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Templeton Rye, The Good Stuff

It's Whiskey It may seem like a broad category with all of the different styles made throughout the world, but once you understand the basic steps of production, whiskey isn't so hard to understand. In fact, knowing even a little about how it's made or where it comes from should help you recognize the different characteristics that transform its flavor and what you should expect when trying different styles.

Before prohibition, when a customer asked for "rye", everyone knew what to pour. Today, many Americans would mistake this for a piece of bread. It's no wonder there is confusion—whiskey has many different names. Whether you drink rye, bourbon or Scotch, Irish versus Canadian, blended or single-malt—all whiskey is basically the same product. But I would incite feverish debate (if not downright war) to foolishly claim they all taste the same. Subtle differences in the grain used, the barrel aging, the

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Spirit tasting and fan clubs

I would hardly call myself a wine expert, and yet I think I know enough to navigate a decent wine list. More important is getting to the point of knowing the flavors you like so you can ask the right questions and get what you want. It's about having confidence in your ability to narrow the choices as opposed to buying a bottle based on its price. But it doesn't come without experience, and the best way that I know to gain valuable knowledge about wine—or any kind of beverage—is to take the time to taste them.

Last week was a busy one for tasting whiskey in the Twin Cities. A few weeks ago, the world saw the release of Maker's 46, the new bourbon whiskey by Maker's Mark. As the bottles were arriving at the local shops, I got word of a Maker's 46 release party being

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Drink Of The Week: Blood and Sand

You just don't find many cocktails made with Scotch whisky. Perhaps it's hard to produce combinations that work well together considering the prominent flavors that are typical of any good Scotch. Nevertheless, a few creations have succeeded, and the Blood and Sand is one of them. I'm not saying the world needs more Scotch cocktails. Those of us who enjoy Scotch will say it's just fine on its own, but not everyone likes to sip spirits neat. Here's a chance to try something that is pretty rare in the world of mixology.

As uncommon as Scotch cocktails are, you might expect a working recipe to look better on paper, so when you see what's in this, you wouldn't think the combination can work. I have to say that if I set out to create a Scotch cocktail myself, it might take me a while before I would try mixing these

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Scotch, a holiday tradition

When I think of tradition, it's usually related to the holiday season. I suspect for most people, the traditions they follow get passed along year after year from family. My wife, Kimberly and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to establish some traditions of our own. For example, whenever we travel, we try to bring back an ornament for the Christmas tree which we pull out every year to remind us of our experience together. More recently, we started another tradition—Scotch whisky! I have never been a fan of egg nog, so while most folks are drinking their hot cider, Irish coffee or whatever warms their heart during the holidays, we decided to expose ourselves to Islay, Speyside, the Highlands--and slowly build up a nice collection that we can enjoy year-round.

I probably have my brother to thank for this since it was he who gave me

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