Branch Water Tavern, the subject of this week's Café review, has a collection of rare American whiskeys behind the bar that really widened my horizons. St. George single-malt tastes like it was made in Scotland. It starts out as dark-brown ale and is distilled in a tiny copper pot still. It's aged in bourbon barrels first, then in French oak. The flavor is exceptional, but the marketing is chicken-shit.
Instead of proudly proclaiming themselves makers of a Sonoma single-malt whiskey, these geeks decided to get sneaky with a British-sounding name and a label that tries to convince people they are drinking Scotch. You need a magnifying glass to find the "Made in Sonoma, California" text.
I love the photo of Pappy with the cigar on the label of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve, an excellent and obscure wheated bourbon named after a legendary distiller who once made the W. L. Wellers brand. Bernheim Small Batch Wheat Whiskey does a nice job of presenting its unique product in a classy-looking bottle.
I have started checking for these and other unique American whiskeys at liquor stores and other restaurants and bars in Houston. I know Anvil Bar & Refuge has some wheated bourbons, but does anybody know where else I should look?
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.