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I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for roses.
My maternal grandmother’s name was Rose. My maternal grandfather created a rose garden in his back yard in tribute to my grandmother. I used to love to wander the garden and smell the different roses.
My late father would bring my mother a single rose every Friday during their 52-year marriage. The day of his funeral, a Friday, David Ransom presented my mother a single rose at the memorial service to continue the tradition.
My mother always has a vase of fresh roses in my bedroom when I visit her in Tennessee. Roses are a symbol of love and, for me personally, for family and for heritage.
So, naturally I was intrigued by the story behind Four Roses Bourbon, which recently celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2018 by sending us a baby rose-bush to plant. Coincidentally, our garden had just three blooming rose bushes. Now, it has four rose bushes. I welcomed an invitation to visit last December. It was my first visit to a Kentucky Bourbon distillery.
The legend of Four Roses Bourbon (est. 1888) started when its Founder, Paul Jones, a Louisville businessman, became smitten with a Southern belle named Mary, whom he courted for a number of years. Jones asked Mary to respond to his “final” marriage proposal (after a few asks) by wearing a corsage of four red roses to a cotillion dance. This time she accepted and entered the ballroom wearing the corsage.
There are a few versions to this story depending on who tells it. But, if you visit Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, you may be lucky enough to meet Al Young, the brand’s official historian (a.k.a. Senior Brand Ambassador), who will share a few anecdotes and who has a sharp memory. Young has worked with the distillery for 51 years and wrote a book called “Four Roses- The Return of a Whiskey Legend.”
The word “return” is important because for a long time, Four Roses did not produce its Bourbon. One reason was Prohibition which lasted from 1920 to 1933. During that time whiskey was only approved and made for medicinal use. After Prohibition (Repeal) distilleries had to invest heavily to start over. Making Bourbon, is time intensive. In 1943, the company was acquired by Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., which reorganized it and decided to focus on making whiskies only for the export market. Then, the brand was acquired for a time by a consortium established between Pernod Ricard and Diageo. In 2002, Japan’s Kirin Holdings acquired Four Roses and reintroduced its flagship Kentucky Bourbons starting with its single barrel in 2004 and a small batch in 2006.
During a distillery visit last December Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott guided us through a tasting and explained the process to which utilizes two mash bills and five propriety yeast strains to make ten distinct recipes used in the blending. It was a lesson in chemistry as he showed how the different proprietary yeasts are coded and then blended (V-delicate fruit, K=light spice, O=rich fruit, Q=floral essence, F=herbal).
We had the chance to visit both the distillery in Lawrenceburg and the bottling facility on Cox’s Creek to experience production from start to finish. We were intrigued by the bottling line with staffers applying labels and bottle tags by hand, each bottle carefully inspected. Talk about hand-crafted!
Four Roses has three signature Bourbons. All were smooth, mellow and delicate on the palate.
Four Roses Single Barrel has notes of vanilla, maple, pear and spice with a long finish (100 proof/50% ABV)
Four Roses Small Batch is creamier and rich with more caramel and berry notes. (90 proof/45% ABV)
Four Roses Bourbon balances vibrant fruit and spice. (80 proof/40% ABV)
We also tasted a special blend 130th Anniversary Four Roses. This limited edition Bourbon was lightly floral and a tad sweeter in a very satisfying – please, give me some more!- way. Then, Elliott took us into his laboratory where we had the rare chance to taste of few other proprietary blends. Swoon!
Four Roses conducts guided tours at the Lawrenceburg distillery, which is a beautiful Spanish mission-style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On site are a small Four Roses museum and gift shop. Info: www.FourRosesBourbon.com
Four Roses Bourbon Senior Ambassador Al Young discusses the history of Four Roses Bourbon on The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart. Click the photo below to listed or this link
A special thank you to Four Roses Bourbon for hosting this trip and to The Baddish Group for including Melanie, a dedicated Bourbon drinker and rose lover.
He’s passionate about Pisco! Johnny Schuler is Peru’s leading expert on Pisco and Master Distiller for Pisco Portón, whose Hacienda La Caravedo is the oldest Pisco distiller in the Americas (est. 1684). He explains the distillation process and grapes used to produce Pisco. Johnny is also a professional chef and restaurateur, owner of Granja Azul and Key Club, both in Lima.
