Saturday, November 20, 2010

Evan Willams Honey Reserve and Cherry Reserve reviews.

These are the 2 flavored whiskeys being offered by Evan Williams currently. The Honey Reserve is in response to Wild Turkey's American Honey and the Cherry Reserve is in response to Jim Beam's Red Stag. While I have not had Red Stag or American Honey, I can say that both the Evan Williams offerings will have a permanent home on my shelf. They are both 70 proof (35% ABV) and are a mixture of Evan Williams bourbon and natural flavor. The honey is thicker than bourbon, as is the cherry. I think they've hit the blend ratio exactly on both products as well. They are very well-balanced and are great for mixing into drinks and are even a nice sweet treat when drank straight. Both are labeled officially as liqueurs and not bourbon- which is correct (Unlike Beam's Red Stag.) and they should be treated as such when mixing. I have yet to try it, but a shot or 2 of the Cherry Reserve in some Pepsi or Coke should be an awesome treat. The Honey Reserve goes well in tea or drank straight it seems to soothe a sore throat quickly. Priced at less than $20 at your local liquor store, they're a steal. Pick a bottle up today. You won't be let down!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The newest automotive addition!!

Welcome my 2003 Ford ZX2. This car is another one of my small list of odd-ball Fords I've owned. The ZX2 went through its production run basically unchanged from 1998-2002. For 2003 only, the front bumper, wheels, interior cloth pattern, radio, and engine tuning were changed. There may have been as few as 20,000 sold. This car is a base model with a 5 speed manual transmission, manual locks, and crank windows. However, it does have cruise control. I got the car for a good price and am happy with it. I need to really brush up on my 5 speed skills though. I am self-taught and driving it daily has shown I have much to learn! Here's 2 photos:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Capri Returns...

Let the pictures describe how awesome it looks now:

A HUGE THANK YOU TO ANDY SENSENIG!! He is the man responsible for the excellent work!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Comparison of the new "prototype" Wines & Spirits store to others....

With all the media hype, I had to go and check out the new prototype PLCB Wines & Spirits store in downtown Harrisburg- 333 Market Street to be specific. This is the second prototype store that the PLCB has opened, the other being New Hope, PA. To learn more about what the PLCB has to say about the store and a description of what it supposedly has to offer, check out this link:


Now, I am going to review this in a different manner. Instead of giving goods and bads, I am going to compare and contrast it against the Manheim, PA store and Lancaster/Fruitville Pike store. The Fruitville Pike store is a "Premium Collection Store" while the Manheim store is just your average small town store. So here it goes:

---Harrisburg- Terrible parking situation, even on a Saturday. It's on a good part of Market Street with other nice restaurants and businesses surrounding it. I felt safe there.
---Manheim- Excellent parking and location. It's in a small strip plaza that contains a hardware store, grocery store, and other smaller businesses. Well lit for those evening runs to the liquor store.
---Fruitville Pk.- Again, in a strip plaza, albeit busier and more cramped. Easy access from most locations north of Lancaster City. A traffic light at the entrance to Fruitville Pike. Can get a bit busy and cramped for parking in the evenings and on weekends.

-Interior Store Layout/Appearance:
---Harrisburg- Very nice, convenient, open in the center, nicer looking shelving. Good easy to read markings of locations of your favorite beverages. Comparable to a higher-end liquor store in Maryland or Delaware. Laid out well, but may become a bit cramped during busy hours.
---Manheim- When you walk in, you know you're in a "state store." What can I say? Little signage, cheap metal shelves, basic checkout facilities. No decor. But hey, it's Manheim, not a big city!
---Fruitville Pk.- A step above Manheim. More registers and a premium wines collection area that's mildly posh for Lancaster. Laid out pretty basically, but it works well and still allows for navigation of the store during busy hours. Still, not much for atmosphere.

