Posts Tagged ‘Bully Boy Distillery’

Review: Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey

The first of the Bully Boy aged spirits. FINALLY.

Now I get to take you to whiskey school. You might learn something.
Plus, how awesome does “whiskey school” sound?



So. Bully Boy’s American Straight Whiskey. It’s a small-batch craft whiskey coming out of Boston by (very tall) distillers Will and Dave Willis. This one has been aging for about two years and change, and is an entirely different recipe from their White Wheat Whiskey. Dark blue label this time, and a taller, longer-necked bottle in contrast to their stubbier apothecary-like containers for the regular lineup. Instantly you know this is a different type of product, though the Bully Boy logo is just as recognizable in white rather than black ink. Let’s break down the name: American Straight Whiskey. It’s produced in America (well, Massachusetts, which can be very un-American at times YES I’M TALKING ABOUT YOUR RESTRICTIVE LIQUOR LAWS AND LACK OF HAPPY HOUR). Here’s the fun part… it’s a Straight Whiskey. There’s a number of important regulations that go with this designation, so you know what you’re getting. Like the term “bottled-in-bond,” it’s a guarantee from the government.

review-BBASW_label1) It has to be made from cereal grain.
The Bully Boys are using a mash bill that’s roughly 45% corn, 45% rye, and 10% barley. Somewhere in there.

2) Coming off of the still, you can’t exceed 80% abv/ 160 proof, and can’t exceed 62.5% abv/ 125 proof going into the barrel for aging.

3) Must be aged for at least two years in charred new American Oak barrels. Check.

4) No additives (like caramel coloring). Check.

5) Once it’s done aging, you can filter it (this one is not chill filtered) and dilute it down to no less than 40% abv/ 80 proof. We’re at 84 proof here, so no problem there.

6) IF you wanted to call a whiskey a “straight bourbon” (like Makers Mark) or a “straight rye” (like Bulleit Rye), you need 51% of the predominant cereal grain in the mash bill (51% corn for bourbon or 51% rye for rye). Bully Boy is split pretty evenly on the corn/rye line, so it’s neither a bourbon, nor a rye by definition. It’s simply a straight whiskey.

There you go. Lesson over.

Back in November I drove down to Boston to attend the official launch party of Bully Boy ASW at the Blue Room in Kendall Square. Will and Dave were both there boozing and schmoozing, and I was mistaken for (and narrowly missed meeting in person) Will Gordon, a like-minded writer and imbiber of various intoxicating beverages. The event was a blast, and I got my first taste of the ASW. Very tasty. The BBoys were also gracious enough to donate a bottle (Batch 1, Bottle 211) for an official SquirrelFarts review, so let’s get to it.


Though there were two cocktail options at the launch party, I went for a sample served neat – whiskey in glass. No water, no ice. We’ll start the almost the same way here, but with a few drops of water added.

review-BBASW_neatNose: Caramel. Lots of caramel. Sweet. A slight cinnamon/nutmeg spice. Vanilla. Fruit. Cherry, plum and even fig. Dark syrup, like maple syrup without the maple. There’s a heat from the alcohol that singes a touch… don’t inhale TOO deeply.

Taste: Bitter, with a spicy snap right from the start. There’s a rounded sweetness that helps in the middle, and a nice wash of boozy heat that leaves the gums tingling. A dry oaky finish, and snappy rye spice overall. It leaves your mouth a bit parched and thirsty for more.

My initial reaction at the party was that it nosed like a bourbon, but tasted like a rye. That’s the story I’m sticking with here. It’s kind of both styles in one whiskey with the corn sweet and the bitter rye spice. Given the mash bill, that makes sense.

I really like it.
Shocking, I know.
I’m not as big a fan of the White Whiskey (the Belgian-like banana/ clove throws me off a bit) but this is MUCH more to my liking. It really is a good split of bourbon versus rye all in the same spirit. I need a cocktail that will work equally well with both styles. This calls for a MANHATTAN.

Like I need an excuse for a Manhattan.

review-BBASW_manhattanBully Boy ASW Manhattan
Nothing fancy here, no tricks. Just a normal Manhattan. I like mine at 2:1

– 3 oz Bully Boy ASW
– 1.5 oz sweet vermouth
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters

For the love of Bacchus STIR IT. All spirit here, no need for shaking. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

This is my normal Manhattan recipe to give the BB ASW a fair trial. I like mine at a reasonable 2:1 ratio, with a homemade cocktail cherry. I’m sticking to Angostura here so the whiskey isn’t competing with the other ingredients.

Nose: Rounded and smooth. It’s almost got an herbal touch, like oregano. Yeah, I know that’s really strange, but whatevs. My bar, my blog. I think what does it is the mixture of fruity/winey vermouth and the spicy/sweet whiskey, with the Angostura butting in its cinnamon bark tinctures. There’s an almost savory quality as a result, redolent of marinara sauce. Is my nose misfiring? Is that a thing? The whiskey character IS there, but it’s taken on a much more subdued, languished savory sensation.

Taste: We’re back to normal in the flavor. Once again, the drink starts off with a nice bitter snap, followed by a sweet corn just before the dark grape syrup of the vermouth comes in. The finish is dry, spicy, and warming, and it’s hard to separate the contributions of the Angostura from the rye spice.

I rather like it, but it’s different from many other whiskies. That herbal aroma is really freaking me out, but the taste is right where it should be.

I just had to try this one again. There was such an odd aroma profile that I went back and made another Manhattan, this time eliminating such variables as my (past prime?) cocktail cherry, and with a fresh bottle of vermouth. Just in case. This time we’re going with a scotch tasting glass (dome-shaped rocks glass, not a Glencairn) to funnel those aromas down and see what the results are.

Nose: Much more normal from what I’d expect in a Manhattan, but STILL verging on the herbal spice. Craziness. It’s much more subdued than in the original test, and there are wider sensations of rye spice, cinnamon, syrupy grape, dry wood and/or sawdust, and yet, Italian spices. Oregano, basil. It’s not a BAD thing, just very unusual. Somebody in here (corn, barley, vermouth, Angostura… I’m looking at YOU rye) is fooling around. Weird, but neat.

Taste: As before, the taste is much more in line with a normal Manhattan. Dry spicy start, quick rounded sweetness before a warm wave of alcohol; grapey syrup gives way to a crisp arid finish, with a rye bitter mingled into the Angostura dark bark spice. Not as sweet as a bourbon, not as spicy as a rye, but somewhere in between. Lovely.

Overall I’d lean towards using this one in spirit-forward mixes due to its unique nature. It’s not quite bourbon, it’s not quite rye, but it’s very tasty. It’s got the best of both going on, and would make a fantastic Old Fashioned. Try it neat to see the duality of the mash bill before you mix it into other concoctions. Sure, I’m biased towards Bully Boy, but they keep making good products. Go snag this one. Here’s where you can find it (pdf).

For our Bully Boy rum review click here: Bully Boy Rum
For our Bully Boy vodka review click here: Bully Boy Vodka
For our Bully Boy white whiskey review click here: Bully Boy White Whiskey
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along. Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Rule 37: Beachcomber’s Gold

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

I wanted rum tonight.
The Lady Friend had a super awesome Manhattan (THIS version) and I was kind of jealous, but I already had my heart set on RUM. I don’t know why, but I did.

So, I started flipping through the New York Bartender’s Guide by Sally Ann Berk, where I had previously found The Million Dollar Cocktail. This book sorts by liquor, which is awesome, so I started in the middle of the rum section. There were a few interesting recipes to save for another time, but I had to start over at the beginning of the section to find this one: Beachcomber’s Gold. I’m going to assume this one was either created by, or named for (or both), Tiki drink legend Don the Beachcomber. Apparently there are other versions out there, but they’re nothing like the version I made. They do use a cool ice “garnish,” but this version is many much more easiers. You heard me.

