Archive for the ‘Single Malt Scotch’ Category


Whiskey Energy Plant Success!

April 25, 2013

Helius Energy awards contracts for 7.5 MW biomass plant

Investigative reporter for the Nobler, Joe Anzalone, sent me another amazing article last night proving that the world of alcohol and the world of science are linked in more ways than you might imagine.

This project has been years in the making, “being undertaken by Helius Corde, the joint venture of biomass energy development company Helius Energy and The Combination of Rothes Distillers.” As we have heard from a lot of the new up and coming distilleries, waste removal is a major challenge in the production of spirits. Whether it be corn, wheat, rye, or any other input, the leftover mash from the distillation process is pretty much useless when it comes to traditional notions of agriculture waste utilization. With all of the essentials gone, the waste is not ideal for fertilization, composting, animal feed, or any of the other typical options.

But biomass to power production has been an increasingly hot area of research and the efficiencies are finally reaching implementable levels. Cutting the ribbon on this Scottish Biomass Power Plant is a wonderful achievement in closing the loop for one of the most famous international production processes. Using the local distilleries waste to produce clean energy for 9,000 homes in the area is an amazing example of innovation and worthy of a glass raising from the Noblers!



The Future is Now for American Single Malts

January 18, 2013
Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Photo by Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Close to a year ago, I posted about the Future of American Whiskey. The notion was simple: as more and more small scale distilleries entered the industry with increased demand and decreased legislation, we were clearly going to see more than just bourbon and rye at the forefront of our whiskey resurgence. As seen in this week’s NY Times article, it looks like the future is now…

Single malt American whiskeys are on the rise and with Balcones Texas Single Malt winning the “Best in Glass” distinction over a number of Scottish perennials, it’s time to start paying attention. The key distinction here, is that while most of the American history of whiskey focuses on corn or rye based mashes, single malt whiskeys use a malted grain, normally barley. As the Times article also points out, this focus on malted barley is a perfect match for many craft distillers who got their feet wet in the beer brewing game. But it isn’t simply a replication of European methodology that is responsible for the excitement.

Many of the US single malt distillers are expanding outside of the fairly narrow rule-set that defines these types of whiskeys elsewhere in the world. Innovation around the aging process, ingredient additions, and weather effects are pushing the limits of what we’ve seen in the past. I’ve had a few of the single malts listed in the article and I’ll be honest, I haven’t loved them all. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying them. Part of the beauty of single malt production is to stay connected to the process. As these guys learn and adapt, the product is only going to get better and better.

On another exciting note, the Night Cap NYC is about to announce our next event and it’s going to be even better the last one. More details will come once we have everything in order, but stay tuned for tickets and much much more. Happy Weekend and go grab some American Single Malt!


A Blended Scotch, A Welcome Surprise

July 23, 2012

Sometimes it takes a trip across the world to find what you’ve missing…

Okay, so in this case, it was a trip to the Chicago suburbs, and what I was missing was a bottle of Scotch. But sometimes I worry if I don’t play up the dramatics, you guys will stop reading. That being said, I really was pretty pumped when I saw the bottle of Monkey Shoulder at this hotel bar. Because since a few of the Noblers and I made our way through my Christmas present bottle, I haven’t seen the stuff anywhere. And it’s really a damn good blended scotch, in a great looking bottle, with a pretty stellar name.

The name monkey shoulder comes from the term describing the common injury the malt men of years past would frequently suffer from as they went through the arduous process of turning the barley constantly during the malting process. As with other popular blended scotches, the monkey shoulder team selects their final make-up from a finite number of casks guaranteeing they have complete control to develop the character they desire. 27 casks in all from 3 Speyside malt’s make their way into this bottle and after maturing in bourbon casks, the final product is a balanced cross between Scotland tradition and new world whiskey flavor. It really is the perfect scotch for a bourbon drinker!

After a little research it sounds like Monkey Shoulder made its first US appearance earlier this year in the Chicago area (makes sense now). I’m glad it made it’s here but now let’s hope we start to see it back in NYC.


World Whisky Day at Idle Hands

March 28, 2012

Last night we gathered in celebration of World Whisky Day at what may most certainly be, my new favorite bar. Idle Hands located between 3rd and 2nd on Ave B, touts one of the largest bourbon lists I’ve ever seen. Mixed with an impressive collection of International and unique American bottles, it’s clearly a new Nobler destination…

At the core of the Nobler Experiment, the fascination with booze, particularly whiskey can probably be perceived by some as an overindulgence. But it’s nights like the last where a group of friends gather to chat, laugh, and pontificate about the world we live in that is a clear reminder on why we drink in the first place. Added to the nerdy enthusiasm that goes with distinguishing the mash ingredients and processes that go into a specific bottle of whiskey, it’s easy to see why at least a few glasses are enjoyed over the course of a gathering. Hope you all enjoyed a glass or two!

