Saturday, February 27, 2010

Documentary: The Last One by Sucker Punch Pictures

It all started with Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey. I picked it up at a local liquor store and reviewed it, oh, about three months ago. In case you missed it, it's here. That review, technically, isn't fair anymore because that was my first taste of straight corn whiskey, un-aged and glorious. This little bottle of corn-scented ambrosia prompted me to investigate the nature of "white dog", or spirit straight off the still. It intrigued me, really. I have tried a lot of aged spirits from three years old to eighteen. I hadn't, at that point, tried anything fresh off a still. It was, in its own way, uniquely delicious. I then decided to go more in-depth into the topic. What's the point of being a booze journalist if you don't follow through, right?

I later tried all sorts of raw whiskey. The Hudson New York Corn Whiskey from Tuthilltown (which I bought a bottle of and will be reviewing formally soon) and Georgia Moon (which is a mild corn whiskey that's more gimmick than substance) were both good in their own way, with my favorite being the Tuthilltown. Searching for this white dog, this white lighting', this corn squeezins', has resulted in research in all forms of media. It is, predominantly, in the form of moonshine. Long has new make white spirit been associated with the Appalachian tradition of making sweet, sweet hooch in illicit stills. Unfortunately, as many have noted, the old-timey tradition of quality 'shine given away to friends and family or used in medicine is gone, replaced with a massive illegal trade in high margin, low quality spirits. Pappy don't have a copper still in the back yard anymore. They're often crudely formed of cheap metal (often unsuitable for potable alcohol production) and sometimes they're even cut with harsh chemicals that mimic the "burn" and fire of a high proof spirit. Long gone are the days of distilling for use rather than profit. However, there are a few journalists still soldiering on to capture what is information is left from the dying breed of traditionalist distillers. One of these heroic men is Neal Hutchinson, creator of Sucker Punch Pictures and the documentary "The Last One".

It stars the late "Popcorn" Sutton, one of the last vocal and prominent distillers. Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton was a spitfire of an old coot. On the outside, he looked like an old Snuffy Smith cartoon with his stained overalls, long beard, unfiltered cigarettes and Model A Ford. In reality, he had the trappings of a normal man: cell phone, Toyota. Many feel (like Max Watman) that people idolize him not for what he does but what he represents: a time gone by. I idolize him because he's had the brass balls to continue distilling in the face of the ATF and revenuers. He'd been caught a few times and damn if that was gonna slow this crazy old bastard down. I have to respect that.

The plot of the film is elegant in its simplicity: the last run of moonshine that Sutton will ever do. It follows the entire process, interspersed with historians and first hand accounts. The full gauntlet is run: from picking a spot to the proofing party. You can watch Sutton find a place, build a still, ferment the corn mash, charge the still, run the wash through, and end up with the final product which a friend of him cuts down to appropriate proof. All of the liquor he makes he gives away. This is the gist of the movie. But it's so much more than that. It really shows not just an old man doing what he learned to do despite the laws preventing him, but a kind of dedication. He chronicles the batches he's made, distinguishing between "fighting kinds" and "lovin kinds" of moonshine. You see him sit around in the company of friends, picking a banjo and smoking a cig. The best part of the movie, for me, is listening to Popcorn laugh. It's infectious. A light hiccuping laugh of mirth and joy, it speaks to not the booze he's cranking out but the history of the man; his ups and downs. The film evolves far beyond the still and alcohol but to the personal story of a man; the history of a region.

It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that the story doesn't have a happy ending. Shortly after a conviction and jail sentencing for illegal ethanol production, Popcorn Sutton committed suicide by way of carbon monoxide poisoning. It saddens me that I'd never get to meet Popcorn and share a jar with him. I'd never get to hear what he has to say, learn what he has to teach. But, luckily, his legacy lives on in The Last One and I'm certainly glad of it. The only draw-back to this DVD? It's too damn short to encapsulate the man that is Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wall Street Journal!

I, Scott D. Spolverino, have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal article entitled: Liquor Discounts Becoming Bad Habit by Spirit Makers.

