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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: Recent Arrivals from the Spirits World

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste six different unique spirits.

My magazine writing means that I get a steady stream of samples connected to the features and columns I'm working on. My editors want tasting notes, so I taste. I don't complain. I'm also lucky to receive the occasional odd sample of beer, wine and spirits that is not directly related to anything that I happen to be writing for deadline. I try whenever possible to share some background on these through the Tuesday Tastings section of my blog. It is research for down the road and some of these products end up in future stories.

Consider this Tuesday Tasting to be a bit of a catch up round. The following spirits have arrived in recent months and deserve a little attention.

Sobieski Vodka: This 80 proof vodka from Poland is named for King Jan Sobieski (1629-1696) and made using Dankowski rye. It has a slightly sweet nose and a crisp, clean flavor.

1800 Select Silver Tequila: From Jose Cuervo, this Tequila is 100 proof and 100 percent agave. The double distillation creates a Tequila with a rich agave notes of grass and earth. Long lasting flavor with pepper finish that might make you think you are tasting a reposado.

Ty Ku Liqueur: This 40 proof liqueur is made with sake. Light hazy green color and interesting aroma. A number of ingredients go into the liqueur, including ginseng and damiana. Overall this has citrus and sweet candy flavor notes. The bottle comes with a LED light in the base that you can activate so it gives off a glow on the back bar.

Mata Hari Absinthe Bohemian: At 120 proof this light green colored drink comes screaming out of the bottle. Rich herbal nose. The drink contains grand wormwood and salvia among its ingredients. Burning note at the start due to the alcohol, solid long herbal aftertaste and slight bitterness.

Hiram Walker Pumpkin Liqueur: This 60 proof liqueur is orange with a mellow, slightly sweet nose. Hints of pie filling and toffee in the flavor base.

Cruzan Coconut Rum: This clear 55 proof spirit has a direct coconut nose and flavor. It starts off sweet and stays that way. Would be perfect for mixing tropical drinks.

While some of these products might be good straight, chances are you'll want to enjoy them in cocktails. In doing these tastings, I made a couple of drinks for my wife, Sandy, and brother-in-law, Dan Pikarsky. There is quite a difference in the tastes, but both were refreshingly different.

Pumpkin Martini

1.5 ounces Vodka
0.75 ounce Pumpkin Liqueur
2 ounces Orange Juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Vigorously shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass rimmed with brown sugar.

Le Demon Vert

1.5 ounces Gin
0.5 ounce Absinthe
0.5 ounce Velvet Falernum
0.5 ounce Fresh Lime Juice

Add all ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a licorice stick.

Chicago Acts to Block Wrigleyville Alcohol Sales in Case of Championship Run

It has been 100 years since the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. They have flirted with it in the past, only to break the hearts of the Cubbies faithful. Could this be the year? Some Chicago city officials appear to think so.

The area around Wrigley Field is filled with bars and restaurants. No one goes thirsty in Wrigleyville. A game day when the Cubs are in town resembles a beach resort on Labor Day weekend. You really start to wonder if anyone has a job in Chicago. But it is mostly good fun. Fans who cannot buy a ticket or don't want to bother with the live baseball part of the Chicago Cubs experience go to one of the dozens of nearby bars. They can drink in the experience and watch the game on big screen televisions.

Yesterday the City of Chicago negotiated a deal that is a little amazing given that the actual enforcement of the "Cubs Celebration Regulation" might be a little difficult. I remember reading in the history books that Prohibition did not quite work out in the Windy City.

