Whisky and His Word: Self-Discipline

My wife asked me what my passion was the other day. This was probably stemming from the fact that I am one of those “weekend warriors” or “next best thing” type people trying to find those passions and past times that make us all feel…..well…..fulfilled. It has been a long time since I wrote my last blog on my passion for whiskey and I just miss it, as well as the deeper part of sharing something I love with others. Other than of course my family, what do I love? When I think of all the time I spend with my family and when I am not with my family other than my job and career and a leader of teachers and students of a very small 7-12 school in Washington State, I love the experiences that come with my “whiskey adventures” and I love God. God first, of course, and with that, all else falls into place.

So, here I go putting the pieces back into place with God at the top…WHISKEY AND HIS WORD. Now I know that there are many out there that would say, “wait a minute, the Word looks down on alcohol…..” Does it? And we can take anything out of context. With God, it is not about the religion, but the relationship that He desires with us. Not the ceremonies, the rituals, the good works we try to do to earn His love. It is all about us loving Him because He loved us first and saved us. Well, I don’t drink whiskey to simply drink; I experience it because of the great things that come with it like the memories, experiences, people, passion, art, science, and love. Just like a pretty good relationship, I would think. So even though I spend time daily talking with God and learning how to be in a better relationship with Him and embrace His love and word, I am going to carve out time Wednesday afternoons when I get home from a long day to thank God, enjoy a small dram of some sort of whiskey, giving thanks to Him and diving into some study of His word with focus on leadership. As I am a leader, I want to learn how to be a Godly leader as I share a dram with God diving into His word.

Whisky: Old Pulteney 12

old pultney 12

Tonight’s dram will a 12-year-old Old Pulteney. Where is Old Pulteney? Old Pulteney is what some call a sailers scotch located in the very high part of the Highlands of Scotland. Up past the Islay areas and Highlands. Not one of the many distilleries I got

old pultney map

to visit when my family and I visited just this last summer, but one that I will visit for next time. I will break down three main parts of each whisky I share with you to get a better idea of not just the taste, but the whole experience. Remember, whisky is an experience, not just a drink. It is about the emotions, memories, and experiences that it creates and brings up.

ColorFor a 12-year-old, it is a very dark amber color. It makes me think of that stuff that the mosquito was stuck in for millions of years from the Movie Jurassic Park. You know….the tree sap stuff.

Nosemmmm…I guess I would explain this as an almost salty and sweet like baked fruit. 

TasteNot a super complex Scotch whisky, but bitter on the front with citrus type notes. Kind of like when you nibble into a lemon rind and it has those bitter notes. However, it has a leathery taste that tends to creep off the tongue, not too quick or too slow. Then you start to find other complex notes like some type of caramel vanilla creme brulee that is overcooked. I also think of an overripe orchard fruit and a really salty apricot. 

creme brulee              over ripe appricot      lemon rind

Word: 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

When many of us think about our spiritual life, we don’t always think about the hard work and dedication it takes to follow the example Christ left for us. This scripture does not just talk about our instant thought of “sports” but, it tries to make a connection on what it takes to prepare and participate in challenging activities. The dedication it takes to focus on and develop our spiritual lives that form the core of our character is just as important and just as difficult, but meaningful and satisfying.

I think of this connection of the teamwork, determination, and sacrifice it takes to “run the race” or train ourselves for a goal. It takes those same characteristics to train for our “race” of developing our spiritual habits for God. Just like the focus and dedication to learning the art and science to whisky can be translated over to the dedication and focus in preparation in athletics to compete at the highest level. Well, more importantly, it takes that daily sacrifice to die to our flesh and sin and to pick up the cross daily for God and give that same effort, dedication, sacrifice, and determination for Him.

1-corinthians-9_24-27

Paul knew this and what that sacrifice looked like as he tried to reflect this example left by Jesus for Him. Just like a runner and boxer spend the time to develop their physical stamina to run the race or to take and deliver the blows needed, Paul trained his spiritual gifts, skills, and habits to run the race for God.

What does your race look like? Just like seasons, your race may be uphill at times, downhill, in the sand, or on the rocks, but it is the race still the same. Lean on God and give Him your sacrifice, dedication, and teamwork and allow Him to help you and carry you through as well. There are different parts of your life that are part of the race for 1 CorGod from your physical fitness, to balancing work and home life, financial and personal accountability, to time dedication to God and His Word and promise to you. Train it and remember that is is not just a race and trying to beat others, but the way we train and run the race is what is important.

