Dr. J

Alcohol Professor: Dr. J’s ‘Craft Beer For All’ aims to bring inclusivity to the beer industry

Here’s a piece I wrote for Alcohol Professor this week on inclusivity and diversity in the craft beer industry. I talked with J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, aka Dr. J, about her initiative Craft Beer For All, which aims to do just that.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Sara Havens: What first got you interested in craft beer?

Dr. J photo

Dr. J | Courtesy of Craft Beer For All

Dr. J: I’ve been a huge craft beer fan since the late ’90s/early 2000s and was, just like a lot of people, an avid consumer and home brewer. Around 2009, I started working at a home-brew shop while I was in graduate school, and it just kind of became the core of my social life at the time.

At some point, I was like, “Well, I have this big academic life and this big beer life, and I don’t see why they should be different.” I started doing my academic work about the brewing industry. I wrote my dissertation about the beer industry and have been publishing articles about the cultural aspects of the brewing industry for quite a long time.

I think my interest in the industry in terms of diversity is not terribly difficult to understand — I’m a queer black woman and didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me. One of the first questions you ask yourself is, “Why?” And the second question is, “How do I change this?”

SH: Do you happen to know the statistics on minority-owned breweries?

Dr. J: The Brewers Association has all that information to date, but the trends are not surprising. Women and people of color are concentrated in the front-of-the-house roles other than technical brewing or management.

There are probably about 50 black-owned breweries in the U.S., or less than 1%. What we see pretty universal in all markets — whether you’re talking about people working in this industry or the consumers — is that certain groups are, across the board, underrepresented.

SH: How can we make craft beer more inclusive?

Dr. J: It’s kind of one of the drums that I’ve beat for the last two years. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. If there were things everybody could do or could be communicated in an article, then we would already have done that.

One of the important things to remember is that both the industry and a particular brewery don’t exist in a vacuum. They are part of their community, and the industry is part of the U.S. economy and political structure. So they’re not immune to what’s going on in the country more broadly.

Just one example: If you look back to the origins of craft beer in the 1960s and 1970s, this is when the country is in the grips of the Civil Rights movement. Schools are not really totally desegregated yet. Women’s rights are not even that far along. In 1970, a black person or a woman aren’t walking into a bank and saying they need a loan to start a brewery.

That just didn’t happen. This unacknowledged history is just embedded in the industry.

READ MORE HERE …

Baker Beam

The Bourbon Review: Baker Beam reflects on his past, his industry, and his newly rebranded bourbon

Here’s the article I wrote for The Bourbon Review on Baker Beam last year as his namesake bourbon, Baker’s, was being rebranded. I got a chance to hang out with him one afternoon at his house near the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Ky., and it was an amazing experience being in the company of a true bourbon legend — and his cat Zero.

Today — July 31 — is actually Baker’s 84th birthday, so everyone is encouraged to give him a big b-day shout-out on Instagram by tagging @jimbeamdistillery and using the hashtag #HBDBaker. I’ve got a bottle of Baker’s open right now, so I’ll be posting a video shortly!

(From The Bourbon Review)
Baker’s Mark: Baker Beam Reflects on His Past, His Industry, and His Newly Rebranded Bourbon

By Sara Havens

Baker Beam

Baker Beam | Courtesy of Jim Beam Distillery

Much like its namesake, Baker’s Bourbon often flies under the radar of consumer demand and brand attention. But ask anyone entrenched in the bourbon industry — or anyone who values quality over marketing campaigns — and you’ll find many Baker’s fanatics hoping their little bourbon secret never becomes so trendy that they can’t find it on store shelves.

Unfortunately for those folks, that’s all begun to change.

After more than 25 years, Baker’s Bourbon, which is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection, has gotten a makeover thanks to Master Distiller Fred Noe and his team at the James B. Beam Distillery. The rebranding comes with a sharp, slick new bottle, and although they’re keeping it at its signature 107 proof with a seven-year age statement, the bourbon now will come from a single barrel.

