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The Practical Still
48 minutes | May 1, 2022
Other whiskey options if you like Jameson Irish whiskey
Stacey Moses joins me again and we talk about options for her longtime go-to whiskey, Jameson Irish Whiskey. Other Irish whiskey such as Redbreast 12 is certainly an option but there are Scotch, Japanese, and American whiskeys that would make nice choices too.We also debunk Stacey's belief that all Scotch is peaty in an effort to help her broaden her whiskey horizons.Cheers!
38 minutes | Mar 27, 2022
My friend Stacey has some whiskey questions.
My friend Stacey Moses has some whiskey questions. Until just a few months ago, we'd worked together in various capacities for many years, and during that time, we also became friends. On balance, I feel as if I've learned far more from Stacey in our professional relationship than she ever learned from me so I always relish an opportunity to share any knowledge I have with her. In the before COVID times, Stacey would visit town to work in our offices (she lives outside of Washington DC while our offices were in Boulder, CO) and she would often stay at me and Melissa's house rather than in a hotel. We got used to those visits and we all miss them. So, Stacey's whiskey questions were a perfect opportunity to spend some time together, sip some whiskey, and have some fun. What's the proper way to drink whiskey? Is it ever ok to add water or ice to whiskey? Why is it sometimes spelled 'whiskey' and sometimes spelled 'whisky'? What if someone wants to pour nice whiskey into a glass with diet cola? I don't know if have the right answers but I have some thoughts and that's enough to have a good time with a dear friend. Well, that and a little bit of bourbon. Cheers!
20 minutes | Dec 6, 2021
How practical can $85 bottles of whiskey be?
We were working on some other productions for Dan's Slow Guy on the Fast Ride cycling content and we decided to take a few minutes and sip some whiskey. I brought two sample bottles with some Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond 8 year old and an Old Forester Barrel Proof store pick for Dan to blind taste.Can $85 bottles really be practical? We think so, at least relative to their secondary prices when we paid retail for them but still, $85 is not nothing. Practical or not, both of these are delicious.We did record this episode as a video so take a look at our YouTube channel if you'd like to see all the funny faces we make while sipping 134.3 proof bourbon.Cheers!
59 minutes | Nov 4, 2021
Drinking Some Islay Scotch Whisky
There are so many delicious whiskies to drink from around the world that no one person will probably ever come close to tasting them all but we should try to expand our palates, shouldn't we? Not that we stretch all that far but we have gotten hung up on bourbon and rye whiskey lately so back to Scotland we go in this episode. Specifically, we're drinking whisky from Islay, the small island known for producing heavily peated Scotch whisky from some of the most famous distilleries in the world. Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and the newest distillery of the bunch, Kilchoman make up our selection and we have a grand time drinking in the smoky wonder that is Islay whisky. If you've ever wondered what people mean when they talk about truly smoky whisky, well Islay is what they are often referring to. The peat used in the malting process imparts a unique and sometimes funky flavor (I'm looking at you Laphroaig) that many folks just don't understand or enjoy but for those of us who like it, there's nothing better. This whisky tastes like salmon smoked over a fire of burning rubber and creosote, bathed in the souls of a thousand mermaids. Sound good? Yeah, it does. #whisky #Islay #Scotch #peated #Laphroaig #Lagavulin #Ardbeg #Kilchoman
43 minutes | Sep 26, 2021
Are practical whiskeys waiting for us even in this crazy bourbon market?
We started The Practical Still podcast about 18 months ago with the premise that there are wonderful bottles of bourbon, rye, and single malt whiskeys waiting for us on shelves any day of the week. We don't need to chase unicorn bottles, camp out in parking lots, or pay inflated secondary market prices to enjoy drinking whiskey.We say that's all still true, even if the prices for common bottles are rising faster than ever. See what we're drinking on YouTube and keep listening to these podcast episodes for tips and direction on sipping tasty bourbon without breaking the bank. Cheers!#whiskeyreviews
41 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
Do we really need so many bottles to be happy whiskey drinkers?
