Supporting my local economy has just gotten easier!
Long Island Spirits, Long Island’s only distillery and producer of LīV (Long Island Vodka), has released Pine Barrens, a tasty single malt whisky. The fact that it’s in collaboration with Blue Point Brewing Company only makes it better!
Instead of creating this liquor from a mash, Long Island Spirits instead used Blue Point’s Old Howling Bastard, a 10% barley wine and a regional favorite. The Howling Bastard was distilled down in steps and aged in American Oak casks to achieve a highly drinkable, 95 proof elixir. Due to the smaller size of the American Oak casks, the whisky was able to mature much faster resulting in a smooth, finished product in a scant 20 months. More specifics can be read about it here in the Suffolk Times Review. Though the whole process is, in itself, very interesting, I am more interested in how the damn thing tastes. So, after making sure they weren’t sold out at the LīV tasting room, my wife and I journeyed to Baiting Hollow for a snort.
The whisky itself pours a clear, pale amber. I’m normally a beer geek so the alcohol is strong smelling but what you would expect from a whisky. Raisin, fig and dark sugar comes through as well and could very well be essence de Bastard. The same sweetness and caramel qualities come through in the taste with a bracing booze slap that is, of course, to be expected from something that’s 95 proof; sweet on the tongue and smooth throughout. It’s intriguing to consider pairing this with a cigar. But I’m no expert so take it for what it’s worth. Suffice it to say, I would drink boatloads of it.
That is, I would drink boatloads of it if it were more widely available and a bit more “economically feasible”, that is, cheaper. At about $45 for a 375mL bottle it’s not something you can have on a regular basis. Although, if you can, kudos to you and please, let’s be friends and put me in your will! Now, this is not a knock on the product, its production or distribution in the least. On the contrary, I totally understand and appreciate it for what it is. The fact that the batch number is hand written on each bottle only makes a chronic collector, like myself, want it more and I rue the fact that I missed out on batch #1.
There’s a reason why you hide “the good stuff” and keep it only for special occasions and Pine Barrens most definitely fits in this category. I certainly wouldn’t cook with it as I do with Jack or Beam and I wouldn’t break it out when the guest list involves folks who instinctively shoot anything poured neat. But I do plan to bring a bottle to share with my college buddies (who no longer instinctively shoot neat pours) at an upcoming wedding.
Over the past few years, Long Island has been making a dent in the wine scene and challenging the supremacy of the Napa valley with a lot of our locally produced offerings. Our craft brewers have been successful as well and so it is with Pine Barrens (and LīV). It’s great to know that you can enjoy high quality products that also help to support your local economy.
If you’re ever in the area, stop by the tasting room and see if you don’t love Pine Barrens too. Maybe you’ll pick up a bottle and hide it in the back of your bar for those special occasions. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you’ll pick up two. You can never have too much of a good thing.