Three ingredients. And one of them is rum. The other two are actually both vermouth, but they’re different kinds. That’s it. It’s basically a Perfect Manhattan/Martini with rum instead of whiskey or gin. “Perfect” in these cases means using equal parts dry/white and sweet/red vermouths. A Martini uses dry vermouth, a Manhattan uses sweet, and a “perfect” version of either uses both dry and sweet. Got it? Great. Drink time.

Beachcomber’s Gold
From the New York Bartender’s Guide

– 2 oz light rum (Bully Boy)
– 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
– 1/2 oz dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi)

The book says to shake it, and strain into a cocktail glass full of crushed ice. Nuts to that. I’m treating this like a Martini/Manhattan or any other spirit-only drink, which means STIRRING it. Since she got that first part wrong, I’m also going to ignore that bit about crushed ice, and serve it UP, in a chilled cocktail coupe. There was no word on garnish either, but with rum, a lime peel might work nicely. I left it plain this time.

Broke out the Bully Boy rum for this one. The recipe is for a light rum, but the Bully Boy has tons of flavor. Like a molasses-coated sugar cookie spread its legs, grunted, and gave birth to a bottle of rum. It probably wasn’t the right type of light rum to use for this, as the flavorful Bully Boy tends to overwhelm things, but with only vermouths as the other ingredients, I figure I may as well put something tasty in there. The drink does have a lovely golden hue (hence the name) as the reddish sweet vermouth is diluted by the faint yellow dry vermouth and clear rum.

The drink reeks of the aforementioned sugar cookie offspring, with a touch of grapey wine-ness underneath. This is a brand new bottle of sweet vermouth, and the difference is apparent. Vermouth is a wine, and tends to lose its aroma and flavor after about a month. Keep it in the fridge after opening, but unless you power through Manhattans and Negronis like I do, buy the little 375ml bottles so you don’t feel too bad about throwing any unused remains out at the end of the month.

The taste is a wash of that sweet blackstrap rum up front, with a pleasant warm alcoholic tingle. Interestingly enough, the vermouth strikes back in the middle of the taste, oozing in with a syrupy dark grape and lightly floral essence. I really didn’t expect the wines to put up a fight against the rum, but it really works out well. The vermouths take the sting out of the spirit, leaving behind the flavors, while adding their own grapey contributions. This is certainly a grown-up cocktail, though I would caution that the same recipe with Bacardi will not be terribly exciting. Having had the “perfect” version, I’d like to go back and try both a sweet and dry version of this drink. My guess is that the sweet will have a nice dark syrup to play with the rum’s spice (oooh… especially with a dash or two of Angostura), whereas the dry version will be more akin to a lighter, floral concoction, like the Presidente without the grenadine. I’d go with orange bitters on that one and see how things play out.

Well there you go. I just gave you three cocktails for the price of one. Bunch of moochers. Go make one! NOWS.

The Lady Friend grudgingly tried the recipe and offered the following pearls of wisdom: “I smell the Bully Boy, the cupcakes, rainbows, and all that good stuff. Hmmm. I immediately get the grapey vermouth, but I can pick up some of that sweet Bully Boy. It’s alright. I wouldn’t drink it, but… *shrugs* It’s an interesting cocktail, but I wouldn’t choose it.”

Great. Thanks.

The Bully Boy Speakeasy

So, last Friday night I went to Bully Boy’s speakeasy party.

It was pretty sweet.

Let me explain.

A couple months ago, the Bully Boys started dropping hints on Facebook and Twitter that they were going to throw an exclusive bash to celebrate their one year anniversary of the distillery. Old-timey garbed dudes started showing up at local bars, and posters appeared around town, each with a QR code to scan, which took you to a website. From there you registered, and got a secret entry password to the secret location (which wasn’t revealed until a week before the party), in the style of old speakeasies. I still have no idea what my password actually was, since the audio file kinda slurred the last word. Black gull? Black gulp? Black colt? Not a clue. Something like that. So I planned to equally slur the last word to gain entry.

Finally, the location was revealed: the Waterworks Museum out in Chestnut Hill. It’s located on the reservoir, and was the original municipal water pump station for the City of Boston until the 1970s, when the source was switched over to the gigantoid Quabbin Reservoir out in Central MA. The Lady Friend and I arranged a logistical puzzle (she was coming from Seaport in the city, whereas I was coming from work, then into the city on the T) and met up on the green line, carefully avoiding the horror of the B train through Boston University. Seriously, it stops every 30 feet out there. Ridiculous. After snagging a C train to the Reservoir stop (they were running shuttle buses after Reservoir, so we totally lucked out on that one) we had a brief stroll around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir itself, and over to the museum. Entrance was gained via the side door, and in we went. They actually never even asked for the password.

I bet it’s haunted.

Just inside the door, we ran into co-Bully Boy Will Willis, and chatted for a bit before continuing farther in to the museum. Holy snotrockets. This place was HUGE. Three story-high machinery lit with accent lights towered above, while the DJ pumped out remixes of classic Prohibition-era ditties (before switching over to some sweet Ace of Base). Several bars were set up throughout the machine room, and we sidled up to one to get a few drinks. I led off with a Mojito (pre-mixed, but Mojitos are a pain to make) and the Lady Friend went with the Rough Rider, the whiskey cocktail. After our traditional Bully Boy cheer “BULLY!” We took in the small details while sipping our drinks: the cigarette candle holders (real cigs… I checked), Bully Boy branded coasters, match books and empty liquor bottles as flower vases, all arranged on wooden casks. The Bully Boy logo projected brightly onto the machine room floor, and the guests, some decked-out in Prohibition-era attire, meandered in to clutch highball glasses and stare at the mechanisms looming above.

And jamming out to some sweet tunes. I did indeed see The Sign. And it opened up my eyes.

Our next round of drinks worked out quite nicely as the Rule 37 for the week:

The Commodore

– 2 oz Bully Boy White Rum (our pour was at least double that, but I’m the last to complain about a heavy-handed bartender)
– Top with Night Shift Brewing Trifecta (Belgian-style pale ale)
– Garnish with lemon wedge

Um. Pour a whole bunch of rum into a pint glass and top with the Night Shift. Plop a lemon wedge in there and drink it.

Whoa. It was certainly boozy. Trifecta is a 7% abv beer to begin with, so there’s a decent amount of punch in this pint. Yes, it’s more of a beertail than proper cocktail, but this totally still counts. Nosed with a strange mixture of sugary blackstrap rum and a Belgian-y sweet & sour aroma. The Bully Boy certainly overpowers the brew, but it’s still in there with a faint cry of “I’m not dead yet!” The taste? My notes read “oh that’s strange.” A Belgian fruity and sour note, offset by the sugar of the rum. There’s certainly a boozy astringency as well, and an almost grapey sour quality to the Belgian. I’d have to try the beer straight to get a better idea of it, but the two did get along quite well.

As we slurped our Commodores, the OTHER Bully Boy, Dave, came over and chatted with us for a bit. As we were talking, Michael O’Mara, co-founder and brewer of Night Shift, walked up, fresh from delivering kegs at the American Craft Beer Festival, and we were introduced. His altered suggestion for the drink was a shot of Bully Boy rum, topped with the Trifecta and lemon wedge, but served in the skinny highball glass over ice. It probably would have been a more manageable alcohol content, and a better blend of flavors, but I was satisfied with my big ol’ pint o’ booze.

The Lady Friend and I stayed a bit longer, exploring the museum, tasting more cocktails and having some snacks. We headed out as the party got REALLY crowded, and made our way back to the T, complete with Indiana Jones-style lawn sprinkler evasion maneuvers. While waiting for the God-forsaken T train way out in the wasteland of Cleveland Circle, we observed a pointy kitty (large rat) shuffling and snuffling along the rails. The Lady Friend, unperturbed by our new acquaintance from the Order Rodentia, and perhaps feeling a bit cocktail-laden, insisted on sitting on a junction box clearly marked “Wet Paint.” Luckily for her, it had dried by that point leaving khakis unblemished for the trip home. Bully!

GrandTen Distilling

Holy crap.

There’s ANOTHER craft distillery IN Boston.


I had no idea.