Does this mean that, contrary to popular belief, I am kind of a big deal? Will I become as famous as Ron Burgundy? Only time will tell.

Link forthcoming. Stay tuned for updates.

NYC Coffee And Tea Festival

NYC is a cool place but I'm not sure I could ever live there. Commute? Probably. There are a lot of things that I really enjoy about it. This can mainly be summed up as the sheer volume and eccentricity of cultural cuisine represented in the metropolitan area. Just walking down the street yielded several restaurants of all different cultures and regions. As an amateur foodie and professional fatty, it was pretty great. Definitely something not available upstate. Not just in food but in beverage too. In the city, not only is beverage a necessity but a pleasure as well. Eclectic and artisan tea shops, coffee shops, bars, etc. are abundant in the city. As a bound-in-blood drinker of all of life's imbibe-ables, this too is quite awesome. There seems t
o be almost a certain respect for the craftsman's art of good coffee and tea in the city. Upstate i
t's far less pronounced. Many places focusing on tea (like the tea shop that got me started) quic
kly go out of business. I feel that upstate, tea is something you find on the grocer's shelf, pre-sealed in tea bags. It's not a loose beverage. Coffee fairs better but only because it's wake-up juice. The local coffee roaster does booming business and has for years but it almost seems like its viewed more as a jump-start to the day rather than a beverage worth a sensory investment. These are just my thoughts though.

As you may or may not know, over the weekend I covered the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival as press. It was, in short, wonderful to see so many either curious enough to drop a Jackson on the entrance fee or those dedicated to fine beverage. Both were there in spades, let me tell you. The 11th floor of the 7West building seemed like a vast sea of coffee and tea when the elevators first opened on that slightly cold but exhilarating February day. I entered the room and hit the road running, so to speak. There were vendors to peruse and companies to chat with and hell if I was going to miss any one company. I won't give you a play by play of the THREE AND A HALF HOURS I spent there but rather the highlights. Here we go:

Highlight one: Hancha Tea. Run by Yoon Hee Kim, a woman quite adept with all nuances of Korean tea. There were some fabulous samples there. The mulberry tea was quite nice with a flavor that stumped me in a delicious way. It reminded me of a buttered root vegetable (they said it reminded them of butternut squash). They had a chrysanthemum tea too which I didn't actually like due to its inherent natural sweetness. It was like drinking stevia in water, to be honest but a lot of people at the show raved about it. To each their own, I suppose. The final and best thing about the Hancha tea booth was the one purchase I made that day: individual pu erh cakes in both raw and cooked. They are no larger than an Oreo cookie and no thicker than a pack of matches. Circular with the classic pu erh dimple, they individually packed in small sealed plastic packaging. The cooked is very earthy and robust while the raw (my favorite) has a delicate peppery-ness and spice to it. I can't find a whole lot of info on it (the packaging is in Chinese) so if you know Mandarin (I think it is), let me know. I've got a project for ya.

Highlight two: Montauk Beverage. You know how I feel about these guys. If you don't, look here. Raymond was a very nice guy and his product is fantastic. You know the drill. Buy en masse.

Highlight three: Harney and Sons. You also know how I feel about the Harney family. I won't bother linking the multiple reviews I've done of their teas and facilities. Unfortunately, none of the Harney family was able to make it. I did manage to meet their newest exchange student who is here from France working in the factory. She was exceedingly nice and put up with my tea geek tendencies. If you're reading this, French girl, sorry I didn't stop back to see you. I had a train to catch.

Highlight four: Bailey's new coffee creamers. No link yet and I accidentally left their press docket at home. Whoops. I'll have further details on this next week when I get back to my house. They had a few flavors. I tried the Hazelnut and it wasn't any different than most other Hazelnuts but it was a bit richer. It was extremely interesting to see a traditionally alcoholic beverage brand branch into a non-alcoholic market but I'd reserve judgment until I see price points.

