Saturday, January 2, 2010

Yes, thanks to my good friend Ron Dollete, I'm up and running at You'll find my first post of the New Year up already. Its a bit sparse, but I'll clean the template up in a few days. As of today, this blog is RETIRED.

Again, to read my spirits and cocktails thoughts, head to and for my whiskey articles, head over to

Thanks for reading! See you at my new homes!


I'm moving

Its finally happened. I can't stand blogger anymore. I've been meaning to dump it for some time but a number of issues, primarily laziness have kept me from doing much updating. As it is, I've just purchased and it should be up and running shortly. I'll put up a notice when it moves. I've got a lot of new content that I've been working on and I'm looking forward to having my own domain. And if you want to read my whiskey writing on just check here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Decisions, decisons... The future of My Life on the Rocks

Well, its finally happened. I'm now live at the contributing writer on whiskey for I've kind of put this blog on hold while I've waited for everything to move forward with About before I made any decisions as to what to do with this blog. As it is, I've decided to keep it up and running, although I'll probably migrate it off of blogspot in the next year or so. As it is, My Life on the Rocks will continue with press releases, spirit reviews, and cocktails with the exception of whiskies which I'll focus on exclusively at

So that means gin, tequila, rum, amari, liqueurs, cachaca, and even vodka will continue to be covered here, albeit probably not as often as I used to. I still play around with cocktails a bit, and those will make an occasional appearance here as well. I've really started to focus my interests though to spirits themselves, I still enjoy mixology but the story behind the spirits and the craft of making those spirits has a great appeal to me.

Thanks for all of the support. I'm taking a bit of a break from bartending to focus on the writing for a bit, but I'm sure I'll end up behind another bar sooner rather than later. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity and I want to make the most of it. Look for me there under cocktails and spirits.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kahlua Coffee Cream

I recently received a bottle of Kahlua Coffee Cream from the liquor fairy (otherwise known as my UPS driver). While I'm a big fan of Kahlua, I can't say that I drink it very often. I like the occasional Hennessey Separator to relive my misspent youth (Hennessey cognac, Kahlua and half and half), but most often I tend to reach for whisky and I tend to drink my spirits neat these days. Anyway, I finally cracked open the Kahlua Coffee Cream last night hoping for something different to serve as a nightcap and perhaps assuage my sweet tooth. I was very pleasantly surprised, a few ounces of Kahlua Coffee Cream over ice was an exceptional way to end my day.

Kahlua Coffee Cream is a limited production product available through the holidays. Its definitely got a place on my sideboard for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and I'm going to have to go check the liquor stores for another bottle or two before it sells out. If you see a bottle of Kahlua Coffee Cream while you are doing your holiday shopping, be sure to pick one up.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't Be Bitter

So Michael Dietsch over at A Dash of Bitters and Samantha Harrigan of Nova Marketing and the Cocktail Culture blog are running a contest for a very rare bottle of Beefeater 24 Bitters made by Stephan Berg of Bitter Truth bitters.

Now, the rules of this contest are pretty simple. I just have to blog about a time that I was bitter about a certain bloggers booze collection or a special bottle that he or she may have. I'm not one to generally get bitter about anything, but I did feel a slight tinge of jealousy recently when my good friend Jacob Grier came over with a bottle of masticha that had been gifted to him by a friend who'd just returned from a trip to the Greek Isles. Luckily enough for me, Jake was generous enough to share his small bottle of masticha with me. I got to taste a bit of it and its amazing stuff, it definitely has a lot of uses in cocktails. So I guess if I'm bitter about anything, I'm bitter that I don't have my own bottle of masticha laying around to futz around making cocktails with. On the upside, I'm the new whisk(e)y writer for, so I can't complain too much. I'll be going live in the middle of November so look for most of my new content there (and, occasionally).

One last thing. Samantha Harrigan is getting married. If, like me, you know and admire Samantha, will you join me in raising a glass of whatever might be handy (in my case its Macallan 18) and wishing her and her new husband a wonderful life together? Thats nothing to be anything but happy about. Best wishes to you and your new husband Samantha!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cool G'Vine Gin Competition