I stumbled on an article on that described a new distillery in South Boston called GrandTen. An email was immediately sent, and in a short amount of time I received a reply from co-owner Matthew Nuernberger, who graciously invited me in for a visit.

Here we go.

Yes, there’s a distillery in there.

GrandTen Distilling is located on Dorchester (Dot) Ave. in between the Andrew and Broadway T stops. It’s easily walkable from each. However, the entrance itself a bit tricky to find. There’s the tan “Addison Wellesly” building at 383, but it’s all small offices inside. Next door, at 371, there’s a series of green buildings, but that’s too far. GrandTen is actually located BETWEEN those two buildings, down a driveway and hidden in the shadows of the overhanging building. Did you miss it? Yeah, me too. Several times. It does give it a slight speakeasy feel, where you only gain entrance by knowing where the door is before you go. Once entering (look for the banner hanging overhead) I knew it was the right place when a copper pot still winked at me from across the room. I was just glad to get out of the rather warm and odoriferous waft of industrialized Dot Ave.

That’s more like it.

The distillery is located in a historic Boston building, which was once the home of the South Boston Iron Company, an iron foundry established in the early 1800s by metallurgist Cyrus Alger. Back then, the building sat on South Bay, which has since been filled in, and was one of the premiere foundries of the day. The first gun ever rifled in America was produced at the foundry, and they continued to provide munitions and arms to the US Government through the War of 1812. When steel became the metal of choice, the foundry switched to producing wire, and the spectacle of sparks and molten metal became a must-see tourist attraction for Boston.

Inside it smelled like the bran/molasses treats my mom bakes for her horse critters. It reeked of molasses. Which meant that there was rum being born. I met Matt, and he showed me around their setup while co-owner Spencer McMinn busied himself by trying to infuse hickory smoke flavor into a jug of vodka. More on that later. GTD runs a 50 gallon pot still, currently electric. It’s an “eau-de-vie” still with a larger dome with more copper surface area (copper is essential in distilling; it neutralizes some of the byproducts) and allowing more flavors through the distillation process. Their column is quite a bit shorter than others I’ve seen, though again, this means less separation and more flavors in the final spirit. They’ve had it for 16 months, but it’s only been operational since November of 2011. As with Bully Boy and Ryan & Wood, GTD had to wait for months and months while their distillery plans were approved, equipment was acquired and installed, though mostly it was all zoning and licensing nonsense. Since GTD falls under stricter Boston zoning (whereas Bully Boy had some leeway with their industrialized Newmarket location) they waited two months just for their first rejection, and another three months for the appeal. It takes a long time to convince the government that you’re a legitimate business making a real product, especially when booze is involved.

The starting point for all the GTD products is neutral grain spirit that they purchase, meaning that they do not mash and ferment their own grains, but begin with a odorless and tasteless spirit. From there, it’s distilled with botanicals for their gin, or infused with peppers and smoke for their vodka. The rum is open fermented from molasses and uses a process called “stripping,” which means the spirit is essentially distilled twice to give it the characteristics and flavors they’re looking for. The neutral grain spirit, or “eau-de-vie” (“water-of-life”) method saves time and resources for a small distillery by giving them a base spirit to begin crafting their products from, rather than mashing and fermenting wheat, corn, barley or other grains. Currently, their neutral grain spirit is sourced from New York. It sounds like the sort of thing that might draw some criticism, like using malt extract in place of milling your own barley in the brewing world, but I have no problem with it. The end products are fantastic, so why not save a step?

GTD has several end products from their eau-de-vie method, but only one, Wire Works Gin, is currently available, in the mid-$30 range. It’s been on select shelves since April, and is making its way into various local cocktail bars. They’re working on Fire Puncher Vodka, a chipotle- and hickory smoke-infused spirit, and molasses-based Medford Rum, though this will only be sold as an aged product. They’re also playing with a few liqueurs, and there’s an applejack aging in the barrel room. Yum.

So. Time for a tasting. First up was their flagship product, Wire Works American Gin, named for the foundry’s industrial past and sporting a beautiful copper-inked label. The GTD boys wanted to make an American-style gin, not a Plymouth or London Dry, which are more of an alcohol-juniper assault. Typically the alcohol heat and overwhelming juniper flavors punch you in the mouth, but GTD wanted something else. The American-style gin is smoother, rounder, and more complex than their British brethren. Great Lakes Distilling Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Gin springs to mind as a good example of the American style, sweeter and smoother, with some more unique flavors. Ryan & Wood also makes a smooth, citrus-forward gin that I was impressed with.

The GTD boys poured a splash of their offering into a red plastic party cup, and also served up some samples of Beefeater London Dry and Tanqueray for comparison. Sure enough, the Brits were hot on the nose with a big slice of pine, and tasted the same. Wire Works nosed sweet and smooth. The pine/juniper essence is there, but very balanced and tempered. It was a much lighter aroma than the sickly perfumed London styles. The taste? My notes read “WOW. TASTY!” There’s pine, but with a sweetness, different from an Old Tom or genever. There’s almost some mint or spruce in there, and leaves a very pleasant tingle on the tongue, rather than the usual hot alcohol burn. It has an excellent mouthfeel, smooth but without being too coating. This is due to a somewhat unique (for gin) ingredient: cranberries. Spencer, a PhD-level chemist by the way, explained that the cranberries were used for their acidity, which creates a smoother mouthfeel. None of the cranberry flavors make it through the distillation, but that semi-gloss mouthfeel is great. As I’ve said before, gin is not my favorite spirit. I’m getting there, but it’s a slow process. I think Wire Works is my new favorite, even better than the Rehorst. It’s that good. Amazing.

Next, I tasted a test batch of their Fire Puncher Vodka, whose namesake, South Boston firefighter Tommy Maguire, attacked flames with such vigor that it was said he punched the fire with his bare fists. Fire Puncher is a flavored, infused vodka, so don’t expect a neutral spirit here. GTD has no interest in making flavorless spirits. Their goal with this one is to make it taste like a campfire, infusing hickory smoke, and two kinds of Chipotle peppers. On the nose, it smells like Mexican food: spicy, but with a smooth sweetness underneath. The taste starts with a smooth green pepper flavor, which moves to a bitter campfire smokiness in the middle. The pepper’s spice kicks in, and lingers throughout the finish. It’s a spirit that stays with you, but that’s not a bad thing. Though this test batch was a bit spicier than they wanted, I thought it was EXCELLENT. There’s so much flavor going on that you don’t notice the 90 proof alcohol, yet it’s not TOO hot and spicy, but rather an almost savory medium hot pepper. This one is going to make a FANTASTIC mixer, though would likely be a great sipper over rocks.

As a special offering, there was a taste of almond cordial that was still in the test phases. At 80 proof, it’s made from an almond distillate aged for 4 weeks on toasted oak spirals. This is no sugary amaretto or orgeat syrup: it’s the real deal. Pure almond flavors without all the sugar syrup. It noses with a nutty pasta quality and some slight alcoholic heat. The taste is, well, almondy. Mmmmm. Slightly syrupy, but there’s no indication of the 80 proof booze. It would also be excellent over ice, or as a sweetener in cocktails. Perfect, as Spencer described their products as being “very cocktail driven.” These guys know what they’re doing.

Finally, there was a taste of their Medford Rum coming straight off of the still. It was all at once sugary, molasses, and wonderful. Very much akin to Bully Boy’s White Rum, though GTD will be selling only an aged version. A lot of New England distilleries are going the way of blackstrap molasses rums, such as Turkey Shore’s Ipswich Rum, another craft distiller on my list to visit. There’s a rich history of these rums in the area, as rum was the spirit of Colonial America, until the Brits imposed taxes and the drink of choice shifted to whiskey. Medford Rum is named for the original Medford Rum, which dates back to the early days of Massachusetts. GTD’s version, right off the still, was incredibly flavorful, and should be phenomenal once it’s aged.

