Back in May, a few of the staff made our annual trip to Jim Beam to pick out the store’s very own single barrel of Knob Creek Private Reserve. I enjoyed the trip last year so I was excited to visit again this year!
Paul, Natasha and I got a really early start and made it to the distillery mid-morning. We noticed a few improvements for the whole process and tour this year! We enjoyed a nice tram ride to the warehouse (K) where it was a nice cool temperature inside. Our barrels were lined up and ready to go along with some nice actual glassware (nice touch as that was our only concern last year).
The fun part began when we got to take turns with the hammer and hit out the bunghole. After a few tries each, (maybe a few more for Natasha…) our barrels were opened one-by-one and samples poured straight from the barrel. We tasted through, noting what we liked and didn’t like. For my tastings, I liked to taste straight barrel proof with nothing added and then add a drop or two of water. Adding the water brings out the intricacies of the taste and also cuts the alcohol just a bit to allow your tastebuds to more accurately taste the whiskey.
The fun part about tasting barrels with fellow employees is trying to balance everyone’s taste preferences while judging what is best for the store. We had no shortage of debate with picking this barrel. For my tastes, we actually went with one that I initially did not prefer when I first tried it. After discussion of the three, I started to pick-up more intricate flavors and thought about what the Midtown customer would want. At first, I liked the more mellow, vanilla, sweet barrel but switched to the other because we know that a Midtown customer is looking for a little MORE from their whiskey.
From our tasting notes:
It’s got great intricate flavors, fruitiness/fruitcake notes on the front and a big, bold, drier mouthfeel. We loved the vanilla on the finish and there was even a hint of orange peel in there. We think it’ll cut down nicely to 120 proof!
After picking the barrel and helping roll it onto the truck, we were taken on a tour of the distillery. As with last year, the tour is nice. They’ve built a small production distillery where you get hands on action throughout the process, including dumping our barrel and actually putting the Midtown placard on each bottle as it went through the bottling line.
It was exciting to pick out this bottle of Knob Creek for the store and I hope all y’all whiskey fans enjoy it as well. There aren’t that many 120 proof bottles out there and this one stands out!
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
Fruitiness/fruitcake notes on the front end
Vanilla on the finish
Light floral notes
Touch of orange peel
Lot ID 05C23
Rack Tier 2
Barrel Proof: 128.7
Make it a Mixology Weekend!
If you’ve been in to the store lately, you may have noticed some changes in our setup — particularly on the spirits floor.
That’s right — we have a brand new Mixology Center! This is the perfect weekend to cool down with some hand-mixed cocktails, and we’d love to help you find everything you’ll need to mix up something good (stumped for ideas? Check out some of these appetizing cocktail recipes:
The Wedding March
The Last Word
Come visit us and check out our ever-growing collection of bitters, liquers, and apertifs — now conveniently and centrally located in our brand new Mixology Center!
Did you have a good holiday? We sure did!
The holidays may have come and gone, but the cold weather seems pretty eager to stick around. All these plummeting thermostats have the Midtown Wine and Spirits night crew thinking…what kind of wine or spirit do we all want to have on hand when Old Man Winter won’t let us leave the house?
Lou: I made a great big pot of chili to last me through the cold snap, so give me a spicy red wine -preferably a Rioja like our staff favorite Vina Eguia Crianza – and I will be a happy woman!
Ingo: It’s 40 degrees below zero up in Winnipeg, so I figure that if it’s good enough to get one through a Canadian Winter, it’s good enough for me down here in Nashville. I’d go with Caribou Crossing.
Josh: I may look tough, but I like the sweet things in life — when the weather gets chilly, you’ll find me bundled up under a blanket with a warm drink that contains a healthy dash of Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream.
Travis: In cold weather, I like to put on old records and sip on a nice cognac, or maybe some Chambord drizzled on top of ice cream – but, when it’s this chilly you can’t go wrong with an island spirit like rum — preferably some Diplomatico!
Korie: If I’m snowed in, I better be snowed in with some sparkling wine. I want to celebrate my life in style even when it’s not beach weather, so I would go with something pink and glamorous, like Mirabelle Rose!
Matt: A high proof whiskey (like Old Granddad 114!) would do the trick for me. And I wouldn’t complain about a high alcohol beer with some holiday cheer, like The Missing Elf (9.5% Alcohol).
