August 06, 2015

Cru Cuts: The Legacy of Hennessy Cognac

Hennessy Cognac

You’d never know it was an unusually warm October day from the depths of Hennessy’s Founder’s Cellar, where my skin prickled in the damp darkness—not just from the sacred chill in the air, but also from the secrets that I was uncovering in the heart of France’s Cognac region.

August 17, 2014

Uisge Source: Water Built for Scotch Whisky

Those who prefer their Scotch whisky neat may want to reconsider. Uisge Source is the first water designed to enhance the whisky-drinking experience.                  
Uisge (pronounced 'oosh-guh') is the Scottish Gaelic word for “water” as in uisge beatha (oosh-guh beh-huh,) which translates to “water of life.” 

Diluting your favorite single malt may seem sacrilegious to some, but the practice is widely embraced in Scotland. Most whisky experts agree that a few drops of water in your dram will unleash complex aromas and flavors that are often masked by the anesthetizing effects of alcohol on the senses. 

 Drawn by hand from three of Scotland’s major whisky regions—Speyside, Islay, and The Highlands—Uisge Source waters vary naturally in mineral content, acid, and pH, and are intended to mimic the water that was used in the Scotch whisky’s original recipe.

“It’s the provenance and sense of place that makes whisky so unique,” says Dr. Bill Lumsden, master distiller for The Glenmorangie. “Adding water from the same source can only help protect the integrity of the spirit.”

April 29, 2014

Whisky, Schmisky: Scotland's Distilleries are Making Serious Gin

America and bourbon. Russia and vodka. Mexico and tequila. Scotland and gin. Wait—what? Little-known fact: Though the iconic spirit of Scotland may be Scotch whisky, Scotland is one of the world’s largest exporters of gin, thanks to Gordon’s Gin and Tanqueray. And while both spirits have been distilled in the country for hundreds of years, gin is tired of playing second fiddle. It has reinvented itself and is now reemerging from the heather-clad hills as a trendsetter and innovator.

October 21, 2013

New whisky bar offers drams & Michelin-starred cuisine in Edinburgh, Scotland

By Sarah Doyle
Those feeling parched in epicenter of Edinburgh, Scotland, will have to look no further for refreshment than SCOTCH, an intimate new whisky bar in the five-star Balmoral hotel. More than 400 whiskies are available to whet your palate here—single malts, blends, young malts, mature malts—making it the largest selection of Scotch whiskies available to the public in Edinburgh.

February 07, 2013

Scotch Whisky Review: Laphroaig Càirdeas 2012

After writing my first article about Laphroaig for Robb Report in 2005, I was admittedly ecstatic when the distillery deemed me an honorary member of the “Friends of Laphroaig.” This meant that I, along with my fellow “FOL,” would be granted one square-foot of land on the Isle of Islay, as well as access to exclusive bottlings reserved for members only.

Luckily, I was living on that very isle at the time, and I eagerly journeyed to the distillery to graciously accept my small piece of Islay, the world’s foremost whisky wonderland.

July 29, 2012

From Adrbeg Distillery: A Secret Ingredient

By Sarah Doyle

Perched on the Isle of Islay, a raw, mist-driven island off the west coast of Scotland, Ardbeg Distillery has been renowned for its complex, smoky Scotch for nearly 200 years. After the Old Kiln Café was added to its visitor’s center in 1997, however, the Scotch was forced to share the spotlight—at least to those who appreciate a good meal.

“Our food is very unique to the area so everyone really embraces it,” explains Jackie Thomson, the café’s manager. “We found there to be a real demand for this sort of thing.”

Housed in Ardbeg’s original 1815 kiln room and malt barn, the Kiln Café emerges like a warm, welcoming beacon on the often blustery landscape, its twin pagoda roofs rising ceremoniously into the air like points on a crown. Inside, the visitor’s shop bustles, while appreciative murmurs from the adjoining whisky tasting and nosing bar acts as soothing mood music. The furnishings are modest. The mood, relaxed. The smell, marvelous—a mixture of cinnamon and peat smoke, with a dash of salt delivered from the surrounding sea.

“Originally, we planned to serve only simple treats like scones and tea,” says Thomson, whose husband, Stuart, acts as Distillery Manager. But resident baker, Mary McKechnie, had a yen for culinary experimentation, especially when it came to Ardbeg’s arsenal of barley grist.

June 01, 2011

Central Coast Day Trip: Templeton, Calif.

By Sarah Doyle

This Paso Robles neighbor is worth a day trip. Read on to discover the underdog of California's Central Coast.

Why go now? This often-overlooked Central Coast destination is brimming with small-town charm and newfound epicurean appeal.

The sweet spot: Catch May’s lingering-green hills before summer’s triple digits hit.

Where it is: 6 miles south of Paso Robles. Population: 6,900. Dress Code: Cowboy boots and a reuseable shopping bag

Getting there: Templeton is about 160 miles south of San Jose and 211 miles north of Los Angeles, in San Luis Obispo County. (Map)

Namesake: Named after Templeton Crocker, the grandson of Central Pacific Railroad co-founder Charles Crocker, Templeton is the only town along the El Camino Real that isn’t named after a saint.

Most popular Saturday morning destination: Templeton Park is home to the most bountiful—and beautiful—farmer’s market in the county. (Crocker and 6th St.; Sat. 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) 

Where to fuel up for the day: Joebella Coffee Roasters serves expertly-roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee and tea. (1121 Rossi Rd., suite C; 805/461-4822)

May 10, 2011

In Thailand: Dodging Death for Frogs Legs & Eggplant

By Sarah Doyle

Resting silently beneath the crowd like a slumbering serpent, a single train track winds its way through the heart of Mae Klong food market in Thailand’s small province of Samut Songkhram. Flanked heavily by bushels of crisp winged beans, water spinach, bulbous knobs of jack fruit, and palettes of artfully-arranged fish gawking in unison, the narrow track serves not only as a place for vendors to display their wares, but also as the market’s main walkway. Until, that is, until the train makes an appearance.

April 04, 2011

Pasolivo Artisan Olive Oil

 By Sarah Doyle

ucked beneath a canopy of knobby-kneed oaks, Pasolivo, in Paso Robles, Calif., creates what are perhaps some of the most vibrantly-flavored olive oils in the world. At least that’s the message from the year’s International Olive Oil Competition in Los Angeles, where the company won two best-in-show awards.

In an area known primarily as one of the country’s most prolific wine regions, Pasolivo’s tasting room and shop are a welcome sight to weary, numb-tongued wine tasters who are in need of a palate cleanser. There, visitors can sample the yield of over 9,000 estate-grown olive trees. Not only are the olives hand-harvested, they’re also crushed, bottled, and labeled on-site.
“It’s almost unheard of for an olive oil producer to do everything themselves,” says manager Joeli Yaguda, whose husband, Joshua, is the company’s olive miller. “It’s a massive commitment, but it really allows us to control every step of the production process.”