King of Kentucky will make its 2020 debut very soon

Bourbon huntin’ season is officially upon us, and each week brings welcomed announcements for highly sought-after releases.

King of Kentucky 2020Today, it’s King of Kentucky’s time to shine, as word of the 2020 batch spreads like wildfires.

Here’s what we know: The 2020 release comes from 37 barrels that were aged 14 years. Since Brown-Forman heat-cycles their rick houses, many of these barrels were only half full, or even less.

That resulted in 1,900 bottles total for the markets of Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois (the latter two new this year).

This is the third iteration of King of Kentucky, which features barrel-strength, minimally-filtered, single-barrel bourbon. (If you’re curious about the brand, I wrote about its relaunch in 2018.)

“The King of Kentucky continues to teach us about the impact that long-term heat-cycled maturation has on barrel yield and flavor presentation,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris in a news release. “Some barrels yield as little as one case of King but are not over wooded or astringent — in fact they are incredibly complex and flavorful. This is another stellar release of rich, dark Kentucky bourbon flavor at its best.”

The suggested retail price (if you can find it on a shelf) remains $249.99, and the proof will range between 125 and 135. Each release has been in that same range of proof, however the 2019 batch came from 15-year-old barrels, while the 2018 was 14 years old.

So how’s it taste???

Damn good! How’s that for an answer?

I’ve been a huge King of Kentucky fan since the relaunched get-go, and it’s always been in my top 5 of the year. Now, 2020 has been a shit-kicker of a year, but the KoK doesn’t disappoint. It’s got that big vanilla and baked cherry bouquet on the nose, and those sweet, sweet flavors bring even more vanilla, with sprinkles of caramel, pancakes, that famous Brown-Forman banana note and baking spices.

It’s actually quite complex and nuanced, and the more I let it sit, the more deep those notes get.

This does not burn like a typical whiskey would at 130 proof (the proof of my sample), but instead it coats the mouth with warmth and familiar flavors, like biting into a big, juicy caramel apple covered in peanuts, and then having a bite of a chocolate covered banana.

The pleasant, sweet finish lingers a long time, and when it’s gone, your taste buds beg for more.

The 2020 King of Kentucky will be out soon, so keep your eyes peeled. And don’t ask me how to score a bottle, because I’m not going to tell you. I want all 1,900 for myself.

Sara Havens at a competition

Drink up, y’all … I made it to Round 2 of the World’s Top Whiskey Taster!

Whiskey Taster contest photo

There’s my name!

Remember back in June when I posted a video about wanting to be the World’s Top Whiskey Taster? Well, turns out I made it to Round 2 of the contest, which is being run by Bardstown Bourbon Company.

Now, I have to prove my whiskey-sipping skills to a team of judges in a tough competition against five other Kentucky contenders. It all goes down Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 6-8 p.m., and you all are invited to watch, because it’ll be broadcast live via the Bardstown Bourbon Co. Facebook page and/or YouTube channel.

I could use some positive vibes and words of encouragement, because I know my competitors are fierce and fabulous.

I’ve been practicing just about every night for the past two weeks, and I’m concocting one of the best flights ever assembled in the whiskey world. (I’m also trying to work on my confidence, so that was a pretty good attempt at it.)

The competition will include four questions about various mystery samples we’ve been sent, and then we present our flights to the judges in three minutes or less.

This is the Kentucky finals round, and there will be similar competitions in nine other regions. So if I win this one, I still have to battle against the best nine. Yikes!

So what exactly are we battling for? Well, the winner will get $20,000 with a contract to represent Bardstown Bourbon Co. as a Distillery Ambassador at some of the country’s top whiskey festivals in 2021, including WhiskyFest and Whiskies of the World. The winner also will receive a scholarship to Moonshine University’s Executive Bourbon Steward program and will get to blend a custom product with Bourbon Hall of Famer and Master Distiller Steve Nally.

The latter is what I’d be most excited about, well, besides the cash money.

