Why Suntory’s Acquisition of BEAM Isn’t News

You’ve no doubt heard by now that Japanese whisky giant Suntory will be purchasing American bourbon giant BEAM International. Much hand wringing and raised eyebrows have been had over this deal: suggesting that it will lead to higher prices, that it was done to line the pockets of hedge fund investors, that it’s a sign of American weakness in the beverage industry, or that it might lead to a new Jim Beam commercial starring Bill Murray (For a relaxing time, make it Jim Beam time.)

There are a couple well-balanced posts made by Chuck Cowdery and Janet Patton explaining why we shouldn’t be up in arms. I’ll add one more reason: Kirin

You may recognize Kirin as the beer served at your favorite sushi place, but they are a Japanese beverage colossus that just happens to own Four Roses. You know, the company that won best whiskey of the year for the last two years running? The company  with one of the fastest rising brands in bourbon today? The company that was struggling at the hands of Seagrams until Kirin came around? Yes, that Four Roses.

four roses bourbon

A fast-forward history of Four Roses: they were founded 125 years ago, made it through prohibition as one of the few distilleries allowed to continue operations, and were then purchased by Seagrams who slowly shifted distribution until Four Roses was bottom-shelf blended whiskey in the US and top-shelf bourbon in Asia. Master Distiller Jim Rutledge fought for years to bring the premium bourbon back to the states and when Kirin purchased Four Roses in 2001, he got his wish.

Jason Pyle does a much better job of explaining the Four Roses history on his blog.

So there you have it. There is no need to fear the Japanese takeover of bourbon. It’s already been happening and we’re better off for it.

 

 

Costco Bourbon: Does it come in 5 gallon buckets?

kirkland bourbon from costco

Available in 750ml, 1.5L and 5 gallon buckets.

Today brings us an article from a great journalistic venture here in Louisville called Insider Louisville. In it, they attempt to figure out what the heck is going on with Costco selling bourbon. For those who have a Trader Joe’s near them, you have no doubt seen the Trader Joe’s store brand bourbon. Now Costco is getting into the game with the Kirkland Signature Premium Small Batch Bourbon.

This juice is a 7 year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It’s important to note, as Insider Louisville does, that there are only 10 distillers of bourbon in Kentucky and yet there are 300 labels that say “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.” Kentucky distillers known to have sold their stock under other names include Heaven Hill, Jim Beam and Buffalo Trace — of which the latter is most likely the source of the Costco bourbon.

To answer the question in the title, no, Costco bourbon does not come in 5 gallon buckets. But it might be a good thing if it did. According to reviews from around the web, this bourbon tastes remarkably similar to Knob Creek. Since it comes out of Buffalo Trace, though, we are looking at something fairly unique. And for $20 per liter it sounds like a steal.

So next time you’re loading up at Costco with a pallet of paper towels, toss in this bottle and then let us know what you think!

Happy Repeal Day! Well, for some of us…

Bourbon is in!80 years ago today our country finally pulled the plug on what is now universally understood to be our most dismal social experiment: the prohibition of making and selling alcohol. Most of you readers will celebrate by going out to get a drink or happily and lawfully stopping by your favorite liquor store to practice your rights as an American by buying a bottle of alcohol (preferably bourbon).

However, this is not the case for everyone. As explained in an article today by bourbon writer Fred Minnick, when the US of A decided to end prohibition, it gave the right to regulate alcohol to the states, who then also gave that power to the counties. Thus we have an odd patchwork of laws across our country and a plethora of dry counties to this day.

As Minnick explains, “There are still hundreds of dry counties across the United States, fattening the pocketbooks of bootleggers and illicit moonshiners in those respective areas. And much like during Prohibition, dry politicians swing votes in statehouses and county governments.”

We encourage you to go take a look at the political quagmire that still surrounds the production, sales and consumption of alcohol in our country. It was an eye-opener for us, that’s for sure. And while you’re at it, remember that prohibition is largely responsible for the fact that we now pay federal income taxes. So raise a glass today in celebration of what we’ve achieved, but remember we’ve still got a ways to go before all American producers and consumers of bourbon will be as free as they once were in our nation’s history.

4 Bourbons Served 4 Ways: Our Recommendations for Holiday Bourbon Drinking

Whether for want of your favorite tipple or need to take the edge off “family time”, most of us are going to be doing some drinking this holiday season. Though a time filled with tradition dictates you can’t abandon your favorite drink, why not try something a little different? Here are five bourbons served five different ways. Cheers and happy holidays!

