Baffert's Gin

A quick posting tonight, and I promise in February I'll pick up the pace again and post more than once a week.

One of the types of spirits I'm focusing on this year is gin.  I like the flavors of gin, especially the juniper, and I'm one of those guys who would rather have a gin martini than a vodka one.

I cracked open tonight a bottle of Baffert's, a gin that was unfamiliar to me.  It has a distinctive bottle that looks like a skyscraper.

80 proof, and it's been distilled in London since 2000.  Baffert's is one of the "new breed" of gins that go light on the botanicals, trying to attract vodka drinkers back to gin.  It uses only juniper, coriander, and orange and lemon peels.

I tried a drizzle straight up.  It's a very light and smooth gin; the botanicals just barely peek through.  One other reviewer said it's good on ice.  I started with a gin and tonic, and (as that reviewer also commented), the tonic pretty much covers up the botanicals.  For a G&T, I'd prefer Rangpur.

I'll try a martini with it the next night or two and let you know how it stacks up there.  Although first I've got to find some good quality olives.  No point making a gin martini without that little salty orb (or orbs) of green to munch on at the end of the drink.

Singapore Cocktail

I was looking through Internet Cocktail database for a drink that looked interesting but that wouldn't overwhelm any Canadian whiskey I used in it.  Thus, no sweet vermouth or grenadine.

I decided on one called a Singpore Cocktail:

1 1/2 oz Canadian whiskey (using Canadian Club Classic 12)
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz Rose's
1/4 oz Sloe gin (you didn't see that coming, I bet)

Give these a whirl in a shaker and strain.  How do you dole out 1/4 oz?  I used a half tablespoon spoon.

The sloe gin gives it a pink color, of course.  (Where the name "Singapore Cocktail" comes from apparently.)  Not a bad cocktail, but with 3/4 oz citrus it was tad too citrusy.  Cutting the lemon juice in half would be a good start.  You could also switch the lemon juice and Rose's proportions, but that would probably make it too sweet (at least for me).

Canadian Classic 12 Year and Sherry Cask

I compare two blended whiskeys in the Canadian Club line tonight:  Classic 12 Year and Sherry Cask.

The Classic 12 Year is 80 proof and, guess what, aged 12 years.  The bottle label says it's "made from our finest aged stock of carefully selected barrel blended whiskeys" with notes of vanilla and spice.

I didn't care for it.  The whiskey tasted astringent and mediciney.  One reviewer could detect rye notes in it, and another one agreed with me on the medicinal flavors, but he liked it.  I could maybe get the spice notes.  This might work as a mixer, but I wouldn't reach for it as a sipping whiskey.

I liked the Sherry Cask better, which Canadian Club bills as their top of the line.  This is 82.6 proof (I've never seen a fractional proof before) and "double matured": first in white oak for at least 8 years, and then in Spanish wood sherry casks.  Each bottle has the batch number written on it, apparently by a kindergartener.

Some sherry notes came through from this, but they weren't overwhelming.  One review says it's too sweet for the reviewer.  He obviously hasn't tried Pendleton.  This isn't a bad sipping Canadian, but I'd reach for the Pendleton first.

Pendleton and Hunter Candadian Whiskeys

So, finally easing back into this blog after my sabbatical, I'm going to begin by taste testing two Canadian blended whiskeys, one a premium blend, and the other a get you where you want to go blend.

The premium blend is Pendleton, distilled in Canada, bottled by Hood River Distillers in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River ( also distributes Broker's London dry gin, Yazi ginger-flavored vodka, and Cockspur rum.

The whiskey is 80 proof and aged for 10 years, selling for roughly $25 a bottle, with part of that going to support the Pendleton Roundup Rodeo.  They also bottle a 20 year, which sells for about $75 a bottle.  It's distilled from rye in Canada, but Hood River adds glacier water before they bottle it.  Better buy your bottle now before the glaciers are all melted.

I'm not big on using ice when doing a tasting, though I know the water opens up the flavors, etc., for mixologists.  I'd rather taste the primal flavor.  I chill my glass for a few minutes, and of course some water does condense and freeze on the inside of the glass, so I am getting a little H2O.

I like Pendleton a lot.  One taster described it as having a caramel taste, but every time I drink it, the word I think of is maple, like maple syrup or maple sugar.  It has a very Canadian maple taste to it.  I haven't played around with it in cocktails yet, but I'm betting it will be be great.

Canadian Hunter is a budget brand, aged 3 years, and made exclusively for export to the United States by Sazerac.  On first taste, it's smooth but with no really distinctive flavors on my taste buds.  I bet it would work well as a mixer in a cocktail, or even with Ginger Ale.  Just because a whiskey is bland alone in a glass doesn't mean it won't make a good mixer.

In my next post I'll try both of these in a cocktail and tell you if they play well in a team situation.

Please check out my other blog,, this week if you're into baking.

Back in the Bar Stool for 2010

So this blog is up and running again after a year off because I was on some medicine that doesn't play well with cocktails.  I tried writing about smoothies and juice drinks, but frankly, I don't even particularly like fruit in my cocktails, let alone with no alcohol to make them interesting.  I missed writing this.

I was trying to decide what I should write about this year.  I didn't want to do the cocktail a day thing again.  That got hard to keep up with, and I was doing more drinking than I'd ever done in my life.  I didn't want to, say, check out Internet Cocktail Database every day and troll for a recipe to shake up, though that site is really great.

What I finally decided on is to concentrate on 2 kinds of liquor, write about drinks made with those, do samplings of different brands straight up, and throw in other cocktails that look interesting as I come across them.  I still have pretty much a complete bar left from a year ago, at least the more expensive stuff that I didn't give away.

So my emphasis for this year will be on Canadian whiskeys and gin.  Odd combination, you say?  You bet.  I wanted two that would be a big contrast with one another.  Give me lots of different drinks to explore.

I chose Canadian whiskeys because everyone yammers on about single malt Scotch, everybody makes pilgrimages to KY and TN for bourbons (I'll confess, I've been to Maker's Mark twice), the Irish don't shut up about, well, I could stop here, but about Irish whiskey.  (No hate mail from Dublin or Boston, please; I like Irish whiskey better than single malts.)  You don't hear or read much about Canadian blends.  And I don't know the Canadian whiskeys well at all, aside from Canadian Club, so I figured this is a good year to explore them.

As for gin, well, I like gin.  Far more than vodka.  I go for the juniper and other botanicals in gin, which appeal to my taste buds.  Mom used to put juniper berries in sauerkraut when I was a kid, and I was the rare kid who liked bother juniper and sauerkraut (with hot dogs or sausages in it).  I also like retsina, the Greek pine-pitch wine, so go figure.  Gin has made a comeback in the last decade, I just read on the NY Times site, so I should find lots of new and interesting recipes for drinks out there.  Small batch gin distilleries are also springing up, so I should be able to tell you about new brands you haven't heard of.

It should be a fun year and I'm looking forward to it.  If you come across Canadian whiskey or gin labels that you'd like me to check out, let me know, and drink recipes too.  You can never have enough recipes.