Another fun evening of bonding around bourbon at the Main Street Wine Bar (http://www.mainstreetwinebar.com) is in the books— thanks to the 12 participants who brought impressive insight and humor to the room! New friendships and connections were made and a great time was had by all (especially by me!).
The final lineup below represented the Heaven Hill Distillery well, spanning categories of Single Barrel, Small Batch, Wheated, and advanced aging (of bourbon).
An informal poll was taken at the end, and there seemed to be wide support for the Wheated– Larceny– and mixed reaction to the Elijah Craig 18. It’s very difficult to pull off what the Van Winkle line does with a long aging process (too much exposure to the barrel can introduce some less than desirable elements), but this offering was well received, although not the clear winner I expected. The McKenna sparked a lot of conversation and rightfully so– a 10 year old Single Barrel that also carries the “Bottled in Bond” designation. So rest assured no tobacco spit, rattlesnake heads or turpentine were added to the process! Since the anniversary of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was celebrated earlier this month (at least by me), we thought this was an excellent way to highlight the topic. The link below takes you to an entertaining discussion of the Act and those who embrace it with tattoos. I’m a fan, but draw the line at body ink.
Planning is underway for the next session, and I’m open to suggestions. A horizontal of award winners across different distilleries is a contender– let me know if you have others.
Until next time–
The Bourbon Boss
The next installment of the distillery vertical bourbon tastings is now set: mark your calendars and join us on Saturday, March 24 at 6:00 for a spectacular evening enjoying a lineup of offerings from the Heaven Hill Distillery— Kentucky’s only large independent family-owned distillery. Bourbon labels from this distillery are some of the oldest and best known bourbons in the world, including the likes of Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Parker’s, and many more (full disclosure- the example below will NOT be in the tasting).
We briefly touched on this distillery in the last tasting event (remember the “Pappy”??): the Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery in Louisville— the successor to the original, which famously and spectacularly burned down in 1996. This distillery has historic connections to Pappy’s innovative wheated recipe. In fact, one of the bourbons we’ll be tasting/discussing is a great example of that connection… but we’ll leave the identity of that bourbon a surprise for those lucky folks that join us.
These events are limited to intimate groups of 15 or so— call the Wine Bar soon and reserve your spot (visit http://www.mainstreetwinebar.com for contact info). Or if you’re lucky enough to have qualified for the prestigious Bourbon Club, you’ll be getting a special invitation!
See you then!
The Bourbon Boss
Bourbon tastings at the Main Street Wine Bar are generally themed around limited release bourbons that can be found though the State of PA’s online store (download the handy dandy “Fine Wine and Good Spirits” app and start searching). With this app, you can also search for and locate specific bourbons in PLCB stores across the state. This resource comes in handy when a particular bourbon mysteriously becomes scarce in your local store, like what happened recently with Blanton’s. This was a regional phenomenon, and there was a brief period when it appeared that there was nary a bottle to be had in the entire state. A recent search shows ample inventory in the state, but only in the Pittsburgh area. Sadly, Philly seems to be bereft of this exceptional Single Barrel bourbon.
Not to fear, the Main Street Wine Bar has plenty of Blanton’s on the regular bourbon list (see complete list at http://www.mainstreetwinebar.com) and even offers a nice flight that features Blanton’s, Angel’s Envy, and Woodford Reserve. This flight is called the Legendary Distillers Flight in honor of Elmer T Lee (creator of Blanton’s) and Lincoln Henderson (Angel’s and Woodford), both of whom passed away in 2013. The original monicker for this flight was the Dead Distillers Flight, but that seemed a bit too dark for such a lovely thing!