---Harrisburg- Friendly crowd for a Saturday and for being in inner-city Harrisburg. I didn't get any "May I help you?" but I think they could tell I was on a mission! I did get a "Thank you." and smile at the check out, which was nice. All employees were well dressed and manicured.
---Manheim- Some employees seem nice, others seem like they'd rather be doing other things. Most have a basic knowledge and know what's in stock and what's not. Casual, but nice clothing is usually worn. Fine for a small town store.
---Fruitville Pk.- Employees often seems a bit overworked or stressed. Most are pleasant and seem to know about wines. Some employees look like they are dressed for a wedding. Nice sport coats and ties. Impressive and makes them look smart (I don't know if they actually are, but giving that impression makes me feel a little more comfortable when I ask questions). Usually pleasant at the register as well. Again, no complaints.

---Harrisburg- Severely lacking on whiskies (whiskys). Like all Wines & Spirits stores, there is a massive wall of Vodka, then the rest of the store is wine. I was expecting a lot more and really feel let down here. I was even hoping a few SLO "Special Liquor Order" items may be lurking on the shelves. Since I'm not a wine guy, I didn't pay much attention to the rows of wine, but it seemed to be the same selection as the Fruitville Pike store. One thing I did like was they had a list of all of the behind-the-counter small bottles at the register. That's nice since I'm always straining my neck to see what's lurking under the counter at other stores.
---Manheim- They have the basics. A few of each category of everything. It serves its purpose well and I know I can always go and find my Old Grand Dad 100 there!
---Fruitville Pike- This one beats the other 2 stores in square footage, so why shouldn't there be an excellent selection? It's also, as said above, a "Premium Collection Store" which means better selection of at least wines. This is one of my favorite stores (The other one being the East York store). Very good selection and at Christmas they are usually loaded with the special gift sets. While once again the emphasis is on wine and Vodka, good bottles of scotch, gin, bourbon, and other liquors crowd the shelves. Wonderful selection! Almost as good as a private Maryland or Delaware liquor store. Almost.

So there you have it. Hopefully the prototype concept gets refined and turns into something wonderful. For now, I'll stick with my local stores. The atmosphere may be spartan, but they have a good selection and they're a lot closer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ethan gets famous.

John Hansell of Malt Advocate opened up a rare opportunity for people to submit stories for his online section "What Does John Know?" I submitted a story and it made the cut!

Once again, you'll have to copy and paste the link.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Michter's day for the record books!!!

Yesterday, July 24th, several people including my wife and me got together for a tour of Michter's. Included in the bunch were ex-employees, a man looking to start his own rye distillery, the current Michter's site owner, and other notable people in the whiskey world. After a fantastic tour and equally fantastic lunch at the Franklin House, we navigated to the Holiday Inn in Lebanon for drinks, sharing stories, and sharing information. One of the highlights of the whiskey tasting we did was a comparison of each variant of Old Overholt from about 1928 to 1977. We also tasted several other Monongahela ryes from the prohibition era. Then we tasted several different batches of Michter's whiskey and compared it to several prototype samples from the aspiring distiller that was with us. John Lippman has a write-up and a few photos here:


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Michter's gets more national attention!!

Sam Komlenic wrote a very detailed and very accurate account of his memories of Michter's from the late 70's until its closure at the end of the 80's. I've been in conversation with Sam for a few months now about various Michter's things and he is certainly as big a fan of the place as I am- and he had the privilege of actually visiting the distillery while it was in operation! Please read this article. It will give you a great idea of what the whole Michter's tour experience was like.

For some reason, once again, stupid Blogger won't recognize this link. You'll have to cut-and-paste this link to your browser.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No Michter's tour

I am sending the following message out to everyone:

Guys and gals, I have bad news. Due to the snow storm damage to the buildings, the owner's insurance agent said he would not allow tours due to liability. The snow did significant structural damage to several buildings and they are now unsafe to be inside or near. There is also now renewed pressure from the local government to have the site torn down because more has collapsed. I am VERY sorry about this, but our hands are tied right now. If anything changes, I will let you all know but at this time, tours can't be done safely.

I feel terrible about this but I guess this is what it comes down to. The 36" of snow that Schaefferstown received did an awful lot of damage to the buildings and some could collapse at any time. Until the buildings are secured, no one can go in them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Escort gets a new engine!

