World of Whiskey and Leather

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Lapel cut with perforated leather.

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Ever since this post, I’ve been getting requests for that particular style jacket. The thing with this first draft of the quilted biker jacket was that, well it was a rough draft. There were details I wanted to edit and comb over perfectly. And yes because I know that there are a good bunch of you that want it, it’s now available. The zippers here are pretty bold, instead of the usual #14 I’m using a #16 zipper, you might have seen this zipper being used on Alexander Wang bags, you know those ones with the little furry tails on the side. Well I love how they add a lot of metal to a jacket. And the teeth are much thicker. Imported from Italy. Below is the improved jacket on the front, and the older draft. Zippers look so much better on the first I think.

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A perfectly rounded out neckline, no snaps on the front. Minimal, quiet.

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Here is another detail I thought carefully about. I love the pop of purple quilt for lining. But what I do NOT like is a bulky biker jacket, and adding quilting everywhere on the inside will add 10 lbs to my figure. I don’t know about you but the last thing I need to worry about in the morning is looking bloated. So I only used this quilting on the back, everywhere else like the arms and waist I used thinner fabric, that way you have room to layer and to look like your normal self.

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But enough about my leather jacket. Now we must move onto where corn meets water.  A really nice commenter named Kate suggested this place, Tuthilltown Distillery. After this I googled the place of course, and the reason that I decided to come was because of the packaging. I will talk a little bit more about this down the line but the typography was so chic on their whiskey bottles that I just knew something good was happening here. Yes I tend to be deeply superficial….

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The minute I get out of my car near this distillery, I was a bit startled by that feeling of familiarity and newness. I know the smell of whiskey but I never knew that smell mixed with fresh air.

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We start out with some corn.

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Gentleman here pouring the grains into the feed.

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This is part of the machine that processes the corn and feeds it into the machine that mixes it with water.

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So exciting! The start of mashing corn. This process breaks down the starch from the grains into sugars. Then it is mixed in with yeast and brought into the fermenting vats which you will see below.

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After the corn is mixed in and the sugars break down into the water, it’s brought into these fermenting vats. Now a ‘wash’ is created, the wash is what is finally brought into the stills upstairs.

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And now we are ready to see some stills. The person smiling is Gable, he is the son of the owner, Mr. Ralph Erenzo. Gable is brand ambassador for Hudson Whiskey but also a distilleryman. He is very passionate about whiskey, him and his father. The vibes here are very chill and laid back. You might get that vibe just from looking at these photos. Upstairs, this is where their artisan pot stills are kept, and where the wash (the fermented corn juice of sorts) is brought up to be boiled and separated into liquid alcohol (distillation).  Now you’d think those grains of corn that you just saw might be sifted out from the liquid. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. You can still distill a wash that has the corn grains unfiltered, it won’t burn the pot or anything, and some say it gives a richer flavor to the distilled alcohol that streams through the condensation pipe.

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I kept thinking though, when did this act of distilling originate? We all feel like it’s such a casual obvious thing to do. Like yea, distilling, normal, brewing coffee, normal..pressing the ‘like’ button on facebook..normal… The first instance of distilling was recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. So it started with the Mesopotamians I suppose??? And then it moved from the Middle East, to Spain, then to Northern Europe…How come the Asians couldn’t get on this action sooner…now that is my question. The pattern of regulation and whiskey rebellion…. History repeating itself, over and over again..without fail..Distilling was a science that was first monopolized by the monks and wealthy elite, then democratized, then brought back to the power of the elite by force, see they don’t like to share anything magical. Restrictions, taxation..especially if a gov’t is cash strapped and there is  a war pending…you get the jist. Not here to give a history lesson, I am already yawning. I know you just want to get to drinking too.

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Distillation time, from all that fermented liquid boiling to alcohol. Just thinking of how dew drops are created, or even how rain happens. It’s as simple as that. The design of this pot still doesn’t look so simple but it is just so beautiful. The design helps mimic and standardize a process that happens in nature and let’s face it, without this pot still, you’d have no whiskey. But maybe now you see a perfect example of where form meets function. There is no design element on this pot still that is here for fun. Clothing designers, as you know, don’t design whiskey stills, so they always like to have a lot of pointless fun. A ruffle here, a pleat there, studs for gratuity. Actually, it seems like a lot of designers want to make women look like clowns.

