A couple of weeks ago, I was visited by two good friends from Indianapolis, Indiana. They had business in Louisville and wanted to meet me to tour a few distilleries in Bardstown, Kentucky. I drove over to Bardstown to meet them but they had a late start from Indy so I had most of the morning free. I took the opportunity to drive down to Lebanon to tour Limestone Branch Distillery owned by seventh generation distillers Steve and Paul Beam. It was worth the short drive south. The Visitors Center Manager, Gina, and two of her confederates in guest services greeted me. I tagged along on a tour with a small group of folks and after seeing the small craft distillery we enjoyed a tasting of their whiskey. Limestone Branch produces 2 barrels of spirit a day. They have a few well-made items including; Yellowstone Select, Yellowstone Limited edition and Minor Case Rye. The Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the first bourbon we tasted. The 93 proof offering had a rye spice and sweet caramel nose. The taste was sweet vanilla and dark caramel. The finish was oak and caramel. This is well made bourbon, very drinkable but different than many bourbons I have tried lately. Eric, the distiller I met on the tour, said they were going for a sweet, silky, spicy taste profile. They accomplished their goal.
The second bourbon we tasted was the blend of 9-12 years old bourbon blended by Steve Beam to be extra-special Kentucky Bourbon. This was the third year he has produced a Yellowstone Limited Edition. I have a bottle of the 2018, which is outstanding, and was excited to try the 2019 Edition. This bourbon is an experiment that Steve makes in very limited quantities. Each year he develops a new and different taste profile. Being a craft distillery (they use a 150 gallon copper pot still), Limestone has the flexibility to try new things. We are glad they do!
This is very well made bourbon. The blending has produced a nose that is aromatic with vanilla and oak. The taste profile is caramel, spice and oak. It is smooth and does not carry a lot of heat for a 101 proof spirit. The finish is rich with cinnamon, vanilla and wood. This is outstanding bourbon.
Limestone Branch Distillery also produces Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey in honor of their grandfather Minor Case Beam. This is an unusual rye having been finished in a sherry cask. It has a golden color and a sweet, honey and butterscotch taste after a sweet nose. It does not have the hot spiciness of your typical rye whiskey. The finish picks up the sherry that makes this a unique rye. This is well made and worth a try.
I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful wedding in Lewisburg, West Virginia. While there, I had a free afternoon and went to tour and taste the whiskey at Smooth Ambler Distillery. Our tour guide, Arri, gave an excellent overview of Smooth Ambler and an informative walk-through of the distillery. The tasting was a pleasant surprise. Here are a few of my notes.
Big Level Bourbon is a 100 Proof wheated bourbon distilled, aged and bottled at the Smooth Ambler distillery in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The mashbill is 71% corn, 21% wheat, 8% malted barley. The wheat and corn are apparent in the nose with sweet caramel notes. The caramel and vanilla come out in the taste with the oak coming through. There is also a slight taste of cinnamon on the tail end. This was described as the future of the distillery. Arri told us that the distillers are continuing to experiment and improve the process in an attempt to make a signature bourbon, unique to the Smooth Ambler distillery. I believe they are well on their way. An older expression of this wheated bourbon would be interesting to try.
Contradiction is a 100 proof blend of a 2 year old wheated bourbon and a 9 year old high rye bourbon. The wheated bourbon is made on site at Smooth Ambler and the 9 year old bourbon is sourced from MGP in Indiana. Tasting this, I was surprised that the younger bourbon did not dominate the older rye flavors of spice and caramel. Some vanilla, oak and corn are immediately apparent.
Old Scout Single Barrel Select is a cask-strength low-rye bourbonsourced from a Tennessee distiller. The mashbill is 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malt. The nose is caramel, oak and apple. It is a smooth bourbon with vanilla, butterscotch, and leather flavors. The high corn content shows in the sweetness of the bourbon and the oak presents as a salty caramel.
Old Scout Single Barrel is a cask-strength high-rye bourbon. The mashbill is 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt. It was spicy on the nose and palette with a taste of apple. The rye is predominant in the taste profile but there is plenty of sweet corn flavors too.
