Hard Water Newsletter, (Almost Not) January 2017 Edition
WELCOME! This is the seventh edition of our monthly newsletter, first of 2017. It's the best way to keep up on changes to our extensive American whiskey selection as well as a general source of information about whiskey and whiskey culture.

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New Arrivals on the Wall

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2016, 62.3%, $28
If you haven’t tried Angel’s Envy at full strength then you are in for a treat. Aromas and flavors from the port wood finishing are deeper and more layered than the regular release. This years selection was also held back in casks a little longer so there’s even more wood influence.

Barber’s Single Malt Rye Batch 1, California, 45%, $12
First offering from this start-up distillery attempting to recreate the flavor profile of Old Potrero rye. That’s a laudable goal! And while this is still a very young and shy whiskey, you can see where it might be headed.

J. Becher Bottled-in-Bond Rye, Oregon, 50%, $12
At last we’re starting to see more and more of the established small distilleries offering whiskey that’s four years old. It takes about that much time before some of the more nuanced whiskey flavors, like butterscotch and dark fruit, to start to appear. While still tasting on the young side, this rye is definitely one it’s way to real maturity.

Knob Creek 14yr ‘Limited Edition 2001’ Batch 4, 50%, $20
Knob Creek 14yr ‘Limited Edition 2001’ Batch 5, 50%, $20
While the regular release Knob Creek has now lost its age statement, it looks like we’re going to see continued dumps of the 14 year-old line extension launched last summer. The Beam giveth and the Beam taketh away.

Westland ‘Peat Week’ 2016, Washington, 50%, $16
For the past three years Westland has been holding its “Peat Week” event at the distillery in Seattle featuring a very limited release of a highly peated malt whiskey. (The grain is imported from Scotland and dried using Highland peat.) This year, though our friends @ K & L Wines, we’ve been able to obtain some of this rare whiskey. If you’re looking for something smoky and American, this is your bottle.

Et Al...

Our usual reminder that we don't announce ALL our new arrivals. We like to leave a few things as surprises for patrons scanning the wall on their own. There's a couple of very special and very limited bottles up there right now as I write this. In fact, looks like some people have already discovered 'em.

Our complete January whiskey list can be found here.

'Tis the Season for Rock 'n' Rye (Cough-Cough)

When we think of citrus we generally envision hot summer days, the fragrance of orange blossoms, and the lazy buzzing of bees. Ripe citrus is however a winter phenomenon, with fruit only ready to eat long months after the nights have become chilly. Citrus season, which generally starts in late December and continues into March, means we can now find a wider variety of exotic and hybrid cultivars: tangerines, tangelos, pomelos, mandarinquats, blood oranges, rangpur limes, and meyer lemons.

The availability of citrus also signals the opportunity to make a 19th century treat known as Rock ’n’ Rye: an infusion of rye whiskey and citrus, sweetened with sugar and bittered with the herb horehound. Back in those days, a jar of Rock ’n’ Rye would likely have graced the back bar of most any saloon, though then it would have been considered more a form of medicine than a cocktail. That’s because horehound, a relative of mint and the 'active ingredient' in Rock ’n’ Rye, is said to help reduce bronchial congestion. Even today it is possible to buy old-time cough drops made with horehound. (If you are familiar with Ricola, these Swiss cough drops are made with horehound.)

We introduced Rock ’n’ Rye at Hard Water for the first time last year to great acclaim—followed by disappointment when the season ended and we ran out. This year we are literally quadrupling our efforts and expect to have it available until April or even May. We serve it ‘Old Fashioned’ style over a large hand-cut ice cube, garnished with a Blood orange peel.

Our recipe calls for four different citrus varieties: lemon, Valencia orange, Blood orange, and Meyer lemon. Early in the season we only get one variety of Blood orange, the Spanish Moro, but as the season wears on we’ll replace some of the Moros with two Italian varieties: Sanguinelli and Tarocco. These bring additional complexity to the finished product. We also include some vanilla bean in the infusion for added sweetness.

Hard Water Rock n Rye Ingredients

One of the questions we are frequently asked is why it’s called “Rock ’n’ Rye.” The answer is actually pretty simple: in the 19th century it would have been sweetened with rock sugar crystals. In fact, you’d have seen a layer of rock sugar sitting at the bottom of those 19th century jars, along with the sliced fruit. When we infuse our Rock ’n’ Rye we also use rock sugar, which dissolves slowly while it’s infusing with the citrus. It’s not uncommon for some of the rock sugar to remain at the bottom of the containers we use to make it. That’s discarded when we bottle it, which keeps the sweetness level constant.

So, if you’re feeling a little bit under the weather or even if you’re not, come by now for a pour of our Rock ’n’ Rye. Just remember to give a little cough before you order it, so the bartender knows you need your medicine!

More questions? Feel free to ask any of the bar staff or just send us an email:
Not to be confused with our Rock 'n' Rye
Yes, That's 50 Liters of Rock 'n' Rye!
(Feeling better?)

Ask Hard Water

We're always standing by to answer your American whiskey questions. This past month we had some questions about bottled-in-bond whiskey that stumped a number of "experts" so we're feeling pretty saucy about ourselves. Maybe your question will stump us!
We look forward to hearing from you! Write soon!
Not to be confused with our Rock 'n' Rye
Delicious, but not to be confused with our Rock 'n' Rye
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