GTD is purposefully naming each of their spirits and delving a bit more into a back story for each one, rather than pushing their distillery as an overall brand offering a gin, a vodka, a rum, etc. It’s an interesting approach, and they believe the spirits should stand on their own, appealing to a wider audience. You don’t necessarily go looking for GTD gin, but when you see Wire Works on the shelf with the big London gins, it’ll be quite a bit more distinctive and unique.

Public tours and tastings will begin sometime later this summer, once their retail and tasting area is constructed. Matt described it as basically being a second business within the distillery, so they’ll need some time to get it up and running. And built. They’re doing the construction by themselves (there was freshly-laid tile when I visited), but it should be a great attraction once completed.

In case you were wondering about the name, as I was, yes there’s a story there too. Matt and Spencer’s grandfather (they’re cousins… did I not mention that?) was a hardworking guy who enjoyed his cocktails, especially gin. Family gatherings were rousing affairs where the booze flowed freely. Since he had nine grandchildren, they decided to name their distillery GrandTen, as they think he would look upon the business as his “tenth” grandchild, and love the gin it produced. I think it’s a great namesake, and with the quality spirits they’re making, GrandTen should make the old man proud. Keep an eye out for these guys and buy their booze.

Rule 37: Windex

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

Yes, this is a drink.

Also, it’s vodka-based.

I’m sorry.

This is a bit of a novelty tipple I found in one of my numerous cocktail recipe books. The book is the Playboy Bartender’s Guide, which I picked up on Amazon several years ago for a couple bucks, thinking it was a somewhat pocket-sized little recipe book. Turns out it’s a 480+ page hardbound monster. Totally worth the price. It has a lot of “cocktails” that seem to have come along in the 1970s, and aren’t really terribly tasty, but are fun for the novelty factor. One I’ve been meaning to make for quite some time is simply called “Windex,” and the original plan was to make a whole batch served in the appropriate window fluid bottle, complete with sprayer. That hasn’t happened quite yet, but I did make one to test out with some groovy glowstick lighting techniques.


– 1 1/2oz vodka (I used Bully Boy, naturally)
– 1 oz triple sec
– 1 oz blue curaçao

Shake it: it should get nice and blue. Strain and serve into a chilled cocktail glass. I used a champagne flute because I was feeling fancy. It would probably do quite nicely with an orange twist, but would somewhat distract from the glass cleaner effect.

Well. Yeah. It’s basically just vodka with triple sec. And more triple sec. Blue curaçao is simply orange curaçao with some blue coloring, and I often admonish the Lady Friend for making cocktails with it. It’s a tad gimmicky to give any credibility to a drink. A bit too party girl for me. The vodka certainly doesn’t help, as that’s another indicator of someone who wants a boozy drink, but doesn’t like the taste of booze. This is all strictly a matter of opinion, and if you’re a vodka-swilling party girl, preferably statuesque, blonde, and open-minded, by all means get in touch and we’ll discuss the matter, intimately.

Anyway, the drink is certainly Windex-blue. Like, bang on. It’s got that medicinal orangy aroma of triple sec, with a sickly sweetness. Um. That’s about it.

It tastes… well… about like the ingredients would seem. It’s sugary, fake orange flavored, with a kick of booze in there. I specifically went with the Bully Boy vodka for this one over Flag Hill’s General John Stark vodka because I wanted the neutrality of a clean spirit As mentioned in my review, the Flag Hill has a definite apple aroma and taste to it. I think it might actually play nicely with the orange sweetness in this drink and add a little more character to it.

Clearly, this drink is all about the color novelty, and when served in a Windex bottle, should nicely do the trick. I’m reminded of comedian/magician The Amazing Johnathan, who would routinely drink from a similar bottle during his stage act. A great ruse. And that’s what this drink is about: the gimmick. It’s the novelty factor that you want from this drink, instead of a quality crafted beverage.

Plus, it really just kinda looks cool.

Review: Bully Boy White Whiskey

Finally, we come to the the final installment of my Bully Boy product line reviews. That is, until their aged stuff has finished properly aging. Which is taking FOR-EV-ERRRR.

Sidebar: if you can find a way to either accelerate or restrict the aging process, then either alcohol producers or Baby Boomers will pay you uncountable fortunes.

I think this rather improves the Boston skyline.

Bully Boy produces a wheat-based, white whiskey, two unusual characteristics that are becoming more popular in the industry. With white (clear) unaged whiskies popping up on shelves labeled as “white dog,” “white lightning,” or even straight-up “moonshine,” Bully Boy takes the trend and adds a bit more craft to the process. Like their vodka, the use of regionally-sourced wheat earns the whiskey a USDA Organic stamp, and an entirely different flavor from most other brands, which tend to use corn more than wheat, rye, or barley.

To be legally labeled as whiskey, rather than “unaged wheat spirit,” you have to age it. Bully Boy ages theirs for eight hours. Yup. Eight. That’s it. They started off with a full 24 hours, but wound up with more of the barrel’s smokey char flavor than desired. Despite the raw, alcohol burn of the young whiskey, this one clocks in at a standard 80 proof, 40% abv.

Time for a sample.

Nose: A bit hot in the nose. Some mild acetone, but with a sweetness lurking underneath. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it sugary, but there’s a very dry, honey candy behind the booze. It’s like the missing link between the vodka’s “wet granite” (couldn’t resist) neutral spirit, and the rum’s molasses sugar wonderland. Being a wheat-based spirit, I’m picking up a lot of banana as well, much like a Belgian beer, though lacking the clove spice that often goes with it. There’s an herbal essence (try the body wash!) reminiscent of Irish poteen, though a side-by-side comparison with both my Bunratty and Knockeen Hills emphasizes the alcoholic nose of the Bully Boy.

Taste: Neat, at room temperature. Hot on the tongue, then evaporates cleanly, leaving behind flavors of dry wheat grasses and a mildly antiseptic vodka-like cleanliness. There’s quite a bit of that dry honey again, and even a bit of dry wild herbs, like a very subdued poteen.

Let’s put it in a cocktail and see what happens. Since last week’s Rule 37 was the scotch whisky based Affinity cocktail, I though I’d give it a try with the Bully Boy. The original recipe of equal parts spirit, sweet vermouth and dry vermouth with Angostura bitters tasted much more vermouthy than the scotch version of the drink. The more delicate Bully Boy is washed away in a tipple where even the Angostura makes its presence know in the middle ground. As I suspected, when using a spirit less powerful than a Big Scotch, the recipe needs some tweaking. So tweak I did, arriving at this recipe, which I suppose I’d have to call “An Affinity for Bully Boy.”

An Affinity for Bully Boy
Original recipe on right, updated variation on left.

– 1 1/2 oz Bully Boy Whiskey
– 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
– 3/4 oz dry vermouth
– 1 dash orange bitters

STIR in an ice-filled mixing glass and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish necessary, though a flamed orange peel would likely do wonders.

First off, it’s more of a pale orange than the normal Affinity, and the recipe is closer to a Perfect Manhattan, though not quite there yet. Notes of orange mingle with the Bully Boy’s hot nose, though a bit of the banana wheat eases through.

The taste is very orange-bitter forward, with the vermouth syrup gluing in a dry whiskey element. A bit more on the tart side (I was likely a tad overzealous with the bitters) but very smooth overall, with the fiery whiskey tempered down to a warming glow. It’s much more pleasant this way, though there’s not a terribly strong flavor from the spirit. Rather it mixes in layers with the vermouths and bitters as a lovely complex dance; your tongue constantly tries to decide what it’s tasting at any particular time, as a lovely warmth builds from the spirit. In the aftertaste, that honey poteen flavor of the whiskey loiters at the sides of the tongue, seemingly not in any hurry to be on its way.

It’s a bit like DayQuil, though in a complimentary way. I wonder if a cherry bitter version would taste like NyQuil? A splash of absinthe would in theory yield a green NyQuil licorice flavor, but really, what kind of psychopath likes the GREEN NyQuil? I originally made this with two dashes of orange bitters, but amended the recipe to half that amount, which should be sufficient to add the orange element without overpowering the drink. Still, this concoction allows you to experience the whiskey’s character while toning down the alcoholic burn. The flavor really shines through in the aftertaste, after the vermouth has eased away.