 Welcome Home

Bourbon Toddy: Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond

Photo Credit: © Shannon Graham

Photo Credit: © Shannon Graham

The toddy was invented as a drink to ward off the cold and if you’ll be traveling through winter weather this holiday season, try a toddy to warm up when you make it home. My recommendation is Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond. At 100 proof, it stands up to mixing well and has a high-rye flavor profile of baking spices and brown sugar. That makes it ideal for the toddy as we’ll be adding in additional sweetness and spice.

Bourbon Toddy Recipe

  • 1.5 oz. Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond
  • 3/4 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 3 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • Lemon Slice

To your boiling water, add cloves and honey then stir with the cinnamon stuck  until honey is dissolved. Leave the cinnamon stick in. Add bourbon then squeeze the lemon and drop into the drink. Serve immediately.

 Life of the Party

Hot Bourbon Cider Punch: Old Forester Signature

Photo Credit: thepioneerwoman.com

Photo Credit: thepioneerwoman.comHot Bourbon Cider Punch: Old Forester Signature

If you’re hosting a holiday party this season, why not  forgo the usual cold punch and give your guests something to really warm them up? I recommend using Old Forester Signature bourbon for this punch. Similar to the Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond, the 100 proof will stand up to some mixing better than standard 80 proof. Old Forester Signature has a classic bourbon taste profile of caramel, vanilla, and oak — which give great flavor and depth to this hot punch.

Hot Bourbon Cider Punch Recipe

  • 1 Gallon Fresh Apple Cider
  • 5 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2.5 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
  • 2.5 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 4 Cups Old Forester Signature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • Peel of One Orange

Combine all ingredients except bourbon in a stockpot or slow cooker (we prefer the slow cooker at my house to keep the oven free for cooking other things). Bring almost to a boil while stirring frequently, then reduce heat to the lowest setting. Add bourbon and serve. Keep covered when not serving so as to reduce the amount of alcohol evaporating.

 Meeting Old Friends

Boulevardier: Four Roses Yellow Label

 

Photo Credit: Liquor.com

Photo Credit: Liquor.com

With a name that translates to “Man About Town,” the Boulevardier is a grown-up drink that demands respect. Plus it’s just fun to say (buh-leh-var-dee-ay). Order one of these when visiting your friends from home and they’ll be sure to ask when you developed such good taste.

Boulevardier Recipe

  • 1.5 oz. Four Roses Yellow Label
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: Orange twist

Combine all ingredients in a tall mixing glass. Stir for at least 30 seconds with a long-handled spoon (though a chopstick works amazing well for this purpose). Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the orange by twisting it over the drink the dropping it in.

After a Long Day With the Family

Neat: Elmer T Lee

Elmer T. Lee Bourbon

Sometimes you shouldn’t mess with the classics, and Elmer T. Lee is one of them. Created by it’s namesake, the legendary master distiller of Buffalo Trace who sadly passed away earlier this year, Elmer T. Lee is smooth and slightly sweet single barrel bourbon with notes of honey and vanilla. Sip it after the kids have gone to bed and unwind from the day, you earned it!

Limestone Branch Moonshine Review (And Bonus Story!)

A while back I had a chance to sit down with a couple guys that have a famous last name. Maybe you’ve heard of them — the Beam Family? Steve and Craig Beam are the descendents of Minor Case Beam who was a first cousin of Mr. James B Beam aka Jim Beam. Steve and Craig’s father, Jack Beam, worked in the distillery business but the boys decided to go their own way and made their fortunes elsewhere. As they began to get up in years, they started thinking about their bucket list, and one such thing on there was to revive the distilling practices of their grandfather Minor Case Beam. Thus was born Limestone Branch Distillery and their first aged product, Minor’s Revenge.

Limestone Branch Revenge Whiskey

The story behind Minor’s Revenge is that Minor was in the bourbon distilling business when Prohibition struck in 1918. He attempted to stick it out doing other work, always believing that the nation would get over it’s grand mistake. But when it did, only nine months after Repeal Day, Minor Case died and was never able to reconstitute the distillery business he once had owned.

Today, Minor’s Revenge is a Kentucky moonshine made from heritage sweet corn grown right here in state. It’s then aged for 9 months in used oak barrels — the exact amount of time that Minor would have had if he were able to begin distilling on Repeal Day. What results is an incredibly smooth moonshine with cornbread on the nose and a subtle sweetness. It is the only moonshine I’ve ever had that I enjoyed sipping neat. As a part of history, and just because it’s plain good, I reccomend picking one up if you see it in stores. Or head on down to the Limestone Branch Distillery. It’s on the Kentucky Distillers Association Craft Bourbon tour and it’s worth your trip. Steve or Craig will likely be there to give you the tour themselves!