Dan and I always say that we don't have whiskey collections. We just have bottles of whiskey we haven't opened yet. The reality is that we do have quite a few bottles of bourbon lying around regardless of what we call it. So, do we really need so many if we aren't planning to keep them all forever without opening them? The answer is no, we do not. There isn't any practical reason to have a pile of Elijah Craig Small Batch bourbon stashed away. It isn't going anywhere and the price has been stable for a few years. Same with other favorite daily drinkers such as Wild Turkey 101 or Larceny. What about bottles that are difficult to find today that were plentiful only a few years ago? What about Weller Old Antique or Booker's? Isn't that a reason to stockpile our favorites? If we could see the future, of course, we'd load the wagon with everything that will be scarce in the coming years but we can't see the future, and market timing is no more likely to be a valid strategy in whiskey than it is in the stock market. Investing in spirits and wine is certainly a thing but it is not happening at average consumer income levels or volumes. Flipping bottles isn't investing especially if you're the one paying $650 for Old Rip Van Winkle this year. We started this podcast with the premise that there are wonderful bottles of bourbon, rye, Irish, and Scotch whiskies sitting on shelves that you can buy today at reasonable prices. There is no logical reason to chase unicorns or pay absurd secondary whiskey market prices to enjoy whiskey. That may be truer today than ever. The market has exploded with new craft distilleries that are bottling delicious whisky and expanding our minds to what is possible without spending 8 years in barrels tucked away in Kentucky rickhouses. Heritage brands have produced so much bourbon that age statements are coming back and prices are stabilizing. It truly seems that there will be great whiskey to drink for us all and we don't really need to have 10 or 20 times the number of commonly available bourbons stashed in our own houses than we'll ever drink. Could I be sitting on a bottle I paid $20 for last week that's worth $100 in a few years? Sure, it's possible but so very unlikely and it's the longest of shots. It's more likely that we have 50 bottles squirreled away that we can still buy in the coming years for about the same price.It seems a more enjoyable and better use of our disposable income to focus on the whiskey we truly enjoy drinking rather than collecting bottles with little chance they have collectible value in the future. Invest in the experience and try new whiskey from around the world. Let liquor stores carry the inventory burden and keep your powder dry for when the opportunities come around to snag special bottles and when that happens, open the bottle and share it with friends.Of course, it's your money and if you have plenty of it, buy all the bottles if that makes you happy. I could be way off on all this but it's how I enjoy the hobby. Maybe there will be much regret years down the road when I could have had cases of whiskey that dusty hunters are questing for in 2030. I'm sure that's what baseball card collectors have thought for generations but for every Honus Wagner, there are thousands of folks who collected my buddy Tommy's rookie card just before he blew out his elbow and never pitched again. Cheers!#bookers #oldwellerantique #buffalotracedistillery #whiskeycollecting #markettiming #bourbon #ryewhiskey #scotchwhisky #irishwhiskey #openthebottle
39 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
Finding whiskey away from home and alcohol control states
Shopping for whiskey can be very different depending on where you are. The biggest difference you'll see is when states where the government controls retail sales, known as 'control states'. ABC stores in those states are the primary retail outlet and while they can still be package stores in some of those states that are privately owned, they aren't typically - or at least not in Alabama where Mark lived until just a few years ago - competitive because their competition is a state-run, government monopoly. On the plus side of a control state is that, if you can find what you're looking for, it will usually be priced at retail. There seems to be less incentive to push profits than in states where the primary retailers are private individuals and companies. Often though, selections suffer as there also isn't as much incentive to stock hard-to-find products and deal with the silliness that is the modern-day whiskey geek.
38 minutes | Jun 19, 2021
Finished versus Matured Whiskey: Is there a difference?
