Posts Tagged ‘Moonshine’


Night Cap Bourbon Ready to Go!

May 31, 2013


This message goes out to all the loyal Night Cappers who made it to the last Night Cap. We’re coming up on 3 months since you all left with a bottle of my mason jar bourbon, and guess what: it’s time to start tasting. Nobler Mark and I have dug into our stashes already and I can tell you, the 3 month age is really damn delicious. I recommend you take a little swig and see what you think before running all of the contents through a coffee filter, just in case you want more age. But I encourage you to enjoy the “young” bourbon now. It’s a nice change of pace from the heavier commercial options and I’ll tell you, nothing kicks off a weekend better than some homemade bourbon. Hope you enjoy and hit me up if you have any questions on how to specifically filter it.

Added bonus, I hope to have some news on the next Night Cap coming soon!


Night Cap NYC #2: Back to Basics

March 11, 2013


If you haven’t already, it’s time to get on the Night Cap train. We had another amazing night this past weekend and I’m already excited to get working on the next one. This time, we had the pleasure of using a friend’s amazing loft that we transferred into our own little liquor, wine, and beer lab. Thanks a ton to everyone who made it out and added to the enthusiasm of such a wonderful event.


As for some of the highlights, we broke everyone out into three rotating stations of booze-filled amazingness. Adam walked everyone through our throw back production of bathtub gin (recipe card below) and served up a refreshing and delicious gin and juice. I brought the fire to the party in the form of live-charring of oak chips to describe the simple yet sophisticated way in which our favorite aged whiskeys (specifically bourbon) are made. Plus everyone walked away with a little mason jar bourbon project of their own!


But the guests seemed to all agree, and not surprisingly, that Keith’s rendition of wine blending bringing a little France to NY or maybe a lot of NY to France, was one of the best moments of the night. Highlighting the concepts of wine blending by comparing left bank and right bank Bordeauxs as only the self-proclaimed wine-geek can do, I’m bummed myself I didn’t get a chance to see him in action. I did get to drink quite a bit of his blends thankfully, and they were damn delicious.


In addition to all the alcohol fun, a special thank you to Emily Holbrook for putting together a really delicious spread of snacks for the night. Her oven roasted tomatoes and goat cheese crostini, spicy fried peanuts, and cheese straws were not only delicious, but they kept everyone (almost everyone) even keeled throughout all that drinking. She’s the best!


So keep an eye out for our next scheduled event (hopefully details coming soon) and in the meantime check us out on Facebook and Twitter here and here!




Who wants a bottle of my mason jar bourbon?

January 8, 2013


When I first began my bourbon lab experiments, it was with pretty moderate expectations. Despite the fact that I thought it was a pretty cool nerdy method to calculate the surface area to volume ratio of a typical bourbon barrel and to then replicate that ratio with charred oak chips in a mason jar filled with moonshine, I really had no idea how it would turn out. I tasted here and there and was intrigued by how quickly the color changed from crystal clear to a golden amber but it wasn’t entirely clear to me how long I should let it “age”. That was until our New Years Eve plans began to take shape and a beach bonfire in the middle of winter shouted for some warming liquor.

So after just two months of “aging”, I strained and filtered (through coffee filters) my young bourbon, bottled it back in the mason jar and headed east for NYE. You probably won’t be shocked to hear that I was sort of blown away by how good this came out. For one, it would be really weird of me to set up the story and then tell you it sucked. But maybe most importantly, the process while interesting in its small scale capacity truly replicates almost all of the necessary components of proper aging. Being a bit on the young side, my bourbon still has a lot of the corn-based moonshine character, but without the awful bite of the un-aged liquor. It is smooth, flavorful, and a heck of a lot better than I had expected.

So like any good scientist, I’m going back into the lab to run more experiments. I plan on tinkering with the SA/V ratio and of course the aging length but either way there is a lot of bourbon coming your way. And what better way to start off 2013 with the opportunity to get your hands on your very own bottle! If you are interested, fill out the form below and I’ll be sure to set up a mason jar with your name on it! I’ll email you back with a bit more details once you sign up.  Happy New Year everyone (once again) and here’s to an amazing 2013!


Mason Jar Bourbon

October 29, 2012


With the energy around small batch distillation impacted the likes of entrepreneurs and home enthusiasts to brand new magnitudes, the idea of small batch barrel aging has been all the rage. You can find a number of options online now offering small, ready to go barrels, allowing you to simply add un-aged whiskey and then wait patiently for the outcome. But I have been thinking more and more about how there has to be another way. Another way, that maybe isn’t as traditional, but takes advantage of the same principles of barrel aging and allows for a potentially quicker but definitely more adaptable approach.

The beauty of mason jar bourbon is that to some extent, I have no idea how this will turn out. Although in fact, this is very similar to the prospects that distillers face when starting a new aged spirit. I remember when we asked the guys at NY Distilling how they thought their then-aging Rye would turn out and as an answer, a chuckle was about all we needed.

But we can try and simplify the process a little bit. We know a few things for sure that have been working for centuries. Take for example the 53 gallon barrel that has become synonymous with aging. These barrels interact with the whiskey contents through the porous nature of the wood. Overtime, the wood exchanges, the whiskey extracts, and the flavors develop to be rich and complex. And although some variations do occur, this 53 gallon barrel tends to have one thing constant: the surface area to volume ratio (wood to whiskey).

Luckily for me, I love calculations. Translating the SA/V ratio for the barrel to a small mason jar was simple enough, but mason jars are of course made from glass, not from wood. So what about using oak chips? Turns out, American oak chips are readily available at most home-brew stores as many home-brewers use the chips for a similar purpose. To impart barrel aged flavor into their beer. Brilliant. Now we were in business.

