Chic Manhattan bars, cool Chicago cocktail lounges and hip LA hang outs are busy stocking up with the newest sensation to hit the drinking scene, called White Dog.
It’s also called White Lightning, or even more colloquially, Moonshine.
It is basically very young whiskey, that has been distilled, but not aged in wooden casks. Wooden casks give whiskey its blonde, caramel colour and oakey, vanilla taste.
Artisan distillers came across the new trend by accident. They were distilling small batches of whiskey and had begun to give bar owners and buyers a taste of the batches to come by letting them taste the crystal clear grain distillate prior to the aging process.
This allowed them to taste the raw agricultural product. And guess what?, they liked the pungent and flavourful spirit so much that they began to order cases of it.
It has since caught on, with enthusiasts lining up to taste flights of White Dog. Barmen have taken to it with gusto, as it makes a great cocktail base.
The blogosphere is buzzing about White Dog, and this week the New York Times devoted a whole article to the trend.
Drinkers seem as taken with the new taste as they do by the fact that all of the whiskeys are produced by boutique distillers in small batches and that its clear in colour. They like the down-home touch, this is authentic stuff. It’s honest and non corporate.
The unique chewy flavours of White Dog are a result of a simple distillation process and there is no major distillation and filtration, as there is in the case of vodka. This would remove the flavours and character.
I am not sure when these products will be hitting South Africa, but Brandhouse, the home of J&B, Bells and Johnny Walker had never heard of them.
Liquidity in Cape Town import Buffalo Trace, who make White Dog, Mash No1, but it’s used to educate drinkers palates about the effect of cask maturing, and they don’t import bottled and labelled product, for the moment, but watch this space.
I came across the recipe for a White Manhattan cocktail, and as soon as I get my sample bottle of White Dog in the post I am going to have a few friends around to try it out.
50 mls of White Whiskey -
18 mls Benedictine.
18 mls White Vermouth, Cinzano or Martini.
3 dashes of orange bitter.
Fill a mixing glass, or a cocktail shaker with ice, add all the drinks ingredients.
Swirl slightly to mix and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Cocktail photograph courtesy of James M. Thresher, Washington Post.
Cocktail recipe courtesy of Neyah White, NOPA, San Francisco.