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Below are some beers tasted take a look. The notes are basic. Because pretension is for the non-creative!!!

Revolution Rye stout repomax
Soft smoke, sleek chocolate are a smooth, fleeting finish of angel fade milk chocolate on the nos

Blue Moon Agave Wheat
crisp, unappealing, sour, lacking flavor, character, and feel

Boulevard Wheat Unfiltered
Great unfiltered color, cloudy yet appealing wheat gracious nose.  Soft sushi beer, no hop, very light

Brooklyn Summer Ale
Pine resin, coriander, soft, refreshing, crisp, clean, with short finish

Dogfish Head, Festina Peche
peach, stone, almost brett on the palate

Two Brothers Long Haul
Saison, great amber color, good

Brewery Vivant Triomphe
Belgian style India Pale Ale.  Very clean, nice, soft hop and pine resin, good stout [?]

Brewery Vivant Farmhouse
French style, soft brown flavor, very smooth and easy drinking, crisp

Arcadia Olde Ale Big Dick’s
Very nice, malty and soft chocolate, milk chocolate, very good, good malt color

Finches Cut Throat
Soft hop are easy pine and soft finish

Greenflash West Coast IPA
surprisingly smooth very little hop. Great nose

Rampant Imperial IPA New Belgium 
Great balance, good finish, awesome with food.

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout
Awesome malt and chocolate color.  Milk chocolate, stouty good malt

Tyranena Brewers Gone Wild Series – Chipotle Pepper Porter
Very malty soft smoke, easy, toffee

Pearl Necklace Flying Dog Oyster Stout
Flawless on the mid palette, Juicy and smoky

Dogfish – Jiahu
Interesting nose, awful palette.  Brewed with dates and figs, very complex

Dogfish – Indian Brown Ale
Salty, sweet caramel, bitter hop aftertaste on the palette.

Dogfish – Chicory Stout
Sweet malt milk chocolate, bark on the nose, very nice smooth finish.  Lacks something on the palette


Stillwater Stateside Saison
Nice hops, easy drinking.  Good drinking, good pine resin and nice finish

Big Muddy Monster 
Very creamy, notes of citrus peel, Papaya, very nice, stone fruit finish.  Pair with soft cheeses, Blue cheese polenta

Evil Twin DEVFFC Al. 9.8
Denmark ale, roasty, good hops, easy fruit, nice pine finish.

Six Point Brown Stone
Hop, mint on the nose, soft brown sugar on the palette, fleeting finish or nothing.

Categories: Beer

Wines Tasted # 2

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Here are some quick wine notes…. I drink a lot of wine. No scores just my thoughts! 

Smokescreen Chardonnay 2011
great mineral, crushed hillside, surlie, light malolactic, some untoasted French oak, very soft oak

Smokescreen Pinot Noir 2011
Anderson valley sweet cherry, very nice plum on the finish.  Light ruby color, nice body, and good fruit.

Plum, date, fig, lisove[?], no rim variation, baked plum, very young

Forefathers Sav. Blanc
Herbs and earth, nor tropical

El Pasaro Rojo
Coffee grounds, char old[?], Dried violets, good tannins, very soft plum

Lan Rioja  Reserva 2005
Bright and supple, tart cherry, blueberry, acid, spice on berry

LeCole  Chardonnay 2012
Very nice, good fruit, acid, minerals, apple, apricot

Taft Street PN. RR
Robust good structure, picot fruit

Left Foot Charlie – Riesling
Very interesting, good soil, decors[?] Structure

Robert Reynolds Chard 2012
Lodi Rocy’s Block
Not so much on the nose, but some

Ant Moore N2
Pinot Gris Malbac
Good silt, some stone fruit, tropical notes, baked tropical fruit custard

Schwibinger Riesling 2011
Bone dry minerals on the nose
Grass, some herb on the nose
Honey dipped stone fruit, some earthiness

Categories: Tasting Notes, Wine

Wines tasted # 1

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Here are some quick wine notes…. I drink a lot of wine. No scores just my thoughts! 

Quintan Petite Pierre 2009
Fleeting finish, not bad

Histoire Chapter 4 Cabernet
Aleyaber[?]  Sonoma County 2011
Young, lacking structure

Vending Machine Chard
Loula’s Revenge

Double Shotgun Cab Franc
Petit verdot.  Great do

Kuentz Bas Pinot Gris 2009
Tons of stonefruit on the finish, very clean, cotton candy

Artesa Meritage 2009
Soft tannins, soft chocolate, good stuff

Anaroo[?] Shiraz 2008
Silk wool and smoke and very fleeting finish and leads to soft plum

Giornata 2008 Barbera
Dates, figs, not much to the mid palette, no finish

Redcar Sonoma Coast Chard 2010
Nice malo, slight oak, red, stonefruit

Domaine de Pond Pinot Noir
Very nice, forward on nose[?].  Dry finish, excellent fruit, [?]

