The maturation period of whiskey, which involves aging the liquor in wooden barrels, is one of the most interesting stages of the whiskey production process.
The process allows the whiskey to interact with the oak barrels to arrive at the desired state in line with the particular distillery. The type of barrel used for maturation is usually determined by the Master Blender who seeks to achieve a particular character and maintain the style of the whiskey that the house is known for.
What is aging?
Aging refers to the process of storing distilled spirits (or wines) in barrels for a specific period of time. The time may take up to 10 years, 20 years or even more. The aim is usually to extract harsh flavours from the raw alcohol while distinct characteristics are added to it from the barrel’s wood.
Why age whiskey in barrels?
For those who are whiskey aficionados, the answer to this is as familiar as their own names. However, for the spirit drinkers who are new to the world of whiskey, the question begs a comprehensive answer.
What to know about barrel aging for whiskey
Oak Barrels are used
This is about the first thing anyone should know about the maturation of whiskeys. Oak barrels are used because of their distinct physical and chemical nature. Because oak is pure wood, it is preferable to other types of woods like rubber or pine.
The oak adds taste and aroma to the spirit, while also extracting undesirable elements from it. It also interacts with the spirit, adding extractive wood elements as well as giving it the desired colour throughout the aging period.
There is a Toasting or Charring
When the barrels have been created, the whiskey is not just poured inside. Traditionally, the barrels are either toasted or charred when they are built, this creates a layer of charcoal that filters out unwanted flavours from the raw spirit. Bourbon casks are usually charred, while sherry casks are toasted.
Colour comes from the barrels
Whiskey would be a clear spirit just like gin and vodka if they were not aged in oak barrels. It is the barrels that give it colour. As the spirit interacts with the barrel, the colour of the wood is extracted and blends itself into it, giving it the amber or golden brown colour. The longer the spirit is aged, the darker the colour. Moonshine is the only clear whiskey because it is unaged.
The Barrel adds flavour too
More than just the colour, the barrel also adds flavour to the spirit too. How does this happen? The barrel actually mellows out any harsh notes found in the raw spirit through absorption. So when you see whiskey notes with ‘oakiness’ or ‘undertones of charred oak,’ then know that it is referring to the flavours gotten from the oak barrels. Depending on the species of oak used in the barrel, different flavours can be gotten.
Quercus Alba, “White Oak” (American Oak), Quercus Petraea, “Sessile Oak” (Europe) and Quercus Robur, “Pedunculate Oak” (Europe) are three most used species of oak.
Vodka and gin are two of the world’s most popular spirit drinks, most notable for their clarity of the liquor in the bottle as opposed to whisky and brandy.
Many alcohol lovers do not give a care about what each of these spirit drinks are made of, least of all the artistic excellence put into distilling these drinks.
Although all of these drinks, whether it is vodka, rum, tequila, gin, bourbon, whiskey or cognac, have a unique history, there is a striking difference between them. The difference notwithstanding, there is still some form of similarity between them, especially in terms of production.
The major difference between spirits is in the raw materials used in the production. However, no matter the basis of the liquid, all spirit drinks must go through a distillation, and later aging process to arrive at the finished product.
The same thing goes for vodka and gin, two spirit drinks that form the basis for most cocktail mixes in the world.
While you may not be a liquor connoisseur, it is important to know the difference between the two distilled spirits.
What is Vodka?
Linked with roots to 14th century Russia, vodka is a neutral spirit traditionally lacking a distinctive character, aroma, taste or colour. However, with recent evolving trends, most vodka brands now have products with fruits flavour and aroma.
Derived from Voda, the Russian word for water, vodka in Russian means ‘little stream’. It has the characteristics of a colorless liquid, clear and smooth. It is a pure spirit with a neutral taste. It is generally distilled from the mixtures of potatoes or grains. It can also be made from corn, wheat or even more unconventional items such as grapes.
This is one of the heaviest drink which has 40% of alcohol content. In the European Union, the standard is set to 37.5% but in Nigeria, the limit remains 40% and sometimes higher.
What is Gin?