And now, for a story that the Beam brothers shared with me about their family and an interesting summer they had out near Bardstown.

______________________

This is an excerpt of a story written by an old man named Ben Jones, who grew up in the Scott’s Ridge area in Marion County. In this story, he was simply describing who lived where when he was growing up. This part of the story mentions Minor Beam (toward the end).

At the top of the Craven Hill there was a rotting pile of logs,
some lilac bushes, and two old apple trees that still bore some little
apples. It’s where the first Cravens home was. They’d come from
Tennessee in the late 1700′s. Hanson and Cindy (Lucas) Cravens’
sons were Thomas and Dave. There were girls with lost identities.
In a hollow southeast of the Tom Cravens home water ran over smooth
bedrock. There were two round man-made holes about 6 inches in diameter
and five inches deep. About 2 inches of water ran over these holes. I
was curious. I asked why they were there. I was told dies were
submerged under water to deaden the sound when dollars were stamped of iron and zinc. This is off the Scotts Ridge School district. But, in
the early 1800′s, Sam Jones drilled for salt water across the creek
from the Ivy Point. A few feet down they hit a vein of semi-soft metal.
They were several days battering through. When the drill went through,
it was a well of flowing salt water, and it flushed out bits of a soft
white metal. Not so long ago, a geologist said this section of Kentucky
was rich in zinc. How old Sam Jones knew he’d strike salt water, I
never knew. There they boiled the water to make their salt. Tom Cravens
believed the Shawnee Indians had a gold mine in the Salt Lick Hills and
believed it was on his farm.

In about the year 1904, one Sunday a.m., four buggies with two men each
pulled into our little barn lot. The horses were tired. (They’d been
driven 40 miles). George Cravens (Tom’s son) was the spokesman. He
said, “These are friends from Bardstown, Mr. Joe Beam, Minor Beam,
Mr. Samuels, Mr. Dant….” They were all whiskey men. (We knew by
their names). George said they were interested in father’s old mine.
They unloaded a hand drill, dynamite, two lunch boxes, and more than
one bottle of bourbon. (I made my first easy money. I’d fed and
watered their horses.) About sundown they came back down the hollow
tired, dirty, and tipsy, all but George Cravens, and he had a little
bag of rocks.

The assay must have been extra rich in gold for in about two weeks dad
got a letter from the Salt Lick Mining Company of Bardstown, Kentucky,
that there would be a shipment at New Hope, Kentucky of mining
equipment including a steam boiler, steam driven drill, and a complete
set of blacksmith tools to be hauled down the Skaggs Ridge Log Road to
where it could be skidded down the hillside to where they had blasted
and to get lumber from a mill and deliver it to the mine site for a
shop. That was dad’s business. He took care of all the details.

The company sent out a Superintendent named Charlie Arnold and a
blacksmith named Calhoun Combs. (He and I became great friends.) He was
an old C.S.A. rebel, a fiddle player, and a story telling drunk. They
worked that mine all summer and made a 75 foot shaft. One evening when
I came home from school, my world fell in. Uncle Cal was waiting to
tell me goodbye. “Why are you leaving?” I demanded.
He said, “It’s all over. There never was any gold there. It had
been salted and good.”
I asked, “What does that mean?”

He said, “Well, George Cravens left a small rock on a bar in
Bardstown’s best saloon. It didn’t attract notice until a traveler
stopped for a drink. He idly picked up this rock, set his glass down
and asked where the rock came from. He was told who had left it there.
They asked him why the interest. He said he was a mining engineer, and
if this wasn’t rich gold ore, then he was crazy. The bartender
confidently told Minor Beam of the Jim Beams famous bourbon. Mr. Beam
told some rich buddies. They got in contact with George Cravens and
asked where that rock came from. He said it came from his father’s
farm on Salt Lick Creek, Marion County, Kentucky. George said to have
it assayed. They did. Well, they were whiskey rich, but they could use
some more.”

