Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Perfect Pairing

Whisky and whiskies have risen back with a vengeance. Driven by the younger generation with a ferocious drive for maximum flavors in all things alcoholic, from extreme beers to rare and powerful spirits, the current demand was not foreseen 15, 18 and 25 years ago when the spirits the market demands today had to have been fermented, distilled and laid to rest in casks. Twenty years ago, distilleries were being mothballed and cask stocks were being sold, converted into cash. The result is that today, releases are carefully parcelled out of dwindling stocks, allocated to lucky stores who sell them to loyal customers who have the foresight to put their names on waiting lists well in advance of the availability of the goods.

Recently I was lucky to share the latest release of the Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye Whiskey, which was bottled in Fall, 2009. The whisky is smooth and rich, with a heavy viscosity which coats the tongue like heavy satin. The flavor is surprisingly light yet full of the buttery brown sugars of baked apples and candied citrus dancing through the long finish. It's hard to imagine doing anything with this liquid but just savoring it neat and somehow trying to make it last as long as possible.

However, I was also lucky enough to have on hand a praline made by one of the masters, R.J. Shonuff. The pralines are large flat puddles of crisp and creamy brown sugar with a mound of pecans piled in the center. They were the perfect extension of the whiskey, taking the flavors to a deep rich nutty vortex of deliciousness. The whiskey and the praline joined in ecstatic union. Pretty hedonistic stuff for an old man like me!

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