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Drink

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Meeting the Buddha of Bourbon at Wild Turkey Distillery

We toured 5 distilleries during our time in Kentucky Bourbon Country. We really enjoyed our visit to Bardstown Bourbon Company, the tasting at Heaven Hill (where we purchased coveted Old Fitzgerald 14-year-old bottles to bring home) and doing the hard hat tour at the 1930s industrial complex still in use at Buffalo Trace. Yet, it was hard to top our visit to Wild Turkey in the serene bluegrass country outside Lawrenceburg. One look at those rickhouses blackened on the outside from evaporation and you can sense the history. In fact, a distillery has been operating at this same site since 1869. We had a wonderful guide, Edwina, who showed us the whole process of making bourbon, from seeing the mash bills and fermentation tanks to walking inside one of those old rickhouses and eyeing all those barrels stacked to the ceiling. Wild Turkey currently has 7 to 8 million barrels aging, forming the largest distillery on one site in Kentucky. Outside, the rolling hills led to a bridge over the Kentucky River and the countryside was aflame in late fall foliage. 

Then we were back at the newly revamped Visitors Center tasting the wares and meeting the Buddha of Bourbon, 84-year-old Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, who's been working at Wild Turkey the past 64 years. "When I started here, bourbon was a southern gentlemen's drink. Now just as many women are buying a bottle as men," says Jimmy. He also notes that Wild Turkey is the top selling bourbon in Japan and Australia, helping to create the current surge in popularity. We talked for another 15 minutes before getting Jimmy to sign a bottle of Russell's Reserve 10 year. Definitely a highlight of our trip. If you want to try and catch Jimmy, head to the Visitors Center on Sunday afternoons after he and his wife go to church. He just might be sitting at that table at the entrance. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/27/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 26, 2018

A Visit to Bardstown, the Heart of Kentucky Bourbon Country

Drive south of Louisville and within 45 minutes, you'll pass the Jim Beam distillery, a signal that you made it to Kentucky Bourbon Country. More than 1 million visitors stopped at Kentucky bourbon distilleries in 2017, a number that has risen exponentially in the past 2 to 3 years thanks to the surging popularity of bourbon around the world. And perhaps no place is more emblematic of the current love of bourbon than my first stop, the Bardstown Bourbon Company. Friends in Louisville had recommended the recently opened restaurant, Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar, and they were right, the sweet potato gnocchi, shrimp and grits, and brisket sandwich were all mouth-watering delicious. But one lunch with David Mandell, CEO of Bardstown Bourbon Company, and I realized this facility is a whole lot more than a restaurant. Mandell had made his money in vodka before having a vision in 2013 to create one of the largest bourbon distilleries in the state. Opened in September 2016, he now collaborates with 22 renowned brands to craft custom bourbon and whiskey in his production facility, already filled to capacity over the next 5 years. Mandell didn't stop there. He created a Culinary Institute of America-like environment where student from around the world can return home and become ambassadors of bourbon. Then he debuted Bottle & Bond Kitchen, the first restaurant at a distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, featuring more than 400 vintage American whiskeys at their Whiskey Library (curated by acclaimed whiskey writer Fred Minnick). Mandell's still not finished. He's hoping to build a first-class hotel, a luxury property needed to attract international visitors to this sleepy town. It's wonderful to witness a dream come to fruition on such a mega-scale. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/26/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Rooms Now For Next Summer’s Fête des Vignerons in Vevey, Switzerland

I had the pleasure of having lunch last week with PR Maven, Gayle Conran, and Cindy Maghenzani, head of communications for Switzerland's Lake Geneva Region. They reminded me that next summer, from July 26 to August 11, 2019, the Fête des Vignerons or Winegrower's Festival returns to the glorious lakeside town of Vevey, located between Lausanne and Montreux. Why is this significant? Because the event only occurs once every 20 years! Join singers, dancers, wine experts, and loads of other performers for the extravaganza. It would be wise to book rooms now to ensure you have a place to stay. Grand Hotel du Lac, the property Lisa and I stayed on our last visit is a great choice, especially since it's celebrating its 150th birthday, as Everett Potter reports in his latest column for Forbes. While in Vevey, visit the relatively new Chaplin's World, where Charlie Chaplin spent his last years, and the majestic Chillon Castle, always a must-see sight when I'm in the area. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 07, 2018

Trillium Beer Garden on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway Returns Later this Month

My favorite craft brewery in Massachusetts, Trillium, returns the Rose Kennedy Greenway in late May. The beer garden is perfectly situated in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Castle Island will also debut their beer garden this summer beneath the Southeast Expressway in a new 8-acre site dubbed Underground at Ink Block. 20 Castle Island beers like the double IPA, Keeper, will be on tap as you check out the street art every Thursday through Sunday. Then there's Wachusett Brewery, which will be bringing their perfect summertime brew, the Blueberry Ale, to City Hall Plaza daily, serving out of their Airstream trailer. So if you get parched this summer walking the streets of Boston, you'll have your choice of stellar brew to savor outdoors. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/07/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Westport Rivers Vineyard Announces Their Sunset Music Series

An hour south of Boston, you reach the southern shores of Massachusetts and the seaside town of Westport. It's one of my favorite places to bike, where the farmland meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's also home to Horseneck Beach and the popular restaurant, Back Eddy, where we held the closing night party for the film my brother, Jim and I wrote, Passionada. Another highlight is Westport Rivers Vineyards, rated one of the best wines in New England. On Friday nights in summer, bring your blanket, chairs, and bug spray and listen to live music from 6 to 8 pm at their Sunset Music Series. Enjoy dining from the Rhode Rage food truck and Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms while sipping one of Westport's award-winning sparkling wines. Local craft brews are also served. It's a great way to end your day at the beach, but make sure to reserve tickets in advance. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 06, 2018

