9,000 years ago people in today’s Yangtze Valley, China cultivated wild rice—though perhaps Rice is like the dog of the plant kingdom, in that it practically begged to be domesticated. The plant itself has a remarkable ability to thrive in either dry or flooded fields. In addition, it mass polinates via the wind.
Today, there are over 110,000 varieties of Rice, although only Oryza sativa var. japonica is ever used for making alochol—the oldest of which (made actually 10,000 years ago) is a Rice wine made also with fruit and honey.
Dogfish Head teamed up with molecular biologist Patrick McGovern to re-brew this ancient alcohol in 2006. The result is their Chateau Jiahu—named after the site in China’s Henan Province where the archeological evidence turned up.
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When I first heard of the proper way to taste whiskey I rolled my eyes thinking it a bunch of overly stuffy malarkey. As soon as I tried the stuffy-malarkey-method however, it became immediately clear how following these steps cuts down on the rough alcoholic bite, while also enabling more subtle flavors to come through.
First off, the goal is to avoid mixing alcohol with air once its in your mouth. To do this tilt the glass to your lips and instead of opening wide like swallowing ibuprofen on a hangover make sure to draw the booze in as if drinking from a straw.
Following these steps will make any straight spirit go down noticeably more smoothly, as well as unlock an array of different flavors. Tasting experts have divided hundreds of subtle whiskey flavors into 10 categories: flowers, fruits, malt, vanilla, smoke, wood, honey, nuts, spices, & medicinal.
Aging whiskey in barrels makes it much more smooth, and imparts a wide array of flavors. These flavors that come from the influence of the barrel can include: vanilla, toffee, wine, spices, floral, tea, and many more.
However, humans have been making whiskey long before we have been sticking in barrels for 4 years at a time. Before barrel-aging, whiskey was enjoyed un-aged as moonshine, but mixed with herbs and honey to make it more palatable.
- 1.5 oz- Whiskey (I recommend Jack Daniels)
- 1.0 oz- Honey
- Juice of 1 lemon wedge
- Hot water (or Breakfast Tea)
A Hot Toddy is glorious for either hunkering down against a cold winter’s night, or bucking a case of the common cold. While it doesn’t get enough attention today, two hundred years ago it was a common libation.
I’ve known for nearly 7 years now that Hot Toddies are delicious. What I didn’t know until recently is that etymologically speaking how you garnish one changes the name of the drink.
Technically, a Toddy with a lemon peel is called a ‘Skin’.
Stir all ingredients until honey is dissolved. Garnish with lemon peel.