Category Archives: whiskey
Taste of the Industry is always a highlight of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention. It’s a chance for marketers to showcase emerging brands in front of key decision makers at the major distribution outfits across the country. It’s impossible to even come close to trying everything in the hall in two hours—it’d be tough to do so if they dedicated an entire day to the event. But among the beverages I did manage to try, there were quite a few standouts. Here’s my shortlist, in no particular order.
One of the great surprises at the 74th Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention was Sierra Norte, a new brand of whiskey from Oaxaca. Oaxaca, of course, is known for mezcal, but one particular producer and importer of the agave spirit has decided to make use of the Mexican state’s abundant corn crop and produce a line of whiskeys—a rarity in those parts. Caballeros, Inc. is best known for Scorpion mezcal (featured in my first book, The Year of Drinking Adventurously) and now it’s marketing a line of whiskeys made from yellow, white and black corn. I caught up with Caballeros, Inc.’s Barbara Sweetman who detailed the creation of master distiller Douglas French.
A few words with David Solomon, importer of Brod Irish Whiskey and Golia Mongolian vodka.
Now here’s a pretty pioneering move for a craft spirits outfit.
New York City’s Kings County Distillery has become one of the rare craft distillers to join the exclusive Bottled-in-Bond club with the release of its own Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, available in allocated quantities in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, DC, Delaware, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Max L. Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Brands, offered these words on the passing of master distiller emeritus and all around bourbon legend Parker Beam:
“I, along with our entire Heaven Hill family, am saddened to share that our Master Distiller Emeritus, Parker Beam, passed away last night after a long and valiant battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. All of us within the company, and the general public, watched with awe and admiration as Parker and Linda waged a much publicized war against this terrible disease, using their courage, his standing as one of the industry’s great Master Distillers and his wide sphere of influence to generate international awareness, and millions of dollars, for ALS research and treatment.
Starting in 1960 when he joined his father Earl here, and continuing through his appointment as Master Distiller in 1975, succeeding his father, Parker’s leadership established the foundation for our company and our Bourbon heritage. It was Parker who saw us through Bourbon’s first golden age in the 1960’s, its subsequent decline in the 1970’s and who led us to today’s new Golden Age, helping pioneer our first premium small batch and single barrel Bourbons, and paving the way for Heaven Hill to be the category leader we are today. There are no awards Parker has not won—charter member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, Whiskey Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame, they go on and on—but what we will remember most about Parker was the leadership, the can-do attitude, and the kind and selfless mentoring he did to his son Craig and a whole new generation of Bourbon distillers.
At this time, however, our thoughts and prayers first go out to his family. We will share more on Parker Beam’s immense legacy in a follow-up release tomorrow morning, Tuesday, January 10.”
Yep, back in Vegas yet again for the latest showcase of new spirits. This time it’s the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s (WSWA) 73rd convention and expo. Baijiu, poitin (Irish moonshine) a couple of hemp spirits and a hops-infused gin are among the new products that make the cut.