don't have that kind of money. (I wonder how much of the price is for the silver casing.) Besides, they're all taken anyway. I'll be just fine with my bottle of 18YO.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dutch Kills to Get Bigger

Dutch Kills, the Long Island City bar that is already one of the more spacious of the haute cocktail cribs in town, is about to get bigger. At least the bar area, anyway.

Co-owner Richard Boccato reports that an expansion of the existing bar has already begun. When complete, the bar will stretch an additional eight-to-ten feet into the back room. The wall between the bar and back room will be eliminated, though the piano back there will remain. The construction will create a third station within the bar to allow for a more fluid level of service. Work should be done by the end of this week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Beer At...BillyMark's West

May I just say how much I dislike the fist bump as a form of greeting? My latest Eater column:

A Beer At....BillyMark's West
The sign on BillyMark's West reads "Since 1956." I've been to a lot of dives in my time, but few that were precious enough to proclaim—or even care about—their birthday. I steeled myself to encounter a kind of faux dive inside, more museum than bar. But, no. BillyMark's is a dive dive. As divey a dive as I've ever been in, with a strictly bottom-shelf array of liquors and beers (no taps) and a class Z clientele to guzzle them down.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Brooklyn Absinthe Fountain, Dripping as God Intended

I recognized the thing the moment I walked into Maison Premiere last Thursday. Standing behind the bar was a ditto of the famous green marble absinthe fountain found inside the Olde Absinthe House in New Orleans' French Quarter. I'd stared at the original enough times to know the specimen. (The original, upon which the new one is based, is below).

The fountain at Maison—a new cocktail and oyster bar in Williamsburg meant to evoke old New Orleans—is not just a decorative monument. It is in full working order, making it (unless I am much mistaken) the only absinthe fountain in New York that is actually connected to the premises.

Most of the water drippers we've seen in bars, ever since absinthe became widespread again three years ago, are the chintzy, glass, tabletop items that the bartenders must constantly fill with ice in order to keep the water cold enough to make absinthe cocktails. Maison's has a customized water line inside that feeds directly from the basement, through a chill block that rests in the bar's copper basin, and through a series of three reducer valves which control the rate at which the water flows out. (You want a slow, steady drip, not a wild spurt.)

Does this make the resulting absinthe taste any better? I don't know. But it make the experience of ordering an absinthe that much more pleasurable and authentic.

Recreating the fountain wasn't easy. In fact, it was an ordeal. Here's an item I wrote about it for the NY Times' Diner's Journal:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

High West Plays Around With Rye

They certainly are busy little bees over at High West Distillery. No sooner do they roll out a bottled barrel-aged Manhattan than they come out with two more new offerings: Double Rye and 12 Year Old Rye.

The 12YO needs no explanation. But what the heck is a Double Rye, aside from being something Ray Millard might order in "The Lost Weekend"? Well, it's a little bit old and a little bit young. More specifically, the liquor is a marriage of a two-year-old straight rye and a 16-year-old straight rye. Which would make it, what? 11? The two year old, who hails from Lawrenceburg Distillers in Indiana, has a mashbill with 95% rye and 5% barley malt. The sixteen year old, drawn from an old forgotten Fleishman's from Barton distillery in Kentucky, has a mashbill of 53% rye and 37% corn. The 16YO makes up about 5-10% of the blend.

According to High West, the Double Rye is taking the place of the distillery's Rendezvous label for a bit while the new batch ages. The Rendezvous is actually a "double rye" itself, when it comes down to it. It joins a 16-year-old rye with a 6-year-old. Call Double Rye Rendezvous' kid brother. It's an odd one. Good, and gutsy. The fighting, spicy two-year-old juice holds sway here, in my opinion.
If you're really interested in the 12YO, you have to get yourself to the High West Distillery and Saloon in Park City. That's the only place it will be sold, for $49.99/375ml. The distillery acquired five barrels of rye whiskey from the former Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceberg, Indiana. The barrels were originally destined for Japan in 2003, but the container was full and these five didn’t make the trip. The mash bill is 95% rye.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Buffalo Traces Finds Some Lost Barrels, Sells Them

As happens more and more frequently at whiskey rickhouses these days, Buffalo Trace was kicking around their stores recently when they ran across a barrel or ten that they had completely forgotten about. And guess what? They bottled the contents! And they are for sale now under the company's Experimental Collection moniker. (I'm beginning to think that I could sneak into a rickhouse and make off with a couple of barrels of booze and the distillery would never notice for years.)