The new bottles have hit shelves across the country this year, and in honor of the brand’s legacy, Beam also released a limited-edition, 13-year-old single-barrel Baker’s, packaged in a fancy premium gift box that had most bourbon collectors chomping at the bit.

Baker, who today turns 84, is a sixth-generation Beam distiller and grand-nephew of Jim Beam who put in a solid 38 years at the Clermont distillery and is now enjoying the retired life. Occasionally he’ll pop in at the distillery for events, to sign bottles or just watch the organized chaos of distillery life and reflect on his past, which included working alongside his brother David Beam and cousin Booker Beam.

Baker, after all, has seen the rise of bourbon in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, its ultimate fall in the ’80s and ’90s, and then the resurgence of America’s only native spirit in recent years. As soft-spoken and humble of a man he is, Baker has a wealth of knowledge that can only be attained by living it. And these days, he has become somewhat of the Jim Beam historian. He’s got quite a collection of historical documents, vintage bottles and priceless photos that showcase more than 200 years of the Beam family business.

Baker, a tall and lanky man, lives in a ranch-style home not too far from the Clermont distillery. In fact, his backyard view gazes upon several 50,000-barrel rick houses that sit off into the distance. Baker says he likes to be close to the action, and he often sits outside — with his cat Zero by his side — to listen to the familiar sounds of bourbon being made on the Kentucky hillside.

We stopped by Baker’s house one Monday afternoon for a quick chat, as suggested by his nephew Troy Beam, and Baker was every bit as hospitable, humble and honest as we had expected. He was gracious, genuine and appreciative to tell the stories of his past.

Continue reading here …

Sweet new masks from Louisville Tourism!

First it was Swatch watches, and now it’s masks. Throughout these past few months, I’ve been hoarding the COVID killers like they were Beanie Babies and it was 1996. I’ve got orange, I’ve got rainbows, I’ve got classic black, and now I’m about to get Louisville lit!

Louisville Tourism has come out with three very cool masks that support two great causes — proceeds will be donated to both Louisville’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Fund for the Arts’ Black Artists Fund.

One is black and has a small fleur de lis off to the bottom left corner; one is black and says “Just Add Bourbon”; and the other one says “Just Add Bourbon” and features a photo of a rick house in the background.

Louisville Tourism masks

I want them all!

“Louisville Tourism has created a fun way to adhere to the CDC and the governor’s health guidelines while showcasing Bourbon City’s soul and authenticity,” said Karen Williams, President & CEO of Louisville Tourism, in a news release. “Considering tourism’s role as the third largest industry in Louisville, typically supporting over 60,000 jobs in the MSA, we will continue to safely inspire travel while channeling assistance to the industry professionals we rely on every day as key economic drivers.”

Each mask is $10 and can be purchased online or at the Louisville Visitor Information Center (VIC), located at 301 S. Fourth St. The VIC is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Tasteless Tastings bottles

Tasteless Tastings: Summer 2020, The Quarantine Edition

Welcome to another edition of Tasteless Tastings, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample.

This month’s gathering was rather limited, since we’re in the middle of a pandemic and all. But rest assured, we all stayed 6 feet apart, except when they wanted seconds, and then it was more like 12 feet. Let’s get to it …

Tasteless Tastings bottles

The fearsome fivesome. | Photo by Sara Havens

What Are We Drinking Today?: 

Rolling Fork Rum

 

What the hell is it?:

After an unfortunate (but delicious) mistake, the Louisville guys behind Rolling Fork Spirits have finally come out with the product they envisioned for their brand: Rolling Fork Rum. This small batch release features 11-year-old rum from El Salvador that has been finished in four different casks: bourbon, rye whiskey, port and sherry.

After spending about two years hanging out in these barrels in Kentucky, Turner Wathen and Jordan Morris mingled them together to create this flavorful, whiskey-tinged rum.

 

Give me the nerdy numbers:

110 proof, 11-year-old El Salvador rum finished in used bourbon, rye, port and sherry barrels. Retails for about $85-$95.

 

What do we think?:

Rolling Fork Rum bottleBritany: It smells like high school, when we used to drink Bacardi 151.