Highlight five: The Great Spirits Baking Company. Orange almond cake soaked in Patron Citronge. Apricot ginger cake soaked in Drambruie. They were extremely moist, absolutely delicious, and had a proof. Happy Scott is happy. I realllly wanted to try the Pyrat soaked dark chocolate raisin cake and mocha double chocolate chunk soaked in Padron XO but the stand was mobbed. Sad Scott has empty tummy.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Fang Gourmet Tea. This was, without a doubt, my favorite stand at the festival. I rounded a corner and came upon a huge set-up of all things tea. They had extremely handsome yixing clay teapots, beautiful gaiwans and...stacks and stacks of pu erh. Lots and lots of pu erh tongs (not the grabbing pasta type but the seven cake stacks of pu erh sold as one unit). It was...beautiful. There were ladies briskly brewing up tea to try. They had an excellent oolong that I tried straight off the bat. It was sweet and floral and delicious. I wish I could remember the name of it. I then tried a rose tea that I didn't care for. I was desperate to try some of the pu erh though. One of the kind workers informed me that you could sign up for their Fang Tea Club (complete with membership card!) and you could get a discount on a gong fu style tea tasting. Well hot damn! After signing up and dropping ten small ($10 a person) we sat at a beautiful tea table with a very nice guy bustling about and pouring tea. He was brewing in the gong fu style. Minimalist infusions (about 30-45 seconds) done in a well sealed gaiwan that was drained into a communal pot and distributed into tiny little cups. The big pot may seem odd but its actually a nice feature. To pour directly from the gaiwan would leave the cups later in the pour with a stronger infusion. The jug allows a uniform infusion for all.

When we first sat, Ki (our amazing tea guide) was into a steeping of "Big Leaf Loose Pu erh". It was an incredible infusion. It had a definite aged quality to it with a sea brine like taste and earthy-ness that mellowed as the infusions progressed. I don't know what infusion we started on but we sat for 6 infusions of that leaf and watched it evolve. It was...delicious. We then moved onto the Dong Ding Oolong Honey Aroma which ended up being the tea I had tasted when I first stopped by. It was rich and slightly grassy with a honey tinge in the background and a tart astringency that oscillated through each infusion. It was...very good and Ki said it was a classic Taiwanese tea that pretty much put them on the tea map. Ki was a collector of yixing pots and had some pots in his collection going back to almost 400 years old. I keep telling myself that using yixing pots and gaiwans is a bad idea mainly due to the fact that I find them incredibly beautiful despite their incredible price. I'm also extremely clumsy. Bad combo.

Ki enlightened me to the fact that they do monthly tea tastings in Flushing which I am planning on attending at some point. I've already mapped things out and I can get to their store in two stops from Poughkeepsie once I'm home for break. Or, well...for good come summer. Graduating is a bitch. All in all, this booth was the highlight of the trip and I will definitely be visiting the Fang Gourmet Tea shop in Flushing at some point. Ki recommended a few pu erhs that they have to me and...well...damn it, I think I have to buy them. For the sake of the blog, of course.

The festival itself was nice and I enjoyed going. There was ample room and plenty of good cold water to cut the massive amount of caffeinated and piping hot beverages that flowed freely. The women's bathroom had a line (according to my press buddy, my mom. Hi mom!) but the men's room was devoid of users. Other than that hiccup, it was a great day and a pleasure to attend.

And now...some pictures of the gong-fu tea tasting. First, setting out the cups. He then filled them with hot water to bring the porcelain up to temperature:

Next up is filling the gaiwan with hot water. At this point, he'd already had the pu erh in there for a few steeps (he actually forgot how many steeps we had done):

Letting it brew:
Getting ready to pour it into the pot:

Filling the cups:

Dinner of champions:

Yeah, that's right. I shave with The Art of Shaving Sandalwood products. Such a smooth shave. Love that crap.

Finally, a picture of the warning sign on the train in case of emergency:

One of my favorite things is to ignore the wording under the pictures and interpret it myself. Here's a rough estimate:

1) Pretend you hear an evacuation siren.
2) Don't step into a puddle when you pretend to evacuate the train.
3) Go back into train and go one car up.
4) Lock door. Wave to everyone outside.
5) Rejoice in a now empty car! Pick your favorite seat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Montauk Beverage Works Black tea w/ lemongrass - Monday Feb. 22



About damn time.