I hope God’s word helps you this week as I pray it helps and focuses me to run the good race for God.

Dear heavenly Father, I pray for all those out there to find that dedication, focus, sacrifice, and teamwork to train their spiritual habits and gifts you have blessed them with. The race will not always be easy, but you are there God with us every step of the way and I pray we remember that. God, it is not a race to beat others, but to become the racers you planned us to be and that every day we learn what that is and help others in their race. I pray this week that we are open to feel and see our race, support others in theirs, and to thank You every step of the way. Amen.

Have a good week and as they say in Scottland with a friend or loved one over a nice dram…..SLAINTE

 

 

An Afternoon in The Emerald City, Hot Chocolate Run, and some Copperworks Single Malt!

It is a real blessing when you can pick up and create an experience with your family just in your back yard. My wife has always been one to make an adventure out of just about anything. Sometimes it is easy to complain and be a little stubborn when you just want to hide away for the weekend and take the easy path. However, deep down it is great to have your other half that can and wants to create something out of nothing for our family. Hence, our little excursion to the Emerald city or Seattle where she gets ready to battle with the Hot Chocolate run early that Sunday morning.

The family checking in for the Emerald City Hot Chocolate Run

It is always a little stressful as I drive from my rural setting of the country and visit the urban city and try to navigate the tight overcrowded spaces with people darting from every nook and cranny that I did not even know existed. However, that cloud eventually passes and of course my wife is determined to support me with insuring that we find and visit one of the distilleries that we could not navigate to find last time, the Copperworks Distillery. This is a local craft distillery that is based out of Seattle that takes pride in its spirits including their single malt whiskey which I was excited to try with a tasting.

 

Copperworks distillery was founded by two gentleman with a passion that started with beer and brewing. Owners Jason Parker and Micah Nutt set up in a prime location along the Seattle water front as Washington craft distilling explodes with other great distilleries down the road such as Westland, 2 bar, Oola, and many others. I, myself, am excited to see, try and even use this opportunity to prep as in early April I will sign up to take a class to learn all about their whiskey and blend my own bottle from four of their own cask whiskeys. That will be another blog all in its own, wait to hear all about that great experience.

We found it, with the android and Google map in hand, the four if us trot hand in hand finding the large copper sign on the side of the building and wondering, “how did we miss this in the first place?” Well, what ever the reason, we have found it and I will get thirty minutes to just experience as my family joins me in my passion. Well, actually, the boys play games on the phone and my wife takes pictures for my blog and web site. Thanks babe, aka the whiskey lovers wife. Which I am sure a tandem blog from her eyes will be out shortly after this weekend.

The Whiskey Lover and the Whiskey Lover’s Wife

I enter and you can just imagine what a beautiful building. As you come up the steps and enter the building, it is basic yet beautiful with fine wood and spirit decor. Several pub height tables with padded stools around them. Through all the glass you see several large copper stills and a beautiful spirit sage. As Luke mentions how cool those are and big like they are from Scotland, I remind him that those are actually from Scotland and when we go this July he will get to see many that are even bigger. A beautiful sight as several people on the other side are getting tours from one of the owners.

At the end of the narrow room stands a large wooden bar front and behind is covered with a display of their spirits and the many awards and medals hanging off of them. I approach the bar and the gentleman is busy sharing the art of their four main spirits of a vodka, gin, cask aged gin, and finally the aged whiskey which I came to try. I am very excited at this time as the several people enjoy hanging out talking with the host.

I make my way through three very tasty spirits of vodka and gin finally to get to the whiskey or, their flagship spirit. An American single malt from grain to bottle in this very distillery. Not a replica of a scotch, but an American single malt with Washington and American aspects, characteristics, and spirit all of its own. I am poured a small dram and as I swirl and listen to the gentleman share the process that went into this batch I bring it to my nose. Instantly I get a real clean fruit layered aroma of citrus u

Nosing whiskey adds to the experience

undertones and very crisp. I then sip and as it sits on my tongue, I get some vanilla and toffee, but not too much as it is not aged in a brand new American oak barrel and not aged for a super long time. Very balanced from front to end of the palate. You get some vanilla with a little leather, but very strong with the fruit of apricot and pear from start to finish. A shorter finish, but balanced and not containing a lot of that peppery bite you would expect. More on the fruit and herbal side with notes that makes a great sipping whiskey that I would fear to mix and lose those flavors, however would make a great old-fashioned that is sweet and balanced.

