Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Mystery Whisky of Caesarea

"Labels" generally have a negative connotation attached to them. We tell ourselves not to judge books by the cover yet we always, and usually negatively, seem make snap assumptions at first sight.

A great study at the University of Bordeaux had students who were majoring in Oenology (the study of wine tasting and making) taste two wines: a red and a white. The "red" was the same white wine just with added food coloring. Despite this, the students vividly described the "berries and various tannins" that they tasted in the red. Who said "labels" are only found OUTSIDE of the bottle?

The label on this particular Whisky found in Caesarea, Israel, was its pristine crystal decanter and the rumor that it hailed from the UK and was over 20 years old.

It was delicious. The sensory exploration prior to sipping was nearly as exciting as the first dram.

Whisky tasters are known as "nosers" as a Whisky is almost entirely evaluated by the sense of smell before being sipped.

The color was somewhere between burnished and deep copper.

Swishing the Whisky around the glass produced medium tears on the side of the glass indicating a mid level (40-45%) alcohol percentage.

It lacked the musky barber-shop smell that I usually find off-putting when I uncork a special mystery bottle.

Rather, it was floral scented and had a distinctive grassy aroma with a subtle hint of sage which is characteristic of Lowland Malts .

The taste lived up to its scent with the sweet taste buds at the tip of my tongue activated with the smooth flavor of this mystery Whisky.

Life IS better without labels.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“What whisky will not cure, there is no cure for.”

What is whisky relative to other things? Where does it stand in its significance?

Perhaps one could make the argument that whisky does little justice to the more profound realization of the human condition. After all, what possible depth could be garnered from when a man looks deep into a woman's eyes and says: "Yes madam, I am drunk. But in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly." *(See quote below)  What merits do such events have in contrast to a long history of revelation and experience?

Distillation has been a technology that was passed around between the Babylonians, Greeks and Latins up until the 12th century where it was finally used to distill wine in Italy. Like all other drugs, alcohol's use was primarily medicinal as it was used to treat colic, palsy and small box. It was 100 years later that the Irish (from whom the proverb title of this post comes from) transferred the distillation process to the Scots. Because the islands had few grapes to make wine with, barley beer was used instead, resulting in the development of whisky.

In Scotland, the first evidence of whisky production comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent "To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae", enough to make about 500 bottles. Between 1536 and 1541, King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, sending their monks out into the general public. Whisky production moved out of a monastic setting and into personal homes and farms as newly independent monks needed to find a way to earn money for themselves.

And so, the history of whisky tell us that it carries powerful significance indeed. Beyond the words of *Theodore Roosevelt, the history of whisky is a history of great human beings. One cannot separate the wheat from the chaff in this regard. They are one and the same.

Friday, September 21, 2012

You Don't Know Jack...5 Jack Daniel's Facts

Jack Daniels... that distinctive sour mash whisky that some swear by and many have sworn off after imbibing way too much of this distinctive Tennessee firewater.

We all have some policy of how to serve Jack: with ice, with peppermint schnapps (DELICIOUS "Jack Frost"), apple schapps, with ice, with water, by itself or just avoiding it all together.

What are come cool facts behind that revered black bottle that has become an icon for both frat parties, bachelor parties and bourbon experts?

Here are 5 cool Jack Daniel's facts:

1. Moore County, where Jack Daniel's whisky is made, is a dry county which means you cannot drink or buy the famous whisky that is bottled in this part of Tennessee!

2. Jack Daniel's real name is Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel and he is thought to have began distilling whisky at the age of 20.

3. Since he had no children, he gave the distillery to his favorite nephew Lem Motlow.

4. Jack Daniel's died in 1911 due to an infection in his toe which was caused by kicking his safe because he forgot the pass code.

5. His last words were "One last drink, please."

What is YOUR favorite Jack Daniel story?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How To Squeeze Your Travel Insurance Company

For many people planning any vacation, the idea to purchase medical insurance has gradually become more common place. Today, you can virtually buy medical insurance as part of any online or over the counter travel service. But let's say that you already have the insurance, is it really that easy to access? Well that really depends on your provider.

The bottom line on the insurance company's end is this: Based on a calculated probability of client injury or illness, they take a small amount from a bunch of gullible morons that leaves them laughing all the way to the bank while having to pay out a few clients a significantly smaller amount than the total income. All that money that they take from you is actually reinvested into high interest investment portfolios and increases in value. You get none of that despite the fact that you are technically the source of that investment. The insurance companies are essentially playing with the medical security you are paying for. 

But even if these companies get to the point of having to pay you out, it's not as easy as simply calling them and telling them of your malaise. They have entire regulatory structures and investigative teams which make sure that they pay out only under certain circumstances. This seems understandable from a business perspective, but you can see where there is room for this to turn into a double edged sword. At the end of the day, even if you are in need of medical attention overseas, there is no guarantee your insurance will cover your fees.

So how can you, the smart traveler, avoid this uncertainty? LEVERAGE. The way to put these corporate fat cats in the hot seat is to make yourself a more powerful stakeholder in the insurance contractWhen you get a life insurance plan with the same company they become liable not only to pay out if you need medical attention, but they become liable for potentially much much more if they don't get you the best medical attention and pay for it. 

Case and point: I was infected with malaria in Vietnam. The western medical clinic I was in refused to give me treatment until my insurance came through and they were unreceptive. The bill for the hospital quickly climbed to over 3000$ and my insurance still did not come through. Then, my situation got much worse. I was in dire straits by that time as the malaria had penetrated into my liver and lungs.

