Culture

Sheep Think They're Better Than Me, and They're Right

The Dangerous Futility of Sheep-Chasing

The average Scottish sheep weighs between 100 to 300 pounds, lives ten to twelve years, breeds seasonally and, somewhere inside its stupid, thick skull, thinks it’s an absolutely magnificent creature. This is because, in Scotland, it has no natural predators. Except for us sheep chasers.

Deeper Into the Heart of Scotland

Photo Essay: North Through the Highlands

We drove north toward our next destination, the Isle of Skye. Everything had thinned out but the country, which was opening up wider and wider, the mountains taller and the glens deeper, the colors around us shifting from warm greens to striking shades of brown, yellow and grey.

Drinking Heavily in the Homeland of Scotch

Lessons in Whisky, the Muse of Scotland

Robert Burns once wrote: "Oh thou, my Muse! guid auld Scotch drink; / Inspire me till I lisp and wink / To sing thy name!" Judging from our drinking experiences in Scotland, he was probably lit as hell when he penned it.

Mass Streaming the One Percent

Testing MUBI, Arthouse-On-Demand

MUBI is an online streaming service specializing in independent cinema. Their roster is small and reserved, focusing on staff-curated films. Results weren't as predictable as Netflix, but that's not always a bad thing.

2,000 Acres, A Restored Farmhouse and a Genius Madman Owner

Getting the Best of the Highlands at Monachyle Mhor

We were sitting in the dining room eating a breakfast of black pudding when Tom Lewis, owner, manager and head chef of Monachyle Mhor, burst in waving an enormous mushroom. Lewis is Welsh and moved to Scotland as a teen; I couldn't understand a damn word he said.

A Good Rummage Is Hard to Find

Postcard: Glasgow’s Barras Market

The Glasgow Barrowland Market, aka Barras Market, was meant to be a destination, a must-see stop our tour of Glasgow, the gem of the East End. We found something slightly different.

A Scotland Travel Guide

The Right to Roam: Day 2

Welcome to our sprawling travel journal of Scotland's environmental, cultural and culinary riches. Over the next two weeks we'll be sharing our collection of 50 essays, videos, anecdotes, photo essays, travel guides, recipes, poetry and tall tales gathered during one hell of a trip. Day Two features two searches in Glasgow: one for great craft beer, and one for a mythical nightlife scene.

A Scotland Travel Guide

The Right to Roam

Welcome to our sprawling travel journal of Scotland's environmental, cultural and culinary riches. Over the next two weeks we'll be sharing our collection of 50 essays, videos, anecdotes, photo essays, travel guides, recipes, poetry and tall tales gathered during one hell of a trip. The journey begins now.

An Adventurer's Breakfast

Postcard: Full Scottish Breakfast

I go to bed each night thinking: I’ve eaten plenty, and tomorrow I’ll have a light, healthy breakfast. Yet here I am, eating my third or fourth full Scottish in as many days.

A Scottish Adventure

Seeking the Right To Roam

The Freedom to Roam, unburdened of fences and posted signs, angry landowners and angrier guard dogs, is a shared dream among adventurers. Scotland codified it in 2003. Within guidelines for respectful use, recreational or educational, that means any Joe Scot can bring a backpack, a tent, a friend and a six pack and saunter cross-country, going where they please among the nation's 30,000 square miles -- many of them unpopulated, all of them free of any major predators besides the biting midges that emerge during the summer months. This sounded romanticized. So we set out to test it.

Canada Hops on the Craft Bandwagon

Learning from the Small-Batch Bourbon Boom

Forty Creek's John K. Hall tells the tale of how American bourbon showed Canadian whiskey the way from counterfeit hooch to finely crafted whiskey.

Have Your Pappy and Your Dickel Too

10 Best Bourbons Not From Kentucky

The rise of craft American whiskey now extends beyond the bourbon belt. Here's the shortlist of major players nationwide.

