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Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Cedar Ridge

Ever heard of Swisher, Iowa? It’s home to Cedar Ridge Vineyards Winery & Distillery and most importantly, where we picked our latest batch of Handpicked bourbon barrels. Yup, plural. We just couldn’t pick one. But more about Cedar Ridge first.


Owners Jeff and Laurie Quint have built quite the distillery/winery. Located in eastern Iowa, it’s just a short drive from Cedar Rapids or Iowa City. Jeff serves as Master Distiller and Master Winemaker. In addition to crafting award winning small batch spirits (like our Handpicked barrels), Cedar Ridge produces wines from their own estate-grown grapes. Fun fact: Cedar Ridge is the first licensed distillery in the state of Iowa since the age of prohibition.

Cedar Ridge

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Taste J.K. Williams Whiskey at Binny’s in Bloomington

After being run out by law enforcement during prohibition, J.K. Williams has made their way back to Central Illinois. They are using the recipe their great, great, great grandfather passed down to make classic American whiskey. We’re welcoming them back with a J.K. Williams whiskey tasting. Find more information about the tasting after the jump.

JK Barrel Whiskey

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Ole Smoky Tasting at Binny’s in Bloomingdale

OleSmoky-Original-R24White Dog. ‘Shine. White lightning. Moonshine. Whatever you call it, you’re going to love Ole Smoky’s Tennessee Moonshine.

Here’s your chance to meet Master Distiller of Ole Smoky, Justin King, and taste some of the best ‘shine out there. He knows his stuff. Justin has studied and learned distilling methods that were passed down from his great grandparents. Notably, Justin helped produce their award-winning Apple Pie Moonshine that was recently named Best of Class Moonshine by the American Distilling Institute.

Meet Ole Smoky Master Distiller
Binny’s in Bloomingdale
Wednesday, January 22nd from 6-8pm

Can’t make it? Stop in to any of our 30 locations and pick up a mason jar of Ole Smoky for yourself. Recipes, cocktails and more here.

Whiskey Whispers From the Great Brophstradamus

The faithful know it’s that time again, time for the Great Brophstradamus to make his predictions for the spirits world in the coming year. How wise is Brophstradamus? We aren’t sure, but his beard is legit. His predictions have been meticulously translated from the original quatrains by time, a secret decoder ring and Google. 2014 will bring more. More what?

Whiskey Whispers from the Great Brophstradamus

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Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Ireland

On my most recent trip to Ireland I had the opportunity to travel with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and attend their Origin Green Conference focused on sustainability and green food and beverage production in Ireland. I met Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, watched the Gaelic football championship game (Ireland’s Superbowl) in a traditional Irish pub and visited my favorite brewery, Guinness.


Day one of my trip started in the County Cork at the historic Midleton Distillery. Midleton is home to Jameson, Powers, Paddy and pure potstill Redbreast, one of the best Irish whiskeys on our shelf.  They also provide whiskey on contract to support long existing independent brands.


New pot stills in Middleton


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Whiskey Hotline: Rollin’ In

From the most recent edition of the Whiskey Hotline, What’s Rollin’ In!



The Only One I Love
With a name like Yellow Rose, you know it’s from Maine. Just kidding. Yellow Rose is the first legal distillery in Houston, and they’re all about extremes. Take their Outlaw Bourbon. Their secret mashbill recipe? 97% corn, despite what their website says. The Straight Rye? 95% rye. Our favorite is their Double Barrel – a bourbon that sees finishing time in cabernet barrels for six months. They first caught Brett’s eye while he was judging at the American Distilling Institute 2013 competition. Only a matter of time before they hit the shelves at Binny’s.


Fishy Businessballast-9-27-2013
How does that old saying go? “Beer before liquor?” Ballast Point proves that’s bunk by following their knockout beers with exceptional spirits, coming soon. We got a sneak preview of their delicious rums and phenomenal gin a few months ago, when their beers first hit Chicago. And we’re hoping that someday we can get their whiskey too.


Pappy Van Tequila
It turns out the T in George T Stagg stands for tequila. Expresiones del Corazon are garnering rave reviews, combining agave’s citrus and savor with caramel and spice from the most coveted American bourbon barrels. That’s right, tequila aged in barrels from George T. Stagg, Pappy Van Winkle, Sazerac, and more. High-end stuff, but amazing.


A Knock-Outchavez-9-27-2013
Also from the world of tequila comes the new Julio Cesar Chavez tequila. It’s a one-two punch of award-winning blanco and reposado. What’s the hook? We have our supplier on the ropes, trying to get the legendary boxer to do a Binny’s appearance.


Rising Sun Rising
Japan is making some of the best whiskey in the world in 2013. Case in point: Nikka Coffey. This is a great introduction to Japan, especially for bourbon drinkers. Big and sweet, it is corn distillate run through a Coffey still – a continuous column still. And it’s just one great new spirit to arrive from this producer.

Nikka operates two unique distilleries – Yoichi and Miyagikyo. We’ve had the stunning Yoichi 15 year old for a while, and now we can brag that we also have the Miyagikyo 12 year old. Or for a snapshot of what they’re doing, reach for a Taketsuru bottling, which includes whiskey from both as a blended malt. Joining the 12 year on Binny’s shelves are the new 17 and 21 year old expressions. If you care about whiskey at all, pay attention to Japan.


Grander Marnier titanium-9-27-2013
Two new flavors from that iconic orange-and-Cognac liqueur. The first: GM Titanium includes more exotic orange flavor and less sugar than the standard bottling. We think they’re targeting men, what with the macho martial arts ad tie-ins. It’s good: amped up orange and spice with less sweetness means more mixable, which is just fine with us.

The second: Grand Marnier Signature Collection No 2. Last year, they introduced a new, limited-run cherry version. This year, it’s all about peach and raspberry. Not bad. And if you’re still looking for last year’s cherry bottling, we still have a few bottles here and there.



Looking for more news from the world of specialty spirits? Be sure to check out the Whiskey Hotline.


Whiskey Hotline: Passing Shots

• First, a couple great events. For more info and to RSVP for either of these, call 312 768-4400.


• Ian MaCallum of Glen Garioch is hosting a dinner at Binny’s South Loop on October 2. Along with great whiskies from this classic Highland distillery, we’ll enjoy barbeque from Lillie’s Q.


compass-box-9-27-2013• Then, John Glazer of Compass Box is coming to Binny’s South Loop on October 8 for a tasting of some of his industry-shaking vattings, including the stunning new Delilah’s bottling, among others.


• By the way, we got a limited amount of the stunning new Compass Box Delilah’s Bottling. Super cool, Mike. Grab some soon, because not only does it support one of our favorite bars in Chicago, but it’s a steal at this price.


• New at Binny’s, two gin expressions from our friends in Madison, Yahara Bay. Their gin is good, their barrel aged gin is even better.


• You already know that California’s St. George Spirits makes a delicious Dry Rye Gin. But did you know about the limited new barrel aged version? It’s awesome.


• We really like this new barrel aged gin trend.


• What have you done for the Whiskey Hotline lately? One of our favorite customers from Ohio sent us a half gallon of Ohio maple syrup. Which we love almost as much as whiskey.


mcphail-set-9-27-2013• For collectors and gift-givers: check out this Gordon & Macphail Glenrothes 40 year old gift set. A great package at a solid price, considering what’s in the bottle. And it comes with a glass!


• Tempus Fugit is our go-to for imported, mixable liqueurs. Unlike other Fernet, their new Fernet Angelico does not taste like chewing tobacco and wintergreen gum.
Another weird but delicious liqueur – Genepi Guillaumette. It’s an Italian bitter liqueur with an herb sprig right in the bottle. Mixologists pair it with tequila, but that only hints at its versatility.


Cabrito! The little goat is back and cheaper than ever. >> Insert Chicago curse joke here. <<


forgiven-9-27-2013• Let’s say you manage a big Kentucky distillery, and you find out that your crew screwed up by mixing a rare rye with a batch of bourbon. What do you do? If you’re Eddie Russell, you taste it, fall in love with it, bottle it and sell it as Wild Turkey Forgiven.


• How could Jura follow up their collectible ’76 bottling? With ’77 of course. Rich, creamy, full of depth. Spicy with hints of peat and pear, salt, malt. It is awesome. But it better be.


• Did you hear about that Cleveland Whiskey? It harnesses the power of science to replicate the fine art of aging. That means it is aged quickly under pressure. Like a broasted chicken. Given that, it tastes a lot better than you imagine. Try it with a little water and it opens right up.


• You know it’s for real if they call it “Navy Strength.” Check out Leopold’s Navy Strength Gin. At 114 proof, it’s a mixologist’s dream.


chicken-cock-whiskey-9-27-2013• We made jokes about Chicken Cock in the past. We like to think we have grown since then. Cliff Geertz would have a field day.


• Quincy Street Distillery is the newest kid on the Chicago spirits block. We have their White Lightning, which is fine, and their Old No. 176 Gin, which is fantastic. Gin with a corn whiskey base. We’re looking forward to more, including a distilled mead.


• In other gin news, check out Aviation American Gin. Yes, it gets its name from the classic cocktail. But it turns out it’s good in a million other drinks, too. Less juniper, more botanicals and spices.


• In other moonshine news, check out Short Mountain Shine. Along with some kind of hillbilly vodka, they make a great Apple Pie ‘shine too.



Looking for more spirit news? Check out the Whiskey Hotline any time.

Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Scotland Days 4-6

Coleburn Distillery


Been a while. Day 4 was a travel day, but we got some stuff done early. Drove the A95 to near Fogwatt and discovered the small drive that leads to Coleburn distillery. A distillery from 1897 until 1985, it was important for production experiments for DCL (now Diageo) but lost as so many others were to the economic downturn and sinking popularity of whisky in the 80’s. It’s now being renovated as a B&B/Restaurant/event space for live music by a Scottish musician called Mark Winchester. The grounds will make a beautiful resort, alas, no distilling will take place.


Next we went to Aberlour, a pretty place set at the Aber (east coast Gaelic for “opening”) of the river Lour, where it flows into the Spey. This reminded my just how good a’Bunahd (original) is. Drove all day after that to Ayr.



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