The downside to this boozy fruit pie is it is highly unlikely I will be able to recreate it with ingredients from my cupboard. But because of a wonderful set of circumstances – and a kind set of friends – I happened to have a jar of bourbon peaches and bourbon-vanilla cherries in addition to some bourbon-soaked quince I made last year. With an extra pie crust in my freezer, this recipe pretty much made itself.
The thing about quince (a fall fruit kind of like a pear) is that even after soaking in jars of whiskey in my cupboard for two months, it still needed some time boiling in a pot to soften up. This fruit has obviously developed defenses against being the first fruit one chooses to cook with. But you know what, quince? It’s a long weekend. I have time.
I always want to like Oregon whiskies. They have a lot of new distilling going on there and, well, I was born there and spent many summers there. So I like to think I connect with them. One of my favorite non-Kentucky bourbons, Temperance, comes from Oregon. Today’s tasting – Crater Lake Rye Whiskey – was a stocking stuffer from my mom who grew up in Oregon and worked a summer at Crater Lake.
The other taste for today was one I picked up at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky from their Distiller Series, which means they let the distiller play around a little bit with the regular recipe. Their sweet mash redux is a straight bourbon, but they didn’t use sour mash – a bit from the batches before to jump start the distillation in the next batch. This is supposed to do something to its PH, but I’m more interested in what it does to the flavor.
Neither of these whiskies has an age statement, although the Woodford is older than 4 years. Right away, though, you notice the difference in color. The Crater Lake is very pale compared to the more caramel-colored Woodford Reserve. That ended up being a good indicator of the taste in these – the Woodford Reserve had a stronger character against the Crater Lake Rye.
My friends have the most lovely habit of picking up jars of whiskey-soaked things for me to eat. The latest was a jar of bourbon peaches and a jar of bourbon-vanilla cherries. These happen to be two of my favorite fruits anyway, so the only thing that can top them is adding whiskey.While nobody is getting drunk off these, bourbon is a nice touch when it comes to fruit.
Jars of peaches takes me right back to my grandparents’ pantry, where a line of jarred peaches was always sitting ready for me to grab a fork. I can guarantee my grandpa would have eaten more of them if whiskey had been added to the mix.
The best part of January is the whiskey potential it brings – another year of whiskies to try. And so it is that I am reviving my New Year’s resolution of trying 33 new whiskies in 30 days.
I did not approach this challenge softly this year. I jumped right in with two well-aged Scotches and a Japanese whisky. They were part of a tasting for “spirits so old they can drink themselves,” since they are all over 21 years old. The tasting also featured a calvados, cognac, and rum. And brisket. Let me just say, it felt like the perfect meal – a bite of brisket, a sip of a 33-year-old Scotch, a bite of brisket, a taste of a 21-year-old Hibiki. If you want to feel truly fancy for an evening, that is how it’s done.
Once again, it's time to be thankful for whiskey. I know, we were thankful for whiskey yesterday and we will be thankful for whiskey tomorrow. But today is Thanksgiving. So, let's make it official. We are thankful for whiskey, and more specifically for bourbon, and more specifically for bread pudding with bourbon with the option of bourbon caramel sauce or bourbon whiskey sauce. Or bourbon both.
To be honest, I've never made bread pudding. But it's kind of one of those things where you look at the ingredients and think - how could this go wrong? Bread, cream, vanilla bean, poppy seeds, eggs, bourbon, sugar, and pecans. And the ingredients in the sauces are even more promising.