GETTING TO KNOW THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Stay: Hotel Hugo SoHo

Peering over the Hudson River from between two iconically New York red brick buildings, the brand new Hotel Hugo SoHo features a mix of modern urban escape and industrial warmth. This new kid on the block is an excellent place to call home for a brief stay in New York City.

Private barrel selection at Woodford Reserve and the drive back to Louisville

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Five

In day five of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we soak in the last rays of Kentucky sun, watch a group pick their own single barrel of Woodford Reserve, and more.

A Video Tour of the Process from 12 Bourbon Distilleries

How Bourbon is Made

We toured 12 distilleries in a five-day blitz, asking everyone we met to walk us through the bourbon-making process. Here, you'll find all of the steps that go into making America's unique take on whiskey.

Single barrel bourbon explained

Hand Selecting Barrels with Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve

“For liquor stores, whiskey bars, restaurants -- having a private barrel label is basically their way of saying ‘This is how we like our whiskey.’” Tom Fischer, the founder of BourbonBlog and a frequent judge at many spirits and cocktail competitions, told me over the phone after we got back from Kentucky. “So it allows them to put that bottle on a shelf and say, you know, ‘This is something we went to Kentucky and we picked up. This is how we like our whiskey, but it may not always be how you like it.’” We shadowed Seattle-based Duke's Chowder House as they selected their own personal barrel of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.

Town Branch, Buffalo Trace, Old Rip Van Winkle and more

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Four

In Day Four of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we visit Town Branch, learn from a true bourbon master, and Ben nerds out. (A lot.)

Gleaning the Importance of the Family Tree

Buffalo Trace’s Hunt for the Perfect Bourbon

"Buffalo Trace is already making the bourbons of the future”, said our guide Freddy Johnson. It sounded bold until we stopped to think about it. Whiskey has to age before it can qualify as bourbon, so technically, every distiller is making “the bourbons of the future” today. Still, after we spent an afternoon learning about the company’s quest to make the world’s perfect bourbon, his phrasing seemed prophetic.

Admiring the Selection at Lexington's Blue Grass Tavern

Rare Bourbons Not Named Pappy: A Budding Collector’s Guide

Call it the Pappy effect if you want, or just plain business savvy, but most distilleries saw an opportunity in limited, premium bourbons in the early 2000s. At one of Lexington's best bourbon bars, the Blue Grass Tavern, we laid eyes on some of the absolute best.

The Taste of a productive day

The Kentucky Sundowner

The Irish have Irish coffee, the Scotch have Highland Coffee, the Germans have Rüdesheimer Kaffee, and college students have vodka and red bull. Kentuckians have the Kentucky Sundowner. Here's how to make one.

Demystifying A Legend

The Complete Guide to Pappy Van Winkle

I'd say that Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction, except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy”, other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight by getting a couple of basic facts out of the way.

Staying Sober in Bourbon Country

Off the Trail: Kentucky’s Sober Attractions

We posed the same question to everyone we spoke to on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: "If someone is only going to visit Kentucky once, what should they do?" Here are their responses.

Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and More

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Three

In day three of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we check out small (Wilderness Trail) and big (Four Roses, Wild Turkey) distilleries on the way to Lexington -- and get to taste something particularly special.

The Best (and Only) Hotel in Lexington’s Historic District

Stay: The Gratz Park Inn

The Gratz Park Inn isn't just the best place to stay at in Lexington’s Historic District -- it's the only boutique hotel in Lexington’s Historic District. You're just a short walk from enough comfort food, bourbon and good Kentucky weather. What else could you want?

Maker's Mark, Willet, and More

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day Two

In day two of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we get lost in the backwoods, explore the Willet Distillery, taste a few bourbon cocktails made by a pro, and more.

A Night in Kentucky's Oldest Family-Operated B&B

Stay: The Beaumont Inn

Close your eyes. Form a picture in your head of what a historic B&B in the heart of Bluegrass country should look like. What remains though in the mind’s eye should look quite close to Harrodsburg’s Beaumont Inn owned by the Dedman family.