Slang Pinot 2012 Argo
herbaceous acid on  [?]
soft  fruit on the palette

Cypher Paso Robles, the Peasant
Nice body, good fruit, soft cherry, currant[?], blue-berry

Kenefick Ranch 2008 Napa
Chris Cuver – wow, what a gorgeous blend, tannins

Sierra Batyco – Reserva
Pinot Noir 2011, earth, berry forward, light fruit, good finish, soft tannins

Jane Ventura 2010 Vintage Cava
Riserva musica $10, biscuit, clay, flint

Madeby G. Sparkling Gamay
Very sweet, soft berry, nutmeg, baking spice

Genslabi[?] Cab Clarksburg 2010
Earthy, funky, dried leaves
great body, good tannins

White Oak 2007 Napa
86% Cabernet, 11% Merlot, Cab Franc 3%
Supertannic, soft fruit, very closed down

Montanori 2003
Amarone – Very Nice,  violets

Purple Malbec Cohors 2011
Full body, notes of baked mushroom, earth, dirty bark door

Categories: Tasting Notes, Wine

Burbank Beer Fest

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Michelle De Silva and fiancé Frank Alatorre attended the inaugural Burbank Beer Festival with some work friends. “It was intimate and friendly with plenty of IPA’s “explains Michelle. The Burbank Beer Festival was by all accounts a successful endeavor bringing in crowds in the thousands to sample dozens of beers and some ciders. 


This was the first year that California Beer Festival put on a show in Burbank’s downtown.  For those who were nor brew inclined the streets were filled with and shoppers as there was a street fair featuring art, booze signs and other goods was packed all day. Michelle and Frank both attended the festival and seemed to enjoy themselves.

It was fun for all ages 21 and the crowd was mixed with male and surprisingly lots female beer aficionados who seemed to drink the whole spectrum offered.

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Some of the highlights included local beers alongside some of the big boys who came out to play. New Belgium was there and sold out of beer by 6:00 other lines were so long I didn’t even bother.

But there were some surprises of the show.

Some of the beer highlights were

  1. Angel City Wit- Soft and rounded with balanced nutty and hops quality.
  2. Chang Lager one of Thailand’s best kept secrets. It was as always crisp and clean and easy to drink.
  3. Elysian Jasmine IPA- decent floral notes and spice with some stone fruit.

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Once some of the kinks are worked out next year’s event should be spectacular and I look forward to attending.


Categories: Beer

Small Town, Huge Personality!

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Beauty I thought only existed in nature is now being molded and tortured into the most breathtaking glass you will ever see. During my visit to the Finger Lakes, the conference I was attending had an excursion to the Corning Museum of Glass. Yes, that Corning.


Inside is a luxurious setting with blown glass everywhere with a modern feel. I had just seen a glass blowing demonstration a few months back at another conference so I snapped some shots and then took to wandering the halls.


I stumbled as I often do into the ancient wing, which possessed some of the oldest and rarest glass that was owned by king and queens, pharaohs and despots.


It was during this time alone I sat down to write and reflect on my so far short stay in upstate NY. I was floored by the hospitality, the attention to detail and even the city of Corning itself which struck me as a great town to raise a family. One could live in Corning’s rolling green hills and be content surrounded by friendly faces and quaint appeal. I have often wondered if I should forgo the big city lifestyle and move to a small town. I would like to think that if I did, Corning NY would be the type of place I might end up.

While dodging security and roaming the halls I realized I was late for dinner, which was also the awards banquet for some of the best bloggers in the world. I sat down just in time to get the appetizer and met some new friends as well. Dinner was interesting, zucchini fritters, smoked corn chowder, Beef all served with FLX wines that paired wonderfully and since we got to pick from two per course there was lively debate at the table. The overall feel I got from my visit was excitement, and taking time to enjoy the pleasures of the day. After all, that is what hedonism is all about.


Categories: Hedonist Lifestyle

Tranqs, Lobos & Zipheads…

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Aside from the obvious perk of getting to stare at a women’s breast under the pretense of looking at their name tag (inside joke, come on people) I quite enjoyed my first bloggers conference. Held this year in the scorching heat of August in the Finger Lakes it was none the less a raving success. During the several days of speed tasting, seminars, excursions and dinners I met some amazing, hard-working, funny and eccentric bloggers; all who seems excited that they could exchange ideas and drink with their comrades in a laid back environment.