This week, EWG Spirits & Wine announces that G’Vine, Gin de France, is embarking on an
innovative worldwide search for the most exceptional Gin Bartender. A racy newcomer to the
growing Gin scene, G’Vine Gin debuted beginning of 2007 after a 3-year long elaboration process.
The brand quickly captivated the gin-loving mixology community and the media with a
revolutionary new portfolio of Gins created with a heady and complex grape-spirit base and infused
with the delicate green grape flower. After receiving rave reviews, accolades and awards, this
innovative gin brand is now searching for the most outstanding Gin Bartender. The winner will
garner worldwide recognition from the brand and its followers as the gin category’s leader in
mixology and bar-smarts.
In addition to being granted the first-ever title of “G’Vine Gin Connoisseur”, the winning bartender
will receive over-the-top prizes including a year‘s supply of G’Vine, 3000 USD and a luxury and
initiatory trip for two through Amsterdam, London and Paris to explore the past, present and future
of Gin. The competition’s twelve global finalists will be flown to Paris and Cognac for a week of
Connoisseur challenges, seminars and the opportunity to run their own bar at the G’Vine Spring
Ball. The twenty highest scoring competitors will be awarded with exclusive G’Vine taylor-made
tools such as ice moulds, shakers and aroma kits.
With rewards this sweet, the process to enter the competition is meticulously crafted so that only
the most passionate of gin connoisseurs can compete. Each entrant must first complete an online
examination process that includes five “interactive modules” which together make up an extensive
overview of the gin category.
Potential winners must study literature and complete exams on:
• The Complete History of Gin
• Gin Making
• G’Vine Education
• Tasting Gin & Cocktails
• Gin Marketing
The exams are supervised and graded by the world-renowned expert, Philip Duff. Duff is an award-
winning speaker, trainer, author and mixologist, and the owner of Liquid Solutions Bar & Beverage
Consulting and Door 74 in Amsterdam. The deadline to complete all exams is December 15th. In
addition to ace-ing the exams, contenders must also create an original G’Vine cocktail and include it
on their bar‘s cocktail list until January 31st, 2010.
“Unlike other cocktail competitions where the focus is only on the end-use cocktail created by the
bartender, the G’Vine Connoisseur Program is seeking a bartender with an unmatched knowledge,
and creativity – basically a bartender who is obsessed with Gin,” exclaims Audrey Fort, EWG’s
Marketing and Business Development Director. “These ‘Gin-tenders’ are a unique bunch, and
G’Vine is determined to unearth the best of breed and properly bestow him or her with top honors
and unprecedented awards.”

I don't blog much anymore

Although I do have a few new posts in the works. So why don't I maintain this a bit better? Well, I guess I can let the cat out of the bag. I'm to be the new whisk(e)y writer for, a position that is scheduled to go live next month. I've been working on content for that site and really trying to stay away from anything whisk(e)y related on this one. That said, my birthday is coming up next month, and if anyone is looking for a whiskey to get me; Diageo just released some "special releases" from their Classic Malts collection. I hope I get to taste these soon. The only other comment I'll offer is that I'm extremely disappointed that a number of these are not available in the United States. (sigh).

Here is the list-


Not available in the US.

58.8% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyside.

A classic European Oak profile and a wonderful digestif; big and sweet then mouth-drying. There is something deliciously festive about this whisky. It’s redolent of a log fire in the library, buttered crumpets and candles on the Christmas tree.

Appearance: Rich, deep mahogany with good beading.

Nose: Classic, muscular Benrinnes with an added and immensely seductive sweetness rippling through it. Crème brulée with a highly caramelised surface. Intense black fruits (prunes), Christmas cake and dates, laced with rich sherry. Behind, a beefy note with some allspice, like a touch of gravy left in the meat pan. Water (just a splash) initially brings the toffee apple sweetness even more into focus above such meatiness. As it becomes waxier, the fruity notes withdraw, yet some moist Christmas cake remains - much later, the meatiness reasserts itself. Superb balance and complexity.

Body: Heavy. Full. Immediate grip.

Palate: Big, powerful and immediately assertive. Sweet, then mouth-drying, yet not astringent because that concentrated sweetness remains. Waxy, viscous texture; slight traces of brimstone. Raisin and lots of date. Softens as it moves slowly across the tongue. Water lightens the grip and introduces a lightly smoked character. The voluptuous texture is countered by tannic dryness. Sweet to start and beefy, in all senses.

Finish: Exceptionally long, dry and warming, leaving a mellow, lingering aftertaste of treacle and sandalwood.


53.2% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Coastal Highlands.

Another fine Brora: deep, sweet and rich; yet with great delivery of smoke, as from camp fires in the late summer. Indisputably Brora, yet in an attractive, softer guise.

Appearance: Full gold. Good beading.

Nose: Big and resolutely oily. Evoking a surfer’s camp fire in the dunes – wet saltiness and dry, grassy wood-smoke. The herbal element here is soon joined by lychee, black pepper and meaty notes. Clean but rich, robust and deep as well. With water there’s a touch of American Oak butterscotch softness, which in true Brora fashion then gives way to waxier notes. Gentle and soft, yet with a brooding edge.

