Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

American whiskey (at least good American whiskey) tends to come in clear bottles. Supposedly, that's to show off the whiskey's color and to assure potential buyers that the whiskey isn't underaged. As is the case with so much, things are different in Europe. While there are plenty of Scotches that come in clear bottles, a tinted bottle isn't a near-certain indicator of poor quality as it is with American whiskey. A quick romp through my liquor cabinet reveals that Bunnahabhain, Redbreast (and Irish whiskey, but the principle is the same), Lagavulin, and Ardbeg all come in tinted bottles, and there's not a dog in that group. And they're hardly the only good European whiskies that come in non-clear bottles. That makes sense: because European whiskies are typically aged in used barrels, they're just not going to get the showy depth of color that American whiskeys, which are aged in new charred barrels, are. We're fortunate that whiskey doesn't react to light the way that beer does.

Sazerac Rye really does have a pretty bottle, doesn't it? The color of the whiskey inside is part of the reason, obviously, but there's more to it than that. The long neck and the typeface used on the lettering makes me think of the Gilded Age, and that's not a bad association for a whiskey to make. Sure, most of the whiskey produced back then was absolute dreck -- remember that that George Gavin Brown's sale of exclusively bottled and sealed whiskey and the Bottled in Bond Act were both reactions to the prevalence of adulterated and otherwise disgusting whiskey -- but that was a time when men enjoyed the stuff and were unashamed of that fact. Anyway, it's not just a pretty package; it's also a quality rye. It's smoother and more dessert-like than Wild Turkey, but it still slaps you around and reminds you of the fact that it's rye, not Bourbon.

1 comment:

Will said...

Makes a good Manhattan too!