You know my quest for ready-to-drink tea. You've seen my plight. The market today is inundated with high-fructose corn syrup-laden abominations to the word "tea". They contain enough of that HFCS to knock out a mule. You can't taste the tea, which is probably a good thing considering the quality of tea they use. And even if they do use sugar (like Gold Peak tea), its so much that it's overbearingly sweet. And expensive. My school sells them for $2.59 a bottle. $2.59. Two of those and I could buy a cheap Arturo Fuente cigar. Nothing like gauging.

But, I have found the Holy Grail of RTD beverages. Today I attended the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival as press (more on this later). Among the smorgasbord of tea and coffee available was a simple stand in the middle of a room. It had a clean white tablecloth on it with nothing but a sign and several bottles of tea. A few pamphlets, true, but the bottles were the focus. The name was Montauk Beverage Works and they were sampling their first product on the market. The guy working was a hell of a nice guy. I think it was the owner, actually, who, according to their website, must have carted everything to that show in the back of a Hyundai Tuscon. He graciously gave me a bottle of his tea to review.
And I'm gonna review the hell out of it.

Here it is:

Montauk Beverage Works Black tea w/ leomongrassIt's simple and clean. Brown and yellow, with a hand-drawn quality to the artwork and lettering. It tells the story of the founder, the nutrition info, what it is, and what it's called. No fancy, gimmicky label. It doesn't need it. The tea inside speaks for itself.

My favorite sweetener is agave nectar. If you've read about me waxing nostalgic about maple sap, you'll know how much I love it. Agave nectar tastes exactly like that sticky maple taffy of my youth, only in liquid form. It's the best stuff ever. When I saw that Montauk black tea was sweetened with it, I nearly cried. Not just sweetened with natural product, but with my favorite sweetener. Joyyyyyyyyy!

The taste is stellar. It's not sweet, no. It's pleasantly tinged with sweetener. The black tea they use is high quality and it shows through the beverage. It's not some factory sweepings that they brewed up and laced with corn-based death. It's "a special blend of nilgiri and ceylon" according to the bottle and I'd agree. Definitely not an Indian or Chinese black because they definitely wouldn't work in this instance. The lemon-grass provides this faint memory of citrus that permeates the drink, which I like over those puckering bastards where all you get is fake lemon and fake sugar from the drink. The finish, as I said, is lightly sweet with agave nectar which gives a caramel and malt like finish.

It's so good.

This tea is great. I want more. No, scratch that, I need more. I want it in every damn store, restaurant, and deli. I would drink it constantly and at only 80 calories a bottle, it's not like that's too bad of a thing. I can't wait to see more offerings from this company. I want them to succeed in every way. Is this good tea? No. Good is to generic of a word. This is drop-dead excellent tea. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, he's starting in Montauk and it hasn't gotten very far from there. You want a bottle? Convince a local store to start buying cases of it. You'd better tell them to get more than one case because you'll want one of your own after you drink a bottle.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sydney - Saturday, Feb. 13th

This isn't about a beverage named Sydney. This is about a dog named Sydney. My dog.

Life is like a record on a record player, I've found. It continues to go, around and around, and always with pressure; a weight. There are ups and there are downs and sometimes it is everything you can do to keep from being pushed down and knocked about by the pressure. But a lot of people only focus on the pressure and the ups and downs and neglect the bigger picture. They neglect the fact that these ups and downs, combined with this weight, make beautiful music. Without these ups and downs, a record is just a thin piece of useless vinyl, spinning forever with no tune. Every time I think that life is getting to be too much, I realize that it's just part of the process. Without these dips, there would be no music. I wouldn't have a complete record of my life.