Meeting at John Barleycorn's Restaurant on Clark (yup, they negotiated the deal in a bar) city officials and bar owners agreed to cut off alcohol sales after the seventh inning of any playoff or World series game in which the Cubs have a chance of clinching the series. The prohibition on alcohol sales will last for one hour. If the game goes to extra innings, the bars can start selling beer, wine and spirits again.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley had wanted the seventh inning ban to apply to all Cubs playoff games at Wrigley, fearing fans could spill into the streets and turn violent. The compromise on series clinching games includes bars on Sheffield from Newport to Irving; on Clark from Irving Park to Newport; and on Addison from Wilton to Racine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Napa Valley College Graduates Vintage

Napa Valley College has harvested grapes from its vineyard since 1987. Now students in the school's Viticulture and Winery Technology program have the federal and state licenses required to bottle and sell wine.

Napa Valley College 2008 Chardonnay will be the first wine from the school when it hits shelves sometime in early 2010. Up to this point the school has sold the grapes from its vineyards to commercial wineries in the region.

The school is developing a marketing plan for the winery and students in the art program are working on potential label designs. Profits from the sale will go back into the winery program.

In addition to chardonnay, the winery plans to produce sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, Syrah and cabernet sauvignon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

DRAFT Dinner Series Offers GABF Attendees a Saturday Night Option

Veterans of previous Great American Beer Festivals will tell you that if they were going to skip one of the four sessions it would be the Saturday night finale.

Why? By that point festival fatigue has set in and most people have tired palates and tired legs. The idea of nearly 2,000 great beers in one place has started to lose its allure, especially when you consider that supplies of many of the great ones have been drained. Then there is the Saturday night crowd, which from my experience has been pre-gaming for a good part of the day and tends to be younger, less beer savvy and more in the mood to find a good looking member of the opposite sex than an interesting porter. DRAFT magazine has solved the problem.

In the mood of full disclosure, DRAFT magazine is one of the magazines that I write for and they are also providing space this year in their GABF booth for a Pints for Prostates table. That said, the DRAFT Beer Dinner Series in Denver during the GABF is a great idea.

The DRAFT GABF Dinners range in price from $50-$80. All happen on Oct. 11, four of them in Denver and one in nearby Boulder. Each features the cuisine of a good restaurant and the beers from an iconic American brewer. The multi-course meals each pair food and beer. With tickets to the GABF now officially sold out, this is an excellent alternative to paying scalpers for the Saturday night session.

Here is an overview of the DRAFT GABF Dinners. You can get complete menus and order tickets at DRAFT's website:

DRAFT and Flying Dog Brewery
at Braun's Bar and Grill
$50 Per Person

DRAFT and Left Hand Brewing Company/Terrapin Beer Company Dinner
at The Kitchen in Boulder
$80 Per Person

DRAFT and New Belgium Dinner
at 1515 Restaurant
$65 Per Person

DRAFT and Samuel Adams Dinner
at Rioja
$80 Per Person

DRAFT and Sierra Nevada Dinner
at Via
$75 Per Person

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Does Kid Rock Taste Like? We'll All Know Soon Thanks to New Beer from Drinks America

This has to violate the Reinheitsgebot. Kid Rock Beer will be launched shortly by Drinks America Holdings, the folks behind Trump Super Premium Vodka and Willie Nelson's Old Whiskey River Bourbon.

Drinks America says it signed an agreement with Kid Rock to develop and market a premium domestic beer. The company, which is talking to brewers about contracting to make the beer -- what, no giant Kid Rock Brewery? -- says the beer will be for "beer drinkers who appreciate value with an easy to drink, traditional, good tasting American manufactured beer." I don't have a copy of the press release handy that announced the launch of Billy Beer, but I bet it said something similar.

Kid Rock, who was born Robert James Ritchie, has sold 25 million albums and was once engaged to Pamela Anderson. Kid Rock also apparently has a temper. He has been arrested several times on assault charges, including an incident last year at a Waffle House in Atlanta. For that offense, Kid Rock was ordered to do 80 hours of community service and take an anger management course.

Drinks America says it is working with "Kid Rock to make sure that every aspect of the beer and the marketing support is as exciting as everything else Kid Rock does."

I can hardly wait.

Indiana Might Open Sunday Alcohol Sales

A group calling itself Hoosiers for Beverage Choices says it has gathered more than 13,000 signatures on a petition calling for Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana.