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I love how there is an upside down barbie randomly hanging down right here. I asked Gable what this meant, but I was so busy taking photographs that I never got a clear answer. Maybe he will explain later. But I guess context is key. This barbie is hanging on the condenser. This is where alcohol is born. Still what does it mean…..

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Meet Carl, he is a still for life.

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I’m not sure if this is true or not, but the act of distilling was originally created, apparently for perfumes. And then monks applied this process to grapes, then the grains. I guess everything cool starts out with a dorky pursuit. Monks who have a little too much time on their hands, looking for medicinal solutions..

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Corn whiskey streaming down, before the barrel. Corn whiskey was produced a lot during the Prohibition, it went straight from the still to the bottle, no barrel. Illicit whiskey, or white whiskey. But technically whiskey isn’t whiskey unless it’s paid it’s dues in the barrel.

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Moonshiners of the world unite. Just kidding.

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Warning, 140% alcohol trickling down into a huge tub. Do not drink….The only person that should drink a full cup of this is a suicidal kind. Really, it will kill you.

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Gable poured a little into a cup for me. Just one sip and already a warm dent hit straight to my face and head. No wonder why there was a corn whiskey in the south named “Virginia Lightning”. Yes it very much felt like lightning to me. Startled! Scared.  Please go into the barrel. See you later.

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NO MAS, but had to take a picture. Gable was very nonchalant about picking up this corn whiskey stream and giving me this cup..I hid behind my DSLR…

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Small but effective production line here, to package and label their artisanal whiskey. If you buy their whiskey, you could take the bottles and reuse them for many things.

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Do you see why this is my kind of place? Look at the jars, the labeling..

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Felt so familiar..all these scientific looking jars and glass bottles. A flashback moment to chemistry class in highschool. Oh but this is so much more enjoyable. Remember when we had to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements?? I am getting nauseous just thinking about it.

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Whiskey out of the barrel now, fed into tubes and then into the bottles. The gentleman pouring this told me a “funny” story when sometimes a whiskey barrel drops and explodes everywhere. I don’t know…I don’t find this funny. I would be upset. All that maturation and no one to consume it’s wisdom.

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I was confronted dead on with the very thing that pulled me into this place. The labeling. So chic. And you know it was Gable’s father who designed this using a compressed Eurostyle font. Minimal, effective, and slightly reminiscent of medicine. I didn’t need to meet Ralph Erenzo to know that he was cool, I saw him walking around but he looked very occupied, apparently their business is booming. And what’s impressive is that Ralph Erenzo is an older man with a son in his 20s or 30s, I don’t mean to be prejudiced but you don’t always expect the older dad type to have so much taste.

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Handcrafted from beginning to end.

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Even the hardest minded of men have fallen under the gravitational pull of a whiskey blackout. Next morning, wake up, losing time, bruises cuts etc. Not for these gentleman. Still working, focusing hard, and drinking. Very nice. Very mature.

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After all that production, we finally move to the barrel room. The place where whiskey ages. I learned that there variations just on how the whiskey ages through the barrel, Double barrel, Quarter barrel, single barrel. Single Barrel is premium, because it simply means the whiskey came from one barrel instead of mixing a bunch of different barrels.

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Something cool here, Mr. Erenzo told me that the barrels need to shaken up after a bit of time, just so that there’s some even distribution. But the hassle of individually shifting each barrel! So he thought up a smart solution. This tv, with a control of a remote, causes the whole room to vibrate using sound…Some history, some technology. Heaven…

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Here’s Gable again. At this point we were discussing the ins and outs of a Whiskey Blackout. The pleasure of falling into one, and total regret the morning after. He shared some funny stories, and so did I. Our experiences colored differently but bottom line exactly the same: whiskey is not Aloe Vera.

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First time drinking whiskey before noon. You see there are four different kinds of whiskey being produced here. Baby bourbon, single malt, manhattan rye, and one other type I forget..I am not much of a bourbon person, or at all. Bourbon simply means equal to or more than 51% corn which means it will be much sweeter. I tried the single malt and it was a done deal, my favorite out of this selection. I’m sure you saw that blue vial before, it’s water for the whiskey. Dropping a little bit of water opens up the whiskey a little bit, similar to decanting wine.

