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Dranac Lihp
05-10-2008, 22:01
My standard early morning cocktail (EMC) is strong coffee with maple syrup and White Horse. I haven't yet found a bourbon that is equal to the White Horse (a mere blended Scotch, but powerful nonetheless, and $17 a bottle in these parts in case quantities). White Horse has to be special ordered around these parts. It is based on Lagavulin and Talisker as core malts, which gives a dark chocolate aftertaste....and blows Johnnie Walker Red into the weeds. Thus, it goes VERY well with coffee. It goes pretty darned well all by itself as a matter of fact....even at 6AM in the morning....even if you don't have time to make the coffee. I would prefer Laphroaig, of course, but that costs about three times what White Horse does. Really, drinking "kerosene out of an ash tray" at 6 AM isn't as bad as it seems, but I do concede Laphroaig is an acquired taste. After single malt Scotch, my next favorite whiskey is Wild Turkey 101 Rye (neat, of course). I have a case of Rittenhouse 101 Rye BIB on special order at the local liquor store. Almost as good as WT 101 Rye. Rye is pretty bad for mixing with coffee in the morning, however. I generally drink rye whiskey straight up when Laphroaig isn't available (like 95% of the time on my budget). There are few whiskies that can give you a kick like Laphroaig, bur WT 101 Rye is in the running, and for far less money.

My question is: does there exist a bourbon that can substitute for Islay Scotch in morning coffee? I bought some Evan Williams 100 proof BIB (it was only $11.85, so WTH? Pretty good for bourbon if drank by itself.), but it is soda pop compared to Islay Scotch malts. I would like to keep it under $20 a bottle. WT 101 and Jim Beam Black are also soda pop compared to Islay malts.

The White Horse was a pleasant discovery, and it took the place of Teacher's Highland Cream as my standard daily scotch. Still, it's a bit on the mild side once you get acclimated to Laphroaig. Bourbon tends to be a lot cheaper than scotch around here, and single malts other than Glenlivet (talk about overrated and toned down for mass appeal) are special order (if I could afford them in the first place). I need a bourbon that kicks down the door and rattles the shutters without being harsh (seemingly contradictory, but Laphroaig somehow manages that....like being run over by a steamroller with marshmallow tires....or peat bog tires as the case may be). Any suggestions???

ratcheer
05-11-2008, 05:47
One of the "darker" flavored bourbons I can think of is Elmer T. Lee, so you might give it a try. Also, its more expensive big brother, Rock Hill Farms. I'm not sure I would put them in coffee, though. :skep:

Tim

BourbonJoe
05-11-2008, 07:20
Like any good German, my early morning cocktail consists of coffee containing Asbach Uralt (German Brandy). We're going to a Bluegrass Festival at Gettysburg next weekend. It will be served every morning.
Joe :usflag:

Dranac Lihp
05-11-2008, 09:36
I suspect a bourbon with a higher than normal barley malt content would fit the bill best. Brandy is distilled wine, and I have had French brandy in coffee and it's not the taste I want. White Horse and Teacher's are blends noted for their higher than usual malt content, and strongly flavored malt whisky at that. They have more malt kick than many single malts. So the German brandy is a "malt" brandy??? I had always thought of brandy as distilled wine, and it's usually too expensive for me to get interested in it anyway.

The heavy peat flavor of the Islay scotch mainly comes from the brown peaty water that the barley is malted in. Drying the malt with peat gives a smoky character which isn't the same (Ardmore in Teacher's is a "smoky" malt with little peat flavor in relation to the smoke). Of course, Islay whisky has both components. If a bourbon distiller specified that brown peaty water be used for malting their barley, then it would have a taste similar to peated scotch. Such water exists in the bog swamps of northern Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin (the closest we have to Scottish terroir), but Kentucky seems to be a clear limestone stream territory, meaning the chance of finding brown peated water is slim. Do bourbon distillers get their malted barley from large malt producers just as most scotch distillers now do? Laphroaig and Bowmore still have their own floor maltings and thus they use local peated water. Lagavulin distillery owners twice tried to cut off the Laphroaig water supply, as they knew it was the secret to their unique taste that no other distillery could match. Now the land that surrounds the Laphroaig water supply is lifetime leased to over 300,000 leaseholders such as myself, known as Friends of Laphroaig, (anybody who has recently bought a bottle of Laphroaig and claimed their free land lease). Laphroaig will pay one dram of Laphroaig per year payable at the distillery, and I have a land lease title that was airmailed from the distillery. Thus, if Lagavulin ever tries to cut their water supply again, there will be a class action lawsuit involving over 300,000 leaseholders. A legal nightmare for anybody who attempts it.

