Winery releases maple liqueur

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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Here's a new twist on the region's maple-syrup production.

Johnson Estate Winery -- just over the border in Westfield, N.Y. -- has released a maple-infused liqueur, made by winemaker Jeff Murphy with local maple syrup and a blend of Vidal
Blanc wine and neutral grape spirits.

Available at the winery now while the region's maple-syrup production is getting into full swing, the stuff, according to the winery, "tastes like a combination of sherry and ice wine – fortified and sweet – but with a dry finish due to its 20-percent alcohol content. The light infusion of maple syrup provides a warming, not-too-sweet maple sensation. The resulting drink is excellent as an aperitif –  perhaps served with salted pecans." 

The winery suggests pouring it over ice cream or shaved ice or even snow, or serving it with cookies, cake or creme brulee.

During the the New York State Maple Association's Maple Weekends, March 21-22 and March 28-29, the winery will participate by offering tastings of the Maple Liqueur. From 1 to 5 p.m. on both Saturdays, guests can try it paired with crepes made by Chef Jeff Barr.

The 375-milliliter bottles sell for $15. 

Find out more here or by calling 1-716-326-2191 or 1-800-Drink-NY.

Johnson Estate photo

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Pittsburgh distillers bring home gold

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

maggies

This past weekend, two local distillers picked up some nice bling and nicely repped Pittsburgh in the process. 

This was Sunday night at the American Craft Spirits Association's Second Annual Craft Spirits Competition at the group's convention and trade show in Austin, Texas. 

Getting one of the hand-imprinted "Barrelheads" for winning best of class as well as a gold medal was Allegheny Distilling, better known here as Maggie's Farm Rum, for Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Double Barrel. 

The Strip District distillery also won: 

Silver medal: Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Aged 

Silver medal: Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Unaged

Bronze medal: Maggie's Farm White Rum 

As Maggie's Farm tweeted that night, "Not [beep] bad for a Pittsburgh rum distillery." 

Our other Strip District distillery, Wigle Whiskey, meanwhile, also won several medals:

Gold medal: Deep Cut Rye Whiskey

Silver medal: Malted Rye

Bronze medal: Organic Wheat Whiskey

Bronze medal: Organic Wheat Whiskey Finished with White Ash Wood

Bronze medal: Wigle's Giniver

As Wigle tweeted that night, the two distilleries really put Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania on the craft-spirit map. 

More than 200 craft distilleries entered 328 spirits in six main categories: Brandy, Rum, Gin, Liqueurs, Distilled Spirits Specialty and Vodka. Almost half (155) were whiskeys.

Said ACSA VP Ted Huber in a news release, "We're seeing more whiskies than ever. They are literally and figuratively 'coming out of the woodwork,' as these spirits have now been aging for up to four years and are ready to be appreciated. It's a clear sign of the maturing of our craft industry."

You can read the full list of winners here

Now, if there were only a natural way to celebrate the wins ... 

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An Absolut-ely cool new bottle

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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Did you know that there's a new "Andy Warhol Edition" of the Absolut vodka bottle that the artist helped make famous in 1986?

His original artwork is incorporated in the bottle, "allowing anyone to bring home their very own Warhol," says the vodka maker.

Absolut went on to work with hundreds of other artists and celebrities, but none of their work became as iconic as Warhol's. The Pittsburgh native created dozens of pieces of Absolut art in the '80s.

This limited-edition bottle (they're making about four million of them to distribute worldwide) was developed with the nonprofit Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which gets a portion of the proceeds.

Absolut is hosting a private party on Monday, Nov. 3, at the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side.

Absolut image

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Prentiss Orr resigns from Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

Barry Young and Prentiss Orr

The Forks learned this afternoon via correspondent Bill Toland that Prentiss Orr, at right in the photo above, has resigned from Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, which makes Boyd & Blair vodka. Mr. Prentiss said he can't talk about it, but he has had some issues with Barry Young, at left. Mr. Young has sued Mr. Orr in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas alleging that he tried to oust Mr. Young from the company's board of managers.

Here's the full text of Mr. Orr's release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: C. Prentiss Orr

October 23, 2014 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BOYD & BLAIR CEO RESIGNS

Pittsburgh – Effective yesterday, C. Prentiss Orr, CEO of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, LLC, makers of Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, has resigned as an officer of the company he founded in 2005. Orr will continue to serve on the Board of Managers of the company which enjoys distribution of its signature, craft vodka in 44 states as well as Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Orr declined to answer questions about his departure, other than to confirm that the company is poised to increase sales with the support of new management soon to be announced. Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, LLC, is governed by a Board of seven Managers, which is chaired by Tim Fisher, a senior officer of the Hillman Company.

* * *

Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette 2013 photo

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Arsenal to open its Cider Garden

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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You know what a beer garden is, right?

Well, Lawrenceville's Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar is officially opening its new cider garden from noon to 8 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 30.

Arsenal's Bill Larkin says the space has seating for 48 "plus lots of lawn space for blankets. Next year, live music and food vendors will be on a regular basis.  We plan to do a mix of bluegrass (we will call it "Bluegrass on the Bluegrass"), jazz, folk and the like."

For Saturday's party, the music lineup is to include:

· Noon to 3 p.m.: Cadillac Jazz Quartet

· 3 to 5 p.m.:  John Melnick

· 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Bret Kunash

6:30 to 8 p.m.: The Brothers Jenkins ("This is our nephews band," Mr. Larkin notes.)

In addition to the house ciders, wines and meads, there will be food, from Butcher on Butler, until 8 p.m.

The grassy space is at 300 39th St.

While you're there, pick up one of the new printed guides to the Allegheny River Libation Trail, which links Arsenal with a dozen other producers and purveyors of wine, spirits and beer located on both sides of the river.
 
Get the latest on the event's Facebook page.   

Arsenal Cider Facebook photo

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Maggie's Farm calls forth the undead

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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Pittsburgh's craft rum distiller, Maggie's Farm, is releasing a specially made reserve rum named the Queen's Share by closing off its 3200 Smallman Street block for its first annual Zombie Party. 

From 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, the street should be crawling with zombies -- some from House of the Dead, "Pittsburgh's premiere zombie store" in Lawrenceville, and others from among party-goers who are encouraged with the prospect of prizes to dress up their undead best/worst. 

They'll be able to sample the Queen's Share and other rums and buy, for $5 each, four different Zombie cocktails created by four top Pittsburgh bartenders (the release doesn't say if they're living or dead). 

Live (sorta) music will be provided by The Graveyard Rockers with DJ Zombo.

And to keep the carnage to a minimum, the zombies will be able to feed from the PGH Taco Truck, the Mac & Gold Truck and South Side BBQ Co. 

Tickets -- $10 in advance and $15 at the door -- are availble via Showclix07172014ZombieParty

The new Queen's Share, writes owner Tim Russell, is made from the end-runnings, or "tails," of usual cane rum distillations, resulting in a more complex spirit made even moreso by being aged in bourbon casks and virgin oak casks; there's also an unaged version. 

Maggie's Farm images

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