 

 

So then as I take the provided dropper of water and add two drops to my whiskey and swirl a couple of times, a rush of herbal flowers and fruit laidened notes just rush out. I smell again before putting on my tongue and a whole new tasting experience opens up for me. Wow, a fine single malt whiskey that is being produced with love and passion. The whiskey alone would have been great, however the experience to listen and watch others enjoy create something special. To have my wife support my passion and my boys be by my side, it is not just a drink, but an experience that I will remember.

Adding water opens up the aromas and flavors of whiskey

I highly recommend if you have not been to Copperworks in the Emerald City of Seatttle, please do. I will be joining them in April to nose, sample and blend my own bottle and can not wait to talk with the owners and share my product with you. Many think, “how is drinking a hobby or passion” and do not realize the other life changing aspects that go into the art of whiskey from picking and mashing the grain and distilling to the bottling, sampling, and sharing of the spirit with others. Thank you for joining me at The Whiskey Lover and Aqua Vitae Tasting and hope that you continue to follow me and my wife at The Whiskey Lover’s Wife.

Going home with a bottle of Copperworks whiskey

The Whiskey Lover, Episode 1. Koval Single Barrel Bourbon.

What makes up a bourbon? Well, I will tell you and more as I present episode 1 of the Whiskey Lover’s video blog (vlog). I have had this whiskey club box just sitting silently on my whiskey cabinet. It sits there just waiting and wanting to be sampled and shared with you! This is the first and only online whiskey club (Flaviur) that I am actually a part of, however I will not be digging into the Merritt of this club itself, but simply breaking down one of three samples that they have sent me.flabiur

See, you pay a certain amount ($60) every quarter and they send you samples based on your personakovall preferences. In this case I selected bourbon and american whiskey. You have no idea what you are going to get, and some would argue that is part of the fun. Of the three samples I will be sharing my tasting notes on the Koval single barrel bourbon which is an organic distillery based out of the city of Chicago. So please join me and watch my video as I share my nosing and tasting notes of this small organic distilleries attempt at an American bourbon!

 

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If the Video has difficulty loading and buffering, please click my wevideo link to go directly to this video. Thank you.

The Whiskey Lover, Episode 1. Koval Single Barrel Bourbon.

What is Nosing of Whiskey?

More Than Just A Sipnosing-1

When I was starting to learn everything about the wide world of whiskey, one area that I was very insecure and did not have much knowledge to say about was the nosing or smelling of notes in whisky. Well it does make sense that in order to dig down and understand and enjoy a dram of whiskey, no matter what type, is that fact that our noses play an important role in the experience.

Even science breaks down some aspects for us that create a wonderful tasting experience. When we smell something, our brain sends messages that in return help us begin anticipating that wonderful item. Well, when we start anticipating such as Maslow’s dog every time the bell rang, our brain reaction is to begin creating saliva that coats our tongues. This saliva actually enhances and increases our ability to taste which in return helps us identify flavors that we enjoy. Bam…there you have it.

“I remember the smell of the fresh apple pie and cobbler that my mom would cook.

cinnamon, sugar, sweet and tart apples.

It filled the room with smells and memories of growing up. 

I forgot how much I loved these smells until they were gone.”

Studies show us that 90% of what we taste is actually smell. Now it is connecting with me. When I am taking a shot of the cheapest alcohol I can buy, I am not looking for something that is going to smell and taste good, and in return trigger memories and experience from my past. I am looking for something that I can chug down plugging my nose and ice-cold. Well, college is over my friends. Whiskey is more than that and it deserves and seeks to share all the great treasures it hides. So how do we do it? How do I nose a whiskey and not look like a fool? Let’s start.

What do I drink Whiskey Out Of?