Well, the band-aid patch I did to the old engine last fall didn't work out. The previous owner didn't do regular oil changes and the block was severely worn- to the point that the pistons could wobble back and fourth in the bores! So it was time for a replacement. I had several options, but I decided to go with a Ford remanufactured engine since it carries a 3 year, 100,000 mile warranty and it was installed by factory trained technicians. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right! Here are a few pictures of the new, shiny engine that replaces the worn 105,000 mile boat anchor:

Monday, April 12, 2010

.....but what is it???

Ok, a real puzzler here. I bought 2 copper pieces shown below and was told they are from Michter's. One appears to have been a whiskey thief at one time (the one with the handle and black cone) and the other piece is some type of other equipment. I am appealing to the greater masses to help me identify if at least what I think was a whiskey thief was actually just that. It appears to have been modified but the thick wall copper with the handle on it makes me suspect that it was once the long lost Michter's whiskey thief.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Summer projects...

This summer, since I've once again found gainful employment, I plan on doing something that I've wanted to do for 10 years- have the Capri restored. Back in college I did a very rushed paint job on it and it shows. The car also needs a proper rustproofing and some other areas repaired. So far this spring I repaired the sunroof, did an oil change, repaired the driver's door armrest, and put a new hood weatherstrip on. I found a guy that's local that does classic car restorations during the summer (He's a school teacher) and he came over and we discussed the car. He is going to take on the project, so early this fall I should have a VERY nice looking, solid car!
As for other projects? I am going to fix up the 94 Escort wagon and sell that (so I can buy a 99 Escort wagon!), do some more work around the house, and of course stay involved with everything Michter's! After doing a little more research, I am going to start my whiskey rebarrel project. I still haven't selected the barrel size or what whiskey to use, but I've narrowed it down. I am probably going to buy 3 3 liter barrels and put Old Grandad 100 in one, Old Heaven Hill 100 in the second one, and Cabin Still 80 in the third. This gives me 3 very different whiskeys to experiment with and see what happens when they are aged an additional few months.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm not dead yet.

I know. No word from your fearless (blog) leader in just 2 days shy of a month! What have I been doing? Here's a list for those of you that like organization:
1. Getting a new job.
2. Shoveling snow. LOTS of snow.
3. Buying Michter's stuff (You have no idea.)
4. Buying whiskey and enjoying a shot each night of something new.
5. Making space for aforementioned Michter's stuff.
6. Apparently not blogging.

So now the actual update on my Michter's efforts:

The tours did not happen on Valentines Day due to snow and unsafe conditions. However, that gave me time to make contacts and get my hands on some colossal collections of Michter's items. Thanks to Mr. Mummert and his sister, Mrs. Foreman, I was able to secure over 50 decanters- most full with boxes for the collection. These decanters replaced empty ones in my collection which are being sold off. Mr. Mummert was a Michter's Collectors Society member and also provided me with a large amount of newsletters, mailings, advertising, and special event flyers. Several other individuals, EBay, and some local antiques dealers have also helped in securing rare pieces for my collection. I'm going to go out on a limb saying this, but as far as I can tell, I now have the most complete collection of Michter's memorabilia that exists. There are still several decanters out there that I do not have, but they are very rare (less than 500 made) and it may take some time to find them- if they even still exist today!

As for my whiskey for drinking collection, I am experimenting with "bottom shelf" and "middle shelf" economically priced whiskeys to see if there are some good bang-for-your-buck pours out there. Recently I've tried:
Banker's Club Blended Whiskey
Old Fitzgerald Bourbon 80pf
Pikesville Supreme Rye
Cabin Still Bourbon

For me, that standout was the Cabin Still. For being a 36 month old whiskey at 80 proof and only $8.50 a liter I was not expecting much. But I was amazed at how smooth it was. It presented itself as a more mature bourbon. It certainly did not have the oakiness and deep flavor that older bourbons have, but it was not harsh and bitter like so many other young bourbons are. I was really amazed at the flavor and that it even had a slightly sweet, lingering finish. If this stuff was made at 100 proof and aged 4 years, I'll bet it would be absolutely amazing. Only downside- it's not available in PA! From my list above, only the Banker's Club Blended Whiskey is available in PA at $8.50 for a liter. This is actually my second choice from the list above. But being a blended whiskey, one should expect it to be smooth and not so harsh already. It met, but did not exceed my expectations. A very good, easily found, inexpensive whiskey. I still recommend it for tight budgets. It would mix great in soda as well.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Michter's event is cancelled.