Body: Medium to heavy. Oily, smooth.

Palate: Tongue-coating and surprisingly citric. Firm oak. Shows its refined maturity in waves of flavour that surge across the tongue. It needs water, but just the merest drop, which allows the texture to show itself. Full fleshy fruits. Rich and smooth with hints of smoke.

Finish: Long, pleasingly nutty and smoky.


65.8% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Islay.

Vibrant, summery and a sure-fire summer hit. Reveals the basic structure of the malt, without the flavours being covered with smoke. Plenty of seaside character, interesting to compare both with the recent 8 year old unpeated bottlings and with the peated 12 year old.

Appearance: Pale gold. Little beading.

Nose: Great intensity and youthful brio. Very pure, clean and punchy, with plenty of alcohol. Green melon, grass clippings and as the alcohol lifts just a little, traces of fermenting pear juice. Over time there’s the sweetness of sherbet, lime and fresh mint, plus just the tiniest charred hint of smoke or toast in the background. Rather than bringing out an older Caol Ila’s “fire in the hospital” character, water transforms it into an artist’s studio: a fresh painted canvas set to dry, with beautiful vanilla notes. Summery sweetness too; sugary candy floss and soft fruits.

Body: Light to medium.

Palate: A grassy picnic by the sea. Vibrant, hot and clean with a spring-like abandon: all flowers, grass and green fruits (fresh apple). High acidity increases the mouth-watering impression and there are notes of lime and even petrol here too. Water makes it succulent; intense in character but also fresh and mouth-cleansing. Sweeter than expected, as some banana emerges. The balance is restored by good acidity and saltiness. There’s no smoke.

Finish: Warming and gentle with great length.


57.9% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Islay.

An elegant classic; massive smoke and purity of flavour supported by complex aromas and delicious sweetness. Less rich and plummy than the 16 year old, yet every bit as refined, with all the hallmarks and a fine, complex nose.

Appearance: Pale gold. Good beading.

Nose: Huge, fine and complex. Intense, abundant smoke surges out of the glass, yet it is fragrant smoke that doesn’t obliterate the softer mossy scents. After a while, carbolic soap, lightly smoked haddock and an intensely sweet and fruity tinned fruit salad. The onslaught continues with wasabi on fresh herring, or a fresh gale on the pier. Lightly sooty, developing smoked cream cheese. Water surprisingly softens the gale to a breeze, easing back on the medicine and allowing mineral and woody notes to emerge, with some bath salts.

Body: Light but hugely smoky.

Palate: Starts dry and vibrant, with masses of intense smoke. Again smoked cheese, softer now, under that fresh, young character. Sooty, yet so sweet! Uncompromising, yet ebullient and hugely fragrant. In time there’s a hint of violets, before pipe smoke appears. Water allows the sweet centre to show. The taste now is even more youthful - surprisingly sweet, with nice acidity, it leaps all over your tongue. All this softens with further sips and an elegant balance shows through. A classic!

Finish: Medium to long. Firm and dry, a final blast of smoke.


Not available in the US.

54.9% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyside.

Rounded, delicious and elegant - a fine aperitif malt, which strikes an appealing balance between silky, oily smoothness and flightier, more aromatic characteristics.

Appearance: Rich amber, polished bronze. Very slight beading.

Nose: Slow to rise. At first, a forest floor in autumn: damp air, earthy and wet. Above this, sweeter notes, soon developing into a compote of fresh autumn fruits; ripe berries, with some red apple. Later, very distant smoke and hints of antiseptic. Later still, a surprising and sparky orange zest. Overall, quite light and well structured. Water makes things softer and more elegant, bringing forth gentle orange fruit gums over hints of creamy caramel.

Body: Light, yet also lightly oily and tongue-coating.

Palate: Very hot, powerful and urgent at full strength. Immediate orange oil, then a developing complexity. Toasted cereal notes, tarte au chocolat scented with orange and a little ginger, the bite of a fruit compote. At once light and drying, yet deliciously oily with a particularly well-balanced acidity. Very late and subtle cocoa with hints of cigar box cedar. Water cools things down; it’s all lighter, cooling and minty now, with some boiled fruit sweets.

Finish: Long and persistent. Although hot and drying, remains smooth, silky, warming and delicate, with a sweetly fragrant rosewater aftertaste.


Not available in the US.

57.5% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Speyside.

The clean freshness makes this an unusual aperitif malt. Relatively straightforward, this is an interesting example of a make from a closed distillery that is rarely seen, especially at this age.