The Linehouse is the Latest Addition to Stowe Mountain Lodge

Travel writers adore properties like Stowe Mountain Lodge, the wonderful upscale resort at the base of Stowe Mountain. I started writing about this hotel in 2006, two years before it even opened. There was such a buzz that even then you knew it was going to be the best ski-in/ski-out resort in the northeast. It seems like every year since its opening in 2008, I've been back to report on some update as Stowe Mountain Lodge continues to expand, be it a new spa, theater, or indoor climbing wall. This week, I was back in town to pen a story on the exceptional craft brew and cocktail scene in Stowe. On Monday, I had the good fortune to meet master mixologist Dan Hatheway, who tends bar at the Linehouse, an invitation-only speakeasy found just outside the premises (sorry, I've been sworn to secrecy to not tell the exact whereabouts). Inside the cozy space of stained Vermont maple wood and lined pickle jars, we sat at the bar as Dan placed retro glassware (from Vermont estate sales) in front of us. Soon he was breaking out an eyedropper to place the bitters atop my rum-saturated Smugglers Barrel and firing up the rye in a devilishly good concoction of bourbon and blended scotch he coined the Kashki. The presentation of all his drinks were drop dead gorgeous, especially the drink he made, Lisa, the aptly named Fancy Lady. Needless to say, if you get an invite to the Linehouse, run, don't walk. 

 
Photo by Lisa Leavitt 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/06/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Stocking Stuffer No. 1, Don Papa Rum

Already a phenomenon in Paris, Don Papa Rum has just arrived in New York and Boston. I went to a rum tasting last week at Shojo in Boston’s Chinatown and was even more enamored with this rum than the last time I tried it in France. The 10-year-old bottle has hints of vanilla which stems not only from the sweeter Noble Cane found in the Philippines, but the result of aging in former bourbon and American oak casks. As the story goes, founder Stephen Carroll was sailing around the volcanic island of Negros, when he learned about the centuries-old Noble Cane and the reason they coined the island Sugarlandia. He went on land and discovered the remains of a small rum distillery. Carroll bought it out and started creating his own “black gold” molasses. In less than a decade, he’s created quite a buzz in the liquor world. Grab your bottle of 7 and 10-year rum at Vinodivino in Boston and Needham, Charles Street Liquor in Boston, Gordon Liquor in Waltham, among many other Boston area liquor stores, and you’ll soon believe the hype. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/20/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Adventures in Las Cruces Week—Exploring the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail

Head south from the historic town of Mesilla on Route 28 and you enter the Mesilla Valley, a short section of the historic El Camino Real route. At the end of the 16th-century, Spain created a 1500-mile route from Mexico City to Santa Fe that would bring settlers, horses, and goods to these lands. Old mission churches still remain, sharing the road with large tracts of pecan trees, orchards, and vineyards. Las Cruces has an ideal climate for vines with warm days, cool nights, and mild winters. Thanks to Franciscan monks, New Mexico started creating wine about 150 years before California. Today, New Mexico is home to over 60 wineries and ten of those wineries in the southern part of the state form the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail.
 
My first stop was Rio Grande Vineyards, started in 2009, and now creating 15,000 bottles a year. We tried their signature wine, Queue Tendre, a semi-sweet white wine aged in Hungarian oak barrels, before moving on to my favorites, the dry red zinfandel and the sangiovese. Tastings are done in a classic ranch-style tasting room or outside on the back deck offering glorious views of the Organ Mountains. Back on Route 28, I passed over the Rio Grande River and under an umbrageous tunnel of mature pecan trees, courtesy of Stahmann Farms, the world’s largest family owned pecan orchard. Not surprisingly, the shaded roadway is cherished by road bikers. 
 
Soon I arrived at La Vina Winery, just in time for their annual Harvest Wine Festival. Bands were playing live rock, bluegrass, and country tunes and booths were selling local crafts, and, of course, spiced pecans. But most folks were here to taste the excellent wine. I really enjoyed the sauvignon blanc and the smooth syrah. Glass in hand, I walked over to a tent to listen to the music, looked up at the clear blue sky, and enjoyed the slight breeze. Life is good on the ole El Camino Real. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/18/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 08, 2017

New Beer Garden to Open on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway

Excited to hear that the Greenway Conservancy is opening a Beer Garden this summer on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. They chose a perfect spot, right in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. They also chose my favorite Massachusetts-made beer, Trillium, which has breweries in Fort Point and Canton. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Don’t just take my word that Trillium is one of the best brews in the region. Earlier this year, the website RateBeer ranked Trillium as the third best brewery in the world! The Beer Garden is slated to debut in late June. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 05, 2016

The Debut of the Trapp Family Lodge Bierhall

I caught up with Sam von Trapp at the Boston Ski Show and he was really excited about the opening of his new bierhall at Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge. He’s been brewing award-winning Austrian-style lagers since 2010 but now you have a chance to swig a pint at large communal tables while being served lunch and dinner items from the wood-fired grill. The bierhall is located right on the cross-country ski trail network (and mountain biking network come spring). I can think of no better way to reward yourself after a good sweat than having a cool freshly made lager. Look forward to checking it out this winter! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/16 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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