What We’re Reading: Suntory Not Selling A Drop Of Liquor Operations, Japanese Whiskey Takes Manhattan, Cleveland Whiskey Ages Bourbon In One Week, Alcohol Prices Rise At Restaurants & Bars, Flavor Trends Boost Spirits Category, Smoking Alcohol Is A Highly Dangerous Trend Among The Calorie-Conscious, Women Set New Whiskey Trends In Korea

June 7th, 2013 — 11:37am

Suntory Not Selling a Drop of Liquor Operations, 5/29/2013 – Wall Street Journal
Suntory Holdings Ltd. has long been known as one of Japan’s unlisted giants among others including contractor Takenaka Corp., urban developer Mori Building Co. and fastener maker YKK Corp. But that is about to change, at least partly. Suntory received the green light Wednesday from the Tokyo Stock Exchange to conduct a $4.7 billion initial public offering of its key unit Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd., whose sales account for more than half of Suntory’s groupwide revenue. Still, despite having finally decided to embrace the idea of listing, why has the company stopped halfway, leaving its liquor operations privately held? Its whiskey business is a case in point, because of high-end, premium whiskey’s long aging time of 12 years, 18 years and more at storage warehouses. It also famously spent 46 years before it generated a profit from its beer business and 14 years developing what most scientists considered impossible: Creating a blue rose using genetic-modification techniques. Read more!

All the Rage | Japanese Whiskey Takes Manhattan,  5/24/2013 – The New York Times
Over the past week, hordes of bartenders, distillers, liquor reps and booze hounds have descended thirstily upon New York City for the fourth annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic, one of the biggest spirit conferences in the world. Their goal: to discover the next big thing in drinks. At the lavish kickoff gala at the New York Public Library and at tasting panels across the city, the buzz among mixologists and connoisseurs was of the rapid ascendancy of Japanese whiskey, which has captivated drinkers with its exceptional quality, lighter flavor profiles and one-of-a-kind terroir. Read more!

Cleveland Whiskey Ages Bourbon In One Week,  5/29/2013 – Forbes
The process of making bourbon whiskey hasn’t changed much in decades. A sour mash is fermented, then distilled into a clear spirit. After making the spirit, a distillery places it into charred, American oak barrels to age. Usually for several years, with premium bourbons often aging for nine years or more. But in Cleveland, Ohio, Tom Lix aims to disrupt the traditional aging process of bourbon. He’s developed a process to accelerate the aging process of whiskey from years into about a week. After years of development, he believes he has it. His company, Cleveland Whiskey, started selling its bourbon on March 1 and they’ve been flying out the door – over 14,000 bottles so far. Given that they produce whiskey at the rate of about 1,000 bottles per week, that basically means they’re selling out. Which is why the company is already working to expand its production capacity. Read more!

Alcohol prices rise at restaurants, bars,  5/24/2013 – Nation’s Restaurant News
Alcohol pricing in restaurants and bars over the past seven months has increased dramatically, with wide variations by segment, and researchers suspect restaurants may be making up for lost margins during the recession. Restaurant Sciences LLC, a market research firm that tracks food and beverage consumption across the foodservice spectrum in North America, tracked millions of transactions at a period roughly between October 2012 and April 2013, breaking down price increases on various product categories by segment. According to the research, mass-market beers, like Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon, showed the highest price increases within the beer category — except in family dining concepts, where beer prices for that level of product remained steady. Despite the popularity of “ultra-premium” craft beers, price increases for those products were relatively low.  For liquor, the biggest increases were seen in fine dining — where the price of spirits grew more than 11 percent — and also in family dining, where prices increased 4.5 percent on average. The casual dining and bar/nightclub sectors, where most spirits are sold, saw virtually no increase. Read more!

Flavor trends boost spirits category, Technomic finds,  5/28/2013 – Beverage Industry
These flavor trends are continuing in 2013, according to Technomic. “Included in the 120 new spirits products introduced in the first quarter of 2013, which we record through the New Product Tracker in our Drink database, were 21 flavored vodkas, 23 cordials and liqueurs, seven flavored rums, and six flavored whiskeys,” Crecca said in a statement, noting that suppliers are going beyond traditional flavor profiles to attract consumers. “We’re seeing unexpected flavors, such as Pernod Ricard’s Mama Walker’s line of breakfast-inspired liqueurs involving flavors like Maple Bacon and Blueberry Pancake. The dessert trend is continuing in vodka with Smirnoff Sorbet Light in Mango Passion Fruit and Raspberry Pomegranate launching and Beam adding Rainbow Sherbet to the already extensive Pinnacle lineup. Spice is showing up in whiskeys and liqueurs, and exotic fruit and floral flavors are also still on trend.” Technomic projects continued growth for flavored vodka, whiskey, tequila and rum, as well as expansion in cordials and liqueurs in 2013. Read more!