Luckily, I had insured myself for a cool 500,000 dollars (all deliverable to my next-of-kin). As soon the insurance got word that my condition was bad enough to warrant a massive expenditure a private jet was sent to pick me up from Saigon. Some big head of the medical travel department  from the Bangkok Diplomatic Hospital came to my rescue with a wad of 4000 US dollars in his hand. He gave it to the Saigon western clinic that was trying to extort me for money I didn't have and wheeled my half conscious feverish body onto an airfield in Saigon. He offered to take me to the best medical facilities of MY CHOICE in Asia (Bangkok or Singapore). At the end of it all my fees came to a total of 80,000$ including the 15,000 dollar flight and ten days of hospitalization in a penthouse of a hospital room. My total expenses on the year of premium medical insurance was 800 dollars. Get the point? 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco Bizarre Drinkos De Mayo

You asked for it, and just like most greasy spoon pizza joints WE DELIVER! 5 weird drinks to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. These drinks are so bizarre that they make the weirdest choices on gastro-giants,, and last but certainly not least! If this is not enough bizarre boozy reading to put the mojo in your Mayo, read about our recent tequila follies!

Here is our rundown:

1. Taking the Number 5 Spot on 's 9 Weirdest Alcoholic Drinks list is a frightening Vietnamese Snake Wine! This creepy concoction is produced by infusing whole snakes in grain or rice alcohol. The fermentation process de-fangs the venom, so to speak, as it is no longer toxic. If this is not creepy enough, many bottles are topped off with scorpions. Double shot? We think not! 

2. While not Number 1 on Top 5 Weirdest Alcoholic Drinks List, we agree with Jenna Boister when she calls Baby Mouse Wine the, "most gag-worthy," that she encountered while doing this somewhat reviling research. This bizarre beverage is considered to be a "Health Tonic" by some Koreans and Chinese. Baby mice are put inside the bottle and left to ferment in rice wine. This may be the drink of choice for Garfield to wash down his lasagna, but NO THANKS!

3. Topping that Spirits that Surprise chart at we have Bakon Vodka! We have seen bacon chap stick, mayonnaise and nearly every other condiment combination imaginable in the wake of the Epic Meal Time's Epic Success! We have no doubt that this award winning vodka will impress Ceaser dinkers en mass, but don't expect to see this at your next Bar Mitzvah as it has real bacon! Its website proclaims: "Pure. Refreshing. Bacon," and all of the Bakon Vodka awards attest its success!

4. What goes with Beer? Pizza! Right.... well yes, usually. leaves us slightly grossed out, yet slightly curious with their Number 1 spot on their 7 Weird Alcoholic Beverages List: Pizza Beer! This radically brewed ale was created by Tom Athena Seefurth in 2006 with the goal in mind to create the world's first "culinary beer." While no doubt much more delicious than having the piece of crust floating in our playoff pint, we need more research to determine if this beer is, as the its website proclaims, " good it deserves a wineglass!"

5. We want the weirdest drink that YOU have heard of! Newfoundland Screech? The mythical toe-shot from Alaska? Send us your entry in the comments section, or tweet us at @WhiskyandWings , we want to hear! Happy Cinco De Mayo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Victorian Rum Diary

It has been a historic, and eventful, trip to British Columbia's sleepy capitol Victoria for this half of the Whisky and Wings team (the other busy depleting Puerto Vallarta's tequila supply).

To kick off this adventure we ignited our BBQ experience with some of the finest limestone water filtered bourbon from Kentucky: 12 year old Elijah Craig. This fierce firewater came from none other than Rael Katz, another whisky enthusiast who knows a how to separate the drams from the dregs.

In Rael's words: "
I found the bottle of 12yr old Elijah Craig in Seattle several weeks ago. I am well aware of the limited selection of Bourbons we have in Canada and knew I should take advantage of my stay in Seattle.

Initially what attracted me to the Bourbon was the bottle and it's eloquent look. I also wanted a bottle that was fairly reasonably priced and Elijah Craig was just this. At approximately $30USD (which is a great price for a Canadian!) EC was a smooth and very flavourful glass of Bourbon.

Call it personal biases or not but the drink went down mch better with a few rocks in the bottom of the glass. But even neat, this is a fine drink.
As most drinks go, the 18yr old batch is said to be slightly better than their 12yr old batch, but this claim is still to be tested by our team of experts. Until then, stick with the 12yr old bottle and you won't regret it!"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

China and India: Culinary Forces for the Wing Win!

An absolutely delicious chicken wing is the product of careful culinary calculation. When the taste is as good as it gets, the wing experience is enhanced when an interesting story feeds the mind while the crispy flavor explosion seduces your taste buds.

The story? Two of the worlds most populated cultures (widely covered on our blog) colliding and colluding to produce a delicious chicken wing.

This is the case with the incredible Garlic Chili wings at the Green Lettuce Indian Style Chinese Restaurant in Vancouver.

The Theory of Verges states that: creativity is unleashed at points where multiple cultures converge. Creativity, in the sense of culinary brilliance, is unleashed at this Indian Chinese fusion restaurant in the same capacity as the energy released at the of a Saturn V rocket's initial earth-rattling blast off.

Located at Victoria and Kingsway in the heartland of delicious and competitive Vietnamese Restaurants, Green Lettuce has stood out since 1999. Where else can you eat General Tao Chicken while snacking on the perfect pakora?

These wings are adorned with just enough chili to wake up your tastebuds without completely unloading a full Bombay of napalm. They come swimming in a Yellow Sea of diced garlic that makes this dish so tasty, you will be left eating the savory morsels of garlic and chili as you await your main dish-we HIGHLY recommend the tangerine beef!

The three thumbs up on the menu represent our three senses that were wowed as we sampled these heavenly wings: taste, smell and feel as we crunched our way their fantastic finale.

$5.75 for a half dozen, and just as the menu proclaims: the taste will have us coming back!