Gin is flavoured spirit that is produced by re-distillation of a high proof neutral spirit with juniper berries and other flavouring agents. Its origin is traced back to 17th century Holland.
The history of gin dates back to the 11th century, where monks were known to flavor crude distilled drinks with juniper berries and it was also unsuccessfully used as remedy for the black plague. However, the origin of the drink is credited to Franciscus de la Boe (known as Doctor Sylvius); a seventeenth century physician and professor of medicine at the University of Leyden.
It was first named Genièvre by Boe in relation to the French word for Juniper berry, but English distillers shortened it to Gin in the late 17th century.
Gin gets its flavour from the whatever product it is re-distilled from, and is produced mostly in United Kingdom, Holland and the United States. The four distinct varieties of gin include London Dry, Old Tom, Plymouth and Dutch.
The Difference between Vodka and Gin
The major difference between vodka and gin lies in the raw materials used in the production of both spirits, aside from the countries of origin.
While vodka is made from by distillation of potatoes, rye or wheat, gin is made with the help of distillation of malt or grain and then mixed with the flavor of juniper berries. The main constituent of Vodka is water and ethanol while the central part of Gin is Juniper berries.
Evidently, both vodka and gin are clear, colorless spirits, but when it comes to taste, both drinks carry a huge difference. Vodka is virtually neutral and tasteless, while gin often has distinctive, herbal notes. What marks this distinct flavour between the two spirits is that while vodka is a water-based alcohol which lends itself to more of an unfettered, clean finish, gin comes with eight botanicals used to realise its unique, juniper-laden flavour.
How it is served
Vodka is best served chilled while gin can be served without ice or refrigeration. Drinking chilled vodka gives a better mouthfeel as the drink is viscous at ice-cold temperatures. Gin, on the other hand, is already comes with aromatic flavours that compensate for when it is not served chilled.
Cocktail and Mixes
While both drinks are specially good for making cocktails, vodka is the preferred choice for most mixologists. Vodka plays a main ingredient in many cocktails including Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, Sex on the Beach, Moscow Mule, White Russian, Black Russian, etc. It can also be consumed with soft drinks.
For gin, its complexity comes alive when mixed with straight flavours just as in gin and tonic cocktail the effervescence of the tonic, the hit of sweet quinine and a twist of citrus (lemon or lime) makes a deceptively basic drink come to life.Other cocktails popularly made with gin include Ramos Gin Fizz, Martinez, Gin Rickey, Red Snapper, Tom Collins, White Lady, Hanky Panky, Clover Club, etc.
While gin maybe classified as a flavoured vodka in many instances, vodka can never be seen as a gin. This is because gin can be re-distilled from vodka, only with added spice and herbal extracts.
Types of Gin
Juniper-Flavoured Spirit Drinks
They are the earliest class of gins distilled in pot stills from fermented grain mash, before being re-distilled with aromatic compounds. They are approximately 68% ABV in strength.
Also juniper flavoured, however the juniper or aromatic compounds are added later on.
Distilled gin is made by exclusively the re-distillation of ethanol of agricultural origin and has an initial strength of 95% ABV. It is also added with additional juniper berries and other natural botanicals.
London gin comes exclusively from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin along with a maximum methanol content of 5 grams per hectolitre of 100% ABV equivalent.
The flavour is added by re-distilling in traditional stills of ethyl alcohol in the presence of all the natural plant materials used, resulting in a spirit of 70% ABV. London gin is sometimes referred to as ‘Dry’.
Popular Vodka and Gins in Nigeria and their Prices
Jamie and Deolu walked into the bar after a long Wednesday meeting, and the bald headed bartender cheerfully offered, “Cognac and Whisky.”
Both surprised, Deolu asked, “Why?” The bartender replied, “Because I know you both need a strong drink to numb the stress.”
“So why not offer us just one, rather than the two?” Jamie queried.
“There is beauty in variety, and I wanted to give you the option of choice,” said the bartender.
“What is the difference between Cognac and Whisky?” Deolu bellowed.
Then there was SILENCE as all three had no idea.
