Category Archives: Whisky


Spirit Reviews: Yamazaki 12 Yr Single Malt Whiskey

This 12 year old whisky from Yamazaki first came onto the US market in 1984 and was the first seriously marketed Japanese single malt whisky here in the United States. The Japanese have been making whisky since the 19th century, but their first commercial endeavors began with the opening of the Yamazaki distillery in 1923. Masataka Taketsuru, Yamazaki’s first distillery executive, had studied the craft of distilling in Scotland, and his style of whisky closely mimics the traditional Scottish styles. The Yamazaki 12 is made with just barley, water and yeast, and is aged in a combination of American, Spanish and Japanese oak barrels.

The Yamazaki 12 pours a dark golden brown, darker than many other 12 year old whiskeies. The nose is well malted, and has hints of dried fruits, warm honey and butterscotch. The taste is quite dry, with an almost astringent quality, paired with hints of vanilla, citrus zest, caramelized toffee and just a hint of oak. The finish is long and has hints of spices with a little more of that astringency lingering in the background.

The Yamazaki 12 is an outstanding whisky, especially if looking for an introduction into Japanese or Scotch Whisky. A 750ml bottle will usually run between $40-$50, which is not a bad price for such a great tasting spirit. Cheers!

Rating: ★★★★½

Leatherneck Cocktail

Vintage Cocktails #24: The Leatherneck Cocktail

An odd variation on a sour, this cocktail combines a base spirit, orange liqueur, and citrus. It doesn’t really stand out, taste wise, but what it lacks in the flavor department, it makes up for with it’s looks.

Extra points to whoever can tell me where the name from the following cocktail originates. Also, sadly I am proved mistaken in my assumption that no real cocktails use blue curacao. I was wrong and will humbly reinstate my bottle back to the shelves of the liquor cabinet, rather than being buried in a box on the floor of my garage.

The Leatherneck Cocktail
2 oz Blended Whisky
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Vintage Cocktails #19: The Japalac Cocktail

First appearing in the Old Waldorf Bar Days (1931), the Japalac cocktail is uniquely named, in that it is named after a fast drying, enamel paint!  I am not really sure as to what the inventor of said cocktail was thinking when he named this drink.  It probably would not have been my first choice.  Seriously, picture this.  You walk up to the bar and say, “Bartender.  I’ll have a lacquer enamel.”  It sounds horrifying!  Nonetheless, this is definitely a cocktail worth trying, despite the name.  It is also a great example of pre-prohibition cocktails.  Strong and small, meant to be consumed quickly.  It’s such a shame that cocktails have become a way to consume large amounts of sugar and flavored vodkas, rather than the culinary masterpieces that they were meant to be.

The Japalac Cocktail
Juice of 1/4 orange
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz rye whiskey
1 tsp raspberry syrup
garnish with an orange twist

Derby Cocktail

Vintage Cocktails #14: The Derby Cocktail

Before baseball, basketball, or football, there were 2 great sports in the United States.  One was boxing, a game of wit, skill and physical strength.  The other was the track.  The races were where the otherwise upstanding gentlemen would gamble away their hard earned (sometimes easily earned) cash, and celebrate amongst themselves with drinks and cigars.  And while the Mint Julep has become the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, there were other forgotten cocktails named after races and their winners.  The Derby cocktail was one of them.  Trader Vic in his Bartender’s Guide (1947) lists three variations of the Derby.  I will list all three for reference, but the first one is found in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

The Derby
1 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
3/4 oz Lime Juice

I found the Derby to be an astounding cocktail. Well served before a meal as an apertif, the drink has a fruity sweet first sip which gives way to the bourbon and finishes with an astringently sour finish.

The Derby (#2)
1 1/2 oz Gin
2 dashes Peach Bitters
1 sprig Mint

The Derby (#3)
1 oz Brandy
2 dashes Curacao
2 dashes Pineapple syrup
1 dash Orange Bitters