Freelance Portfolio: Alcohol

A Historical and Affectionate Marriage: Airstreams and Jack Daniel’s

There’s an Airstream “campground” at Jack Daniels for dignitaries and boozers. And I feel affection for them both, since my office is an Airstream, and I’ve entertained many a bottle of Jack. Published in the Summer 2022 edition of Airstream Life magazine. (c) 2022 Airstream Life, published with permission.

Finishing Touches

Spirits producers can’t let their products rest. At least completely rest, until they put them in a barrel that had some other spirit (or some odd concoction) in it. The practice known as barrel finishing is making new rounds, and sometimes with some unusual barrels. Published in March 2022 in Craft Spirits Magazine.

Irish Distilleries Will Have Their Whiskey Way with You

I haven’t made it to Ireland—yet. But many of their fine whiskeys have made their way to me. If you’re on your way to the fabled old sod, here are some of their distilleries that will amply host your thirst. Published in March 2022 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Mardi Gras Comes Home (Your Home, That Is)

New Orleans has a storied history of cocktail-making and good cheer. Mardi Gras combines both, but you can stage a mini-Mardi Gras at home. Published in March 2022 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Chatting with the Bourbon Sasquatch

Me on a video chat with the Emperor of All Things Bourbon (AKA Steve Akley) on one of his many podcasts. I’m in my ’66 Airstream office, blathering about shoplifting, Las Vegas, and yes, whiskey. Published in January 2022.

A Dazzling Invitation to Johnnie Walker Whiskeys Opens in Edinburgh

The Johnnie Walker folks have built in Edinburgh what can only be described as a whisky temple: eight stories of history, tastings, consultations and drams. Many drams. Published in November 2021 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

What One Distillery Did To Gain A New Whiskey Still With A Grand History

My piece on Stumpy’s Spirits, a small Illinois distillery that recently bought a large amount of 100-year-old still components—from Belgium, off the internet—and has reconstructed them for their own use. These guys did a whole lotta work. Published in August 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Scotch and Bourbon: The Essential and the Essence

Scotch and Bourbon—brothers, right? Perhaps, but definitely not twins. This looks at the differences in grains, distilling, proof and aging. Bottoms up. Published in August 2021 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Cocktails During the Pandemic: Bitter and Sweet

Hunkering down with my galpal during the pandemic made for some fancy cocktailing, with wistfulness one of the main mixers. (After reading this again, I don’t like how overwritten the first two paragraphs feel, but it’s out there, now. Good lesson in developing crisper intros.) Published in May 2021 on The Bold Italic.

Whiskey History Revived As Leopold Bros. Goes Old School With 3-Chamber Still

A piece on a Colorado distillery that commissioned a modern still from 19th-century designs that—with great care and attention—produces whiskey with flair and flavor. Published in May 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Brother’s Bond: Bourbon Is Thicker Than Blood

Who knew that vampires prefer bourbon to blood? The former stars of “The Vampire Diaries,” Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, make a bourbon. And they are mighty serious about it. Published in April 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

The Whiskey Of Pennsylvania Is Something To Take Note Of

Like your whiskey mixed with your history? Here’s a piece of mine on Pennsylvania rye (and though only a bit wry, the article has some deeply distilled history). The first Penn rye guys are from way back and the new craft distillers work from there. (By the way, my suggested headline, “Catchers in the Pennsylvania Rye” was way better.) Published in March 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Spirits Of French Lick: Tasting History In The Whiskey

Fascinating interview with an Indiana distiller who is a warehouse’s worth of information on distilling history and practices. For instance, he hunts out old yeasts from long-defunct distilleries to add punch to his whiskies. Published in February 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

The Magic Of Malting Makes For California Whiskey Wonders

Carefully tended malted grains give whiskey (and beer) some oomph. This piece of mine explains some of the techniques, some quite old, in producing quality malts, and the quaffable results. Published in September 2020 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Whiskey Is a Bad Chaser for Coronavirus

Some people have some mistaken—and tragically dangerous—ideas about using spirits to prevent or help with curing coronavirus. Nope. This interview with a whiskey-drinking epidemiologist sets that straight. Published in March 2020 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Fog’s End Distillery Has the Can-do Spirit

A quick profile of Craig Pakish, who works some grain-based alchemy in his one-man distilling operation in Gonzales, CA. And by “one man,” I mean this guy truly does it all. Published in the Winter 2020 issue of Carmel Magazine.

This Is the World’s First Carbon-Negative Vodka

Vodka made from light, air and water. And it helps the environment. Yeah, right. No, really. Published in November 2019 on Popular Mechanics magazine.

The weird world of whiskey collecting, explained

Let’s see: would I spend $2 million for a bottle of whiskey? Ask me after I’ve had 33 shots and I’ll think about it. My Vox piece on the rarefied world of collectible whiskey; drink it in. Published in October 2019 on Vox.

The Splinter Group: Whiskey, Wine and the Art of Barrel Time

My interview with the fascinating folks at Napa Valley’s Splinter Group, who use some educated wine barrels to further educate whiskey. Published in May 2018 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Whiskey: Straight from the Barrel and Into the…Can?

Yes, they do put whiskey in cans. Yes, it can actually be good. No, really. Published in April 2018 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Even an Irish Saint Knows the Comforts of a Wee Whiskey Dram

My did I have fun with this one. My cache of reasonable (?) advice on how to accomplish orderly drinking of Irish whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day. Published in March 2018 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

How I Learned to Stop Shoplifting and Try to Love the Peat

Whiskey? Why, yes! Scotch whisky, especially the burning-house smoky kind? Hmm. Published in February 2018 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Bloody Butcher Corn Makes Bloody Good Bourbon

Why use those big, bland, commercial corns for your craft bourbon when you can use heirloom varieties that make for unique, subtle flavors? Three distillers tell us why indeed. Published in January 2018 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Backyard Bourbon: A Home Distilling Experiment Gone Awry

Making bourbon at home—what could be more simple? Ahh, but I turn the simple into complex. Scientists: what is this stuff? Published in December 2017 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Good Beer, Good Cheer: 200 Years of Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volksfest

These Germans—they know their way around a liter of beer. Well, maybe a few liters. Spending some jolly time in historic Stuttgart—cheers! Published in November 2017 on Dave’s Travel Corner.