Anyway, wish me luck, and tune in Wednesday night if you can!

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2020

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2020: How’s it taste? How can I get it?

Each September, the bourbon world gets a little nutty.

Yes, it’s National Bourbon Heritage Month, but it also holds one of the most significant dates of the year: Sept. 2 — the birthdate of Old Forester founder George Garvin Brown, which means it’s also time for the annual Old Forester Birthday Bourbon release!!

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2020

Happy Birthday to me!

Nothing can stop the Birthday Bourbon from being released, not even a global pandemic! So the powers that be at Old Forester have decided to launch the product on the website, where exclusive bottles have been sold the last few months.

I’m going to venture a guess and say that this might very well break the internet — but you better believe I’ll be one of these keyboard warriors trying to tap into bourbon bliss that day.

A little more about that in a second, but first, here’s a little more about this year’s release.

This is the 20th iteration of the Birthday Bourbon series and will be bottled at 98 proof. It is made up of 95 barrels of 10-year-old bourbon and was selected by Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan for its interesting characteristics. According to a news release, these are the notes:

  • Color: Dusty Topaz
  • Aroma: A nuanced balance of white floral notes, magnolia and citrus, spiced with vanilla, buttery leather and cocoa powder. Countering the spice are sprinkles of brown sugar, white chocolate shavings, caramel drizzle and hints of tropical fruit.
  • Taste: Caramel and brittle toffee lead as the tropical character blooms into banana, mango, coconut flakes and macadamia nut.
  • Finish: Long and delicately drying with a hint of anise.

“We really believe that the 2020 version is one of our best yet,” said Old Forester President Campbell Brown in the release. Brown’s great-great grandfather is THE George Garvin Brown this release honors.

I was fortunate to get a small sample of this year’s Birthday Bourbon, and I can verify all of the flavors mentioned above, especially that delightful banana note that comes out in a lot of aged Brown-Forman whiskeys. It tastes how fall feels — a long walk on crisp, fallen leaves; the anticipation of a campfire s’more; the cool breeze that ushers out humidity and calls for sweaters.

It’s viscous, it’s well-rounded, it’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s fruity and it’s something I want to be sipping on all year long.

So how can you get a bottle?

Well, be sure to sign up for emails at the Old Forester website, and be on the lookout for a special Birthday Bourbon email on Wednesday, Sept. 2. You, along with thousands of others, will be all vying to nab a bottle online. It retails for $129.99.

Some will get lucky, and some will throw their computers across the room.

I kind of wish Old Forester would have went with a lottery system, much like what Four Roses is doing with its annual Limited Edition Small Batch release. But I am but one small ladybug on the windshield of life.

Good luck to everyone!

Four Roses 2020 Small Batch

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2020 drops in September via public lottery

So you’re saying there’s a chance …

Each September, the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch comes around like a cool autumn wind, jumpstarting a bottle mania of bourbon fans far and wide. These releases are always delicious — and include some pretty old bourbons by industry standards — and often are pretty limited, with just a little more than 14,000 released worldwide.

2020 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

You win my love.

So when I got wind of the 2020 release trickling out next month, with a public lottery draw due to pandemic safety measures (usually a shit ton of people camp out at both the Four Roses Distillery and the Bottling Facility), I was actually pretty damn happy, because maybe this year I would have a chance to purchase the precious juice.

But first, let’s talk about the bourbon.

This year’s release is proofed at a whopping 111.4 and is non-chill filtered. It includes four different ages and recipes of Four Roses bourbon, which breaks down like this:

  • 12-year-old bourbon from the OBSV recipe (30%)
  • 12-year-old OESV (25%)
  • 16-year-old OESK (25%)
  • 19-year-old OBSK (20%)

I joined Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott on a Zoom call on Monday, and he filled me in on some of the interesting aspects of this year’s LE Small Batch. He noted that the goal is always to make something smooth, mellow and, most importantly, unique — so this year’s should taste vastly different from previous years.

