Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Last year, fellow Culture of Spirits writer Micah A. Hanks wrote an article about Japanese brewing company Sapporo’s efforts to produce beer from space-grown ingredients. The rising popularity of the notion of future space tourism will indicate, for some, the next gold mine in fields that are wishing to prosper… beer should be included among these, also. After all, who would want to take a trip to space without the ability to enjoy a cold one along the way?
Space.com reported Monday that the Australian non-profit space organization Astronauts4Hire will perform a series of tests on a beer developed and brewed by Sydney’s 4 Pines Brewing and Saber Astronautics Australia. The goal of the research is to test the sustainability and drinkability of the beer in space, and the tests being done by Astronauts4Hire will include taste tests as well as the physiological affects that come from drinking it in a zero-gravity environment.
Sunday, June 13th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Back towards the end of March, the 10th annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition took place in (of course) San Francisco, California. 30 experts from around the United States judged 1024 spirits from 57 different countries, before casting their votes to find the best in the world. The winner of the Gin category was no real surprise, with Beefeater pulling the Best Gin award, and the winners of Rum and Tequila coming from the right parts of the world, as well as Bourbon and Scotch. However, the biggest surprise of the event was Chase Vodka, out of Herefordshire, England, winning Best Vodka over their more traditional Russian, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Polish counter-parts. The small operation near the border of Wales in western England is owned by William Chase, who had the desire to create a potato vodka using the pre-dominantly agricultural and potato-based industries in Hereforedshire as the backbone of his operation. Growing his own potato crops allows him to cut down on production costs, as about 35 pounds of the spuds go into each 700ml bottle, which sells for £32.95 (about $48 USD).
The bulk of production lately has been pint bottles, with about a thousand of them a week being produced and a good portion of them going to rising markets in the United States. The gourmet brand has an overall production capacity of about 3,000 bottles per week, and according to Chase, will not be expanding their operations and risk lowering the quality of their product.
Right now, the product can mostly be found on the internet.
In other categories, the Best Rum award went to Vizcaya VXOP Solera Rum from the Dominican Republic, which is a dark/gold.
- Best unaged Tequila award went to Trago Silver Tequila.
- Bourbon went to Elijah Craig Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
- Best Canadian Whisky went to Seagrams VO Canadian Whisky.
- Best Irish Whiskey went to Bushmills 1608 Irish Whiskey Limited Edition.
- Best Blended Scotch went to The Grand Bark Equinoxe Blended Scotch.
- Best Single Malt Scotch went to Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch.
- Best Cognac went to Comandon Cognac XO.
The best in show for liqueurs went to Grand Marnier’s 100th Anniversary Liqueur, which sells for $135 a bottle.
If you take a sip of any of these spirits, drop us a line and let us know what you think!
Image by Wonderferret via Flickr.
Monday, May 31st, 2010
By Micah Hanks
Tequila aficionados are no longer the only ones lauding the present over-abundance of Agave, a plant used in the distillation of the Southwestern liquor famously used in Margaritas (and hangovers). Now, the Agave plant has also been associated with beneficial prebiotic bacteria, according to a new study.
Researchers with Reading University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico suggest in the study that Agave displays prebiotic activity, as observed in samples of inulin extracted from the plant. The beneficial bacteria present in the samples, according to experts, may provide both a useful and cost-effective alternative to chicory inulin, which presently dominates the market. However, Inulin extracted from Agave tequilana managed to similarly boost levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, two bacteria that are commonly used in commercial inulins, as well as a host of other components.
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
In a recently concluded study of more than 22,000 people, lead by Yangmei Li of Cambridge University, results have shown moderate drinkers who also smoke are almost two thirds more likely to have a stroke than their moderate drinking, non-smoking counterparts.
There have been a bounty of recent studies showing the moderate consumption of alcohol having positive affects on heart health, blood pressure and circulation, and bone density. Studies have also surfaced showing that alcohol appears to reduce stroke risk in individuals, and this study from Ms. Li seems to support that.
The results show that out of all the combinations of smokers and drinkers, the lowest risk of stroke came in the 7 – 14 drinks per week demographic, followed by 3 – 7 per week. Those who consume a fewer amount of drinks (0 – 3 per week) appear to be 31% more likely to succumb to a stroke, while those who drink the most (more than 28 drinks per week), are 75% more likely than those who average 1 to 2 drinks per day.
