LOUISVILLE SPEED ART MUSEUM’S “ART OF BOURBON” ONLINE AUCTION

Alright, folks, mark your calendars for Thursday, September 24th. The Louisville Speed Art Museum is holding their “Art Of Bourbon” online auction. It’s free to bid or participate but, registration is required. You can register here https://artofbourbon.org/  So go ahead and sign up!

Now that you’ve registered, we can dive into the fun part. There will be whisk(e)y involved!!

This event combines Kentucky’s official art museum with Kentucky (and mine and yours) most prized product to give you a fantastic whiskey auction. During the past two years, the museum has auctioned off some of the rarest whisky bottles and experiences ever. Expect nothing less this year. Exclusive and single-barreled whiskies along with exclusive bourbon experiences are all up for grabs. This will surely be something you’ll want to take part in. If you haven’t already, go and register. I’ll wait.

Here is a dram of what you can expect to see up for auction:

Black Bowmore 1964 50-Year-Old, The Last Cask  Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000

Maker’s Mark Barrel Selection: Your Own Unique Barrel of Maker’s Mark and Dale Chihuly Artwork  Estimate: $22,000

Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye Experience  Estimate: $18,000 

Hermitage Farm and Barn8 Restaurant Immersive Journey Estimate: $7,000

Here’s your chance to step back in time and enjoy an original Kentucky land grant farm. Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown invite 4 people to stay at the historic Hermitage Farm “Main House,” in Oldham County, Ky. As part of this bespoke experience, Steve and Laura Lee are including six bottles that are housed as part of the on-site Barn8 Restaurant barrel selections, and one very rare vintage bottle: • a rare 1973 Old Fitzgerald “Hospitality Decanter” • Weller Full Proof • Woodford Reserve • Woodford Reserve Double Oaked • Old Forester • Maker’s Mark Private Select • New Riff

In addition, as part of this bucolic getaway, you and your friends enjoy a privileged VIP bourbon tasting led by Bourbon Steward Adam Walpole as well as two crafted and curated dinners, one being in the Greenhouse, by Barn8 Executive Chef Alison Settle. The package also features a Royal Brunch under the canopy where Queen Elizabeth viewed yearlings in 1984 as well as special ride in an antique carriage. Cap-off this experience with a walk through the newly unveiled Art Walk “Night Magic,’ created by acclaimed artist Ricardo Rivera. The Art Walk just opened this month. 

Michter’s 25-Year-Old Estimate: $7,000

Old Fitzgerald 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond, 1961  Estimate: $1,500

Old Taylor 1960  Estimate: $1,000

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Collection, 3 bottles Estimate: $750 Hand selected by Eternal Optimist Hospitality & Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen, these are some of the earliest barrels to be filled with Willett’s own product: Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon – 6 Year, Barrel 191 Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon – 7 Year, Barrel 44 “Feast BBQ” Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye Whiskey – 6 Year, Barrel 233 

Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series: 2019 Edition, Limited Release  Estimate: $500

This last little bit may be the most important, all proceeds from this auction support education programs and exhibitions at the Speed Art Museum.

So, September 24th 2020 get your bidding fingers ready. 6:30pm ET: Hell or High water pre-show with Fred Minnick 7:05pm ET: Live auction

Make sure you head over to https://artofbourbon.org/ to register for this free event as well as get any additional information!

Happy Bidding, Y’all

The best whiskey I’ve ever had?

Okay, so you know that thing where someone tells you that a particular whiskey will be the best whiskey you’ve ever had, and you get to try it, and then it turns out to be the best whiskey you’ve ever had? Well…I have that.

So, my pal, Jeremy sent me some of the most stellar whiskey samples I’ve ever received!! One of those was the 1969 OLD CROW CHESSMEN. 

It came with instructions, pour into a glass and wait 30 mins.

So I did just that. 

Let me tell you, waiting 30 minutes to drink the oldest whiskey you’ve ever had the privilege to try, is a long time!

But listen, it took 50 years for this whiskey to make its way to me, the least I could do was to follow the one and only instruction this bourbon came with.

Okay…so from the first look, it’s a beautiful mahogany. Not cheap mahogany from a box…but the most beautiful mahogany you’ve ever seen. It’s got great viscosity and legs for days. “Legs for days”, it’s what the people say.

On the nose, it’s pure candy. It’s nostalgic. 

This dram was pure candy on the nose and all my candy dreams on the palate.

I don’t do in-depth reviews. I can’t taste vanilla or dried stone fruits. I can’t smell baking spices and caramel. What I can say is, if you taste a whiskey and it transports you back to a time and place and makes you forget that you love Michter’s toasted barrel bourbon above all else…well dammit, that’s when you know you’ve had the best whiskey you’ve ever tasted.

