Whisky, as it is spelled there, may have originated in the British Isles but Americans have made it their own. Malted barley forms the base of Scottish and Irish whiskies; in the United States, just about any grain goes. Whiskey distilled from corn or rye is both peculiar to America and widespread there; fearless Koval’s from Chicago even uses oats. Corn bears a close association with Kentucky and Tennessee; rye more typically with the northeast.
The motto taken by Hochstadter’s Slow & Low Rock & Rye is “fortune favors the brave.” Slow & Low is, Hochstadter’s proclaims, union made in Philadelphia from Rye whiskey infused with honey, horehound and orange peel. It is “America’s original bottled cocktail.” All this sets a certain tone.
It turns out that Hochstadter’s, while owned by a larger company, is not part of an international spirits conglomerate but rather is a brand that belongs to Charles Jacquin & Cie Inc., a privately held distillery and importer founded in 1884 and still actually located on the ground in a Philadelphia building.
The fact that Jacquin’s in turn belongs to Cooper Company in New York is no disappointment; the links between the companies are longstanding and they share the same senior executives.
Hochstadter’s and its parents are no mere adjunct of a giant passing the product off as independent, like Maker’s Mark (a good product despite the deception). Jacquin/Cooper does, however, display a knack for marketing. No unified website lists the various products made or handled by the company. Instead you go to the Slow & Low site, the Chambord site, the Pravda site, the St. Germain site and so on. No cross marketing, no cross reference at all, so something like Slow & Low looks nearly nano instead of merely crafty.
The ingredients are all American and so is the company’s brilliant merchandise that features line drawings of nude women and tough guy typeface; also $300 axes, $875 surfboards, manly aprons for tending your open forge ($235) and ‘vintage man mags’ like Playboy .
In other words irony abounds in the selection of goods like the ‘leg bottle opener’ that is “inspired by the classic shape of a lady’s vintage leg.”
It is, according to the website, a product ‘related to’ the surfboards. Perhaps best, a sign in red neon features a nude (Hamletta?) contemplating a skull. She reclines with ladylike languor atop the Hochsadter’s logo. Utterly irresistible at only $300.
The tenor of the website itself is playfully subversive in badass divebar mode: The photograph on the homepage is a most unladylike tattooed head-turner; leaving the virtual world, so is the topless vision on the inside of the label, visible only once much of the bottle is gone. Incentive.
Slow & Low prints its own magazine in the same vein. The magazine is skimpy, sketchy and sporadic. “Features include Miss Slow & Low [whom, it turns out, is the person depicted on the inside label], souped-up mopeds, how to eat a bear, and other life-enhancing subject matter.”
Other life enhancements; handy charts outlining the age of consent in each of the fifty states (it varies from sixteen to eighteen), the status of their marijuana laws and last call times for taverns. Bars in Louisiana, Nevada and (surprise) New Jersey need never close.
Just in case you need to know closing time in Sioux Falls.
Slow & Low will not make anyone forget Compass Box Orangerie, a Scotch infused with orange and cassia, but at about a quarter the price represents superb value for money. A good alternative to peach brandy for “Summer Hill” pork chops (recipe in the practical ) but smooth enough to drink straight or, as Jacquin’s recommends, as “the original bottled cocktail” over ice.