drinks with Feed

Drinks With: Richard Paterson of The Dalmore

Another day, another awesome lunch with a boozemaker: A few weeks ago I had lunch with Richard Paterson, the Master Blender for Whyte & Mackay. White & Mackay is the company that owns The Dalmore and other single and blended scotch whiskies. We didn't get time to discuss whatever exciting things may be happening in the back end of the company, as since 2007 it has been owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, a guy who wants to get laws changed to be able to sell flavored scotch. (Ain't gonna happen.) The Dalmore is located in the Northern part of... Read more →

Drinks With: John Gakuru of Sagatiba Cachaca

The other week John Gakuru, jet-setting (seriously his Facebook updates are from a different country every couple days) international brand ambassador for Sagatiba cachaca, gave a talk at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Cachaca, as we know, is a type of rum (as defined by US laws anyway) made in Brazil from fermented sugarcane juice instead of from molasses, which is the by product of sugar production. The brand Sagatiba has been making a big marketing push internationally and seems to be in the top three high-end cachacas catering to mixologists, along with Leblon and Cabana. Sagatiba has an... Read more →

Drinks With: Francisco Alcaraz of Patron Tequila

A few months back I had a very long lunch with Francisco Alcaraz, Paton Tequila's Master Distiller and Blender at the restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco. Alcaraz is not only the current master distiller, he created the recipe for Patron. Alcaraz studied chemical engineering at the University of Guadalajara then went to work as an inspector for an organization that was sort of a precursor to the CRT, the tequila regulatory commission. After that he went to work in a distillery and as a tequila consultant. Alcaraz developed the recipe for Patron at the distillery Siete Leguas (another brand still... Read more →

Drinks With: Gardner Dunn of Yamazki Whisky

During Whisky Week in San Francisco I attended a tasting session in Elixir's classroom space hosted by Gardner Dunn for Yamazaki Whisky. One thing that makes Yamazaki unique is that they use five kinds of barrels from three types of wood in their single malts. We were able to taste a 12-year-old whisky aged in each of American, Spanish (ex-sherry), and Japanese oak to compare. The Japanese oak has a dryer, sandalwood-spice (and "green olive felt" according to my tasting notes that make sense only to me) character that carries through to the final blend. We talk about Scottish whiskies... Read more →

Drinks With: Bowmore Whisky Folks and Gold Bowmore Tasting

I met with a stack of Bowmore scotch whisky folks for lunch and a tasting at One Market: Eddie MacAffer, Distillery Manager, Andrew Rankin, Master Blender and Operations Director, Jamie MacKenzie, Regional Manager, plus Robin Coupar, US Brand Manager for several of the whiskies in the Skyy Spirits portfolio. Bowmore is an Islay whisky and one of only five remaining in Scotland where they malt their own barley. (Not all of it, but they say more than most.) Malting is process of preparing grain for fermentation. Barley is brought in, soaked in water to begin the process of germination, then... Read more →

Drinks With: Norman Bonchick of Van Gogh Vodka

Drinks With... is a regular Alcademics feature in which I share what I've learned over drinks with industry notables. Norman Bonchick is the chairman and CEO of Van Gogh Imports. I met him in early August at Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco to talk vodka, as they're launching a new flavored and a new unflavored vodka. Talking with vodka people is always interesting, because the conversation is less about artisanal cocktails and more about figuring out consumer trends and trying to make products to match them. Unlike many brands, Van Gogh does 80% of its business in flavors and the... Read more →

Drinks With: Cuervo Tequila Bigshots

Drinks With... is a regular Alcademics category where I share what I learned when meeting with industry notables. Last week I asked Alcademics readers what I should ask Francicso Hanal Alfaro, Cuervo's Maestro Tequilero and Araceli Ramos, Director at La RojeƱa, the Cuervo Distillery. You answered here and on Facebook. I didn't get to ask all your questions but I learned some really interesting stuff. Alfaro lives in Mexico City and is also one of the people who helped decide on the Riedel tequila glass that I use nearly every day. Pre-Spanish Distillation? I first asked about the theory beginning... Read more →