Miriam: There goes my nose hairs.

Tracy: Starts out smooth and then … whoosh!

Britany: It’s got sort of a tropical note flavor on the tongue.

Bar Belle: I’m getting banana and vanilla. It’s quite smooth and goes down easy.

Kelly: It’s hot and it burns all the way down.

Bar Belle: That’s because you’re a lightweight.

Katie: My throat is numb! But it’s good. I don’t have thoughts. It’s good.

Tracy: Tastes like a snickerdoodle. It’s cinnamon, or maybe that’s the explosion in the back.

Tasters add ice to samples …

Britany: Now that the ice is in it, it’s buttery. I want it in pudding!

Tracy: Like a good butterscotch. It’s porch-sippin’ rum.

Britany: It’s like you still had bourbon in the bottom in your glass and someone poured rum in.

Miriam: It’s still punching me in the nose.

Kelly: I’d put it with ginger ale. Or Coke.

 

Would you quarantine with this spirit?

Tracy: Yes! I would definitely quarantine with this.

Britany: It would definitely brighten my mood. I wouldn’t use it for disinfectant.

Bar BelleThis is a bourbon drinker’s rum. Of course I’d quarantine with it! I bet it does dirty things in a cocktail. Bring on the pineapple!

Miriam: Yes, I like it. Maybe with ginger ale?

Kelly: Sure. To be fair, though, I’d quarantine with anything.

Katie: I would for sure. I like the bottle, too.

______________________________________________________________

 

What Are We Drinking Today?: 

Buzzard’s Roost Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

 

What the hell is it?:

Buzzard’s Roost is owned and operated by my buddy Jason Brauner, who also owns Bourbon’s Bistro in Louisville. Jason has been a bourbon connoisseur long before bourbon was hip, and I truly believe he was one of the driving forces behind the big bourbon boom of today, especially in Kentucky.

Jason loves bourbon so much, he decided to release his own brand last year, and it has garnered great reviews and accolades — including recently winning a gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for this Single Barrel Rye Whiskey.

Basically, Jason purchases fully mature bourbon from various brokers (Kentucky and Indiana juice), and then he works his magic in the finishing process, adding that bourbon to new, sometimes toasted barrels.

(I did not tell the tasters that I personally know Jason because, you know, ethics.)

 

Give me the nerdy numbers:

105 proof, 3 years old. Retails for about $80.

 

What do we think?:

Buzzard's Roost bottleBritany: Oooh, it’s spicy. My tongue is tingly.

Bar Belle: I’m getting a lot of black pepper. Wow! It kinda reminds me of a morning muffin that is still warm from being in the oven, and the butter just melts right on top. 

Tracy: This is quite nice. It’s fire — in a good way.

Miriam: There goes my nose hairs again!

Kelly: Mmmm, now this doesn’t suck.

Katie: This makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, like a liquid Snuggie.

Tasters add ice …

Tracy: The ice mellows it out a bit, but it’s still spicy. This would make a great winter drink, sitting by the fire, curled up with a book.

Britany: Curled up with your kitties!

Tracy: Even better.

Bar Belle: I don’t understand you cat people.

Miriam: A-chew!

 

Would you quarantine with this spirit?

Tracy: I would quarankeep it!

Britany: I like this. Yes!

Bar Belle: Yes, it’s so smooth and sweet, yet packs a punch. I need a good punch during quarantine.

Miriam: Absolutely!

Kelly: It’s peppery and hot, so yes, definitely!

Katie: Sure, rye not?

______________________________________________________________

 

What Are We Drinking Today?: 

Larceny Barrel Proof B520

 

What the hell is it?:

This is the second release in the Barrel Proof line for this wheated bourbon made by Heaven Hill.

 

Give me the nerdy numbers:

122.2 proof, 6-8 years old, non-chill filtered. Retails for around $50.

 

What do we think?:

Larceny Barrel Proof bottleBritany: Ouch! It hurts! Right up the nose!

Kelly: It does hit the nose.