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I was allowed to come here on a weekday for a private tour, and usually tours happen on the weekends. The main reason was because I didn’t want to bother anyone during the group tours on the weekend, me and my dslrs… we can get kind of disruptive at times and I hate to be rude.  Juggled two dslrs for this post, my D90 and D3. This is why I have no tolerance for a purse. Hands need to be free, for drinking and shooting. But since Gable was so generous and hospitable, I made sure to bring him and his staff two cakes. These fresh cream cakes are…really delicious actually. I couldn’t wait around to see the look on their faces after the first bite, even though I love to see reactions like that. Had to jet.

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Sighing deeply, just left the Willy Wonka factory, and now I had to deal with a guilt inducing swipe.

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Supreme fill it up, yawn. Same quilted jacket again. It’s my favorite right now, I’ve been wearing the inferior version every day before this one was produced. And now I wear this day in and day out.

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Print Receipt? Cancel. No need for a second guilt trip.

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Sometimes I just park my car on the side and hang out in the middle of the road…

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About to create some whiskey, pseudo style.. I don’t have artisan pot stills, or fermenting vats, no room in my studio for that, but I can participate post intermission. You might think it’s contrived to be wearing a whiskey girl shirt while making some whiskey. But you’ve also been reading this blog for a while now, you probably like contrived.

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There is also a whiskey woman shirt, but I don’t know…Easy to make quick decisions after you say WhiskeyWoman and WhiskeyGirl outloud though. Whiskey Girl sounds better.

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White whiskey meets barrel. It’s like when Vladimir Horowitz plays Scarlatti. Perfection.

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You’ll notice here that the liquid from the whiskey causes this barrel or wood to expand. So yes it will leak a little bit but soon enough all of the whiskey will be trapped. I guess you could also coat the barrel with water BEFORE you pour in the corn whiskey. The barrels are also charred on the inside, how you char the barrel also changes the flavor of the whiskey, along with what kind of yeast you use for the mash. So to create a nice whiskey is actually quite difficult, even though the distilling process is simple.

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Shutting this barrel close, and now I will wait 3 years to enjoy it. Whiskey congruence: The longer the the whiskey ages in the barrel, the more expensive it usually is.

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But 3 years is a long time. Until then, I need stellar company. Whiskey has not turned me into an alcoholic, just a womanizer. Look at this beautiful packaging. Before swiping I sampled a bit of these and chose the ones I liked the most. At the shop I went to, there was a whiskey that costs 22 grand. I wonder what would merit such a price tag … I mean for a bottle of whiskey..wow. This whiskey must taste better than sex feels. I am curious but too poor to satiate.

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I still have yet to pick up Balvenie, but for now this is my new setup. Laphroaig was something I picked up because of my dear readers, so many comments left about this whiskey in the Johnny Blue post, I knew that my readers had good taste. Yes Laphroaig.. smelling this after opening the cap, I felt the similar feeling of sniffing a black winter truffle…I know also that if I like Laphroaig I would also like Ardbeg but you know, baby steps..I may like Laphroaig a lot but in Aberlour I’ve found true love. Definitely my favorite out of this set up. At least for now.

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We have left the land of Makers mark, Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey…and now we are Speyside to Islay bound. Who started whiskey first. Scotland or Ireland. This has been an ongoing battle supposedly, but I’m thinking the Irish taught the Scottish. Correct me if I’m wrong of course.

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Oh hello there. It may not be so hard for you to figure out that my taste buds have a preference. Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. I am open to blended whiskeys too, if you have suggestions please leave comments.

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The other whiskey bottles tend to have a long tall shape. I love these Hudson whiskey bottles, they remind me of an apothecary, and actually, since monks experimented with distillation for medicinal purposes, this apothecary feel makes sense. Whiskey was used to numb physical pain back then. You can buy some Hudson Whiskey here.

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Two cups, one for me, one for you.

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Drink responsibly ladies. Lock your iPhones up, and stop after you’re two whiskeys deep. A 3rd cup and whiskey will start to drink you.

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Cheers!  Thanks for reading, more soon.

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