The smoking contingent of the study has another mixed bag of results, with non-drinking smokers being 32% more likely than our aforementioned moderate drinker, while the most at risk demographic were those who both smoke and drink, who are a staggering 218% more likely to suffer a stroke.
So with these results in mind, it looks like the healthiest vice to have is drinking, but in moderation of only 1 to 2 drinks per day. In relation to some of the previous studies that we have written about here at Culture of Spirits, it seems that a pint of Guinness alternated daily with a pint of an IPA, backed up with a glass of Champagne or red wine would be the logical choice to optimize the health benefits of some of our favorite beverages.
Until next time, sophisticated ones!
Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
A new statute is being proposed in Californians called the Alcohol-Related Harm and Damage Services Act of 2010. This proposal, which seeks to increase the state alcohol tax by astronomical proportions, was brought forth by Josephine and Kent M. Whitney, of San Diego, California.
Last year, I wrote an article about Russia raising its alcohol tax by sky-high margins, but if this Act in California goes through (it is going to require around 430,000 signatures on a petition just to go to a vote), President Medvedev will have to bow his head in submission, as his 300% tax hike will look like pocket change compared to the proposed 5,500% to 12,675% tax increase that the Whitney’s have authored.
In reading the details of the proposal, we see a helpful summary that California’s Attorney General wrote, which details what exactly will be taxed, and how much the tax will be; Beer’s six-pack tax will rise from 11 cents to $6.08 USD, a 5,527% increase. With that in place, say hello to $12 six-packs of Yuengling, and a lovely $15 for a six-pack of a good micro-brew, or about the price that a case costs here in North Carolina. The steepest tax increase of almost 13,000% is on 750ml bottles of wine, which aims to raise the tax from 4 cents to $5.11 USD per bottle, which has many people fearing that this will cripple the wine industry. According to one grower with a winery in Soledad, California, the most in-demand product on the wine market are mid-range bottles of $7 to $8. He fears that raising the price on those hot ticket items by an additional $5.11 will reduce the overall demand and put a tremendous strain on local wineries, eventually leading to job losses.
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
By Micah Hanks
A new study appearing today at the Web MD site suggests there is a link between heavy drinking and people who consume lesser wholesome foods. Specifically, diets consisting of heavier alcohol intake appear to lack consistent (and recommended) amounts of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and milk, according to researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Interviews performed by these agencies among 8,155 men and 7,715 women in the U.S. sought to learn about their individual drinking and dietary habits. The findings, reported in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggest dangerous dietary habits are certainly more consistent among the more regular drinkers. Immediately, one must consider whether other factors, some of which are less obvious, might be contributing to such statistics; if so, what are they, and how might they influence trends that exist between alcohol consumption and the quality of foods being eaten by these individuals?
Sunday, March 14th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Greetings, Cultured ones! It’s been awhile since my last post, and for that, I am regretful. However, I am getting back into the swing of things, and will start it off right with an article for health conscious ladies around the world.
A recently concluded study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, conducted by Doctors associated with Divisions of Preventive Medicine and Aging, and Harvard School of Public Health has shown a correlation between moderate drinking and body shape. The results of the study come from a nearly 13 year study in which 19,220 women aged 39 or older were kept up with about once a year, with weight and alcohol consumption being provided by the participants.
What the researchers noticed at the conclusion of the study, is that women who imbibed light to moderate amounts of alcohol were found to have little to no weight gain, and a much decreased likelihood of becoming obese. Other mitigating factors were not included in the results, such as activity levels, diet, and family history. These test results are very interesting, and further studies should go into these women to see if the alcohol intake had any direct affect on them, or if it is just a coincidence.
It seems fairly unlikely, given all that we know about alcohol and calories, that these results actually have anything to do with alcohol, and instead it is pretty easy to assume that it just happens to be a facet of the already active lives of many women. A very interesting thing to know is the type of alcohol that these women in the study were imbibing in; Beer and it’s empty calories, or Red Wine and it’s already well known health benefits.
