Visiting WhistlePig: Five Steps to Understanding a Great Rye Whiskey

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As temperatures drop, there is something to the warming feeling you get after a sip of whiskey, as the spicy amber liquid flows along the back of your throat and tingles the rest of your body.

With that in mind, we recently had the rare privilege to visit the bucolic WhistlePig Farm in Shorham, VT – where the award-winning rye is grown and distilled. As we tasted our way through casks finished with Sauternes, Pinot Noir, and Port, we found our appreciation for the sometimes misunderstood spirit elevated to a whole other stratosphere.

The legendary distiller Dave Pickerell (who, sadly, passed away not long after our visit) credits the rise of cocktail culture, coupled with his time as master distiller at Makers Mark, as the impetus for his aspiration to simply make the best rye in the wold. WhistlePig remains a testament to his passion and innovation, which has contributed to the spirit’s robust comeback – perhaps as the craze for bourbon begins to level off. The farm’s triple terroir – rye grown from its fields, water from its well, and oak from the surrounding trees – as well as the on-site mill, distillation house, and bottling facility, are the essence of its success.

 

 

“Dave would always talk about our 12 Year Old World, with its triple finish marriage, likening it to a symphony,” recalls WhisltePig CEO Jeff Kozak. “The madeira finish, the bulk of the blend, acted as the bass and strings section, with bigger, spicier notes setting the tone for the show. The sauternes finish, with its lighter, sweeter notes, came in as the woodwinds and horns, lending complexity to the tune. And the port finish, with its big, fruity punch on the back end, was the percussion, adding cymbal claps at just the right moments to complement the melody.”

Having the opportunity, we asked Jeff Kozak and Master Blender Pete Lynch to enlighten us.

 

Five Key Elements of a Great Rye

Balancing the natural, bold spiciness of the grain with the more subtle herbal, floral and sweeter notes.
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Choosing the right barrel profile and allowing enough time in barrel to hit the sweet spot of aging, where the barrel character is present but does not dominate the grain character of the rye. Rye can typically stand up to much longer aging due to the boldness of the grain flavor.

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Blending the right barrels to find that proper union between all the flavors rye has to offer, presenting a whiskey that is not only complex, but well balanced.

 

 

Choosing the right finishing barrels, from ex-wine casks, to new oak, and even other spirits. We have a wide variety of flavor profiles in ryes from across North America, and each takes well to certain finish types. Our goal has always been to add a harmonic top note to the flavor we already have by using shorter finishing times and carefully monitoring the casks, so as to not overwhelm the base whiskey.

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Patience, persistence, and experimentation. Experimentation was one of the hallmarks of Dave’s approach to Rye Whiskey, and can be witnessed in products like the 12 Year Old World or FarmStock Rye. Ever one to try new things, Dave’s vision seemed boundless.

 

Holiday Suggestions: for a seasonal cocktail, add mulled cider; with dinner, add a splash of 10 Year into your gravy for a spicy kick; as an after dinner toast, serve neat, on the rocks, or in a simple, classic cocktail like an old fashioned

 

The New UNIQLO x Alexander Wang HEATTECH Collection Wants to Keep You Warm This Autumn

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As it turns out, while we’ve been searching in vain for garments that can cool us down in the oppressive summer city heat, UNIQLO HEATTECH has been chicly warming those for whom winter presents a much bigger challenge.

Of course, in these collab-crazy days, it’s hardly a surprise that, ten years on, two fashion giants would reconvene for just that purpose. And so it is that the UNIQLO x Alexander Wang HEAATECH Collection arrives in stores this Thursday, November 8, a decade after their first alliance – and just as the chillier climes seem to be taking a decisive hold of our weather situation. This time, it’s all about achieving your inner” stylishness – as the women’s and men’s undergarments making up the collection are meant to peek chicly out from under all those on-trend upper layers you’ll be flaunting this autumn and winter.

 

 

“When I look into expanding into additional categories,” explains Wang, “I seek out partners that really can innovate the product we make, and how our fans can access it. UNIQLO are the ideal partners for this collection of innerwear, because we share an appreciation of functionality and utilitarianism.”

There are well-fitted, good-looking crewneck tees, ribbed bodysuits, bikini shorts and ribbed leggings for her, ribbed tank tops, boxer briefs and extra warm long johns for him.

