2015 gave Western NY a beautiful, not too dry, not too wet, not too hot, not too cold summer. One could say this summer was perfectly balanced — the backbone of any good season, or more aprupos, any good whiskey, beer, or spirit. Here’s a visual recap from BWG’s Instagram and Tumblr feeds of some of the more balanced drinks we enjoyed this summer.
Tommyrotter Distillery has just opened its doors in the Hydrolics District of downtown Buffalo. Their small, clean, beautifully designed space functions as both distillery and storefront, showcasing all their products as you look over their production floor.
Tommyrotter Distillery’s unique name is explained on their website:
“The Tommyrotters’ Club was a band of rebellious artisans in the early 20th century who broke rank from the Arts and Crafts Movement to create for creation’s sake. They sought adventure, mischief and inspiration in nature. Honoring their industrious spirit of back, hand and heart, Tommyrotter Distillery crafts small-batch gin and vodka.”
Right now initial batches of Tommyrotter’s premium vodka and gin, retailing for $30 and $35, are available for purchase at the distillery. Plans for local distribution are in the works starting in Autumn.
Tommyrotter Vodka is a simple, very clean rendition. It’s made using a blend of NYS wheats and corn. It has a smooth texture with a sweet vanilla-ish pop of flavor and an easy finish. It’s a good vodka that will mix well in cocktails.
We absolutely loved the Tommyrotter Gin. They use the same base spirit as their vodka adding 12 botanicals — Juniper, coriander, Angelica root, cardamom, grains of paradise, lemon rinds, orange rinds, elderflower, hybiscus, camomile, cacia root (cinnamon) and nutmeg. The nose is big, really big, loaded with herbal and floral aromatics. We’re hard pressed to remember a gin with this much flavor on the nose. A peppery spice enters mid-palate. The flavors combine to fill your mouth not with a hot spirity bite, but with a full, complex herbal spice. It finishes smooth and short with no trace tannins left on your tongue — just like you want your gins to finish. Great texture, balance and flavor make this young Buffalo-made spirit an absolute must purchase. BWG Tommyrotter Gin Rating: 91/100.
Tommyrotter Distillery | 500 Seneca St. Suite 110 | Buffalo, NY | Open Thursday and Friday, 4-8pm. Saturday 12-4pm.
One of BWG’s favorite Toronto spots is a beautiful little tucked away place called Bellwoods Brewery. Bellwoods is soon set to significantly expand, but as of this writing their modestly inviting street-side open-air brew house and restaurant is our place of choice when taking a short summertime trip from Buffalo to Toronto.
Bellwoods’ list of rotating small batch brews are all delicious. Our favorite is the light yet layered and totally drinkable double IPA Boogie Monster. This 8% beer bursts with juicy, chewy hop flavors. It’s made with Galaxy and Mosaic hops which citrusy and herbal characteristics burst from your glass from nose through finish. Boogie Monster’s availability frequently rotates along with their other brews. The best way to catch a delicious Boogie Monster is to frequent Bellwoods’ website and to follow their Instagram page where every Friday they post what beers are newly up for customer enjoyment. If you’re in Toronto and looking for good beer, make Bellwoods your first stop. And if Boogie Monster is on tap, order it without hesitation…
Bellwoods Brewery | 124 Ossington Ave. | Toronto ON. MJ6 2Z5 | (416) 535-4586
Boogie Monster Double IPA BWG rating: 93/100.
Spring was shorter than usual this year in Western NY. Winter didn’t loosen its White Walker like clutch on our souls until the last week of April. Now a week into June, Summer is already in its full stampeding stride. Festivals, events, concerts, bbq’s and vacations are booking every weekend up well into September. After the worst winter of all time Spring was seemingly overlooked — but BWG most certainly didn’t overlook enjoying delicious libations as we dreamt of the warm summer to come…
Thomas H. Handy Rye (most simply referred to as “Handy” by whiskey enthusiasts) is part of the annually released Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC). BTAC whiskies consist of famous brands of the whiskey world including George T. Stagg, William Larue Weller, Sazerac 18, Eagle Rare 17 and the aforementioned Handy. This high-end rye whiskey is named after a New Orleans bartender who first used rye whiskey in the now famous Sazerac Cocktail. Handy is unfiltered and bottled at cask strength. The 2014 release clocks in at a monstrous 64.2% abv. Opposite of our last review of the entry-level Old Overholt Rye, Handy Rye is considered among the top echelon of American rye whiskies and is highly limited in distribution and availability in NY. Handy is incredibly vibrant on the nose. Sharp notes of vanilla spice, rye, and a bouquet of fresh herbs and spices. One of the best features of this whiskey is how well masked the high alcohol content is. As Handy sits in the glass it gains more and more complexity, the alcohol always a second fiddle to the flavor. On the palate we get some heat, but it compliments the spicy rye characteristics wonderfully. Handy’s finish is epically warm and long. It stays with you a good while, leaving pungent traces of herbal flavors that weave themselves back through the nose as you begin your next sip. This is an excellent whiskey, but it’s not obtained easily. Best local bet for a bottle of Handy is to get on as many liquor store call and waiting lists as you can and hope they get a good allotment. The 2015 Handy release should get to NY sometime between October and December. BWG rating: 94/100.
Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey is one of the least expensive whiskies on the market. It has been around for over a century (literally) and due to its relative value, is the resident house rye at most cocktail bars. Old Overholt is part of the “Old Whiskey” trio, composed of itself, Old Crow and Old Gran-Dad. These entry level whiskies are owned by the Jim Beam Brands Company. Old Overholt is a simple whiskey with rich, spicy rye grain flavors on the nose and palate. It has a bit of sweet corn and cherrywood. It’s mild, wistfully smooth on the tongue and glides into medium-long finish. There’s absolutely nothing outstanding about this whiskey, almost to the point of being boring to the practiced whiskey drinker. But Old Overholt’s mildness and spiced flavors lend themselves very well to rye-centric cocktails — and its price point makes it an unbeatable beginner level foray into the American rye whiskey style. Available online and in store at Gates Circle Liquors for $20. BWG rating: 82/100.
BWG has been delving into rye whiskies lately and we’ve steadily been gaining an affinity for the spicier, more herbal characteristics of the style. Woodford Reserve is best known for bourbon but they have a mid-level rye whiskey that is recent to our market. Woodford Reserve Straight Rye is composed of 53% rye, 14% malted barley, and 33% corn. The nose starts us off with a more bourbon-like vanilla extract and oak. Some pleasant potpourri spices come through as the whiskey is allowed to open up. The palate gives lots of herbal, peppery tang — and there’s a lovely maple syrup, candied bacon flavor that fades into a long peppercorn finish. This is a solid, well structured whiskey. It’s not overly complex or unique, but it displays all the flavors one would look for in a nice rye. Locally available at Gates Circle Liquor for $45. BWG rating: 88/100.