Tabasco Diamond Reserve and a Whiskey-based Bloody Mary

So, a Tabasco post on a whiskey blog? Yes, and you’ll soon see why…

For as long as I can remember, there has always been a bottle of Tabasco on the dining room table. My dad put the Louisiana hot sauce on everything. I remember trying it on a cracker once when I was young. It was just a drop or two, but it lit my mouth on fire. I stayed away from it for years. But as I grew up, I found myself using Tabasco more often. In fact, I refuse make scrambled eggs without it.

And Tabasco’s been around long before my memories. This year mark’s their 150th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, they’ve released their Diamond Reserve. It contains peppers aged up to fifteen years in oak barrels, whereas the peppers in the standard Tabasco sauce age for three. By the way, those oak barrels are ex-bourbon barrels, but none of the trapped whiskey makes its way into the pepper mash. This limited release sauce also uses sparkling white wine vinegar instead of standard white vinegar, hence the champagne-looking bottle.

Tabasco’s normally a nice balance of spicy and tart. The Diamond Reserve almost comes across as aged balsamic vinegar on the nose. Taste-wise, the heat seems slightly reserved compared to the standard,which is more heat up-front. The flavors here come across as much more rounded and complex.

I wanted to use this Tabasco release in a Bloody Mary, but with whiskey instead of vodka. I don’t like a heavy Bloody Mary, so no horseradish here. George Dickel No. 12 is the base spirit, along with a little George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish. I also added a bit of Lagavulin 16 to add some smoky complexity.

  • 1oz George Dickel No. 12
  • .5oz George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish
  • .5oz Lagavulin 16yo
  • 4oz tomato juice
  • 3-4 dashes Tabasco Diamond Reserve
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a highball glass. Fill glass with ice and mix. Garnish with a celery stalk.

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Book Review: Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal

France’s La Maison du Whisky, already world famous for its dedication to whisky, has just released a book for every whisky enthusiast’s shelf. The beautifully-bound Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal is part educational book, part history book, and part whisky journal.  Divided into five sections, Whisky is a great way to begin your whisky journey, whether you read and write in English or French.  Each page is divided into two columns, providing information in both languages.

The first section, “How to Enjoy Whisky,” contains tasting and nosing tips, as well as touching on subjects like glassware, aeration, and the addition of ice/water.  Experienced drinkers will know most of this stuff, but it’s addition here is aimed at novices.

“A Whisky Chronology” is basically a condensed timeline of important whisky dates, from its first recorded mention in 1494 to Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask Strength being declared the ‘best single malt in the world’ in 2015.

The next section, “A Whisky History,” goes into much more detailed lessons.  Different whisky types are covered here, from Scotch single malts to American bourbon.  Just like prior sections, this information is mainly for novices, but more advanced imbibers could always use a history refresher, especially while enjoying a dram.

The main event, so to speak, is the “Cellar Notes” section.  More than 100 pages of the book are devoted to whisky journaling, allowing you to take detailed tasting notes.  Whisky tasting notes are great to look back on, as whiskies slightly change over time.  Not to mention your tastes, which could minutely shift over the years.  There will be people that might purchase a book like this but never write in it.  Don’t make that mistake, folks.  A whisky journal’s sole purpose is to use it to record your tasting notes.  It’s like a great bottle of whisky – it does no good just sitting there.  Open it.  Savor it.  Otherwise, it’s just a bottle of liquor.

Lastly, Whisky concludes with a section entitled, “The World’s Finest Whiskies.”  In essence, this section is a distillery profile of sorts – location, founding date, types of whisky produced there, etc.  Additionally, La Maison du Whisky includes what it considers the ten finest whiskies released by each featured distillery.

I can’t recommend Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal with any more excitement.  It makes a wonderful gift for the whisky lover in your life as well as for those just starting out in their own whisky adventure.  The book’s list price is $24.95, but you might be able to find it online for a bit cheaper.  Hey, Father’s Day is just around the corner.  This book paired with a nice bottle of whisky… now we’re talking!

La Maison Du Whisky

Thanks to La Maison du Whisky for the advanced copy.  As always, all thoughts and opinion are my own.

Review: Southern Drinking Club Whiskey Tasting Kit

Jeremy Jordan loves two things: woodworking and whiskey.  A couple of years ago he started the Southern Drinking Club to celebrate fun times shared over drinks with friends.  The first thing the Houston resident handcrafted was a wooden bottle opener.  They proved a hit, so he expanded big time.  Jordan told me everything on his site, southerndrinkingclub.com, is made or designed in Houston.  Over an email exchange, one thing became clear: Jordan was passionate about what he did.  Quality wasn’t just a word.  It was a mindset.

That was evident in the whiskey tasting kit he sent over.  His inspiration for the kit came from a night out.

“While at a very nice steakhouse I noticed a flight of Pappy Van Winkle going out on a flat, boring piece of cheap stained wood.  If you are going to taste one of the best whiskeys in the world, shouldn’t the whole experience be top notch to get the most out of it?”

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The Southern Drinking Club’s whiskey tasting kit includes three Glencairn glasses, a flight board made using a reclaimed whiskey barrel, a set of nine whiskey stones, a water eye dropper, and a whiskey journal.  It all comes packed neatly in a pine gift box.

The presentation is top notch.  The Southern Drinking Club engraved plastic sheet slides out, revealing compartments for each piece.  That reclaimed flight board features the charred layer from the barrel stave, as well as the whiskey line (how far the whiskey penetrated the barrel).  Another nice touch is the provenance of the barrel.  In this case, it’s a Woodford Reserve barrel filled on March 17, 2011.

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Food plating is an important part of the dining experience, and it translates here.  Having your whiskey flight presented on this beautifully crafted flight tray adds a touch of elegance to the whiskey tasting experience.

Arguably the most important thing here are the glasses.  They are actual Glencairn whisky glasses and not knock-offs.  The whiskey stones are for those who prefer slightly chilled but undiluted whiskey.  We know water can help open a whiskey’s bouquet.  Sometimes a splash of water will do, but those looking for precise control over the addition of water will appreciate the water dropper.  And the included whiskey journal lets you keep a record of what you’re drinking.  In my case, referring to old tasting notes can come in very handy.

This whiskey tasting kit is a great gift idea for the whiskey lover in your life.  I look forward to using this in some upcoming Youtube videos for this blog.

Just in time for Father’s Day, you can order yours at a temporarily discounted price of $100 (price good through the end of June 2018) at southerndrinkingclub.com.

A very special thanks to Jeremy for the kit.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.