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A Bottle or Two in the Wilderness

July 23, 2010

Later today I’m going deep into the woods, to some rustic cabin near a stream.  There is no Internet connection or cell phone reception, so as of yet I have no idea what I am going to do about Sunday’s post.  If you don’t hear from me by Monday, alert the authorities.

Honestly, I’m not much of a nature lover.  It’s just so dirty and full of bugs.

But I do enjoy hanging out with nothing to do, shooting the breeze, and having a few drinks with my friends.  The question is, what does one bring to drink on a camping trip in the woods, with no refrigeration and a limited, declining stockpile of ice.  Let’s not forget that it’s summer.

I’m pretty happy with what I came up with.  Later today is the field test.

Things that are best served cold were ruled out.  So we say goodbye to gin and vodka.  For that matter we say goodbye to almost every other summertime cocktail.  Water will likely be in limited supply, so my new favorite absinthe is out.  Not to mention that absinthe doesn’t feel like it fits with rustic Adirondack cabins.  Maybe I’m just being snobbish.

Really whatever we drink should be consumed on its own.  Bourbon seemed like it would be a better fit for the back country than Scotch, Irish or Canadian whiskey.  But brown liquors seemed a bit heavy for summer.  If we were having mint juleps it would be an entirely different story.

So we’re back to white spirits.  Rum and tequila just felt too tropical.  Grapa or some fruit brandies might be nice, but again didn’t really stand up to the sense of place.

And then the answer hit me.  White Dog.

Really it was everything I was wanted.  Like bourbon, white dog is distilled from grain.  It can be corn or a combination of grains that can include but are not limited to rye and barley.  The important thing is that the spirit is unaged.  All spirits come out of the still clear.  It’s the aging in oak that gives most whiskeys their potentially infinite shades brown.

In some sense this is pre-bourbon.  The core flavors that lurk deep within bourbon should be there, in their youthful vibrancy.  It can be enjoyed on its own, at room temperature, and good versions of the stuff are mighty tasty.

Does it go well with camping in a cabin in the woods?

Well, historically white dog has also been called moonshine.  So, you tell me.  I found two very special bottles at Exit 9 in Clifton Park that are decidedly better than the rotgut that used to pass for moonshine.  One is local from Earl McKenzie at Finger Lakes Distilling, and the other one is from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

I’m excited to try the Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey, which weighs in at 90 proof, based on the strength of the distillery’s McKenzie Rye.  Earl McKenzie does amazing things with grain, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating trying this spirit since I met him at the NY Craft Distillers Seminar.  I didn’t even mind paying $20 for a 750ml bottle of the stuff.

Maybe one of these days some intrepid and daring distillery or distributor will send me bottles to review.

Until then, I also bought a 375ml bottle of White Dog Mash #1, which weighs in at a staggering 125 proof, for about $15.  Buffalo Trace is one of the finest bourbon distilleries in the country, and I can’t wait to open this bottle and taste the “juice” that eventually transforms into their golden elixir.

Next week I’ll report on the field test.  Assuming of course that I make it out of the woods alive.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Stevo permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:14 am

    I’d bring some cheap red wine and drop it in the stream to keep it from getting too warm.

  2. July 23, 2010 3:25 pm

    And don’t forget, it will be raining this weekend so bring something that can double as lighter fluid. Grappa?

  3. July 25, 2010 10:20 am

    Gah… whitedog… the new spirit of the day. I don’t know what I think… a lot of white dogs are –not– good. There are some exceptions (Finger Lakes being one) but still, its an unaged whiskey. Generally there is a reason whiskey is aged.

  4. Ellen Whitby permalink
    July 25, 2010 7:00 pm

    By now, it’s probably fair to say you made it out of the woods in tact. I applaud your selection of moonshine but next time, someone else in your party might be picking the spirits.

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