EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Filtering by Tag: White Mule Press

Review: The Maturation of Distilled Spirits

Hubert Germain-Robin, The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience (Hayward: White Mule Press, 2016), 146 pages, $35.00. ISBN: 9780996827706

Hubert Germain-Robin comes from a long line of Cognac producers in France. But after years of training in traditional methods of distillation and maturation he moved to California to explore new possibilities. Free of the strict laws and traditions of Cognac, Germain-Robin was able to experiment and take chances in some areas while keeping the most effective traditional methods of making brandy. What resulted were some of the finest American brandies ever produced.

Germain-Robin’s newest book The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience, is the follow up to Traditional Distillation: Art & Passion. In the new book Germain-Robin walks the reader through the entirety of the maturation process, from the oak that goes into the barrels, cellaring, proofing, blending and bottling the finished spirit all focused on the central theme of vision and patience. However, at 146 pages this book is more akin to a seminar than years of apprenticeship. To fully capture the wealth of knowledge that Germain-Robin learned over his lifetime of work would probably be near impossible, but the purpose of the book is to invite the reader into thinking about the active role the cellar master takes in guiding the maturation of the spirit as it sits in barrels for years or even decades.

The Maturation of Distilled Spirits is a good place to start for any distiller who wants to explore and employ traditional methods of maturation. Each chapter offers a brief explanation of a variety of maturation techniques, some of which are common in Cognac but completely novel for American whiskey. Following the theme of vision and patience, Germain-Robin explains the important role of the cellar master and how their choices and decisions serve both themselves and future generations. While creating a spirit that can age for 70-plus years is an obvious skill, so too is the patience and ability to know when to allow barrels to keep aging, when to transfer them to glass demijohns, and when to blend and bottle these older spirits.

Germain-Robin is a proponent of what some are calling “Slow Distillation,” a movement that looks to encourage the production of great spirits made from high quality ingredients with traditional techniques. U.S. craft distillers can learn much from masters like Germain-Robin and develop new traditions that will allow future generations to reap the benefits of their vision and patience.

Originally published in Distiller (Winter 2016): 151

My First Book & the ADI Spirits Conference

Life is good...so good in fact I haven't had a chance to post anything new for awhile. The first piece of exciting news is that the book I helped write A World Guide to Whisk(e)y Distilleries has been published by White Mule Press, the publishing arm of the American Distilling Institute (ADI). I came onto the project about a third of the way through and saw it to completion. The book attempts to list all the commercial whisk(e)y distilleries in the world, from Alaska to Zimbabwe and the products they make. So if you are an avid whisk(e)y enthusiast that likes to visit distilleries or you want to know where your favorite product is made you'll probably find this useful.

I'm excited that I have a couple more book projects lined up with White Mule Press but at present I have been busy editing two books for them, one on gin and a second on rum production. These projects have been particularly demanding of my time which is partially why I haven't posted anything recently.

The other piece of exciting news is that I attended the 10th Annual ADI Spirits Conference & Vender Expo, that this year was held in Denver. The conference brought together about 900 distillers, soon to be distillers, and the still, label, glass, barrel and branding vendors that service the craft distilling industry. It was a blast to meet both new and seasoned distillers who were passionate about their craft and committed to growing successful businesses. One of my highlights from the conference was sitting in on David Smith's gin tasting. David writes for a number of publications as well as his site Summer Fruit Cup. We tasted some stand out gins from the US, UK, and France. If you're a big fan of gin a couple to look out for are FEW Barrel Aged Gin and Warner Edwards Harrington Dry Gin.

During the gala dinner ADI announced the results from their 7th Annual Judging of Artisan American Spirits. The Best of Class winners were: Ballast Point Spirits, Devil's Share Malt Whiskey; Valentine Distilling Company, Liberator Gin; Balcones Distilling, Texas Rum; Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, Apple Pie Moonshine; and Jepson Vineyards, Old Stock Mendocino Brandy. For the full list of winners check out ADI's website.

Now that I'm back from Denver I hope to get back into my routine of posting once or twice a week.