Claire: I crave spices when the temperature drops so I’ll be curling up with my cat and a warm and toasty amaro, like Montenegro. I have been eyeing the Absolut Chicago, however, so that might be my top choice — a savory vodka with Rosemary and Olive notes sounds like a wonderful way to beat the cold — don’t forget to ice it down like a Chicagoan would: in the snow!!
Eric (our next door neighbor at the Midtown Beer and Cigar): Everyone knows that winter is the best time of year for the highest of high gravity beers – this is the perfect weather for TenFiddy!
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel:
Taste of Tradition
For this edition of a single-barrel tour, I’m going to jump ahead in my tour schedule to tell you about our Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel because…
We are excited to have this IN STOCK NOW!
Our half-day trip to the distillery was once again an entertaining and informative experience. We arrived in time for our lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s. Now, it may sound cliche and touristy to eat lunch at the distillery restaurant, but this was definitely worth it. We were seated around a large table with 8 or so other guests. As we sat down, a wonderful retired lady talked to us about the experience, food and distillery. She was very knowledgeable and sweet.
The food came and was a fantastic mix of southern fare: fried chicken, Jack Daniels apples, mac and cheese, fried okra.. and on and on… all served family style via a lazy susan. And once we were stuffed with the main course, we were treated to Jack Daniels chocolate pie!
And then we were on to the whiskey! Now, much like other distilleries, Jack Daniel’s blends their whiskeys in order to find the perfect “Jack” taste. That is why picking out a single barrel is exciting: we pick one barrel that we think is perfect for our customer and the bottles are all consistent with that taste.
We were welcomed into the newish tasting room (they now offer tasting tours!) and were seated in front of a selection of three barrels and a couple of guides.
Tasting these barrels was a bit different as they were already taken down from barrel strength alcohol content to bottle strength. That meant that we did not have to add a bit of water in order to bring the spiciness (or “heat”) down.
It was four of us this time so we had a good number of opinions and came to a majority agreement. One was eliminated right away and we had some haggling over the other two.
First, barrel number 1745:
Nice milder tasting bottle which had some “oakiness” to it and light vanilla notes. It left a nice lingering, spicy finish. Had a sweet, tart aroma to it
I thought this was good but I wanted something a little different with a little more to it.
Next, barrel number 1760:
Mild aroma. It had a dryer caramel taste with a lighter spicy finish.
This was my least favorite. While I enjoy a nice caramel whiskey, I don’t think that’s what our customers would want. I wanted something more complex… which leads to…
OUR CHOICE: Barrel 1757:
Had a mid-mild nose to it. A good mix of caramel, woodiness and a great oakiness on the mid-palette. It starts out milder but ends with a lingering spicy finish on the side of the tongue. It is also not overly sweet.
Overall, I loved this one from the start. It has a lot going on and a lot that is unique to this whiskey in comparison to our other single barrels. I think the oakiness and spicy finish make this barrel fantastic.
So, if you like Jack Danie’ls, and want something unique and great tasting or need a souvenir unique to Nashville, this is highly recommended!
Single Barrel Tour with Matt the Beer Guy
This is part of an on-going series of single barrel whiskey picked exclusively for Midtown.
Interested in whiskey? Be sure to check out Nashville Whiskey Festival!
Single Barrel Tour with Matt the Beer Guy
This is the first post in an on-going series of single barrel whiskey picked exclusively for Midtown.
Jim Beam: Knob Creek Single Barrel
An Introductory Experience
I enjoyed the trip to Jim Beam for my first barrel tasting and selection. The whiskey was great to try and meeting Master Distiller Fred Noe was a trip. It’s impressive to be met by the master distiller and see that his office is the first one as you enter.
Now, I was warned about Fred: He makes no changes to his style for anyone, meaning, he’s going to be the good ol’ boy from the country, cussing and all. He know his stuff though and was fun and interesting to talk to.
After introductions, we headed to the barrel warehouse for the tasting. It was awesome to be let into the storehouse to see all of the stored barrels and smell all of the aging bourbon. We were presented with 3 barrels, each stored in a different location but *I believe* aged for the same length of time. One of the storehouse managers showed us how to hammer out the bunghole and pour the samples. We were set to taste!
Now comes the point of contention from Midtown: We were presented with plastic cups. As a wine, spirits and craft beer store, we pride ourselves and appreciate the appropriate glassware. Unfortunately, this falls short. That being said, the bourbon itself did not.