The group wants Sunday alcohol sales at grocery, convenience and drug stores. They also want to allow those stores to sell cold beer. Currently only liquor stores are able to sell cold beer in Indiana.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers is against Sunday sales. The group represents liquor stores and sees this as an extra burden on small businesses. The Sunday sales would bring additional competition and spread existing sales across an extra day. The grocery store and service station lobby supports Sunday sales.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: Three 18 Year Old Blends

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste a trio of 18-year-old blends.

Blended Scotch is often viewed as an entry point for the category, but when you are talking about 18-year-olds you get a ton more flavor and depth. These blends were tasted as part of a feature in the current issue of DRAFT magazine.

Buchanan’s 18 Year Old Special Reserve: This 80 proof blend is a nice amber color. The aroma offers up a hint of smoke and some citrus. The flavor includes green grass, oak and orange.

Chivas Regal Rare Old 18 Year Old Blend: This 80 proof whisky is a mellow gold color. It has a nutty, almond nose. There are hints of citrus and a nice level of wood in the flavor of this whisky.

The Famous Grouse 18 Year Old: This 86 proof blended malt is an attractive copper color. There is a slight floral and cocoa note to the nose. The flavor is rich and smooth, with nice oak to the finish.

Monday, September 22, 2008

GABF Poised for Early Sell Out

In what is becoming a habit for beer festivals across the country, the Great American Beer Festival is nearly sold out.

If you plan to attend the 27th edition of the GABF and you have not purchased tickets yet, you had better get moving. Two sessions on Saturday and the Friday night session are already sold out. The only session with tickets still available is Thursday and 77 percent of the tickets for that four hour tasting event are already gone.

The GABF takes place in Denver from Oct. 9-11. Lyke2Drink will be reporting from the event and bringing you all of action from the GABF. We'll also have several posts heading into the event on the history of the festyival.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time to Gas Up: Waukesha, Wisc., Service Stations Can Now Sell Beer

Waukesha, Wisc., city officials recently voted 9-6 to lift a 32-year-old ban on the sale of beer at gas stations.

In ending the Prohibition on beer sales at service station convenience stores, aldermen in favor of the move said it was needed to help gas station operators compete with nearby towns where beer sales are permitted.

Gas station operators must obtain a city permit for they can begin offering beer. Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposed the measure saying it would make alcohol more readily available to underage consumers.

Pernod Ricard Scotch Brands Sales Booming

Pernod Ricard, a global big fish when it comes to spirits and wine, says several of its whisky brands are experiencing record growth.

Sales of Chivas Regal blended whisky were up 10 percent in volume to 4.5 million cases, while Ballantine's Scotch was up 9 percent.

The Glenlivet, a single malt brand, had a record year, up 10 percent to more than 600,000 cases.

Pernod Ricard is among several Scotch makers to be expanding production capacity to keep pace with global demand. It is yet to be seen the impact of the economic slow down on the continued growth of these premium brands.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Red Wine Cuts Flu Risk

When you line up this year for your flu shot, you may also want to pick up a few bottles of red wine.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina say a chemical found in red wine, apples and onions cuts the risk of influenza. This is especially true for athletes and others after rigorous workouts.

Quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, is the key ingredient. The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, found the compound offsets the susceptibility to flu created by workouts. The exact anti-viral properties of quercetin are not known, but researchers believe the compound may block the virus from replicating.

Previous studies have indicated quercetin reduces lung inflammation and may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: A Six Pack of Pumpkin Ales

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample a mixed six pack of pumpkin ales.

Once we get through Labor Day, the velocity of special seasonal brews -- like the holiday celebrations -- really starts to pick up to the point where you can pretty much stop drinking "standard" available year round brands. It begins with the appearance of the traditional Oktoberfest and Marzen brews and runs through the Christmas beer flurry to tasty Winter Warmers and ends with the release of Maibocks.

