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.

BourbonVille apparel

Let’s ditch ‘River City’ for ‘BourbonVille,’ shall we? Also, a bourbon roundup for your Friday morning

BourbonVille apparel

The staff of the KDF love showing off the BourbonVille gear!

The folks at the Kentucky Derby Festival might be on to something. A few years back, they created the BourbonVille event — which offers bourbon tastings, food pairings and more — to their lineup of actives that begin three weeks before the Kentucky Derby. It’s one of my favorite Derby Fest events, second only to the Great Steamboat Race, of course (as long as I’m riding on the Belle!).

Anyway, they’ve decided to launch a line of merchandise with the BourbonVille theme, because why limit the cool name to just one day? I believe it would make a fine nickname for Louisville, definitely better than River City. BourbonVille or Bourbon City — I’m cool with either one.

From T-shirts to glasses to bags, the line of apparel went live this morning, so check out the full array. They’d make great holiday gifts, just sayin’. Instead of a rock in my stocking, how about a BourbonVille rocks glass, Santa?

“Like the Derby Festival, bourbon is part of our city’s history and tradition, and we wanted to help celebrate that,” said Matt Gibson, KDF President and CEO, in a news release. KDF is partnering with local company 12/13 Apparel by Synergism for the products.

Check out BourbonVilleUSA for all the details. Also, notice how much fun the KDF staff is having modeling the products!

Michter’s drops a $5,000 bottle of bourbon!
Michter's Celebration bourbon

I’ll also take this in my stocking, Santa.

OK, so hopefully nobody will EVER actually drop a bottle of the new Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey, because if they do, they’ll be out an instant $5,000!

After a three-year break, Michter’s is releasing the blended whiskey, which was carefully selected by Master Distiller Dan McKee.

“Working on my first Celebration release was a labor of love for me,” he said in a news release. “Ultimately, I chose to take whiskey from two Kentucky straight bourbon barrels and four Kentucky straight rye barrels in our stocks. Each Celebration release is special and unique, and this year’s release differs from the 2016 one, where the whiskey came from three bourbon barrels and three rye barrels.”

In other words, this is what happens when a master distiller is let loose in a rick house and challenged to pick his or her very favorite honey barrels.

So why is it so expensive? Because there are only 277 bottles of the 2019 edition. And it’s in a fancy box!

Yeah, you’re right. Me and you will never get a sip of this, but a girl can dream.

Meet the makers of Maker’s Mark … and drink with them!

It’s rare to catch both Bill Samuels Jr. and Rob Samuels in the same spot, and it’s even rarer to get a chance to drink bourbon with them — unless you’re invited to their Thanksgiving or something. But in a partnership with Liquor Barn, the father and son team behind Maker’s Mark are inviting folks to come out and learn, sip and mingle with them this holiday season.

Called a “Taste of Heritage,” the sessions will be held at both Lexington and Louisville Liquor Barns and cost $25 — but they sound well worth the money, because you’ll be sampling all sorts of Private Select bottles and even some rare vintage MM bottles.

Here’s the schedule, and here’s the link for more info.

  • Liquor Barn Beaumont (Lexington) — Friday, Nov. 22 — 5:30 & 8 p.m.
  • Liquor Barn Springhurst (Louisville) — Friday, Dec. 6 — 5:30 & 8 p.m.
  • Liquor Barn Hamburg (Lexington) — Thursday, Dec. 19 — 5 & 8 p.m.
Other end-of-year releases 

So the Pappy line should be rolling out as we speak. Good luck finding or winning one! Other new releases include the Knob Creek Quarter Oak (which I received a sample of and will be part of my next Tasteless Tastings — hint: it’s yummy!); the last Booker’s Bourbon of the year, called “Beaten Biscuits” after the small, cracker-like biscuits Booker liked to make; and another Four Gate Whiskey release that goes by the name of Foundation. That one is a nearly 10-year-old bourbon that is bottled at barrel-strength — a whopping 119.4 proof!

Stay tuned for more bourbon news today …

samples with pumpkin

Tasteless Tastings: Halloween 2019 Edition

samples with pumpkin

Let’s all gather round for this here Tasteless Tasting …

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 or to forget the world around you. 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. So let’s do it …

What are we drinking today?:
Mount Gay Rum

The Wizard!

Mount Gay Rum Master Blender Collection: Pot Still Rum

What the hell is it?:

This is the second edition of the Mount Gay Rum Master Blender Collection, created by Master Blender and Badass Trudiann Branker. This small batch of rum was matured in American oak barrels for 10 years and then placed into used whiskey barrels for six months prior to bottling. The pot still process honors the original method of rum-making, as Mount Gay dates back to 1703.

Give me the nerdy numbers:

96 proof, $170, only 1,002 bottles available in the U.S.

What do we think?:

Anna G.: This is the twister taking us to Oz! That scary lady is riding by trying to take our dog, and then we land in world of Mount Gay color!

Bar Belle: Wow, those woody, oaky are crazy! It’s like we’re in that forest where the trees are throwing apples at us.

Anna G: We’re not in Kentucky anymore.

Bar Belle: Indeed, we are not. We’re in Barbados!

We add a cube of ice to our samples.

Anna G.: Holy hell! We’ve just gone to Munchkin Town with Glenda the Good Witch!

