All About Vodka

Vodka is the surprise package of the 20th Century. From an unknown Russian drink to the most widely used cocktail drink, it has been quite a journey.

History Of Vodka

The exact history of vodka is not known. However, it has its origins in a grain growing region around what we know today as Poland, Western Russia and Ukraine. The word ‘vodka’ is derived from the Russian word ‘voda’, which means water. Experts believe that the first record of vodka was found somewhere around the 9th Century. However, the first known distillery is around 200 years after that, around the 11th Century, in Khylnovsk, Russia.

The early process of distillation of vodka was crude. Due to the limitations in technology of the period, many impurities would remain behind and cause an unpleasant and unwanted taste. The early distillers would mask this by adding flavours to the vodka: The most common among them being absinthe, anisette, juniper, mint, pepper and peppermint.

The Bolshevik Revolution, banned all private distilleries in Russia. Many of the master distillers fled from the country: One of them being the son of Master Distiller Smirnov. Vladimir Smirnov fled to France to setup his distillery. Here he made contact with an American businessman and created the Smirnoff (the French version of his family name) brand. Vodka was publicized as a ‘white whiskey’ that left you ‘breathless’ (it did not leave one with an alcohol breath). But, vodka found its place only in the 1950s and ‘swinging 60s’. The affluent youth and numerous cocktails, for which vodka’s odourless and tasteless characteristics make it a perfect component, led to the Vodka revolution. And Vodka surpassed Bourbon (American whiskey) as the largest selling hard liquor.

Production Of Vodka

Vodka has traditionally been prepared with the cheapest grain available at hand. Vodka is mainly made from starch. However certain Polish vodkas are based on potato. Even molasses is used sometimes. Vodka is basically pure alcohol (ethanol) and water. It is extremely similar to whiskey. Both are produced from fermented mash. However, Vodka is distilled off at a very high proof. Thus, by distilling vodka off at 190 proof, most of the flavour is lost and almost only alcohol and water are left behind. Thus, the best vodka is tasteless, colourless and odourless.

Brands

Some of the most popular and good quality vodka brands are Smirnoff, Grey Goose and Absolut. However, blind tastes often confirm, that most of us cannot discern between the different brands of vodka. This is natural and desired, as vodka is supposed to be tasteless as well as odourless. Hence, the brand of vodka, is a personal preference. It is suggested to use any ‘house’ brand while using vodka in mixed drinks.

Vodkas also come in a variety of flavours. Brands like Absolut and Smirnoff have an arsenal of flavoured vodkas. Some of the popular flavours include raspberry, citrus, orange, vanilla and pepper.

Jack Daniels Chess Set – Coolest Chess Set on the Planet?

Jack Daniels Chess Set – What’s In A Jack Daniels Chess Set?

This exclusive Jack Daniel’s Chess Set is named after Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel who founded the famous Jack Daniel’s brand of Tennessee Whiskey that is among the world’s best-selling liquors and is recognized for its square bottles and black label. The rich history of the Jack Daniel’s brand is put on view beautifully with this set. This high-quality Jack Daniels chess board features pieces that are themed around the ingredients that constitute this famous whiskey, and of course Mr. Jack as the king. One side is known as “White” and the other as “Black”. To differentiate between the two, the black pieces are darker with a black base while the white pieces are lighter with a white base. The movement of each piece is similar to the usual chess game and so the standard rules of chess apply. What sets this chess set apart from others and perhaps makes it the coolest chess set on the planet are the highly detailed, sculpted and painted chess pieces complemented by a top-quality wooden board branded with the iconic Jack Daniel’s logo. Also, the solid wood of high quality Jack Daniels branded wooden board doubles as a carrying case for game pieces. This serves as protection to each piece which makes this set very durable. This is a “top-shelf” set measuring (W) 394mmx (D) 394mm x (H) 57mm that features a collectible wooden case with brass accents. The Jack Daniel’s Set is a very classic piece that is not just for the eyes but is highly functional as well.