The fun of tasting straight from the barrel, is that the bourbon is barrel strength, aka not watered down. The Knob Creek we tasted was all above 100 proof and thus pretty hot. That is why Fred recommended we add a bit of water in order to bring the simulated proof roughly down to single barrel bottle standards. We tried them barrel strength first and then added a bit of water.
My favorite was one of the smoother bourbons as I love the carmel and vanilla notes that I associate with “smoothness”. That explains my taste for Woodford Reserve. The last of the barrels, we all agreed, was definitely not up too par; it tasted less complex than once would expect. The third barrel had a decent bit more spice and good depth. We decided upon this barrel as once our customers would love.
After deciding, we were taken for lunch and given a tour. The new touring facilities and visitors’ center are impressive. They have a mini distillery setup just for touring and it gives a fun, interactive aspect to the process.
Overall, my first single barrel tasting was a fun and informative experience. I hope you like the Knob Creek. We’ll let you know when it arrives.
We are thrilled to announce that we have set a date and a location for Whiskey Fest 2013 — this year’s festivities will be held on the evening of Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
If you attended Whiskey Fest 2012, then you may remember that our focus was centered on local favorites; this year’s list of featured whiskeys will include Japanese, Canadian, Scotch, and Irish whisk(e)ys in addition to our American standbys.
The festival was a smashing success last year, but we want to make everything bigger and better for 2013, so we will be packing our schedule with a larger variety of classes, seminars, and special events in the days leading up to September 14th. You can also expect to see – and hear a lot more from us on the web and in the store about our favorite whiskeys and bourbons as Whiskey Fest draws near.
In the meantime, we will be making a point of keeping you up to date on the enormous selection of local and imported whiskeys on our shelves. We just received new shipments of Corsair Triple Smoke and W. L. Weller 7 Year, and we are also proud to be one of only a handful of spirits stores in the area offering a limited stock of Hakushu 12 Year Japanese Malted Whiskey. We are also expecting several shipments of hand-selected single barrel whiskeys any day now so you can look forward to brand new batches of some of our most-requested spirits including Blanton’s, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace Single Barrels, Elijah Craig 12 year, and that good old Tennessee standby: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, so please stop by and pick up a bottle of whatever tickles your fancy!
For now, we will continue to post updates about Whiskey Fest 2013 and related activities on Twitter, Facebook, and right here on the Midtown blog, so don’t forget to check back in with us frequently and be sure to let us know if you have any ideas or requests about spirits or seminars that you would love to see at Whiskey Fest 2013.
Hey there whiskey drinkers and bourbon enthusiasts!
We are hard at work on this fall’s Whiskey Fest and we are eager to share as much information as possible with all of you, so watch this space for updates and announcements pertaining to the upcoming festival.
We’ve been getting some questions about where and when this year’s Whiskey Fest festivities will be held and, unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers just yet — we’re hoping to lock down a venue in the next few days and once that happens, you’ll be the first ones to know all the details!
Additionally, if you have any ideas about guests you’d love to see or distilleries that you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to let us know.
In the meantime, feel free to come on in to Midtown Wine and Spirits and browse our enormous collection of whiskeys, bourbons, and regional spirits. Our Single Barrel collection is growing by the day — we’ve just chosen new barrels of Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Elijah Craig, and we’re expecting some very exciting shipments of Blanton’s and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel any day now!
That’s right folks, this is a big deal! On September 22, the 1st Annual Nashville Whiskey Festival, sponsored by your favorite wine and spirits store, will take place at the War Memorial Auditorium. It will be one of the biggest events to hit Nashville and will be packed full of stars and gems of the whiskey world. With Tennessee being not only one of the largest whiskey consuming states in the world, it is also one of the largest whiskey producing. It’s only proper to throw a festival in celebration of one of America’s favorite spirits. What happens at a whiskey festival, you say? Here’s just a few things we have in store for you:
- -Special tastings through the week leading to the event
- -30+ distilleries & breweries participating
- -Educational seminars put on by master distillers
- -Special VIP hour w/ rare whiskey tasting
- -Cigar kiosk
- -Barrel aged beer
- -Special whiskey cocktail seminar featuring Tim Laird America’s C.E.O.
There’s all this and so much more to come. Follow us on Twitter (@Nashwhiskeyfest & @midtownwine), Facebook and make sure you’re on our email list to get the latest information as it comes out!
With the warm weather approaching — though it never really left — we’re getting closer to bringing out the bottles of gin and other lively spirits. Some like to call them “rays of light”, “sunshine in a glass”, or “liquid pine trees”, I just like to call them good.