Noticing the awkward silence, the www.drinks.ng delivery man offered to help them out.
“Here is the difference between Cognac and Whisky,” he said…
The major difference between the two spirits is that while Cognac is made from grapes,Whisky is made from grains. However, both go through the process of fermentation which converts sugar to alcohol.
Again, both spirits are aged in casks which gives both drinks the required colour, and of course the taste.
Whisky are made from fine grains, mostly barley. The grains are then mixed with water and yeast, before distillation. The distilled spirit then is aged in oak barrels.
Cognac, on the other hand, is made from grapes which are then pressed to extract the juice.The juice is then fermented for about 5 days before distilling. Cognacs go through a double distillation process, before the eaux-de-vie is stocked in oak casks to age.
How long do both age?
Cognacs are usually aged for at least a period of 2 1/2 years, and can take up to 200 years for some. For whisky, no precise age is given for aging any particular whisky, but most of the high-end whisky have been stored for up to 18 years.
However, UK and EU law insist that Scotch Whisky should be at least three years old.
While cognac uses age terms like VOP, VS, VSOP or XO, Whiskey shows the exact age of its content: for example 3, 5, 10, 12 or 15 years.
Any difference in drinking Cognac and Whisky?
Cognac is seen more like a ‘digestif’ – that drink you take as dessert after having a sumptuous dinner, Whisky is not seen in such a cliche and conservative light.
While cognac maybe taken along with coffee, one may drink a whiskey with water. Many consider it inappropriate to splash a little water in cognac. The explanation being that because Cognac is made from fruits and Whisky from grains, the structure is different and one may not tolerate water as the other would.
Well, while water may not be good for cognac, no need to worry as it is fast (re)becoming a cocktail drink, having been a huge ingredient for cocktails in the past.
The goodness of wine is well known throughout the world and Nigeria. The unique way it moves in the mouth and glides down the throat.
The heady taste, aroma, enchanting colours and hues are simply captivating. As an added bonus, it is really good for the health because it helps reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels.
It reduces the risk of blood clotting almost as effectively as aspirin, regulates blood sugar levels, improves brain power, keeping your memory sharp, guards cells against free radicals, fights infections, cuts cancer risk and helps with weight loss.
No one should be left out of the unending benefits of drinking wine. This is why there is now a non-alcoholic version of your favourite past time.
If you love wine but are unable to drink because of the alcohol content, you can do a dance now, because there is now non-alcoholic wine.
Non-alcoholic wine has all the goodness of alcoholic wine but without the alcohol. If you are light-headed and cannot handle more than a glass of alcoholic wine, you will be able to handle a whole bottle of non-alcoholic wine. The alcohol content is one percent or even less.
Non-alcoholic wines are different from fruit juice. In fact, they are regular wines that have gone through an extra stage where practically all the alcohol is filtered out, but with all the goodness intact.
Non-alcoholic wines retain all the flavour and characteristics of the original wine. One of the best non-alcoholic wine range to try is Ariel. They were introduced in 1986 and won the Gold Medal over all the other regular wines at the Los Angeles County Fair.
In the 1990s, endorsements from world-famous chef Dr Graham Kerr led to a wider acceptance of non-alcoholic wines as a healthier alternative. They now distribute over 65,000 cases per year worldwide. The company started out with just one wine – Ariel Blanc, and it is still one of their best-sellers.
Some of the wines in the Ariel range include:
A crisp white Chardonnay-style wine with aromas of jasmine, floral and lilac. It has flavours of lychee, peach and lavender, with a nice acidity and just a hint of sweetness. You will love it with seafood and chicken.
A wonderful blend of tropical fruitiness, with the character of oak barrel ageing. This wine has tastes of buttery baked apples, with butterscotch overtones, and a heady French toasted oak bouquet.
This is a robust wine with assertive flavours of raspberry, cassis and wild cherries, with pronounced aromas of white chocolate, cloves and oak. You should try it with roast beef, grilled steaks or even roast pork.
Non-Alcoholic wine is not the same as Alcohol-Free wine. To be termed non-alcoholic, a wine can contain up to 1% alcohol, but no more than that. Non-alcoholic wines are healthier than the alcoholic wines and they contain only about half of the calories.
