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You know what we’re talking about. A vision of pure smoldering loveliness that takes your mother effin’ breath away.
The smokeshow turns heads. Makes waves. Leaves an impression. Love it or hate it, you’ll never forget it. Because it’s straight up FIRE.
Need some examples of smokeshows in their prime? Look no further than Brigitte Bardot, James Dean and just about any damn Islay Scotch gracing us with its presence.
‘Cause you know what they say — where there’s smoke, there’s fire… and these roasty, toasty Spirits are straight up bringing the heat.
There’s no way you’ll ever forget taking a sip of a smoky Spirit. It hits you right in the memory bank. It recalls nights filled with tall tales told by a campfire, roasting marshmallows over a crackling flame that leaves a lingering scent of burning ash and faint wisps of kerosene in your hair. Its warmth, comfort and kinship on a long, still night.
But what makes a Spirit smoky? In some cases, nature has her hand in it.
Islay knows what we’re talking about. Located off the west coast of Scotland, the Island produces some of the smokiest Scotch on the market thanks to its peat — a byproduct of the grasses, mosses and shrubs that live and die in the perpetual bog. The peat burns like coal and is used to dry the malt that makes the Scotch, imparting a pungent smell and taste.
But Mother Nature isn’t the only star in this smokeshow — humans can manufacture a smoky flavor by charring barrels used for aging. It’s a shortcut, but... work smarter not harder, right?
Which brings us to the three fine smoky specimens you’ll find in this box: Colkegan Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey, a 118 proof sip that’s been mesquite smoked for more toffee, chocolate, coffee and spice notes; the handcrafted Ilegal Mezcal Joven, an Oaxan artisanal legend with the most extraordinary origin story; and Penderyn Peated, a peaty new kind of Welsh gold.
So, find a glass and kick back in front of an open flame — this Tasting Box is one for the books.
1) There’s no getting around the smoke in Mezcal because to make it, you have to roast agave, which is traditionally done by burning logs in a pit. But in that smoke, you’ll find a whole range of different flavors including spice, fruit, floral and the occasional funky fermented note.
2) John Rexer, the owner of Ilegal Mezcal, would smuggle bottles of Mezcal from Oaxaca to Guatemala to stock his bar Café No Sé. The drink quickly gained popularity and Rexer was able to find a permanent supply chain, albeit an illegal supply chain. From this, Ilegal Mezcal was born. Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken, right?
3) After the Excise Tax on Whisky in 1644, Islay put a series of illicit stills in place so they could continue production. Still, the first time an exciseman set foot on Islay wasn’t until 1797. Why? Because the natives of Islay were thought to be "wild barberious people."
4) Along with smoky Spirits, smoked cocktails are a hot (literally) trend at bars. There are two ways to add smoke to a drink: either by infusing it with smoke, or by using a smoky ingredient. Some popular methods include smoking ice or using a smoking gun.
5) Colkegan Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskey is a smooth, marvelous expression. A mesquite wood smoke was used to toast the malted barley in order to bring a unique southwestern American style to the classic Scottish Whisky technique.
6) Although a smoky Spirit can certainly stand on its own, it can also work well in a cocktail. In fact, bartenders love to play with Mezcal’s full-bodied flavor and smoky notes in classic cocktails like a Smoky Old-Fashioned. Go try a twist on an old favorite today!