Appearance: Pale Gold. Light beading.

Nose: Green, olive-oily then immediately fruity (oranges, white peaches), but soon develops a milk chocolate note. As it begins to open, there’s a fleeting, mineral aroma, which adds a racy air, before it settles down as orange cream filling in milk chocolate or perhaps angelica cake decoration. Water improves things significantly, raising the mineral note again – grassy, and fresh cut grass at that - then introduces a fruity note, suggesting pineapple or green apple.

Body: Light to medium.

Palate: Appetising. There’s plenty of crisp, clean grassiness on show here. Sweet, but also slightly sharp (crisp green apples, surprising in such a long-matured malt). Again water helps, making it all clean, fresh and acidic, with a surprising trace of salt. At its heart, the mineral taste dominates. Very slightly oily.

Finish: Short to medium, then warming.


57.7% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Islay.

As good a Port Ellen as you may ever taste. All of Port Ellen’s single-minded character, with added texture, depth and verve.

Appearance: Full, burnished gold. Good beading for its age.

Nose: One of the best Port Ellen noses recorded. Little nose prickle yet still lively. Complex, rich and rounded, with soft pear fruit and a trace of tar, as in a driftwood bonfire. Sandy but also slightly sweet, with malty traces. Behind this, fresh shellfish: scallop and oyster with a touch of lemon. The fruity notes fade to samphire and smouldering, oiled wood. Water has a calming effect, raising a classic extra virgin olive oil note, while adding fresh maritime notes and a herbal hint (sage, perhaps). Further dilution reigns in the smoke and some boiled sweet notes emerge.

Body: Firm and dry.

Palate: More classic. Surprisingly sweet at first, with massive smokiness. Austere and flinty with a very light grip. Salty. The smoke dominates but the character remains pure and focused, offering everything you’d expect from a Port Ellen. A good drop of water softens things at last, producing a lovely texture and great viscosity. As the sweetness fades, the delivery of flavours shifts to the centre of the palate, with more of a light saltiness.

Finish: Very long and warming, with lingering peat smoke.


54.8% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Skye.

Talisker, trebled. Enigmatic and charming, yet still vigorous. An interesting combination of three of the four primary tastes - balanced sweetness and acidity, with salty depth.

Appearance: Pale amber. Good beading. Attractive viscosity.

Nose: Mellow, with little prickle. Juicy and sweet, with a trace of smoke and pencil boxes behind. Soon opens out to heathery, earthy peat. After that, fruit: fresh-baked apple cake, banana, quince. Finally, salt: seaweed and ocean. Ever-changing, becoming more delicate in time. Water raises orange peel and brings in more maritime notes to balance the sweet fruitiness – warm sand, dry seaweed.

Body: Medium. Silky smooth.

Palate: Fine Talisker character; not as powerfully peppery as younger expressions, drinking well at natural strength. Sweet, with some salt. Coats the lips, never mind the tongue. Begins with soft, sweet apple sponge in custard, then a drier, crisper character emerges on the middle of the tongue. Builds in power (and heat) as the inevitable pepperiness comes forward. Yet the sweetness also continues, returning to its unctuous beginnings. Adding water smoothes the texture and merges the flavours. Again it starts sweetly, with a balancing acidity overall and plenty of salt.

Finish: Medium to long. Lulls you into a sense of security, then pounces. Warming, with both pepper and, unexpectedly, peppermint.


Not available in the US.

53.1% ABV

Natural Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Skye.

A mild-mannered, more mature Talisker, still with plenty of personality and unmistakable character. Can Talisker be subtle? This one is. It’s an elegant, scented malt that is simple in structure, with all its basic elements easily accessible.

Appearance: Gold, with little beading.

Nose: The softly muted character of age. Mild and unusually fruity (citrus), fading quickly into lush seaweed with charred sticks - as with a spent fire, in which the charcoal and peat embers barely glow. It soon becomes soft and very slightly waxy or creamy, like fudge. Just a drop of water freshens things, bringing up drying wooden fish boxes and a return of the tangy fruit (tart plums). Then it all drifts away into charred old wood.

Body: Medium.

Palate: Drinks well at full strength and has a pleasant, teeth-coating texture. The smoke is immediate and dry with creamy oak. Almond milk and light, sweet stone fruits emerge, joined by a trace of salt, as with peat moss in the rain or seaweed. Adding a little water brings up a pleasant, smooth texture. It’s now quite sweet to start but less so overall, with some salt and a trace of cloves.

Finish: Long and gently warming, with salty seaweed in the lingering maritime aftertaste and just a white pepper tingle on the tongue in place of that chilli pepper ‘catch’.