Tracy: It started off smooth and then — BLAM!

Miriam: I’m not even going to dip my toes in the pool.

Bar Belle: It’s not bad for being 122 proof. I can still taste the nuances in this wheated bourbon. This is 100% wheat heat!

Katie: I’d do it if I had to, but I don’t want to keep drinking it.

Britany: I like it better when it’s completely out of my mouth.

Tracy: That’s what she said!

Katie: It smelled like it was going to be sweet, and it wasn’t. Tricky little shit.

Tasters add ice …

Tracy: Even with the ice, it’s more harsh than the other two. Now for a disinfectant, this could be it!

Britany: Better with ice for sure. Compared to the others, it was drastically different with water.

 

Would you quarantine with this spirit?

Britany: As a disinfectant, yes. It is not even better than Bud Light.

Kelly: If it was my only option, I’d drink it.

Tracy: As disiectant, too. You’re gonna kill all the germs with this.

Katie: If I had to. Not by choice. But I’m not going to quarantine without a drink.

Bar Belle: Yes, I think it’s quite tasty. I might save it for the bad days to instantly lift my mood.

Britany: They should change the name Larceny to Arsony. 

______________________________________________________________

 

What Are We Drinking Today?: 

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B520

 

What the hell is it?:

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is an uncut small batch of 12-year-old bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. This season’s release comes in at a stout 127.2 proof.

 

Give me the nerdy numbers:

127.2 proof, 12 years old, non-chill filtered. Retails for around $70.

 

What do we think?:

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bottleKatie: That’s much smoother. But there’s an afterburn.

Britany: There’s definitely an afterburn, a front burn, a side burn …

Kelly: This is way better than the last one!

Bar Belle: Even though it’s a higher proof?

Kelly: Yes, for some reason. Maybe I’m weird.

Tracy: It smelled really good, smooth, but also has that explosion of flavor.

Bar Belle: A lot more flavor than the Larceny.

Tasters add ice …

Tracy: This is more complex with the ice.

Britany: It has grown on me with the ice.

Miriam: It’s much better with ice.

Bar Belle: Screw the ice! Ice sunk the Titanic, you know? It’s not to be trusted — or added to bourbon. 

 

Would you quarantine with this spirit?

Britany: As long as I had ice cubes, yes.

Bar Belle: 100% yes! I might put this guy under my pillow.

Tracy: Yes! To quarantine, not under your pillow.

Katie: Yes. 

Kelly: Yes. Even a lightweight would.

Miriam: Do chickens have lips?

Bar Belle: Huh?

______________________________________________________________

 

What Are We Drinking Today?: 

Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength

 

What the hell is it?:

This is a new expression of Old Forester, which will only be available at the distillery and/or as a store pick. In fact, the very first release of this just went up on the Old Fo website last week, and it sold out in a matter of minutes. You’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled for this one, because they’ll go quick!

So what’s different about it? It’s Old Forester bottled at barrel strength, which has never really been done before other than some of the President’s Choice offerings. Also, some of the Birthday Bourbons are higher in proof as well, but not 120 high!

Giving us barrel-strength Old Fo a great way to celebrate the company’s 150th birthday, that’s for sure!

 

Give me the nerdy numbers:

125-135 proof, various ages. Retails for $79.99.

 

What do we think?:

Old Forester Barrel Strength bottleBritany: You could get drunk just by sniffing it.

Kelly: It hurts!

Tracy: It hurts!

Bar Belle: Oh my … this is something to behold. It’s amazingly tasty! And smooth. There’s a party in my mouth, and someone just tapped another keg. 

Kelly: Maybe if you want to burn a house down! I feel like it tastes good, but it’s hot.

Britany: This is the ghost pepper of bourbon.

Tasters add ice …

Tracy: Ice calms it down for sure.

Britany: It’s nice with ice. And you can taste it now. Like when coffee is too hot and you let it cool down and you can finally taste it.

Tracy: I can sip this now, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Miriam: Pairs well with Pringles, but it hits you like a freight train.