While Oktoberfest brews are the traditional Fall beer, Pumpkin Ales have shared the Fall beer stage since 1986 when Buffalo Bill's Brewery in California made the first one commercially.

Today, pumpkin ales are fairly common, but offer an uncommon flavor profile. Pumpkin on its own is a fairly bland squash-like flavor, so most of the tastes we remember from the Thanksgiving table at Grandma's house came from her spice cabinet. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, vanilla and perhaps a few secret ingredients have become part of pumpkin pie lore in most families. That's also the case with pumpkin ales. And just like home chefs, brewers have a wide range of interpretations on just how these spices should be dialed in when they create a recipe.

These are six pumpkin beers that I had the chance to sample recently with my Brother-in-Law, Darrin Pikarsky. They ranged from spice forward to fairly laid back. Kind of like the pies I've experienced across the years.

Cottonwood Pumpkin A Holiday Spiced Ale: This brew was a rich amber color and had the full body of the meat of a pumpkin pie. Good amounts of nutmeg and other spices, with a hint of brown sugar or maple syrup in the finish. This is one to look for this Fall.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale: From Brooklyn Brewery and brewed in Utica, N.Y., this is a well balanced pumpkin beer. Golden amber color. Nutmeg is upfront, with a touch of cinnamon.

Saranac Pumpkin Ale: From F.X. Matt Brewing, this was unique among the pumpkin ales tasted during this session. Perhaps more like a pumpkin mousse or a topping, than a Thanksgiving pie. Red amber in color, this brew leads with vanilla and has a slight hint of nutmeg.

Wolaver's Organic Will Stevens' Pumpkin Ale: This ale is a cloudy, orange gold color. The flavor intensity is in the mid range for the pumpkin ales tasted during this session. Nutmeg and cloves mix throughout.

Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale: A nice amber color, this brew is on the mild side when it comes to the spices. It has an interesting burnt caramel flavor in the finish.

Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale: Under the Michelob banner, this brew is slightly fizzy. The label says the brewer used cinnamon, ginger and clove. The cinnamon delivers the base subdued flavor note.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flying Saucer Holds Successful Pints for Prostates Event

The first special event in the Pints for Prostates awareness campaign was held on Tuesday evening at The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Charlotte, N.C.

There was a good crowd on hand, including members of the Charlotte Beer Club. Donations by Carolina Beer of a kegerator, Widmer Brothers Brewing of a golf bag, pub signs from Dogfish Head Brewery and Highland Brewing, along with several gift baskets of beer items and gift certificates from Toppers Pizza and The Flying Saucer for a raffle, plus donations from patrons, helped raise more than $1,600 to back the efforts of Us TOO International as it works to support, educate and advocate for men with prostate cancer and their families.

A special thanks goes out to Daniel Parks, Jason Causey and the entire staff at The Flying Saucer for helping to organize the event and sell raffle tickets. They really went out of their way to make it a big night for Pints for Prostates.

Garrett Harkey was the grand prize winner, taking home the Danby kegerator donated by Carolina Beer. True to form upon having his winning ticket verified, Harkey said "I've never won anything in my life."

McCain vs. Obama: Cast or Drink Your Vote

For the next seven plus weeks we are going to be treated to a series of negative campaign commercials that will make watching television painful. It should not be that way because for the first time in a number of presidential campaigns the country has been presented with two pretty decent choices by the major political parties.

On one side the Republicans finally got around to nominating a guy that might have been a better choice eight years ago. A legitimate American hero with the kind of experience and free thinking nature not often on display in Washington, John McCain has earned at the very least the respect of America. The Democrats have cracked open both racial and generational barriers that bring new ideas to the table. Barack Obama has managed to elevate the discussion of race in America to a place it has not been before and he offers a different perspective on national and international issues.