Wild Kentucky Catfish Over Beer Cheese Grits

Recipe: Drunk Kentucky Catfish

The Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky is a centuries old family mansion converted into a premiere restaurant, serving local cuisine amplified by knowledgable Head Chef Newman Miller. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming and the bourbon is some of the best you'll find anywhere. Here's a recipe from their November menu.

How a next-generation master distiller helped relight the stills

Willett’s Long Path Back to Bourbon

Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen doesn't have time for bullshit. It's not something he has to tell anyone. The message shoots from his eyes like a railgun. Even at a relatively young age, it's clear he's heard it all before. He talks like someone who’s lost years listening to others dribble on, and worked hard to eradicate the behavior in himself; his speech is terse, verging on curt. You can't blame him for him ignoring the noise. A lot rides on his shoulders. He and his family worked for years to rebuild the family distillery, which reopened in 2012, and now he's determined to prove a point.

High proof cocktails in the bourbon capital

Three Bourbon Cocktails, Made By a Pro

Sometimes out of the bottle with a beer is the best way to have a bourbon", admits Chef Newman Miller, owner of Harrison Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky. But not always. The three bourbon cocktails he showed us are truly made to meet the expectations of the local Kentuckians.

From Brunch Spot to Global Food Sensation

Louisville’s Hillbilly Tea Has a New Take on Soul Food

Hillbilly Tea sounds like an Urban Dictionary revelation -- or the latest product from the minds of White and Pinkman. For all we know, both of those statements are true. It’s also one of Louisville’s hottest brunch spots, and a burgeoning international brand. And if founders Karter Louis and Chef Arpad "Arpi” Lengyel realize their ultimate vision, that’s just the beginning.

Inside Louisville's Copper & Kings Distillery

Making Brandy in Bourbon Country

A stack of freshly painted neon orange and black shipping containers stand in stark contrast to the red brick warehouse aesthetic of East Washington Street in the Butchertown area of Louisville, like a shiny new Google campus in the middle of a housing project. The large steel rectangles are the first of many signs that the Copper & Kings distillery is anything but traditional.

Greetings from the Bluegrass State

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Travelogue: Day One

We figured the best way to get to the bottom of the recent bourbon boom was to head to the Bluegrass State with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days of Kentucky scenery, friendly locals and distillery tours. Here's a play-by-play of day one of our investigation on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Never Order the Scotch

Late Night in Louisville

An aimless night in Louisville turns into a booze-fueled expedition, filled with new friends, a bar with 1,600 beers, and a cat that's not to be fucked with.

A Roaming Journal of America's Spirit

5 Days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Bourbon is booming, but only decades ago, it was on a path toward failure. This was most evident in the 1980s, at the height of vodka and big hair, when distilleries in the Bluegrass State were shuttering their doors. They simply couldn’t give bottles away, the same bottles that just a generation before were lining executive conference rooms and hotel bars throughout America. It was by definition an all-American drink, and it was quickly fading. But then in the mid-2000s, distillers realized the atmosphere was changing. Bourbon started coming back. Fast. This explosion, which continues to grow to this day, raises plenty of questions. What's fueling the bourbon boom? Is it going to burst, like tech and housing? Are some bottles really worth $5,000, and more importantly, who’s buying them? What makes a bourbon good? The best way to get to the bottom of this was to head to the Bluegrass State, where 95 percent of the world's bourbon is made, equipped with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail -- a triangle of distillery tours throughout the state with endpoints at Louisville, Lexington and Bardstown — for many early mornings and late nights drinking and talking with some of the foremost professionals in booze. We came back with five days of fear and loathing on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

New Bird on the Block

The Perfect Thanksgiving Bird Is… A Capon?

From The Horn of Plenty to the myriad mouths to feed, Thanksgiving is all about abundance. Your bird should reflect that. Perhaps on the basis of size alone, turkey is the default -- but there's a better way to feed your folks. A more delicious, more moist, more tender way. Its name: the capon. Chef David Waltuck, of Chanterelle fame, invited us to watch him prepare one the right way.