I was recently in Scotland on vacation with my girlfriend Kimberly, and we were able to visit a few distilleries. We started off in Edinburgh where we visited a place called the Scotch Whisky Experience. They have a fun interactive tour that shows you how whisky is made. After the tour they bring out samples of whiskies from Speyside, the Highlands, the Lowlands and the Islands to show the difference in taste between these regions. Then they bring you to a room that holds the largest Scotch Whisky collection in the world. This collection was built by whisky connoisseur Claive Vidiz. It took over 35 years to build and holds 3384 bottles of Scotch Whisky. Needless to say, this puts my collection to shame. Then we finished the tour in the tasting room where they have the largest bottle of whisky on display. This bottle stands 4 feet 9 inches and holds 105.3 liters (about 150 bottles).
Our next stop was in the Scotch Whisky capital of the world, Dufftown. First stop Aberlour. We tried samples of the Aberlour a’bunadh, Aberlour 12 year and Aberlour 16 year. The 16 year in particular stands out for me. This was well rounded and has a nice complexity from both the ex-bourbon and sherry casks.
Here is a question we are asked frequently at the Binny’s Mailbag:
I like sweet wines. I’ve had had Sauternes, ice wine and moscato that I like a lot. Are there any sweet red wines you can suggest?
Hi P, thanks for the question.
We have a ton that you’ll enjoy. Here are just a few.
Marenco Pineto is from the Brachetto grape of Northern Italy. It shows sweet red berry fruit, and remains floral and balanced – not cloyingly sweet. The style is increasing in popularity and has earned its reputation as the “Red Moscato.”
For something similar but a little less expensive, give Serena a try. This Italian blend is a little lighter, fresher and very easy to drink.
For a fuller bodied red, check out Adesso. It’s one of our top sellers in the sweet red category. 100% Refosco from Emilia Romagna, just south of Venice, Italy. It has an inviting character of red berry, black raspberry and touch of spice. Food-friendly or great by itself.
Of course, that’s just the start. You’ll find tons more sweet red wines at your favorite Binny’s location. Stop by, check out what’s on hand, and ask your local wine consultant about their favorite sweet reds, too.
Celebrate Father’s Day with The Macallan & a Cigar
a FREE seminar at
Binny’s Highland Park
Thursday, June 13, 6:30 pm
Join Binny’s Highland Park in this free seminar featuring some of the world’s finest Scotch. Macallan Brand Ambassador Jeremy Fonicello will lead us through some excellent expressions from this classic distillery. And if Scotch with the right cigar sounds like an even better way to relax on Father’s Day, Jeremy and the Binny’s Highland Park crew have put in weeks of research to recommend the perfect smoke for each of the featured whiskys. RSVP soon at 847-831-5400, or by emailing email@example.com.
A group of Binny’s wine staff visited Walla Walla, Washington. Jon Kaiser reports from the road:
Most of the Walla Walla wineries we visited, with the exception of Woodward Canyon, source their grapes from the Columbia, Cascade, and Yakima Valleys. The vineyards in Walla Walla have to be in elevation above 600 feet to avoid damaging frost when the vines start to bud. A primary characteristic of these valleys that create such rich and full bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, and Cabernet Francs is that during the warmer months the valley floors get very warm but the vines enjoy drastically cooler nights. The sun warms the soil during the day so that it radiates heat throughout the night, keeping the vines active even when the temperature cools. Average rainfall in Walla Walla is only 17 inches per year, so most of the agriculture in the area is dry farmed wheat while vineyards utilize drip irrigation.
Several of the wineries we visited in Walla Walla are located on the property of the Walla Walla Regional Airport. It was an Army Air Base during World War II where pilots learned to fly B-17 bomber aircraft. While the airport still flies small commercial planes, The Port of Walla Walla overtook ownership of the property in 1989 and the older barracks, firehouse, hangars, and buildings associated with the base are now home to 20 plus wineries including three of the biggest. We got a chance to visit Tamarack Cellars, Buty, Dunham. The quality of product and volume of production coming out of these small facilities is astounding, with production on the scale of both very large and very small. From 100,000 case production wines to just a few thousand. We tasted barrel samples at many of the wineries we visited, and one of our favorites was at the Long Shadows vineyard. Customers will love Michel Rolland’s 2012 Pedestal Merlot when it finally hits the shelves at Binny’s – in a few years.
This ain’t your Grandpas Bourbon! When Jim Beam started distilling in 1795, bourbon was pretty simple. Now it’s more complex and lots of fun! Join us for an evening of sippin’ and learnin’ with Kyle Gilligan of Jim Beam Brands this Friday.
Jim Beam Bourbon Seminar
Binny’s in Champaign
Friday, May 17th 7pm
RSVP (217) 355-0625 or firstname.lastname@example.org
During this seated seminar, taste several of the Beam family whiskeys, and to learn how they are made. See how this family is changing the way we think about this traditional American spirit.