‘Smoking’ alcohol is a highly dangerous trend among the calorie-conscious,  5/29/2013 – New York Daily News
In an effort to gain a greater buzz for fewer calories, some young drinkers are inhaling their liquor – either pouring it over dry ice or ‘freebasing’ it and sucking up the vapors. Either way, going around the stomach and liver is incredibly risky, doctors say. Read more!

Women Set New Whiskey Trends in Korea,  2013 – The Korea Times
A rising number of powerful and independent women in Korea are working to change that female stereotype. A new trend suggests that today, a woman is more likely to sit down next to a man and say, “What do you know about whiskey?”  The whiskey industry in Korea is going through massive changes as increasingly more companies market to women. Some of these companies believe women appreciate liquor better than men. Women in their 20s and 30s, who grew up believing they are a man’s equal, are more inclined to spend and to participate in cultural activities.  “With the increased role of women with our society, they’ve also retained the role of deciding what the family drinks in occasions,” said an official for an overseas liquor producer operating in Seoul. “They are an important measurement for us for what kind of products consumer wants, and the de facto decision maker.”

Golden Gopher Craft Beer Society: Featuring Goose Island Brewing w/ Beer Chick Christina Perozzi, June 10th, 7pm

June 5th, 2013 — 3:59pm

Please join us on Monday, June 10th at 7pm for the Golden Gopher’s Beer Society with Goose Island Brewing!

We’re super excited about this one! Goose Island makes some of our most favorite beers, has been hard to find in the past, but now their full line up is finally available on the West Coast!

Christina Perozzi of Beer Chick’s fame is also their West Coast Goose Island representative & will be tasting you on 7 of their amazing brews!

Summertime Kolsch
312 Urban Wheat Ale
Honkers Ale
Pepe Negro
Pere Jacque

For more information on Goose Island Brewing pleas go to:

Register here!

Spirit Guide: Seven Grand DTLA Enters It’s Seventh Year! Featuring Andrew Aberhamson and Pedro Shanahan

June 4th, 2013 — 12:34pm

Last month Seven Grand was fortunate enough to enter our seventh year of operation in Downtown Los Angeles. We are humbled and grateful for our continued success, and to have been able to play a part in the reinvigoration of L.A.’s Historic Core.

As we have grown to provide high-volume Classic Cocktail service, we have also worked to establish one of the most active Whiskey Education programs on the West Coast. The only way this is possible is through the sustained efforts of a dedicated staff, and we strive to create a culture of honest hospitality and mutual respect among our crew.

Last month we were ranked in GQ Magazine as one of the Top 10 Whiskey Bars! Check it out:

We also were just nominated for Best Drink Selection for the Spirited Awards at Tales of The Cocktail, coming up this fall:

Some of the recent additions to our Whiskey Wall, now featuring over 400 expressions! Tasting notes by Andrew:

Larceny – $8
A 9 year old barrel-rich Bourbon from Heaven Hill, at an amazing price. Heaven Hill has found a sweet spot here. (We had the West Coast Launch Party at Seven Grand, check the video:)

Mellow Corn – $8
This is good, cheap, fun whiskey.  It is bottled in Bond, aged 4 years in used barrels, and has a shockingly pleasant and sweet profile for such low price.  Try it in a Sour.

Bruichladdich TEN – $15
The Distillery calls this the most important release in the history of the distillery.  It is their pet project, even with all the outstanding and extreme whiskys they make on a regular basis.  This one is the centerpiece.  100% Scottish Barley and aged in Bourbon barrels, this one doesn’t have the explosive smoke you come to expect from them or the island.  A touch of spice, balanced out with nice sweetness and perhaps the most well rounded whiskey they may have yet made.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Peat Project – $16
Heavily peated and vat blended to get the lightness, smoke and complexity the master distiller is going for.  It is their classic peated expression as they would like to see it yearly, and done so through some tasteful blending.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 – $17
The same dram as the before mentioned TEN, this is the heavily peated version.  Just as they are most proud of the TEN as the Whisky they were aiming to make from day 1, this represents where they have wanted to take their peated line with full age.