Walking the grounds with Steve Fulkerson who’s family arrived in the Finger lakes in the late 1700’s you get the feel that they know what they are doing in the wine business. Tasting the dozens of exceptional wines you know that the Finger lakes as a whole kicks ass and most likely will only get better. I have been a fan of FLX wine for years but had never been, now I cannot wait to go back. The new and hopefully continual home of aromatic whites the Finger lakes of New York are are stunning example of how far American wine has come in a short time.


I thought it would be blood sport; there is no one on earth more opinionated than a wine writer but it was tame and an noncompetitive nature seemed to dominate the while experience either by design or the caliber of attendee. The overall friendliness of everyone I met seemed unending and I look forward to next year’s conference in Lodi, CA which is 20 minutes from where I live for those who are spiritually included. (Pun intended)….
All in all Zephyr Adventures put together one hell of show and I will return as often as I can.

A personal note; I was a scholarship recipient this year and would not have been able to make the trip without it, so thank you to all the sponsors and bloggers who believed in me. I hope never to let you down.


By the way I hope you got the back to the future reference if not you should be ashamed. Much more to come on the Wine Bloggers conference 2015

Justin Koury

Categories: Hedonist Lifestyle

Spirits For Mother’s Day

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Moms work hard and sometime they need to play hard. Let’s skip the roses and Sauvignon Blanc this year and instead treat mom to something special and different. If you are still out looking for the perfect Mother’s day gift what better to buy than some awesome mixable spirits..

Here are three craft bottles that will make mom smile.

New Holland Cask and Smoke- for the mommy who loves malt.

Vikre Boreal spruce gin- this makes and awesome mother’s day gin and tonic with brunch

Dunc’s Mill Maple Rum- Enough said
6486_Front Corrected

Categories: Spirits

The Hot Brown!

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This weekend marks the 141st Kentucky Derby and in salute to that tradition I can think of nothing better than to share my favorite thing to come out of KY second only to bourbon.
The Kentucky Hot Brown
I thought it appropriate that the first restaurant review was of my current death row meal.
In the life of every chef there comes a time when the question of their last meal is asked; also known as your death row meal. My death row meal is and has been for years the Kentucky Hot brown at the Brown Hotel in Louisville KY. My most recent trip to KY yielded a succulent juicy endeavor into the open-faced sandwich once more.

The Kentucky Hot Brown, is not to be missed it is a cacophony of unique flavor that you can only find with the Hot Brown.
Here is the legendary recipe,
Hot Brown Recipe
Ingredients (Makes Two Hot Browns):
• 2 oz. Whole Butter
• 2 oz. All Purpose Flour
• 1 Qt. Heavy Cream
• 1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese, Plus 1 Tablespoon for Garnish
• Salt & Pepper to Taste
• 14 oz. Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast
• 2 Slices of Texas Toast (Crust Trimmed)
• 4 slices of Crispy Bacon
• 2 Roma Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
• Paprika, Parsley
In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined and forms a thick paste (roux). Continue to cook roux for two minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk whipping cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 ounces of turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Next, pour one half of the Mornay sauce to completely cover the dish. Sprinkle with additional Pecorino Romano cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, and serve immediately.

Categories: Hedonist Lifestyle

Tomato Remoulade

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Tomato Remoulade-To accompany best Crab Cakes Ever!!!!
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
½ cup Diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons Fresh dill fine
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*Blend together and plate with your favorite Crab cakes be they Maryland style or West Coast
*Pair with Wagner Vineyards Single Vineyard Riesling 2012 Caywood Vineyard

Categories: Hedonist Lifestyle

The Chicago Indie Spirits Expo…. Event Day

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It may sound cliché but end of summer heading into fall in Chicago is one of my favorite times. The air is crisp the trees are changing construction is ending and the Chicago Independent Spirits Expo is held. This was in my mind the most successful one yet having attended every year since it came to Chicago. The brain child of David Schmier owner of Redemption rye and brought to Chicago by Marty Duffy co-producer   of the CISE.  This is the largest small production spirits show in America. This year’s event was held at the Chicago Hilton downtown and was a marvelous spectacle of the comradery that drives the craft spirits world. The show is a place where craft producers of rum, tequila, gin, vodka and of course small batch whiskey.


Usually filled with industry professionals rubbing elbows with producers this years show had a decent amount more of the public who regularly consume these goods. “Leigh Mabry of BC merchants explains that she was impressed to see more of consumer and not just restaurant people” If you love tasting small batch whiskey, gins, vodka and tequilas this is the place to go.