If I had to do it again, I’d likely just make a White Manhattan with it, which indeed was my original plan, though that wouldn’t be nearly as adventurous. See the risks I take for you people?

So, what’s the conclusion? Well, it’s Bully Boy, so you know it’s got the right attitude behind it, and it’s a well-crafted spirit. I’m not as much of a fan of a) wheat flavors or b) unaged, young whiskey, and the Bully Boy is based on both of those. Drinking it neat is not my preference, though a splash of water does WONDERS to tame the alcohol and release more of the flavors. However, I think this makes an EXCELLENT mixer. I have tried it in other cocktails not listed here, and the unique flavors of the spirit really do some interesting things in a White Manhattan (white whiskey, dry vermouth, orange bitters), or even a simple whiskey sour. The trick with this particular whiskey is finding recipes that allow the flavors to shine through without being overpowered by the other ingredients. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a delicate whiskey, but it is more subdued than the big bourbons and ryes I’m used to. There are many recipe suggestions listed on their website, most created by local bartenders, who have welcomed a new, locally-produced spirit.

There is an aged version of the whiskey that is… still aging. The first batch has been going since last spring (along with some rum) and I’m DYING to try it. In theory, the barrel aging will tone down some of the fresh-off-the-still alcohol heat and add another layer of smokey vanilla flavors to the wheat fruit, which I think will make it a much more pleasing spirit to sip neat.

If I haven’t convinced you to track down these spirits yet, then I don’t know what else I can do. Get out there and buy some local, handcrafted liquor. That’s an unusual enough situation in itself, but trust me, these are especially tasty. Throw away your Bacardi and put the Bully Boy Rum on your shelf. It’s worlds apart. Add the White Whiskey to your collection of ryes, bourbons, and Scotches. Don’t have a whiskey collection? Well, why not? Start one. If you’re one of those silly vodka drinkers, don’t waste your money on advertising. That’s what you’re really buying when you order Grey Goose like a numbskull. Have you seen any Bully Boy billboards around? Nope. That’s how you know it’s worth buying.

If you live in, around, or anywhere near Boston, you need to try these spirits.

Do it for the Bully Boys.
Do it for Boston.
Do it for AMERICA.

Do it because I told you to.

For our Bully Boy rum review click here: Bully Boy Rum
For our Bully Boy vodka review click here: Bully Boy Vodka
For our Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey review click here: Bully Boy ASW
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along.
Put it to the test: send me your booze!

Rule 37: The Moscow Mule ft Bully Boy Vodka

Modern Drunkard Magazine’s articleThe 86 Rules of Boozing, by Frank Kelly Rich states:
Rule 37. Try one new drink each week.
The Rule 37 series of posts chronicle my attempts to accomplish this feat every week.
For the recipes of R37s past, click the Htf do I make these drinks? tab.

Well, it took awhile, but this week we have a vodka drink. And for good reason. I scored a bottle of Bully Boy’s wheat vodka for review, and decided to put it to the test in a drink you’ve most likely heard of: The Moscow Mule.

But first, a brief dose of history. Vodka is a clear, neutral grain spirit. That means it’s not supposed to have any flavor whatsoever, and you can make it out of whatever you want: potatoes, barley, wheat, apples, corn… anything that will ferment. Boil off the alcohol from the fermented mash, filter it as much as possible (purity is the name of the game with vodka) and there’s your spirit. Poland claims they started doing this in the 8th century, and mentions of it pop up during the Middle Ages. The word itself comes from the Slavicvoda,” or “little water.” Today, vodka is the dominant spirit in America, surpassing whiskey in the 1970s. If you want some real-world proof of this, go to a liquor store (or packie) and compare the number of vodka bottles on the shelves compared to everything else. It’s a landslide. Pretty amusing for something that has no taste.

It wasn’t always that way. In Colonial America, rum was the drink of choice until some sort of dustup with our British overlords closed down the trade routes from the Caribbean. From thereafter it was whiskey time again in America. It’s not as if vodka was completely unknown… Eastern European and Russian immigrants certainly brought their vodka knowledge to America, but it didn’t really catch on until after WWII. Some Russian dude named Rudolph Kunett had bought the rights to produce Smirnoff vodka in North America back in 1933, but no one was buying until they corked the bottles and changed the marketing approach to calling it “white whiskey” with the memorable tagline “Smirnoff leaves you breathless.” Oh, and Smirnoff was featured prominently in some films about a guy named Jimmy Bond. That helped.

“My liver and I are engaged in a Cold War of Mutually Assured Destruction.”

Of course, in the 1950s the big red bear was on everyone’s mind, and Americans loved the allure of drinking the enemy’s drink, even though it was produced in America. The Cold War was in full swing, though I think the whole thing could have been solved quite easily by reanimating Theodore Roosevelt to recapture San Juan Hill in Cuba, and challenge Khruschev to some old timey bare-kuckle boxing. Certainly would have taken care of that silly missile crisis… just airdrop TR with a safari hat and he’ll take care of it. Bully!

“Throw a shoe and see what happens to that pretty face of yours, scoundrel!”

This is where the Moscow Mule comes in. I refuse to use the term “Cold War classic,” but it does stem from those post-WWII times. Somewhere around the mid-1940s (stories vary) a couple of guys at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub in Hollywood decided to take some of their homemade ginger beer, throw in some vodka, and half a lime. Bam. That’s the Moscow Mule. The genius of it comes from the marketing ploys used. You see, they served the drink in copper mugs, and eventually made them into official Moscow Mule mugs. America loves a gimmick, and it took off. This was arguably THE cocktail that made vodka popular to the masses. So let’s give it a whirl.

The Moscow Mule

– 2 oz Bully Boy vodka
– 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
– 4-6 oz of ginger beer, to taste

This is a built cocktail, which means you do not shake or stir, but add the ingredients directly to the glass. Slosh the vodka, then lime juice, followed by the ginger beer into a rocks-filled highball glass, or – if you’re so lucky to own one – a proper copper Moscow Mule mug. Give it a quick stir, garnish with lime wedge, and sip the Cold War era goodness. Suck it, Khrushchev.

Coooooool and refreshing. A nice hot ginger snap plays with the lime tart, as in a Dark & Stormy while the vodka adds that mule kick. As with most cocktails, there are many variations on the Moscow Mule recipe. Some use only vodka and ginger with only a lime wedge to taste, and others go with equal parts lime and vodka topped with a splash of ginger. One thing is for sure: you must use ginger BEER, not some wimpy little ginger ALE. The ginger beer has a much stronger, assertive flavor, whereas substituting ginger ale will throw the tastes out of proportion. Some add a splash of simple syrup, but I find it’s not necessary. Others squeeze half a lime and drop the shell in the glass. I prefer mine clean, using only the juice without the pulp. A vodka cocktail always seems to be more about the quality of the ingredients used in the drink, rather than the spirit itself, since it doesn’t add any flavor. This demands FRESH lime juice, and a decent ginger beer. It’ll make a big difference.


As for the vodka, you can try the classic Smirnoff, or upgrade to some Bully Boy. Theirs is a winter red wheat vodka, sourced from Aurora Mills Farm in Maine. A fun little side effect is that it winds up with an “organic” designation. In 2011 it won a gold medal (92 points, exceptional) rating from the Beverage Tasting Institute.

When I think “vodka” I think “cold” and had planned to shoot the Bully Boy in the snow, with a nice wintery background. However, this year, THERE’S NO SNOW. It’s the winter that never was, and aside from messing up my shot, I’m perfectly ok with that. Here’s what I thought of the Bully Boy:

Nose: The astringent medicinal sensations of alcohol. Sterile, clean-smelling, but not hot in the nostrils. Vodka always makes me think I should be cleaning something with it instead of drinking it. It also makes me recall my drink of choice during freshman year of college: Smirnoff and Snapple lemonade. Lots.