Have you tried this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Henry Mckenna, 2018’s SF World Spirits Competition “best single barrel bourbon”.

Try saying that 3 times after a few drams of Henry McKenna single barrel BIB. This is a Bottled-in-Bond offering from Heaven Hill. Some of you are like “hell yeah, I love a good BIB”, and some of you are like “what the fudge does Bottled-in-Bond mean?!”.

Well, Bottled-in-Bond is a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government’s Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, that was originally laid out in The Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. This made the federal government the guarantor of the authenticity of the spirit and then some tax stuff. But there are some stipulations to having your whiskey labelled Bottled-in-Bond or Bonded.

Here we go.

First off, only spirits made in the U.S of A can be labeled Bonded. Your liquor must be distilled by one distiller at one distillery. It must also be a product of one distillation season (January-June or July–December). 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 or 50% ABV. The label must identify the distillery where it was distilled and, where it was bottled if different.

Creating the Bonded Act was actually to control the quality of bourbon whiskey. Because, before the BIB act of 1897, whiskey being sold as straight whiskey was in fact, NOT. They were putting all kinds of gross stuff in it to procure more liquor and change the colour. I’m talking nails, tobacco, and even iodine.

Having BIB or Bonded on your label has garnered the attraction of some consumers as being an endorsement of the quality, and during those tragic times when tobacco spit could be used as a colour enhancer…this was a very good thing.

Now let’s get into Henry McKenna the best single barrel bourbon of 2018.

Henry Mckenna is a product of the Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown KY (sidenote: saying KY in front of Barbara my fellow co-host on the Bourbon Bettys, will make her giggle like a schoolgirl in health class). According to their website, it’s the longest-aged Bottled-in-Bond bourbon available today.

So, I know I’m tardy to the Henry McKenna party, but I live in Canada and it didn’t make its way organically to my province. So my Pal Brodie hooked me up. I was seriously dying to try this rather inexpensive bourbon that won such a prestigious title. Now I have a bottle and here’s what I think.

I absolutely believe it’s a great bourbon for the value. Not fussy and an easy sipper. It’s all caramel and dark fruits for me, with a nice long spicy finish. Heaven Hill definitely has others in its lineup, that quite frankly…I would love to never have again. But it ain’t Henry Mckenna. If this was something that was readily available to me, I would make it my house bourbon.

Ardbeg Grooves

Okay so…

I’ve gotten the taste for Islay whisky and I think I’m done for. Seriously, not in a million years did this bourbon drinker think that she would crave the smoke. But here we are. To be fair I’ve had very few Islay whiskies, but the ones I’ve had…have done a great job in converting me. If you’re not familiar with Islay whisky, I’ll give you a brief wiki-fueled lesson.

Islay Whisky: A whisky made on Islay. Boom…just dropped a knowledge bomb!

Jk’ing. That’s just the beginning. Islay is an Island located off the western coast of Scotland. Islay is one of five whisky distilling localities and regions in Scotland whose identity is protected by law. Whiskies made on the southeastern part of the Island have strong smokey characteristics derived from peat. What is peat you ask…peat is an accumulation of decaying vegetation or any organic matter that is native to an area known as peatlands, bogs, moors, muskeg, or mires. I literally have no idea what any of those things are, but goddamnit they sound cool. Also, the peatland ecosystem is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet. There’s some chemistry and science sh*t as to why, but I’ll let you google that yourselves. There’s also a bunch of other stuff but as I said already…you can just google those yourselves. That’s why we have google.

Let us get into Ardbeg.

Ardbeg is a distillery on the Isle of Islay. It’s owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. The distillery began producing whisky in 1798 and saw commercial production in 1815. According to the wiki, Ardbeg is considered to be amongst the peatiest of whiskies. They seldom release whisky with age statements and they don’t chill-filter. From what I’m gathering, Ardbeg releases an annual whisky for Ardbeg day on June 2nd. Which celebrates the distillery’s opening day. This year Grooves is to transport us back to the summer of love during the ’60s, saying they are rolling back the years to an Islay time gone by – back to the village of Peat & Love. Part of this whisky has been matured in re-toasted in red wine casks. I quite like it when whisky is matured in toasted barrels. I think it makes for some delicious flavour. The casks were charred heavily which produces grooves in the wood resulting in some pretty intense flavouring. Non-chill-filtered at 51.6% ABV or 103 proof. My bro on Instagram @damnfinedram sent me this sample and I am super thankful he did. This is like sniffing and sipping a campfire. I am always amazed at how something can smell sweet and smokey at the same time. I was blown away, almost literally. Groves has most certainly taken my palate to unknown taste territory. My first Ardbeg and not to be my last.

Mia Wallace said it best…’I said god damn, god damn”.