“I never waited for my Irish Cream coffee to be the right temperature, with a storm happening outside and my fireplace crackling…I wrote every day, at home, in the office, whether I felt like it or not, I just did it.”
– Stephen J. Cannell
Ever walked into a restaurant for a cup of coffee and get asked if you would like a shot of whiskey?
If No, then you will find this an interesting read. If Yes, then you must have tried out this recipe.
A typical Irish makes this cocktail to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but who said it must be a celebratory drink?
Irish coffee is a cocktail mix of Hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar. Irish coffee was invented by Joe Sheridan who was the head chef at Foynes County, Limerick. Chef Sheridan not only created a long age classic cocktail but also wrote a beautiful expressive poetry about his recipe.
*”Cream—rich as an Irish brogue; coffee—strong as a friendly hand; sugar—sweet as the tongue of a rogue; Irish whiskey—smooth as the wit of the land.”*
The Irish Coffee Recipe
2 tablespoons Demerara or turbinado sugar (or just regular white or brown sugar)
Place 4 teaspoons of the sugar, the whiskey, espresso, and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine.
Set over low heat and stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling, about 5 minutes.
Place the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and the cream in a medium bowl and whisk until the cream thickens and the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the hot coffee mixture to two 8-ounce heatproof glasses or mugs
Top with a heaping spoonful of the whipped cream
Garnish with the mint leaves (if using).
According to Adam Levine, Irish Coffee is the only drink that provides you with the four essential food groups in one glass I.e Alcohol, Caffeine, Sugar and Fat. With that said, this recipe can be classified as important and essential.
There are different varieties of Irish whiskey but the best type to use is either Powers or Jameson Irish Whiskey. You can change things up by considering Jamaican rum, tequila reposado, or bourbon and possibly give your recipe a name.
You can also incorporate Irish Cream Whiskey, just to make extra milky good.
Irish whiskey and all other alcohol mentioned above can be purchased at directly from the website. Fun part is they are at the best affordable prices possible and can be delivered at all times (24/7 No jokes).
Connect with us on our social media platforms @drinksng and share a picture when you make this recipe. So ensure you keep warm with a cup of Irish coffee or better still ask for whiskey to be put in your coffee because it’s Ireland somewhere. Cheers!!!
However, there are several reasons why this special spirit blend should excite those who love to grace their palate with it. It is made from either fermented sugarcane juice or molasses that is distilled to become alcohol at about 80 proof or higher. So for those who love to chew off the stem of the sweet cane, it gives you an opportunity to enjoy it in a glass.
There are a lot of things about rum that are exciting to the drinker, from the several flavour palettes ranging from fruity and grassy to caramel and cinnamon to the lovable flavours when mixed to make a cocktail.
However, here are 10 more things that will certainly excite you about rum.
1. Rum is the fun one
Unlike other spirit drinks including cognac, bourbon, scotch, and tequila, rum has no international regulations surrounding its production method or place. So that means if all the above were your friends, (and they should be), rum would be the fun one – holding no bars in the level of adventure you can experience with it.
This rainbow factor about rum also means you have to do a lot of research before settling for a particular brand as the quality is not always guaranteed. You may not love to do a lot of reading, but look at the fun side, you get to know more about your favourite spirit.
2. Not made for the sunshine alone
It is good that rum is one for the sun, when the sour moments of life are nothing but shadows.Rum can also be enjoyed on cold weather. The drink comes with excellent flavours that can be both refreshing and warming, especially on a cold night with your lover.
3. It is sweet
No wonder it is such a favourite during the summer holidays and warm days. The sweetness of rum just makes it easy for it to be enjoyed while taking in the warmth of the weather, and the beautiful conversations that follow.
4. Not all rum is sweet
Certainly not all of us are sweet-toothed, and same goes for rum. So for those who love a tint of bitterness in their drink, some rum brands offer this. This is the great diversity of taste for which rum-drinkers are constantly excited about.