Taste: Well, it’s neutral grain spirit, so there’s not SUPPOSED to be any particular taste. With Bully Boy it’s distilled through both column stills then filtered further to remove as many flavor-containing congeners as possible. The Beverage Tasting Institute amusingly claims they get tastes of “wet granite” and “powdered sugar,” but are nice enough to call the spirit “classy.” With vodka, we’re looking for mouthfeel… smooth and oily versus dry and harsh. The Bully Boy is certainly in the smooth category, though I wouldn’t go as far as describing it as oily. Very pleasant, and nicely manages to sidestep the harsh, hot alcohol burn of lesser brands. Very drinkable, and even better as a mixable. I don’t like vodka in general, but I don’t hate this. Especially since it’s locally-produced in Boston. As I said in my Flag Hill Winery post, there’s a certain gratification when serving a local craft product instead of a Big Brand. Well worth the premium.

Bully Boy is Boston’s first craft distiller since Prohibition, producing a wheat vodka, wheat whiskey, and molasses-based white rum. You can find them in these stores and restaurants in MA.
Bottles retail for about $30.

For our Bully Boy white whiskey review click here: Bully Boy White Whiskey
For our Bully Boy rum review click here: Bully Boy Rum
For our Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey review click here: Bully Boy ASW
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Squirrel Farts is now accepting solicited product reviews! Send me a bottle and I’ll take a pretty picture and talk it up in the amusing tangential manner you’ve come to expect. Beer, spirits, mixers, whatever. Contact here for details. Note: I will mention that the review was solicited, hell, I’ll even brag about it. Free booze? Damn right. But The Man says I have to say I got it for freebies. I’m excited about free stuff, so whatever. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ll like it, or that I’ll give it a good review. But chances are if you read this blog, then we’ll get along.
Put it to the test: send me your booze!

The Monday Hangover: Dec 10-11

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.

Another week down.

Friday night we skipped over our usual Rule 37 cocktail night to attend a party in Natick. It was the Irish Lad’s company holiday party, which I had bartended last year, and took on the role once more this year. I put together a limited menu of well-known cocktails and set up shop. The Lady Friend was on hand to chit chat with various peoples, eat three ice cream sundaes, and fetch me a beer and a hot dog. The Irish Lad procured a keg of Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union India Pale LAGER, and the keg kicked long before the party did. It was tasty. The Engineer and his wife were both there, as was Wifey, of course. Her friend requested a mixture of cranberry juice, orange juice, and club soda, which Wifey overheard and asked for the same, but with vodka. Another amusing moment was when Wifey asked for a refill on her Cape Codder, to which I replied “Do you really want that? Or do you want The Mystery Drink?” Of course, she couldn’t resist, and went for the mystery drink, which was a variation on a Rum Stone Sour, and very sweet, much to Wifey’s delight.

If there’s any question as to what the most popular liquor is, using this party as a baseline, it’s vodka by an overwhelming majority. Vodka really caught on in America in the 1950s, and by the mid-1970s, became the best-selling liquor in the country. Below is the breakdown of drink popularity from the party. This is a rough recollection; I really should have kept track of real numbers.

50% vodka tonic
20% vodka cranberry
10% gin & tonic
5% vodka “martini”
5% rum & coke
10% everything else

Another fun one: some guy came up to me and ordered a Martini but “with splash of orange juice.” Instant suspicion… gin or vodka? “Vodka… but light on the vodka and with more orange juice.” Um, ok, so that’s a Screwdriver, and nothing close to a Martini. Whatev. I did the whole fancy bit with the shaker and he seemed impressed.

I went through two and a half of the big handles (1.75l) of vodka in about 3 hours. That’s over a gallon of vodka. Yikes.

Apparently when you’re this guy, the rules of parking don’t apply.

Saturday’s event was another Bully Boy tasting, this time at Curtis Liquors in Weymouth. Yes, Bully Boy is now available at Curtis! I had made a Twitter comment many weeks ago to the effect of “Oh Curtis Liquors, you complete me… if only you sold Bully Boy.” I was then contacted by both Bully Boy and Curtis saying it was in the works, and now, here we are! The Lady Friend and I had some liquid shopping to do, so we stopped by. There was only one Bully Boy this time, Will, and we chatted a bit in between shoppers sampling the samples. Lots of fun stuff coming down the line from these guys, so keep an eye out. I’ll let you know what’s up with the BBoys.

In the meantime, the Lady Friend and I wandered the aisles seeing what there was to see. We picked up a couple bombers to drink that night, and I scored a sixer of 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA. I marveled at the sight of Bully Boy on the shelves, though the $30 price tag is right at the limit of the price point. My general shopping rule for the South Shore is Curtis Liquors for craft beer, and Atlas Liquors in Quincy for spirits. That seems to be the best compromise of price, as the liquor at Curtis is a bit more, but with more beer selection, wheras Atlas has some of the best liquor prices, but more expensive brews. However, Curtis is bigger, and closer to SFHQ, so I stop by there quite a bit. I’ve gone through a decent chunk of their craft beer inventory, and have now been struck with beer ennui, cursed to wander the aisles with nothing seeming particularly exciting. I’ve reached a point where the interest lies in six packs costing $10+ and I usually just don’t want to spend that much. I did score a Wachusett Larry dIPA, which is something to snag whenever you see it, as it’s one of the few offerings from Wachusett I enjoy. It’s very very tasty, and not at all like their Green Monsta IPA.

We finished up at Curtis, and headed over to the Union Brewhouse for some more progress on our 99 beer list. Though not particularly crowded, one raucous group of of late twenty-somethings managed to drown out all other conversation with their howls and entirely unnecessary table pounding. Fortunately, they left soon after our arrival leaving behind a pile of Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra bottles, the owl pellets of the Local Yokel. Once again, what you drink is your choice, but when you’re in a place with 17 taps and 100+ bottled beers, please have something other than the horrid light macrobrews that you can get ANYWHERE else.

As for the Lady Friend and I, it was a Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale for she, and a Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens for me. I’ve had the Delirium Tremens several times before, and it’s very, well, Belgiany. Makes sense, being a Belgian ale and all. Light body, full of carbonation, and cloudy, yeasty, banana-clove. Not my go-to. It was an effort to take this one down… I just wasn’t in the mood. The Lagunitas of the Lady Friend looked much more appetizing, as a hoppy and tasty dIPA. This one has a bit of a story behind it. Basically, around this time of year, Lagunitas would be releasing their Brown Shugga seasonal, but they decided not to this time around. It just takes way too much of the brewery’s resources to produce, and would take the equivalent of three regular production cases per one case of Brown Shugga. Keeping their strangely aggressive sense of humor, the brewery said “There is no joy in our hearts and the best we can hope for is a quick and merciful end. F*@& us. This totally blows. Whatever. We freaking munch moldy donkey butt and we just want it all to be over.” Source. So, they made Lagunitas Sucks instead, and it’s pretty tasty. I haven’t had the Shugga yet, so I couldn’t tell you what we’re missing.

After her Lagunitas, the Lady Friend went on to sip a Southampton Publick House Double White Ale, while I continued to take down the DT. Lots of Belgian floating around. We decided to head back to SFHQ for an evening in and pick up a pizza on the way. After the Lady Friend called in our order to Bertucci’s, we finished our beers and got sorted for the dropping temperatures outside. This is where the Grand Scarf Kerfuffle began. She couldn’t find her scarf, which was a gift from her grandfather. Well, allegedly it was a gift TO her grandfather from someone visiting Scotland, and he regifted it to the Lady Friend. So she liked the scarf, and it wasn’t draped on the back of her chair at the bar, nor had it slid to the floor. A search of the Phantom didn’t reveal it either, and she lamented that it must have fallen off at Curtis. Which is nowhere near Bertucci’s. Sigh. So, detour to Curtis, and it’s nowhere to be found. Well, guess it’s gone. Over to Bertucci’s, pizza acquired, back to SFHQ. Turn on the light. Um, is THAT the scarf, lying there on the floor? Yup. Happy Lady Friend, slightly peeved SquirrelFarts. Time for pizza and beer before I choke someone with a 100% Scottish wool scarf.

