John’s Small Batch

This is the second posting of John’s Small Batch, with the first being back on August 23, 2017, when we were 10 months into this venture and 8 months into our first full calendar year. Well, that first full calendar year has come and gone, and I hope you feel that our store has matured in our product offerings and knowledge. We also reached the milestone of getting our first bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon Whiskey, a highly allocated item. On December 16, 2017, we raffled off the opportunity to purchase that bottle and the prize was awarded, accepted, and the bottle purchased. I hope to continue to provide opportunities to purchase limited release and allocated bottles to our mailing list subscribers as the products become available, at reasonable prices, to acknowledge you all for your support.

I must say “Thank You,” to each of you that have aided us in our journey to this point and I hope everyone had the chance to share time with loved ones over the holiday season as we all look forward to, what I’m sure we all hope is a wonderful new year!

We have reached the point now that we have done some trial runs on an American Whiskey tasting/nosing as well as one on Tequila, so I anticipate that we will begin our private tasting/nosing events this month, January. Keep your eyes opened in upcoming newsletters for the formal announcement of our first private tasting event. We have some exciting plans in the works, which I’ll inform you of when they, hopefully, become formally approved.

Keep CRAFTED in mind as we move through the year, with our next sights on Valentine’s Day. Try one of our gift baskets of wine, pasta, and sauce for a private quiet evening together. Stop in and review what we can do for you by talking to me, Michael, or Cristian. You may have also notice that we’ve had some help from Karissa. You’ll see her from time to time as she continues her education and aids us as her class and study time permits.

You should see some product offering changes and expansions as we continue to move toward high-end spirits, but we will continue to have some of the standard offerings. Be sure and ask if we don’t carry something you like, and we’ll see what we can do to accommodate you. As always…

Come in and say Hello!

John Erdeljac
Proprietor

We Love Whiskey!

If you have visited CRAFTED lately, it’s pretty evident that we love American Whiskey. We have an eclectic selection of the stuff; From Bourbon to Rye and everything in between. If you have ever wondered what the differences, rules, and regulations for whiskey production are… Wonder no more.

American Whiskey Classifications

There are several classifications of American whiskey, including straight, Bottled-in-Bond, and light whiskey:

Straight: This type is aged in white, charred oak barrels at 160 proof or less and aged at least two years. It is blended with water to no less than 80 proof and must be 51 percent grain by volume. About half of US consumption is straight whiskey.

Bottled-in-Bond: According to the Bottled Bond Act of 1894, American straight whiskey can be housed free of taxes while it ages, and is not taxed until it is removed from the warehouse to be sold.

It must be aged a minimum of 4 years, although most are aged longer. It is bottled at a minimum of 100 proof, and placed in a “bonded warehouse,” completely under the direct supervision of the Internal Revenue Service. Taxes are paid when the whiskey is released from the holding warehouse.

Light: This type is stored in standard or uncharred new oak containers and is between 161 and 189 proof. Blended light whiskey is mixed with less than twenty percent straight whiskey, and is made of corn. This classification is the newest, established in 1972.

What about Bourbon?

Born in America, Bourbon is a variety of whiskey made with the addition of at least 51 percent of corn and must be aged in charred white oak barrels. Contrary to popular belief, Bourbon does not need to be aged for a minimum of two years (“Straight Bourbon” does.) So technically, a whiskey could be aged for one day and be called Bourbon. Here are the simple rules:

  • Made in America
  • Mash bill made up of at least 51% corn
  • Distilled to no higher than 160 proof
  • Barreled at no higher than 125 proof
  • Aged in new charred oak container
  • bottled at no less than 80 proof

What does liquor “proof” mean?

“Proof” in the United States, is exactly twice the level of pure alcohol by content.

If a liquor is labeled 100 proof, it is 50 percent alcohol. Aging of all whiskeys is done in the barrels prior to bottling, not after. The longer it is aged, the smoother the whiskey.

