Witherspoon Distillery 2015 Review

I recently had the opportunity to visit my friends at Witherspoon Distillery in Lewisville, TX and interview the owner Quentin Witherspoon. (we apologize for the quality of the audio, it was a hot Texas day and the a/c distorts the sound quality)

Some outstanding recipes to follow!

Witherspoon Distillery’s current line up.

1. Witherspoon’s Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

2. Witherspoon’s Single Malt

3. Witherspoon’s River Rum

4. Witherspoon’s River Rum Reserve

5. Witherspoon’s Bonfire Rum

Witherspoon’s Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

 

Witherspoon Maple Old Fashioned Recipe

1.5 oz Witherspoon Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Dash or Two Bitters
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
3 oz Apple Juice

Witherspoon’s Single Malt

When we first opened this bottle, the aroma was very strong and almost it almost tasted the same as it smelled. If you have ever been privileged to drink a fine aged whiskey, you will understand the aroma as you could make out the different key flavors that are characteristic of being aged in an oak barrel.

The single malt was not as smooth straight and I ended up cutting it with 2 parts single malt to 1 part water. This is how I drink it now. I do not like my whiskey on the rocks because this is a slow sipping drink and the ice changes the ratio of water to whiskey.

Cocktail:

This is not a cocktail liquor to me, so I will share how I drink mine.

2 Ounces Witherspoon’s Single Malt
1 ounce chilled purified water

Mix the two ingredients in an old fashioned glass and enjoy.

Witherspoon’s River Rum

Witherspoon Distillery Hemingway Cocktail Recipe

1.5 oz Witherspoon River Rum
3 oz Grapefruit Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 Maraschino Cherry Juice

 

Witherspoon’s River Rum Reserve

I will be honest when it comes to this rum I just enjoy it on the rocks. To me, this is just a nice sipping rum and does not need a mixer.

 

Witherspoon’s Bonfire Rum

 

Witherspoon Distillery Apple Pie Cocktail Recipe

1 oz Maple Syrup
1.5 oz Witherspoon Bonfire Cinnamon Infused Rum
4 oz Apple Juice

Witherspoon Distillery
Witherspoondistillery.com

Panasonic On-Ear Headphones RP-HS46 Review

I cannot stand “in the ear” headphones. When I am working out they’re always falling out during the best part of the song or during the last few reps when you need that motivation to help you push yourself.

Over the years I have used all different types of headphones and it wasn’t until May 2009 that I found the pair I could stand behind.

Panasonic On-Ear Headphones RP-HS46 Review

The Back-Story

In May 2009 I was working out 5-7 nights a week at my gym alone with my amazing Apple 30GB iPod I used to rock out with. I had gotten to the gym at my normal hour of 11 and got changed in the locker room when I found headphones had ripped the cable out (or something along those lines… I don’t fully remember). I quickly ran to my local Wal-mart to pick up the cheapest on-ear headphones. I found the Panasonic RP-HS46.

I ran back to my gym and worked out using these headphones for the next year and a half. I ended up not working out for a few years after my accident but I always carried my iPod to work with me so I needed a descent pair of headphones to get me by.

The Torture Testing

From 2011 until April 2015 I have used that same pair of Panasonic headphones while working at my fathers company doing decorative concrete work. To give you an idea of what that means, it is a lot of catching the headphone cord on equipment, lots of dust, dirt and sweat getting into the headphones. It is also a lot of bending over and putting pressure on the headphone plug. It is also hundreds and hundreds of hours of music being pumped through the headphones.

After all of that time, the headphones still worked until they finally gave up the ghost and went out on me in April. This forced me to shop online for a new set. When I had last looked online for the pair as a gift, I could only find them for $50-80 dollars on Amazon. I paid $13 (most expensive pair I had ever purchased at that time, so the amount had stuck in my head) when I first picked them up in 2009.

In April I was lucky enough to find them again for $8 a pair online so I picked up two.

Conclusion

Are these headphones the best in the world? No. Do they have the richest sound? No. Do they last unlike any others I have ever used? YES!

I wanted to write this review because as someone who beats the living hell out of clothes and gear just living a normal (for me) life I want to share what I have found to be durable and long lasting and can take the beating I put things through. These fit the bill.

Work Sharp Blade Grinder and Tool Grinding Attachments for the Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener

At the end of 2014 I reviewed the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener. The company was very nice and shipped me out the Blade Grinder and Tool Grinding Attachments to test shortly after that. I wanted to wanted until after winter and into spring so I would be able to get a good use out of the tool grinder so I would have a enough time behind the sharpener to write a fair review.