Wang concludes, “I’m am thrilled our collaboration has resulted in developing a new HEATTECH line; the perfect place to pick up from where we left off ten years ago.”

Let it snow, let it snow…

 

Moby, Rufus Wainwright Join ‘Swing Left’ Rallies in NYC & LA to Get Out the Vote

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Moby image by Jonathan Nesvadba

 

Surely never before in our lifetimes has voting in an election been so crucial as in the upcoming midterms – with the future of so many significant issues at stake.

Electrifying the cause will be progressive political organization Swing Left, formed in early 2017 in the wake of the shocking election of Donald Trump to the presidency. To wit, their ‘Last Weekend’ Kickoff Rallies will be taking place on both coasts next Thursday, November 1, with a galvanizing a-list lineup at each agitating for the cause.

In New York City, in the Great Hall at Cooper Union, musical talent Sara Bareilles and Chloe Flower will be joined by actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Piper Perabo, Taylor Schilling and Amber Tamblyn; while in Los Angeles, a veritable festival of musical guests will include Moby, Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Karen O & Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Dave Grohl’s The Bird and The Bee.

“In order to drive voter turnout on the scale of a presidential election this year,” explains Michelle Finocchi, CMO and Founding Member of Swing Left, “we need to drive volunteering on the scale of a presidential election.This is what Swing Left’s cultural mobilization efforts are all about.”

But Swing Left’s mission goes beyond the traditional registration endeavors – they are determined to motivate people to be genuinely engaged and involved in the fight to make change.

“Prior get-out-the-vote campaigns have prompted people to simply pledge to vote or to register to vote,” she says. “But in order to win this year, we need to go further and not just vote; they need to also volunteer to support Democratic candidates across the country and help us take back the House.”

Of course, those who don’t live in NYC and LA are very much encouraged to take up the cause, and influence elections in their own states.

As Moby himself has said, “It’s heartbreaking that so many hundreds of millions of people around the world are desperate for the right to vote; but here in America people stay home on election day.”

Swing Left wants nothing more than for you to prove him wrong.

 

Moroccan Songstress ABIR’s Debut EP ‘Mint’ is an Absolute Stunner

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Image by Jonelle Monzon

 

She’s been showered with praise from the likes of Paper, Complex and Nylon, the latter calling her “a genuine talent in a sea of wannabes.” And Moroccan-born singer ABIR is indeed uniquely exceptional, as especially affirmed today by the release of her excellent debut EP Mint. From the sultry, melancholy R&B strains of “Tango” to the breezy-pop self-reflection of “Reunion,” it’s an ideal showcase for her remarkably expressive voice.

“MINT was inspired by my Moroccan background,” she explains. “Growing up I always remember tea time being the time and place for shade with the obvious drink of choice being Moroccan mint tea! On this EP, I’m spilling the all the tea from love, life, friends, and more.”

We’re especially taken with previously released and distinctly groovalicious single “Young and Rude,” with its self-possessed proclamations of, “I’ve been breaking hearts, I’ve been breaking rules / But I can give it all up for you.”

To fête the release of the EP, she’ll be at THE FREEHOLD in Brooklyn tonight for a special celebratory show. She then heads out on a 16-date North American tour with Kiiara October 29, taking them from Chicago all the way to San Francisco on November 21.

 

 

Listen: Son Of A Bishop’s Visceral Debut Single ‘Love Left Me Lonely’

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Image by Ece Gurlu

 

Atlanta soul crooner Matthew Johnson is indeed the Son Of A Bishop, which gave him the moniker under which he now performs. And though his inaugural single, “Love Left Me Lonely,” was just released this past Friday, his musical story goes all the way back to age nine – when Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey offered him a record deal. His surely sensible father put a halt to that, recognizing the pitfalls of child stardom.

Fast forward to adulthood, and at 18, Johnson found himself touring with Lauryn Hill. And the astonishingly talented singer has since been providing backup vocals for the likes of Pharrell, Demi Lovato and Chance the Rapper – landing television appearances on both the Emmys and the Grammys.

But surely his solo career is waiting to blossom, as evidenced by this poignant debut track, with its opulent soundscape, sly grooves, epic, grandiose chorus and his sultry, visceral vocal performance – including an absolutely chill-inducing falsetto.