One of the highlights of the show was a panel moderated by Timeout Chicago’s Amy Cavanagh concerning the role of women in the craft spirits industry. Most of the women on the panel have had similar experiences with gender discrimination given that spirits is a male dominated world.  The panel discussion focused on the stories that some of Chicago’s most influential women including:

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Co-owner and founder of Koval distillery  Sonat Hart, Dejorn Huffman the spirits director at Tenzing Wine and Spirits Jenny, Kelly Kniewell – CIO, Fresh Coast Distributor,         Raquel Leduc – Brand Ambassador/Bartender, Herbsainte, Monique Huston – Spirit Specialist, Stoller/Glazer, Anne Marineau – Bartender, Randolph Tavern, Sarah Sheperd Macfarquhar – Brand Ambassador, North Shore Distillery, Jenny Solsberg – Owner, Rhine Hall Distillery, Inna Feldman-Gerber – Co-Founder & President, Premiere Distillery. Filled with the darlings of Chicago’s craft industry the panel spoke about their unique experience dealing with the landmines of the spirits world.

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Monique Huston of Stoller tells me that she “cannot wait for the day that these panels like this will not be necessary”.  It does bring up an interesting question as to why we distinguish between men and women in certain jobs when we all know women work just as hard.

The Indy spirits expo is all about bringing lovers of all things craft and small batch. “Indie Spirits brought out some old favorites that were fantastic but the exciting side was to see how far American Craft Spirits has come, and to realize we are all living the rebirth of true small batch craft distillation” Drew Larson leaders beverage. Marty Duffy says “it was a success with a fantastic turnout and both the exhibitors and attendees were we’re happy, and that’s what the expo is all about”


Just some of the many producers that were there included…


Banks Rum

Barritt’s Ginger Beer

Big Bottom Distilling


Blaum Bros. Distillery

Bunnahabhain single malt scotch

Caledonia Spirits

Caledonia Spirits

Caorunn Gin

Carpano Antica

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery

Charbay Distillery


Classic Imports

Compass Box scotch whisky



Craft Distillers

Deanston single malt scotch

Death’s Door

Del Maguey Mezcal

Demerara Distilling (El Dorado Rum)

Dimmi Liquore

Distillerie de Biercée


Duncan Taylor

Edinburgh Gin

Encanto Pisco

Fernet Branca


FEW Spirits

Gabrielsen Cognac

Glenfarclas single malt scotch

Glenrothes single malt

Gordon & MacPhail

Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach

Grand Marnier 1880

Great Lakes Distillery


Haas Brothers

Haus Alpenz

Heering liqueur

Jersey Artisanal Distillery

Journeyman Distillery

Kappa Pisco

Kavalan whiskey

Koloa Rum Co.

KOVAL Distillery

Letherbee Gin


Lyon Distilling Co.

Marnier Lapostolle

Martin Miller’s Gin

McClary Bros. Vinegars

New Holland Brewing & Distilling

North Shore Distillery

Old Petrero Rye

Oola Distilling

Orange V

Pacific Edge

Pig’s Nose scotch

Quincy St. Distillery

Redemption Rye

Rhine Hall Distillery

Scorpion Mezcal

Sheep Dip blended malt scotch

Shrubs & Co.

Siete Leguas Tequila

Sonoma County Distilling Co.

St. George Distillery

Tail Winds Distillery

Tequila Tapatio

Teeling Irish Whiskey

Templeton Rye


Tobermory single malt scotch

Tullibardine Single Malt Scotch

Veritas Brands

Warehouse Liquors

WhistlePig Rye 

Zaya Rum

Sadly, I was under the weather and attended to take pictures and meet with vendors, I was unable to taste anything so I went the whole day without a drop.





Categories: Hedonist Lifestyle

Chicago Indy Spirits Expo-

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The Chicago Independent Spirits Expo is here this week.
“We’re glad that we were able to create a forum that provides the smaller American & imported brands an opportunity to reach both consumers and trade alike. ” Marty Duffy- Co-Founder
There will be the gathering of some of the best spirits minds in the country speaking about their passion; the craft spirits industry. Events for the week include Bourbon Brunches, roundtable discussions, book signing, and of course the after party.