It was a bomber of Alpine’s Pure Hoppiness IPA, one of the last California survivors, while the Lady Friend had her first go at a Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard ale. Very malty, and the high abv started taking effect as the evening wore on. We watched North by Northwest, because she had somehow never seen it, and I finished off with a can of Brew Free or Die. They’ve got a new can design (since last year) and it’s pretty awesome… it’s got Mount Rushmore (which coincidentally features pretty heavily in the latter portions of North by Northwest) and Lincoln is breaking out of the rock to kick some ass. Or so it appears to me.

Told you it was awesome.

Sunday. A trip up to Moo Hampsha. Ugh. The Lady Friend was heading to her parents’ house to help decorate the Christmas tree, and they requested my help for a very special project: distract Maggie the Kitten so she wouldn’t mess up the tree while they were hanging ornaments. Welllllll… ok. If I must.

I wasn’t entirely successful.

On the way, we stopped by a Stop n Shop in Stratham on the way to get me sorted with a Mix & Match six pack. I really wish all liquor stores had this feature. Many times I don’t want a whole sixer of one particular beer, and just want one or two to test it out. I managed to make a pretty quick selection of some new and some old favorites:

- Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale (an ale with a bitter start a Belgiany banana-ness to the finish. Ew.)

Sam Adams Holiday Porter (too malty, not enough roast. A weak offering intended as a crowd pleaser like most Sam)

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout (Drank this one after dinner. Nice dark roast, not too sweet, not too bitter.)

Red Hook Winterhook (Nice. It has the ale flavor consistent with Red Hook brews, with some mild winter spice)

Shipyard Fuggles IPA (Got two of these. It’s simple, but good)

I started with the Winter Hook, and moved to the Geary’s after. The Winter Hook wasn’t bad, but the Geary’s didn’t appeal to me. A real bitter-stale start, then that yeasty banana-clove grossness usually associated with wheat beers. The Shipyard IPA went well with a dinner of spicy marinated chicken and roasted potatoes, and the Blue Fin Stout was lovely for after the meal. The Lady Friend drove us back to Assachusetts, and I had the Sam Holiday Porter to finish the night off. Not bad, but nothing amazing. It supports my theory that Sam Adams makes beers for a very wide audience, and doesn’t want to offend. Still, it was a nice end to the weekend, and helped me ease into a happy slumber, another weekend gone too soon.


The Monday Hangover: Nov 19-20

The Monday Hangover:
Other drink adventures of note from the weekend.

As usual, we begin with Friday night drinky-drinks, which due to a week of horrible, rainy commutes required the immediate ingestion of some liquid medicine, namely a shot of whiskey and a beer. When the Lady Friend arrived, it was business as usual with our Rule 37 for the week, the East India Cocktail. She went off into an El Diablo after that, and, since I had the nice bitters out, she suggested I make myself a good Manhattan. Excellent suggestion. Following dinner, we finished off with a bomber of Bear Republic’s Big Bear Stout, which was malty and toasted. Very nice, and the Lady Friend enjoyed it thoroughly, as her affinity for stouts grows by the week.

On Saturday, the Lady Friend had a bridal/ bridesmaid dress shopping excursion for Lady Friend’s Friend up in Moo Hampsha, leaving me to mope about, generally failing to accomplish anything useful. I almost vacuumed. Almost. The tardbabies at Comcast decided to have a “brief service interruption” for about four hours on Saturday morning, which left me in severe withdrawl, leading to overindulgence once it was restored. While refreshing my Twitter page for the umpteenth time later in the day, I noticed @bullyboybooze were doing a tasting up in Arlington. I informed the Lady Friend, seeing if she would want to stop by on her drive home, and she agreed, having never tasted their vodka or white whiskey. This meant showering and putting on pants, which breaks my Rules of Saturday, but hey, free booze.

Menotomy, not monotony.

Apparently “Menotomy,” an Algonquian word that means “swift running water,” was the original name for Arlington, MA, and the name of the liquor store (sorry, “packie”) where the tasting was held. That’s your fun fact of the day… you can put that in your pocket and carry it around. I got there just around 4, and managed to find a spot in the tiny parking lot. The Lady Friend, arriving minutes later, was not so lucky and settled for street parking. We strolled in, and found a small shop with a crowd of people struggling to maneuver around each other, some shopping, some tasting, some just plain standing in the way. Squeezing our way over to the Bully Boy tasting, we waited for some fossils to move aside, and slid into their spot, where Dave Willis, co-founder, did a mild double-take, recognizing me with a happy greeting. He tapped co-founder/brother Will, with the introduction “This is SquirrelFarts!” to which Will exclaimed “SquirrelFarts! I don’t even want to know your real name!” When I originally toured their distillery, Dave showed me around, and I didn’t get a chance to meet Will.

The Bully Boys.

The Bully Boys offered tastings of their three available spirits: a white rum (they enjoyed my tasting notes of “sugar cookies and rainbows”), a white whiskey, and a vodka. Their vodka recently won a gold medal at the 2011 Beverage Tasting Institute Spirits Competition, with the judges describing flavors of “wet granite,” which was quite amusing. The Lady Friend choked it down and coughed out “smooth.”

We chatted for awhile and discussed some of the upcoming plans for the BBoys. They’ve got a couple interns on board helping out, and are in full-swing production, shipping out bottles for the holiday season rush. Their aging rums and whiskeys are still, well, aging, as it’s a process that can’t be rushed. I’m really looking forward to trying both aged spirits, though Will noted that the whiskey was further along than the rum, which was the opposite of what they expected. We’ll see how the casks fare during the cold New England winter, but they expect to have them ready in the spring or summer. There’s really no way to tell exactly when.

After our liquor geek-out time (the Lady Friend snarked “You and the Bully Boys have such big men crushes on each other.” Whatevs.) we had a quick taste of the wine samples available in the other corner of the shop, then picked up a bomber of Slumbrew’s Flagraiser IPA, made in Somerville, MA. Arriving back in Braintree, the question of dinner became quite pressing, and we eventually decided to venture to the Union Brewhouse to further our progress on our 99-beer list quest. My selections included Blatent IPA (on tap), a new player to the MA craft brewery game. According to our waitress (whose story checked out) the brewer/ owner, Matthew Steinberg, was head brewer at Offshore Brewing, then Ops Director at Mayflower before starting up Blatent. He now contract brews at Just Beer. The IPA wasn’t on my list, but I wanted to give it a try. It nosed with a whole lot of pine, like Pine-Sol pine. My tasting notes read as “Wow. Pine needles. A pine forest. The pine tree air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror.” It was tasty.

A Belgiany Belgian, Duvel, followed, and I finished with a smooth & creamy Lion Brewing Stout, which was a big ol’ 8.8% abv. The Lady Friend tasted it and proclaimed it excellent and fantastic, noting that she was jealous of my selection. It might be because she was working on a Skunky Artois at the moment, but earlier earned my jealousy with her Stone Ruination IPA and Sierra Nevada Celebration ale.

The trip to the Brewhouse wouldn’t be a complete without some assclown yelling at the football team on tv, and spotting several people drinking Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. They have over 100 bottled beers and 17 taps, yet these roadkill brains waltz in a think “Hmmm… I’ll have a Bud Light!” Ugh.

After arriving back at SFHQ, we cracked the Slumbrew bomber, and my drinking companion was a bit confused by the aroma, saying “it smells west-coast-ish” but then “Vanilla? There’s a different sweetness to it…” before going with “Ice cream! Milkshake!” I found it had a malty nose, but with a sweetness behind it that was indeed hard to pin down… a creaminess, almost as in whipped cream. She chimed in again with “Strawberries?” deciding that she was “optimistic” about it, and finally squealing that it smelled like “the Strawberry Shortcake doll!” Not just strawberry shortcake, but the doll version of the cartoon character. I didn’t have the necessary past experience with said doll to confirm or deny that, but she seemed resolute. The taste? I got a maltiness first, with a slight fruity sweetness. The mid goes to a cucumber/ watermelon watery cleanse, then finishes with some hop pine bitterness. The Lady Friend’s thoughts: “Not at all what I expected. A lot more bitter that what I was smelling. Holy moly. I’ve got some work to do on that one.”