And Happy Day After World Whisky Day! Okay, now it’s an overindulgence…


World Whisky Day!

March 22, 2012

Next Tuesday, March 27th, gives us all the opportunity to celebrate our love for whiskey with those that share our passion across the world. Because lord knows, I need another excuse to drink!

But seriously, this is a pretty cool initiative being started by Blair Bowman, a young whiskey enthusiast, and I’m glad the Nobler Experiment can be a part of it. Details are still in the works, but next Tuesday evening, we’ll be gathering to enjoy a glass (or a few) of our favorites and to toast whatever seems appropriate.

For more information on World Whisky Day, check out the official website here, and for those instagram lovers (like myself), take a look at the photo competition and get snapping…


Thirty Years Aged

February 27, 2012

I was hoping to follow-up the “future of American whiskey” discussion with a little more love for the blends but I had to wait until today as to not spoil the surprise…

My brother Steve turned 30 earlier in the month and we finally were able to make it down to celebrate. I had considered using the Whisky Blender site I posted about not too long ago but I wasn’t too sure of the timing and plus, I sort of liked the notion of really knowing and tasting what I was blending. By creating my own blend of commercially available  single malts, I was able to create a really smooth and delicious blended scotch that I hope he will enjoy for a long time.

This may sound a little silly, or even worse, a little like a Tupperware party, but I’m thinking this could be a fun Nobler activity. Everyone brings a bottle of single malt and with a few graduated cylinders and some mason jars, you could quickly see how blended scotch night could become a huge drunken hit. But as simple as I making this sound, the activity also enlightens you a bit about how great some of the “master-blenders” are. To consistently create masterful combinations of whiskeys that succeed on all fronts is no easy task. And one that can only be appreciated that much more when you give it a shot on your own.

This weekend also saw another batch of home-brew get kicked off. This time, a slightly smaller batch with Steve that should be ready in a few weeks. Between blending, brewing, and drinking I’m developing quite a few partners in crime. Even my little niece got in on the action!

Happy (belated) Birthday Steve!




The Future of American Whiskey

February 23, 2012

As you probably have guessed, I’m not the only one out there who loves a good American Whiskey. Because whether you’ve been following the specifics or not, our nation’s re-birth in the whiskey world is in full-out growth mode and the obsession with small batch, craft distillation has followed suit. It really blows me away to see projections like those in this article from Serious Drinks that predict the number of American craft distilleries to balloon to over 400 by 2015. But with all the competition sure to brew (or should I say distill), I really love the model and suggestion brought out referencing true elegance in the liquor industry.

The Scotch business years ago, much like the current American Whiskey industry, grew like wildfire as the techniques and processes were perfected with local and regional practices taking shape in the form of Single Malts. But as competition grew, and “master blenders” began to tout the beauty of  blended scotch, the single malt distilleries needed to adapt to remain in business. As the article suggests, many of these single malt distilleries sell up to 90% of their output to those same “master blenders”. And the outcome is really ideal for all of us. The pressure to produce high quality single malts keeps the distilleries in business with the blenders and in parallel, allows them to remain focused on their uniqueness; the very thing that got them into business in the first place.

So looking forward, as a number of craft distilleries take form in the states, will a similar model be adapted? I think certainly some aspects will have to. Brands will have to capitalize on the quality of small batches to offer up highly marketable blends to keep a leading edge in the industry. But there is an interesting wrinkle taking shape that may provide for even more stateside excitement. As more of our craft distilleries begin production, more of them are looking to break the mold of what we know as a traditional bourbon or rye. By differentiating from the classic designations, we are in line for some pretty exciting stuff. The times of ordering just any “bourbon” are coming to an end (or probably already have) and we all stand to gain on this one. It’s time to get on board!


The Erythromycin

February 9, 2012

Since the Nobler Single Malt Tasting, I couldn’t stop thinking about that Phantom Peat. The Laphroaig’s complexity and bad ass peatiness had been following me around for days after consumption and the 1/4 full bottle had been tempting me each and every night.

Yet despite my new-found affinity towards the Laphroaig, for me, it’s a situational drink. That is until last night, when friend and fellow nobler @scientistmike suggested a fantastic combination of ingredients that I imagined could work perfectly with the bold Laphroaig and mellow out some of the intensity. The “penicillin” was a cocktail he had at The Jakewalk and the mix of blended scotch, Laphroaig, lemon juice, and ginger syrup sounded frigging fantastic.

