It’s a new year and we thought it time to give the “Stuff I’ve Tried” series a new look. Whatcha think? I’m not so sure… might go back to black next month. Other than that, it’s the very same unbiased, unsolicited and non-sponsored reviews of… well, new stuff I’ve tried. It’s a pretty simple premise really – nobody pays me to do these, so all opinions are incredibly honest. Sometimes too honest. You decide.
This month pays homage to a shopping spree in America, the likes of which my credit card company has never seen before. I may have gone a little overboard, but still, I believe you only regret the things you didn’t buy. Carpe diem I always say…heck ‘carpe’ anything that’s on sale if you can!
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
I’ve never been a big reader. I’ve always liked the idea of reading and had some good reading bursts throughout my life – the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ and ‘Harry Potter’ bursts being the most memorable – but other than that, I just don’t read. I’de like to say I don’t have the time for reading, but really, for the most part, I’m just lazy and would rather scroll down my Instagram feed reading the captions.
The one time I have always enjoyed reading though is whilst on holiday. Nothing really beats lying by the pool/beach with a good book and a cold beer. Well maybe a nap, but I mean, you cant nap all the time right? My biggest obstacle has always been choosing a book. What if I don’t like it? What if it’s a total snoozefest and I’ve just dropped some hard-earned cashola on something random that I now need to lug across the world. No Bueno!
On our recent trip to Greece, I had that exact problem. I had bought something random at the airport with lot’s of stickers claiming “Award Winning” and then forced myself through chapter after chapter of complete crap. Eventually, I threw it away and stuck to just drinking beer at the pool. Not all bad I guess. Anyway, my buddy Vito (who seems to come up a lot in these stories) suggested a Kindle in fact, he used the term ‘game changer’. His reasoning was transportability and storage. You can keep as many books on it as you want and disregard the ones you aren’t enjoying. He would literally lie in the pool reading his Kindle on a lilo! Showoff.
It’s difficult to get a Kindle locally. It’s not impossible, it’s just more than double the price. So I snatched one up at an Amazon pop up shop in Miami for $89.00. Score! I only set it all up when we got back, opened an Amazon account and downloaded a couple of book samples.
I’m currently on my 3rd book. Yep! It was, as Vito said, a game changer! I’m not sure if it’s the Kindle or my willingness to read (possibly a combination of both) but I haven’t put it down! I wasn’t really sure where to start but Amazon made a couple of recommendation based on books I had previously read. You simply buy the book (it downloads directly to your Kindle) or just download a sample that gives you a chapter or 2 to trial. Simple. It holds over 1000 books and lasts for weeks between charges. The true genius is, of course, the E-ink screen that has no glare and lets you read in direct sunlight – something that’s impossible to do with a smartphone or tablet. The screen works just as well in the dark, so, if like me, you do most of your reading before bed, then this won’t keep your significant other up at night! Oh, one last thing, when you stumble upon a word you don’t know while reading, you just click on it and hey presto, it gives you the definition! I mean if that’s not necromantic, I don’t know what is. ; )
The conclusion: I wish I had bought one sooner. Seriously. I spend way less time on my phone, less time in front of the TV and actually look forward to reading. I believe every gentleman should be well read, and the Kindle is as good a way of doing it as any!
One last thing, if you’re looking for a book to get you back into reading, I would suggest Laura Hillenbrand’s – Unbroken. I became obsessed with this Olympic Athletes true life story of everything he endured in world war two! Mind BLOWN!!
Stillhouse Americas Finest – Apple Crisp Whiskey
I’m a sucker for packaging! I like buying things that look nice, not just things I need – and now that I wrote that down, it almost sounds kinda douchey! But 17 years in art direction and design can often give you an appreciation for style over substance – shit, that sounds even more douchey!
Look, I just like beautiful things okay!
So, anyway, when walking through the largest liquor store I have ever seen in my life (F#ck Yeah ‘Merica) I stumbled upon this range of Stillhouse American Whiskey. The obvious eye-catcher is that it’s packaged in a stainless steel tin rather than a bottle – it almost looks like a gasoline tin. Fancy! The marketing schpeel is that it’s the whiskey you can take where bottles cant go! Ummmm, okay. I’m not really sure I buy that! I just think they wanted to make something that looks different to everything else out there… and they nailed it!
I bought it simply because it just looked so damn cool! There were a couple of flavours, but eventually, I chose the apple crisp over the coconut (the 2nd contender). No reason really, I was just in a rush and needed to make a decision. At $30.00 a bottle… or tin, as it were, I could only take one!
So, what does it taste like?
