Finally someone has written a book about my two favorite smokey indulgences. Bourbon & Bacon : The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups, by Morgan Murphy, is both colorful and entertaining. It’s packed with bourbon recipes, food recipes, and tasting notes on about 75 whiskeys (which would be particularly useful as a quick reference before you pick up your next bottle).
There are also notes on about dozen or so of the country’s top bacon (aka “The Wonder Meat”) purveyors as well as an explanation of the hog’s best cuts and preservation techniques.
It’s a fun read with colloquial anecdotes and witty commentary (check out the appendix of “Morgan’s Top Shelf”). It’s well-designed and has fantastic photography which makes it easy to pick up and thumb through. The book will definitely make a great gift for anyone who likes bourbon and bacon – so basically everybody you know.
Last updated: September 6, 2014
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, Recipes
In addition to Jefferson’s Reserve, McLain & Kyne bottles several varieties of bourbon and rye including Jefferson’s, Jefferson’s Presidential Select, Jefferson’s Straight Rye Whiskey, Jefferson’s Ocean, and Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration.
The bottle is fairly minimalistic with a script font that harkens to a colonial time and a small graphic of Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, below. The labeling includes the inscription of “Very Old” and “Very Small Batch.” I understand their small batch approach is a combination of a small number of barrels, as opposed to several hundred as other small batch bourbons may blend.
I found an an overall lightness to Jefferson’s Reserve in the glass. Medium in color and fairly benign on the nose, it’s also light on the palate. At 90 proof, it starts mellow and creamy, heats up fast, then finishes quickly. There’s a sweetness with notes of vanilla and peach, but also spicy flavors of oak and pepper. The complexity is actually pretty interesting.
Although, I typically like a heavier bourbon, I have an appreciation for Jefferson’s Reserve. It’s smooth, balanced, and flavorful. I would buy it again and would not hesitate to recommend it.
Last updated: January 9, 2014
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, Jefferson's
It’s hard to write a review of W. L. Weller without referencing it’s wildly hyped cousin, Pappy Van Winkle. Both are produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky and both are made from the exact same wheated formula. Unlike Pappy, Weller is pretty easy to find and is sold at very reasonable price.
A wheated bourbon uses corn, wheat, and malt, instead of corn, rye, and malt so it doesn’t have the spiciness found in a most ryed bourbons. Weller was supposedly the first producer to use wheat instead of rye in it’s mashbill. Only a few others, like Maker’s Mark and Van Winkle, use this formula today.
Weller has a good color and some decent notes of honey on the nose. Even without the rye, at 90 proof, it’s not totally mellow. I get a sustaining burn that never gets overpowering. It finishes long with some well-balanced flavors of toasted vanilla, maple, honeysuckle, and hickory smoke.
I typically like to drink bourbon with an ice cube, but Weller is very drinkable neat as well. It’s a good price and has some nice attributes. I would definitely recommend giving Weller a try.
Last updated: December 30, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, W. L. Weller
GQ recently posted an interesting infographic – a bourbon family tree showing the relationships of bourbon brands via their conglomerate parent companies. The chart and accompanying article were excerpted from The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining, written by the founders of Kings County Distillery, New York City’s first distillery since the Prohibition era.
View the infographic and article on GQ.com
Last updated: November 14, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Facts, Bourbon News
At Jack Allen’s Kitchen’s, Beverage Manager David Toby’s Bourbon Milkshake is made with milk, bourbon, vanilla, simple syrup, nutmeg, and Amy’s Mexican Vanilla ice cream. This hearty libation, appropriately nicknamed by the regular customers as “eggnog on steroids,” is a riff on New Orleans’ Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch.
4 cup of milk
1.5 cup of bourbon (feel free to add more if you like)
1/4 cup vanilla extract
1/4 cup simple syrup (1:1 ratio of water to sugar)
1 pt of Amy’s Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a blender for 10 seconds. Pour into 8-10oz low ball glass. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg and a drizzle of caramel.
Makes enough for 1 1/2 quarts
Last updated: November 13, 2013
Posted in Recipes
Since it’s starting to get cold, I figured it would be a good time to share a bourbon and coffee recipe. Here’s one that you might like:
1 cup bourbon (Jim Beam works well)
4 cups freshly brewed strong coffee
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or substitute with ground nutmeg and cinnamon)
sweetened whipped cream
Brew coffee, then transfer it into a saucepan. Heat the while adding bourbon, orange juice, honey and cardamom everything is mixed an warm. Divide among coffee mugs. Top with whipped cream.
Last updated: November 10, 2013
Posted in Recipes
Claiming production back to the 1860s, Four Roses has deep roots in bourbon making. During prohibition, the Frankfort Distilling Company (who owned and produced it at the time), was one of only six distilleries granted permission to produce Bourbon for medicinal purposes. Several different stories have been documented about where the name Four Roses comes from, so I tend to not believe any of them.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon is a well-balanced and wonderfully complex bourbon. It has a bold, dark color and medium body. I get some subtle scents of chocolate and oak from the glass.
At 100 proof, it is very spicy. I found that it started mild, then builded to almost an intense finish right down to my belly before softening out. I was able to pull out hints of honey mixed with cherry and aged apricot through the heat.
The Single Barrel is a very good bourbon and on par with the other labels in the same price range. The burn may not be ideal for everyone, but it’s not unpleasant. The heat actually had a seductive effect for me as it made me want to keep going back for more.
The difference between Four Roses Single Barrel and Four Roses Small Batch: Small Batch is blended from several barrels to achieve the desired flavor. Single Barrel is not blended (or cut with water), so you get a more pure whiskey in my opinion.