Bourbon distillers are usually quick to point out their "pure" water supplies, but they usually point out its crystal clear limestone stream character. That doesn't provide much hope of getting peated malt if the malting is done locally. Peated malt could provide a "wild" character to rye whiskey or heavily ryed bourbon. It is NOT the smoke flavor that most scotches have from drying the malt with peat, but is usually described as medicinal or maritime in nature. I don't believe there is anything against using some heavily peated barley malt in the legal description of bourbon as long as the corn percentrage remains 51% or more, so it could be done if a distiller wanted to try it. $55 for Laphroaig (and more for Lagavulin) is too stiff a price for the taste of peat. This is a gap in bourbon taste that could be filled. The scotch distillers have no qualms in making scotch that tastes a lot like sherry (Macallan and Glenmorangie), or anything else they can manage. That's why you can blend scotch and come up with almost limitless taste combinations.

I'm not tasting as wide a range of flavors in Bourbon as I have in Scotch, but my experience is more limited in Bourbon at this time. Scottish distilleries are located in widely varying geographic areas, but Bourbon is largely made in one area of Kentucky. I think it is time for the American whiskey industry to open distilleries in places like upper Michigan peninsula, Ozark Mountains, Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Gulf Coast, Maine, etc. and thus gain access to conditions for making whiskey that can't be met in Kentucky. Maybe then American whiskey will compete with Scotch in flavor range. Combining corn, rye, barley and wheat in varying amounts seems the main way that American bourbon distillers vary taste, besides the aging process where they are forced to use new oak, per bourbon defintion. Glenmorangie even uses gin stills to lighten the taste, and will sock whisky away in just about any kind of used barrel they can lay hands on. The Scots are more inventive at this point, I would say. Maybe we need new types of bourbon???

pepcycle
05-11-2008, 17:07
I suggest Elijah Craig 18 supplemented with a teaspoon of black hardwood mulch and some dirt.
That should reproduce "Islay Character"
If not, grind some charcoal briquettes in.

OldJack
05-11-2008, 17:22
I suggest Elijah Craig 18 supplemented with a teaspoon of black hardwood mulch and some dirt.
That should reproduce "Islay Character"
If not, grind some charcoal briquettes in.

:slappin:

I like BT or MM in coffee just fine, but I prefer Amaretto or Bailey's. Call me a sissy, but before noon or after midnight, I don't mind liqueurs at all.

BourbonJoe
05-12-2008, 06:32
I suggest Elijah Craig 18 supplemented with a teaspoon of black hardwood mulch and some dirt.
That should reproduce "Islay Character"
If not, grind some charcoal briquettes in.

Go for it Stu :slappin:
Joe :usflag:

Gillman
05-12-2008, 06:39
Really, all the whiskey types are represented in the federal regulations and thus clearly were made at one time: straight corn, straight wheat, barley, etc. Blends of straight whiskies. Whiskeys treated with wood chips, flavored, and the various blends including those with a minimum of 51% bourbon or rye.

Add to this the mashbills that could be devised (or restored) that use unmalted barley, rice, different (heritage) corn varieties, etc.

I am all for geographical-based expansion of American distilling too, inevitably it will add variety and create probably a local character. The craft distilling movement may be the impetus for this to happen.

The variety was there at one time and could be brought back.