Gin has not always been at the top of my list of spirits to rave about. It honestly stayed at the bottom for a long time. Then the creativity set in and I fell in love with the “Old Tom” style of gin that was soon to become my favorite.
The best things about liking gin are the trinkets, mixers and liqueurs that have been solely designed to complement the beautiful botanicals that are found in the gin itself. I was unaware of these until I found myself at a bartenders’ competition where the base spirit was Bombay Sapphire Gin. Never would I have thought that hickory smoked lemons, strawberries, figs, eggs and lavender would be some of my new favorite pairings with gin. This may have been the start of my love affair with gin — OK, this definitely was the start of my love affair.
To describe my palate/taste when it comes to gin, I prefer ones that have slightly subdued juniper notes and more of the prominent citrus tones up front. I tend to go with an “Old Tom” style gin more often than a London dry or the funky gin spirits such as Bols Genevere or Junipero.
Gin is not really a spirit that can shy away from its heritage and main flavor profile, such as other ubiquitous spirits like vodka, rum or tequila that one can mix with just about anything and mask its true flavor. It can mesh and hold the solid flavors of so many different items.
For instance, an italian blood orange soda that can be found at whole Foods or Trader Joes is one of the best mixers for Bombay Sapphire. It makes the gin cocktail taste like you have mixed in 3 or 4 different components. The sparkle of the bubbles break up the piney punch that sometimes dominates your palate upon first sip. The brightness and sweetness of the fruit intermingled with the botanicals of the gin bring out these crazy flavors that range from lemon sorbet and sparkling grapefruit to sweet eucalyptus and toasted honey. If you happen to come across some sparkling blood orange soda or something like it, don’t pass it up!
Now if you want to channel your inner mixologist and experiment, using egg whites takes gin cocktails to an entirely new level. For sweeter style drinks, just add any baking spice and/or small bits of fruit – hazelnuts sprinkled with a dusting of cinammon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cardamom or figs and plums. Thinking outside the box like this leads to discovering new ideas, crazy ingredients never before considered and a way to offer new sensations to your palate.
For the last pairings, these are definitely my favorite additions to any gin cocktail I have ever held to my lips.
Hickory smoked lemon rounds ranks #1. The faint smoke you get after the initial lemon zest rounds off the acids of the lemon, and the smoke seems to give the lemon a rounder, caramelized taste. Instead of it butting heads with the bright botanicals of the gin, it brings out the above-referenced notes of figs and hazelnut that one would not expect.
Ranking second are the “juniperized” pickles — pickles soaked in juniper berries and lemons. I can’t tell you everything the pickles were brined in, but I am sure that I ate more than I probably should have. I tore into the sweet, zesty bits of goodness and found that there was a lingering flavor that came across as, believe it or not, slightly blueberry-ish.
All in all, there’s always a way to get around the basic and up-front taste of the gin spirit. As I said before, it’s never going to get too far away from the initial base flavor but can pretty much set its style in the modern contemporary feel. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new in life; cocktails being one of the easiest way to accomplish that. If you don’t like it, you can always make it into an Alabama Slammer!
It’s that time of year again where we search for our best sangria recipes and dust off the old ones. More than likely, you already have more than one, whether it’s a recipe you pulled out of a magazine, borrowed from a friend, saw on television or made up yourself. Let’s face it, sangria recipes are like opinions — everyone’s got one, and everyone thinks theirs is the best.
Sangria shouldn’t be intimidating or complicated to make. The whole point is to keep it fun, fresh, easy to make and easy to drink! It is nothing more than a sweetened wine punch to enjoy during the warmer weather days, especially beach/poolside. It’s pretty cost efficient, and it is only as invested as you are. Sangria can involve white wines, red wines or even sparkling wines. It can be made with liqueurs of every style and flavor — rums, vodkas, brandies, melon flavors, strawberry flavors and much more. You can make sangria with most any kind of fruit — peaches, plums, berries, mangos, oranges, etc. There is no fixed recipe for sangria, whether it be red or white, fruity or dry, 2 ingredients or 10 ingredients, a little of this, a little of that, or mixed with any kind of fruit you fancy.
The fun of making it is that there are so many options — you go with what you love. I’m not suggesting you change your whole recipe, but I would like to provide a few guidelines/tips that you can follow to achieve the best possible sangria.
Here’s a short list of Do’s and Don’ts:
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