Johnny says these four things distinguish Peruvian Pisco:
Pisco is made from wine, not grapes. Juice is extracted from the grapes to ferment and distill rather than crushing and using the entire grape and stems.
Pisco may only be made from the juice of eight designated grapes which are classified as ‘aromatic’ and ‘non-aromatic.’ The non-aromatic grapes are: Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla and Uviña. Aromatic grapes are: Albilla, Italia, Torontel and Moscatel.
Pisco is a natural spirit whose distinct aromas and flavors come entirely from the terroir and grapes used. It is distilled to proof. No water, coloring, other flavorings or ingredients may be added. And we never utilize oak or any aging. Pisco is always crystal clear unlike a Cognac, Brandy or Armagnac.
Distillation is a single process, always using copper pot stills. In comparison, other spirits like vodka may undergo double and triple distillation to achieve intended smoothness.”
Pisco has three distinct styles: Puro uses a single variety grape, either aromatic or non-aromatic. Acholado is a blend of two or more grapes of any kind. Mosto Verde a style that stops the fermentation process prior to the 100% conversion of grape sugar to wine. The result is a creamier, fuller style Pisco.
Listen more on this edition of The Connected Table Live! Johnny is in the second segment.
When you’ve been in the beverage and food business as long as we have – 30 years for each of us – you find yourself reconnecting with people over and over. Those people connect you to others in the industry. Your circle widens and yet becomes closer as your relationships deepen. We call it “Six Degrees of Siperation.”
Chatting with Steve Olson on a recent edition of The Connected Table LIVE! that term bubbled into my head. We counted the many ways we’ve connected with Steve over the years including: The James Beard Awards, Sherries from Spain, Greek wines, Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, Rums of Puerto Rico, Tales of the Cocktail, the Food & Wine Classic, Beverage Alcohol Resource, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and Kansas City’s J Rieger & Co.
For those of you who have worked – and played- with Steve, you know his energy is boundless and enthusiasm contagious. Many of us have been touched by Steve in our lives. Recently Pernod-Ricard acquired a major stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal so we raise a spirited toast to Steve and his partners, Ron Cooper and Michael Gardner who have worked hard to put Mezcal on everyone’s lips. Here’s a link to our show with Steve Olson. That’s right Steve, we’ve named the title for the memoir you need to write!
In our March Women Making a Mark spotlight we have two very dynamic guests March 15th on The Connected Table LIVE! Both are passionately devoted to promoting diversity and collaboration within the industry and to giving back.
First up is Karen Hoskin, president and co-founder of Montanya Distillers based in Crested Butte, Colorado. Montanya utilizes old world artisan traditions to make its collection of rums which have been awarded 18 Gold and Silver Medals in International Competitions. In 2013 the company was named Craft Distiller of the Year by the American Distilling Institute (ADI) who has tapped Karen to be its keynote speaker for its upcoming conference April 3-6 in Baltimore.
Our second guest is making history with her Phenomenal Femmes winemaker dinner series with The Ritz Carlton Central Park in Manhattan. Marika Vida is the hotel’s Wine Director. She is also a sought after speaker, adviser and educator through her company, Vida et Fils. Phenomenal Femmes, now in its fourth year, spotlights women winemakers around the globe. Proceeds from the dinner series benefit the women’s shelter at Crossroads Community Services in New York which provides food, shelter and other aid to individuals in need regardless of national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disabilities. www.crossroadscommunitynyc.org
Listen live on W4CY.com 2pmEST and anytime on iHeart.com
years “on the rocks” meant climbing the ‘Gunks in New York’s Hudson Valley and managing rock climbing gyms in New York City for native New Yorker Ralph Erenzo. These days it has a new meaning for him as Co-Founder of Tuthilltown Distillery, located on a former gristmill in the verdant Gardiner countryside just a short
Ralph purchased the land, conveniently located near the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, a rock climbing mecca, originally to set up a climbers campground. Fate and nosy neighbors intervened and these plans did not happen. Left with a large amount of land and no business plan, Ralph did his research. He found the best solution was to secure an agriculture license. Doing more research he decided to build a distillery, joining up with business partner, Brian Lee in 2003 to establish one of the first distilleries in New York State since Prohibition. Two years later they produced their first small batches of vodka made from discarded apples from nearby orchards. Today Tuthilltown has many brands including our favorite, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey.