“The largest gathering of small, independent, family owned, handcrafted spirits and the distillers, importers, bottlers, distributors and representative under one roof! Sample some of the best of the boutique vodkas, gins, rums, tequilas, mezcals, whiskies and liqueurs from all around the world.”
This is not an event you want to miss

Sunday, September 28th

Quincy Street Distillery Tours
Date: Sunday, Sept. 28th
Time: By Appointment
Location: Quincy Street Distillery, 39 East Quincy Streey, Riverside, IL. 60546
Info: The $10.00 tour requires a reservation and is usually available Friday, Saturday, or sometimes Sunday. It includes a visit into the bonded area of the distillery where we produce and bottle our spirits. Bottles are also available for purchase. Book your tour at

A Bourbon Brunch: Unlocking the Myths and Mysteries of Bourbon with Michael Veach
Date: Sunday, Sept. 28th
Time: Promptly at 12noon
Cost: $40.00
Location: Fountainhead, The Barrel Room, 1970 West Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL (773) 697-8204
Info: Join us for a 3 course family style Bourbon Brunch with Special Guest Historian and Author Michael Veach as he unlocks for us the Myths and Mysteries of one of the most magnificent spirits in the history of humanity…Bourbon! We could not think of a better guide to walk us through the maze of myths and mysteries of Bourbon and it’s history. All the while Chef Cleetus will be providing fantastic family style brunch.
 Course 1 will be paired with Fountainhead’s Arlington featuring Bulleit Bourbon.
 Course 2 will be paired with an expression of Few Bourbon.
 Course 3 will be paired with a Heaven Hill Bourbon expression.
Immediately following Brunch guests are invited to join us and Michael Veach for an Industry Round Table on the Fountainhead Roof Deck. A ticket for the Bourbon Brunch also reserves a seat for the Roof Deck Round Table. Visit at or for tickets go to

Journeyman Distillery Tours
Dates: Saturday, Sept. 27th & Sunday, Sept. 28th
Times: 12:30pm, 2:00pm. 3:30pm & 5:00pm
Cost: $10.00
Location: The Journeyman Distillery in the Historic Featherbone Factory
109 Generations Drive, Three Oaks, MI 49128 (269)-820-2050
Info: Just about a 45 minute drive from downtown Chicago, we invite you to tour our unique & historical distillery, explore the history of the featherbone factory and at the end of your tour, taste of our product! Please bring a valid photo I.D., as we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the good stuff! Children are permitted on tours but we just ask that you keep them within arm’s reach of a parent at all times. We highly recommend you use the online reservation system, as we have a maximum of 15 spots available per tour. Space permitting, tours can be reserved up to two weeks in advance, on a first-come, first-serve basis. In the event that a tour is not full, walk-in spots will be available for reservation in-person on the day of the tour. Visit at

Koval Distillery Tours
Date: Sunday, September 28th
Time: 2pm & 4pm
Location: Koval Distillery, 5121 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60640 (312) 878-7988
Cost: $10.00
Info: As Chicago’s first craft distillery, KOVAL is pleased to offer tours every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as private tours for large parties and special events. Bottles are also available for purchase. For $10.00 reservations, please email or call (312) 878-7988 or register online at
FEW Spirits Distillery Tour
Date: Sunday, Sept. 28th
Time: 3pm
Cost: $10.00
Location: Few Spirits Distillery, 918 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202 (847) 920-8628
Info: Located on the very streets that once fostered the ideas of the Temperance movement, FEW Spirits has established Evanston’s first licensed distillery.. Tours are $10 per person. To reserve a spot, please call 847-920-8628 or email info@fewspirits. Bottles are also available for purchase. Visit

Bourbon & Books with Bourbon Historian Michael Veach and Distillers Paul Hletko (FEW Spirits) and Bill Welter (Journeyman Distillery)
Date: Sunday, September 28th
Time: 4-6pm
Cost: Complimentary
Location: The Book Cellar Café, 4736 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (773) 293-2665
Info: Join whiskey author Michael Veach as he speaks with Paul Hletko, owner of FEW Spirits Distillery, and Bill Welter, owner of Journeyman Distillery, as they discuss the state of American whiskey ~ Past, Present & Future. Samples of FEW & Journeyman whiskies will be available, as well as full whiskey cocktails for sale. Mr. Veach will also be signing copies of his book, “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage”. Visit

Chicago Distilling Company Distillery Tour
Date: Friday, Sept. 26th
Time: 6:30pm
Cost: $10.00
Location: 2359 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 206-2774
Info: Discover the process of Distillation and the difference between Bourbon and Rye Whiskey. We aim to educate you on the entire process from grain to bottle. Online tour reservations close one hour prior to the beginning of the tour. If spaces exist after this point, they can be filled by walk-ins on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sign up for tours below and plan to arrive early or stick around after your tour to enjoy a cocktail in our tasting room or purchase a bottle of one of our Handmade Spirits. Schedule a tour online at