Maybe it's just splitting hairs but there is a difference between a whiskey finished in a barrel that previously held wine, sherry, port, rum, or some other product versus a whiskey that was matured in a sherry or port or whatever barrel. It gets a little complicated when talking about rum or scotch when our typical orientation is toward American whiskeys such as bourbon, rye, and American single malt but understanding some very basic production processes really help to sort it all out. As often happens, Dan and Mark quickly move past what they planned to talk about so there's some reliance on memory and perhaps even a little guessing in this episode but hopefully, it helps folks understand that just because a label on a whisky bottle mentions sherry doesn't necessarily mean it's a 'finished' whiskey. Cheers!Here's a link to that whiskey and bicycle event Dan mentions. https://www.whiskeyodyssey.com
12 minutes | May 31, 2021
Deerhammer Distillery Visit: After Drinking from all the Barrels
After we recorded an introductory podcast (if you haven't listed to it yet, it's a good idea to pause this episode and give it a listen here) in the rack house at Deerhammer Distillery, owner Lenny Eckstein took us through a few tastings of his smoked corn whiskey, bourbon, rye, and American single malt whiskies. To say it was enlightening is quite an understatement. Additionally, we sampled directly from a great many barrels using large silicon straws to siphon out unfiltered, uncut whiskey, you know, the way the universe means for us to taste such delights. Lenny explained his processes and his thinking on topics from choosing his cuts off the still, grain selection for their four-grain bourbon, blending barrels to come up with specific releases (we all agreed that vatting is just too pretentious a term), and much more. We're so grateful to Lenny and Amy for reaching out to us for the visit and for being so generous with their time, knowledge, and whiskey.We'll have videos up on the YouTube channel soon too along with an 'Open the Bottle' for batch #62 of the Deerhammer American Single Malt whiskey. Is it really as good we thought it was while we were under the spell of all those barrels in the rack house? Spoiler alert: I already opened it, tasted it, and recorded the video and it's just as good as I thought it was at the distillery. Delicious. To learn more about Deerhammer Distillery go to https://www.deerhammer.com or follow them on social media @deerhammer
30 minutes | May 31, 2021
Deerhammer Distillery Visit: Before the Drinking Started
Owner, co-founder, and head distiller of Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista, CO, Lenny Eckstein invited us up to visit after hearing the podcast episode where we talked about young whiskey. Lenny felt that he could offer some valuable experience to us that would improve our understanding of distillation and maturation particularly as it relates to how craft distillers approach creating single malt, bourbon, and rye whiskies when they know they won't age them for longer than 2 to 5 years. It was indeed eye-opening to understand his process, how he grew to produce really good whiskey at 2 and 3 years of age, and his plan to extend the overall maturity of his primary expressions to 5 years in the barrel and beyond. We got to experience Deerhammer distillate from 3 days off the still, at six months, at 2 years, 3 years, and older so that we could taste for ourselves how time in the barrel affects the flavor. Knowing what the distillate tastes like before ever entering the barrels was an invaluable experience in understanding what we drink down the road. I'd put it right up there with blind tasting if anyone wants to truly understand the value of a spirit.In this first of two podcasts with Lenny, he gives us his history from attending art school to brewing beer in his basement, to him and his wife Amy deciding that they'd start a distillery in the mountain town of Buena Vista, or as locals call it, BV. We recorded this in the Deerhammer rack house surrounded by hundreds of barrels of aging whiskey, the smell was wondrous and frankly, intoxicating on its own. It was amazing!After wrapping up this introductory recording, Lenny led us through tastings of smoked corn whiskey, bourbon including some experimentation with their four-grain bourbon mash bill, rye whiskey, and of course the Deerhammer American Single Malt - their flagship product. We were ready to be honest about what we tasted. If it was just wasn't good, we were going to say so but the truth was far simpler to deal with. All of the whiskey was very good. And we did taste ALL of the whiskey. Lenny has a fun and simple process to sample barrels using long silicon straws. The barrels employ silicon bungs so it's easy to pop out the bung and drop in the straw to siphon out whiskey in its purest form. It was all of our whiskey dreams come true. We had the cameras rolling most of the time too so we'll have videos up on YouTube soon as well. Then we followed up with a second podcast to review what we'd learned. Be sure to give that a listen too. Cheers!To learn more about Deerhammer Distillery go to https://www.deerhammer.com or follow them on social media @deerhammer
31 minutes | May 7, 2021
Are whiskey brand stories worth anything to us when deciding which bottles to buy?