Jack Daniels Chess Set – The Players

The Jack Daniel’s Set features thirty-two pieces that are intricately created through hand sculpture. The hand painted resin pieces are sculpted into interesting miniatures. Because these are hand made, they are highly detailed. The pieces are based on the chief ingredients in Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Similar to the common chess set, it contains 2 kings, 2 queens, 4 bishops, 4 knights, and 16 pawns. What makes it special is that each piece of the Jack Daniel’s Chess Set is finely crafted into an variety of designs. Jack Daniel’s is made as King of course. Before 1871, the area that covers Lynchburg and parts of Moore County was part of the larger Lincoln County, and “Belle of Lincoln” was one of the original names Jack Daniel sold his whiskey under.  Mr. Jack was a lifelong bachelor but carried the repute of being quite the “ladies man”. At least twelve or more bereaved women claimed to be the “Belle” after his death. That is why in this chess set, The Belle of Lincoln Decanter, as Jack Daniel’s Whiskey was first known, serves as queen. Corn, the primary grain used when making Jack Daniel’s whiskey takes part as Bishop. He kicked a safe in frustration at the age of 61, and broke a bone in his foot, which then became gangrenous and eventually killed him. This famed safe, kicked by Jack and leading to his untimely death, is Knight. Tennessee whiskey is filtered with the use of sugar maple charcoal in large wooden vats before proceeding to aging. A rick of hard sugar maple wood normally burned to create the charcoal for mellowing, acts as Rook. The popular Jack Daniel’s Black Label Bottles are the Pawns. The Jack Daniel’s Black Label is said to be the world’s favorite whiskey. These unique pieces make this set all the more exciting and also an all time favorite.

Jack Daniels Chess Set – A blend of chess and whisky

The Jack Daniel’s Chess Set is not the typical chess board game that is commonly used by everyone as it is the fusion of two famous things traced back from history. This chess set is where the mixture of chess and whiskey comes about. Chess originated from India 5,000 years ago with the Buddhists, who believing war to be wrong, devised the game of chess as a peaceful substitute. It is said to be the oldest game in the world and since then, the game of chess has been a past time for many gentlemen and ladies through the years. The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, on the other hand, was founded in 1875 and has been one of the world’s favorite since then. Chess and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey make a perfect combination that adds a touch of class when playing the game. This chess set gives a new twist on a timeless game as it also provides an interesting piece of American history. Its distinction from the usual chess pieces adds a dash of excitement and a refreshing deviation from the all too common chess game. The Jack Daniel’s Set is truly one of a kind and is a perfect blend of two classics.

Jack Daniels Chess Set – One of a kind

The Jack Daniel’s Chess Set is an exceptional board game with exquisite craftsmanship and has a unique approach to the game. The elaborate pieces make it impressive yet still not intimidating to play with. It appears to be delicate but is actually resilient as it is made from resin. The 32 pieces of this game set have been hand sculpted to high-quality miniatures that are not too fragile to handle. This chess set takes the boredom away from the usual 32-piece chess set. The intricate pieces based on everything whiskey will bring a little class to what is otherwise a chess set of debauchery. This awesome set is one of its kind and it attracts both men and women, old and young. Since chess is already a favorite among many, this unique set makes the game even more fascinating even to those inept when it comes to the game. It serves a dual purpose as it is used to play a great game as well as a beautiful display since its case is made with high quality solid wood. The pieces are striking and they look fantastic all laid out in the board.

A good game of chess is hard to find, but the special features of the Jack Daniel’s Chess Set make it a certainty. 

The Five Best Colognes For Men

Because I once had the unusual job of “wig namer” , (giving an appropriate name to each packaged wig style) I felt I would be the perfect person to suggest modern, clean smelling colognes for men. Also, I can say I have purchased all of these scents for my husband. As a bonus, I’ve also included some fragrance notes fun facts. All of the following colognes range in price from $50.00-80.00. Available through fine department stores. Tip: Not Ross! Those are stale so beware!

