Recently a few friends and I started a whiskey tasting club as
an excuse to consume expensive liquor an opportunity to educate our palates on the nuances of high-quality blended malt beverages.
At our second meeting, our sergeant-at-arms laid a bottle of clear spirits on the table.
"Ahoy!," I said. "Remember, this is whiskey club, sir!"
"Indeed," he answered. "And this is white whiskey."
White whiskey is not, as I first assumed, the hoary grandfather of regular whiskey, that is to say, a super-aged fermented mash beverage, but rather, quite the opposite.
Most whiskeys are aged (sometimes up to 30 years), which deepens their flavors and darkens their color. Originally popular among bootleggers looking for easy turnover and a quick profit, white whiskey (also called "white dog" or "moonshine") doesn't involve a maturation process. Although white whiskeys were at one time rough in taste, 21st century versions are produced in small batches using more refined distillation techniques that eliminate the harsher notes to produce a mild spirit that is more fruity than smoky.
The white whiskey proffered by my fellow member at that night's meeting was from Park City's High West Distillery. With hints of vanilla and blueberry, this spirit was pleasant to sip (especially slightly chilled with a large ice cube), but maybe even better in a cocktail like this one from saveur.com:
White Whiskey Punch
2 oz white whiskey 2 oz pineapple juice 1 oz fresh lime juice 1 oz simple syrup
Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass with ice.
Some claim the return of white whiskey to be merely faddish trend and that real connoisseurs will always prefer the aged brown stuff. As I am not a whiskey aficionado (yet), I'm okay with the crystal clear stuff.
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