Last updated: November 6, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, Four Roses
Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Small Batch is named for the minister who discovered the defining method of making Kentucky Bourbon when he stored his drink in barrels that had been charred by a fire. It is bottled from parcels of 100 barrels or less, giving it small batch status.
In the glass, Elijah Craig has a good color and slight flowery scent. It is extremely smooth from the start, turning into a lingering comfortable burn, finishing with some impressive complexity. There is a maple syrup sweetness to it, but it softens quickly to allow flavors of smoke, toffee, and plum to come through. The oak on Elijah Craig is notable.
It’s price-point is very reasonable for such a good bourbon. To be honest, I’ve overlooked Elijah Craig for years opting for other mainstream brands. It was always on my short list, but it always seemed to be passed over for no real reason. However, I am pleased to say that I have a new option for my rotation.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken’s Gone A’Rye, made with Old Overholt Rye, Luxardo, Campari and lemon, is sure to warm you right up.
- 1.5 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
- 1/2 oz Campari
- 1/4 oz Luxardo Cherry Liqueur
- 1/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake well. Stir until well chilled and strain into a cocktail (or highball) glass.
Recipe courtesy of William Schulte
Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Austin, Tx
Last updated: October 28, 2013
Posted in Recipes
And at drink.well., the Cat’s Pajamas stays true to its namesake, a lively blend of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, Savory & James Creamy Sherry, Cynar, Bar Keep Chinese Five Spice Bitters and topped off with apple slices.
- 2 oz Four Roses Single Barrel
- .75 oz Savory & James Cream Sherry
- .5 oz Cynar
- 2 Dashes Barkeep Chinese Five Spice Bitters
- Apple slices
Add all ingredients together and stir. Pour into a chilled Leopold’s coupe and garnish with fanned apple slices.
Courtesy of Head Barman, Dennis Gobis
Drink.Well., Austin, Tx
Last updated: October 28, 2013
Posted in Recipes
PennyPacker Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the number one selling Bourbon in the European market in the 1970s, but was only introduced to the US market in the Spring of 2013. The whiskey itself is aged in white oak for at least three years, but the actual aging time is at the discretion of the distiller.
The brand itself embodies vernacular American culture – Abraham Lincoln, the penny, and old glory are well represented on the label. The bottle shape, embossing, and typesetting also harken back to the days of old.
PennyPacker has a fairly benign smell with a slight vanilla-poundcake scent, but not overpowering by any means. With 70% corn, it has a medium color and very light body. The taste is also subtle with hints of caramel and white pepper. It has a very long burn from the onset to well after the finish. A cube of ice mellows it out a lot and evokes some almond flavors.
After I tasted it neat, I also tried PennyPacker with a Northern Neck Ginger Ale and ice which mixed well. I think PennyPacker is on par with Jim Beam, but not nearly as sweet. I think it works well as a mixing cocktail as it doesn’t add unnecessary sugar to the mix.
Last updated: October 23, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, PennyPaker
I love a good infographic, especially when it looks as cool as this one. See the full version at www.yearofthetoast.com.
Last updated: June 20, 2013
Posted in Bourbon News, Four Roses
Check out this beautifully shot Jim Beam brand film. There are some really interesting factory scenes that you will enjoy.
Last updated: June 11, 2013
Posted in Bourbon News, Jim Beam
I recently stumbled upon a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed bourbon at a friend’s house and had to ask for a sample. Rare Breed is a limited run made from a combination of 6, 8, and 12 year Wild Turkey batches. It’s dubbed ‘barrel proof’ meaning it goes straight from the barrel to the bottle without being watered down. That said, it packs quite a punch at 108 proof.
First off, I have to admire how Rare Breed is so meaty that it sticks to the inside of my tumbler. The nose was mostly alcohol, but I managed to pull out some subtle scents of tobacco and leather.
On the tongue, Rare Breed is bold and peppery. There is a dryness with subtle flavors of nutmeg and oak from the start. As it mellows, I get some decent orangey sweetness combined with brown sugar on my palette. It finishes crisp, with a warm and comforting burn lingering in my belly for several minutes. Even with a few ice cubes, I was quite impressed with how well it holds up.
I like the complexity and totally respect the product, but have to admit that Rare Breed is a bit bold for my taste. Enthusiasts of a lot of burn will really appreciate this one.
Last updated: March 13, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, Wild Turkey
Verdict: Unique, spicy, and flavorful. A nice treat.
Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey has a uniqueness and complexity that makes it distinct. This is probably due to its relatively high rye content (at about 28% of the mash). Distilled in Kentucky limestone-filtered water and aged in charred American oak barrels, Bulleit (90 proof) claims it ages the bourbon “until it is ready” and obvious swipe at the pretentious “how-old-is-this” crowd. The brand added a straight-up rye whiskey to its arsenal in 2011.
The bottle itself is fairly unique itself compared to many others on the shelf. I love the way the old medicine bottle and raised lettering conveys a nostalgic note which is punctuated with an understated label placed slightly askew. It’s so understated that if you were not familiar with Bulleit, you may have to ask the guy behind the counter where they keep it.
Bulleit has a rich amber color in the glass and a warming, smokey scent. Without ice, I experienced a good burn from the front to the back. It starts out strong and spicy giving way to flavors of brown sugar, wild flowers, and vanilla with very long flavorful finish waiting at the end. I added a few ice cubes which mellowed the burn slightly without dulling the richness of the flavors.
There is a depth and complexity in Bulleit that I find appealing. I think this is one to keep around for when you’re in the mood for something slightly different.
Last updated: March 3, 2013
Posted in Bourbon Reviews, Bulleit Bourbon