5. Hangovers do not come with every rum
Hardly does anyone love the morning headaches, dry mouth and tiredness that comes after a heavy night of drinking, and dark rum is one of the most feared when it comes to hangovers. However, since rum comes in different colours, white rum provides an alternative for people who fear rum-induced hangovers. You have heard that to avoid hangovers, it is best to keep your alcohol clear; but we say to avoid hangovers, keep your rum white.
6. It is great with cocktails
The Rum Sour is one great example of how well rum goes with cocktails. Another significant cocktail is the Bermuda Dark ’n’ Stormy, made with ginger beer and dark rum and full of intense flavour. Actually, every area where rum is produced comes with its own epic rum cocktail.
7. You may not only be drinking
Yeah! There is no argument that rum has medicinal benefits to the drinker, which is why we say you may not only be drinking, you might also be healing your body. Osteoporosis and intermittent claudication (muscle pain) can be prevented with the intake of rum. It can also cure common cold due to its anti-microbial properties.
A bottle of Kahlua Coffee Liqueur set on the table brings a unique spark to an evening or merry, cheer and drinking.
Birthed in Mexico, Kahlua is among the world’s premium liqueurs, with a continuously developed taste to satisfy drinkers with an extra-sweet palate.
It has gained so much global popularity that February 27 has a been set aside as Kahlua Day to celebrate the drink.
Brief History of Kahlua
Just like Kahlua is a beautiful blend sweet sugarcane and strong, hand-picked Arabica coffee, it’s history is linked to the teamwork of four gentlemen.
In 1936, Senior Blanco, Montalvo Lara and the Alvarez Brothers came together to bring to reality their bright idea. One of the four gave birth to the idea, two provided the coffee, the fourth was the chemist who created the perfect blend – and Kahlua was born.
The company was called “House of Acolhua people” in the Veracruz Nahuatl language spoken before the Spanish Conquest of Mexico.
The word Kahlua actually has ties to the ancient Arabic languages, and it is also said to be a slang word for coffee.
In 1994, the company merged with Allied Lyons to become Allied Domecq, and a decade and a year later, the largest spirits distributor in the world, Pernod Ricard took up ownership of the company.
How Kahlua is made
Kahlua is made from quality coffee beans that are being ground and brewed before the distillation starts. It takes up to six years to get the perfect coffee beans to make the liqueur.
After harvesting, the coffee is dried and rested for a six-month period in huge burlap bags. During this time, the rum is brewed from sugarcane. To distil, the juice from the sugarcane is extracted, boiled and mixed with water and fermented to become alcohol.
The coffee beans are roasted after a seven-year waiting period. It is then blended with the alcoholic spirit and allowed to rest for four weeks. The end result is a coffee liqueur with tastes of vanilla and fudge
The liqueur is then bottled and sold off to the 150 World markets where it has gained global popularity as the best coffee liqueur in the world.
The Nectar of Cocktails
Having gained popularity in the 1980’s when liqueur cocktails were trendy, Kahlua Coffee Liqueur became the darling of bartenders and mixologists.
It is still the nectar of so many liqueur based cocktails like White Russian, Mudslide and Espresso Martini.
The coffee and vanilla flavours of the liqueur fill the palate of cocktails, while also leaving space for the flavours of the other cocktail ingredients to breathe. With Kahlua, cocktails get even better.
The Martini cocktail is one of the most popular mixed-alcohol beverages in the world, coming with its own distinct glass. The drink speaks a lot about a person’s personality – it has become a signature drink for men of style and class.
Getting served a cocktail in a martini glass does not necessarily mean its a martini cocktail. For most purists, the drink is made up of gin and vermouth, and nothing more. But there may be more to this classic cocktail than we might know of.
History of Martini Cocktail
Truth be told, no one knows exactly the origin of the martini. However, there is a general theory that most people have come to accept. The story holds that the drink evolved from Martinez, which in turn comes from the Manhattan. In the early 1860s, people frequented the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco for a glass of cocktail before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.
