Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Which Grain is Exchanged For Grape, with a great spiritual uplifting

Well it seems even my quiet lobe of the internet (the lobe that is whiskey-related, not streamable jazz flute music or the history of exotic tree barks) has been invaded by Big Media, with the recent deluge of taunting clickbait about the looming "whiskey shortage". Is nothing free from the charnel taint of the Content Mill? I put "whiskey shortage" in quotation marks to show that I know the entire concept to be spurious, just another cataclysm-of-the-day aimed at gumming up a news cycle already swollen with dubious threats and tedious regurgitation. If the inability to purchase Pappy Van Winkle, something you possibly neither knew or cared about 3 years ago, causes you heartache then perhaps it serves you right to suffer. You Will Die before even the worst liquor store has less than an aisle of whiskies available for you to purchase, many of them cheaper than even a mid-range bottle of wine.

While shortage is the wrong term, there is unquestionably a whiskey Gentrification of sorts occurring. Prices (not costs) are up across the board, with the sharpest increases among enthusiast whiskies (aka "lawyer whiskey") which reluctantly prices out many who have never IPO'd. Oh well. Yoghurt Liqueur is still affordable.

Should your preferred bottle become hard to find, maybe that is a sign from God that you should stop being so boring and branch out. The world of whiskey is broad, with enormous variations in flavor and something for everyone.  Bourbon is often characterized by its sweetness, heavy with vanilla and cinnamon. Scotch, more expansive, is iconically linked with the honeyed Speyside malts or the bolder peated whiskies of Islay. Craft Whiskey is most profoundly flavored by oak; raw, overextracted, sawdusty oak, like a chair leg jammed into a bottle through a perverse combination of greed and incompetence.

Why the polemic? The topic has been on my mind, as I am struggling to find a purpose for a particularly egregious craft whiskey. I'm not one to turn my nose up at anything with liquor in it (see my ongoing battle with Florentino) but something about a less-than-year old whiskey that is RED gets the bile duct on overdrive.

Well I've been sitting, staring at the bottle of it now for an entire bowl of oatmeal and have made little progress towards acceptance. Let's have some grappa.

The Herb-of-Grace bestows some civility on a fraught morning
Rue (ruta graveolens), Herb-of-Grace, is a Mediterranean herb once fairly common which seems to have fallen out of favor. It was used for many unlikely purposes, as you might imagine a pre-Internet civilizations would try to apply something they grew in the their gardens to the problems at hand. Eyewash, an anti-magical herb to prevent witchcraft related indigestion while eating with strangers, and also fried in batter or as a salad green. It was also a universal poison antidote, despite being somewhat toxic. I know more about it but am tired of typing, so visit this wonderful site to learn more. The most lasting use and the one most relevant to me, has been to aromatise and flavor grappa. Grappa alla ruta. It adds a heaviness to the grappa, a slightly vegetable bitterness, with a musky lemon aroma. Quite nice. Easy enough to make, just snip a few fresh leaves prior to flowering from the plant you had the foresight to plant 2 years ago, and allow to macerate in grappa or white brandy for 1 month. The plant can cause Phytophotodermatitis in hot weather, so avoid that.

Let's end this post on a different note than we started, with some Elizabethan poetry.

'Then sprinkles she the juice of rue,
With nine drops of the midnight dew
From lunarie distilling.

No comments:

Post a Comment