From the Chef
(Westmont, NJ) February 19, 2016 – For many of us, whisky drums up thoughts of old western films, hidden distilleries and broken windows from bar brawls. But there’s been a parallel universe where this sharp-tongued, yet stately member of the spirits world continues to create extraordinary and refined flavors in an ever-growing market.
So what is whisky? Technically, it is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash that is typically aged in wooden casks, which gives it its telltale brown coloring and snappy taste. For a liquor to be considered a malt it must consist of at least 51% corn, wheat, barley or rye grain mash during the distilling process and then kept in charred oak containers without additional additives. Rye Whisky specifically is made through the same process, and acquires its spicy hard edge flavor and smooth finish from the primary use of rye grain. Although it is common for any rye whisky to have a small amount of barley or corn mash added to the mixture.
At Keg & Kitchen’s Rye Whisky tasting on Thursday, February 25, guests will be able to experience the diversity of flavor that exists in the rye segment alone. “We had seen such an increased interest in these spirits, even in the past year,” said Janet Meeker, one of the owners and the event’s organizer. “We decided to expand the tasting concept into a full food pairing menu to create a richer experience for our guests, and give them the time needed to really consider each the individual whisky flavors over the course of an evening.” The event’s prix fixe evening includes 5 varieties of rye whisky while guests learn about their origins and flavor profiles from Kevin Loser, Master of Whisky. Each whisky will be paired, with specially crafted plates created by Chef Phil Manganaro.
The timely event marks the increased interest from bartenders and mixologists who have been seduced by the spiciness and individuality of the spirit. In fact, according to WhiskyCast.com, U.S. whisky sales showed solid growth across the board for the second straight year as overall sales of distilled spirits once again cut into beer’s share of the alcoholic beverage market. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports that in 2015, the sales of domestic whisky increased by eight percent to 59.4 million (9-liter) cases sold, propelling whisky to a record $8.1 billion in sales. Notably, the star of Keg & Kitchen’s event, rye whisky, showed a sales gain of 19.5% during 2015 reflecting increased availability as stocks of rye distilled in recent years reach maturity.
In the end, a person’s taste for whisky is very personal, and it seems Americans are committed to discovering, or re-discovering, where their palettes guide them—even if it takes 59.4 million gallons to figure it out.
Who: Keg & Kitchen
What: Rye Whisky Tasting
When: Thursday, February, 25, 2016 at 6:30 PM
Cost: $40 per person, plus tax and gratuity
Details: Please call for reservations in advance
Whisky & Pairings Menu:
Journeyman’s Distillery Last Feather Rye, MI
Paired with salted peanut, pear, and cheddar salad
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye, Kentucky
Paired with braised short rib, marrow butter, and grilled orange
Woodford Reserve Rye, Kentucky
Paired with venison ragout, pasta, and shaved chocolate
Ragtime Rye, Brooklyn NY Extremely Limited
Paired with fresh shucked oyster and rye mignonette
Dad’s HAT Pennsylvania Rye 2015 Whisky Advocate Magazine – Craft Whisky of the Year
Paired with vanilla shortbread and vanilla ice cream
### Sources: Whisky Boom Still Going Strong In U.S., WhiskyCast – 2/2/16 http://whiskycast.com/whiskey-boom-still-going-strong-in-u-s/ ###