Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Man About (Tuthill)Town

Look at this picture.

Now back to me.

Now back to this picture.

Now back to me.

Sadly, you aren't me. Because if you were me you'd be working at the above place. You would be gainfully employed to fabricate wonders at the above place.

The above place is Tuthilltown Distillery.

That's right folks. Through a complex combination of sheer luck and stubbornness, I have landed a job working at Tuthilltown Distillery. While I won't go into specifics about what I'm doing (pesky NDAs!) the most apt title of my position is Research and Development. As I described to Mutineer Magazine earlier on Twitter:

in reply to @mutineermag
@mutineermag I am their Research and Development department. I am the Science Smith. I forge experiments, quench raw data, and hone reports
Oct 26 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Literally, that's what I do. I make science...because science is a verb now.

In reality, I am doing a continuation of my wood maturation thesis work along with other fun, science-y things. I take barrel samples and put them in little jars and label them. I go around knocking on casks. I help the bottling/batch production team analyze their incoming batch barrels (by tasting). I also label, bottle, and box whiskey batches. If you have a bottle from batch 21 or 22 of the Baby Bourbon or 21 of the Manhattan Rye, chances are I put the label on it, gave it its birth number, and sealed the cradle it came in. Pretty solid chance. I've done about 600 bottles so far.

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering what this means for In With Bacchus. True, I will be posting less frequently (if that can even be possible). I will also be Tweeting less (but it'll give me time to make the tweets I do send extra special). And my website will be perused by my work's HR department, at least until they get used to my crazy ranting writing style. Other than that, nothing much will change. I promise. Tuthilltown and, potentially by extension, William Grant and Sons are cutting my paychecks. It's true; fair disclosure. Does this mean that I will change my views because of that? Nope. Not at all. I will do my utmost to remain fair and neutral. I'm not afraid to speak my mind on the things I'm passionate about and, if you've stuck around this long, I'm sure you know that.

There is one thing that will change and it's for the better: my knowledge base. Each day I'm learning not just things about wood maturation and maturation chemistry, but the business and efficiency of a working distillery. They don't always notice me, but I always notice what most people are doing. From the corner of my eye I watch them mill and mash. As I come down the stairs among the heady grain smell, I watch them cool and pitch. I chat with the distillers who walk me through their methods for determining the foreshots, hearts, and feints cuts. I lovingly watch over each barrel as it's filled like a mother hen. When it rolls to it's final resting place, I am generally there. And when an old barrel rolls out, I'm there too. I make it a point to be present in every aspect of the production process to the best extent I can while getting stuff done. And I can tell you, I'm learning a lot. No amount of reading and lectures can make up for almost a month's worth of hands on experience. The chalkiness and bitterness that signals the end of the hearts cut. The steam vapors of cooking corn that fog your glasses and leave you smelling like grits. The worn oak and whiskey tinge of a warehouse. Can't learn that from a book.

So yes, I am gainfully employed. And no, nothing will change here at In With Bacchus.

Except my depth of knowledge.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Glenlivet Faemussach - Monday, October 10th

Knowing whisky (or beverage) people is a funny thing for a variety of reasons. I would be flat out lying if I didn't say that, at one point, I had a drunken argument about the merits of a protein rest during brewing and the viability of cask reuse-age for whisky. It's things like this that eventually come up in conversation, either alcohol induced or otherwise. Talking shop is one of the most rewarding things about this job. Well, almost.

I'd have to say the most is the fact that most booze and cocktail people have fantastically stocked bar backs in their home and they are more than willing to share. They'll trade regional product for regional product, swap homemade bitters for falernum, surprise you with a snort of old cognac in the mail or maybe a cocktail book they found at a yard sale. We share what we've got. And this is how I got a small sample of the Faemussach.

Glenlivet Faemussach is a 13 year old, cask strength Glenlivet. I got my sample from a friend that works at Royal Mile whiskies. It came in this bottle:

Yep, that's right. An old Duncan Taylor sample bottle. You get used to seeing stuff like this. Recycling is key. Smart booze people save all of their mini bottles and sample glass so that they can pass on stuff to other people. Oddly enough, this is a second hand sample. This sample, in turn, came from ANOTHER person (or people) who got a bottle of it as a present. That would be the Edinburgh Whisky Blog. Yeah, booze gets passed around in the community.

And I likes it.

Anyway, here she is in all of her golden glory:

I think it's straight from the cask, unchillfiltered, uncolored, and at a hefty 59.1% ABV. And it's so good. Here's the notes:

Nose: Orange marmalade. Pine needles. Milk chocolate. No peat at all, despite the fact that it's named after a peat field. Some sawdust / new wood. Grassy and floral like a spring field. Very cracking nose on this one.

Taste: Lots of oranges and cream. It's almost like a creamsicle. Clover honey. A bite of wood towards the end develops into some spice. Slightly salty too. Peat is so faint over the explosion of sweetness and fruit on top of it. The wood on the finish is nice. It's almost like buttered oak.

This is a -fantastic- dram. I don't have much of it left but I'll be sure to savor it. Unfortunately, you can't get any unless you're super cool and Pernod Ricard loves you. Well, loved you. They gave away all the bottles they had, I believe.  They release a new one each year with a different name and no release is ever the same. Which makes me even sadder. That Duncan Taylor bottle is frighteningly low but I'll be hoarding that like a dragon. Sadly, I won't be sharing it, booze nerds. Sorry.