By The Wine Guy
I know that this is a Wine Column, however, we’re at that time of year again where the usual is dispensed with. This weekend, everyone and everything is Irish and why not? As any minimally-informed person knows, the Irish saved Western Civilization.
Along with preserving many texts, both secular and sacred, from being destroyed during the Dark Ages, Irish monks preserved the making and consuming of what we know today as Stout and Irish Whiskey. Stout was consumed by all, both young and old. It was healthful and nutritious and a viable alternative to water, which wasn’t clean most of the time in large towns and even most villages.
Whiskey, originally known as “Aqua Vitae”, or, “Water of Life”, was used as a medication – more than as what it’s used for today – to ward off diseases and warm up during the cold and raw winters. Even today, though, with everything available at our local pharmacy, the cure of choice for many is still a Hot Toddy-sugar, lemon, boiling hot water and a dose -widely varied- of Irish whiskey. Of course, some people get sick more often than others. Thank God this cure is available without a prescription!
Here are a few suggestions for a toast this weekend, or any weekend, for that matter:
Prizefight Irish Whiskey Rye Barrel Finish, 750 mL ($44.99), aged for 4 years and made with 10-year malt and 4-year grain. The finish is long and dry, with a clove spice that rests in the back of the throat and pepper that sits on the tongue; if you see this one, buy it and if not, ask for it- you won’t be sorry.
Locke’s 8-Year-Old Irish Single Malt, ($52.99), is an 8- year old single malt whiskey from the Cooley distillery; the nose is full and rich with notes of fruit and barley malt, plenty of oak and a little floral character. The palate is full-bodied with a minerality, notes of barley and cereal sweetness with mixed peels. The finish is full and based mainly on malt notes.
As far as Stouts are concerned, Guinness needs no introduction, as it’s the “World Standard”. In today’s craft brew culture, however, there are many variations on the theme:
Hill Farmstead Earl Stout, from Greensboro, VT ABV: 7.2% Website: hillfarmstead.com , named after brewer Shaun Hill’s grandfather’s brother, this oatmeal stout uses flaked oats, English roasted malts, American hops, and organic Guatemalan coffee. Near black in color, it goes down silky smooth, and the coffee flavors mix well with the malt character, which is low on the sweetness.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, from Chicago, IL., ABV: 15%
Website: gooseisland.com. Ale Sharpton says: “You know when a song is so damn good, they remix it? Well Goose Island has done the same with virtually countless versions of their legendary Bourbon County Brand Stout”.
Before getting into editions aged on cherry bark, Buffalo Trace barrels, Intelligentsia coffee beans from Honduras, and other inventive enhancers, Goose Island just keeps it simple and indulges in the original Brand Stout for starters. It embraces all the coffee, dark chocolate, oak, smokiness, and vanilla notes you’d expect‚ all balanced to perfection—but with a 15%-ABV kick. Popularly known as the original gangster of bourbon-aged stouts, this is an absolute must.
Big Sky Brewing Co., Ivan The Terrible Imperial Stout, From Missoula, MT ABV: 10% Website: bigskybrew.com. Despite the name, there’s nothing terrible about this very, very good beer. Ivan starts life as a massive imperial stout dosed with heaps of English hops, before taking a detour into bourbon barrels for a minimum of three months. Upon emerging, the flavors of dark fruit and cocoa are seamlessly integrated with oak and whiskey. It’s a creamy, complex winner.
Last, here’s a non-Brisket recipe that the aforementioned will all go very nicely with
– Roasted Lamb Loin with Mint Chimichurri –
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