Talking Bourbon: An evening with drinks authors Michael Veach and Josh Noel
Date: Sunday, September 28
Time: 7:00pm
Cost: n/a
Location: Jerry’s – Wicker Park, 1938 W Division St, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Info: Listen, learn and laugh as Author/Historian Michael Veach talks about all things bourbon with Josh Noel, Travel and Beverage Writer at the Chicago Tribune. There will be lots of info shared, whiskey tasted, and plenty of time for questions from the audience. This is a free event, but we will be taking donations for the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, KY. In addition, Jerry’s will be donating a percentage of all food and drink sales this night to the Filson. We strongly encourage arriving early if you plan on eating before the discussion begins. Special gratitude for extended to Beam Suntory, Four Roses Bourbon, Stoller Wholesale Wine & Spirits, and Campari/Wild Turkey for their support and donations of spirits for this event.

Monday, September 29th

The American Whiskey Class with whisky author & historian Michael Veach
Date: Monday, September 29th
Time: 9-4pm
Cost: $125.00
Location: Columbia Yacht Club, 111 North Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, Illinois 60601
Info: Enhance your appreciation of bourbon and increase your knowledge of Kentucky whiskey products. 50 seats are available at a cost of $125.00 for a day-long event including bourbon tastings and box lunch. Reservations are required. Please call The Filson to make your reservation at (502) 635-5083 or visit us online at Please reserve your spot by September 27th.

Master Mezcalier Program, Parts I
Date: Monday, September 29th
Time: 10am-3pm
Cost: $225.00
Location: Fountainhead, The Barrel Room, 1970 West Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL (773) 697-8204
Info: Barbara Sweetman from Scorpion Mezcal will be conducting a 2-part Mezcal Master Certification Course. Those wishing to sign up may do so at The cost of the class is $225.00 per person (includes lunch).

The Up Down Pre-CISE Smokin’ Garden Party
Date: Monday, September 29th
Time: 5-8pm
Cost: $35.00 per person
Location: Up Down Cigar Store, 1550 N. wells St., Chicago, IL. (Old Town Neighborhood)
Info: Suppliers can Sample out their Spirit brands and have them paired with a fine cigar at one of Chicago’s oldest & fabled tobacco shops. Attendees pay $35.00 at the door which includes 2 cigars, samples of local craft spirits, food on the grill and Goose Island Beer. A portion of all ticket sales go to UN86’d*, a charity created to aid in monetary relief for restaurant professionals in need. Confirmed distilleries: Mississippi River Distilling, FEW Spirits, Koval, North Shore Distillery, Tail Winds Distillery, Quincy St. Distillery, Journeyman Distillery, Redemption Rye, Great Lakes Distillery, Temptation Rye, Rhine Hall Distillery, Blaum Bros. Distillery, Caledonia Spirits, Copper Fiddle Distillery, Del Maguey Mezcal, Tobermory/Lediag/Bunnahabhain single malts, Premiere Distillery, Chicago Distilling Co. and Oppidan Spirits. Visit at

After Party at Delilah’s
Date: Monday, September 29th
Time: 9pm-2am
Cost: free entry/cash bar
Location: Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL. 60614
Info: Come unwind with the distillers at Chicago’s granddaddy of whiskey bars as they get ready for the next day’s big event. Samples of Redemption Rye & Temptation Bourbon will be made available.

Tuesday, September 30th
The Spirits Industry Round Table Discussions
A discussion of industry trends, current issues and the future of independent spirit brands
At The Chicago Hilton Hotel & Towers, The Williford Room A&B, 3rd floor, 720 S. Michigan Ave.
Cost: Included in the price of VIP Ticket and complimentary for all exhibitors

12:00-2:00 PM ~ The Industry Round Table Discussion Panel

Scheduled Panelists include:
1. Aaron Zacharias – owner, Fountainhead/Bar on Buena/Northman (Moderator)
2. Peter F. Wilkins – Mid West Brand Director, International Beverage Company
3. Ryan Burchett – Owner, Mississippi River Distilling
4. Nick Longauer – Bartender, La sirena
5. Scott Crestodina – Retail Owner, Independent Spirits, Inc
6. Monique Huston – Spirit Specialist, Stoller/Glazer
7. Dan Kaman – Midwest, Regional Sales Manager, Blackheath
8. Dave Schmier – Brand Owner, Redemption Rye/Temptation Bourbon/Riverboat Rye
9. Peter Vestinos – Cocktail Consultant/Brand Consultant, Ocho Tequila & Cherry Heering
10. Chris Morales – Business development manager, Clement USA
11. Sonja Kassebaum – Distillery Owner, North Shore Distillery
12. Megan Hurtuk – Brand Manager, Gemini Spirits, Division of Sazerac
13. Paul Hletko – Owner/Distiller, FEW Spirits, DISCUS Advisory Council
2:30-4:30 PM ~ Women of The Spirit World Round Table Discussion

