'behind the scenes' on Serious Eats

Behind the Scenes at Letherbee Distillers in Chicago

Since the debut of its Original Label Gin, Letherbee has unveiled a limited-release gin for autumn; a unique "absinthe brun," which aged in a charred oak barrel; and R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malört, an ode to the (in)famous Chicago-centric and wormwood-driven bitter liqueur developed in collaboration with Robby F. Haynes, bar manager at Chicago's first modern craft-cocktail destination, The Violet Hour. More

Behind The Scenes at the Absolut Vodka Distillery in Sweden

Rather than purchase raw neutral spirits, which is common practice for many manufacturers, Absolut takes control of the process from beginning to end—from seed to glass—and it's all done locally in Sweden. I traveled there to tour the distillery and learn about how vodka is made—I also got a sneak peek at some new Absolut products that are coming down the pipeline. More

Behind the Scenes at The Bruery in Placentia, CA (Plus a Preview of Black Tuesday 2012)

For many in the craft beer world, a handful of limited release brews have reached the ultimate "Holy Grail" status. Among these beers is the infamous Black Tuesday— an Imperial Stout brewed by The Bruery in Placentia, California. Aged in bourbon barrels for over a year, and weighing in at nearly 20% ABV, Black Tuesday is available in limited quantities only once a year on the final Tuesday of October. More

Where There's Smoke, There's Scotch: Making Whisky in Islay, Scotland

Peat, if you don't know, is decomposed organic matter—grass, heather, moss—that melds into a chunky, ever-deepening formation along the coastal, boggy lands of places like rainy, verdant Scotland and Ireland. It's amazing stuff—an ever-renewing resource—as it can plunge more than a meter deep and take up to a 1,000 years for the lower parts to form into hardened, coal-like, fossilized organic matter, which gets cut into brick-like shapes and used for heating homes. But the softer, newer top part—that's the stuff that holds the most moisture and smokes when you burn it. That's used in part to truncate the germinating of the little barley bits via heat and, in its most vital act, flavor the malted barley in Islay. And it's what makes it utterly different from any other Scotch whisky you will have. More

Behind the Scenes at the F.E.W. Spirits Distillery in Evanston, IL

Nearly 80 years after Prohibition's end, American-made spirits are in the midst of a comeback. And among this new crop of upstart, independent distilleries, F.E.W. Spirits, located down an alleyway in Evanston, Illinois, surely takes the prize as the storybook example of the movement. The irony of its existence, much like F.E.W.'s lovingly handmade hooch, is quite delicious. More

What Makes Maker's Mark Taste Like Maker's?

As a bourbon fan, not a bourbon expert, there aren't too many brands I could pick out of a lineup with confidence. But I'm pretty sure I could sniff out a Maker's Mark, no question. It's a sweet whiskey smelling of caramel and vanilla that lands on the front of your palate, soft and smooth, with a long, warm finish. How does it get that flavor? We tasted our way through every stage of the process to learn how. More

Behind the Scenes at Pike Brewing Company, Seattle, WA

In 1989, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel took over Liberty Malt Supply Company, founded in 1921, and opened The Pike Place Brewery in the La Salle Hotel under the Pike Place Public Market—a landmark spot in Seattle and one of the longest running continually operated farmers' markets in the US. In 1995 Pike moved to a new location next to the market and changed name to Pike Brewing Company. The current location is a multi-level brewery, pub, restaurant, and beer museum. Check out our snapshots of the brewery behind the scenes. More

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