“I wrote this record when I was loving a woman who didn’t love herself,” he recalls. “It’s a true story of a faithful man who forgave a cheater. Nobody’s perfect. God knows I’m not, but I’m trying my best. I discovered that holding someone else’s fault over their head makes you ugly. I found the courage to let it go so I can find the love I deserve.”

Expect to hear more from Son Of A Bishop sooner than later.

 

 

 

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Exuberant, Anthemic New Crush Club Single ‘Higher’

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You may not know their name yet – but it’s a good bet you soon will.

Crush Club – the duo of the intriguingly monikered Le Chev and TC Milan – first came on the scene in just 2016. But they’ve already scored high praise from the likes of the BBC, Out and Billboard, the latter describing them as, “…somewhere between Pharrell and The White Stripes.” Imagine that.

BlackBook is privileged to join in the buzz, premiering here their utterly exuberant new single, fittingly named “Higher.” With its hyper funked out guitars, lush synths and chill-inducing gospel choir (and its exhortations of “Get Up, get up to get higher!”), it could likely even bring the dead back from their slumber for one last spirited dance. It’s a little bit Scissor Sisters, a little Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and actually remarkably redolent of the early ’80s heyday of Wham!.

“It’s a nod to the indulgences of our favorite ’70s cuts,” enthuses Le Chev, “but has the relentless attack of techno from the bass line rhythm. It came together very quickly, like good tracks do.”

 

 

Perhaps most importantly, it’s a truly inspirational anthem of self-empowerment.

“It was just one of those songs that we needed to write,” says TC Milan. “Whenever faced with obstacles, loss or any negative distraction, it can be difficult to make it through to the other side of whatever’s in your way. This song is a reminder that everyone knows how it feels to be down, so impossibly low, but that there’s always a way out, up, higher. We hope it lifts you!”

They’ll hit the road with BlackBook faves Sofi Tukker on September 27, for a 13-date North American tour that we’re guessing will just be one long, massive party. Don’t miss it.

 

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: New Retro-Modern Design Influenced Pilar Zeta Video for ‘Better Learning’

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One of the hallmarks of ’80s style was the Memphis Group design movement, which started in Italy and went on to monumental international influence. Noted for its colorful, provocative, almost kitschy modernism, David Bowie himself was an aficionado – and part of his collection actually was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2016, following his death.

So, imagine our surprise when this captivating new 3-D animation Pilar Zeta video arrived, paying a sort of affectionate homage to that very style.

Zeta herself is a wide-ranging virtuoso, a multi-media artist who is best known as the touring creative director for Miguel. She was also art director on Coldplay’s 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams.

 

 

Her first solo album, Moments of Reality, will be released via Ultramajic on October 5. And the advance single “Better Learning” (which BlackBook premieres here, along with the video) is a fascinating peek at what’s to come. With its lush soundscapes, twinkling synths, and jittery rhythms, it harks back to the electronic music experimentations – Brian Eno, Bill Nelson – of those same early ’80s.

“The song takes place within the imaginary ‘Moments of Reality’ world,” she explains, “where we initiate a binary sequence program to improve learning about different scents. This object is a special filter oil diffuser able to differentiate between thousands of different scents, as we believe the ascended human could communicate with subtle scents. The video showcases the first few pieces of the digital sculptures in choreography.”

Something to think about, certainly.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Japanese-Inspired Cocktail Recipes From NYC’s New Katana Kitten

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If you’ve ever imagined sitting in a whimsical Tokyo bar that has a NYC neighborhood feel, then you basically get the vibe of the cool new West Village gem Katana Kitten.

The latest from former Saxon + Parole bartending ace Masahiro Urushido, in partnership with the hospitality gurus behind Boilermaker and Pegu Club, this isn’t your typical trend-driven cocktail spot. Inspired by Japan’s “Jazz Age,” the interiors are infused with Japanese architectural elements, but with a bit of a rustic European vibe. It charmingly blurs the lines between playful and sophisticated.

No surprise, Urushido mixes classic highballs, signature cocktails, and, yes, boilermakers (beer cocktails) with Japanese ingredients, to the effect of inventive fusions like the Calpico Swizzle – Bombay Sapphire East, Nigori sake, calpico, lime, sansho pepper, and blanc de blanc – and the Fancy Ramune, a mix of Other Half Forever Ever IPA x “Lemon-Daiginjo.”