In short, I sit firmly in the undecided camp. It has been a long time since I could say that I would be happy with either choice. There have been elections when I was not happy with the Republican or the Democratic nominee. This is an interesting place to be. But the negative campaigning has to stop or we run the risk of lowering the expectations for this election. That would be too bad given the quality of the candidates. Debate the issues, gentlemen, or you will turn off more of us than you turn out at the polls.

It just might be that instead of letting the negative television spots decide the race, we should rely on beer. I'm not suggesting you get hammered on Nov. 4th before heading to the polls. Instead make your decision with the help of one of these beer promotions:

The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium chain's 13 locations are currently selling Obama and McCain glasses for $5 each. A giant banner in each Flying Saucer keeps track of the vote. The front of the glass has a caricature of the candidate of your choice (sorry, I did not see any Ron Paul glasses) and the back carries a message about getting out to vote. So far in the "Glass Poll," Obama has the lead.

At California's Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. they are selling 4-packs of 22 ounce bottles of McCain Ale and Obama Ale for $15. The "Alection" race so far is not close, with Obama leading by a wide margin.

If the polls of likely voters continues to be tight, the decision might come down to "who would you rather have a beer with?" The reality is that there are worse methods for deciding the next leader of the free world. It might be my deciding factor in this race.

Up from the Ashes: Matt Brewing Makes Donation

It would be easy to forgive the F.X. Matt Brewery in Utica, N.Y., if they decided to curtail charitable giving this year after being hit by a major fire back on May 29th. Instead, the brewery has made its largest donation ever to the United Way Foundation.

Earlier this week brewery officials turned over a check for more than $60,000 during the local United Way campaign kickoff. The money includes donations received from consumers during summer events and employee contributions.

The United Way gift by F.X. Matt Brewing is just one example of the generosity of drinks companies in supporting causes on a local and national level. The fact is that these companies are asked for donations more often than most businesses and usually find a way to help more than their fair share of causes. Through donations big and small, beer, wine and spirit makers help organizations that take on some of the tough issues and lend a helping hand to people in need.

We owe these good corporate citizens a thank you from time to time.

Theakston: Beer Can Make You Look Better

Britain's T&R Theakston Brewery has decided that people who drink beer also need to have good looking skin.

The North Yorkshire brewer is making a soap with a hop and olive oil base that will be launched with a campaign to select the grubbiest television soap stars in the United Kingdom. Theakston's soap is being manufactured by Soap of the Earth and uses a mix of hops, olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba, scented with sweet orange and clary sage.

This is just the first in a series of beer beauty products set to roll out from the brewery. Old Peculier Ale Shampoo should be available before the end of the year and work is progressing on an aftershave balm and a moisturizer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Heaven Hill Readies Tabasco Spicy Tequila Launch

Heaven Hill Distilleries has signed a licensing agreement with McIlhenny Co., the folks behind the Tabasco Pepper Sauce brand, to roll out Tabasco Spicy Tequila.

Priced at $21.99 for a 750 milliliter bottle, Tabasco Tequila will hit this month in Dallas, Houston, Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina. Heaven Hill is using a “Heat Up the Night” tagline to promote the brand.

Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distilleries was founded in 1934 and is a family-owned independent distiller with brands such as Evan Williams Bourbon, HPNOTIQ Liqueur and Água Luca Brazilian Rum Cachaça.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lager Library: Passion on the Vine

Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito bills itself as a memoir of food, wine and family in the heart of Italy. It is a love affair with the grapes and culinary arts of Italy that just might induce you to buy a ticket on the next Alitalia flight to Rome.

Esposito takes us from his roots in Naples to his arrival in Albany, N.Y., ("a city held hostage by its weather") at the age of six, to his time working in New York City restaurants to the establishment of his wine shop, Italian Wine Merchants in New York with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The rest of the book paints in glowing detail buying trips back to Italy, including the meals, winemakers and landscape.

In a book filled with family stories and assorted characters, two of the best involve Esposito's trip back to Italy at 16 with his father and brother and a later visit with his family and his elderly parents.