Except for one major issue. Bourbon barrels are flame treated to bring out the wood based sugars for the perfect extraction. Enter my creme brulee torch. I knew this thing would come in handy for more than just burning sugar! So here we are, with some flame treated wood chips soaking in a mason jar full of moonshine. Now what? When will it be ready? How will I know? The answer to those questions are also admittedly straightforward. I have no clue. But I’m pretty damn excited to keep you posted!


Time to Relax and Grab a T-Shirt

August 17, 2012

Last night I found myself truly relaxing for the first time in a long time. I don’t mean that in the “I’m so busy, feel bad for me” way but rather, I realized recently, I’m just not that great at this relaxing stuff. As I said on the way back from the beach the other day, “relaxing makes me anxious”. That being said, it felt really great to sink into the couch with a Cow Thieves Saison and glass of Kings County Moonshine; a combination I plan on re-visiting soon.

This weekend I’m getting back after it because we’ve got a lot of excited things coming up. New cocktails, new events, and new collaborations are on the horizon! But first, don’t forget to get in on these t-shirts!


Kings Co. Distillery

August 9, 2012

Last night the Noblers took a trip down to the Navy Yard for a tour and tasting with the Kings Co. folks and ended up coming away with a hell of a lot more. Colin Spoelman, one of the Kings Co. founders met us at the foot of their relatively new space, an epic 19th century brick warehouse that used to exist as the Navy Yard’s bank. While it’s easy to imagine the floor plan being filled with folks coming to collect their pay after a hard day of grueling work, it seems just as perfectly designed for a modern-day distillery.

But while Colin and his team may be producing in the modern distillation boom, his knowledge and commitment to the historical relevance of alcohol in this country, in our city, and in his own life set the Kings Co. experience apart. Our tour started in their corn field, which exists seemingly more as an experiment, or as a way to stay connected to their source, rather than a true attempt at ingredient production. (They are already producing moonshine and bourbon at a clip which requires a high yield crop of over 250x the size of their own.) But at they very least, as a backdrop to their production story, it’s refreshing that even in an industrial setting, these guys stay connected to their product.

I was equally amazed as we made our way through the facility and through Colin’s descriptions by just how much liquor production has shaped American history. Of course, the Nobler Experiment on its own is rooted in my passion for this history, but for me, I hadn’t ever ventured back much past the late 1800s. As we listened to Colin describe the clashes, the taxes, the mass consumption, and more that ultimately led to Prohibition and the enormous fees restricting distilleries like themselves entering the industry, you couldn’t help but feel what these guys are doing is truly significant. As one of the first to take advantage of the relaxation in fees and regulations by the state of NY, Kings Co. manages to blur the lines between the past and the present.

But all that means nothing if their product is shit, and luckily for us, and for all of you, these guys know what they are doing. I was personally surprised the most by their un-aged corn whiskey, or moonshine. I’ve talked some smack about moonshine on the blog before but I’ve got to say, Kings Co. has got me converted. Their moonshine is not the slightest harsh, but rather sweet, floral and actually refreshing. Their bourbon, which I had a few times before is equally delicious. Aging for one year in smaller 5 gallon barrels produces the expected comforting notes in a bourbon but manages to maintain those original flavor components from the moonshine making for a far more interesting overall profile. Lastly, we tasted their chocolate flavored bourbon which blew us all away. You might immediate assume a bunch of grown men drinking chocolate whiskey isn’t exactly Nobler Experiment worthy, but that’s just because you haven’t tried this stuff. The aroma this whiskey gives off is undeniably chocolate. But as you take a sip, and the sweetness you expect simply does not show up, the marriage between chocolate and bourbon makes total sense. Colin mentioned this will only be a special release from time to time, so if you see it out there, you better snag a bottle or two! 

Maybe the most significant component of our visit, however, was the sense that there is something happening at Kings Co. that you can’t help but root for; and it seems to all start with Colin. As he described the “bootlegging” ways of some folks in his dry Kentucky hometown, it wasn’t hard to see where his passion comes from.

From 300 square feet to their new Navy Yard home, Kings Co. has managed to make a name for themselves in this new world of distillation. I just love that they refuse to forget about the old world practices that got them here.


Let’s be clear

December 19, 2011

Picture this:  You are out shopping this week with your two whiskey lover gift guides in tow (here and here). You find yourself perusing the liquor store looking for something new, or out of the ordinary. You stumble upon the whiskey shelves and your eyes are affixed on the variety of brands, bottles, and browns. You stop and admire the Hudson Baby Bourbon for it’s beautiful bottle and then confusion sets in. What the hell is this…

Okay, in defense of Hudson, they aren’t the only one capitalizing on this frustrating liquor trend. See, the beauty of whiskey, both in flavor and in appearance comes in large part from the barrel aging process which we’ve been over before (here and here). But “white whiskey” or “moonshine” or “white lightning” however you prefer it, forgoes that often lengthy aging process leaving you with a clear, somewhat flavorless, yet seemingly highly marketable booze. And I get it. With all the energy and interest around the Prohibition (see: The Nobler Experiment), picking up a bottle of moonshine must feel kind of cool.

But don’t be mistaken. What you are popping into isn’t that different from vodka. Great for mixing, not so great on it’s own. So should you avoid these “white whiskeys” altogether? Well, that’s up to you. But maybe don’t go out of your way to drop up to $40 on a bottle. All clear?

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