Who are Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker and other fun whiskey facts

We’re not talking boring whiskey trivia like “Oh hey guys, whiskey in Gaelic is known as ‘Uisge Beatha’ which means “water of life.” (That factoid is all true, but it’s pedestrian because everyone knows it).

We’re talking the fun stuff.

Let’s first talk about some of the most famous names in whiskey — Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and Johnnie Walker.

Jack Daniels is named after its founder, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel. When Jack was a young boy, he ran away from home and was taken in by a preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call, where Jack learned the distillation trade. He would later found a legally registered distilling business and the “Old No. 7” referred to his government registration number (No. 7 in district 4). Districts were later redrawn and Jack Daniel’s became Number 16 in district 5, so he kept the Old No. 7 label instead.

Who are Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker and other fun whiskey facts!Jim Beam is named after James Beauregard Beam and he was not the founder of Jim Beam Bourbon. It was actually started several generations earlier by the BΓΆhm family, which would later change their surname to Beam, in the late 18th century (1795 to be exact). The James B. Beam Distilling Company would be founded later, built off the work of the family business in distilling, and take on the name Jim Beam.

Johnnie Walker was first known as Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky and was created by John “Johnnie” Walker, a grocer in Ayrshire, Scotland who sold whisky in his store. The Johnnie Walker name wouldn’t become famous until Johnnie’s son Alexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II made it famous – that’s why you often see John Walker & Sons on box sets and some bottles.

The Chivas Brothers weren’t actually brothers. Ha, just kidding, they started off as a grocer in Aberdeen in 1801, selling luxury goods and would eventually supply the royal family at Balmoral Castle. Eventually, James Chivas started to blend whiskies for wealthier clients and a brand was born. John just came along for the ride. πŸ™‚

Did you know that Bourbon County in Kentucky is a “dry” county? You can’t sell any liquor there!

It’s believed that whiskey originated in Ireland where monks began distillation as far back as the 5th century, not Scotland. This is based on tax records where the Exchequer recorded that in 1495 an allowance was made to a friar for “aqua vitae.”

What’s your favorite bit of whisky trivia?

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Japanese Highball Cocktail

(Credit: Joe Leonard)

(Credit: Joe Leonard)

I was recently sent a bottle of Suntory TOKI, which is Suntory’s (home of many brands including famed whisky brand Yamazaki) whisky blend sourced from Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita. I’ve yet to try it but the tasting notes hint at a fruity, green/mint tone that will be interesting to try out.

One thing I did want to share is a fun little classic cocktail known as a Highball. Technically, a Highball is any spirit mixed with a larger percentage of a non-alcoholic mixer. Traditionally, the most common one is scotch whisky and carbonated water – a scotch and soda.

As you’d imagine, a Japanese Highball involves a Japanese whisky like Toki, carbonated water, and a garnish as photo’d.

Japanese Highball Cocktail

  • 2 oz whisky
  • 2-4 oz. club soda

In a 12 oz glass, fill it with ice. Add in the whisky, stir, then add in the club soda, stir gently. Garnish with an orange if you’d like.


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Cleveland Whiskey: Whiskey in 24 Hours?

I just discovered this video about a company producing whiskey that’s been aged in 24 hours.

The company is Cleveland Whiskey and the gist is that they’re forcing whiskey into the wood through pressure rather than storing it in barrels for years. Functionally, it’s the same process but it uses technology rather than time. He also makes the good point that now you can use wood that would never be able to make it as a barrel.

I’ve never tried it but I find it fascinating because you get to play with a piece of the whiskey equation more frequently and see the results – which could be good, bad or ugly. They have a bourbon finished with black cherry wood. Nowhere else can you see what that’s like. I think that’s awesome. The woods they have listed are Black Cherry, Apple, Hickory, Sugar Maple, and Honey Locust (whaaaat!?).

Cleveland Whiskey BottlesThis technology sounds very similar to what Innis and Gunn do to mature their beer. Use wood chips rather than actual aging.

Part of me does feel like this is cheating. You take a very traditional process and speed it up through technology… but I’m 100% OK with it. They’re not using the technology to mass produce oak barrel aged whiskies. That would be boring. They’re using the technology to do things no one else is doing and that’s what innovation looks like.

And here’s something even crazier… apparently you can buy the chips for your smoker? I was doing some research online about the company and stumbled onto all these articles about the smoker chips, though I couldn’t find any for sale. I’m a huge fan of using our Weber Smokey Mountain and my favorite is cherry, but I’ve never infused it with whiskey (to be honest, I’d rather not “waste” the whisky and drink it myself!). It must be wild.

I hope they start releasing the whiskey on a wider basis so I can get my hands on one of these – then I’ll let all you other Scotch Addicts know what it’s like!

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Three Beer and Whisky Cocktails: It’s Bitter to Be Hoppy, Lemon Tell You Somethin’ Honey, Beer & Loathing

From time to time, a PR company that works with Auchentoshan sends me some samples of their new stuff and clever ideas they’ve been working on.