The Tool Grinder/Sharpener

The tool grinder is designed for exactly what it sounds like. To grind tools and sharpen the cutting edge. I use three tools for all of my outdoor cutting yard work. a chainsaw, pruners and loppers. I don’t care much for use of an axe or hand saw unless I am just wanting to get some exercise in because the chainsaw makes quick work of any large projects. for my pruners and loppers however I dull them pretty fast. In my workshop I have a vise that I can secure either in and in just a few short passes I can be back to work with sharp tools.

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This tool grinder attachment was the easiest of the kit I own (tool grinder, blade grinder and the Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener) to get the edge I wanted since you are not looking for a razor edge on your gardening tools.

Growing up in the BSA we were always doing conservation projects that required us to fell trees. I would always have to spend 30 minutes getting my two axes ready for work before we starting felling trees. I wish I had this sharpener back then so I could always have the best axe heads. Before I would have to sit with the metal file and work on the edge and this would have made quick work of that. 

The Blade Grinder

I have not really liked this for sharping my knives. While out at a show in Vegas I saw Benchmade using the Blade Grinding Attachment with razor precision.  I have found I am better at getting a good blade with just the base Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener than I am with the blade grinder. I know that you can get a better edge on the grinder but I haven’t been able to achieve it yet.

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The Box

Work Sharp as far as I have seen only sells a “gear bag” for storing your sharpener and attachments. I do not like soft bags to store my tools in because I  prefer to be able to stack boxes on my shelves in the workshop. While over at my local home improvement store I found a Husky 16-Inch Rugged Hand Tool Box with Metal Latch. the box measurements of 8.8” W x 15.4” L x 8.2” in height. This box is perfect! It cost $15 online but $10 in the store.

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Overall thoughts

The  Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener is a great tool to have at your disposal for keeping your everyday knives at the sharpest they can be. If you are someone who does your own yard work and the tool grinder is invaluable. You always run a higher risk of hurting yourself or others when working with dull blades and edges on tools.

The blade grinder is something I am hoping to master in the next few times but until then I always have the main Ken Onion Edition sharpener.

(Attachments sold separately! Requires Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener WSKTS-KO)

Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener Review

For Christmas last year I went out and got myself the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener (Without tool sharpener). I didn’t really spend much time trying it out for the first few months. It seemed complicated and I was being lazy with my semi-dull knives. It wasn’t until a friend who is in the Army came to visit, that I really took it out and started learning how easy it really is to get a razor edge.

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Introduction

I have been on the hunt for a razor edge on my knives since I was old enough to learn how to sharpen knives. I have stick sharpeners, block sharpeners, diamond sharpeners, kitchen and utility sharpeners. I have so many sharpeners that I have a shoe box full of them and I am still finding ones from my youth. In my early teens I destroyed a few of my cheap knives by trying to sharpen them with a rotary tool and a metal grinding bit, all in search for the elusive razor edge.

First Impressions of the Ken Onion Edition

At first I wasn’t impressed with the edge I was getting with this Work Sharp sharpener. It was sharp but I really didn’t feel I was getting my moneys’ worth from this Work Sharp sharpener. The kit comes with a DVD that walks you through the steps. I just wasn’t impressed because the knife wasn’t all that sharp. I figured this wasn’t a dummies guide to sharp knives and that it really took a long time to learn how to get the edge you were looking for.

My First Sharp Knife

After working with the sharpener for a few hours I figured something out. My knives had been to hell and back. I have been “sharpening” them for years on different stones and angles and I had made a mess of my blades.

I needed to start fresh and re-profile the blades to the correct angle (as per the angle and belt guide in the book). I took my P120 extra coarse belt (this is a step I took on my own without guidance from the book as they do not talk about doing this) and redefined the edges on all of my blades. This was the first and most important step I have found to the perfect blade.

You need to start clean and have all the nicks and divots in the blade removed. Once I had done that, I followed the user guide and lo and behold I had a razor edge on my 10 year old EDC (EveryDay Carry) knife.

I have noticed that the knifes that have been re-profiled last a little bit longer between each sharpening now. I can see how re-profiling is not a one step method. It may take many sharpening’s before it is a super sharp leather cutting blade.

My $10 Razor Knife

There was a deal on some website offering these folding half serrated knives for $10. I picked up one for each of my family. I wanted them to have an inexpensive knife they could carry without worrying about losing an expensive one.

For those of you who do not feel the need to carry one on you, I recommend trying it out for 1 or 2 weeks. Count how times you find yourself using it.

When I opened the package with the 4 knives I wanted to see how sharp they were. I tried to shave some arm hair and found I couldn’t even cut warm butter.

I wanted to put this Work Sharp sharpener to the test and see if I could find a real edge on the knife or see if I had just bought myself 4 knife shaped paper weights. I went to my first step of re-profiling the edge. I quickly got a razor sharp edge on this knife and now I have been carrying it for about 3 months.