We remember our first visit to the small distillery; today the compound has grown to several buildings and Tuthillhouse Restaurant.
Tuthilltown’s a game changer in the Hudson Valley. Through his lobbying efforts in Albany, Ralph is widely credited with helping to bring back small batch production to the region. Last weekend we attended the Straight Up New York Crafts Spirits Festival at Black Dirt Distillery in Orange County. Many of the newer distillers we met at Straight Up New York credit Ralph for their move into the business. His work at the State level resulted in the passage of the Farm Distillery Act which permits New York farms to establish distilleries on site and sell their agricultural spirits at the farm.
Our mission is to engage and connect our audiences to the diverse world of food, fine beverage and hospitality and the dynamic people who help shape it through our shows, digital media and educational events. All of our 50 minute shows and SIPS! podcasts can be heard anytime on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.
Though the profession of wine making has had a fairly large contingent of women at the helm for decades, the spirits making game has long been male dominated, and it’s only recently that women have started turn their eye towards running a still. And, while we may be able to only count female distillers on a hand or two, the list is growing, with more women jumping in the distillation game than ever before.
Ashby Marshall, distiller and co-owner of Sonoma County California’s Spirit Works Distilleryis one of them, and she’s making some wonderful and unique products in her Sebastopol distillery. Not least, is a Sloe Gin, one of only a few made in the U.S. (or world, for that matter), and a testament to a longtime heritage on her husband’s side of family time spent gathering Sloe berries in coastal England to make their own version.
Of course that’s not all she makes, Ashby’s growing list of products includes a Vodka, two other Gin interpretations, (including a barrel-aged), and two Straight Whiskies: a Rye and Wheat. In keeping with Ashby’s and husband Timo’s ideals (they were both in environmental non-profit work when they met), The Spirit Works utilizes a Grain–to-Glass policy, using only California-grown organic Red Winter Wheat to make their spirits, and control everything – milling, fermenting, distilling, and bottling – at their facility. A rarity these days among the ever growing segment of “craft” spirits brands, so many of which are custom-labeled or finished, but initially come from industrial-sized custom spirits-making facilities.
Ashby Marshall joins us Wednesday March 23, 2pmET on The Connected Table LIVE! We can’t wait to talk to her about her wonderful spirits and her vision, and hopefully her take on the future of women in distilling. Tune in live www.W4CY.com. LIsten anytime on iHeart.com and the iHeart App.
We’re excited to announce The Connected Table® Sips on iHeart.com, our podcast series to provide more ways to spotlight people, brands and initiatives in the industry separately from our live show. The five minute podcasts are recorded, and guests can call in from anywhere in the world. They can be used for digital marketing & social media and will remain permanently on iHeart.com and the iHeart app. For information please shoot us an email: email@example.com
March 8 is International Women’s Day!
Here’s some kitchen wisdom from one of our favorite women in food.
This Week on The Connected Table LIVE
March 9, 2pm EST we continue our salute to women in the industry as part of National Women’s History Month. Joining us is Meridith May, the dynamic Editorial Director and Publisher of The Tasting Panel Magazine, The SOMM Journal and The Clever Root. Meredith’s journalism career spans both print (Santa Barbara News Press) and radio (KIIS-FM & KLSX, Los Angeles, and KEYT, Santa Barbara).She joined Patterson’s Beverage Journal in 2000 as Senior Editor and advanced to Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.
France is well known for producing some of the world’s best (and most famous and expensive) wines. Yet, it is also known for producing some of the world’s greatest brandies, most notably Cognac, Armagnac, and Calvados, the latter being not a grape spirit, but one made from either apples or pears.
For grape-based brandies, Cognac and Armagnac rule the roost. Both are made in the Southwestern part of the country, below Bordeaux.
While Cognac, made in the region of the same name, is probably the best known – and certainly most widely distributed – of France’s spirits, it is Armagnac, made south of Cognac in the gastronomically rich region of Gascony, which is the spirit considered by many to be the heart and soul of France’s brandies.
