Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
As a longtime Manhattan drinker, I am surprised, confounded, pleased and yet at the same time a little concerned about the current state of bourbon. I’m not talking about the quality level—there’s probably more good bourbon out there than there’s ever been before. I’m talking about the popularity level. The rocket-like rise of bourbon’s appeal makes me think about the cigar boom a decade or so ago, when a grizzled vineyard manager and longtime cigar smoker I knew produced one of his favorite stogies from his shirt pocket and said, “See this? I was paying two bucks for these a couple of years ago. Now the damn things cost me 12 bucks each!”
Alcohol has been whipped, vaporized, canned into energy drinks and mixed into Jell-O shots. Now, meet powdered alcohol.
A new product called Palcohol will instantly turn water into a Kool-Aid for adults. Just add water to the powdered drink mix for a fast cocktail.
To the surprise of critics, federal regulators have given the powder a thumbs up. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved several flavors this month - including the liquors vodka and rum, and cocktails such as Lemon Drop and Cosmopolitan.
With a package weighing only an ounce, the powdered alcohol is more portable than a bottle or flask of liquor. But critics have taken to Internet blogs to say maybe it's a bit too convenient and potentially dangerous.
Read - Powdered alcohol could be in the mix
The first thing offered to me at Suntory's Yamazaki whisky distillery - the birthplace of Japanese whisky - is a glass of water. It's so delicious it comes as a shock.
Even before the reason is explained to me, I'm asking: why does it taste so crisp, so different?
The distillery is surrounded by beautiful bamboo forests on a mountain - they must be getting to my brain.
The Scottish Highlands and Speyside region.
The back roads of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery and Hakushu "forest distillery."
For seekers of premium malts, these are some of the touchstones of whiskey travel.
Now a new whiskey region is laying claim to world-class status.
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