The Belts

The Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife Sharpener comes with 5 belts:

Belts
(1) P120 Extra Coarse Grit Norton Ceramic Belt,
(1) X65 Coarse Grit Norton Norax 65 Micron Belt
(1) X22 Medium Grit Norton Norax 22 Micron Belt,
(1) X4 Fine Grit Norton Norax 4 Micron Belt
(1) 6000 Extra Fine Grit SiC Micro Mesh

The “X” belts are the ones you will use the most. They are meant for every blade with the exception of serrated, gut and bread knives which you use the 6000 Belt on.

I have noticed that after about 40 knife sharpens the belts are starting to wear. The book says “Belt discoloration is not an indicator of wear. Engineered belts expose new abrasive as they break down. Used belts may take extra strokes but will continue to remove material. These belts will keep going longer than you think. Keep using them as long as they cut.” [Found in the Ken Onion Edition User Guide]

Final Thoughts

I have found my razor edge!

Once I took the the time to sit down and read the book and started practicing, the easier it was to put a nice edge on my knives. Work Sharp does not have a hard box for this $150 sharpen which I think would have been better.

I keep mine in the original box it came in with all the belts and book. I think if it had a carrying case, like that of most drills, it would really add to the life of this sharpener.  I have had a few friends come over with knives to have me sharpen for them. I have taught all of them how to do it themselves so they can take my Work Sharp home and sharpen all the knives they have at home.

Turtle Wax T-222R Super Hard Shell Paste Wax Review

About a year ago I ran out of whatever brand of car wax I was last using on my vehicles. I ran to my local Big Box store to pick up some inexpensive wax just to keep my vehicles protected. I saw the Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell with foam applicator and figured I would give it a try. The application directions are very straight forward and easy to use. I picked it up and I have been very happy ever since.

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Directions

  1. Wash and dry car
  2. Apply to cool clean surface, not in direct sunlight
  3. Apply a small amount of wax to a DAMP applicator  (This is one of the most important parts to remember as a dry applicator will make it harder to buff off dried haze)
  4. Spread small amounts evenly
  5. Allow time to dry and haze up (in about 80 degree temps it was dry and hazy in about 4 minutes)
  6. Lightly buff for maximum shine

Pre-application

My vehicle is fire engine red and when it is waxed and buffed it shines and reflects like a mirror. When I set out to get the vehicle ready to be waxed, I had about an hour with of hand washing before it was ready. I started in the middle of the afternoon,  so by the time I was finished washing all of my vehicles it was way too late to start waxing. The following day, I was busy until after lunch. When I went to start waxing, there was a light dust on the vehicle which was removed by a microfiber cloth.

Application

While I should have started out with a clay bar and buffed out any scratches with scratch remover I just skipped ahead to the waxing. As I mentioned in step 3, you need to use a damp applicator and you should also always wash you applicator as it gets dirty. Waxing a vehicle with a dirty applicator can scratch the paint job even more and not give you the shine you want.

This wax goes a long way. When waxing, you should also remember that thinner is better. I spent about an hour just applying the wax to my vehicle, as it is large. Once I finished waxing everything, I pulled out my buffer and buffed the entire vehicle to remove the haze. Buffing leaves dried wax dust on the vehicle, which I use my microfiber cloth to dust off.

I changed wool buffing bonnets 3 times during the day to buff and polish the entire vehicle to insure I wasn’t picking up contaminates and grinding them back into the paint.

Look and feel

The vehicle is smooth to the touch and feels like a fresh paint job. In a perfect world, I really should have used the scratch remover first to help with the small scratches. But the reality is, this is an all purpose vehicle and as seen its fair share of brush and tree branches scratching it, so it is not without its heavy scratches that cannot be removed. Overall the paint looks new and shiny, just as you would want from a good quality wax.

Final thoughts

The Turtle Wax T-222R Super Hard Shell Paste Wax is around $4 for a 14oz container making this a good price for many wax jobs. After waxing, the vehicles should have this great shine for a few months. The rain and other water just beads right off the surface. I will definitely be getting more of this product when I run out.

Smoke Hollow PS 4400" Propane Gas Smoker Review

I personally smoke some kind of meat at least a couple times a month. Since we are here in Texas, that is year round! I started smoking meat about 33 years ago. I got my first charcoal smoker as a wedding present from my father in law. I have personally gone through at least 12 different smokers. I have smoked meat on charcoal smokers, propane smokers, electric smokers, as well as a custom built trailered, wood smoker.

