Kings County Distillery Chocolate "Flavored" Whiskey - Although I have no intention of entering into the crowded field of whiskey writing on a regular basis, I am making an exception for our hometown heroes partly to support them and partly because this is such an unusual product.
The beverage was the result of a chance observation by Colin Spoelman, a co-founder of the artisanal distillery. During a visit to Mast Brothers chocolate in Williamsburg, he noticed a pile of cocoa bean husks that were going to be discarded and decided to try crumbling them and combining them with Kings County whiskey. The experiment yielded 768 small bottles of a dark brown liquid that is being sold for a mere $22.
So, seeing as how I scored the last bottle that Park Avenue Liquor Shop had, is it worth you going down the list of stores on Kings County's website and trying to track one down for yourself? Unfortunately, if you have any interest in alcoholic drinks and chocolate, the answer is yes. Before I go on, let me just say that if you haven't tried an artisanal whiskey, you may want to start there. A sip of Kings County, Tuthilltown, Berkshire Mountain or one of the others that have been springing up across the country in recent years, is quite a different experience than your Maker's Mark or (my favorite) Elijah Craig. Instead of the smooth multilayered flavors of those you get bold, rough-hewn drinks that are equally fascinating and delicious, but that may require a little more effort on your part to enjoy fully. Most of that is likely due to expectations, - a huge part of how we experience taste - so once you immerse yourself (not literally, please!), you'll want to add small distilleries to your regular repertoire.
Now back to the matter at hand. Even without a label, the uniqueness of the drink would be immediately apparent, due to it's deep color and the little bit of husk residue at the bottom of the bottle. The next clue is in the nose, which is full of rich chocolate notes and a slight yeastiness. All of that comes through like gangbusters in the first sip, which I took straight and held on my tongue while breathing through my nose to gather all the flavors on my palette. The customary spiciness of the Kings County corn liquor provided a solid foundation for the huge cocoa overtones, which I would compare to an ultra-bittersweet chocolate. There was also a slightly fruity and winey quality that came through in the back of my mouth as I drank. Next, I tried it with a few drops of water and found that it provided a nice balance to the flavors and calmed down the spice and wine a bit. A single ice cube also led to the same result. The final verdict is that this is an eminently drinkable whiskey that is unlike anything I have tried and that will be a treat for lovers of sophisticated chocolate. I can imagine it blending well with coffee but did not feel the need to mix it with anything.
Lastly, while this is not an entry-level whiskey like Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, it might be an interesting bridge to brown goods for wine-lovers looking to make that move. So get on the phone and find a bottle. Don't come around my place - mine is almost gone already!
Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bars - This is the hand-held analog to the wonderful Salted Caramel Truffle ice cream that I reviewed last time and it in no way disappoints. The milk chocolate coating is thick and dimensional and the dependable Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream combines nicely with the rich caramel swirl, which is identical to the one found in the ice cream. If you don't feel like having another bowl and spoon to clean, this will satisfy your salted caramel cravings.
Chocolate "Flavored" Whiskey - extremely limited. Get on the horn or shoot an email to Kings County to find one.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream Bars - February to December.
I'm still looking for the Blueberry Crumble ice cream. Maybe Park Avenue Liquor Shop has a pint...