That first hint of fall in the air is one of the greatest joys I know. Often it’s followed by another enticing aroma – the smell of smoke, because where there’s fall, there’s fire. The smell of fire pits and fireplaces, campfires and bonfires is more noticeable during this often too-short season. That alluring aroma of smoke isn’t only found outdoors, it’s also on our shelves. Surdyk’s Liquor Store and Cheese Shop has an array of products that offer that smoky quality–and it’s found in more places than you might imagine. Mezcal has seen a recent uptick in popularity—and not the worm-at-the-bottom variety. Differing from tequila, Mezcal is created by smoking the heart of agave plants in underground pits before fermentation. It’s made for sipping straight, and I like the complexity it offers when used in cocktails in place of tequila.
When it comes to smoke, Scotch is an obvious choice. But which do you choose? Smokehead Single Malt, like its name suggests, will come at you with intense smokiness. Highland Park 12-year Single Malt brings the smoke in a less dramatic but still noticeable way. Notes of campfire are mixed with dried fruit and in perfect balance. For a hint of smoke, try White Horse blended Scotch, which includes the legendary Lagavulin, making it not only a great Scotch, but also a tremendous deal. Back on this side of the pond, Knob Creek Distillery offers fall flavor with Smoked Maple Bourbon. While delicious sipped on its own, it makes an outstanding cocktail simply mixed with ginger beer.
Beer is getting in on the action, too, with smoked porters and pilsners. Evil Twin’s The Cowboy Smoked Pilsner is a must-try; its citrus and hop notes play against the smokiness. One wine, 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel, takes smoky oak flavors to a new level with bourbon barrel aging. Sounds perfect for fall. Don’t forget actual smokes. Our humidor holds a carefully curated
selection of cigars. Perfect for enjoying on a cool evening—perhaps while sitting by a fire? — Melissa Surdyk
Cheese Shop Smoked Items to Try:
Benton’s Bacon : Hands down our favorite hickory smoked, old-fashioned bacon
Spanish Smoked Pimenton (aka: Smoked Paprika) We sell both a sweet and smoked hot pimenton. No pantry should be without this Spanish staple. Add smoked pimenton to rubs, marinades, and soups – and it’s a must on deviled eggs!
Marieke Smoked Gouda: A subtle smoke that won’t over power this sweet, creamy, Gouda. A customer favorite for snacking, topping burgers, and for grilled cheese sandwiches.