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Crown Royal Maple Finished

Posted by Reese On January - 30 - 2013

Elisabeth and I need guitar lessons, stat!

New Gibson Guitar

But, more on that later…

Crown Royal is the classic Canadian whisky.  Think about it.  There are others, but I dare you to name three.  Okay, thought experiment over.  I’ve always viewed Crown Royal with a slight air of mystery.  You see, as a kid, my grandfather always had the draw-string bags filled will all sort of odds and ends.  I don’t recall him drinking it often, but I knew by the way he kept those bags that it was something special.  Crown also holds a bit of special spot for me.  It reminds me of fishing trips to Canada with my dad.  Then, for my 30th birthday my cousins gave me a bottle of Crown Royal Special Reserve, which holds a place of honor on my top shelf and gets consumed, one small dram at a time.  This trip down memory lane does have a meaning and I appreciate you sticking with me.

When I got word that Crown Royal was bringing a whisky out to compete in the flavored whiskey market, I was a bit concerned.  Don’t get me wrong, I like flavored whiskies, but in some cases they’re a bit gimmicky.  The whiskey flavor dialed down to allow for a strong punch of flavoring.  My first sniffs of Crown Royal Maple Finished had me a bit concerned they’d gone down that path, but I really shouldn’t have been.  The aroma is of pure clean maple, much like you’re sniffing good maple syrup, but the flavor isn’t nearly as sweet as you’d expect.  Rather it’s a solid base of whisky flavor with a natural maple notes layered on top.  Better yet, the sweetness isn’t syrupy or cloying.  It’s subtle and mellow.  This is a flavored whiskey that’s absolutely meant to be mixed into cocktails.

There are two quotes from Steve Beal (Crown Royal Master of Whisky) that I think really sum up this spirit succinctly.  “Started as whisky…still is.” and “Not a whisky liqueur.”  The key point of this spirit is that it truly is a flavored whisky that remains true to it’s whisky roots.  Bottled at a solid 80 proof (40% ABV) Crown Maple stands with its whisky brothers a step above liqueurs at lower proof.

Which brings us back to the guitar.  Elisabeth and I went to a Crown Maple event last Tuesday at the Double Daughter’s Salotto.  When we entered we were served a couple of tasty cocktails (recipes at the bottom), but the real fun came when they announced the shot recipe contest.  The idea was simple, come up with an original shot recipe based on Crown Maple and enter for the chance to win a not yet released Gibson maple wood guitar.  Elisabeth and I had done some playing around the night before and entered two recipes we thought were solid and sat back, never expecting to win a thing.

Crown Maple Shot Making Contest Crown Maple 5.1 Steve Beal

Suffice to say, when Steve Beal announced the shot I entered, the Eh, Eh? as the winner, I was beyond floored.  You may note I appear a bit distant in the picture at the top of this post.  So, on to the recipes.


Shots
 
Eh, Eh?

1 oz Crown Royal Maple
1/4 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1 Dash Barrel Aged Bitters
Canadian Smoke Jumper

1/2 oz Crown Royal Maple
1/2 oz Laphroaig Cask Strength
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
 



Cocktails
 
Maple Old Fashioned

1 1/4 oz Bulleit Rye
3/4 oz Crown Royal Maple
1 tsp Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Barrel Aged Bitters
Manitoba

1 1/2 oz Crown Royal Maple
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Top with Ginger Beer

 

Another place I see this spirit really shining is in cocktails to add light maple notes without being overpowering. In some cocktails you add just a splash of a spirit or even a wash to add flavor (think absinthe in a Sazerac). I think Crown Royal Maple could be great in this role.

PS – We decided the guitar needed a fittingly regal name, so we proudly introduce “Royal Pancake”. Thank you, Crown Royal for a great event and an amazing prize.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

What I’m Drinking Now: Clementine Whiskey Sour

Posted by Reese On December - 31 - 2012

Winter is here and that means it’s clementine season.  Clementines are one of my favorite citrus fruits and I almost always have them on hand this time of year.  Wanting to mix up a quick drink to go with our New Year’s Eve dinner I came up with the Clementine Whiskey Sour.  It’s simple, tasty and a bit of brightness in a cold winter.

Clementine Whiskey Sour

Clementine Whiskey Sour
*Makes 2 drinks
Juice of 3 Clementines (~3 oz)
Juice of 1 Lime (~1 oz)
4 oz Bourbon
2 Dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
1 tsp Sugar
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into two cocktail glasses

Review – Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Posted by Reese On November - 11 - 2012

Irish Whiskey (making note of the ‘e’) is a category that I enjoy, but haven’t explored much.  Some time back I received a bottle of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey for review and what struck me most was their claim that this whiskey is distilled in the oldest operating distillery.  Operating under license since 1757 (holy awesome!) the old distillery as it’s called only recently began producing Kilbeggan whiskey again but it’s just as tasty as ever.

Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey – 40% ABV

As you fill your glass you’re first greeted with a light amber/honey color and an aroma that is distinctly whiskey.  Subtle earthiness and notes of vanilla and spices with a light sweetness throughout.  The mouth feel and flavor are tremendously smooth.  While there are notes of clove and cinnamon with a vanilla caramel sweetness, this whiskey isn’t super complex.  Rather, Kilbeggan is very drinkable and approachable.   I’d happily offer some to any whiskey drinker knowing that they’re certain to enjoy the dram.

So, given that this whiskey isn’t overly bold I wanted to craft a cocktail that played off the spices without overwhelming the whiskey itself.  With fall at hand, something using fresh apple cider seemed like a great plan.  Here is the result.

Irish Harvest

Irish Harvest
2 oz Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1 oz Spiced Apple Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1) Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass 
2) Garnish with an orange twist 

The spiced apple syrup brings even more spice to the party and a tangy sweet apple flavor that plays really well with the whiskey.  The cocktail is drier than you’d initially expect which is perfect for my tastes.  Very reminiscent of spiked apple cider, but with the whiskey taking center stage.  Finally, the lemon juice adds brightness to the cocktail and the amount should be considered a suggestion only.  Based on the cider you choose for the syrup you may need more or less acidity to add the right level of sourness.  This is a great fall cocktail that I’ll definitely be making more of in the coming weeks.

Spiced Apple Syrup
2 c Apple Cider (fresh if possible)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
10 Allspice Berries
3 Cloves
Peel of 1/2 Orange (minus the white pith)
1) Bring the mixture to a low boil
2) Boil until reduced by half
3) Strain out the spices

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

What I’m Drinking Now: Honey Rye

Posted by Reese On September - 8 - 2012

Looking for something light and refreshing one evening, Elisabeth stumbled upon this delicious combination of rye and honey liqueur in Bon Appetit.  The end result is refreshing while managing to maintain a nice level of complexity from the rye and orange bitters.  Definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for a simple late summer tipple.  Make sure you pick a bold rye though, it’ll make it all the more interesting (we chose Bulleit Rye).

Honey Rye

Honey Rye
1 1/4 oz Rye
3/4 oz Honey Liqueur
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Top with Ginger Beer
1) Combine rye, honey liqueur and bitters
2) Top with ginger beer

Review – Milagro Tequilas

Posted by Reese On August - 26 - 2012

Guest post by Elisabeth, Cocktail Hacktress in training.

If you had asked me before I started dating Reese what my favorite type of drink was, I’m not sure what I would have said. I have tried plenty of drinks, but I am still inexperienced enough to learn something every time Reese mixes something up. I have learned one thing, though:

I love tequila!

I love the agave flavor, the way tequila enhances a drink with agave earthiness and smokiness, and how good tequila doesn’t require the assistance of lime. If I could have spent my summer touring agave fields and sampling tequila fresh out of the still, I would have been in heaven. Alas, this wasn’t in the plans so when I saw the series of Milagro tequilas Reese had received, I begged him to help me review them.

Milagro Silver (40% ABV)

This affordable version of the Milagro tequila line is the purest example of tequila I have ever tasted. Milagro Silver has a clean agave aroma (Reese smelled black pepper) without any interference. The taste reflects the aroma- clean, crisp agave with little interference of other flavors/aromas. Milagro Silver would be a great addition to a drink where you want to let the agave flavor shine.

Milagro Silver, Select Barrel Reserve (40% ABV)

The Special Barrel Reserve is aged in French Oak barrels which lends a richer, warmer complexity to the tequila. The nose has a subtle vanilla sweetness, with a little oakiness. The product tastes just as crisp as the Silver described above with a tremendously smooth, medium length finish of earthy agave.

Milagro Reprosado, Select Barrel Reserve (40% ABV)

The aging of the Special Barrel Reserve Milagro Reposado in American Oak bourbon barrels gives a heartier oak character. When directly comparing to the Milagro Silver, the sweet caramel and vanilla aroma really shines through. This tequila has a slight golden color and medium-long finish. This tequila is pure and all about the agave without being overly sweet, vegetal or smoky.

Rather than test Milagro’s mixability with a traditional margarita, we opted for a tequila chocolate martini.

Mexican Chocolate Martini

Mexican Chocolate Martini
1 1/2 oz Milagro Silver Tequila
3/4 oz Trader Vic’s Chocolate Liqueur
1/4 oz Original Cinn
2 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters
1) Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This drink really lets the agave flavors of the Milagro shine through and smells delightfully like earthy agave sprinkled with cinnamon. Cinnamon and chocolate embrace a Mexican chocolate tradition. The cinnamon in Original Cinn is an earthier cinnamon to give it more an authentic taste (rather than a red hot cinnamon in other liqueurs). Do not be tempted to add cream. It swamps the flavors and overwhelms the drink.

P.S. (from Reese) – I love the bottle design on the Select Barrel Reserve bottlings.  The hand-blown agave plant inside the bottle is gorgeous.  The fact that the tequila inside the bottle is also fantastic is complete icing on the cake. *wink wink*

Milagro Barrel Select Bottles


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.