But I’m allergic to penicillin…

For my version, The “Erythromycin”, I went with the same basic flavor profile but substituted in some ginger beer for the syrup to give the drink a little fizz. The blended scotch helps carry the strong flavors of the Laphroaig, and the lemon juice cuts through the sweetness and peatiness of the drink perfectly. With the new Jack White 7 inch playing in the background, this cocktail was perfection.

The “Erythromycin”

1 oz Laphroaig

2 oz Blended Scotch

1 oz lemon juice

2 oz ginger beer

2 dashes lemon bitters

In a rocks glass with ice mix all of the ingredients. Garnish with a lemon peel and serve with a little “love interruption”.


Single Malt Noblering

February 3, 2012

As I mentioned a few weeks back, for the fourth Nobler Gathering the plan was to take a little spin around the distinct regions of Single Malt Scotch. But after some extensive research and some help from single malt lovers, it became increasingly clear we needed to start off a bit more simple.

The uniqueness from region to region and even more so from distillery to distillery is what makes the Single Malt world so fanatical. It’s also why imbibers tend to find one they like and stick with it. So for our Nobler introduction we decided to go with two distinct single malt scotches, the Highland, Glenmorangie and the Islay, Laphroaig, and paired it up with a seriously hyped newcomer to the single malt world, the Japanese Yamazaki.

With some Cow Thieve’s ale acting as our palette cleanser we made our way through the three varietals taste by taste and in some cases, being bombarded by the major differences between the three. The Glenmorangie and its light body, straight forward maltiness was a flavor everyone could wrap their minds around. It’s why so many of these Highland scotches are made and so many of them are considered favorites. But the Laphroaig was without a doubt our favorite. The Islay Scotch was complexed with peat and smoke and based off of a few texts and tweets from the morning, it seriously made it’s mark. I can attest that right now, my tea tastes like peat!

And then there was the Yamazaki. I was really pumped for this one. Because I’ve been hearing a non-stop pile up of praise for the Japanese who have decided to get into the single malt game. Remember, these aren’t single malt scotches because well, they aren’t made in Scotland. But regardless, we were unanimous in our criticism of this underwhelming 12 year version that seemed to lack complexity and richness. I’m committed to giving it another shot (not within the same 48 hours of drinking some of that peat monster, Laphroaig) but all in all, I think we’ll stick with the years of experience and variety coming out of Scotland.

You’ll notice I’ve been quiet about the Nobler eats for this Gathering…That’s because Scottish food isn’t exactly my strong suit and cooking up a batch of haggis wasn’t exactly on my bucket list. But luckily, Alu, an active Nobler came up with a loop-hole. It turns out, Chicken Tikka Masala, was first created by an Indian chef while in….Scotland. Boom! Good enough for me…and good enough for the Noblers…


Scotch, Scotch, Scotch

January 11, 2012

So, a few weeks back I went on a little rant about single malt scotch and how they weren’t really my thing. And it’s true. They aren’t. But after doing some extensive research for the upcoming Nobler Gathering, I think I’m ready to open up. Because in reality, my aversion to the historically rich whiskeys has more to do with the attitude that too often comes with them, than from the flavors and complexity in the glass itself. But there is no denying the fascinating details that go into Single Malt Scotch and even more so, the nuance from distillery to distillery. That being said, I’m still a bourbon guy…

For the upcoming Gathering, I plan on taking the Noblers on a little tore of the Scottish regions of single malt. Often compared to the diversity of French vineyards, regional variation in Single Malt is what makes this class of whiskey what it is. As one might expect, there is still quite a bit of nuance within distilleries of a given region, but in large part the characteristics come directly from the terrain and the proximity to the water. And when your Wikipedia reference reads “The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife.”, it’s worth paying attention to what is now over 500 years of history.

While there tends to be a bit of an overlap depending on who you ask, there are four major regions: The Lowland, the Highland, Speyside, and the Islands. The Islay region is often considered independent from The Islands, and is most distinct for its peaty flavors. I think the best description I’ve heard on peatiness is the smell and flavor of “damp vegetation”. I guess it doesn’t translate so well in writing but you’ll know this flavor when you taste it. Because of the Islay location off the coast of Scotland, the marine qualities are also extremely apparent. The more recognizable distilleries available are Laphroaig and Lagavullin. As for the others…

I’d hate to give up all my secrets before the Nobler Gathering. But what about you? What are you favorite single malts?


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