Spirit Guide: Rittenhouse Rye Randomness with Seven Grand San Diego’s Chad Owen

January 29th, 2014 — 1:06pm

When I started drinking whiskey, and more importantly American Whiskey, the coolest bottle I could handle paying for was Rittenhouse Rye whiskey. Rittenhouse is a rye whiskey bottling from Heaven Hill, the same people that make Old Fitzgerald, and Elijah Craig. Sitting right around $20-$25 a bottle, it very quickly established itself as the gold standard rye whiskey in my mind.

In late August, it was brought to my attention that Rittenhouse had changed. Rittenhouse Rye is a Bottled in Bond Whiskey, which has a variety of legal stipulations, but for the sake of my point, it has to have the Distilled Spirits Plant number on the bottle. The whiskey I know as Rittenhouse is actually from DSP-KY-354. The new changed Rittenhouse is from DSP-KY-1. In short, the Early Times distillery from Brown Foreman used to make Rittenhouse, and now the Bernheim distillery with Heaven Hill is making Rittenhouse.

This blew my mind. For so long I was committed to Heaven Hill and how good their rye was, only to find out it was being made by the same guys who make Old Forester. How did this happen? As it turns out, there was a fire in 1996, and they lost several warehouses and portions of the distillery. As a favor (and effective business deal) Heaven Hill relieved a portion of it’s production requirements by having Brown Foreman and Jim Beam make some of their whiskey until they could get back on their feet. In the last 10 years, Heaven Hill has been expanding capacity, and in 2008 the Bernheim Distillery began making rye. Both whiskies are delicious, and there are some differences if you’re looking, but Rittenhouse is to remain my gold standard.

All that being said, within the American Whiskey industry you have competitors coming to each others aid. It reminds me very much of the craft beer industry, and closer to home, the restaurant industry. Where everybody is pulling for each other, supporting the efforts of your neighbor, and being picked up by your buddies when you’re in need. American whiskey is great, because despite being behemoth companies and huge production requirements, they are still neighbors, friends and understand the importance of community and hospitality. A rising tide lifts all boats, and thats what we love about what we do.

Chad M. Owen
Lead Tender / Mixer of Miscellany
Seven Grand Whiskey Bar
San Diego, CA

Seven Grand DTLA Whiskey Society: Cedar Ridge & Charbay Master Distillers, Wednesday, January, 29th, 7pm

January 28th, 2014 — 1:07pm

Cedar Ridge
If you haven’t heard, Golden State Cocktail Week is rocking Downtown right now, and with so many Master Distillers and Brand Ambassadors in town, we couldn’t resist booking another event this week.

This Wednesday, Jan. 29th, we will be hosting 2 Master Distillers at once! Marko Karakasevic from Charbay Distillery here in California, and Kolin Brighton from Cedar Ridge Distillery in Iowa. Both of these gentleman are making some unique whiskies, two true champions of the Craft Distilling movement here in America. A Welcome Punch will be served at 6:30pm, with the tasting/education starting at 7pm. Latecomers will not be sat but can wait at the bar to meet Marko and Kolin after the event. Come early and get cozy with your neighbors!

RSVP on the link below, we look forward to seeing you Wednesday.

Register Here!

For more information on the Seven Grand Whiskey Society, hit the link beneath my signature. Memberships are $120 per year, can be purchased at the bar, and allow you to bring a guest to any event. First-timers can pay a one-time $15 fee for admittance.

Be sure to come check out BAR JACKALOPE, the new sipping lounge and tasting library in the back of Seven Grand L.A. Here we will strive to provide ongoing educations of all the events we host with the Whiskey Society. Get your own bottle in the cabinet!

We look forward to seeing you Wednesday, feel free to forward this invite to a friend!

Pedro, currently sipping Redbreast 21yr. Thank you Brian Nation!

Pedro Shanahan, Spirit Guide,
Seven Grand Whiskey Bar L.A.
Co-curator, Whiskey Society

Check out some cool vids:

What We’re Reading: Diageo to Lift Scotch Whisky Production at Clynelish Distillery; Japan’s Beer Drinkers Still Not Raising a Glass to Abenomics; It’s Suntory Time: Japan Buys U.S. Liquor Maker; Under New Food Safety Law, Bartenders Have To Wear Gloves; Japanese beverage company Suntory Holdings to buy Jim Beam; Study: Heavy Drinking Is Toxic To The Brains Of Men, But Not Those Of Women; The 9 Most Important Bartenders in History

January 24th, 2014 — 1:37pm

Diageo to Lift Scotch Whisky Production at Clynelish Distillery - 1/16/2014 – Wall Street Journal
Investment of $49 Million Will Double Production as Global Scotch Whisky Demand Grows

LONDON— Diageo DGE.LN -1.55% PLC said Thursday it would invest $49 million in expanding its Clynelish Scotch whisky distillery, part of a bet by the U.K. drinks giant that global demand for the liquor will continue to grow. Located deep in the Scottish Highlands, the Clynelish distillery produces single-malt whisky which is sold on its own or used in blended whiskies such as Johnnie Walker. The planned expansion will double the distillery’s production to nine million liters of alcohol a year. Keith Miller, Diageo’s director of distillation and maturation, said increasing production at Clynelish would help meet global demand for scotch. Exports of scotch, which must be distilled in Scotland and aged in oak barrels for at least three years, have increased 87% in the last decade according to the Scotch Whisky Association. Read the rest here!

Japan Beer
Japan’s Beer Drinkers Still Not Raising a Glass to Abenomics - 1/16/2014 –  Wall Street Journal
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-growth policies have boosted growth, weakened the yen and lifted prices, but the change in Japan’s economy is still not filtering into greater glugging of beer. The domestic beer market remains stubbornly stagnant, with shipments in 2013 dipping 1%–the ninth consecutive annual fall–to the lowest level for at least 21 years. Earlier in the year some of the big brewers had hoped beer shipments would log their first gain in nearly a decade, amid signs of rising demand for beer at restaurants, and for premium beer products. But it seems greater consumption of higher-end brews and on drinks after work or on special occasions, did not make up for falling consumption elsewhere in the beer market. Read the rest here!

It’s Suntory Time: Japan Buys U.S. Liquor Maker - 1/14/2014 – Wall Street Journal
Japan-based beer and soft-drink maker Suntory has agreed to buy Beam Inc., which has a stable of well-known spirits, including the eponymous Jim Beam bourbon, for almost $14 billion. Tak Umezawa of A.T. Kearney tells WSJ’s Ramy Inocencio why Suntory wants to expand in the liquor industry. Read the rest here!

Bartender Gloves
Under new food safety law, bartenders have to wear gloves - 1/14/2014 – Los Angeles Times
Chefs aren’t the only ones affected by a new food safety law that bans culinary workers from touching certain foods with their bare hands. Like chefs, bartenders have to wear gloves or use other utensils to make their drinks. No touching ice, fruit garnishes or anything else that goes directly into your glass. Changes to the California Retail Food Code that went into effect at the beginning of 2014 require disposable gloves or utensils such as tongs, paper or scoops to be used when handling “ready-to-eat” foods, which include sushi, bread, deli meats and fresh fruit and vegetables. Basically, nothing that won’t be cooked or reheated before it goes out to diners can be touched with bare hands. “Technically speaking, these rules do apply to bars,” says Angelica Pappas, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Assn. “It’s been a common question we’ve heard … so there may be more information to come on this in guidance documents from the health inspectors.” Read the rest here!

Japanese beverage company Suntory Holdings to buy Jim Beam - 1/13/2014 – Los Angeles Times
Japanese beverage firm Suntory Holdings will buy Beam, the company behind American bourbon Jim Beam, for $13.6 billion.  In addition to Jim Beam, Suntory will acquire Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek bourbons, Teacher’s and Laphroaig Scotch whiskeys, Canadian club whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Sauza tequila and Pinnacle vodka. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.  If you’ve seen the 2003 movie “Lost in Translation,” the name Suntory may sound familiar. Bill Murray‘s character was in Tokyo filming a commercial for the company. In one of the movie’s memorable lines, Murray says: “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”  For those worried Jim Beam will no longer be a quintessential American liquor: The brand will continue to be run out of the Chicago headquarters by its current management team, Suntory announced Monday. No plans have been made to alter the product. Read the rest here!

Heavy Drinking
Study: Heavy Drinking Is Toxic To The Brains Of Men, But Not Those Of Women - 1/16/2014 – Forbes
One of the largest studies ever conducted on the long-term effects of alcohol consumption suggests that heavy drinking is linked to significant cognitive decline in middle-aged men. The brains of women, however, seem to be protected against this toxic effect for reasons that aren’t clear. Cognitive decline in the study was defined in two ways: a decrease in executive function (the brain’s processing speed and efficiency), and deterioration in memory. Researchers analyzed data from the Whitehall II cohort study, which began in the mid-1980s with roughly 10,000 British civil servants who agreed to complete lifestyle questionnaires and undergo a physical exam at specified times during a nearly 20-year span. The study design allowed researchers to track effects of lifestyle choices, including drinking alcohol, over extended periods of time. Read the rest here!

The 9 Most Important Bartenders in History - 1/14/2014 –
While you’re making a drink or looking at a bar menu, do you ever find yourself wondering where a classic cocktail recipe came from? We certainly do. And we love reading about cocktails almost as much as we love drinking them. (Thankfully, both are crucial parts of our job!) Fortunately, the history of many recipes are well established and can often be traced back to a number of pioneering and creative bartenders, from Jerry Thomas and his seminal 1862 recipe book The Bon Vivant’s Companion to modern-day bartending legend and advisory board member Dale DeGroff, who has been instrumental in kicking off the modern cocktail era. Read the rest here!

Spirit Guide: Egyptian Theater Screening “The Roaring Twenties” / California Alcohol Production During Prohibition – Saturday, January 25th, 2pm

January 23rd, 2014 — 12:49pm

The term “speakeasy” has become shorthand to describe a classic cocktail bar with a vintage aesthetic.  We’re not very concerned with titles or labels, but we probably wouldn’t refer to ourselves as a “speakeasy.”  This is partly because we don’t want people to feel they need to know someone to get in, but mostly because prohibition was a Goddamned tragedy: Bartenders and restaurant professionals lost their livelihoods or were made criminals; organized crime flourished; and thousands of Americans died drinking poisonous alcohol.

If you’re a history nerd and you like to drink, we might see you at the legendary Egyptian Theater this Saturday, January 25th.  The American Cinematheque and The Art Deco Society are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the Volstead Act with a screening of 1939’s The Roaring Twenties, starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.  The film will be followed by “an illustrated talk from chef, educator and historian Ernest Miller on the alcohol industry around the time of Prohibition.”  The event will focus on the history of prohibition-era Los Angeles, with a discussion of what the local spirits industry could have been.

For more information, visit

Max Seaman / The Varnish / General Manager