Some explanation from Buffalo Trace's Kris Comstock: "In 1998 we acquired the Old Charter brand, along with a large inventory of barrels, approximately 150,000. In a recent audit of our barrel inventory, we found some barrels from this lot. One was empty, one tasted horrible, and the others tasted very nice. Of course we bottled the very nice barrels and are offering these rare finds under our Experimental Collection label."

There are three different offerings, distilled back in 1989, 1991 and 1993. In all instances, the still proof and entry proof are unknown. For me, the 1991 is the clear winner here. There's a deep candy character to the nose, with Sherry notes, and the flavor is rich, dark and nutty. The distillery's tasting note of black walnut is dead on. A very interesting Bourbon. 

I thought the 1989 whiskey was slightly past it's prime. (Contrary to popular belief, whiskey doesn't just get better and better as it ages. Often it peaks and then heads south.) The primary characteristics of the 1989 were woody and tannic, as well as a heavy does of iodine, even some metallic notes. These pretty much overwhelm the vanilla and orange zest flavors. 

The 1993 was something different altogether, sweeter and more candied than the others, and definitely more mellow and creamier. All are priced at $46 and are out in February. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Painkiller Unleashes Biggest Cocktail List in Town

Death & Co. has some competition in copiousness.

Painkiller, the LES tiki bar, last night unleashed what is probably the largest cocktail list in town. Gone is the cryptic placemat/menu, which divided tiki drinks into a few totemic categories ("Frozens," "Daiquiris" "Swizzles") and let the customer, with some guidance from the bartender, take it from there. In its place is a document the size, scope and look of a classic take-out Chinese menu. No longer will patrons wonder what exactly Painkiller can make for them. Instead, they will have to mull what selection, among the Greek diner-like abundance, they will settle on. The bar's gone from the elemental to exuberant expansionism.

Aside from the Top 10 Classics (Jet Pilot, Mai Tai, etc.) and a set of six Scorpion bowls, there are 103 tiki cocktails to choose from, by my count. According to co-owner Giuseppe Gonzalez, at least a third of these are modern creations, invented by him and the Painkiller staff, or outside contemporaries.

Gonzalez' reasons for creating the more explicit and explosive menu were two-fold. He said he wanted to show his customers all that tiki could be and all his bartenders could create; he got tired of seeing his customers order and his bartenders make the same several drinks over and over again.

I sampled two of the new libations. First came the LES Luau Mist, which Gonzalez said involved a triple infusion with bacon, pineapple and clove—all the elements in a luau roast pig. After that I had something modestly called The Most Interesting Flip in the World. (A Flip is a very old and frothy class of cocktail that included egg.) The boast was not altogether empty. It was damn interesting, and kept getting more interesting as I topped it off with the rest of the bottle of Ballantine, which was left with me. The drink is made of Cognac, Curacao, Grenadine and orange bitters. 2 dashes of orange bitters.I can't explain it, but distinct hints of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic and Cream Soda were in that drink.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michael Collins Gets Into the Single Malt Game

The Single Malt Irish Whiskey category is getting mighty crowded.

Last year, we saw the debut of Tullamore Dew's first single malt. This year, it's Michael Collins' turn.  Now on American shelves is the Irish distiller's first 10-year-old single malt, and in a newly designed bottle, too. The standard Collins whiskey also wears this new look. (Collins previously had a single malt, but without a date specification.)

Like its older brother, the 10YO Single Malt is double distilled in copper pot stills. The mash is a combo of malted barley and peated malted barley (Cooley is the only Irish distillery to dry some of its barley over peat fires) and matured in small ex-Bourbon casks. And, in a telling image differentiation, the whiskey has a cork, as opposed to the screw top the blended whiskey sports. They're both 80 proof.

As might be expected, the single malt—which is slightly darker in hue than the blended—has more fire, spice and intensity, and the peat is quite apparent. It will please Scotch lovers, by whose standards it will most resemble some Speyside breeds. Yet, it is recognizably Irish in character.