The Macallan Double Cask

As of late, I’ve been slowly transitioning from a bourbon drinker into a Whiskey drinker. Being in Canada limits my access to a lot of great bourbons. Don’t feel too sad for me, I have managed to snag some good stuff from my pal Brodie, but what I find on my own has been mostly limited to what I can get at the LCBO. But the scotch seems to be abundant.

So I put the word out to my insta friends asking for reco’s on great bourbon(ish) scotch and this one was recommended by my girl Jamie . And I am so glad she did.

Let’s first talk about the bottle, I’m a sucker for a good bottle. It’s what’s on the inside that counts but there’s nothing wrong with the outside being pretty. Or rather..sultry. I don’t know why that adjective comes to mind when I look at this bottle but that’s what I get…Sultry. It’s a classic-looking bottle. Not fussy, just confident…and sultry. You have to hear that in Al Green’s voice. It’s how I envision it.

Now to what’s inside. It’s just as special. Yes, it is. It looks like sun-kissed honey. Contrary to how sultry it looks on the outside, it doesn’t taste sultry. Yeah..Yeah…I have no idea what sultry is supposed to taste like…if sultry is even supposed to tastes like anything. But this my friends do not. It tastes wholesome but in a sophisticated sort of way. I feel like that has a lot to do with these rich notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. It tastes wholesome because it’s your Nan’s homemade raisin bread. I said earlier that the bottle looked confident, that’s how it tasted, confident. It knows it’s good. It can get by on being wholesome and unpretentious because it’s confident. I could go ahead and give my tasting notes and perhaps someday I’ll circle back and edit this post with some proper ones, but for now, I’ll just say…it smells good, tastes good, and I’ll likely finish this glass and pour another.

Cheers.

Poor girl’s Pappy

So, If you’re like me or not like me, you’ve never even tried Pappy in your life. I’ve never had access to it, and I certainly have never seen it in the wild. So why would I mix up a batch of Poor girl’s (man’s) Pappy if I have nothing to compare it to?

Well, the answer is…

Why the hell not!

But before we get into that, let us have a brief history lesson.

Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr was 18 in 1893 when he started working for W.L. Weller & Sons as a salesman. Fifteen years later he purchased the firm along with another salesman. In 1910 they acquired A. Ph. Stitzel distillery. One of the labels to hit the market before prohibition was Old Rip Van Winkle. During prohibition, they were licensed by the government to produce whiskey for medicinal purposes. After prohibition, the brand was not reintroduced again until the Stitzel-Weller distillery and its current brand names ( W. L. WellerOld FitzgeraldRebel Yell, and Cabin Stil) were sold to other companies in 1972. Pre-prohibition Old Rip Van Winkle was the only brand the Van Winkles kept the rights to.

In 1965 at the age of 89 Pappy Van Winkle passed away. At the time of his passing, he was the oldest active distiller in America. A photo of him lighting a cigar is what you see on Pappy bottles. Julian Van Winkle Jr resurrected the pre-prohibition Old Rip Van Winkle brand until his death in 1981 then his son, Pappy’s grandson Julian Van Winkle the 3rd took over the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery Company. Since 2002 Sazarc Company at Buffalo Trace has been the distilling and bottling place for Van Winkle brands.

Julian Preston Vanwinkle the 3rd said the 2013 bottlings of 23yr Pappy may be the last of its kind. So with this starts the almost cult-like following. Bourbon lovers of all stages have shown up for lotteries and overnight camp-outs just to secure a chance to possibly maybe score a bottle. With secondary market prices and fake bottles being sold, I’m glad I never caught the Pappy bug. Sure, I would never turn it down and if the price is right I would perhaps take a bottle, but I’m perfectly happy if I don’t.

Now on to the alternative that you can make lovingly in your own home. Totally call it whatever you’d like as well.

My friend Jeremy hooked me up with this recipe. It’s a simple one.

-You take equal parts Weller Antique 107 and Weller 12 in any increment you want. I did 1 cup of each.

-Let them plight one’s troth, do what comes naturally in an air-tight bottle/container for 30 days without opening once…not one single time.

Once 30 days hit you can either continue to let it mellow or you can open that baby up and have a dram. I will say that this is the best Pappy I’ve ever had of all the Pappy’s I’ve ever had.

Let me know how yours turned out.

Poor Girl’s Pappy review.

Nose: Smells good. Just like real Pappy that I’ve never nosed.

Palate: Tastes good. Best, not Pappy I’ve had in a long time.

Finish: It’s finished alright.

Dream Job?