Today, I found out that my dog had to be put down. My Sydney, my dearest companion. Cancer is abhorrent. It has claimed far too many of my family and it probably won't rest on its laurels. She had an advanced form of bone marrow cancer that we just didn't put together. She started having trouble eating about six months ago. She couldn't stomach dry food so we switched her to wet food and she was ecstatic. Life continued on turning. Lately she'd been having a bit of trouble keeping that wet food down but, hey, she was 12 years old. She's not perfect. Finally, on Wednesday my parents had to bring her to the vet because she was running a high fever and was starting to get weak. A blood test came back and the doctors had to send another one out. They thought the test was wrong. They'd never seen a dog with such a low white blood cell count still standing. When they got it back, it was even lower. They said that there was little hope of recovery if we started chemo now, so we went for the only option left available. My parents said their goodbyes and my Sydney drifted off to the dog version of Valhalla, a land resplendent with rawhide-bearing bushes, Milk Bone rain showers, and clouds that float down from the sky for them to sleep on. My greatest regret is not being there to say goodbye. She and I had a bond forged from pure steel since the day we met and I feel almost ashamed that I wasn't there to cradle her and see her off.

She was a rescue dog. She didn't rescue people, we rescued her. She had been in an abusive home in the Carolinas where they didn't feed her at all and let her run loose. She was maltreated, to say the least. When the Animal Control found her, she had a severe case of heart-worm and they immediately put her on heart-worm treatments. If you know anything about heart-worms and dogs, the survivability rate isn't great. But my little Sydney beat the odds and overcame heart-worm. We found her through the internet and adopted her, having her flown in. My other dog is deaf and she needed a "companion dog", a hearing dog that would allow her some extension of senses that could be translated through doggie mannerisms. While she couldn't hear, she could have a buddy that could do her hearing for her. When we picked her up from Albany International, she was a waif of a dog.

The heart-worm treatment had left her almost emaciated. Her normal soft outer coat of fur had fallen out, leaving her hair short and bristly. She was skittish and so was I. She was a little fireball of a thing, even in her nervousness. We met her in the terminal as she was guided out on a leash by a stewardess. She approached us and sniffed us. She had no tail, as is customary with Austrailian Shepards (it had been "docked" off), so her sincerest form of joy was wagging her entire rear. Only recently did I know that there was a tiny little nub of a tail embedded in her fur that would wiggle furiously every time I came out of my room. This bond came from the ride home from Albany. Stuck in a crate that was too small for her, there wasn't enough room for a food bowl to be placed into it. She was hungry, you could tell, because she kept sniffing the air and staring at the bowl with those big brown eyes. So, I started feeding her kibble from my hand. Three kibble at a time, I'd squeeze my hand through the crate bars and she'd eat them. we did this through the entirity of the ride home, three little kernels of food at a time. When we got home and took her off the leash, she made a bee-line to my room. She scrambled in and immediately peed on my floor, right next to my bed. She was marking me as her own, as her trusted friend. And things went along swimmingly since then.

Sydney and I have had our ups and downs. She can be annoying and fickle but loving and sweet at the same time. She supported me through some of my toughest moments and I supported her through some tough ones of hers. But, unfortunately, her record is a 78, mine is a 33 1/3. Her record had to come off and be put away with all the others while mine continues to trundle on, its ups and downs carving out the song that is my life. One day I'll be able to put her record back on and listen to it, reliving everything we've had. But until then, I guess I just have to keep turning.

Bye Sydney.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Harney and Son's Stanley's Blend - Wednesday, Feb. 17th

Oh Harney and Sons. So many teas, so very little time. As the tea samples come in to review for Teaviews I find myself drinking more and more tea in an "evaluation" setting. For me, an evaluation setting is a clean palate and undivided attention to my notes and the tea. While it's nice to sit around and focus intently on all the subtle aspects of a blend or's also hellaciously nice to sit around and drink a cup of tea while reading, watching movies, or playing video games. I decided to pop into my review cup one of the family favorite blends that I managed to steal a sample of from the house. Stanley's Blend is a blend made by John Harney in tribute to his tea-tutor, Stanley Mason. So, cheers Stanley and John. This quaff's for you. Here are the notes:

Nose is malty. Assam background, I think. Has a tinge of sea brine to it as well. Little bit of smoke and spicy/nut-like quality that I can't put my finger on. It almost smells like wet dog but in a very comforting and good way. Like the smell of your favorite pet after a clean spring rain. Reminds me of curling up with my dog, drinking tea, and reading. If Sir Mixalot was a tea connoisseur, he'd say that this baby got back(bone). Sorry, lame pun but I couldn't help it.