Come into CRAFTED to browse our ever-changing Whiskey selection.

Sipping Rum? Yes, you can!

Rum is a wonderful and delicious spirit normally enjoyed in a Cuba Libre (Rum & Coke) or a Piña Colada. But did you know that some rums are amazing just on their own?
Here at CRAFTED one of our favorite sipping rums is Zacapa 23. it has a soft start which develops complexity in the glass; sweet aromas of caramel, vanilla, cacao and butterscotch, combining with layers of flavor indicative of the different barrels in the solera process; sherried notes of caramelised, roasted brazil nuts and toasted hazelnut, and the characteristic rounded toffeed banana and dried pineapple of ex-American whiskey casks.
Zacapa 23 is wonderfully complex, generous and full-bodied rum, with a sweet honeyed viscosity atypical of an aged spirit; a great depth of raisined fruit and apricot preserves, building to an intense heart of savoury oak, nutmeg, leather and tobacco with notes of coffee and delicately sweet vanilla, balanced with a spicy touch of cinnamon and ginger on the pleasantly astringent finish; truly a rum for the discerning palate.
Come visit us at CRAFTED and pick up a bottle today. You won’t be dissapointed.

A Beginner’s Guide to Tequila

Tequila. For some people the name conjures up images of lost weekends in Tijuana, wild nights at college parties, or self-medicating visits to dingy bars when life got too much to bear.

That was then, this is now. The market for the one-time outlaw alcohol continues to expand, with the 100 percent pure blue agave leading the pack. Tequila has gone mainstream and upscale in a big way.

Tequila has its unique points. For one, there are no vintage years because tequila is made year-round from a plant that takes eight to 12 years to mature and its ripeness doesn't depend on the climate of one particular year. However, the weather obviously plays a major role year after year on the quality of the blue agave plants.

Once the best plants are selected, workers cut off the outer layers to reveal the pina, the pineapple-like heart of the plant, roasting it, with a clay oven -- the most traditional and the best way to heighten flavor.

Just as true champagne can only be made in Champagne, France, true tequila can only be produced in the Tequila region of Mexico and must meet stringent government regulations. It is made in two general categories:

Tequila 100 percent Agave: Must be made only with the juice of the blue agave plant and must be bottled at the distillery in Mexico. It may be Blanco, Reposado, Añejo or Extra Añejo.

Tequila: Must be made with at least 51 percent blue agave juices. It may be exported in bulk to be bottled in other countries following the NOM standard. It may be Gold, Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo.

NOM, the official Mexican product safety requirements, defines four types of tequila:

Oro, or Gold: Modified by adding colorings and flavorings, caramel the most common. Widely preferred for frozen Margaritas.

• Blanco, or Silver: The traditional tequila. Clear, transparent, fresh from the still. Must be bottled immediately after the distillation process.

• Reposado, or Rested: Kept in previously used white oak casks for two to 11 months. Much mellower than blanco. It's pale in color with a gentle bouquet.

• Añejo, or Aged: Matured in white oak casks for a year or more. Maximum capacity of the casks should not exceed 159 gallons. Amber color, oak notes.

Extra Añejo or Extra Aged: Similar to Añejo but matured for a minimum of three years. The flavors of this tequila a reminiscent of a good whiskey or cognac with mellow agave flavors coming through.

At CRAFTED we only carry 100% Agave Tequila.

Whisky Vs. Whiskey – What’s the Difference?

 

We get this question all the time and it's a fair question with a long answer, but here's the short version.

 Whisky or whiskey, refers to a broad category of alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks (generally oak).

Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn).

As a rule, WHISKY is used when referring to Scotch and WHISKEY for everything else.

Whisk(e)ys are made in many parts of the world but the following are some of the most popular:

Scotch whiskies are generally distilled twice, though some are distilled a third time. International laws require anything bearing the label "Scotch" to be distilled in Scotland and matured for a minimum of three years in oak casks

Irish whiskeys are generally distilled three times and must be aged in wooden casks for a period of not less than three years. Unpeated malt is almost always used.