Britany: I’m picking this over the (Buzzard’s Roost) rye, and that never happens. Once you add an ice cube, it’s liquid gold.

Bar Belle: Gold Forester never disappoints.

 

Would you quarantine with this spirit?

Bar Belle: Yes, and I’m not sharing it with anyone!

Tracy: It’s another quarankeeper.

Britany: Oh yes. It’d almost be better quarantining with this one, because no one else can have it.

Kelly: Yes. If there are ice cubes readily available, and don’t give me that Titanic bullshit.

Katie: Yes, please.

Miriam: Yes!

Maker's Mark bottle

Check out this cool new Maker’s Mark limited-edition bottle

The bourbon world is no stranger to cool-looking glassware, but this new Maker’s Mark bottle had me doing a double-take. It’s sleek with the black wax, sharp with the retro logo, and that black bottle is, in one word, breathtaking.

So what’s the new bottle for?

Well, Maker’s Mark has teamed up once again with Keeneland Race Track in Lexington to create this bottle that gives back to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), a charitable organization that provides financial assistance to jockeys who have sustained debilitating on-track injuries.

Maker's Mark bottle

Love it!

And, according to a news release, each bottle has been signed in advance by the five leading active stakes-winning riders at Keeneland — Julien Leparoux, Robby Albarado, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano and Mike Smith — in addition to  Maker’s Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels and Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.

The illustration of a jockey in white and red silks aboard a racehorse is the work of Louisville artist (and my friend) Jeaneen Barnhart, who is famous for her equine art. In fact, her art once adorned a Derby bottle of Woodford Reserve, and she’s done a few Derby Festival posters throughout her career as well.

“The people in the horse industry of Central Kentucky have played a big role in the history of Maker’s Mark,” said Rob Samuels, who is an eighth-generation whisky maker, in the release. “When my grandfather started Maker’s back in the 1950s, the horsemen supported him and helped spread the word that his bourbon was worth sharing. So, we’re honored to share something back in a meaningful way.”

The limited-edition bottles should hit store shelves in Kentucky starting July 3.

Birthday Bourbon 2020

Old Forester spills the beans on Birthday Bourbon 2020; Jim Beam to release affordable Old Tub BIB

While summer has only just begun, we’re already talking about the big Fall Bourbon Release season, thanks to Old Forester and its highly anticipated Birthday Bourbon.

Birthday Bourbon 2020

Love the bottle!

Not only does this release — which will be out Sept. 2, on founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday — signify the 20th iteration of this product, but it also comes out during Old Forester’s 150th year in the bourbon business.

According to a press release that came across my desk yesterday, the bourbon will be 10 years old and bottled at 98 proof.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that tasting room!

“Being part of the Birthday Bourbon selection process is one of my favorite parts of my job because of the legacy and tradition this expression represents,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster, in the press release. “We’re really proud of what we’ve produced this year and think it’s a great way to celebrate George’s birthday and Old Forester’s historic anniversary.”

The special Birthday Bourbon will be priced at $129.99 — if you can find it on a shelf.

*  *  *

Old Tub bottle

New Old Tub!

In other news, Jim Beam is releasing a new/old Bottled-in-Bond* product called Old Tub, which is a product that actually dates back more than 140 years and was a viable early product for the Beam family. The bourbon will be about four years old and will be bottled at 100 proof, per the Bottled-in-Bond rules.

“We’re taking bourbon lovers back in time and making a delicious bourbon true to the way my ancestors intended over 140 years ago, when Old Tub was first crafted,” said Fred Noe, Beam Master Distiller, in a news release. “I’m excited to share this one-of-a-kind liquid with our fans and provide a bit of authenticity and nostalgia as we head toward another 225 years in the bourbon industry.”

The best news of all: Old Tub will be available for an affordable $22.99.

**If you’re wondering what Bottled-in-Bond means, here’s the definition, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Bottled in Bond is a label for an American-made distilled beverage that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the U.S. government’s Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. As a reaction to widespread adulteration in American whiskey, the act made the federal government the guarantor of a spirit’s authenticity, gave producers a tax incentive for participating, and helped ensure proper accounting and the eventual collection of the tax that was due.