He also explained that each batch could have stood on its own as a single barrel offering, but the magic of the process came in the blending.

“In this case, the sum is even greater than the parts — as together these bring a perfect balance of bright, vibrant flavors and aromas from the 12- and 16-year-old barrels combined with the oak tones and aged expressions from the 19-year-old batch,” Elliott said.

Because he chose to include a mature 19-year-old bourbon in the blend, Elliott said a big challenge came with working with the dominant oak notes in a bourbon that old, although this one aged like a fine wine — meaning, yes, there is an oak presence, but it’s not dominating or overwhelming.

And it plays well with others.

I was fortunate to get a small sample-sized taste of the 2020 LE Small Batch, and I could certainly detect those oak notes, but so many more flavors popped on my palate, including orange peel, cherries, honey, pear, spice from the high-rye mash bill, and of course those warming flavors of vanilla, toasted marshmallow and caramel.

Let’s just say I’ll be a happy camper if my name gets selected to purchase a bottle. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this sample and not share it with anyone. #SorryNotSorry

There are 14,040 bottles up for grabs this year in the United States, so fingers crossed we all get lottery lucky or find one at our local liquor store (yeah, right). The bottle should retail for around $150.

I guess I’ll be nice and share the link to the lottery sign-up: Click here.

→ → OK, OK, sorry. I mean click here. ← ←

Angel's Envy Japanese bottle

Angel’s Envy goes big for its 10th anniversary with a new release, and it sells out in minutes (sort of)

That angst you felt in the air this morning was from hundreds of local bourbon collectors huddled over their keyboards trying to score a bottle of the new Angel’s Envy release, aptly called Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Japanese Mizunara Oak Casks. 

Yes, it’s quite a mouthful for the whiskey that celebrates the 10th anniversary of company’s Founder’s Day (Aug. 19), when the very first port barrel was filled with Angel’s Envy bourbon. And it’s quite a bottle, crafted from premium, lead-free crystal, and is meant to be used as a decanter once you’ve imbibed all the precious juice within.

The extremely limited release (only 1,200 bottles) will set you back $349.99 — if you were able to nab it from the AE website this morning (which had some technical difficulties). While that initial launch was to the brand’s 500 Main club members, they’re holding back more bottles for the official release at the distillery on Sept. 1.

So what makes this so special?
Angel's Envy Japanese Mizunara release

The bottle in its full glory!

Well, despite such a limited number of bottles available, the whiskey is a blend of four-year-old and nine-year-old Angel’s Envy that is finished in hand-selected, charred, new Japanese Mizunara oak casks for an additional two years.

These Japanese casks are actually made from rare, 200-year-old wood that was very porous — soaking the bourbon right up into the charred wood.

“Ten years ago today, my dad Lincoln and I filled our first port barrels with the bourbon that would eventually become Angel’s Envy. In celebration, we wanted to release something special to honor my dad’s incredible legacy, how far Angel’s Envy has come and our exciting future ahead,” said Wes Henderson, Angel’s Envy co-founder and chief innovation officer, in a news release.  

As you may or may not know, the Japanese create some great whiskey of their own and also are rabid consumers of Kentucky bourbon.

“We chose this release for the 10th anniversary because my dad, having taken on several consulting roles in Japan during his career, always had a deep appreciation for the country and its distilling community,” added Henderson.

The 750ml bottle is a warm 97.8 proof.

I was fortunate to try a sample provided to the media and can say it’s definitely a fitting tribute to 10 years of the company. From first whiff, I got intense notes of banana bread, burnt marshmallow and cherry pie. And from a few sips (OK, more than a few), I detected warm vanilla, dark chocolate and definitely some smoky oaky flavors, most likely from the Japanese casks. It also finished smooth like an unpeated scotch.

Is it worth $350? Well, I don’t think I’d pay that much for any bourbon. But if you can spare it, the whiskey is wonderful, the bottle is beautiful, and the milestone is memorable.