That’s how come the gold mine became an attraction for one summer
(the best time of my life so far). We don’t know how much mine stock
was sold, but the Singer Sewing Machine Company lost a salesman.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program

Hey there, bourbon fans. After a bit of a summer hiatus we are back at it in a serious way. I’ve got a big backlog of stories I’m working on for everyone and here’s a sneak peak:

  • We interviewed Steve and Craig Beam of Limestone Distillery who are some all around great guys with a famous last name making some amazing moonshine. They also have a great story about their Beam ancestors and the summer they thought they struck gold.
  • Forecastle Music Festival was a smashing success due in no small part to the Bourbon Lodge. We snuck in some artists to do a tasting, most notably Canadian electro-duo Purity Ring. Be looking for their interview soon.
  • The Bourbon Review magazine had their three year anniversary party recently, and if you’ve ever been to one of their events then you know it was top shelf all the way. We sat down with the brothers behind  the publication to ask them what’s next for bourbon’s most important magazine.

So there you go, lots to look forward to as we all get back into the fall routine of work, school, and the upcoming holidays. All of which sounds a little stressful, so be sure to keep that bourbon handy.

Cheers!

Does your music festival have a bourbon lineup? Forecastle does.

forcastle festival logo

For about the last 10 years, a growing part of American’s summers are being dedicated music festivals. Not simply your one day celebration of jazz at your local waterfront, these multi-day festivals now attract attendees in excess of 80,000. The grandaddy of them all, Bonnaroo, recently boasted over 100,000 tickets sold at a minimum price of $230 each. So you should know that music festivals are a big deal. The crowds they attract are young, come from affluent families, and are going to make up the biggest chunk of American consumer power over the next 40 years.

It’s no wonder companies scramble to secure promotions for whatever they can. At Bonnaroo, for example, Bud Lite has an entire side stage where they curate rockin’ bands all day long. But in Kentucky, as with all things, we do festivals a bit differently.

I recently had the chance to sit down with JK McKnight, the captain of the upcoming ocean-themed Forecastle Festival, about how Forecastle is embracing it’s Kentucky roots — and that means bourbon. But bourbon wasn’t always ready to embrace Forecastle.

JK McKnight -- Forecastle Festival Founder

JK McKnight — Forecastle Festival Founder

“We started the Bourbon Lodge program last year at Forecastle 2012 with three distilleries,” said McKnigh. “It was new and most folks said ‘Naw…those kids don’t want to drink bourbon. That’s just a demographic we aren’t strong in.’ But the Lodge almost ran out of bourbon on the first day! So this year, when I came around asking who wanted to be involved, it was a much easier sell.”

This year, the Forecastle Festival Bourbon Lodge boasts a selection of over 30 fine bourbons available for purchase including offerings from Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Willett, Old Pogue, Heaven Hill, Corsair Artisan, Wild Turkey, Town Branch, and Jim Beam. Entry costs $5 but that gets you drink tickets you can use for samples at any distiller’s booth. The real deal, however, is to become a Bourbon Lodge member for $10 which gets you the same drink tickets but ALSO gets you a double-walled stainless steel Forecastle mug. And did we mention the Bourbon Lodge has professional bartenders, a bourbon information station, and air conditioned bathrooms? Yeah, you’re going to want in on this.

forecastle festival bourbon lodge

Along with that, the bourbon experience at Forecastle includes talks by master distillers daily and one very special celebrity bartending session.

“As it turns out, the members of the Alabama Shakes know how to make a mean bourbon cocktail. So we invited them to join us on Saturday night at 8 p.m. to show us what they can do,” said McKnight. “A celebrity mixology demonstration with band members is unprecedented in music festival history as far as we know.”

The goal of all this is not just to show our Kentucky pride in our native drink, but to present bourbon to a whole new generation in ways they might not be accustomed to.

“We’re at the big crossroads right now with regards to bourbon,” says McKnight. “It’s never been more popular in our lifetimes and we have an opportunity in Kentucky to claim the throne, as it were, with being the undisputed king of bourbon.”

While it’s well known to current bourbon drinkers that there is no bourbon without Kentucky and that 95% of it is still made here, we have bourbon distilleries opening up all over the country. The concern is, according to McKnight, that we will take for granted our status as originators of bourbon and let it pass to other states.

“Milwaukee used to be the undisputed king of beer brewing in the US. Then craft brewing came around, tastes changed, and Milwaukee didn’t keep up. Now, we have no undisputed ‘beer capital’ in the US. I don’t want the same thing happening to bourbon,” McKnight says. “We have to own bourbon now so that it’s a heritage we can pass down to Kentuckians for years to come.”

forecastle festival crowd

So if you’re anywhere near Louisville and you find yourself with an open weekend, your ultimate music and bourbon experience awaits. Weekend pass tickets for all three days are still available, or you can get a single day ticket for any day (though Saturday is expected to sell out soon). Check it out at http://forecastlefest.com/ and we hope to see you there. Cheers!