Space for this event is limited so sign up early! The seminar will begin promptly at 7 and is free with your Binny’s card. If your plans change and you are unable to attend please contact us as we always have a waiting list.
RSVP by email by sending your name, phone number and # in your party to email@example.com and we will contact you to confirm your reservation, or call us at (217) 355-0625.
Katharine Schenck is a Wine Consultant at the Champaign Binny’s.
Have you met Elmwood Park Binny’s Wine Consultant Mike Kiessel? Mike has been working with Binny’s for seven years, and his interest in good wine and food goes a lot further back than that. Critical to this was the decade and a half he spent living in San Francisco, within striking distance of some of the world’s greatest wine producing areas.
“With easy access not only to the great wines of northern California, but abundant fresh fruit and vegetables too.” Mike recalls, “It was a great time to cook, eat, drink, and learn how to make flavors work together.” Now he likes to share these wine and food pairings with customers on the Binny’s sales floor. He has discovered over the years that some combinations are more difficult than others.
Paring asparagus and wine can be a tough proposition, but it’s a challenge Mike doesn’t fear.
“The key,” Mike says, “is the combination of spices to enhance the flavor, the ideal method of cooking, and then the right wine to bring it all together.”
Smoky Grilled Asparagus
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pound thick asparagus, trimmed
In a shallow dish, whisk mayonnaise with oil, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt and cumin. Add the asparagus and toss; let stand for 30 minutes.
Grill asparagus over moderately high heat, turning, until tender and blistered in spots, about 6 minutes; serve.
Here’s another peek into Binny’s Mailbag:
Can you give me a champagne/sparkling wine recommendation in the $10 – $15 range? I would prefer something that is not too dry.
Sounds like Prosecco would be right up your alley. This light, delicate sparkler from northern Italy tends to be not as dry as true Champagne. A favorite of ours is the Nino Franco Rustico. It’s always a value, and you’ll see extra savings this month when you use your Binny’s Card.
You would probably also love the Gruet Extra Dry - a stunner of a value, this is made in New Mexico (of all places!) by a French family. This is also just $12.99 with the Binny’s card in December, and is just off-dry with very fine bubbles. They make it using Methode Champenoise, the same processes used in Champagne.
So the rumors are true: Binny’s has been selected as one of the few accounts in the country to carry Westvleteren 12, specifically our Bloomington, Downers Grove and Lincoln Park locations.
For those who dont know, Westvleteren is a Trappist Abbey Ale from Belgium. The Abbey of Saint Sixtus makes 3 beers, 6, 8, and 12. The 12 is widely regarded as one of the finest ales in the world. Before this historic release, the only way to get this beer was to make an appointment with the monks and buy the beer direct from the abbey, in person, on the third Saturday of the month.
The abbey decided to release a limited amount of beer to fund restorations to their abbey, and as such asked certain parameters be met in dealing with this release. The first is that these packs not be broken up: They are packs of 6 11.2oz bottles with 2 special glasses. The second is that the price is consistent: $84.99 per pack. Third, we will be releasing this at 9:00am on 12/12/12. It will be a first come, first served with a limit of one set per customer, with absolutely no holds or orders.
If you have any questions, drop a comment right here.
Adam Vavrick is resident beer geek at Binny’s Lincoln Park.
Come in and sample three aromatic and flavorful varieties of The Glenlivet. Brand ambassador Matthew Springate will guide you on a journey into the world of single malt Scotch, as well as answer any questions you might have. Introduce a friend to single malt by inviting them to share The Glenlivet experience! And it’s free, but you have to sign up soon.
The Glenlivet Nights of Passage
South Loop Tasting Room
Wednesday, December 12th, 6:30-8 pm
FREE to the first 25 people who RSVP
Only on Friday, November 23rd; only at the Lincoln Park Binny’s Beverage Depot.
Here’s the deal: Doors open at 9 am. Showing up gets you a piece of paper with a number on it. I’ll be pulling numbers for special things from my cellar. Any time your number is pulled, you get the option to purchase whatever that particular item is. Then it goes back in the hat.
There is plenty of BCS 2012, so even if your number is never called, you’ll still be able to grab some.
Stuff from the cellar:
Bourbon County 2011 4pks
Bourbon County Mini Cellar 4pks (2 bottles 2012, 1 bottle 2011, 1 bottle 2010)
Bourbon County 2009 Bombers
Night Stalker 2010
Night Stalker 2011
Bourbon County Vanilla 2010
Bourbon County Coffee 2010
The idea is that you DON’T have to wait in line in the cold if the weather is a jerk. Everyone will have an equal chance at the cellared stuff. Hopefully I’ll have 2012 Coffee and Cherry Rye in time, but i’m not holding my breath.
Also: NO OPEN CONTAINERS IN THE PARKING LOT. SERIOUSLY. You’re welcome to trade and such out there. Please do not bring product into the store.
Adam Vavrick is resident beer geek at Binny’s Lincoln Park.