Gary

Dranac Lihp
05-12-2008, 13:08
There is a movement going on back to local food production. That will include local winemaking, brewing and distilling as well. The microbrew industry phenomenon should eventually spill over into the distilling industry. Whiskey production involves a big investment in aging stock that the brewing industry doesn't have to contend with. Distilling to order and selling the white dog to the end user who has to contend with warehousing it may be an option. Selling white dog by the barrel and letting the end user store it and determine when to open it is also an option. You can buy a cask from some distilleries in Scotland and pay them to warehouse it for you, if you can afford a cask at a time and the warehouse bill.

The vast majority of scotch doesn't get aged 10+ years as it isn't usually sold as a single malt anyway. Teacher's ages a whopping 36 months, and it's not a bad blend at all, and it beats Bowmore Legend single malt. Ardmore is thus distilled for drinking young in Teacher's blend. Before the whisky tariffs of the early 1700's, scotch wasn't aged at all in most cases. Production started in October and ended in April and the whisky was mainly used up by the start of the fall distilling season. Hiding of casks by smugglers got the scotch aging process going, and aging whisky gets a bit ridiculous when aging to 20 years or beyond.

Also, corn isn't the best of the main four grains for making whisky. One of bourbon's main reasons for existence was a way to use up the corn crop and make a marketable product. Corn is possibly the worst of the four main grains for making whiskey, and only barley has enough enzymes within itself to totally convert its starches to sugar in the malting process, with enough enzymes left over to get rye, wheat and corn based mashes to complete the mashing process when green barley is added. Barley is the indispensible grain in all whiskey production. Scotch malt is 100% barley mash, and that is why it will always be the superior whisky. The faster the malting process and the freer the grain from mold to begin with, the less off flavors from mold growth in the mash. This is where mashes of barley are superior to lower enzyme grains. American whiskey producers will have to come up with barley based whiskies to complete against the best scotch whisky. Corn, rye and wheat will not get the job done. Mold byproducts do not taste good, and they are not healthy, and I am especially sensitive to them. Thus, nothing can really compare to a good Irish or Scotch whisky for people with my mold sensitivities. Islay scotches are right now the only ones that actually reduce mold effects in me. Anything less than 100% barley mash is second rate for making the ultimate whisky. It just is.

Scotch is expensive mainly because it is an imported product, and it usually is aged for too long. Using new American oak under American climate conditions would shorten the aging process, and there is no reason that an American version of scotch could not be produced. We have areas where peat and peated water exist. The Japanese have made their own version of scotch and are now winning competitons against real scotch. We can produce a very similar product for considerably less than imported scotch. The scotch whisky industry has made a big deal about scotch type whisky only being able to be made in Scotland, and that is pretty ridiculous when Macallan and Glenmorangie import used casks from Spain, Portugal, USA or whereever to "flavor" their scotch. Of course, the argument could be made that what they make really isn't traditional scotch. At least 99% of Laphroaig that is now produced is put up in single use Maker's Mark casks. Used American oak did not exist in the early days of scotch making, but Maker's Mark and Laphroaig are both owned by Fortune Brands and that explains the use of those particular casks. MM and Laphroaig are about the last two whiskies you would assume were associated with each other in the production of the latter.

Northern Minnesota where I once lived was the bottom of a shallow sea at one time, and peat fires would burn all summer in a dry year. It's also a major malting barley growing region, and malting barley was the #1 crop when we owned the farm. The ground is very rich and the barley of a higher than average quality. Artesian wells were common, and the water was incredibly pure with no off tastes, so unpeated whisky is a possibility as well. The water made excellent beer. Making beer was common among the old Norwegains who lived there, but distilling was never their strong suit. The area would be economically suited for a distillery, as wages are depressed compared to industrial regions and they need more industry. Scotch whisky is distilled beer, so a good beer making region is thus a good whisky region. I do not know of anybody making a corn mash beer, but I have had wheat beer. Barley beats wheat in beermaking as well as whisky making.

Gillman
05-12-2008, 13:19
Could you elaborate on the production of molds in mashes utilising unmalted grains? How does that occur?