Taste is slightly bitter but in the way that a good IPA can be bitter. A lot of people think that when I say bitter it's a bad thing. I like IPAs, so...not quite. Earth and a vegetable quality I typically find in greens is wayyyy down deep and buried but present. Slight wood (oak?). Some malty sweetness in there, along with a dark Indian tea strength.

Tea notes: It's blend of Assam and Darjeeling. I'm guessing mainly Assam with Darjeeling for that woodsy spice qualities.

Here are some pictures. The dry:

The liquor:

The spent leaves:

In other news, this weekend is the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival which I will be attending. As press. If you're in the neighborhood and feel like stopping by, I should be there early Saturday. Just wave if you see me. Oh, and introduce yourself, if you please. I'll be with my mom (who likes tea and the city) but don't be shy. She's awesome. In her own way.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ace: Joker Hard Cider - Saturday, Feb. 7th

As you know, I love cider. A lot. I'm always on the hunt for new cider brands and when I find them I typically drink more than my weight in them. When I found out about the California Cider Company out of Sonoma County, I was elated. A whole company dedicated to making cider. How wonderfully buzz-copping is that? I contacted them asking if their cider made it out NY way and they said no. I was a sad panda. But they said they'd be more than willing to send out a few bottles for me to try. I went from a sad panda to a happy panda. Here she is:

Ace Joker Hard Cider
The Ace cider is a European styled dry cider with a 6.9% ABV. It is an intriguing cider, although not in a hurry to replace my favorite ciders. The ABV makes it punishingly deceptive. It is easy to drink and gets you tipsy in a hurry. The aroma is straight apples with a slightly yeasty edge. I could almost swear that there is some pear in this as well as it has light pear-y notes too. The pear follows slightly into the taste as well. It says it has "natural flavors" in it so maybe it has pear in it as well. The taste is quite dry and has, as it states, a fine dry bubbly quality of a good champagne. The ingredients list is slightly disconcerting though. It appears to be made from hard cider, carbonated water, apple concentrate, and natural flavors. While "natural flavors" may be all natural I don't really view anything made with them as a "natural" product. I really do think there's some pear in there because the label has a joker juggling not just apples but pears as well. Gotta get to the bottom of this.

Overall, it's an alright cider. The pear/apple flavor is nice (if a touch light) and I think the addition of the carbonated water results in the light/weak flavor but it is an easy-drinking cider with a huge ABV to boot. I'd be curious to see what the price point is. The fact that it's 6.9% in a 22oz. bottle does not go unappreciated.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vermont White Vodka

Typically, I don't do a whole lot of vodka, mainly because every single vodka available is pretty much pure ethanol. Not that this is a bad thing (it's a good thing) but I like some flavor with my drinks. The Eastern European countries that traditionally drink vodka (I'm looking at you, Russia) don't drink 40x distilled, 800x filtered vodka made of albino wheat grown in the Himalayas that's cut only with distilled water for additional purity. They drink vodka that's once or twice distilled, three at the most. It's not filtered and it's made from a wide range of tasty raw ingredients. Vodka isn't supposed to be engine degreaser, it's supposed to have flavor! Drink it with some friends while eating pickles, black bread, and smoked fish. Not mindlessly slammed down in coke or tonic endlessly while trying to catch the eye of that blonde on the other end of the bar. Flavor, people, flavor!

One ingredient that I had never seen as a vodka base is maple syrup. I figured: "Hell, they use it to flavor Bashah, the Stone/Brewdog collab beer and that's fantastic. Wonder what else it can do?" Vermont Spirits, distilling in...well...Vermont, makes a vodka that uses fermented maple syrup as a base. This is cool, says I. That probably tastes awesome. My fondest family trip memories were going to Mt. Trembland in Quebec province of Canada. They had this tiny little "sugar shack", or maple syrup manufacturer's shack, that sold maple syrup and maple sugar. One of their most delicious treats was ladling hot and sticky maple syrup onto fresh snow. It cooled into this sticky sweet and slightly buttery maple taffy that you would roll up with a Popsicle stick and eat as you walked. I always ended the day with my face coated in a fine patina of mapley glue that would freeze in the sub-arctic winds of Canada turning my face into the human version of that self-hardening ice-cream fudge. The Vermont Spirits people were kind enough to send me samples of their stuff and I obliged them by sampling them. I tell you this, however, to tell you about their OTHER vodka.