Due to an unsafe snow load on the buildings, a broken plow, and a few other snow-related problems, we have been forced to cancel the event at Michter's for the 14th until later this spring when the snow has gone.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The train derails in Manheim.

The local Norfolk Southern freight train derailed on the wye in Manheim this morning. I am an avid railroad fan and things like this don't happen very often. The train was making its exchange of tank cars with Ferrellgas when the one rail gave out and the train ended up on the ground. The track on the wye wasn't the greatest so I had a feeling this was going to happen sooner or later. I hear the horn of another train coming into town from the west so I am wondering if that is the wreck train from Lancaster. I think I'll go check it out. For now, here are a few pictures:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Videos of Michter's Distillery

Here is an overview of the site:

Here is the first warehouse that had collapsed showing our cleanup efforts:

Here is the second warehouse that collapsed and our recent cleanup efforts:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Capri turns 24.

Today marks the 24th anniversary of my 1986 Mercury Capri coming off the assembly line at Ford's Dearborn plant. 1986 also marked the last year for the Capri and carburetted 2.3L 4 cylinder engines. Why is this car worth keeping? In 1986, only 20,869 Capris were made. Of those, only 1,774 were made in the Shadow Blue Metallic color- most of which were ASC McLaren coupes. The options package on my Capri is what really makes it unique. It has power locks, power windows, a 3 speed automatic, premium sound, a flip-up sunroof, and rear defrost, BUT no air conditioning and only the cloth interior. This options package would have had to have been pieced together, which would have made it very expensive. You could have gotten a decent V6 or base V8 engined car for the price. I have owned the car since July of 2000 and I've done an awful lot to it. When I bought the car, it had an Earl Sheib paint job, smoked a little, and needed a few other repairs. I fully repainted the car while in college and since then have done quite a bit of engine work. The Ford 2.3L OHC engine in it has 221,000 miles on it (From what I suspect. However, there is no 100,000 marker on the odometer so it's hard to say.). I put a rebuilt head from an 89 Mustang on it, the carburetor is a rejetted Motorcraft-Weber 5200 2 barrel from a 77 Pinto, I replaced the camshaft with a roller cam out of a 90 Ranger, the ignition was modified to a Duraspark-MSD hybrid system, I removed the air pump and a bunch of other emissions junk and also reworked most of the vacuum system. My modifications replace a computer controlled 1 barrel Carter carburetor and lots of other old, worn out, pathetic parts. Here's a few pictures of the car today:

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Official PA Wine And Spirits Inventory Search!!

Two posts in one day. I have no life I guess. ANYWAY, the other day while tooling around on the State's website I came across the holy grail that many of us PA liquor drinkers can't ever seem to find. Posted below is the link to the PLCB website's inventory search. This allows you to not only see if the state handles your favorite wine or spirit, but also how it is available, where it is available, and how many units a store stocks (plus the store's hours and address!!). VERY easy to use and an awesome way to track down your favorite drink! Enjoy!|32369|

This blog thinks this is not a valid link so you will have to copy and paste this into your browser.

One of my other collections...

This one probably isn't worth as much as my Michter's stuff, but it's actually usable on a daily basis. I collect records. LP's and 45's. What all do I have? Lots of stuff, mostly from the late 70's to the early 90's. Lots of Genesis, Rush, The Police, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Cars, and plenty of others. I've got everything from regular albums to special pressings, radio broadcasts, UK pressings, and promo albums. I've got an old Technics direct-drive turntable that is plugged into my old Pioneer silver-faced receiver. Here are 2 quick pictures: