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Whiskey Hotline: Father’s Day Update


Father’s Day is right around the corner. Use this chance to show him your appreciation. You will find his wishlist on this update of The Whiskey Hotline.

As always, you can reach The Whiskey Hotline easily:
by phone – 888 817-5898
on twitter & Facebook
or leave a comment here on the Binny’s Spirits Blog. It’s up to you.

Just be sure to check out The Whiskey Hotline.


Scotland 2011


St. John 'O Groats in the background, at the northernmost part of mainland UKBen Rinnes

After 8500 air miles, nearly 1000 driving miles and one narrowly missed volcanic erruption, the Scotland 2011 trip has wrapped up. This year the journey began on the east coast in Aberdeen, and took us as far north as the Orkney Islands, as far south as Pitlochry and as far west as Inverness. Distilleries visited included Highland Park, Scapa, Glenglassaugh, Glenfarclas, Edradour, Braeval, Allt a Bhainne, Glenallechie, Longmorn, Glen Elgin, Glen Spey and Benrinnes. Over the next few weeks I will get into more detail about some of those stops, but since the purpose of this trip is to source casks for our single cask program, here’s a preliminary report of what is being considered for 2011:


Gordon & Macphail

Craigellachie 1993 – 17 year (refill Bourbon)

Glenallechie 1999 – 11 year (refill Bourbon)

Glenburgie 1996 – 14 year (FF Bourbon. Sorry, couldn’t find a maple syrup and butter bomb this year!)

Mortlach 1998 – 12 year (FF Bourbon)

Tomatin 2001 – 9 year (FF Bourbon)

Scapa 2000 – 11 year (Refill Bourbon)

Bunnahabhain 2000 – 10 year (FF Bourbon)

Caol Ila 2004 – 6 year (Refill Bourbon)



Linkwood 1998 – 12 year (Sherry Hoggie)

Linkwood 1995 – 16 year (Hoggie)

Braeval 1998 – 12 year (Bourbon)

Imperial 1995 – 15 year (Hoggie)

Mortlach 1998 – 13 year (Hoggie)

Mortlach 1991 – 19 year (FF Sherry Butt)

Caperdonich 1994 – 16 year (Hoggie)

Glenlossie 1992 – 18 year (Hoggie)

Tamdhu 2004 -7 year (FF Sherry Butt)

Bunnahabhain 1997 – 13 year Heavily Peated (Hoggie)

Bunnahabhain 2001 – 10 year (Sherry Butt)

Bunnahabhain 2005 – 6 year Heavily Peated (Bourbon)

Bunnahabhain 2006 – 5 year Heavily Peated (Hoggie)

Laphroaig 1995 – 16 year (Bourbon)

Laphroaig 2000 – 10 year (Hogshead)


Original Bottlings

Edradour 2003 – 8 year (FF Bourbon)

Pulteney 1995 – 16 year (3 samples, FF Bourbon)


We have plenty of great potentials as we go to round 2. That means sitting our tasting panel down, rescreening the samples brought back and gathering pricing for everything. Many barrels we don’t select exclusively for Binny’s will still make it here as general US releases; they were certainly all good enough to make it through the first round!

Drawing Barrel Samples at SignatoryGordon & Macphail Barrel Sampling

Latitude 48 Deconstructed

Samuel Adams has done something awesome for all of the hop heads out there, and their new Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed 12- pack should be on the radar of anyone who loves IPA’s. The 12-pack features two bottles of Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA, which we have also been selling in 6-packs for some time now.  Latitude 48 IPA is brewed with 5 hop varieties: Ahtanum, Simcoe, and Zeus from Washington state’s Yakima Valley, Hallertau Mittelfrueh from Germany, and East Kent Goldings from England.


There are two bottles of five different and brand new IPA’s in the Deconstructed 12-pack, each one brewed with a single hop from the Latitude 48 formula. The 12-pack is a perfect tool to assess what each hop imparts on the Latitude 48 IPA, as well as what characteristics the hops have in general, whether it be citrusy, floral, piney, bitter, spicy, earthy, etc. 


The Deconstructed packs will only be available for a limited time, and are a rare chance to sample beers brewed with one individual hop.  It is also one of only times you will be able to try 5 five new IPA’s at once.  Most Binny’s have them in stock, to check availability at your local store, email

Summer Love

Victory Brewing Company has unlveiled a brand new summer seasonal beer named Summer Love, while still retaining Whirlwind Wit, which we have enjoyed for many of the past summers. Victory is now one of the only breweries featuring two unique summer beers.


Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat– Summer Love is one of the best summer seasonal beers we have ever tasted.  This quaffer of a blonde ale is light bodied, yet packed with crackery, grainy, earthy, floral, and citrus flavors.  A fruitiness from the yeast used in this brew is heavenly.  It has a noticeable hop bitterness, more so than most blonde ales we have experienced.  Summer Love is kind of like hybrid between an American pale ale and a Belgian golden ale.


Speaking of pale ales, Victory’s recently released Headwaters Pale Ale is an absolute must try if you are a fan of the style.  There is no rush to try this brew, as it is a year round offering and will be available on our shelves for the foreseeable future.  But if you want to indulge in some Summer Love you should do it soon, as we are expecting it to go quick.

Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

   The beauty of beer is all in the interpretation.

   Lets look at IPAs.

   In America, they are a showcase for big, bright hop flavors ranging in citrus intensity from soft orange to bitter grapefruit.

   In Europe, the hop profile traditionally is more subdued, displaying a flavor that is more delicate and floral.

   In Belgium, you can get a blend of both with Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor.

   In the glass, it sure looks like a Belgian. It pours orange with that yeasty and hazy color to it.

   While I wondered what else would make a beer look Belgian, besides a tiny turtleneck, all the orange characteristics in the glass were preparing themselves to take over.

   From the onset, you could quickly tell it had already happened. On the nose and the tongue, it was the zest of the orange, oily, slick and concentrated. As it warms, the flavors continue to pop. With further sampling, you get the pith, with its bitter qualities sticking to the side of your tongue.

   More time in the glass brings a tropical, almost banana note until it turns into a delightful mix of freshly squeezed orange juice and a creamy sort of sweetnessreminiscent of orange sherbet. (And if you are getting up, I would love a Push-Up, by the way.)

   To stay in the food discussion, a great pairing would be a firm, cows milk cheese from Italy called Piave. It has a lemony brightness to it that I think would work well withall those citrus notes that are in play.

   In the end, I was left thinking of that oily bitterness that it opened with. Sure, it stays in step with you the entire time, even in the subtlest way, but it is never a deterrent to the flavor. It is just a reminder of what it is. It is another unique facet to a unique beer. No matter how you look at it.

2010 Bordeaux Futures Now Available


   Heads up! The 2010 Bordeaux en premier campaign is gaining momentum now. Check this link to see our current offerings. We’re rolling out several new futures today, in addition to the four 2010’s we have had so far. Expect the list to grow in the coming weeks, as more Chateaux release their wines to the market.

   Check the link often, especially if you have a wish list of futures you’re hoping to get your hands on. We have very little advance notice when any particular Chateau will hit the market, and of course we try to pass each new wine along to you as quickly as we can.

   Remember, this is your opportunity to buy Bordeaux from everyday values to world-class sluggers at what will likely be the lowest prices possible.

   For more about the 2010 vintage, you can check out Doug’s post on the Binny’s Blog. The vintage is seeing glowing praise, even as critics concede the absurdity of declaring four vintages of the decade!!! (or century or lifetime or whatever) all in one ten year stretch. Add to that the unusually late start for this year’s campaign, the still wobbly global financial climate, the effects of big new markets and steadily increasing prices not just for the top chateaux, but on labels that used to offer steady value. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with this vintage.

Belly Up to the Bar

Visit our Highland Park store and you can’t help but notice this massive bar. What makes it cool? It’s built from cases of Smirnoff.

346 cases to be exact, says display architect Jason Lawrence, plus another 32 for the stools. The thing is about 11’x22.’ And no, the cases up top aren’t full.

The bar has actually been used for beer and wine tastings. Of course, that involves moving the seats out of the way so more people can get to the bar – a move I wish more fine establishments in the Chicago area would take to heart.

click any of the images for a better view

Hoppy Brewing Co. is Here

Hoppy Brewing Co. is steadily making its way to Binny’s, and has already debuted at a handful of our stores.  The Sacramento, CA based brewery has unleashed four beers upon Binny’s, all in 22oz bomber packages for the price of $4.99 each.  Chicagoans are among just a few with accessibility to these brews, as we are one of the lone states outside of California currently seeing distribution of the Hoppy Brewing Co. line of beers.  As the name of the brewery indicates, the Hoppy Brewing beers take their representative styles to hoppy extremes.  Below are the four beers now available:


Hoppy Face Amber Ale – Don’t be fooled by the name of this beer, for it is an alias.  Hoppy Face is not an amber ale, rather it is a tongue bitingly bitter west coast style IPA with a high ABV.  


Liquid Sunshine Blonde Ale Hoppy Brewing refers to this one as a Specialty Ale, claiming that it falls outside the borders of any one style category.  It is clean, crisp, refreshing, and light bodied, yet it is still aggressively hopped and bitter.  Sensing a theme here?


Total Eclipse Black Ale This is a light and dry stout that clocks in at 5.6% ABV.  It has typical stout flavors of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malts to go along with a noticeable bitterness.


Stony Face Red Ale Caramel and chocolate malts result in a deep amber color and richness.  A sweet caramel malt flavor coincides with a creaminess.  Of course there are more than enough Cascade and Nugget hops to provide balance.


Contact your local Binny’s or email to see if these brews are available near you.


More from Spain


   Tasted a ton of Spanish wines yesterday. It started with several appointments with local distributors and ended with a an importer portfolio tasting featuring about seventy wines. 

Quick thoughts:


 Muga and Ramirez de Ganuza both offer outstanding collections of thoughtful, world-class wines that are certainly worth seeking out. 

Many of the wines at the afternoon tasting were offered as two different vintages side by side. In almost every case, the newer vintages beat out the older vintages. This is especially true for the whites (such as: Las Brisas, Naia, Nora Albarino). 2010 seems more vibrant and expressive than 2009. I’m not sure if it’s actually an issue of vintage quality or a matter of freshness. Either way, I’m looking forward to inexpensive Spanish wines in the coming months.

The soon-to-be-released 2009 Venta Mazarron fits the same profile as the 2007, which I completely love. It’s all blueberry and maple syrup and bacon (seriously!) only bigger and more focused with more tannins. And it’s still only $12.99!

For fans of Luzon: Watch for the release of the new 2008 Luzon Crianza. This is a new release, Luzon with more age, and it smells awesome. Like money. Like they put a lot of money into making it, and like it should cost a lot of money to get a bottle. When it arrives, it should retail somewhere around twelve bucks, which is insane.

Even the more expensive wines, such as Cenit and Dominio de Atauta (both perennial favorites) look like they’re going to take a slight dip in price. These are serious wines that seem to have slipped from the spotlight in the last couple years.


   Though my palate was beaten and bruised after a day of heavy reds, I was in the mood for more. I went home and cracked open a 2004 Cenit (from way back). This bottle has only gotten better over the last two years. I suspect that Cenit isn’t built for decades of aging, but the tannins backed off noticeably and the sweet fruit and cocoa notes have really taken over, with still enough grip to stay classy. 

   I don’t know exactly what is going on in the Spanish wine market right now. It seems that interest in the values stuff under $20, let’s say is holding steady. But the high-point collectables, and even mid-priced ($30+) wines that were getting so much attention a couple years ago have pretty much stalled out. That’s despite the almost hyperbolic praise these wines have seen from the press. 

   Have I said this before? One thing that makes it harder to sell expensive wine is having an overload of amazing inexpensive wine. This might be a problem for a winery too wrapped up in status or preserving a pricing position in the market, but for people who like to drink wine (me and you?), it’s only a good thing.

Saison de Pipaix

When it comes to familiarizing yourself with a new style of beer, I enjoy the off the beaten path, concept. I find it is an important way to educate yourself becauseyou choose not to go with conventional wisdom. This allows you to reach your destination, and your journey will put you in possession of a different perspective than your fellow man. Hopefully on your way there, you didnt wade into that huge thatch of poison ivy.

Lets look at saisons for starters. A traditional saison will be light in body, with a tight mix of many things. It will be tart, bitter and sometimes a little fruity. Notunlike a fresh lemon curd or comedian Daniel Tosh.

Saison de Pipaix is a unique selection from this style. It pours a light tan color and possesses a lower carbonated, almost still quality. Flavor-wise, it reminds me of thebest unpasteurized apple cider you have ever had; rich and satisfying, but not sweet. Mix in a yeasty, brown bready body to give it some depth of flavor and also to showcase the delicate grainy properties of the beer.

It is brewed with a blend of spices ranging from orange peels, pepper, ginger, coriander, roast chicory and curacao, which gives an interesting complexity. Those subtleflavors were on display as it warmed up in the glass, with delicate and slightly bitter orange tea flavors as well as soft floral notes and a hint of lavender.

Matching this with food would take us back to the brown bread. This would be a classic pairing with most sandwiches, although, a grilled cheese made with turkey andEmmentaler and prepared on a hearty brown bread would be a good place to start. (Dont forget the brown mustard!)

In any beer style, the standards will always be there for the drinking. But until you seek out something a little more esoteric, you might never know what will scratch youritch.

Currently Saison de Pipaix is only available at a handful of our stores.  To see if it is available at a Binny’s near you, email

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