If you like Maker’s Mark, you should try…

This past spring in Louisville we had a little horse race, during which our city was swarmed with merry folk from across the country and around the world. As I was out enjoying the revelry (only beat by Mardi Gras in New Orleans, IMO), I had the great pleasure to meet some of that city’s finest: The 610 Stompers. Over many drinks, one stomper asked me what they should drink if the only bourbon they had ever had was Makers Mark.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I asked, to which he said good, very good. So therein began my discussion of wheated bourbons.

In bourbon parlance, a wheater is a bourbon made with wheat as the balance of the grain bill (after the dominant corn, of course). This is different from most bourbons distilled traditionally and even of the majority on the market today. The “standard” recipe for bourbon is mostly corn, some rye, and a little barley. This rye gives bourbon it’s distinct spicy flavor like brown baking spices. The malted barley helps with fermentation. Replace the rye with wheat, and you get more of the corn sweetness coming out and sometimes additional fruity flavors like banana or maple syrup. Now these aren’t absolute and definite rules, but as generalizations they are true: rye bourbons are spicier and wheat bourbons are smoother.

So who made the first wheated bourbon? Well, that may likely never be known exactly, but certainly one of the first and most famous was Pappy Van Winkle, today of the eponymous and coveted line of bourbons. Mr. Van Winkle made W.L. Weller, Cabin Still, Rebel Yell and Old Fitzgerald. Of those brands, only W.L. Weller is still true to the original quality (though Rebel Yell and Old Fitz are still wheaters).

Through the many changes in ownership over the years, the Old Fitzgerald brand eventually came to be held by Heaven Hill (makers of Evan Williams) and they recently used that heritage story to come out with their most recent bourbon, a wheater as well. So if you ask me what my recommendation is for anyone who likes Maker’s Mark but wants to branch out, my recommendation to them is this: Larceny.

larceny bourbon bottle

Larceny’s back story comes from the tale of Johnny Fitzgerald who was a government inspector of bonded warehouses. It was his job to go into the warehouses where bourbon aged to make sure they were not being tampered with and were being taxed appropriately. He also had a habit of helping himself to samples from the best barrels. So apt was he at finding these barrels that the Van Winkle family would use the “Fitzgerald barrels” in their finest offerings.

Larceny has only been available for about 11 months now, and it’s not in all markets yet, but Heaven Hill assures me they are working to increase distribution across all domestic markets. Larceny is smooth in the same way that Maker’s Mark is, but I would argue that it is a step more refined and flavorful. Maker’s Mark has a heavy, sweet body while Larceny is lighter and has a nice citrus fruit flavor upfront. There is less of the grainy corn flavor in Larceny, and more caramel in the finish (as opposed to the Maker’s Mark vanilla finish). Overall, it’s a fantastic value at $22 and if you can find it, some bottles are sporting $10 off rebates. $12 for some mid-shelf wheated bourbon? Better get two (the household limit) and then get all your non-bourbon drinking friends to do the same and stock up. I know I have!

 

From the Class to the Glass: Moonshine University Is Now In Session

distilled spirits epicenter louisville

There are the olden ways of learning a craft: sons observing their fathers from a young age, eventually becoming an apprentice and taking on the family business. Traditionally, this is how it has been done in Kentucky with distilling. You see many father/son partnerships making bourbon (Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Angels Envy…I could go on). But what if you weren’t born of bourbon royalty?

Then you’re in luck, because Moonshine University in Louisville stands ready to teach you everything your pappy didn’t: not only how to make great bourbon, but also gin, brandy, vodka, and all the laws and intricacies of the liquor industry.

The history of Moonshine University and it’s associated working still house (known as Grease Monkey Distillery) is intertwined with the facility next door, Flavorman. As a contract beverage research and development lab for 20 years, Flavorman has been behind a lot of drinks you’ve undoubtedly had: popular energy drinks, smoothie mixes, juices, and most recently flavored alcoholic beverages. This is a no-brainer as the founder, Dave Defoe, is a former Brown Foreman executive and you can almost see the Old Forester water tower at Brown Foreman headquarters when you look west from the Flavorman parking lot.

