Whether you spell whiskey with an “ey” or an “y,”, this is for you! Excuse me, isn’t this a blog about wine? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere? Stay with me folks, I’m just keeping you sharp.
Who doesn’t love a road trip? If a screaming child is in the back–it’s not so fun. BUT when you’re doing a bridge and tunnel into Brooklyn without kids but a carload of fun (adult) friends and headed for some mid-day whiskey? Well that’s a new outlook on life, my friends. Windows down, hands in the air. . . whoops, that’s the snow cyclone coming though, roll ‘em back up– but you get the point and yeah, it was a good day.
Let me back this up for ya, so you don’t lose all confidence in me:
While in the throws of studying spirits for the WSET diploma, which of course includes whiskeys, I convinced husband and a few friends (it didn’t take that much convincing) to do a little tour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is the location of Kings County Distillery.
The distillery is a very cool place; besides the charming bar and eatery at the front of the property, you can make a reservation to take a tour and hear a bit of American whiskey history, and at the end of the tour, you get to TASTE, which is why I kind of needed the experience. The more I was able to taste before that test, the better. I knew it would be a fun thing for my husband and friends to do but I admit I was pleasantly surprised how much fun I had as well. I highly recommend this outing, followed up by a visit to the best new neighborhood bar in Brooklyn, Diamond ‘Lil , which is “kinda” nearby afterwards to keep the party going.
Back to Whiskey—Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Irish and Japanese Whiskey and Scotch. PHEW. What do they all have in common? They are all Whiskey but made from different base materials and different requirements and different techniques, which creates different flavors and some passionate followers. Are you still with me? To enjoy—you don’t really need to know the ins and outs. Just pick up and enjoy.
Now as to the spelling, there is no law that requires countries to use one spelling over another but typically Scotland, Japan and Canada spell it “whisky” and Ireland and the US as “whiskey”.
Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn is what one would call a ‘craft distillery’, a smaller production specializing in small batch bourbon. The vision here is to use smaller barrels for ageing (not the typical 53 gallons, instead just 5 gallons). Kings uses a pot still for distillation (from a coppersmith in Scotland), which is typically used in in Scotland and Japan. Hence the whole “different materials and distillations techniques” vary the results of whiskey.
The tour starts with a little history. Ironically (or not) the distillery is in the same place as the Whiskey Wars in late 1800s when whiskey ran thru the cobblestone streets near the navy yard when moonshiners were raided by soldiers because they were avoiding the 20% tax by the newly formed IRS to fund the Civil war. You’ll hear terms thrown about here like double distilled, peated whiskey, bourbon, straight bourbon, single malt whiskey and the list goes on. You will see the pot still brought in from Scotland and the smaller barrels this distillery in known for. Just sit back, relax and learn something new. . . and remember tastings happen at the end of the tour!
After we tasted and bought the hot commodity we took a Lyft to a new local bar called Diamond ‘Lil which is getting a lot of buzz. I highly recommend a visit. This little place makes you feel like you belong in Brooklyn. Try a cocktail–wine is a side note here. I tried a little Mezcal cocktail. It was worth a visit! http://diamondlilbar.com
Try something new. Put the wine glass down for a minute and savor some whiskey. If nothing else, you’ll appreciate your next glass of wine that much more.
For a quick education:
Bourbon is whiskey but certain regulations allow it to be called Bourbon. It can be made anywhere in the US (known for production in Kentucky) and the base material must be 51% corn and placed in charred oak barrels with no min ageing.
Straight whiskey (bourbon is one of the 5 types of whiskey to use ‘straight’ , the others are base materials of rye, malt, Rye malt, and wheat, and must be aged for 2 years in oak (no coloring or flavoring can be used)
Tennessee Whiskey must be aged in Tennessee and must be filtered through maple charcoal, other than that similar to Bourbon.
Scotch Whisky must be distilled and aged in Scotland (Single Malt, Single Grain, Blended Malt, Blended Grain, Blended Scotch Whisky… there is a few different examples) Highlands, Speyside, Islay.. so much to know here.. Barley is the name of the game here for Malt Whisky production.
Irish Whiskey must be distilled in either Eire or Northern Ireland.
Japanese Whiskeys a blend dominated market but have great single malt examples modeled after Scotch Whisky. Some of my favorite tastings were exported from this local. Look out for them!
The base material for all whiskeys is what alters the flavor as well as where it is produced. Each base material requires a different way of production due to enzymes and how they break down, which creates different processes. Whiskey can range in aromas from spice and fruit to honey, smokey and nuts. There is a lot more to this BUT- That is a different blog!
Shout out to Traci Giles !! (friend and photographer) who made the awesome photos happen!