Sunday brought a trip to Curtis, since the Lady Friend determined that there wasn’t enough beer in my fridge. She likes to get sample 12 packs to taste the range of a particular brewery, and also expand her palate, seeing what she does and doesn’t like. I think one of her current favorites is the Ballast Point Imperial Coffee Vanilla Porter, which is pretty good for a girl who, before we met, rarely drank beer, and when she did, drank Bud Light. I’m such a good influence. I should start a beer boot camp. So, while I spent an hour crippled with beer ennui, unable to make a decision (went with a sixer of Avery IPA) she snagged a Saranac winter sampler (she wants the Chocolate Lager and Vanilla Stout) and a pint of Newcastle Brown, which apparently she’s never tried. Though it was sunny when we arrived, it was dark when we left Curtis, and popped over to the supermarket to throw elbows with the lunatics that were out shopping. Finally home, it was time for food, beer, and bed. Sleepy time.

Sidenote: While at Curtis, I causally tweeted that it would truly be my happy place if they carried Bully Boy. Sure enough, I started getting tweets from BBoy and Curtis claiming that the talks were happening, so keep an eye out for Bully Boy on the Curtis shelves, possibly in December. Bully!

Review: Bully Boy White Rum

As you may have noticed from my constant endorsements, I’m a fan of Bully Boy Distillers, Boston’s first craft distillery since Prohibition.


Because I wasn’t thinking clearly after the liquor geek-out time on the tour, it didn’t occur to me to purchase a bottle at the nearby liquor store before braving the Southeast not-so-Expressway. Since then, it’s been a mission to track down and acquire a bottle of their product for my home bar/ happy place. But which? Well for one thing, they have three products on the shelves at the moment; vodka, white whiskey, and white rum. Currently sitting in barrels is an aged rum, and an aged whiskey, which should both be ready at various times next year. Basically whenever they taste like distilled awesomeness (see what I did there?).

So after a visit to Harpoon Brewery recently, the Lady Friend and I ventured down to Liquor Land in South Boston, where I knew I could snag a bottle (it’s about a block from the distillery). I had called them previously trying to get a price estimate, but couldn’t get in touch with anyone. A craft product like this could get quite pricey, so I had no idea what sort of neighborhood I was dealing with. Fortunately, they had several bottles of the rum, vodka and whiskey in stock, all retailing for about $28. Nice. $30 per bottle is where I really start to lose interest these days, and I was glad to see Bully Boy come in under the mark. When I toured and tasted at the distillery, the rum blew me away, so that’s what I ultimately bought.

Batch No. 1, Bottle No. 44.

Now, what you should understand about this rum is that it’s unlike a “standard” white rum. Pop the cork on this bad boy and sweet vanilla sugar grains skitter off through the atmosphere, like reverse fruit flies. It’s like the sweetness is trying to escape the bottle, lest you trap it back up again. It noses with a harsh alcoholic sting to the ol’ schnozzle, which evaporates quickly to reveal vanilla undertones with an abundance of sweetness. It’s made in the style of a traditional blackstrap rum, distilled from dark molasses. This was popular back in the day in Boston, as the city bustling port was a center of the sugar and molasses trade from the Caribbean. Rum was the drink of Colonial America, and Boston’s first distillery sprang up in 1667, though little Rhode Island was the big player in the rum game, outproducing everybody else by far. Then the Brits tried (and failed) to collect taxes on first molasses, then sugar. So we went to war and beat them up. As is my understanding. And now we talk correctly, saying things like al-oo-min-um not al-yoo-min-ee-um. Wikid pissah.

No molasses taxes!

Despite the alcoholic burn in the aroma, this rum tastes heavenly sweet. Sugar cookies with vanilla frosting. Cupcakes. Warming in the mouth, and light vanilla floral before the molasses mouthcoat. It’s not a syrupy or viscous mouthcoat, as found in an imperial ale or dessert wine, but fools your mouth with the sugary flavors. Dave, the distiller I met with at Bully Boy, describes it as being “like an aged, dark rum that isn’t aged.” I couldn’t describe it better. A Meyers or Gosling’s dark flavor, full of sugary molasses, but in a perfectly clear liquid. The aged version, which matures for about 8-9 months (they’re not sure yet, it’s the first batch) should be PHENOMENAL.

The Lady Friend and I tried a taste of the Bully Boy straight, to get a good sense of the spirit’s character. For comparison, she also tried Bacardi’s light/ white/ silver offering and found it to be much more alcoholic tasting; medicinal and sterile, making the Bully Boy that much sweeter. I splashed, shook, strained and served up a round of daiquiris (REAL daiquiris: 1.5oz rum, .75oz fresh sqeezed lime juice, 1oz simple syrup) and we sipped, slurped and slightly slurred our speculations. Dilicioso. Lady Friend even remarked that she’d “be as bold as to say it’s best one she’s ever had.”

Along with our cocktail consumption, we toasted as we usually do. However, this time the toast was simply “Bully!” and a new House Rule was born:

Hithertoforth, whenever proffering a toast, whilst raising a spiritous beverage
containing that whist hast been distill-ed by the Bully Boy troupe, a cry of
“Bully!” shall ring forth, preceding quaffing and the making of merriment.

I find this new decree to be exceedingly appropriate, as the cry not only refers to the distillery, but the namesake of the distiller and the origin of the namesake of the distillery. Ok. So, the Willis brothers named their distillery “Bully Boy” after their great-grandfather’s favorite farm horse, to keep a connection not only with their family farm, but also with their grandfather and his vaulted collection of Prohibition-era liquors.

UPDATE: I had some incorrect info up in the original draft. The REAL story is that the Willis’ GREAT-grandfather was Theodore Roosevelt’s Harvard roommate. Wait… what? AWESOME. So, later on, the great-grandfather named his favorite draft horse after the president, and his fondness for bellowing “Bully!” when the inclination struck him. “Bully,” in case you don’t speak old-timey, means “superb,” “well-done,” or “marvellous,” and was a key phrase associated with the Rough Rider.

TR, a true manly man, (don’t call him “Teddy”) was the Chuck Norris of his day except he actually DID all the ridiculous feats attributed to his legacy. He wrote a book about the naval tactics of the War of 1812 that is still taught today. He hunted down the thieves that stole his river boat, and guarded them for 40 hours straight while marching them to trial. He became president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners and straightened out the corrupted system. He practically started the Spanish-American war, and created a volunteer cavalry division called the Rough Riders. He was nominated for the freaking MEDAL OF HONOR (which he was awarded, posthumously, in 2001). And this was all BEFORE he ever became president. Seriously, go read a bit about him… he’s NUTS.

“Hush your bone box lest the dash-fire of my bunch of fives give you a fizzing nose-ender.
Now saw your timber, Chumpy!”

So we’ve got a rum with ties to Colonial Boston and one of the bear-punchingest presidents ever. What would TR have said about this rum? What else:


Fun Fact: While president, TR helped negotiate the peace terms of the Russo-Japanese War, which earned him the damn NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. The treaty was signed in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Kittery/Portsmouth, ME/NH.

For our Bully Boy white whiskey review click here: Bully Boy White Whiskey
For our Bully Boy vodka review click here: Bully Boy Vodka
For our Bully Boy American Straight Whiskey review click here: Bully Boy ASW
For our visit to the Bully Boy distillery click here: Bully Boy Distillery

Btw, you can still vote for me for CBS’s “Most Valuable Blogger Award.” Just click on that badge picture on the left. You should do it every day.
Not like showering, which is totally optional depending on how cool your hair looks when you wake up.

Besides, TR would totally want you to vote for me. Plus, he thinks your hair looks cool sticking out to the side like that.

Seriously. Are you going to contradict Big Daddy Roosevelt? Don’t be off your chump. He’s having none of your sass mouth and will slap the gullyfluff right off your muckender, you scalawag.

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