Check out the Angel’s Envy website for details on the Sept. 1 release. Not sure if it’ll be one of those first-come, first-serve long line deals, or if they’ll do something different due to COVID restrictions.

Maker's Mark SE4+PR5

New Maker’s Mark release comes out swinging, amplifying fine flavors of vanilla and caramel

The thousands of aging bourbon barrels perched in black rick houses that dot the vast yet quaint Maker’s Mark Distillery grounds in Loretto, Ky., all hold the same recipe. It’s the bourbon Margie and Bill Samuels Sr. envisioned in 1953 when they created the beloved brand.

Maker's Mark 2020 releaseSo when it came to new products and essentially drawing outside the lines of the familiar dripping red Maker’s Mark wax, nothing had been done until Maker’s 46 was launched by Bill Samuels Jr. in 2010.

Bill Jr. didn’t mess with his family’s recipe to create the new product — he knew better than that — but he did run wild with a finishing process that involved soaking various toasted staves in a barrel of mature Maker’s Mark for about nine weeks.

In that small amount of time, more flavors were imparted into the juice, creating a familiar yet vastly different flavor profile that many today prefer over the original.

And since 2010, there’s also been a Maker’s Mark Cask Strength release (again, not messing with the family’s recipe), a Maker’s 46 Cask Strength (just released last month), Private Selection Single Barrels, and a new line of products Maker’s is calling its Wood Finishing Series. The 2019 release, titled RC6 after the name of the stave, was the first, and now the company is excited to release the 2020 experiment: SE4+PR5.

What does SE4+PR5 mean?

I was fortunate to join a Zoom call with Maker’s Director of Innovation Jane Bowie, plus about a dozen of Kentucky’s top bourbon writers, on Thursday to learn more about the 2020 release and taste through the process with samples the distillery provided.

Zoom call of Kentucky writers

Zooming with Maker’s Mark and fellow bourbon writers.

The personable and very talented Bowie was eager to let us in on the project that had been consuming her time the last 18 months. The goal was to highlight two prominent flavors found in Maker’s Mark: caramel and vanilla.

“I thought this was going to be the easiest one we’ve done, but it ended up being the most complicated,” said Bowie.

Turns out trying to highlight those two flavors exclusively was not an easy task, and in fact, it took Bowie and the Maker’s team two separate staves to do so. The team ended up using a blend of three finished Maker’s bourbons — two from French Oak staves (SE4) aged different weeks (one at five weeks and one at six weeks) and one from American Oak staves (PR5) aged for four weeks. These staves were toasted and made just for this product by Independent Stave Co.

Bowie said that due to the pandemic, she relocated her mad scientist bourbon lab to her living room for the last six months, trying out 50-60 different staves and more than 1,000 blend trials.

During my call with Bowie, I was able to taste through the bourbons at different ages, ultimately leading up to the final product, and it was truly a glimpse into the tough process of blending and having the end goal in mind during each and every sip.

It’s a lot of this: Maybe this stave tastes better at five weeks instead of two, but at six weeks it imparts too much of its flavors, so let’s go back to four weeks and see if we like it better than five.

So how does the final whiskey taste? It’s like soaking one of those Kraft caramel chews in a small bowl of pure vanilla extract and melted butter. It’s sweet, it’s viscous, it’s creamy and it’s dreamy. And it has a hint of baking spices on the finish.

Let me just say, this masterpiece hits all those harmonizing caramel and vanilla notes better than Barbara Streisand could if she were a bourbon. 

The 2020 SE4+PR5 release (Bowie said you can call it either the 2020 release or those crazy stave codes) is bottled at 110.8 proof, and it’ll start showing up on store shelves on Sept. 1. Liquor stores can charge whatever they like, but you should expect it to be in the range of $60-$70. It’s also a limited release, and you won’t want to miss this one!

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. 

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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?

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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!