They’re both brandies made from grapes, so they must be similar, right? Not even close.
While Cognac for all intents and purposes is a well-oiled machine, with vast regulations, large corporate structure, and aging/labeling requirements that – for the most part – breed similarity between producers and brands; Armagnac, by contrast, is more like the little engine that could: a fiercely individualistic, sometimes forgotten, always appreciated spirit made by a handful of dedicated producers for whom the art of coaxing brandy from the vineyard’s ether is as integral to their regional identity as their exceptional culinary heritage.
Armagnac the region is divided into three sub zones: Bas Armagnac, Armagnac –Ténarèze, and Haut Armagnac. All make the spirit Armagnac, and most are created using a blend of grapes. The main grape varietals, all white, used in its production include Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Baco (22A), and while the majority of these grapes are also used to produce Cognac, it is the distillation that helps make Armagnac so unique, and individual.
For unlike Cognac production which favors the use of Pot Stills and double distillation, Armagnac production employs using Column Stills and is distilled only once, leaving a new-make brandy (Eau de Vie) with more fruit character and fragrance than those of Cognac. Distilling once also leaves it a little rougher. Not a bad thing, though, as aging in oak alleviates that roughness over time, and brings out the subtleties and nuanced flavors of spice and dried fruit that make Armagnac so beloved.
Interestingly, much of Armagnac production is done employing the use of portable roaming stills that are taken from producer to producer, even those with their own stills, which often go unused. The idea behind this is that since getting the right spirit out of a still requires knowing how to work with it to create a preferred flavor profile, it makes more sense to let the person who “knows the still” make the product. One would think that this would make for a more homogenous product across the board, but it does the opposite, as it allows the process to be micro-tweaked to conform to a particular producer’s specific recipe. Which, in turn, helps make for much more individual end products.
So, what makes Armagnac worth searching out? Well, first: Armagnac is the oldest distillation of France, with records dating back to the 1300’s of brandy being made in the region. So, you’re drinking the history of France. Second: Armagnac is for the most part, very small production, with some producers making as little as 4000 bottles annually. So, you’re drinking someone’s handmade effort, more often than not from a family recipe that’s been passed down over many generations. Third: Armagnac producers don’t just use their vintage production to make the more readily available categorized blended brandies they sell (VSOP, XO, etc), they also bottle vintage Armagnac, which can be some of the most interesting (and costly) spirits you’ll ever try. So, you can, with some searching, probably own a bottle of Armagnac from your birth year, or even your Great-Grandfather’s birth year for that matter, making for some very interesting and delicious after dinner conversation. – David Ransom
Want to know more about this wonderful spirit? Tune in to The Connected Table LIVE! on Wednesday February 3 at 2:00p.m. We’ll be talking with In the Grape’s May Matta-Aliah, one of the country’s top wine educators, who is also the American Ambassador for the AOC Armagnac.
As the revival of cocktail culture has seen its bloom blossom over the last decade, and more and more people have hopped on the bandwagon to learn about, and make cocktails, one of the people they have turned to to help educate themselves has been Southern Wine and Spirits of New York Director of Spirits Education and Mixology Allen Katz.
A longtime member of the cocktail community and one of the industry’s great speakers, Katz has been at the forefront of making sure the industry has gotten its methods and spirits right. Yet, somewhere along the way, Katz decided he had even more to give, maybe some spirits of his own. So, a few years ago, in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery founder Tom Potter, Katz opened New York Distilling Company, a craft distillery in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, that makes meticulously handcrafted spirits like Gin and Rye, all made to the exacting specifications and historical accuracy of Katz’s discerning palate and knowledge.
With names like Dorothy Parker American Gin, Perry’s Tot Gin, and Ragtime Rye, NY Distilling’s products are bottled odes to the great distilling culture of New York’s bygone spirits industry, and speak to the legacy of the distilling prowess that New York once had and hopes to have again.
We’re thrilled to welcome Allen Katz to our show on Wednesday January 20 at 2:25pm ET. Join us for a “spirited conversation.”