I've decided something important. At least it is important to my whiskey drinking enjoyment. I'm going to pledge from this moment forward to only judge a whiskey by the actual whiskey and how much I like said whiskey. Not by the hype. Not by the story. Not by the appropriated history. Not by the pretty label. Not by ... you get the idea.Obviously, you say. Not so fast. I think we are all suckered in by stories of grandfathers long dead, of stills in the woods, of recipes thought forgotten even if we don't admit it. In those cases we, the whiskey sheep, will often pay outrageous prices for young, cheaply sourced, whiskies because the brand on the label was once 'the' brand in whiskey ... 105 years ago. Even when that name is the only connection to that once vaunted brand. For instance, Dan asked me recently if I'd had any whiskey from a brand with one of the oldest names in American whiskey which I won't mention. I had not had anything from that brand so I looked for it the next time I was in a liquor store. I came upon their rye whiskey first. 90 proof, undisclosed state of distillation, age stated as 'at least two years old', in a really cool looking bottle with a slick label containing the story about 'their' history, and $75. Really. $75 for, well I don't know what for honestly.Next, I spied in the special, locked glass case, a 10 year old straight bourbon whiskey from the brand for $275! I'm really trying not to use too many exclamation points but man, $275 for a history that isn't theirs and whiskey they didn't produce is hard to take. Finally, I happened upon a non-age stated straight bourbon for $60. Maybe, if I'd found it first I wouldn't be so wound up as that isn't so odd. There are plenty of 4+ year old, sourced bourbons on the shelf for $50-70. So many in fact that it's becoming normalized in my brain and I have to remind myself that it shouldn't be normal.On the other side of this pledge is my growing practice of discounting brands selling well aged whiskey sourced from or contract distilled in other distilleries, mainly in Indiana. Frankly, I'm just tired of MPG whiskey. I think it's one of those emperor in new clothes kind of deals. The whiskey is just mediocre to me and I don't understand the excitement. Not one single sip has ever blown me away even if a lot of it has been quite tasty but these days, I just can't pay the prices asked for the same distillate churned from that ginormous factory. I know that isn't a popular opinion but it's my money and my taste buds, so it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks. However, that bias is probably causing me to miss out on some good whiskey and it is for sure clouding my judgement now when buying whiskey. I mean I like the whisky produced in Tullahoma, TN no matter which bottle it comes in so why can't I be that open about other non-distiller producer brands?Who is with me? Let's call out the nonsense of a $75, 2 year old whiskey when the liquid in the bottle is the clearest thing about the brand. Stop buying it. Let's support any brand regardless of where they get or how they produce their whiskey when they are being transparent about their practices and - and this is really the important part - are making good whiskey even if it costs a little more.On the other hand, I could just buy Wild Turkey products and leave the rest to y'all.
30 minutes | Apr 24, 2021
Whiskey Resources: It's about more than just money
Dan and Mark talk about resource considerations for whiskey consuming enthusiasts beyond just the money. Space on the shelf, what to do with the bottle of bourbon, rye, and scotch that you just don't care for, and more.They also sip on some Blanton's, Eagle Rare, and Wild Turkey Master's Keep Cornerstone Rye whiskey, none of which are likely to be poured down the drain. But what do you do when your evening pour doesn't measure up? Do you suffer through or drop it in the sink and move on to something else? Worse yet, will you trash and entire bottle rather than waste your limited bourbon time on subpar distillate? It's about more than the money because, frankly, who wants to talk about the stupid amount of money we spend on whiskey?
55 minutes | Apr 16, 2021
Young Whiskey: Sometimes surprisingly good but more often, not.
Why is it that some very young whiskeys can be surprisingly tasty while other are about what we'd expect, bad? Could it be that skilled distillers know how to aim at two or three year target better than others? Is it all about fermentation? Is it luck? Maybe it's just our tastes.And when it's bad, and it can be soooo bad, do the distillers and brands know it? Or do they really think their sixteen month old rye whiskey is rich and flavorful as their label suggests? Could they really think that? Tastes are certainly subjective. Who buys that whiskey? I sure hope I don't but for the edification of our listeners, Dan and I dig into some young bourbon, rye, and plain old whiskey to taste what we can taste and report back to you. The things we do in the name of whiskey.