Scheduled Panelist include:
1. Amy Cavanaugh – Food & Drink Editor, TimeOut Chicago (Moderator)
2. Kelly Kniewell – CIO, Fresh Coast Distributor
3. Raquel Leduc – Brand Ambassador/Bartender, Herbsainte
4. Sonat Hart – Owner, Koval Distillery
5. Monique Huston – Spirit Specialist, Stoller/Glazer
6. Hillary Lake, – Bar Owner, The Sedgwick Stop Tavern
7. DeJorn Huffman – Spirit Portfolio Manager, Tenzing Distributor
8. Anne Marineau – Bartender, Randolph Tavern
9. Sarah Sheperd Macfarquhar – Brand Ambassador, North Shore Distillery
10. Jenny Solsberg – Owner, Rhine Hall Distillery
11. Inna Feldman-Gerber – Co-Founder & President, Premiere Distillery
12. Colleen Bush – Manager, The Matchbox Tavern
13. Diane Kelley – Director of Product Development, Southern Wine & Spirits
The 4th Annual Chicago Independent Spirits Expo
Date: Tuesday, September 30th
Time: 4:30 – 9:00pm
Cost: $65.00 GA/$85.00 VIP
Location: The Chicago Hilton Hotel & Tower, 720 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL.
Info: The world’s largest gathering of independent, artisanal distillers of vodkas, gins, rums, tequilas, mescals, whiskies, liqueurs and mixers from the USA, Canada, Mexico, France, Belgium, Ukraine, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland and numerous spots on the globe. Also featuring Industry Round Table Discussions and Spirited Seminars! VIP & General Admission Tickets are now available for sale online at
Wednesday, October 1st

Master Mezcalier Program, Part II
Date: Wednesday, October 1st
Time: 10am-3pm
Cost: $225.00
Location: Fountainhead, The Barrel Room, 1970 West Montrose Ave. Chicago, IL (773) 697-8204
Info: Barbara Sweetman from Scorpion Mezcal will be conducting a 2-part Mezcal Master Certification Course. Those wishing to sign up may do so at The cost of the class is $225.00 per person (includes lunch).

The CISE After Party

Date: Tuesday, Sept. 30th
Time: 10pm-2am
Cost: n/a
Location: Jerry’s – Wicker Park, 1938 W Division St, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Info: Jerry’s is hosting the OFFICIAL The Chicago Independent Spirits Expo After-Party this year for all you weary industry boozehounds to get together before going back to your “normal” lives. We’re keeping our kitchen open until 1am, and we’re bringing in Karaoke by Maryoake. Keep an eye out for our All-Star panel of judges as we pit distillers against each other in the best industry sing-off Chicago has never seen. This will truly be a night to remember (or forget)!

Categories: Spirits

Maestri Vignaioli Chicago Feb 11th

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                The Maestri Vignaoili, or “Master Winemakers,” is a group of wine making families in Italy who have joined together based on their shared outlooks on wine production, each showcasing the distinct flavors and styles from their respective regions.  All the member wineries are independent and family owned and operated, and focuses on producing small batches of high quality wines made in traditional styles.

Meeting with this group of fine winemakers in Chicago and tasting through the wines was an quite an experience. The room was a little cold, given that the tasting was during the polar vortex, but it was still an amazing opportunity to taste some great wines. Marco Sebellico, who facilitated the seminar, was late in typical European fashion, which made the day even more interesting. He was charismatic, funny, and made attendees believe that winemaking really could come from the soul.

A great show, all in all.  Here are the wines that we tasted:

Dal Din Spumanti                                                                                                      Veneto

Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Vidoro  Crisp and clean, with fruit forwardness, melon skin, with a quick fading finish

Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Floral and dry, super crisp, 100% prosecco

Massimo Pastura – Cascina La Ghersa                                                             Piedmont

Colli Tortonesi Timorasso Timian 2009  Pale gold color, with some rim variation, full and rich complexity, good acid, a little lacking in fruit, but good aging potential

Barbera d’Asti Sup. Vignassa 2010 Dark ruby color, with very little rim variation, smoked meat, minerality and great acid, and some clay soil which gives it a beautiful nose

Bario Stroppiana                                                                                                   Piedmont

Barolo Gabutti Bussia 2010 Young vineyard, color of rust, amazing acid and minerality, round tannins, with spice and berry

Barolo San Giacomo 2010 52 year-old vines, full tannins and minerality, perfect for long term aging, the finish is bone dry, finish lasts forever