During his visit as a teenager, Esposito convinces his father to allow him to set out for Pisa on his own and how a waiter on his first evening tells him "orange soda won't do here" and switches his order to a half glass of Sangiovese, followed by a Merlot. He ends up meeting with a group of Italian teens and visiting wineries and small villages before finally rejoining his father and brother in Naples days later.

Later in the book, Esposito decides to take his wife, two kids and his parents, who have retired to Tucson, Ariz., on a two month buying trip around Italy. That 2004 visit includes time along Lago di Garda and a visit to Vinitaly outside of Verona that are some of the best writing in Passion on the Vine.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Two Pints for Prostates Events Taking Place in Charlotte, N.C.

Pints for Prostates will be holding two events in Charlotte, N.C., during the next two weeks. All of the money raised by these events goes directly to Us TOO International, a 501(c)3 charity that works to support, educate and advocate for men with prostate cancer and their families.

If you live around the Charlotte area or find yourself traveling through on business or a vacation, please check out one of these events.

Sept. 9: The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (University Area at 9605 N. Tryon St.) will host a fundraiser for Pints for Prostates on Sept. 9th from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. They are holding a raffle for a bunch of great prizes, including a kegerator donated by Carolina Beer, a hammock from Labatt’s Blue, a golf bag from Widmer Bros. Brewery and a pub signs from Dogfish Head Brewery and Highland Brewery. Raffle tickets are available at Flying Saucer for $5 each or 5 for $20.

Sept. 18: Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (Uptown at 401 N. Tryon St.) will hold its Oktoberfest beer tapping party and help raise funds for Pints for Prostates on Sept. 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. If you cannot make it to Munich this year, here’s your chance to catch some of the flavor. For a $5 donation you will receive a raffle ticket for prizes that include two $50 gift cards to dine at Rock Bottom.

Both of the events are being supported by members of the Charlotte Beer Club, so here is your chance to meet some fellow beer fans. There are other Pints for Prostates events in the works for elsewhere in North carolina, plus Colorado, Pennsylvania and British Columbia. More on those later.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Drinks & Taxes 2008 v12: Manchester, Vt., Hopes Alcohol Taxes Closes Budget Gap

Officials in Manchester, Vt., are counting revenue from the first quarter of a new tax on meals and alcohol sales in the community. Local residents vote 61-53 at a special meeting in December to add a 1 percent tax to these items to raise $200,000 to help to close a budget gap that was expected to be $370,000.

It now appears that both the tax collections and budget gap will be less than expected.

During the first quarter of the new fiscal year the tax generated $35,500. Some restaurants had not been notified to start collecting the tax and business during the April to June period is traditionally slow. The most recent estimates of the budget gap is that it will be around $183,000.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: 18 Year Old Single Malts

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some 18 year old single malts from Scotland.

The new issue of DRAFT magazine is out and it has an article that I wrote about the joys of 18 year old Scotch. As the demand for Scotch increases around the globe the prices for aged malts climb -- and it will get harder to find some of the older expressions. Maturing whisky properly consumes a great deal of time and resources for Scotch makers.

For Scotch, 18 years represents not only longevity, but also a proper passage of time for the barrels to have married with the liquid and the angels to have taken an appropriate share of the precious whisky. There are older whiskies available that offer amazing sensory experiences, but 18-year-old Scotch makes a statement that few drinks can match.

Here are the single malts tasted for the story.

Auchentoshan 18 Year Old:
This Lowlands 86 proof whisky is a bright golden color. It has a malty nose, with a coating texture that is mellow and smooth. As the drink opens it has hints of grassy bitterness, citrus, vanilla and oak.

Bowmore 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This 86 proof Islay whisky is copper color and has a nice level of smoky sweetness in the aroma. The taste begins with a good amount of peat and spice, offering up dark cocoa and a hint of tobacco. The taste of the sea in the finish reminds you of where the whisky is made.

Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old:
This 86 proof single malt from Islay is golden color with an aroma that offers up sweet floral and grassy notes. It has a warm, rich, coating flavor. The peat is present, yet subdued with a nice balancing toffee sweetness around the edges.

Caol Ila 18 Year Old:
This 86 proof Islay single malt is a golden hue and it offers up a nice hit of peat aroma. There are firm smoke and sea notes throughout the whisky, with a good balancing citrus fruit tartness.

Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 Year Old Single Malt: This Speyside whisky is 86 proof. It is an impressive tarnished brass color, with an enticing herbal nose. The flavor opens with mellow wood and a touch of toffee in the finish.

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Single Malt: This Speyside whisky has a tarnished brass appearance and weighs in at 86 proof. The mellow nose has a hit of vanilla at the front. There is a nice measure of smoke in the taste profile that continues with pecans, heather, honey and a solid oak finish.

Highland Park 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This whisky is distilled on the Orkney Islands, making it the most northern of all Scotches on the market. Copper color with an inviting mellow aroma that shows a hint of honey, it is 86 proof. There is a good level of smoke and iodine levels in the base flavor of this well built malt. It is smooth, but has a slight ginger finish.

The Macallan 18 Year Old Single Malt: Distilled in 1988 and matured in sherry casks, this whisky is a nice amber color. There is a sweet nose overall in this 86 proof package. The flavor bed is rich with the oak cooperage and has a slight peat note.

Talisker 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This 91.6 proof whisky comes from the Isle of Skye. Beautiful amber color. Slightly sweet nose with a hint of peat smoke. This full bodied whisky has hints of toffee and vanilla that are finished off with smoke and a solid spicy note.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Pints for Prostates: September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. As some of you know, I was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year and had surgery in April in Chicago. Luckily, my cancer was caught early. I've had two follow up PSA tests since the surgery and both have come back at 0.0. This is the best news that my family and I could have received. My recovery has progressed rapidly and I'm back doing the things I enjoyed before the surgery.

I was lucky. I did not have any symptoms and my primary care physician told me I did not need a PSA test until I turned 50. At the urging of a good friend who was previously diagnosed with the disease, I insisted on having the PSA blood test. The test caught the cancer early and saved my life.

Since my surgery, I've talked to all of my friends about getting tested and started a campaign called Pints for Prostates to use the universal language of beer to reach men about the importance of prostate health screenings. The program (www.ustoo.org/pints) has resulted in ads running in about a dozen publications, articles in a number more and a good level of buzz on websites and blogs. The goal is to raise awareness about prostate cancer, which when detected in the early stages can be treated and cured.

As part of the effort there will be several events at retail locations and Pints for Prostates will be present at both the World Beer Festival in Durham, N.C., on Oct. 4th and the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo., from Oct. 9-11. All funds raised through the campaign go directly to Us TOO International, a 501(c)3 group that works to support, educate and advocate for men with prostate cancer and their families. If you cannot make it to one of the events and want to help Us TOO, you can send the group a check or use the handy ChipIn donation tool above.

As we head into National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month what can you do?

1. If you are a male and 40-years-old or older, schedule a visit to your doctor and get the simple PSA blood test.

2. Tell the men in your life over 40 years old to get tested. There are more new cases of prostate cancer detected in the U.S. each year than breast cancer cases in women. The problem is that people don't talk about prostate cancer and the silence is costing men their lives. The good news is that because of early detection and advances in treatment, the death rate from prostate cancer is dropping.

3. Visit www.ustoo.org for more information. There is a ton of useful information on the Us TOO website. It is a great group and worthy of support.

4. If you have a website or blog, consider running the Pints for Prostates banner ad or badge during the month of September. You can get the code in the "Support the Cause" section at www.ustoo.org/pints. The more men reached with the message about PSA testing and regular prostate health screening, the more lives that will be saved.

Thanks for all of your kind words and support. Hopefully, we'll meet up at one of the Pints for Prostates events and we can have a beer together!