I purchased a bottle of the 13 year old Single Barrel. This 99 proof bourbon is sourced from Indiana. It is quite good with a nose that is sweet vanilla and butterscotch. The taste is butterscotch, caramel and vanilla. It is a very smooth bourbon and in 2016 received the World Whiskies Award’s “Best Single Barrel Bourbon in the World.”
Many have asked about the perfect taste of bourbon to accompany the delivery of a baby. Since this is serious stuff: first I did some extensive research and two, this is a special occasion so high quality bourbon is essential. Now, I visited the University of South Alabama School of Nursing in Mobile. (They have a simulator of a Mom about to deliver, very authentic) Since the hospital wanted me to take about 10 years of classes and buy a white coat, I thought it best to just go with the simulator. Oh, we must remember, there are two opportunities for enjoying a taste of bourbon along with the delivery. One: if you are doctor or designated deliverer, I recommend a taste or two of Blanton’s Rare Bourbon with the race horse on the top. Blanton’s is the original single barrel bourbon from Frankfurt, Kentucky. The taste is as silky as the jockey’s jersey. This is a special occasion so a single barrel smooth taste is critical.. Now if you are the Father or possibly the Father you are going to need a bold pop in your mouth bourbon taste. I recommend High West Yippee-Ki-Yay blend of straight whiskies. If this is your baby, you have either some explaining to do or need to enjoy because you will be converting to cheap vodka. Either way Congratulations on the new arrival and NO, contrary to comments from from my colleagues at the Nursing school the baby does NOT look like me. And, since the consultants are always available to help if you find you are both the Dad and Deliverer, call us Dr. Ron will walk you through after I walk you through the best bourbon in an emergency situation.
First, when sharing with a friend (only true friends share in the pleasure of tasting bourbon) it is not about grabbing a bottle on your way home from work. The true gift of bourbon is when a friend makes the whiskey pursuit a thought provoking adventure. Again, allow me to explain: You are on a trip, doesn’t matter pleasure or business or just running away, you take the time to seek out a new distillery and take a chance on their proud product. A true friend will immediately recognize that you took the time as an intrepid explorer and put some thought into the gift. As opposed to “oh a six pack beer on sale how thoughtful”
OR two, take the time to seek a bourbon that serves as a symbol for the event you are offering for gift. For instance, if you are going to an upcoming Kentucky derby party – Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Derby, or your pal retired from a career on the Railroad so you pick up a bottle of “Cinder Dick” ( term for a railroad cop) from Colorado and one more or you are visiting a friend with a broken leg so a bottle of “Breckenridge” will be fun.
Now let me offer a classic example. Joe Sullivan, a true friend from Point Clear AL. was traveling through Georgia when he noticed a sign advertising R. M. Rose Distillery in Dillard, Georgia. Joe made a sudden detour from their established route to research a possible hidden treasure. Margaret, his adorable wife, exclaimed,
“This isn’t the way and we are short on time” (Margaret always maintains a hectic schedule and a smile) Joe calmly announced, “You are a gracious, generous, Stanford educated lady but some things you just don’t understand” He explained the detour is all about the precious gift of a unique bourbon. Joe took the time to stop at the R.M. Rose Distillery, just to pick up a bottle of their whiskey for me to taste. I must admit this copper aged incredibly smooth bourbon was a delight. And being my virgin taste of Georgia whiskey, a thrill and educational. The gift continues since R.M. Rose was a doctor in the 1800s , Joe he was also concerned about my health. Now, I was so impressed, I wanted to continue the gift giving so I took the unopened bottle to a small dinner party to celebrate a taste among new friends. Well, I opened and announced the contents was from Georgia, with a history of perfected distilling in copper pots (more on the history later) Just to check, I privately poured a healthy taste and experienced an entertaining pleasure and smooth hint of honey mouth pleasing taste. Truth to be told, maybe it was the Georgia roots but I think I tasted a bit of peach nectar.