Well, the answer to that is anything really. However, are you looking to shoot some cheap stuff down or are you looking to expand your knowledge and experience with what whiskey has to offer you? If it is of the lather then there are some things you might want to stick to. If you go to a higher end or more established distillery and tasting then you might notice they tend to use these small little glasses that are pear or tulip shaped. Those are called Glencairn glasses. You might see very small what appear to be wine glasses or even regular type wine glasses. Those all work great. I prefer the Glencairn and as you wonder why, let me share a few reasons.

  • The are wider at the bottom which allows the person drinking to be able to look at the whiskey and get oxygen to it. You can see the fine color from a light gold to a straw yellow or even orange and amber depending on the aging and barrels.NOSING 8.jpg
  • The tulip shape allows the drinker to put their nose over the rim as it funnels the aromas to your nose getting all those major notes and primary aromas.
  • It allows you to swirl the whiskey, not that it is like wine and the chemical make up changes when oxygen is added, but to allow you to swirl and cause evaporation which in return will help release a few notes that are complex in the whisky.

So, I understand when you go to a tasting and you might see the little plastic cups you would see samplenosing-7s in. They are cheap and easy, however, it really does change the whiskey when you can smell and experience using one of your God-given senses which you have for a reason. You can use tumbler glasses or even a regular mug, however, if you really want to experience a
whiskey try to use a Glencairn, wine or sherry glass. They are built to push the aromas to the drinker and enhance the experience.

It’s In My Glass, What Should I Be Smelling?

We are moving along our nosing journey friends and now comes the really intimidating part. Heck, I would sit there and watch the cooking network or listen to an experiences chef just break apart these smells and flavors and just wonder, “how in the world did they get that flavor, it’s not even in the recipe?” I myself, I am not going to sit here and say that I have had this fantastic, complex, and world renown palate since birth. In fact, my pallet is not very good at all, however it has grown and become trained and is increasing my love of whiskey every time.

When I was younger eating Top Ramen, French Toast, and my parent’s SH%$ on a shingle, it was about being full not enjoying my meal. As I grew up, it was about getting drunk, not enjoying alcohol as a social experience. Today, it is about enjoying everything my meals and drinks have to offer with others as much as possible.

There are 32 primary aromas and many times depending on the whiskey, were it is from, what grain (corn, wheat, barley, or rye), and how it is aged or not aged will give you different notes.

Imagine this, you bring the glass up to your nose, take several smaller whiffs almost as if you are meeting someone for the first time. On whiff one, “hello?“, whiff two “how are you?“, whiff three “just fine and thank you.” giving you time to get that first impression. Building that relationship and enjoying the conversation. Then you begin to ask yourself….What are those smells?

I almost smell a smoke….could this be from the charred barrel that it aged three years in? 

I think that is vanilla or caramel…..this must be that it is from a new american oak jut full of vanilla tannin (chemicals in oak that taste like vanilla)

I smell fruit, almost like dried fruit and cherries….since the scotch whiskey was aged in a Cherry Cask (distilled wine) you would think aha!!

nosing-5We all get those first impressions and sometimes we smell different things just as much as we taste different things. That’s alright and that is what makes this experience with others so much better. The smelling of whiskey whether it be by yourself or with others, should be an experience that is ENGAGING, INTRIGUING, AND POSITIVE.

As you pour that dram of whiskey for the first time, let it set in the glass to open up. Remember it has been sitting in a cask and bottle for perhaps a long time. Let it open up and get ready to let your senses have an experience.

Somebody Said Something About Water?

With whisky you might have heard people ask for their glass in different ways. Some like it neat (just the whiskey alone by itself in that glass), or perhaps on the rocks (added to a single large cube or cubes of ice) and with water (with just a drop or two of water and whiskey)

Although this is affects how the whiskey tastes, it affects the smells and aromas and I will share why many like their with a splash of distilled bottled water at room temperature. What does the water do you might be thinking?

In whiskey there are molecule in it, specifically two called esters and aldehydes. These components create complex flavor and smells and science will kick in. I am just wondering why this was never taught in my chemistry 101 glass, I may have done a lot better than the “C” that I earned during college. When you add water, it disrupts these molecules and causes them to spread apart. When those molecules spread apart, it then releases more

aromas. They either become stronger or allows you to find some of those hard more complex smells and tastes. Get this, when that person gets a whiskey and wants it on ice, did you know that the cold from the ice will cause those molecules to huddle together like two frozen people lost in the snow? That causes those smells and flavors to be more dulled and hard to experience. This would be great for the cheap stuff I guess.