Wishing for Whiskey on an Island of Rum

One of the delights of staying in the Caribbean is the wonderful rum—it’s everywhere. But by my grandfather’s socks—where’s the whiskey? Published in September 2017 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Barreled Cocktails: Your Whiskey Meets More Wood, with Spirited Friends

Sometimes you just don’t want to hit the bar, either while out or at home. So when you want a good—no great—cocktail, you make a bunch and put it in a barrel for a month or so. Here’s how. Published in June 2017 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

White Socks? Your Dad’s Bluffing. These Are The Gifts He Really Wants!

Your dad might try and weasel out of the fact that he really would like a nice gift. One that pours. Published in June 2017 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Whiskey and Chocolate: Collaborators, Colleagues, Comrades

I get to taste-test three American whiskies with six high-end chocolate bars—yes, life can be very, very good. Published in December 2016 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

6 Reasons Why Whiskey Drinking Makes You a Better Person

You probably suspected all along that whiskey drinking transforms the commonplace person into a stellar soul, but here I offer all the evidence. Published in April 2017 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Nancy Fraley’s Professional “Nose” Knows When the Mash Is Actually Sour

Nancy Fraley snatched a snootful of bourbon at a wedding when she was six years old. “Wow, that’s good!” Many years later, she is a professional distillery industry “nose,” telling spirits makers what’s right and what’s not about their hootch. Published in September 2016 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

When Sake Just Won’t Do: Japanese Whiskies Take Center Stage

They first took a page from the Scots, but Japanese whiskies have rewritten the book. Published in August 2016 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

G’day Mate: New Zealand and Australian Whisky from Way Down Under

The odd histories of some way-out (and now great) whiskies, which had some gap years between bottles. They’re making up for it now. Published in July 2016 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Catching Some Canadian Rye: An Introduction to Canadian Whisky

Canadian whisky has often been kicked around as soft-faced younger brother who keeps hanging around. No more. A little history on our boozy brothers from the north, along with some new big-brother releases. Published in May 2016 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Uisce Beatha: An Introduction to Irish Whiskey

Here’s an article I wish I could offer you in the glass, but alas, here’s the page instead. A primer on Irish whiskey, with a little history, distilleries old and new, and a wee bit of rivalry between the Scots and the Irish. Published in April 2016 by the Whiskey Wash newsletter.

Unexpectedly Good Integrations In Life: Amazing Bitters-And-Booze Pairings That Make Life Worth Living

Here’s a difficult assignment: get me to write about how bitters can enhance—and make more complex and interesting—the taste of cocktails, particularly the classics. Yeah, they even paid me decently for it (and this boozy blitz from an IT company, of all things). Published on the Adeptia site in August 2015.

How Craft Distillers Infuse Spirits With Signature Style

Whiskey alchemy? Profiles of a St. George Spirits, a pioneer in craft distilling, and Venus Spirits, upstart newcomer. Looks at the creative insights as well as the science of small-scale distilling. Published in May 2015 on Forbes.
href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Throw Out The Whiskey Barrel, You’ll Have a Bottle of Fun

Whiskey alchemy? An interview with the co-founder of Time and Oak, a startup marketing a product to transform low-tier whiskey into the high-test stuff, naturally. And almost instantly. Published in Jan. 2015 on Forbes.

Villa Vacations

Despite being more of a peanut-butter sandwich (or peanut-butter cup) kind of guy, once in a while, by hook or by crook, I get to live a bit of the luxe life. Thus this piece on what it’s like to take a vacation in a luxury villa. Published in the Spring 2014 edition of The Glenlivet’s Cask app.

Tequila and Cookies: Writing Perks to Push Your Pages

You probably thought writers used fervid affirmations to propel themselves to pile words on the page. Nope. Tequila and cookies, baby, tequila and cookies. Published in June 2013 on Writer Unboxed.

Five places for getting to the soul of whiskey

A few unusual venues for the whiskey arts, including how to take your shots in popsicle form. Published in the Sunday, November 6 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

St. George Slays Many Spirits Dragons

A peek behind the barrels at the distilling practices and pursuits of St. George Spirits, a California craft distiller that produces a notable range of soulful libations. Published in the Winter 2010-2011 edition of Whisky Life and Spirits magazine, a publication of the Whisky Guild.

See Where This Passport Will Take You

A word-tour (too bad there are no shot glasses) of the Urban Bourbon Passport Program, a jolly lineup of bourbony bars in Louisville, KY where you can quaff from a liberal collection of fine bourbons at nine warm establishments. There will be a gleam in your eyes as bright as the one in the glass. Published in the Winter 2010-2011 edition of Whisky Life and Spirits magazine, a publication of the Whisky Guild.

Liquor Without Labels

Who knows what’s going on in your neighbor’s house—or more precisely, their bathtub? A piece on home distillers of booze, currently in resurgence, and not restricted to the Southern rum runners of old. Published in the July/August issue of Draft magazine.

The Spirit of Jack Daniel’s

My twisted saga of what is now 30 years’ correspondence between me and the Jack Daniels Distillery. And yes, they did send me chewing tobacco. Published in the San Francisco Chronicle; reprinted in the Brown Forum.

A Vintage Whine

Published in the online magazine, Zinos.