One guest asked about not a taste, mind you, but a glass accompanied with coke. Well, one – this bourbon is too good for other than true friends and
2. With coke? Well you know how I feel about insulting fine bourbon.
So, I quickly advised, it was not what I expected, so you try another bottle from my collection or how about that bottle of wine that is already open. Thank you for recognizing the importance of true bourbon gifting.
BBBB is producing a list of Bourbon Ambassadors, along with the Consultants. Joe Sullivan and Mathew McConaughey will be the first two Candidates for Ambassadorship.
Watch for an upcoming post on BBBB Ambassador qualifications and selection.
DURANGO IS A DELIGHTFUL COWBOY TOWN DEMANDING A DARING DRINK.
DURANGO IS A DELIGHTFUL COWBOY TOWN DEMANDING A DARING DRINK.
Completing a venturesome trek through the Colorado Rockies, by way of Silverton, we arrived in Durango recognizing the need for a taste of something spirited and a saloon with a bit of cowboy spirit. Eureka, we found gold. Well, kind of but in the form of old west saloon. In the corner of the Strater Hotel, on Durango’s Main Street is the Diamond Belle Saloon. And another gold strike we were served by the adorable AshLeigh. When I inquired about a photo, she enthusiastically saddled up next to Len. See photo in her Stunning Saloon attire.
When you travel to Durango (not if but when) drop by the Diamond Belle Saloon, let Ashleigh know you saw the photo and become a member of the “Ashleigh Fan Club” and ask for a photo, no guarantees but give it a shot. Your bourbon will taste so much better.
OK we are in Colorado, I am an old railroader and with a yearning for the western tradition. So the choice was simple, Cinder Dicksingle barrel whiskey from Colorado. Cinder Dick you ask- any seasoned railroader will tell you “A Cinder Dick” is the tag given to Railroad’s Private Cops. A full bodied Colorado bourbon whiskey that will prepare you for an opportunity to jump a freight train and smile while enjoying the ride. (More on Cinder Dick Whiskey and Tin Cup is upcoming in a future blog. I promise)
Since you have yearning for the Old West and enjoy everything Cowboy (if you don’t try) just outside of Durango in the little cowboy town of Marcos is “Cowboy Forge” Blacksmith shop and school. Drop by the totally authentic blacksmith shop and say “howdy” to Professional Blacksmith Steve Williams. Dr Hawes welcomed his university retirement as an opportunity to carry on his father’s heritage as a skilled blacksmith.
On to Santa Fe New Mexico, as if we were descendants of Lewis and Clark.. We celebrated our exploration ( well for us it was an exploration) of the real west in Santa Fe with High West -Yippee Ki Yay bourbon whiskey. This is a difficult whiskey to find so when you find a bottle of Yippe-Ki-Yay save the bountiful taste for a celebration and locating a bottle is worthy of a celebration.
Santa Fe is the town designed for relaxing, tasting a bit of bourbon, reminiscing about Kit Carson and the old west and oh yes, shopping for everything cowboy. Really. A pair of Lucchese Cowboy Boots was on my must have list. What do boots have to do with whiskey? OK it just is, I can’t explain everything. So, it is a cowboy tradition to enjoy a taste of whiskey and shop the boot store. Trust me it’s a tradition. If you don’t have a pair of cowboy boots pick up at least one pair for old west bourbon tasting. Remember you are not enjoying a drink, you are getting involved in a tradition……….
And it seemed appropriate to commence our boot scrutiny with a dash of JR Ewing Private Reserve. 80 proof distilled in Dallas. (Where else) OK we are in New Mexico and drinking a Texas whiskey but it just seemed appropriate. JR Ewing employs a sophisticated taste, perfect before a dinner in the ranch dining room at South Fork. Truth to be told, pour another taste for dinner, and another on the porch after dinner. Not sure if was the Texas Bourbon, Lori’s charm but the Lucheesse Boots became a part of the fascination of Santa Fe including the New Mexican food and extraordinary Native American crafts and jewelry on town square.