Other interesting flights that compare and contrast related bourbons are the Beam Small Batch Flight that features Basil Hayden’s, Booker’s and Knob Creek (the original Jim Beam Small Batch lineup created by Booker Noe) and the Four Roses Flight that features the classic Four Roses Yellow Label, Small Batch and Single Barrel. As an aside, the iconic yellow label is being dropped to better align the packaging of these three brands (we’ll have to change the menu!):
If you have other ideas for interesting pairings, we can always do ad hoc flights- just ask. What about a Maker’s Mark flight with classic Maker’s, Maker’s 46, and Maker’s Cask Strength? Or a Single Barrel Flight, or a Barrel Proof Flight… The possibilities are endless!
Mini bourbon tastings are available to small groups, just request with your dinner reservation.
See you at the Wine Bar!
The Bourbon Boss
The Pappy Van Winkle tasting last Saturday was, in the humble opinion of the Bourbon Boss, a perfect combination of bourbon, banter and bonding (and beef!). The 17 lucky souls that participated were inquisitive, knowledgeable, passionate, and by the end of the evening, best friends. We’ll keep trying to shoot for that lofty standard with the next installation of our Distillery Series in March (date to be set soon)— the Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery Vertical. As we’ve done with other distillery vertical tastings (Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, Stitzel-Weller), we’ll pick 5-6 premium offerings produced by a single legendary distillery (Heaven Hill) and weave a story that connects the history and makeup of these storied brands. As always, great yarns and characters abound. Some of them true!
So to start with, my early uninitiated impression of the Heaven Hill brands was set by some very cheap (and rough) vodka I was exposed to in my youth— I therefore assumed way back then that Heaven Hill spirits were all “bottom shelf.” But this was an assumption born of youthful ignorance.
No better way to debunk that silly notion than to enjoy a glass of Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18. Maybe this shows up at the tasting…
So join us for another journey through a stellar bourbon lineup including quality brands such as the aforementioned Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Larceny, etc., and learn about the shared heritage between Heaven Hill and Pappy’s Stitzel-Weller and the Jim Beam family. And as always, we’ll end with the best beef filet on the mountain by Chef Hope!
Watch for email announcements and Facebook posts, or go to http://www.mainstreetwinebar.com for information on this and other upcoming events. And come peruse the Wine Bar’s extensive bourbon list (including Pappy Van Winkle, while very limited supplies last!).
We’ll keep the posts coming and welcome comments and questions, and remember, Wine Bars can be great Bourbon Bars too!
– The Bourbon Boss
The much anticipated Pappy Van Winkle tasting is set for Saturday January 20 at 6:00. 15 lucky participants have been selected by lottery and winners will be notified by phone (see the MSWB Facebook page for the live video). If your name was not drawn, don’t despair— you’re on the backup list and still in the mix if others can’t join us.
While still on the topic of Pappy and its origin at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, click on the link below to read about the history of E.H. Taylor and the newly excavated and restored elements of the O.F.C Distillery.
Gotta love those old time slogans. This one is the original marketing slogan for Rebel Yell, another wheated bourbon that is part of the W.L. Weller legacy at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, KY. This bourbon, widely viewed as a low-end bourbon, was originally targeted at consumers in Southern states (not so subtly!). However, this line of bourbons shares a lineage with Pappy Van Winkle, and the Small Batch Reserve is an award winning whiskey. If you can find a bottle, give it a try and let me know what you think!
The date has been set for the tasting/dinner– Saturday January 20. The 10, 12, 15 and 20 year, plus a surprise selection (impossible to upstage the main event!) to start things off. And dinner will feature a bison ribeye flown in from an Oklahoma ranch especially for this event. The lottery drawing to pick the lucky 15 participants will happen tomorrow, and all entrants will be notified of the results.
This is only the latest of a long running program of bourbon tastings at the Wine Bar that feature interesting selections according to a theme– distillery verticals (like the incomparable Buffalo Trace offerings), finished bourbons, “antique” bourbons, barrel proof bourbons, etc. Future tastings (typically every other month) will be posted here and announced via the Wine Bar’s regular email blasts. The bourbon, conversation, atmosphere and food combine for a memorable evening! Regular participants are eligible for the Wine Bar’s exclusive Bourbon Club, with all the rights and privileges accruing thereto!