Ah, Purim. As we return to the Heroics of Esther and Mordechai, I remember the bumblings of King Ahashverosh that much more. At the very least, he lightens the atmosphere of the story. It’s in this light-hearted theme that I like to imbibe on Purim. Don’t get me wrong, given the weather this time of year, I generally prefer heavier, smokier, more brooding spirits, but for Purim, it’s hard to say “Blessed be Haman” over a big, brooding dram. Instead, I tend to enjoy lighter, more “fun” beverages.
For vodka, my choice this month is Bootlegger, made in Gardner, NY.
A 100% corn vodka with no glycerin or other additives blended in, so it’s a little lighter in body than some of the more common vodkas on the market. The corn provides sweetness and a very creamy mouthfeel. It’s also relatively easy on the wallet, at $30 for a bottle. As an added bonus, the bottle is a work of art in and of itself.
Whisky - I have picked out two whiskies in this article: the first called Big Peat and the other Baby Blue.
The Big Peat is a blend of Islay malt whiskies: Caol Ila, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Port Ellen in particular. Beyond the irreverent name and label, this is a full-bodied, supremely smoky Scotch with notes of tobacco, bacon aromas (yes, bacon. I told you this was irreverent!) and a bright citrus and saline finish. This is definitely for you if you want a Scotch on the cutting edge of new styles and enjoy the peat smoke without getting bogged down in intricacies.
The other whisky that reminds me of Purim is Balcones Baby Blue corn whiskey from Waco, Texas. Aside from the absurdity of a Texas whiskey, it is also unique, both sweet and smoky at the same time. Balcones roasts blue corn before mashing, giving a light roasty smokiness to the final product. The final whiskey is ethereal in both smoke and spice, allowing the corn’s natural sweetness and warmth to come through.
Sweet - And for something on the sweeter side, and off the beaten path, I really cannot get enough of the Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur.
Made from Marasca cherries--not the neon red cherries from the jar!--this liqueur is unctuous and lightly sweet. You can taste the cherries, which are slightly earthier than the ones familiar to American palettes, and a bit of nuttiness on the long finish. This is also the base of a multitude of cocktails, so play around with it. Maraschino is lots of fun with gin! (note: certified kosher by the London Beth Din)
Images from the respective companies.
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