THE ACERBIC MRS. PARKER
2 oz Dorothy Parker Gin
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Hibiscus Syrup
¾ oz Combier Orange Liqueur
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wheel. Serve with a straw.
2 oz Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in an old-fashioned glass. Stir over a large ice cube.
Tequila was always my “nasty spirit” in college. There was something about drinking tequila than made me want to dance barefoot for hours, preferably on a beach. I stopped drinking it for a long period of time until my former agency started working with Frida Kahlo Tequila, and I was properly educated on true tequila and its breadth of styles. Sipping an añejo or a reposado with a sliver of fresh lime was all I needed to enjoy tequila as a responsible adult. No tutti frutti drinks for me. My tequila style went from naughty to neat.
Tequila is a $2 billion industry, and the U.S. gulps up 80% of global exports. Much of the tequila consumed is “mixto,” a cruder hybrid of the true spirit. But appreciation and sales of real tequila, made from 100 percent pure blue Weber agave is growing muy rapido.
Chantal Martineau, author of “How the Gringos Stole Tequila” (Chicago Review Press) joins us August 26, 2pm EST, on The Connected Table LIVE! to discuss the story of tequila, how it’s made and monitored by Mexico’s Consejo Regulador Tequila, and how it’s been exploited by global marketers. She’ll explain the differences in tequila and its lustier sister, mezcal. Through her descriptive detail Chantal practically takes us in her backpack to meet producers, jimadores and the colorful characters behind this spirit so sacred to both the almighty dollar of big booze brand marketers and the agave activists who fiercely protect its heritage.
Hers was a five year immersion into the world of tequila. Reading Chantal’s book makes me want to book a flight to Jalisco to see the dusty blue agave plants under a piercingly bright blue Mexican sky and soak it all in down to the last chilled shot with fresh lime. Melanie Young
Chantal Martineau has written articles about food, drinks, and travel for numerous publications, including Allure, the Atlantic, Decanter, Edible, Islands, Maxim, Redbook, Saveur, Time Out, Village Voice, the Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast, and Women’s Health. She grew up in Montreal and currently lives in New York City. Connect: www.chantalmartineau.comTwitter@chantytown Facebook:HowtheGringosStoleTequila
The April 1st edition of The Connected Table LIVE! is a “liquid lunch”chat with two vintage guests from the world of wine. We’ve had the pleasure with working with both on many occasions over the years, so pour a glass with us and tune in.
One of the most well-known voices on the radio, with his Blue Lifestyle Minute on WCBS, Anthony Dias Blue is recognized worldwide as a leading food, wine, spirits, and travel expert. His reach includes TV, magazines, books, and of course, radio. Andy also heads a food & wine events company and hosts food & wine competitions worldwide, most notably The San Francisco International Wine & Spirits Competition and the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
A James Beard Foundation Journalism Award recipient and member of the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Andy’s writing affiliations have included Bon Appétit (where we worked with him for years producing events around the nation), Food & Wine and Zagat. He is currently Editor- in- Chief of The Tasting Panel Magazineand The SOMM Journal, two of the nation’s top wine and spirits industry magazines, both of which he is also an owner.
His award-winning work spans all forms of media and is circulated to more than 30,000,000 consumers each month.
Anyone who has the stamina to travel around the world for a year with Kevin Zraly visiting over 20 Countries, 80 wine regions, and 500 appellations, tasting more than 7,000 wines- for the sake of research- gets our bobble-head nod of appreciation. Not only that, but he’s run with the bulls in Pamplona, but we won’t go there!
We’re talking about Robin Kelley O’Connor who has spent 30 years in the wine trade as a leading educator, international wine judge, wine writer, advisor and sommelier.
Well-known as a Bordeaux and European specialist, and authority on fine and rare wines, Robin was Director of Trade and Consumer Education in the Americas for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) for 20 years, and was previously Lead Specialist & Head of Wine, Americas for Christie’s Auction House. Prior to Christie’s, he was Director of Sales and Education for Manhattan wine and spirits retailer Sherry-Lehmann,
Join Melanie Young and David Ransom, the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple, Wednesdays 2om ET on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.com and anytime on iHeart.com, the #1 digital radio network in the USA. Here’s our direct link to all show podcast which we encourage you to Listen “Like” and “Share.”