To be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond or bonded, the liquor must be the product of one distillation season (January-June or July-December) by one distiller at one distillery. It must have been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. The bottled product’s label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled. Only spirits produced in the United States may be designated as bonded.

Woodford Reserve Five Wood bottle

Woodford Reserve officially releases Five Wood; Buffalo Trace opens for tours July 1

Since I’ve got nothing better to do at the moment than take a deep nosedive into the numerous private bourbon groups online, I’ve known about the new Woodford Reserve Distillery Series release, Five Wood, for about a month now.

The little bottles have been popping up on liquor store shelves, and the ravenous whiskey warriors (myself included) have been snatching them up quicker than Lysol wipes.

But alas, I received an official press release from the Woodford folks today about the product, and I truly can’t wait to try it.

Woodford Reserve Five Wood bottle

Five Wood!

As you know, the Distillery Series is an experimental line of bourbons and whiskeys from Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris that is released a few times a year. The infamous Double Double Oaked is part of that series, and it’s the only one to this day that continues to be released once a year.

The others are one-off concepts Morris has tinkered with in his mad scientist laboratory, like the Five Wood. So where does the name come from?

Well, basically, Morris took some mature Woodford Reserve bourbon (which is aged in oak barrels), then finished that juice in four other barrels: an Oloroso Sherry barrel, an Amontillado Sherry barrel, a Ruby Port barrel, and a Tawny Port barrel.

I’m no math wiz, but those four barrels + the original oak barrel = Five Wood.

“This is the first time in Woodford Reserve’s history that we’ve blended whiskeys that have been finished in five different barrels,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris in the press release. “The result is a rich taste and a bright finish.”

The finishing process is nothing new in the bourbon world, as many brands have similar experiments on the market, including Angel’s Envy, which is based strictly on finishing straight Kentucky bourbon in sherry casks. But, as Morris noted, it is a new concept for Woodford — as far as the number of different barrels it is finishing its bourbon in.

I have not yet tasted the Five Wood, but I plan on doing that ASAP. I cannot confirm nor deny I own a bottle, but you better believe I’ll be posting the tasting notes once I get a taste!

Until then, Morris has shared his tasting notes with me:

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series – Five Wood Taste Notes

Color: Deep Black Cherrywood

Aroma: An intense medley of rich blackberry, dark cherry, dates, raisin, prune and red fruit

reduction notes sweetened with Damara sugar and caramel-coated walnuts. Dark

leather, oak and black licorice spice develop slowly.

Taste: Rich dark chocolate and espresso coffee caramel icing coated with a raspberry and cherry reduction.

Finish: Long, mouthwatering rich red fruit brightened with a drop of orange oil

Five Wood is now available to purchase online and pick up from the distillery every Friday. It retails for $49.99 for a 375 ml bottle.

* * *

Buffalo Trace reopens July 1

Buffalo Trace Distillery

The Buffalo Trace Distillery is a beautiful experience. | Courtesy of Buffalo Trace

Slowly but surely, Kentucky distilleries are opening up for public tours. Included in the early bunch are Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Barton 1792, Copper & Kings, Wilderness Trail, Bardstown Bourbon Co. and a few others. Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Ky., is the latest to announce its opening date, which is Wednesday, July 1.

Of course with COVID-19 measures in place, things will be slightly different in this new time, including smaller tours, advance registration, and limited access to distillery operations.

According to a news release, Buffalo Trace is opening its newly expanded Visitor Center, which triples the size of the original and will allow ample space for the Gift Shop and new expansive tasting rooms.

“We are taking every step we can to address the health, safety and comfort of our guests to ensure the best experience possible,” said Homeplace Development Director Meredith Moody in the release. “Our goal is to create a safe haven for all visitors while providing the same rich history and experiences for which we’re known. We can’t wait to reopen to the public and show guests our expanded Visitor Center and tasting rooms.”