EH Taylor Rye – $18
A new Rye from Buffalo Trace Distillery, it is another addition to the EH Taylor line of very good American Whiskey and like it’s relatives, bottled in bond.  Unlike what I had initially thought, this is not the same mash as Sazerac, but an altogether new Rye from the Distillery.  They have left out the corn and only distilled this from Rye and Barley.  As such, there is a soft hint of the green dill note found in the LDI stuff.  Lots of dried red fruit and black pepper up fruit, with a sweet and savory middle with caramel and baking spices and a long and dry finish.  Very good Rye, and a nice new addition that is from one of our favorite distilleries.

Russels Reserve 6yr Rye – $12
Wild Turky has finally released some more of their high end Rye, due to availability, the price has gone up. Thankfully they only raised the price and opted to leave the proof alone, and we have one of our best selling and most popular house Rye’s back from many years ago.

Westward Oregon Straight Malt Whiskey – $29
This is the first aged Whiskey from House Spirits in Oregon.  We launched it this year in the Whiskey Society, and it is very limited, 5 barrels total.  That explains the cost, and perhaps the appeal.  It should sell well with those in the know.  House Spirits is currently aging our Rye Whiskey Pedro made with them in November, and in a couple more years we will have it here in house.  Until then, this is what we can offer. (The folks up at House Spirits made a cool video about our experience getting to make whiskey with them:)

James Pepper 1776 Rye – $10
Really nice 100pf Rye coming from LDI.  Affordable and good.

Temperance Trader Bourbon – $10
From Portland Oregon and Bull Run Distilling.  They wont say where they bought it, but its high Rye Bourbon, and pretty good.  A bit young, but full of flavor.

Jack Daniels Unaged Rye – $12
Jack Daniels has boldly broken new ground in the Whiskey world by making their first ever Rye. They were shocked at how amazing their initial Small Batched spirit turned out, and only released a very small amount for their hard-core fans. We are one of only three bars in SoCal who has it!  Get it while it’s still unaged, because as of now, it will never be White again.

Bulleit 10yr – $12
They have stuck with the usual high Rye Bourbon mashbill from the original here, and side by side with the original, they are different, the 10 is more barrel heavy, but also more mellow. A similar upgrade to Bulleit as the Maker’s 46 bottling was to Makers.

George Dickel Rye $8
Dickel has done something nice here.  This is the usual LDI bottling of Rye we have come to expect from new Ryes on the market, except they are running it through the Lincoln County process in Indiana after buying it.  It is 5 year old Rye and filtered through maple wood charcoal after the aging, as opposed to before as they do with their other whiskies.  It softens out some of the green mint notes normally found in these whiskies, and definitely produces a unique Rye.  Perhaps too mellow after the aging though, even at 90 proof it really isnt cocktail Rye and is best sipped neat.  We now have LDI Ryes from Bulleit, Templeton, Redemption, Smooth Ambler, High West and now George Dickel, but the Dickel is standing out from the crowd by taking the whiskey and really doing something new with it.

Nikka 12yr Taketsuru Pure Malt $16|
Malt whiskies matured for 12 years or more at the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries are blended in vats to produce this outstanding pure malt whisky.  Labeled Pure Malt instead of Single Malt because it is Whiskey coming from two different distilleries, much in the same vein as the Hibiki, this  is still 100% 12 year old Single Malt Whisky.  Bright gold in color and fresh, this single malt from Nikka offers a pitch-perfect balance of fruit, oak and smoke. On the palate, this translates to fresh apple and subtle vanilla flavors that lead into a long finish.

Nikka 15 Yoichi Single Malt $23
I wish tasting Nikka Whisky was a full time job.  This is my favorite new Whisky I tasted last year.  Silky in texture, with varying levels of sweetness coming and going and a touch of ginger spice keeping it alive.  There is a subtle smoke in the background that holds it all together and a beautiful cedar wood note that helps it stand apart from the Suntory Whiskies.  Jim Murray gave it 95 points, “Sheer brilliance.  An absolute must for anyone who regards himself a whisky connoisseur.”  At $23 a glass, you really can’t do much better, and for anyone who would like to try something really special, this is the one.  It’s proof that age doesn’t matter, and if you put this up against another Whisky twice its age, I think you’ll agree.

Irishman Single Malt $12
Good Irish distilled at Middleton. We launched this at the Whiskey Society. An easy sipping Irish, well-balanced and smooth. Come meet a new friend.