Gary

Dranac Lihp
05-13-2008, 00:27
Gary,

First, mold exists pretty much everywhere, and anywhere you have moisture and a suitable food source, a particular mold is likely to grow. If mold and bacteria did not deconstruct the physical world, we would be buried beneath hundreds of feet of dead tree leaves, besides other things.

The cereal grain husk is a protection against mold. Once broken, mold has a pathway to the grain kernel. Barley has the toughest husk of all grains used in whisky production. From my experience on the farm, corn is probably the worst grain from a mold infestation viewpoint. Rye mold is especially dangerous, as rye ergot poisoning is like being on an LSD trip.

One thing that I learned in my study of mold, is that mold really doesn't die when moisture is removed from its food source. Established mold growth could go dormant for a million years after moisture was removed from its food source, and upon restablishment of moisture, mold growth takes over immediately where it left off. If that was in the middle of toxin production.....LOOK OUT!!! Not just "toxic mold" can produce toxins. Thousands of species of mold produce toxins. There are at least 1.5 million mold species, and only about 15,000 have been studied in any depth. Ochratoxin would be a common corn mold toxin, and it's in other grains as well.

If there is no established mold growth, then mold growth must be established from mold spores. That takes about 72 hours to get going, and longer than that to get a really good colony of mold established from a few spores. Thus, if grain is already moldy, it has over a 72 hour head start compared to fresh grain that is just being exposed to mold spores. Barley takes about 6 days to malt on a traditional malting floor, and it is steeped in water for a couple of days before being spread on the malting floor. Thus, if grain is moldy to begin with, it will be far moldier after 8 days than clean grain that received its first exposure to mold while being steeped in moldy water or spread on the malting floor.

Since Islay malts are generally steeped in peaty water that has to contain some mold, they will receive mold exposure, but remember that the husk is still intact while being steeped in water and can act as a filter to spores and bacteria. Grain with cracked husks will receive a far greater exposure. It is possible that the malting grain produces antitoxins to any mold exposure for a period of days before sprouts appear and begins making chemicals through photosynthesis. Thus, the husks of grain being used should remain intact while being steeped in water. Barley is the best grain for that purpose; also its huge excess of enzymes insures the malting process proceeds as swiftly as possible.

Once the dried malt is ground in a gristmill and water is added to produce a mash, it goes without saying that any established mold could grow in a rather wild manner. Any mold antitoxins in the mash would be an incredible asset to getting a finished mash that was free of mold byproducts. At this point, I have discovered nothing but Islay malts can counteract mold effects in a person like me that has been exposed to molds and is sensitive to mold and its byproducts.

The world's most qualified environmental medicine physician told me that the only way to counteract environmental mold was to EAT PLANTS THAT HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THE EXACT MOLDS YOU ARE EXPOSED TO. Green plants manufacture antitoxins that allow them to survive in the presence of molds. This has been known for decades, but medical schools funded by pharmaceutical companies hide these facts from medical students. Highland Park knows that scotch's medicinal value is tied to peat (but remember they own Hobbister Moor, the world's finest peat field for whisky production and would like an excuse to tout their peat). Peat is moldy, and the plants that grew to produce the peat also produced antitoxins to the mold while they were alive. Islay or Orkney peat is totally different from Caledonian forest peat that a Speyside distillery would use. Highland peat might work for some people, especially the locals who live there. For me, only island malts work, and their peat if formed from grasses, seaweed, and heather. Trees generally do not grow in the Hebrides, and Islay is a windswept grassy moor.

Northern Minnesota would be a good substitute for Speyside distilling, but the high tree and bush content in the peat means it cannot substitute for Islay, besides the greater climatic variations and occasional dry spells. I was subjected to a mold that grows in ONLY very moist conditions, so I suspect the Islay malts address my condition better because of that.

Dr. Rea told me that the alcohol in whisky will act as a magnifier, good or bad, for any chemical substances that I came in contact with. Thus, a whisky that was made from a moldy mash could be very dangerous. It looks like a barley malt is the best solution for a person like me, and that is what my experiments are leading me to believe.

Phil

Gillman
05-13-2008, 04:19
Interesting, thanks.

Gary