Day 393

Spirits & liqueurs

Another hard day at the office. In order (L to R): grappa, tequila, gin, cognac, Canadian whiskey, Scotch whisky, Drambuie, cassis.

In Sensory Evaluation, we had to smell and taste 6 spirits and 2 liqueurs. Dang!

Yes indeed, we have finished the four-week segment on brewpub food, we now move on to spirits, liqueurs and wines with Jennifer Wilhelm, who has many years of experience in the restaurant trade.

First up, though, was the non-tasting portion of the class. <Sigh>

The definition of spirits. (A fermented and distilled liquid of at least 20% abv to which no sugar has been added.) Types of stills that produce them. Simple distillation versus continuous distillation. Clear spirits (no barrel aging and continuous distillation) versus amber products (barrel aged.) Where the flavour comes from. (Barrels, fermentables, ingredients.) An in-depth look at vodka, rum, Scotch whisky (spelled without an “e” in Scotland), bourbon whiskey (spelled with an “e” in the US), gin, tequila & mezcal, brandy, cognac, calvados, and grappa. Then it was on to liqueurs (which do have sugar added to them.). Then cocktails and mixology.

Then FINALLY it was time to smell and taste a few of them: grappa, tequila, Bombay gin, Bowmore 12-year-old single malt Islay Scotch, XO cognac, and Canadian whiskey.

(By the way, when is rye whiskey not really rye whiskey? In the US, rye whiskey mash has to contain at least 51% rye. In Canada, rye whiskey doesn’t need to use any rye at all as long as the whiskey displays the traditional smell, taste and general attributes of rye whiskey. But I digress.)

Then it was on to the liqueurs: Drambuie, and cassis (black currant ).

Jennifer encouraged us to spit after tasting. I did, since I had to drive home after class, and probably would not have been capable of finding my car, let alone driving it after 16 ounces of spirits. But strangely enough, I didn’t hear a lot of spitting from the students who live within walking–or staggering–distance.

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