Rubinelli Vajol                                                                                                           Veneto

Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. 2009 Blue rim variation, dried fruit, dirt, soil, and clay, but surprisingly juice

Valpolicella Cl. 2012 Perfect color of dark purple, bright and fresh acid, with soft baked fruit

Fattoria di Rodano                                                                                                  Tuscany

Chianti Cl. Ris. 2007

Chianti Cl. 2008

Terralsole                                                                                                                 Tuscany

Brunello di Montalcino Ris. 2007 Milk chocolate, with creamy tannins, berry forward, full and bright, with dark fruit on the pallet

Brunello di Montalcino 2008 Meant to age, very bright, full tannins, forest floor on the nose

Guado al Melo                                                                                                         Tuscany

Toscana Rosso Jassarte 2006 Soft and dried fruit, very nice

Guado al Melo Bianco 2011 Wow!  Beautiful bright fruit, green apple, made in the old world style

Trappolini                                                                                                                      Lazio

Lazio Rosso Paterno 2010 Ruby color, perfect fruit balance, raspberry, and excellently structured  tannins

Lazio Grechetto 2012 Soft, pale straw color, citrus notes, clean and crisp

Conti Malacari                                                                                                          Marche

Conero Ris. Grigiano 2008 Funky socks, augusta, lush berry, this is an awesome monte pulciano

Rosso Conero Villa Malacari 2009 Good tannins, with a fruity structure

Cantine del Notaio                                                                                                Basilicata

Aglianico del Vulture La Firma 2010 This wine is closed down.  Very little fruit, but some floral and spice notes

Basilicata Rosso L’Atto 2012 Wheat, cherry, raspberry, milk chocolate, very jammy

Ferreri & Bianco                                                                                                           Sicily

Sicilia Nero d’Avola 2012 Roasted game, gamey, smoky, not very giving on the fruit

Sicilia Catarratto Brasi 2011 Some white floral notes, lemon peel, crisp and almost clear

Check them out below and be on the lookout for their handcrafted wines…


Categories: Wine

How Wines are rated on this site…

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How the rating system works:
Each product is tasted twice to ensure that no external factors influence the score.  Products are tasted under the same conditions; using the same glasses and the same light.  Nothing is different that can be helped.  It is very important that scores from any website or magazine not stop you from buying a bottle. While reviews may help influence which products you try, please make the final decision yourself.
There are those who think the 100 point scale is inadequate and lacking any sense of creativity.  For the most part I am among them.  What is important is that, when tasting wine, it helps to have a rubric to assist you in finding what you’re looking for, and to enhance your enjoyment of the sample.  I strongly encourage people to host their own tastings with friends and use this rating system as a guide to pick favorites.

KEEP IN MIND that scores are not the only way to determine a product’s worth.  As the old adage goes “if you like it, drink it!”

100 point scale

Nose=25 Points   Body=25 Points    Balance=25 Points Finish= 25 Points

                                 Total =100 Points

95-100 exceptional – highly recommended

89-94 superior quality –distinctive, recommended

80-88 good value – definitely worth trying

70-79 nothing special but try it

69- Or below may lack balance, and character but don’t let it stop you from trying a bottle

Nose:  Look for the aromatic notes that tell you the story of each bottle, and even each sip.  Scent tells the life story of the liquid

Body:  Texture, how it feels in the mouth, and richness

Finish:  How the flavors fade away on your tongue and how it feels going down

Balance:  How complex the flavors are, and how the balance of acid, alcohol, and sweetness combine to make a great sip

Color:  This is a much bigger deal with wine than it is with spirits. It can indicate age, complexity, and quality.

Categories: Wine

It’s Zinsanity, It’s Zintastic It’s ZAP!!!!

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Recently I spoke with Rebecca Robinson who is the Executive Director of ZAP which stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the Zinfandel Grape. My Kind of organization.

They specialize in getting people educated and excited about Zinfandel by showing the unique history of the grape that made California.

Rebecca was especially excited to tell me all about the Zinfandel Experience, which I am sadly miss by one week.

The event is all about education, passion and drinking an abundance of Zins.


January 23 – 25


The Presidio and Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

The schedule includes trade only tastings, winemaker dinners, pairing classes, tasting tracts and flights. All about Zinfandel, all and all not a bad way to spend a few days.

The winemaker dinner includes, Braised Oyster Mushroom Risotto and Slow Cooked NY Strip and Short Rib I am guessing paired with some amazing Zins.

Now those reading this, if you have the same love of Zinfandel that I do, please go to the link below…Join and become an advocate.


Categories: Wine