The people of Martinez are said to have made claims to the drink being prepared by a bartender in their town. A bartender named Jerry Thomas is said to have invented a drink for a miner who wanted something special in exchange for a gold nugget. Since the miner was heading back to Martinez, California, Jerry named it for the city – Martinez.
Another account holds that Italian immigrant bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia invented the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City before World War I. His recipe contained dry gin and dry vermouth, in equal parts, and orange bitters.
Another legend claims that the cocktail may have gotten its name when an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini in 1863, after its director Alessandro Martini. In another account, it was named for the Martini & Henry rifle used by the British Army for 20 years between 1870 and 1890. Both the rifle and the drink delivered a strong kick
The first known written recipe of the martini is credited to O. H. Bryson’s 1884 cocktail book, The Modern Bartender, where the drink is referred to as a variation of the Manhattan. Also, in Harry Johnson’s Bartender Manual, published in 1888, he lists the ingredients of the cocktail as old tom gin, sweet vermouth, orange curacao, gum, Boker’s bitters and a lemon twist. However, there were numerous cocktails with similar names and ingredients to the modern-day martini that were published in bartending guides of the 19th century.
In spite of the uncertain roots of the martini, the drink gained popularity during the Prohibition. The ease of the manufacture of illicit gin in the US created a huge market for the bloom of martini cocktail in the mid-20th century.
Marketing of gin and vodka by liquor companies in the 1950s and 1970s respectively also played a huge role in making the martini popular. Also, product placement in films, as well as celebrity endorsements gave credence to the drink. With celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, David Niven and Humphrey Bogart seen drinking martinis in public or on screen, the thirst for the drink grew rapidly.
James Bond fans will confirm that the fictional character has done much for the popularity of the martini cocktail. Despite drinking martini only once in Ian Flemming’s James Bond books, the fictional British secret agent has been improved the marketability of the cocktail, even making the popular phrase “Shaken, not stirred.”
Regular exercise is said to make one live to a ripe old age, but it seems to drink alcohol trumps what exercise is capable of.
A recent long-term study has found that regular moderate intake of alcohol will help you make it to your 90’s better than exercise can.
The team of scientists from the University of California led by neurologist Claudia Kawas tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.
According to The Independent, researchers found that subjects who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to die prematurely. On the other hand, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.
Asides the modest drinking, other factors found to boost longevity included weight. Participants who were slightly overweight — but not obese — cut their odds of an early death by 3 percent.
“It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas noted in her address.
More so, participants who kept busy with a daily hobby two hours a day were 21 percent less likely to suffer an early death, while those who drank two cups of coffee a day reduced the risk by 10 percent.
Further study is needed to determine how habits impact longevity beyond people’s genetic makeups.
Alcohol is capable of many things including the ability to make us immediately appear more attractive to others than normal.
Don’t get us wrong, there is absolutely nothing attractive about a man or woman staggering back home after a rough night. So to get the best out of this magical ability of alcohol, as in all other benefits, moderate drinking is encouraged.
As a matter of fact, it goes both ways – alcohol can affect the way we see and are seen, by people. This just proves that the beer goggles theory is as real as we can imagine.
There is scientific proof
Just in case you have more doubts lingering on your mind, several scientific studies have proven the ability of moderate drinking making you appear immediately attractive.
At the University of Bristol in the UK, 40 students were supplied with wine but were asked to take photos of each other sober before the drinking commenced. They also took a photo of each participant after one drink, then after a second.
The photos taken after just one drink has been consumed were judged as more attractive than the sober photos. However, the photos taken after students drank more than one glass, were rated as less attractive than when they were sober.
“It suggests that, if it’s true, people are rated as more attractive once they’ve consumed a small amount of alcohol,” said the study’s senior researcher, Marcus Munafò, a professor of biological psychology at the University. “But if they go on to consume more alcohol, they’re no longer rated as more attractive.”
The study suggested that a single alcoholic drink could make people seem more attractive because it caused facial muscles to relax, pupils to dilate and cheeks to flush.
“Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics,” said Professor Munafò.
This gives us a confidence boost to have a glass of wine or a tot of whiskey before walking up to your crush to drop that cool pick up line.
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