1. Burberry The Beat
is an addictive, forest like fragrance with frenetic energy that offers a man a certain kind of confidence. Black pepper and lavender create an initial burst of fresh air and a then.. a sudden pop of new leather and aged Kentucky whiskey. It is the scent of a modern man that suggests rhythm, style, and intelligence. Your man will also love the polished gun-metal bottle packaging with Burberry’s traditional check pattern.
Notes:
Leatherwood, Black Pepper, Violet, Bourbon
Style:
Dynamic. Modern. Confident
*The note black pepper increases circulation to the skin, heals bruising, and smells surprisingly similar to clove oil.

2. Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Pour Homme (Gio)
is a masculine scent reminiscence of a breeze that blows off a Mediterranean island. (Close your eyes and imagine, then you’ll know) It is nearly invisible, yet it is an aromatic and woodsy fragrance that isn’t overpowering. I can tell you that all women love Aqua Di Gio Pour Homme because it is just this: a splash of freshness with the misty aura of fruits, herbs, and woods.
Notes:
Mandarin, Bergamot, Persimmon, Rosemary, Jasmine, Amber, Patchouli, Cistus.
Style:
Transparent, modern, Clean and manly.
*The note bergamot is warm and spicy, and fights oily skin

3. Fresh Cannabis Santal
One of my favorite brands of fragrance in both men and women, this unique scent is a surprising blend of dark plum mingled with patchouli, magnolia, chocolate, and vanilla musk. It’s a memorable scent that leaves a lasting first impression on any woman he introduces to it.
Notes:
Wild Strawberries, Kumquat, Dark Plum, Patchouli, Magnolia, Rose, Chocolate, Vetiver, Vanilla Musk.
Style:
Memorable. Exciting, Honest
*The note vetiver has the aroma of wet grass, and is often used to relieve anger

4. Chrome from Azzaro Paris
Inspired by, and made for men of all ages, Chrome is contemporary enough for the modern man, yet sophisticated and timeless enough to be worn by even the most refined aristocrat. Created by world-renowned couturier Loris Azzaro, Chrome’s fresh citrus notes are an honest sentiment of the gentleness that lies in every man’s heart for the woman he loves.
Notes:Bergamot, Neroli, Ginger, Ivy, , Cardamom, Mate and Rosewood
*The note neroli has a haunting fragrance, and is often used to calm heart palpitations!

5. Lacoste Essential
Boasting the latest time-release technology, this one of a kind scent emits a slow, consistent release of fresh, lively tangerine and earthy tomato leaves. This unique burst will last through a man’s daily activities, keeping him appealing and aromatic. All will enjoy the spontaneous “remix” of fragrance if you will, because as a man’s body heat rises, the scent re-releases.
*(We’re NOT talking B.O. here, body heat on the right man will smell sort of like a smoldering campfire on a crisp winter night)
Notes:Tangerine, Bergamot, Tomato Leaves, Cassia, Patchouli, Wood Accord
Style:Uncompromising, Bold, Suggestive, Kind
*Cassia is very strong Chinese cinnamon, and used to break fevers.

All About Scotch

Scotch, the word conjures so many images: open green fields, smoky smell of peat, refined taste and everything Scottish. Scotch, is the pride of Scotland and till date is an integral part of the Scottish economy. So what makes this drink, so lovable and highly appreciated by all.

First, lets dive into a bit of history. Scotch is after all whiskey. In fact, whisky took birth as scotch itself. There is a debate on whether the English or the Scottish invented whisky. Far from being diplomatic and resting the issue there, I am going to take a plunge. I believe whisky was discovered in Scotland. There are a few reasons for my belief. Firstly, the first documented home distillation of whisky was found in Scotland in 1494. At that time Gin was the national drink of England. Now, it was only after the Act Of The Union of 1707, when England took administrative control over Scotland, did the whisky distilleries of Scotland come under the English notice. And thus only in the 1850s did Scotch came to be known as an Englishman’s drink.

