Vince Alexander - Cocktails and Cigars
Scotch Whiskeys VS American Whiskeys
Having spent the last two years developing a flavor palate for whiskey and beer alike, I decided to take a crack at describing the differences—from an American point of view—between Scotch whiskey and American whiskey. Other than the spelling, that is. While there are many different types of whiskeys in the world, these are the two that I’m most likely to consume on any given Sunday. All over North America, whiskeys are being made and have been since before the Revolutionary War. Whiskey was manufactured in Europe as early as the 1100s. The process for making whiskey is not a secret. Anyone can Google to figure it out. However, the craft of making a great whiskey is what separates the legends from the ordinary.
Being from Texas, the Lone Star State, I was curious how we would do throwing our hat into the ring with making whiskeys. I wondered whether we would answer the call of the ancestors before us who inspired the creation of this divine spirit we have come to love. As I write, I’m staring at two bottles. One is Red-Handed Bourbon Whiskey. Bottled in Austin and distilled in Tennessee, barreled in casks, then barreled a second time in home-grown American oak casks. This double-barreled bourbon is embracingly sweet yet holds a strong finish. The secret to this may be that it’s left to age in the bright hot Texas sun. Now we Texas residents know how unpredictable and tricky Texas weather can be. The sun is relentless and powerful, and all Texans know the love-hate relationship we have with it. Being birthed under Texas sun, this whiskey embodies the Texas spirit yet holds on to its outlaw roots. The initial encounter with your taste buds will be a cannon shot of spice and oak, but after letting the initial flavor settle, you can taste its sweet and robust traces as clear as a gunshot. The finish is true to the cowboys of old, rugged and strong without weakening on the way down; its flavor holds the spicy oak spirit as you breathe out the end. The bottom line: Red-Handed Bourbon is a whiskey with a no-apologies flavor that will gladly steal your heart and taste buds.
...the craft of making a great whiskey is what separates the legends from the ordinary.Now we travel across the oceans and landmasses to find Scotland, a country known for a few things, such as kilts and bagpipes, great warriors and whiskey. Being a fan of all four, I was drawn to their Scotch like a moth to a flame. The other bottle in front of me is Monkey Shoulder Batch 27. Now the name may sound comical and somehow commercial, but this Scotch is anything but ordinary. Not single malt, not even a blended malt of two, but of three different Speyside malts. All three are blended under the direction of Malt Master David Stewart.
The term monkey shoulder is derived from the ailment that the malt men of old suffered from carrying out their jobs with a shiel (a type of wooden shovel), turning the malt by hand and making the arm temporarily droop down like a monkey. These men of malt suffered for crafting some of the greatest whiskeys to ever honor the lips of those who drank them. In tribute to them, they’ve created this spirit, which holds true to the Scotches that preceded them, by creating the very first triple-blended Scotch of only the finest three Speyside malts. Its flavor, as soon as it reaches your taste buds, is not abrasive or intrusive. It lands smoothly, releasing a flavor of vanilla and mellow hints of its coastal roots. After you take a breath, the aroma hits the back of your throat and there is where the flavor lies—rich and powerful yet still not overpowering. As you finish your drink, you taste a smooth finish without the roughness that some may have encountered with other whiskeys. The bottom line: by making a tribute they also made history. Monkey Shoulder, which is created in batches of only twenty-seven to ensure quality, is a three-way marriage of whiskeys that accentuate the attributes of each of the others and cancels out their flaws, as a great woman would do for a man, making it a drink fit for a prince and built to last.
Now the age-old question in anything is, which one is better? To answer that question, I answer with another question. Who says one is better? The answer is neither and both—at the same time. Personality is as big a part of what you will enjoy as the flavor. Being the red-blooded patriot that I am, I love the roots of American-born rebellious whiskey. It’s in our country’s bloodline to rebel. Yet the more elegant and regal side of my life craves for a more complex yet strong flavor that the American whiskeys don’t quite possess yet, but the Scots seemed to have figured out. You be the judge and take the journey. You may be surprised at what satisfies your taste.
- Vince Alexander
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