Perhaps a likely scenario is more of a social one than a health one, as cocktails and wine are imbibed at events by women who are already image conscious within their social circles. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to say. Until another study is done that provides more details about the alcohol aspect, we can do nothing but speculate. However, it must be heartening to us to learn that we are not guaranteed to gain weight from alcohol’s empty calories, as some would lead us to believe.
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
The city of Arab, Alabama, recently got an unexpected surprise: research by the city’s police chief, Mike Blackwood, found that alcohol related offenses have not risen since 2008, when the town decided to begin allowing sale of spirits. But that’s not all, according to a recent statement from Blackwood that appeared in the Cullman Times online. “We’ve seen about a 6 percent decrease in alcohol-related crimes,” he adds, and though he warns that it’s still fairly early in the game to draw conclusions, “so far the alcohol-related crime is down.”
Additionally, Blackwood says that statistics he collected from other towns in the region who decided to lift bans on the sale of alcohol reported similar drops in violent crime related to alcohol consumption. But perhaps the most interesting facet of Blackwood’s findings has to do with how the number of people drinking and driving through the area has dropped as well.
Sunday, February 14th, 2010
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis has discovered that naturally occurring silicon found in malted barley and hops has bone strengthening qualities that can prevent the bone disease osteoporosis. The researchers have found that pale-colored beers, especially IPA’s, have the highest concentration of silicon due to the ingredients used and the brewing process.
While India Pale Ales have the highest concentration of silicon at an average of 41.2 milligrams per liter, wheat beers have the second lowest concentration at 18.9 mg/L, just above light beers at 17.2 mg/L.
This study adds to the list of things that beer is good for in the health of adults, lining up with blood pressure and heart disease. Although there do indeed appear to be notable benefits to drinking beer, it has to be stressed more than ever that the benefits only outweigh the negatives when consumed in moderation. Experts have not back down from their stance that one to two beverages a day should be the maximum consumption, however unrealistic that may sound to the drinking crowd. Just remember, as with most indulgences, too much is not a good thing.
So with osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease being combated by different types of beer, one has to wonder what the ultimate healthy beer would taste like. Taking a pale ale and a stout, then mixing them together into one concoction certainly doesn’t sound very appealing, but maybe a surprise is in order. Many stouts, of course, do contain some very fine roasted hops, but in order to get the bone strengthening silicon, it needs to be a pale ale, preferably an IPA.
What would this drink be called? A Pale Black? Has it been done before? I challenge you, dear readers, to give me your ideas for the ultimate health-conscious beer.
Until then, in the immortal words of the Most Interesting Man in the World, stay thirsty my friends.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Taiwanese company Kavalan has made shockwaves around the world amongst whiskey/whisky connoisseurs, as a blind taste test among experts in Scotland resulted in them beating out three Scottish blends and an English.
Yesterday was Burns Night in Scotland, which is the annual celebration of the birthday of Scottish Poet Robert Burns. To mark the celebration, the taste test went on to see which was the best Scotch. The two foreign bottles were sneaked into the test, and surprise surprise when the results were declared. “Oh. My. God.” were the words out of expert Charles MacLean’s mouth when the results were declared, as the Kavalan whisky won 27.5 points out of a possible 40, beating second place Langs by 5.5 points. The taste was described as fruity, and one can be sure that there will soon be a run on Kavalan whisky, as more and more people want to experience this New Kid On The Block.
Unfortunately, the Taiwanese brand is not readily available, as worldwide distribution hasn’t gone into full effect. The company is marketing itself as “The 1st step to a hundred-year distillery” and has been working through trial and error to create Taiwan’s first whisky. The name comes from the name of the first people to settle the Lan-Yan plain in Taiwan, and the company chose Kavalan because it represents sincerity, honesty, and step-by-step cultivation.
Right now, the pricing research that I can find puts it at about $68 for a 750ML bottle, putting it on the rather expensive side. However, with the reviews that have been given it, we are definitely not looking at a low quality whisky. In their efforts to create Taiwan’s first whisky, they have produced a work of art that may become a masterpiece, as their process continues to grow and evolve. They are taking the right steps, putting incredible effort into the research and design process; They have imported copper stills from Scotland, as well as the services of Scottish master distillers. Combining these efforts with King Car, their parent company’s thirty years of food and beverage experience, the sky appears to be the limit for the Taiwanese upstart.
Here’s hoping we can get a bottle on hand to do our own taste test, in the near future.