Malted grains were used for the domestic production of scotch in northern Scotland. Scotch like many other spirits of its time, was infused with various herbs to add medicinal value to it. It was hence, prepared as a potent drink for many a chieftan. Countries like Scotland which typically lack a warm climate, had to use grapes or grains to ferment spirits. It is for this reason beer has been a staple brew for such countries.

How Scotch is made

The main ingredient in scotch is barley. Depending on whether it is a malt or grain whisky, malted or unmalted barley is used. What makes scotch different from almost every other whisky in the world is the natural spring water available and the peat that is used to dry the grain. This “peatiness” is the most important and vital factor that sets Scotch apart from any other whisky in the world.

Lets go over the process of a typical malt scotch production. Firstly, barley grains are taken and completely soaked in water. This allows the grain to germinate and encourages sprouting. The sprouting is then checked, by drying this malt over peat. Peat is basically decaying vegetable matter found in ample quantities in Scotland. Other whiskys use coal or some other fuel, but scotch is made exclusively with peat only. The amount of peat used also determines the final flavour of the scotch. The smokiness attribute to a scotch is dependent on this factor.

Once the drying or kilning process is over, it is now time to mash and drain the grain into large tanks. Natural or cultivated yeast is now added to these tanks to begin the process of fermentation. On sufficient fermentation, the brew or beer is now ready for its next step in the journey.

The brew must now be distilled. Scotch whisky must be double distilled by law. Traditionally this distillation occurs in a copper pot still. This distillate can now be called as scottish spirit, but for it to be called Scotch it is yet to mature for a minimum period of 2 years. Most scotch whisky is distilled for much longer though.

The cask used for maturing is a vital factor in determining the colour and flavour of the final product. Traditionally, two types of casks are most commonly used. The first type are those that have been used for maturing bourbon earlier. The excellent quality American timber with the corn flavour of bourbon adds to the complexity of the whisky. Such scotch is usually light in colour and has a typical corn flavour to it. The other type of cask is the one used to mature sweet wines such as the Spanish sherry. Even these casks are usually made in America itself and shipped to Spain for sherry maturation. Scotch that has been matured in such casks has deeper colour and sweet complexity with a strong scent.

Scotch Growing Regions

The Scotch growing areas in Scotland are divided into four regions.

1) The Highlands: The scotch produced here are soft. This can be attributed to the water that is available here. Also, the Highlands produce a rather “smoky” scotch.

2) Isles and Western Isles: The scotch produced in the Isles are famous for their pungency. This is contributed to the peaty character of the whisky.

3) Campbeltown: The scotch produced here smell fresh and ozoney.

4) The Lowlands: Finally, the scotch produced in the Lowlands are the sweetest and most gentle of all.

Scotch: Its different faces

Scotch is a sophisticated drink. And like any such drink, it has variations and different proportion of ingredients used and hence, you have a variety of scotch whiskys.

The most prized scotch is the Single Malt. Single malts are 100% malt whiskys made entirely in one distillery. Vats or Vatted whiskys are those, that contain a mixture of single malts but contain no grain whisky whatsoever. They are generally rounder and more complex in character.

Single Grain whiskys are whiskys that are made entirely from grain and contain no malt in them. Such whiskeys are typically light bodied and some find it to be a far less challenging scotch.

Blended whiskys are the most selling variety. They are a mixture of a variety of grain and malt whiskys that have been “married” by a master blender. They are often loved, as the blender ensures a consistent end product every time. Hence, it is the most expectable scotch of all.

Brands

Some of the best known scotch brands are Johnnie Walker, Teachers, Balentine’s, Chivas Regal and Whyte & Mackay. There are many many more though and each of them offer a different experience.

Ill be writing articles on the above in the future, but it would be beyond the scope of this article to say more here.

Scotch is an extremely vast subject and I hope to enlighten and entertain you in the future as well. 🙂