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Back in 2003, my father in law “upgraded” me from a charcoal smoker to a propane smoker because one of his buddies said it did a really good job and made life much easier. I was very skeptical because I was violating the unwritten code of smoker purists. I have to tell you, I was hooked immediately. Once you get the temperature adjusted it is very easy to go back to the control knob and repeat the settings. The real advantage was, I could go back to sleep after putting the turkey on for Thanksgiving. I used this type of smoker for 10 years, smoking everything : brisket, turkey, sirloin, roast, chicken and some awesome standing rib roasts (prime rib), with great, consistent results.

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Last week I purchased “Smoke Hollow PS 4400” Propane Gas Smoker from Sams Club. I don’t normally give endorsements (unpaid endorsement) to a store but in this case I will, because one of the benefits of buying from Warehouse Clubs is they tend to include a number of extras for no additional cost. The extra on this unit was a cover, Amazon priced it at $44.00.

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Size Matters:

This is a big smoker. It stands almost 4 feet tall. I could smoke four- 15lb turkeys or 21 racks of ribs. Because of the size of this smoker I would suggest that if you are a beginner smoker or your plans are for smoking a couple of turkey legs and a whole chicken once in a while this may be too big for your needs. However, as big as it is, it is still a nice size for your average patio.

Breakdown of the Smokers Components

Doors:

This model comes with two doors, one for the food and the other for the water pan and wood chip pans. This model from Sams comes with a glass upper door. If you can afford a model with a glass door, it is well worth it. I like being able to see what is going on without opening the door and losing the heat. If you need to add water all you need to do is open the lower door and you don’t lose the heat in the upper cabinet.

This model does not come with door gaskets and every review I read talked about this. I was concerned about heat loss as well as smoke coming out around the door. Before I fired up the smoker the first time I applied a thin bead of high temp gasket maker material, left the door open for 24 hours to cure and didn’t have any problems with heat or smoke loss. The doors come with 3 adjustable door latches, two for the top door and one for the bottom. It gives a very secure fit.

Burners:

The 4400 comes with two burners. I am not sure why because with one burner at medium I can reach 300 degrees. I smoke at 235 degrees. One possible use is this smoker comes with two fire chip pans and I suppose one could fill both pans with wood and when it is time to start the second round of smoke one would only need to turn off the first burner and start the second. Maybe an unintended benefit would be that there is a second burner if the first burner wears out.

Water and Fire pans:

Overall I am happy with the pans. The water pan holds approximately 1.25 gallons which gives about 4 hours cook time before refilling. The one suggestion I would give to you is when it is time to drain the pan, have a 5 gallon bucket close by to pour into. That way you don’t need to carry the greasy water where it can splash on you. Another suggestion is I triple layer my pans with foil to make it easier to clean up as well as it protect the pans from developing holes. After 33 years and 12 smokers, all pans will develop holes if you don’t protect them.

The fire pans are of a good size to hold a large amount of wood. The downside is that only the center 1/4 to 1/3 of the wood is used up. The outer perimeter creates charred wood. I don’t think it has a big overall effect but I like to use up material.

Measurements:

The overall measurements are 44″ x24″ x16″. It is tall enough to comfortably add or remove food items. The handles are a good height to make it easy for two people carry. It is not very heavy so it would be easy to move short distances.

Legs:

The legs create a wide enough footprint to give it stability, but as with the rest of the construction the legs are made with light weight steel and it will not take a lot of rough handling i.e. in the back of a pickup; off road.

Racks:

This smoker comes with 5 racks: two regular, two jerky racks and one rib rack that will hold 7 racks of ribs or it can be turned over and used as a regular rack. If you are going to use the jerky racks for something other than jerky I would suggest a sheet a foil to prevent sticking to the racks, because it is a pain to clean the racks.

Temperature Gauge:

I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate the temperature gauge was. In a side by side comparison with a digital probe it was only off by 5 degrees. I did find that it was 15 degrees cooler at the bottom of the cabinet.

Drip Pan:

The smoker comes with a drip pan although it didn’t catch any drips. There is a large vent hole on the bottom that pan does not cover and this is where the grease dripped out. I solved the problem by putting an old tray under the smoker.

Assembly:

When I purchased the smoker I was asked if I want a new in box or a floor model. I didn’t want to put it together, so I gladly took the floor model. That said, I don’t know the ease of installation but from everything I read it takes about 1.5 hours without too much difficulty.

Final Thoughts:

I like this smoker. There are some flaws in design but nothing that can’t be fixed inexpensively. I would definitely make or buy a gasket to help retain the heat and smoke. I would keep a tray under it, especially if you keep this on the patio. And finally wrap the water and fire pans to ease the cleaning as well as prolonging their life. I am looking forward to many years of good smoked meals with this smoker.