Firstly, this is an all corn whiskey, a ‘moonshine’ apparently. Being more of a bourbon man myself, I don’t think I’ve ever had an all corn whiskey, nevermind a flavoured one, so I was eager to see the difference.
Boy was I disappointed! The moment I poured this thick clear liquid into my whiskey glass I knew this wasn’t gonna be the amazing new experience I was hoping for. Stillhouse Whiskey has no ageing process so it’s pretty much pure distilled corn. This means that not only does the base alcohol have no complexity, but it gets no further complexity from the wooden barrel it should be aged in. The end result is a sickly sweet liqueur that tastes nothing like whiskey and everything like an apple lollipop!
The conclusion: If you’re 18, get dressed in the dark and roll your own cigarettes, you’ll probably love this stuff! It has all the earmarks of a hipster crafted product and is the kind of thing you’ll feel proud to bring out at a party… or ironic camping weekend. For this 40-year-old, it’s just another valuable lesson in style over substance. It looks great sitting in my bar cart but its value ends there.
The Bitter Truth – Grapefruit Bitters
My reason for visiting the above-mentioned liquor shop was actually in search of some new and exciting bitters. For those of you who read my WMBW Drinks posts, you’ll know that I’m a big advocate for starting every cocktail off with a dash or 2 of bitters. It just helps balance your drink and give it more depth.
Locally we have access to Angostura bitters and… well, no, that’s it really! Okay, I lie, some places now stock Angostura orange bitters, so to be fair the offering has doubled in the last few weeks. : )
With variety being the spice of life and all that, I wanted to arm my bar cart with a few more options and of course ‘Merica was the place to do it. Not as easy to find as I would have hoped but I eventually hit the jackpot at Total Wine And More (the massive liquor store I’ve been speaking about) where I picked up a bottle of chocolate bitters, ginger bitters, barrel aged bitters and this delicious bottle of The Bitter Truth – Grapefruit Bitters.
There’s not really much to say here people. Truth be told it does what it says on the bottle – adding a bitter grapefruit undertone to your drinks. It’s awesome!
The conclusion: Put a couple of drops of this stuff into your G&T and it will change your life. The bitter citrusyness pairs perfectly with the bitter notes of the juniper in the gin as well as the quinine in the tonic to transform your drink. While you’re at it, pick up some orange bitters for your homemade Old Fashioned – it makes all the difference. If you’re just getting started on your cocktail journey, then Esquires ‘Drink Like a Man’ is an absolute must-have!
I feel like I need to remind you guys that no one is paying me to sell this stuff, they don’t even know I’m reviewing it… these are purely my personal views.
Okay, this product is a little left field. It’s kinda grown up, and I guess it’s not very “coooool” – This, of course, depends on your definition of cool. If your definition of cool is wrinkled clothes or hours spent in front of an ironing board, then this probably isn’t for you.
We spend a lot of time ironing clothes for shoots. Even when something has been ironed, it gets all creased again sitting in the closet and needs a bit of a once-over before hitting the sidewalk. Needless to say, it’s one of my least favourite things to do. It’s cumbersome, technical, time-consuming and I inevitably iron more wrinkles into my clothes than out of them. Go figure! Have I established my disdain for ironing yet? Good. It’s the pits!
The problem really sets in though when you’re travelling. There is almost no way to keep your clothes wrinkle free and ironing on holiday is even worse than ironing at home! However, on our recent trip to UNICO 20 87, we were pleasantly surprised to find a steamer rather than the traditional iron in our room. I hooked it up and “Boom” I was sold. It took about 3mins to heat up and then it just let out a perfect jet of steam that magically made wrinkles on my linen sports coat disappear.
We eventually picked the exact same one up at Target in the US (but you can get it on Amazon here) and used it for the rest of our trip. It was yet another game changer. It’s small and light enough to travel with and the results are incomparable. The beauty of steaming is that it relaxes the fabric rather than crushing it like ironing does – the result is less wear and tear on your clothes. You can do it vertically and in some cases even while wearing the garment as Elzaan found out every time she put a wrinkled skirt on – she simply spun around while I blasted her with steam! Good times!
The conclusion: If you find yourself cursing under your breath as you work your iron around the buttons of your dress shirt, then this is your saving grace. This Sunbeam Steamer isn’t the cheapest nor the most expensive, but it had some pretty decent reviews and I’m super happy with the results! The best thing for me is how quick the whole process is. If time truly is money, then this is worth double the price.
That’s it for December. So far, all I have is a new bottle of Gin I’m looking forward to trying in January and some teeth whitening strips. Open to any other suggestions.
Okay. Stay Fancy.