Four Roses Seven Grand Single Barrel $14
Pedro and Angus picked out this charmer, and truly one of a kind Bourbon.  Four Roses has ten different recipes they use to make ten different Bourbons.  How it works is they have two different mashbills, a High Rye and a Traditional High Corn, and 5 different yeast strains.  They make each mashbill with each yeast strain, 5 yeasts times 2 mashes equals 10 Bourbons.  Pedro and Angus blind tasted all of the Bourbons there, picked the one we now have, and it turns out the specific recipe that they ended up choosing is the only one of the ten that is not available to buy anywhere in the entire world.  We are literally the only place on the planet that has it bottled.  It was also the same barrel that Master Distiller Jim Rutledge also chose as his favorite, blind tasting along with them.  Badass duo, that Pedro and Angus… :)  It is a really lovely Bourbon, but hot as all hell, and I would really suggest offering a decanter of spring water along side it if someone orders it neat, or even some rocks to go along (please forgive me Pedro).  At $14, I have a new favorite on the wall.

(We were featured on while in Kentucky- Check out the video!)

Michters Sour Mash Whiskey $13
This is a tricky one.  I have searched as hard as I can through pages and pages of google results to find out what the hell this Whiskey is.  The best I can figure out is that it is indeed Bourbon (ie a Corn, Rye and Barley mashbill), but the reason they do not label it as Bourbon and instead opt for Sour Mash is that is not using only new barrels for the aging.  But even that little is still speculation.  The truth is that while Michters makes (actually, selects is the right verb here) some very good whiskey, they are very closed as to what they are doing and where they are getting it from.  Most people think it comes from Four Roses, others think there has to be some LDI spirit in there somewhere.  They could be buying and blending both, the truth we will never know.  But this is the one Whiskey from them that they have promised to keep in stock permanently, and make their flagship brand.  It is a brand that was made long ago at the Michters Distillery in Pennsylvania, and also served then as their flagship, where they felt that the in house yeast they used made so much of a difference, that they branded it as a Sour Mash whiskey instead of Bourbon.  And that could be what this new company is doing as well.  It certainly tastes like Bourbon, and tastes like pretty good stuff.

Dad’s Hat Rye $11
A micro distillery in Pennsylvania just miles from where Dustin grew up, Dad’s Hat shows a lot of potential, but is still very young, at 2 years.  Given some more time, this could develop into a very nice Rye, and its a treat to see a new one on the wall that is not being sourced from Indiana.  They are sourcing all of the grain from the state from local farmers and the mash is 100% Rye.  They then age it in smaller 1/4 casks, to impart more barrel character quicker.  Certainly worth a try in a cocktail, and a decent, or at the very least interesting, Rye to sip.

Duncan Taylor Longmorn 1996 16yr Cask $22
Longmorn, Gaelic for “the place of the Holy man”, is a favorite of mine, Pedro, JM and hopefully quite a few more of you.  This Private Bottling is Cask Strength and is immediately recognizable as the delicious, classic, unsherried Speyside whisky from what could be the best distillery in the region. Full of sweet malted barley with accents of fruit and flowers, finishing with hints of vanilla and spice.

Some recent additions to our collection of Gordon & MacPhail Private Bottlings-

G&M Ledaig St. Joseph 1993 – $22
19 year old Ledaig, finished in St Joseph casks.  Very good, and what you would expect from Ledaig.  Light peat, but very wine forward due to the casks.

G&M Old Pulteney 21 Year Old – $30
Best Whisky in the World last year.

G&M Mortlach 15 Year Old – $20
Mortlach is the major component of Johnnie Walker Black.  Delicious all the way through and a great Single Malt suggestion for JW drinkers.

G&M Highland Park 8 Year Old –  $12
Our favorite malt, younger and more affordable.  Single Malt Scotch for $12 a glass.

G&M Bladnoch 1993 – $25
The most southerly of all Scotch distilleries and a great Lowland.  Finished in refil Sherry.

G&M Caol Ila 1999 10 Year Old – $18
A very good peaty and smoky whisky, perhaps lacking complexity, but making up for it in balance.

Thank you Andrew for all the great tasting notes! We hope you get a chance to come sample some our new selections, and if you haven’t been down for Happy Hour lately, you really should come. We now serve a $5 Hand-crafted Cocktail Menu, (Thank you Dustin!) and offer $6 Pizza until 8pm, weeknights.

We also expanded our Free Live Music program to four nights a week, Sunday through Wednesday, with some of the best Jazz and Blues in all of L.A. Never a cover charge.

We also offer Private Tastings for groups and parties. Hit this link to learn more on that:

Again, thank you for your continued patronage. We hope to see you soon!

Pedro, currently sipping Henry McKenna Seven Grand Single Barrel, available now for a limited time only, and only at Seven Grand.

Pedro Shanahan
Seven Grand DTLA Spirit Guide