There’s a short list of guidelines for those looking to tour the distillery starting July 1:

  • Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
  • Advance registration required online.
  • Access to grounds and the playground only available to registered visitors.
  • New safety and sanitation protocols in place, including guests must wear face masks.
  • All tours remain free.
Sara Havens with bourbon barrels

I want to be the World’s Top Whiskey Taster, and I need your help!

So, Bardstown Bourbon Company is having a competition to find the World’s Top Whiskey Taster. I want this job, especially since I don’t currently have a job. It’s a job I think I could do pretty damn well, especially since I’ve been training for it for, oh, 20 years now.

To enter the competition, I had to film a 1-minute video talking about all the things that would make me an ideal candidate for the role. I posted it to my Facebook page, so now I just need you to go and like it. That’s it. Simple as peanut butter pie.

Click on this link to get to the video on my page.

Please and thanks!

#WorldsTopWhiskeyTaster

Alcohol Professor: Buried Bourbon — Many bourbon legends can be found in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery

This one was fun to write, especially since it gave me something to do while still unemployed: Searching through thousands of graves at Cave Hill Cemetery, looking for familiar bourbon names like Van Winkle, Weller and Beam. I felt like I was in a live version of Where’s Waldo.

If you’ve never been to Cave Hill, I can’t recommend it enough! It’s beautiful, serene and healing. It’s a cherished piece of Louisville — and Kentucky — history. And I unearthed, so to speak, several bourbon legends on my many walks there, including “Pappy” Van Winkle, W.L. Weller, Jeremiah Beam, George Garvin Brown (of Old Forester and Brown-Forman fame), Arthur Phillip Stitzel and several others.

Here’s an excerpt from my story, which was published at AlcoholProfessor.com:

__________________________

Pappy Van Winkle grave

Found some Pappy!

There are about 16 miles of paved roads amongst the cemetery’s 296 acres, so it’s an ideal place to escape for a few hours. Cave Hill also is one of the country’s top arboretums, as it features more than 500 types of trees and shrubs, contains five lakes and an underground spring, and yes, there actually is a cave on the premises.

As a Louisville resident for nearly two decades, I am ashamed to admit I’ve only been to Cave Hill a handful times. For someone who gets lost easily, it’s intimidating. Plus the fear of the gates shutting at 5 p.m. induces nightmares. Luckily, my walking buddy Maggie Cassaro, knows the cemetery well. Her parents are buried there, and she often showers various graves — friends, family and strangers — with rose petals. She also enjoys playing tour guide for curious out-of-towners.

This day, I was one of those curious cemetery walkers, and she was happy to show off the history, beauty and secrets of the expansive space …

READ MORE HERE

Stubbees Bourbon Honey

This honey will have you buzzing

For my birthday last year, my friends Kat and Heather hooked me up with some bourbon-infused honey they had stumbled across while on vacation in Florida. I smiled and said thank you, and then put it in a cupboard and had long forgotten about it until … QUARANTINE!

Since I now have to put more effort into my breakfast — instead of just unwrapping a Luna bar at work — I decided to reacquaint myself with granola, yogurt and fruit, all drizzled in honey, of course. And when I opened my cupboard to find if I had any honey — BAM! — there was this Stubbees Bourbon Infused Honey, much to my delight.

Stubbees Honey

Oh, honey.

I’ve enjoyed the honey so much, it actually disappeared last week. (I also snuck it into a few cocktails here and there, including a Mint Julep during what was supposed to be Derby.)

So I had to order more, and when I went to the website, I found the Florida-based company also makes a Blackberry Bourbon Infused Honey! Well, I nearly fell off my rocker when I saw this, so I ordered one of each — regular and blackberry.

The flat shipping rate of $8 was not too shabby either.

The honey just arrived this morning, and I am relieved to have it back in my household. I can’t wait to try the blackberry and am trying to think of a cocktail to make it with. Suggestions are welcome, but I’m not feeling a Hot Toddy at the moment.

Honey: If Mariah and ABBA sing about it, it’s gotta be good! And for reading this post to the end, I give you the wonderful present of watching this ABBA gem below. Enjoy.