It's made with milk.

Yep. You read that right.

They ferment milk and distill it. Simple as that. Sounds horrible in theory, honestly. In is a gift from the Bacchus. It is -THE- perfect White Russian vodka. Here are the notes for the neat spirit:

Nose is sweet. It has the standard ethanol burn and sizzle with a clean sweetness to it. The milk base comes through though. You can really tell it's milk. It doesn't have that clean, sterile smell of grain or potato but rather a slight creaminess behind the ethanol.

The taste is amazingly delicious. It is rich and creamy almost like a fresh whole milk. It is exceedingly smooth with a clean alcohol taste. No congeners in this stuff, it's a nice cut. Makes me wonder if the heat denatures some of the milk proteins at all. The finish is long and lasting, almost like an alcoholic milkshake.

Vermont White Vodka
The White Russian with this bad boy is a religious experience. With normal vodka, the vodka tends to "water down" the creaminess in some way. The viscosity gets thinner and the fatty richness of the milk is diminished. Not with the White. It cradles that succulent taste and cares and nurtures it. It blossoms with milk added. It has almost an...alcoholic creaminess. It's very good. Mine I made with hazelnut Kahlua which made it like a Nutella Russian. So very good.

Summary: buy it.

Technical EDIT: Vermont Gold is made from maple sap, technically. And Vermont White is made from just milk sugars. Close enough.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Donate Button

Let's chat.

If you look to the side of the blog, you'll see a donate button. I'm not trying to pimp this at the moment, but rather an explanation of my actions. As I've said in the past, I hate ads. Ads ruin a site. I hate those Google Adwords that somehow determine that an ad featuring male enhancement products/law advice (while I'm looking at drinking websites) is not just appropriate but warranted. Or, even better, are the ads for AA. Nothing plummets my self-esteem and faith in my supposed career like getting told by Google that I should probably be going to AA. Thanks Google.

This site does incur costs. It's minimal, really (about $9 a month) for hosting and a parked domain. I don't mind eating this cost. I love this blog and I love you fine readers that tune in daily. However, there are so many things that I'd love to review for everyone that I just can't afford on my own. I'm sure you'd love to see my take on expensive whiskies, teas, and all sorts of ludicrous goodies. I'd kill to give my take on them. But they cost money. Money I don't have. Mainly thanks to buying school-books but that's another rant for another day and a blog NOT dedicated to quaffing.

I added a donate button. Yeah, I don't like it either. I feel like I'm selling out and I'm sure you feel the same way. I'm happy to keep doing what I do but reviews of the expensive stuff will have to wait until far into the future (after I pay for grad school) unless you guys are willing to chip in for it. I CAN promise you this though. Anything and everything is welcome. You got $.50 lying around and you donate it to me? I'll take it and put it into the beverage fund. This brings up another thing. Anything and everything donated will go directly back into reviews. I don't really give a shit about profit on this site. In the future, maybe this site will serve as a portfolio for me as a writer and that'll get me a sweet job. That's awesome. In the mean time, I'm not looking to earn money on this website. That's not why I'm hosting it. I'm hosting it because I love to try new beverages and cigars. I'm hosting it because I love the communities associated behind them. I'm hosting it because I love to keep up on the news of these markets. I'm NOT hosting it to make money and become super-filthy rich. That's not me.

So, in summary, if you feel so inclined to chip in a bit, go for it. Don't want to? I don't really care. Keep tuning in for exciting reviews (I guess?) and debate-sparking op. ed. pieces. And remember:

I <3 you.

(That's a heart by the way, Mom.)