Across that same parking lot from the Flavorman building is the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, proud home to Moonshine University. It’s a modern looking building with a cleanly lit classroom, but the real excitement is in the garage-like bays behind the classroom. There from end-to-end is the full distilling process: cooker, multiple fermenters, pot still, and a column “vodka” still. Most of this equipment comes from Vendome, also located in Louisville and the manufacturer of almost all stills used in the bourbon business today.

grease monkey distillery

On the day I visited, the equipment was still warm from a recent run. You’d be forgiven for assuming it was whiskey considering the current craze for bourbon right now. But in fact, it was brandy. Sources in the industry, I’ve been told, are looking to brandy as the next big trend in the liquor world. This is because brandy can authentically achieve that desirable quality of being local and organic since grapes are grown almost anywhere and barring that, brandy can be made from most any fruit.

When it comes to education, Moonshine U has something for everyone. Their enthusiast classes are ideal for folks who want something more than just another tasting and are looking to get in-depth with how their favorite dram is made. However, Moonshine U’s biggest contribution is in their 5-day master distiller classes. This is no mere crash course on how to make white lightning, but a series of lessons on everything from how to set up your own equipment, to controlling temperatures throughout the process, to creating all variety of liquors from gin to brandy and of course our favorite, bourbon. Then they follow this up with lessons on alcohol laws, distribution, and how to run the business end of a distillery. Participants also walk away having drastically expanded their professional network — because it’s never more true than in the alcohol business that success is in who you know.

Now, why would someone go through the effort to take such a course? You might think that distillation, being an observable process and thus subject to the laws of science, would be a process where book learning would suffice. But I discovered that this is not so. For example, pulling “heads” and “tails” from a distillation run means taking off the initial and final distillate due it’s high concentration of undesirable (and potentially toxic) compounds. The only way to know when you’re distilling the good stuff is by smell and taste — no sensors other than the the ones on your face are adequate for the job. These are the kinds of things that can only be learned form first-hand experience.

IMG_2529

In addition to teaching upstart distillers the art of the trade, the Grease Monkey System gets a lot of use from local big-boy distilleries. While my hosts were unable to say who their industry partners are, I think it’s safe to say that with their proximity and former ties to Mr. Defoe, Brown Forman is a leading contender as well as nearby Heaven Hill. Larger distillers like them rent the Grease Monkey works for about $15,000 per week to test out new recipes and methods. While that sounds like a lot of money, it’s far cheaper than interrupting production of a major product line such as Evan Williams and re-tooling the distillery just to do a single test run. With Grease Monkey, the big boys get to play around again just like the craft distillers currently do (and hopefully it leads to new and innovative products with wide distribution).

So whether you’re interested in being the best educated bourbon drinker you know, starting your own distillery, or you’re a someone with a lot money and a liquor idea you want to try, check out Moonshine University. You can find their upcoming events here and follow them on twitter here.

 

Review: Breaking & Entering

breaking and entering bourbon

Today’s review comes from a kind of spirits making that would be well known in modern Scotland and used to be preferable here in the states. I’m referring to the blended whisk(e)y. Blended scotch is still very much an in-demand spirit worldwide. Blended American whiskey used to be desired in the 1940′s and 1950′s when it was equated with the quality of the blended scotches and Canadian whiskeys. This is because directly after prohibition, those were the only quality whiskey’s being sold after America’s sojourn in the desert of teetotalism.

Enough of the history lesson. So what is a blended whiskey? A blended whiskey means the bottle’s contents are a combination of whiskey from various distilleries. In our case today, Breaking & Entering is the progeny of five different distilleries. The barrels were selected at between 5 and 7 years old, then shipped to the hangar in California that St. George Spirits makes home. There they blended and tested until they have the copper-hued 96 proof bourbon whiskey in front of us today. Notice that they can’t call it straight. That is because it comes from multiple distilleries. Of course, with this bourbon, that is pretty much the point! Now lets get down to the tasting:

Breaking & Entering Bourbon Whiskey ($32 – 86 proof)

Color: A bit on the light side of auburn.

Nose: Light caramel and banana, vanilla ice cream, a bit of orange zest, and some floral notes.

Taste: Wood spices like allspice and pepper are noticeable first, along with a sweet nuttiness. There’s a peach cobbler sort of flavor, but as if someone forgot to add the sugar and left it at it’s own natural sweetness.

Finish: Starts with the corn notes coming through, the some black tea and anise. Very clean on the finish, but still lingers for a good several seconds.

Grade: A solid B. The blending from the different distilleries seems to have mitigated any harsh flavors, but also serves to keep this bourbon from having any smack-you-in-the-face standout notes. All the descriptors above could have the word “mild” added to them because none of them really jump out at you. But that makes it a very balanced and drinkable bourbon, a solid choice for sipping and an interesting story behind it to boot.