25 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
How should we welcome new people into whiskey?
Every hobby faces the same dilemma - how do we welcome new people into our world without scaring them off before they even have a chance to figure it all out? That's what we tackle today. We were all new to whiskey at one point so how did we make it past all the jargon and nonsense? What are some 'dos and don'ts' if we want folks to feel welcome dipping their toes into the whiskey world? Well, it isn't about bottle chugs or only drinking barrel proof bourbon neat, that's for sure. Simply put, don't be a tater if you can help it. Let folks drink whiskey any way that works for them and ... well, give this episode a listen and let us know what we missed. Cheers!#whiskey #bourbon #tater
2 minutes | Apr 6, 2021
Where is our whiskey?
It has been a while since Dan and I published a podcast episode. Why? Who knows. We've been busy with other projects but probably, the truth is closer to it just isn't as fun to produce these things remotely as it is passing bottles back and forth and sipping whiskey together. It just wasn't safe to do that for a long time but, with vaccines at full speed here in Colorado, we're getting there. We've still been putting up fresh Open the Bottle, Back to the Bottle, and Not Whiskey videos over on YouTube along with something new, Blind Shelfie Throwdowns so check those out when you can. See what other projects Dan's been up to and subscribe to his newsletter, Slow Guy on the Fast Ride. We've got new episodes complete with us drinking bourbon, rye, scotch, and more coming soon. Thanks!
54 minutes | Jan 26, 2021
Has the pandemic changed the way you enjoy your whiskey?
The pandemic is changing how we relate to all sorts of life events, hobbies, and other things we perhaps took for granted before. Has the isolation changed how you enjoy your whiskey? It sure has changed our relationship with the spirits we love to drink. The most beautiful part of whiskey is sharing it with friends and that, for sure, is not the same today as it was a year ago. Bourbon, even modest bourbon, tastes better and adds more to our lives when it is shared with friends in the moment. Are you drinking more or less in these trying times? Either way, a change can be an indicator that you're struggling so don't be afraid to talk about what you are experiencing. Even if you feel ok overall, some anxiety or low-grade depression can find its way into your day and asking for help or even just talking about it, as Dan and Mark do during this episode, can help and let you know that you aren't alone, whiskey included.
57 minutes | Jan 17, 2021
The price of bourbon and rye whiskey just keeps going up and up and up!
It sure seems as if bourbon and rye whiskey prices are continuing to accelerate. Bottles that one day are gathering dust are gone from the shelf the next and doubling price the very next time you see them again. It's more important than ever to know what you're drinking and what it's worth to you. There are still great bottles we can buy most any day at reasonable prices even if they are getting more and more rare. Don't give up. Share that whiskey with friends, try some Irish or Japanese whiskey and let us know when you find some value in the market ... won't tell anyone, promise.
52 minutes | Dec 27, 2020
Goodbye 2020, hello 2021 and more whiskey and maybe rum and tequila too!
Dan and Mark talk about starting The Practical Still in 2020 and what's coming up in 2021. There will be guests on the podcast and new topics for the YouTube channel too. There will still be lots of whiskeys but maybe some rum and tequila too. Any spirits are fair game ... that's why it's called The Practical Still rather than the whiskey this or that. How about some brandy? Sure.
54 minutes | Dec 6, 2020
Only one brand of whiskey for the rest of your life. Which would you choose?
If you could only drink one brand of whiskey for the rest of your life, which one would you choose? You still have to pay for it and you're still subject to marketing conditions such as pricing and availability so if you choose poorly you may never again sip bourbon or rye or single malt whiskey again.
62 minutes | Nov 21, 2020
Does the color of a whiskey tell us anything useful about that whiskey?
What, if anything, can be learned simply from the color of whiskey? We all talk about the color when we find new whiskey and color is evaluated along with the nose and taste but what should whiskey shoppers know about whiskey color and what can it dependably tell us? For some, myself included, we just like the color of old bourbon and it's as much a part of the experience as glassware - it's just beautiful.
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