 

It is really great, next time try this little practice. Take a smell of that dram of whiskey and get those notes and impressions. Then add a drop or two of distilled room temperature water and then take it back up to your nose and……….it is a world of difference. Who knew that a little water would do this?

Taking That First Step

So, take that first step and understanding how nosing, enjoying, and connecting with the specific notes and aromas that whisky has to offer.

nosing-2As I share my experiences and what I have learned with you, I hope that you begin to understand and enjoy everything whiskey has to offer than just alcohol.

Sometimes, it is simple taking a risk and finding a bottle of Scotch or other whiskey and practicing and learning. Although it is much more enjoyable with others, it is pretty darn fun and great alone as well.

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Why Whiskey is More Than a Drink?

Our memories and experiences are a major puzzle piece that make up who we are. Some of us might tell another how Christmas is our most favorite holiday as tpersonal-image-1hey reflect on the smells of cooking in the kitchen with our mother or running to the front room after waking up our parents early in the morning to tear open gifts with excitement. Some of us may talk about remember their first day of school and how terrified they were walking down the the hallway and entering our class just wondering how everything will turn out and if we will be accepted by our soon to be
discovered peers. Well in fact, whiskey creates many similar moments and times in our lives that we crave and define us. Just look at history itself. In fact, much our American character and personality comes from our history with alcohol, so much more than that which is taught of prohibition.

Just today, as my wife sits next to me asking if I am going to go to the Sandstone distillery which is a local distillery in a neighboring town with our son in the back from a trip to the local Costco shopping expedition. Why would she ask? I think to my self, because she knows how much I just love their great whiskey that they produce, but the positive interactions I may see and and experience myself. As I enter the Sandstone distillery, I see two couples just laughing as they sample some great whiskeys and spirits from the owner. I think to myself, “ysandstone-2ou know what?”, my wife has many of times come with me to different tastings, not because of her love of whiskey, but her love of me and the time to spend with me. I just get a kick as I think how these two young couples are creating memories and the owner himself who every time is just to greet you with a smile, a story, and a joke. Also, the fact that it is a small business that is
purely family owned and operated says so much more. It’s not about the alcohol entirely, it’s about the relationships and memories that are built around it. As you can see in a pictures from the Sandstone distillery, people gather, yes to taste whiskey, but also to hear the passion that goes into each bottle they make. In a day and age of instant gratification and the quick dollar, that is a very special thing that you do not always get to experience.

There is just so much to appreciate about the art of whiskey distilling. I could sit here and talk about the fine notes of caramel and vanilla you may find in a whiskey aged in a brand new American oak barrel, but truly to hear what goes into this art surpasses that by so much. You wantmoonshine to know why “old timers” from back east that have a family tradition of “moon-shining” take so much pride and love in many see as simply making alcohol? It is the fact that a family has taken pride in the tradition and art they pass down generation to generation. The great stuff that is produced from sometimes so minimal, and the times they are spent together at family functions just having a swig of the family moonshine as they grill up and barbecue some even more unique family recipes. Can you smell it? The corn from the bourbon wafting across your nose as you sip the high octane drink and then in the back your uncle is flipping the barbecue ribs and corn soon to be dished up?

So what is whiskey? yes we can sit down together and define it as a distilled beverage from grain to at least 80 proof and then break it down scientifically, which I will get to in good time as I progress and share with you. However, it is so much more than that if you want to get down to the brass tacks and nitty gritty of it all. Whiskey is a beverage, it is art just
as any other painter or sculpture would partake in, it is a science just as specific and detailed as anything in your chemistry 101 or beyond class, it is an experience with friends and family, it is a smell that triggers memories of ours, and so much more. So next time you go to open that bottle of whiskey, think about it. Are you about to sit down with some friends as you enjoy the complex aromas and flavors from that bottle? Are you about to create a memory that you will rememberwhiskey-experience with those that you enjoy to be with? Are you creating a puzzle piece that will fit into the puzzle of your life that makes up who you are? Yes you are, and it is important to enjoy every moment you are blessed with to enjoy it. Join me next time as I continue with my experience at a local distillery and begin digging into the art and science of their whiskey and share that with you.