Bar Belle: Ice changed this thing’s life!

Anna G.: This is the world of sweet, sweet color.


Halloween Costume:

The Man Behind the Curtain … The Oz Himself


What are we drinking today?:
Yellowstone Bourbon

Cajun Sasquatch!

Yellowstone Limited Edition 2019

What the hell is it?:

Straight from the Limestone Branch Distillery, this hand-picked batch includes barrels of extra-aged 9-year and 12-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It’s the oldest barrels yet used in a Limited Edition.

Give me the nerdy numbers:

101 proof, $99.99, 12,500 bottles available in the U.S.

What do we think?:

Bar Belle: This is like a warm embrace from a vampire. Definitely a cinnamon bomb, with a little Heath Bar at the end — toffee, brown sugar and that lovely caramel, of course.

Anna G.: Do Heath Bars have caramel?

Bar Belle: No, but they should!

Anna G.: Vampires are sterile — this is a warm hug from a sasquatch! The after taste comes from his backwoods muskiness.

Bar Belle: I don’t want to think about sasquatch musk, because in my mind I’m unwrapping those cubed caramels for caramel apples. Good stuff!


Halloween Costume:

Cajun Sasquatch


What are we drinking today?:
Maker's Mark RC6

Han Solo!

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series: RC6

What the hell is it?:

This cask-strength Maker’s Mark has been finished with proprietary wood staves that go by the name of R2D2 … er, I mean RC6. These unique staves are American oak that was first “seasoned” for an extended 18 months outside and then toasted in a convection oven. Since Maker’s Mark technically only makes one type of bourbon, the stave process — adding different staves to fully matured Maker’s Mark — allows them to experiment and release one-offs like this one. And not all will be one-offs, as Maker’s 46 is technically part of this new Wood Finishing Series.

Give me the nerdy numbers:

108.2 proof, $59.99, this limited-edition small batch was made from only 255 barrels

What do we think?:

Anna G.: This is delicious!

Bar Belle: I swear it reminds me of a backyard barbecue … on the Millennium Falcon!

Anna G.: It’s Han Solo after being frozen in carbonite, then being delivered to Jabba the Hut, and then saving the day!

Bar Belle: Princess Leia looked hot in that scene, when she was strapped to that fat blob.

Anna G.: Remember before Han gets all froze, she runs to him and says, “I love you,” and he responds, “I know.”

Bar Belle: Typical man. But man, this stuff is legit! Quite smooth for 108 proof.

Anna G.: I want to say “I love you” to this sample, but I’m afraid it’s just going to say, “I know.”


Halloween Costume:

Han Solo


What are we drinking today?:
Booker's Bourbon


Booker’s “Country Ham” Batch 2019-03

What the hell is it?:

They say Booker enjoyed curing ham almost as much as he did making bourbon. Almost. This batch pays tribute to his proclivity for pork, and like his bourbon, he kept it simple — pairing the pork with only a cracker or biscuit.

Give me the nerdy numbers:

124 proof, $79.99, 6 years, 4 months and 2 days old

What do we think?:

Bar Belle: Wow, this bites without being provoked. Like Jaws let loose in Sea World!

Anna G.: The flavor is really nice, but the after effect is chaos! It’s making my nose run and it’s burning my mouth! Dammit!

Bar Belle: You better get your mouth out of that Kentucky water! This warms my palate like it warms my heart when I stumble across “Jaws 3-D” on TV on a lazy Sunday morning.


Halloween Costume: 

Chief Brody (or shall we say Chief Booker?) from “Jaws”: “You’re gonna need a bigger glass!”

Maker's Mark bottle

Maker’s Mark debuts the high-proof RC6, latest release of its Wood Finishing Series

Maker's Mark bottle

Welcome to Maker’s RC6. | Courtesy

For a company with one single recipe of bourbon, it’s been inspiring to watch Maker’s Mark expand its limited-edition offerings to consumers thirsty for “something different.”

A few months back, they released Maker’s Mark 101, which you could only procure overseas or at international airports, and their innovative Private Select program keeps Maker’s Mark fans and bourbon fanatics in general enthralled and wanting more.

Now, it’s time to introduce RC6, which the company is releasing under its Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series that also includes Maker’s Mark 46 and the Private Select bottles. The bourbon is the result of a two-year project that is yet another experiment with different types of wood staves added to the barrels after the Maker’s Mark is fully mature.

Maker's Mark


According to a news release, it is made with a proprietary finishing stave called RC6 that enhances the fruit notes and baking spice notes found in regular Maker’s Mark bourbon, with a brighter finish.

And it’s going to be bottled at cask strength, which in this case is 108.2 proof.

And for those who don’t have the luxury of living in Bourbon Country, this limited release will be shipped nationwide starting in late September.

Also worth mentioning, it’s a one-time release, and only 255 barrels were used for the project. If you can find it (at your favorite liquor store or at the distillery), the suggested retail price is $59.99.

It’s funny, because I still have a handwritten note from Bill Samuels Jr. that came in a package with a small sample of Maker’s 46 — when that debuted in 2010 — saying that he’s been working hard on a new expression, and he wants my humble opinion on it.

I told him he’s definitely onto something great, and that I look forward to the new product and everything else that seeps from the quaint Loretto distillery. I still do. And this new release is more proof of that.