Tuesday, January 13, 2015
On 1:18 PM by email@example.com in Book, bourbon, Daniel, Distillery, New York, Review, whiskey No comments
When Brooklynites are tinkering away at making beer, wine and basically anything else under the sun, it is an overstatement to claim on the back of a book that making whiskey in a Brooklyn apartment is a moment of civil disobedience, especially when the threat such homespun amateurs of moonshining pose is probably as harmful to the wellbeing of that community as the novice kombucha brewer tinkering with bacterial cultures and just as detrimental to the tax revenues as a teen babysitter pocketing100% of the income. I hope those of you who pick up The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining with eye rolls or hesitation hold of knee-jerk judgement in order to appreciate the autodidactic journey of Kings Co. Distillery as much as we appreciate their whiskey.
Much as I see customers make jokes about Kings' $43.99 Bourbon that comes in a 375ml clear glass flask, I tend to get a little defensive at the bias. A little backstory on Kings County Distillery and Kings' small line of whiskeys gets a Bourbon fan excited about the mystery and lore of what adventure the packaging promises. What it promises is unhyped, unpretentious, unadulterated whiskey in a market where people are clamoring for Pappy Van Winkle just to get a taste or pass it on as a gift to their most important client. Can such demand be justified when you understand that Jim Beam's whiskey is two steps away from Booker's and Baker's? What the open-minded customer in our store ultimately says is, "It's Bourbon, how bad could it be?" The truth is, it's really good.
So how does one go about telling the story of whiskey and the young bunch of entrepreneurs that comprise Kings County Distillery? Why by analogizing America, of course! The enterprise of making booze has always been a commercial one with rowdy upswells of defiance tempered by moments of genuine or politically-motivated crackdowns. And while the Kings County Guide to Urban Moonshining makes gestures towards this narrative, the more important contribution falls within the scope of the subtitle: How to Make and Drink Whiskey. Kings' story starts off in Kentucky with the underage Colin Spoelman being exposed to alcohol. One moment especially entices him: when a friend downs a bottle of Bourbon and emerges a wild man with a new name and plenty to holler about. From there, Spoelman leaps off into an exploration of what makes whiskey different than the other spirits: So what makes whiskey special? Why should we care about the contents of the bottle when the biggest difference for many main-stream bourbons is what label is on the outside? Why would someone even drink vodka, when there are so many interesting spirits to try?
As it turns out, the Guide to Urban Moonshining--unless you have plans for a bathroom still in your NY apartment--is most educational in sorting through the interconnected distilleries in the US and what their various products are regardless of packaging. The whiskey fan will end up understanding the difference between a sweet mash and a sour mash. She will be able to discern the difference between adulterated whiskeys sourced from LDI and the barrel strength small-batch variety. It is a great opportunity to become a connoisseur, or at least a chance to order impressively at a bar, dismiss the over-hyped "rare" bottles, and have some fun.
I highly recommend grabbing a pint of Kings County or the three bottle gift pack of white whiskey, Bourbon, and Chocolate "flavored" whiskey and taking a spin through the Guide to Urban Moonshining. It will make you a better drinker while exposing you to a truly hand-crafted whiskey from New York. And best of all, you will always have an answer to the most important question you regularly face in life: "What can I get you to drink?"
~Daniel, Our New York and Washington Wine Buyer