Archive for September, 2011

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Tommy Guns and Booze

September 30, 2011

What a combination!

Looks like this documentary mini-series is gonna be worth a watch.

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The Basics: Distillation

September 29, 2011

It’s about to get a little nerdy at The Nobler…

Liquor drinking is made possible by two of the most fascinating processes known to man. The first, we have very little to do with. The second, is pure genius. Fermentation is the natural process whereby yeast produce CO2 and alcohol. And while you may immediately think of beer and wine, fermentation has surprising number of applications for some of the most popular foods: yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and even some cured meats are made possible by the creation of lactic acid via fermentation. But I’m not here to tout the ability of microorganisms. I’m here to tout the brilliance that is distillation.

Liquor is for the most part a mixture of ethanol and water. The higher the ratio, the harder it is to get up in the morning. But it is how that mixture is created that fascinates me. As I mentioned, the fermentation process implies the conversion of carbohydrates (sugars) to ethanol and CO2. Take a sugary/starchy liquid, add yeast, and you’ve got yourself some alcohol (see: hard apple cider, wine, etc). But these same yeast can only produce so much ethanol before they themselves succumb to the party they’ve created. In the case of liquor, concentrating that alcohol while maintaining a clear flavor profile is the goal; and where the magic begins.

Believe it or not, flavor comes from molecules. Molecules that are more often than not, “alcohols”. Yes, it is true, alcohols are more than just a beverage we enjoy, it is a class of molecules altogether. And these “alcohols” along with ethanol share one very important trait in common, making distillation possible. Alcohols “boil” at a lower temperature than water. Therefore it seems reasonable that the ethanol and the flavor molecules from a fermented beverage could be removed and separated from the water, right? But wait, isn’t the point to keep the ethanol and flavor, not to remove it altogether?

Enter condensation: In an enclosed system, those molecules that have boiled away, don’t simply disappear. Now in the gaseous state they have been liberated from the batch in which they came. With a blast of cold water surrounding the condenser, those same gaseous components can now re-liquify and be captured in their purest form! Friggin unbelievable!

So what makes a vodka a vodka and a bourbon a bourbon and me a lover of them all? These are the questions that have shaped the Nobler Experiment. Anyone else feel like they need a drink?

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A Little More Context

September 27, 2011

Before we get drinking, I thought it would wise to introduce myself. For those of you finding The Nobler on your own, it won’t take you long to realize liquor is a passion. But it’s not my only passion. For the past three years I’ve been writing a food blog over at Can I get a Sample?. As a personal chef and more importantly an eater, food has long been a fascination. Much like sharing a drink, sharing a meal is one of the most fundamentally social activities we as people partake in. But, while it’s true, good people will overcome crappy food, it doesn’t hurt to eat well if you can. 

As for those taking the leap over with me, thanks for coming for the ride!

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Welcome to the Nobler Experiment

September 26, 2011


On January 17th, 1920 the Eighteenth amendment to the United States Constitution went into effect criminalizing the production and consumption of alcoholic liquors. We all make mistakes from time to time…

Prohibition, often referred to as the Noble Experiment, had a number of unintended consequences; not all are worthy of praise. However, the underground social movements, most profound in the Speakeasies across the country, are intriguing to say the least. Celebration around consumption, albeit illegal consumption, ushered in a new way of drinking that has had long lasted impact leading us to modern-day.

But it was the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 that really set the stage for The Nobler Experiment. The access to a variety of quality liquors has never been so prominent. From the historical brands that are recognized by the masses, to the single batch distillations that are found in limited quantity, there is an unbelievable amount to learn, and more importantly to drink. But it’s an awful shame to drink alone.

Welcome to the Nobler Experiment!

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