Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Vermouth Barrel Finished Gin, St. Augustine Distillery, Fla.

St. Augustine, Fla.—It looks like bourbon but it smells like gin with a secret. It’s vermouth barrel-finished gin made by St. Augustine Distillery. It’s made with Florida grown sugar cane juice, Florida citrus peel and 25 other botanicals. It is like a martini in a bottle. It has a fabulous, I-think-I-just-walked-into-the-most-expensive –spice-shop-in-the-world-in-a-glass, kind of gin taste.

Red Vermouth Barrel Finished New World Gin by
St. Augustine Distillery, St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
St. Augustine Distillery released this rare, experimental craft spirit, earlier this year, at their St. Augustine, Florida location. Using their award winning small batch New World Gin as a base they produced just 1200 white and 1200 red vermouth barrel finished spirit bottles.

Kara Pound, PR spokesperson for St. Augustine distillery said, “Typically, gin is not barrel aged at all. It can be aged in bourbon barrels and yes, we wanted to make a natural martini (white vermouth) and negroni (red vermouth).”

Before I bought my the red vermouth barrel finished gin I asked one of the distillers if I could buy it anywhere else and he said, “Oh no, it is an experimental gin and can only be purchased in our distillery.” So I bought two bottles of the red vermouth barrel finished gin, at $45 each, even though I am not a gin drinker. 

Getting home I poured a small measure of gin into a glass, neat, without ice. Then I began swirling the liquid both to aerate and release any excess alcohol from the amber deliciousness lurking in the bottom of my glass.

I also blew into the glass every few minutes to push the remaining alcohol particles free.

Sticking my nose deep into the glass I inhaled. It was like I was standing at the threshold of a spice shop in Thailand or old Bombay.

Gingerly, I took a long, smooth sip and swirled the liquid across my tongue inhaling as it slid across my mouth and down my throat. Subtle aromas of sweet dried apricots and vanilla mixed with bold hints of juniper, anise, ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar and caramelized citrus. Wow.

This is a gin to be sipped for flavor and not gulped for buzz. If you want a buzz choose a cheaper, mass produced brand. If you want to be transported away from the hassles of everyday life, even for a moment, then buy this gin and sip yourself into another state of mind.

So if you get a chance to get up to the St. Augustine Distillery before the end of the year or before they run out of this marvelous gin, then snag yourself a bottle or two and don’t complain about the price because you’ll be sipping a one of a kind gin made with Florida grown sugar cane juice and other Florida grown ingredients.

They are located at: 112 Riberia Street, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Phone: (904) 825-4962

Thursday, October 13, 2016

20th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Embraces Farming

Miami Beach, Fla.—There was an indoor farm at the 20th Americas Food & Beverage Show. Located at the front of the Miami Beach Convention Center’s main hall, the double rowed, raised bed farm of many produce items took two days to erect. The staff of Nickey Gregory Company, LLC wanted to stand out from the other produce vendors at the show.

Nickey Gregory Company, LLC's indoor raised bed farm display at 20th
Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami Beach Convention Center,
Miami Beach, Fla. Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
Exotic tropical fruit displays, colorful gourds, decorative harvest corn, banana fronds, mushrooms and enormous pumpkins surrounded their vegetable rows.

Tropical fruit display at Nickey Gregory Company, LLC
indoor farm, 20th Americas Food & Beverage Show,
Miami Beach, Fla. Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey

At then end of the show, they offered up the produce to show attendees because they did not want to haul it back home. It took seconds for the display to be dismantled according to a neighboring company stall.

“You should have seen the frenzy of activity when the stall was dismantled, everything was gone in seconds.”

What was left over went to a local food bank in Miami-Dade County.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beer Bloggers And Writers Conference, Tampa, Fla.

Tampa, Fla.—This is not a conference for the faint of heart or weak of liver. The Beer Blogging & Writers Conference is an emersion style conference where your every thought, sight, taste, smell and hearing sense is filled with information about beer. It has been organized by Zephyr Conferences, a branch of Zephyr Adventures, each year for the past seven.

Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference by Zephyr Conferences, Tampa, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
This year the conference was held at the Marriott Tampa Waterside and officially started on July 8 and went through July 10th. But there was a choice of either a pre (Jacksonville) or post (Tampa/St. Pete) or both beer tours making the conference experience last five days long. I chose just to go on the post tour of St. Petersburg.

I also got to meet beer bloggers from all over the country and the world. I met beer judges, and got to see behind the scenes of local breweries and ask questions I might not have been able to ask on my own.

Night Of Many Bottles event, Beer Bloggers & Writers
Conference by Zephyr Conferences, Tampa, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
And there was beer to be drunk everywhere, outside the conference rooms, inside the conference rooms, at lunch, at dinner, at mid-morning snack, at afternoon snack, on a bus between breweries, at breweries, and at a live beer blogging event held at J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc.

I learned a lot, possible more than I intended about the beer industry. It was still a lot of fun despite my first hangover ever.

Turns out the Tampa/St. Pete area have recently been voted the best beer area in the country with 60 breweries.

Next year, Zephyr Conferences is going to have their Beer Blogging & Writers Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from August 3-6. You can go to their website to register and find out more information.

But you won’t see me there because I’ll still be recovering from all the beer I drank at the 2016 conference.