American whiskeys include both straights and blends. To be called "straight" the whiskey must be one of the "named types" listed in the federal regulations and aged in oak casks for at least two years. The most common of the "named types" are Bourbon, which must be between 51% and 79% (inclusive) corn (maize) and Rye, which must be at least 51% rye.

We hope this answers that question and whether you enjoy Whisky or Whiskey, we have a great selection of both at Crafted

John’s Small Batch

Welcome to “Crafted News” and I also welcome you to our “CRAFTED” store. With this being our first publishing, I thought I would start with answering a simple, but significant question.

Who are we?

CRAFTED, as with my daughter’s store, Wicker Park Home, is a personal venture of a Plano family. Both stores reside in The Shops of Willow Bend, a Plano mall. Our first venture, Wicker Park Home, was an opportunity for my wife, Celeste, and I to assist our daughter, Julie, to establish her dream and showcase her talent of choosing and displaying beautiful products while utilizing her trained skills in home décor and merchandizing. As all parents understand our children’s success provides us with extreme joy. Well, after I spent over 33 years in the high-technology business working at Texas Instruments, I realized that I’d prefer to hang up my suit and tie, give up my world travel, and just find a way to spend more time with my family.

I know, you are saying, “A liquor store in a mall?” Yes, that’s right. It’s allowed. At first, I thought it must not be, since I’ve never seen one in Texas. So, in June 2016 with liquor license in hand, I waited for the former tenant to vacate the space of our new venture, CRAFTED. Well, the right home for our venture finally revealed itself, after we “ping-ponged” among some options, and the one we found came with a store manager! That’s right, I got real lucky that through the closure of the former tenant at our site, I could acquire our manager, Michael Donohue. A young man, who is gracious, kind, and someone who I believe can lead the day-to-day activities and aid me. Just recently our team expanded to aid Cristian Olave, who enables this reach to you the consumer and someone I leverage heavily due to his deep knowledge of spirits. You will see his influence as our product choices focus on special and well thought out spirits.

Well, upon inquiry at other liquor stores I continued to get feedback on my key question which was, “Why are there no liquor stores in malls?” I came across two common responses. The first was that men were lazy and preferred to park at a curb, walk in to a store 10 steps, purchase their liquor, walk out and go home. The second was, “You will fail!”

This feedback guided us in our strategy and mission. We don’t want to be a liquor store! We want to be a store for entertainment, for gatherings ranging in size from the private nightcap or evening unwinder, to a couple’s date night, or the family gathering or party with friends. CRAFTED is what you need, “When you need more than just a liquor store.” We don’t want you to be intimidated by rows upon rows of bottles of liquor, wine, or beer. We want you to walk in and then pause and realize you just walked into a store that sells liquor. Alcohol comprises only about 50% of our SKU’s. Whether you simply want a bottle or any accessory that aids your moments of joy, we want to be a part of your experience.

Whether connoisseur or novice, come on in. We will focus on education of all and we accept training from the experts out there in our community. We strive to find you fine spirits, wines, and beers each of which, I’m sure, will be topics for further discussion in, John’s Small Batch. I will also describe how we wish to fight those big box stores and low-touch internet sites, both which depersonalize the shopping experience. So, now you know our names: John, Michael, and Cristian.

Come in and say Hello!

John.

Sauza: A Story of Family and Tequila

We love tequila, its history, and production process. This distinct Mexican spirit born out of a clash of cultures has come a long way since its fiery beginnings. There is much contention when it comes to modern tequila production techniques (but that’s the subject for another post) instead, we wanted to share this amazing article by Joseph V Micallef, a contributor over at the Huffington Post on the history of one of the oldest tequila brands in Mexico.

It’s a great, informative read.

Sauza: A Story of Family and Tequila, via The Huffington Post