One idea they recently sent me is something I’d never considered before — ever make a beer and whisky cocktail? Before you think it sounds absolutely crazy… hear me out, it’s quite clever and I am definitely going to try this out at home.

Auchentoshan reached out to Master Cicerone Pat Fahey (Master Cicerone is the highest level of Cicerone certification for beer) and they put together three cocktails that, at least to my non-Master Cicerone brain, sound pretty tasty for the summer.

They also argue that Auchentoshan, which is triple distilled like Irish Whiskey, makes for a good whisky to try this with. Personally, I’d argue Auchentoshan neat is just fine on its own but sometimes the warmer summer months call for a chilled cocktail. πŸ™‚

It’s Bitter to be Hoppy

Credit: Gabi Porter

Credit: Gabi Porter

  • 1.5 parts Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • .5 parts Aperol
  • .25 parts Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • 6 dashes Lemon Bitters
  • 2.5 parts IPA

Instructions: Stir all ingredients and strain into a coupe. Garnish with lemon wheel.

My thoughts: An IPA huh? I’d try for one from the west coast, where the hops are more citrusy and floral, rather than what is typical of east coast IPAs. Hop heads will know what I mean.

Lemon Tell You Somethin’ Honey

Credit: Addie Chin

Credit: Addie Chin

  • 1.5 parts Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • .5 parts Honey Syrup (1:1)
  • 1 part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 parts Belgian wheat beer (aka witbier)

Instructions: Build in a tall glass or beer stein filled with ice. Stir. Garnish with lemon peel.

My thoughts: This is the one I’m most likely to try next. I love witbier, I love honey, I love lemon… put it all together and you have yourself a nice sweet lemonade with some kick.

Beer & Loathing

Credit: Gabi Porter

Credit: Gabi Porter

  • 1.5 parts Auchentoshan Three Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • .5 parts chili liqueur
  • 4 parts Porter Ale

Instructions: Slowly shake all ingredients with ice and strain into rocks glass. May add large cube.

My thoughts: Chili??? It’s relatively small but I’m always hesitant about spiciness in my beverages (I love spicy food though). Otherwise, this cocktail sounds great, I love the rich roasted chocolate in Poters and when you add the sweet fruitiness of the 3 Wood it’s a potent combination.

What are your thoughts on these cocktails?

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The Manhattan: The Story of the First Modern Cocktail by Philip Greene

manhattan-story-modern-cocktail-philip-greeneI’m a sucker for beautiful physical books. My wife loves her Kindle and I can appreciate having a library on a tablet, but there’s something about a nice hardcover book with rich pictures and thick paper stock that can’t be recreated on a screen.

I received a copy of The Manhattan: The Story of the First Modern Cocktail by Philip Greene yesterday and was thumbing through it just for the feel. The hardcover has that soft silky feel to it, I don’t know enough about publishing to know what it’s called, and the pages are that thick semi-glossy stock that makes photos pop.

OK, enough about the book binding, the content within was fun. I’ve long been a fan of the Manhattan but I never knew the history behind it and behind cocktails.

Did you know the difference between a punch and a cocktail? A cocktail has a specific definition — “spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” So until the Manhattan, you had rum cocktails, brandy cocktails, gin cocktails, etc. No actual names because they just swapped out the spirit. Seems kind of boring right?

So where does the Manhattan fit in? It’s the vermouth. Vermouth is aromatized, fortified wine with some kind of botanical element. Sweet vermouth is one of the two types of vermouth (the other being dry). A Manhattan is typically whisky, ice, sweet vermouth instead of sugar, bitters and then a brandied cherries. The sweet vermouth, infused with botanicals, is what changes the game.

And Old Fashioned is named as such because instead of vermouth, it’s simple sugar and usually an orange peel for aromatics. It’s an old fashioned (sugar vs. vermouth) cocktail… are you seeing some of the history come through? πŸ™‚

In part 1, the book goes through the history of The Manhattan, and of cocktail history, starting in the early 1800s until today. It’s full of fun trivia but it also explains the evolution of cocktails to the point that a lot of the recipes start making sense. You start with spirit, sugar, water and bitters and watch as bartenders innovate and build on ideas (including the recipes they used for historical drinks). It’s fascinating.

Part 2 has all the recipes. You start with Classic Manhattans (Traditional, Dry and “Perfect”) but the list of cocktail recipes runs the gamut – you have recipes for a Smithtown Cocktail (as in Long Island, where I grew up, so you know I’m going to have to try this!) to the Metropolitan (made at the Metropolitan Hotel that opened in 1852) to the Queen’s Cocktail (a gin based cocktail that includes vermouth and pineapple).

The book is a lot of fun. In fact, as I think back to the Great Gatsby event we just attended, if you were going to throw a themed party then this would be the book to get for ideas on cocktails to serve if you wanted to stay as authentic as possible.

Even if you aren’t throwing a theme party but just wanted to learn more about cocktails, try some authentic period cocktails, this book is a joy to thumb through.

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