Rye Whiskey Tequila Spirits Inventory Reduction
Rye Whiskey is enjoying something of a renaissance of late, with sales rocketing in recent years thanks to a growing interest in strong, unique flavors, and small, independent distilleries. Rye Whiskey is a drink which is all about powerful, bold flavors, with plenty of spice and bitterness when drunk young. Aged, however, it takes on a deep set of subtle notes which are beautifully mellow and complex, and becomes a fascinating example of what whiskey can be when made with expert hands.
In order for an American Whiskey to be labeled a Rye Whiskey, it must have a mash content which is no less than fifty one percent rye. This separates it from Bourbon, and it is this which gives it its distinctive flavor and spiciness. Toffee, cinnamon, caraway, cloves and oak are typical tasting notes, and ‘straight rye’ whiskies - which are aged in charred oak barrels - take on plenty of the smokiness of the wood, adding a further, fascinating facet.
Rye Whiskey has its spiritual home in the northeastern states of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and cities like Pittsburgh produced vast quantities of Rye Whiskey in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most the old distilleries were closed during the prohibition era, after which time rye whiskey more or less disappeared completely, but the twenty-first century is seeing old recipes being resurrected and released to rave reviews.
Tequila is probably Mexico’s greatest gift to the world of fine spirits, and is also possibly one of the most underestimated and misunderstood drinks in the world. Widely used for shots and slammers, and more often than not associated with parties and hangovers, Tequila is in fact a wonderful drink full of subtleties and expression of terroir, that is highly rewarding for those who look into its finer points.
One of the special things about Tequila is the fact that it is capable of expressing the fine nuances and subtle notes of its raw material, far more so than other, similar spirits. That raw material is, of course, the Blue Agave - not a cactus, as is commonly believed, but rather a succulent quite like a lily, which grows in the deserts of Mexico mainly around the province of Jalisco. The Blue Agave takes a decade to mature, and during those ten years, it takes in many of the features of its surroundings, just like a grapevine would. This is why Tequila varies in flavor and aroma from region to region, from the earthier Tequilas of the lowlands, to the more delicate and floral examples from areas of a higher altitude.
The picking and peeling of the spiky Agave, and the distillation process of Tequila is a complicated one, and one which is carried out with enormous skill by the jimadors and master craftsmen who produce the spirit. Steam cooking of the body of the plant is followed by crushing, then fermentation and distillation completes the process. The end product is categorized according to whether or not it is made with pure (‘puro’) agave, or blended with other sugars, and according to how long the spirit is aged for.