So on a recent episode of The Bourbon Bettys, Katie G our resident “learn us something new” babe talked about the difference between Master Taster, Master Blender, and Master Distiller. So I got to thinking… “Master Taster” sounds like the DREAM JOB.
So I googled that shiz and guess what?! It’s a dream job if you are a highly qualified person. You can’t be any geek off the street. You gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep…wait that’s if you wanna be a young gun, not a Master Taster…
Master Taster. You basically taste whiskey. But tasting whiskey is anything but basic. In one article I read, Marianne Barnes (then the Master Taster at Brown-Forman) was prohibited from smoking and wearing perfume while at work to preserve the integrity of her palate. She was expected to distinguish the more than 200 flavour chemicals in bourbon. Seriously…there’s more than just charred oak, vanilla, dried fruit, and caramel! She is able to identify the exact proofs coming out of the barrel as well as any defects. Marianne also states that she does regular re-calibration of her palate, by using scent jars to remind her senses to get exactly what she’s searching for.
There’s also another fantastic article in Business Insider with the master taster at Jack Daniel’s who just so happens to be his great-grandniece. Who by the way, had to be highly qualified to get the job. Being a relative of JD himself pulled absolutely no weight in helping her land it. Her name is Lynne Tolley and she’s held the position of a master taster for more than 20yrs. She also believes in re-calibrating her senses by sniffing the back of her hand. She calls it her little trick. She also likes to do her tastings on an empty stomach. Her findings are that she can taste whiskey better this way. No perfume as well on the days of tastings. Lynne also feels personally that women are better tasters because we have the best noses.
So, let us investigate this “women have better noses thing”. Woodford Reserve also has a female master taster and her name is Elizabeth MaCall ( Now the assistant Master Distiller). She’s been likened to a real-life Whiskey superhero. She says there are few skills needed to be a master taster but one of them is being able to describe the taste of any of their whiskey expressions. Uh, that’s a pretty significant skill to be able to hone into. As well as any concerns with the product. She also says having passion is another important trait to possess.
Jackie ZyKan. She’s kind of like a whiskey rockstar. She’s the master taster for Old Forester. So it appears that women are doing the job and doing it quite well. Is there any science behind us having more tuned senses though…
Well, yeah. The portion of our brain that’s devoted to smell detection is way larger than that of a man’s. Women typically have more taste areas (fungiform papillae) and taste buds on their tongues than men. We are able to detect certain tastes way before men can. So BOOM!
There ya have it, folks. Master Taster is a very cool job if you’ve got the right stuff to land it. Women in Whiskey wherever they may land is always a good thing.
Links to the aforementioned articles

Marianne Barnes

Lynne Tolley

Elizabeth MaCall

Jackie Zykan

Virgil Kaine

Virgil Kaine Electric Owl.

An LTO ( limited time offering) of 3000 bottles and sold until it was gone. If you were one of the lucky ones (like myself, via my good pal Brodie) who snagged a bottle of this, pat yourself on the shoulder, heck give yourself a baseball booty slap.

First off, this bottle!! I love a bottle with some heft to it. It’s a nice solid bottle with what I liken to broad shoulders. Everyone loves some good broad shoulders.

It’s called “Lowcountry” whiskey and I didn’t really understand what that meant until I googled that shiz and this is what I found out…

Lowcountry is a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina’s coast; including the Sea Islands.

So there you have it. Whiskey produced in the geographic area known as Lowcountry.

BOOM.

Virgil Kaine is also a pretty cool company. Their founders were former chefs which means they know how to cook. With their culinary backgrounds, they brought a whole new bag of tricks into the distilling department, if you ask me. And if you’ve tried their ginger-infused bourbon…you know what I mean.

Electric Owl is the second expression I’ve had from VK and I was, once again, not let down. Electric Owl is a whiskey some other whiskies wish they could be…good.

Actually very, very good.

Electric Owl is a 9yr sour mash. (Sour mash is a process that uses an older batch mash to start the fermentation of a new batch.) It’s finished in American ale barrels from Revelry brewing. Before Revelry got a hold of them they were housing Pinot Noir from Willmette Valley.

Now for my tasting notes, which in the past have left so much to be desired but for the sake of this review I’m just gonna go ahead and put something out there.

proof: 100.1

Colour: Rich Caramel

Nose: smells good. Real: I get hints of Vanilla and dried fruit.

Palate: Sweet baby Jane this is it…tastes too good to be true. Real: oooh, it’s got some spice to it. Again I’m getting dried fruit, along with caramel.

Finish: Yup, Imma finish this bottle whole bottle (that I’ll never be able to get again) in no time and then I will be so mad at myself. Real: Fruity sweetness along with some pepper kick.

Seriously folks. If given the opportunity DO NOT PASS THIS ONE UP! Even if it’s just a dram from your homeboy or there are still some bottles floating around for purchase. Pick it up, son!