We asked Masahiro to share a couple of his fave summer-inspired recipes. Though we urge you to experience his liquid gold, paired with Japanese street-food bites (we highly recommend the kakuni rillette kushiage skewers) in person.

 

 

Bright n’ Sunny by Masahiro Urushido 

1.5 oz. White Rum Infused with Butterfly Pea Flower*
Dash of Lime Juice
ginger beer
Method: Build in highball glass and garnish with lime and a pineapple slice.
*butterfly pea flower infused rum
750ml white rum
1 TBSP butterfly pea flower (dry)
Method: Combine rum and dry flower in a glass jar with tight lid. Shake well and let it sit in room temperature for 10 – 20min then strain the flower.

 

Delicious Summer Punch by Masahiro Urushido 

6 oz. Gin / Vodka
2 oz. Sake (dry and crisp)
2 oz. ITALICUS Bergamot Liqueur
10 oz. Cold-brewed (sencha) Green Tea
6 oz. Lime Juice
3 tablespoons of sugar
6 oz. Dry Sparkling Wine
Method: Combine sugar and lime juice, stir well to dissolve. Add all the ingredients (except the sparkling wine) in the punch bowl, add ice and stir to combine. Add sparkling wine right before the serving. Garnish each glass with a lime slice, cucumber slice and fresh mint.
Glass: Punch bowl + punch cup

 

Brooklyn’s DUMBO is Becoming a Destination Unto Itself

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DUMBO is at last becoming a thing.

Emerging as a new Brooklyn “it” neighborhood in the post-Millennium, it somehow managed to avoid the out-of-control development of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. But now no longer just a sleepy, formerly-industrial swath of land sitting under the Manhattan Bridge, DUMBO’s burgeoning dining, shopping and cultural scene has made it a destination unto itself. Much can be attributed to David and Jed Walentas’ Two Trees, which has seen to the slow and careful growth of the area – while also supporting the local creative communities.

Notably, those same creatives will surely be congregating at the newest outpost of Soho House, fittingly named DUMBO House, which will be opening thus summer. Expect a lot of hobnobbing around the rooftop pool.

 

Cecconi’s 

 

On the walkway along the East River between the Manhattan Bridge to the north, and the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to the south, is the Empire Stores – a beautifully restored brick warehouse and garden. The open air complex is home to West Elm, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Cecconi’s, a fashionable Italian eatery imported from LA – with outdoor dining, spectacular views of Manhattan, and a creative selection of cicchetti, gourmet pizzas and pastas like agnolotti del plin with black truffle.

It’s also home to Lauren Bush’s FEED. Founded to provide sustainable livelihoods to underserved populations, each sale of the artisan-made totes, bags and accessories provide meals to the community. We love the Go-to Canvas bag and the burlap Beaded Kenya Bag – hand beaded and sewn by locals in Kenya.

For an exquisite collection of furnishings art and decor, including their own namesake line, Mark and Kristen Zeff’s 3000 square foot BLACKBARN (at 20 John Street) is a must stop. The candles and wicker baskets are particular faves.

 

BLACKBARN

 

Running parallel to the park is the quaint, cobblestoned Water Street. Pop into The Modern Chemist, a neighborhood pharmacy, for a selection of hard to find personal care and beauty products, or chat with one of their in-store wellness experts. We can’t resist a stop at the beloved Seamore’s, where you’ll instantly be transported to the beach. Replenish with a Hook, Line + Sinker cocktail, w/ Hendrick’s gin, strawberry, fresh lemon, mint and peach bitters, paired with an order of blackened shrimp Big Fish Tacos. Before heading off to gallery hopping, pick up a decadent handmade truffle or ice cream sandwich at Jacques Torres.

Round out your day at 16 Main Street, a former horse stable that is now home to DUMBO’s gallery scene. From the abstract works at Minus Space to contemporary fine art photography at Klompching Gallery and United Photo Industries, you’ll see thought-provoking works from emerging and mid-career artists.

For post-gallery-hopping happy hour, head back to Empire Stores and the Sugarcane raw bar grill – for oysters, sushi rolls and $7 mojitos and caipirinhas.

 

Minus Space