Musings by the Snifter: An Autumn Whiskey Primer

Autumn has arrived. Welcomed brisk morning air, fall colors, flavors and smells. Unwelcomed pumpkin spice lattes, leaf peepers and premature Christmas paraphernalia at Costco. But the best of all: whiskey, the illustrious beverage of my noble Scotch-Irish heritage. Smoky, caramel, dried fruit flavors and alcohol that warms the palate encapsulates the quintessential autumn beverage. As autumn descends, this post ensures that you are primed and ready for whiskey season.

Whiskey is more than just a tasty inebriating beverage; it is an elicitation of time, place and people. Place evidenced by terroir, climate and agriculture. Distillers use and adapt to what is around them. People influence the final product through economic considerations, cultural traditions, and distilling practices that impart exclusive flavors. This autumn whiskey primer presents a narrative of whiskey and its famous regions in this context. Hopefully, it has you reaching for a glass …

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The Sake-Confection Hypothesis: A Guide to Pairing Sake and Dessert

My musings by the masu has come upon its final chapter. A sweet ending to a scientific beginning. In Part I, I explored the sake brewing process and certain aspects that make it unique from wine and beer. Sake science 101. In Part II, I paired sake with savory cuisines outside of Japan to demonstrate sake’s diverse pairing potential across the globe. Sake need not be reserved exclusively for sushi night. But how about continuing the sake trend post-dinner? When it comes to dessert, many transition to coffee or tea. Inebriation complete; commence sobriety re-calibration.

Not so fast!

This post posits the hypothesis that sake is indeed up to the challenge of pairing with dessert. And the best part of this hypothesis? Confirmatory data analysis. In other words, a lot of eating and drinking. Hypothesize, experiment, repeat. To complete the sake musings trilogy, I seek out a few tasty treats to sample with sake. Let the nightcap commence!

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Musings by the Masu: The Sake Pairing Expansion

This week the sake chronicles continue. Huzzah! In Part I, I explored the science of sake brewing and certain aspects that make it unique from wine and beer. A bit wonkish, I might admit, but hey, science matters. In Part II, I take to the streets (metaphorically speaking) to pair sake with cuisines outside of Japan. Unconventional insobriety.

Notwithstanding sake's great pairing potential, most are disinclined to select sake when sushi isn't on the menu. In a way, this is surprising. At last observation, Japan has chickens … and cows … and vegetables. Salad? Check. Spicy and savory dishes? Check. Fried chicken, marinated beef and seafood? Check. If sake can pair with the diversity of Japanese cuisine, surely these pairing techniques can be translated to other cuisines of the world.

Oh, they can. Wonderfully. So let’s get to it...

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Musings by the Masu: Sake Science 101

Sake - "the drink of the gods" - has evolved over thousands of years and developed particular customs and etiquette as intricate and exciting as any other beverage in the world. Primarily associated with Japan, it holds a proud history, fascinating traditions, and clean yet complex flavor profiles. So, why do most Americans seem to know so little about it?

Although it was discovered in China as early as 4800 B.C., sake quietly remained in Asia, and principally Japan, for most of its life. It was only in the 1880s that sake made its global debut in the suitcases of Japanese immigrants traveling to Hawaii as laborers on the sugar plantations. Aloha, exotic tasty beverage. With the rise of Japanese culture and influence abroad, sake has experienced rising popularity in the West, especially among youth, who are more prone to fermented experimentation. But despite the recent dabbling, sake's character-laden labels and foreign terminology can still make one feel a bit lost and intimidated. In a series of posts, I attempt to assuage those feelings, and get you drinking with confidence. Kanpai!

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