The Consultants will plan a expedition to New Mexico in search of whiskey distilled in New Mexico. Really We promise
Consultant Ron Franks, joined me for the final leg of the adventure, Dallas to New Orleans. Actually Ken and Len handed me off, saying something about let Ron listen to your stories for a while. And I agree, after this trip I may need a psychiatrist.
We saved our tasting experience for arrival into New Orleans. Our excursion took us directly to Metarie (just outside of New Orleans) where we embarked upon JT Martin Wine and Spirits. The gracious and knowledgeable staff allowed us to taste a few delightful bourbons, including a “wheated” bourbon from the foothills of Virginia. Distiller, Dave Pickerall milled the corn and wheat, then distilled a special recipe for Martin Wine and Spirits. The rich taste of Ragged Branchgleams with a healthy attitude. Now, this is important, after enjoying a few tastes, wander over to the in store deli, for a world famous pastrami sandwich on rye.
Six thousand miles – six states – and possibly six thousand dollars (counting a tow in snow) exploring the various wild west bourbons just for you. Don’t worry, this marvelous adventure finding bourbon selections for tasting and our whiskey “edification”. Consultants Ken, Len and Ron joined me for various legs of the route westward. I felt kind of like a pony express pouch handing me off to the next rider. Here you take him, his stories are wearing me out…you get the drift.
Ken and I joined Consultant Wes (the resident expert on all things NOLA) in New Orleans to launch the “Whiskey Wandering in the West”. New Orleans is an appropriate kick off point since one legend tells us “Kentucky Bourbon” was loosely labeled when travelers and tradesmen would insist upon a taste or bottle of that “Bourbon Whiskey” interpreted as from Bourbon County Kentucky.
Naturally, a befitting night cap required a Bourbon House Restaurant and Bar . We found an appropriate Bourbon, to activate the wild west adventure, known as John Stetson. This Kentucky Bourbon follows the quality necessary to carry the John B. Stetson moniker (1830-1906) The woody flavor exemplifies the Old West. By the way, the gumbo served at the Bourbon House is tremendous.
Back to the trip. We ventured on to Houston, traveling westward. The Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center demanded an abrupt stop in Langtry, Texas. Ken and I toasted the famous Judge with a healthy sip of Long Branch Bourbon, how appropriate. Long Branch has become one of the top twenty favorites. When I always preach: “The best whiskey is dependent upon the setting” and what a perfect setting. (I say preach because sometimes good whiskey makes me religious)
Anxiously on to Santa Fe New Mexico, for some New Mexican food, a taste of whiskey and well a bit of Santa Fe (I am pretty sure there is a city ordinance that cowboy visitors must buy some type of western wear). Santa Fe whiskey drinkers are proud ofCOLKEGAN single malt whiskey. Since it is made of barley and takes on a Scotch taste, some want to say Scotch, but the distillery cautions not to label, just enjoy the smooth taste. By the way, a couple of intrepid consultants who are Scotch proponents, but true to bourbon, will be making a trek to the Distillery.
Well, between the hearty bourbon tasting and Lori’s charm at the LUCCHESE BOOT SHOP, Buckaroo Bob added to his boot collection. Not my fault, blame Lori and the whiskey.
Next stop is Durango, Colorado and on to Moab. A little snow bound car trouble in Durango allowed us to alter our course and stay over in Durango. Not to worry, we wasted no time getting all Colorado’d up with Tin Cup Whiskeyand Breckenridge bourbon whiskey from, of course, Colorado. These two are reasonably priced and on the top twenty list. Plus, Tin Cup comes with a cool tin shot cup right on top. Start your collection for serving guests or perfect wedding gifts.
En route to Salt Lake City, we would not dare travel any where near Green River,Utah without a welcomed stop at Ray’s Tavern. OK I have been around and just looking at my chubby cheeks I have tried a wide array of hamburgers. Without hesitation, Ray’s Tavern still serves the best cheeseburger and fries in the country, no the world!
Buckaroo Bob and Consultant Ken Hansen are on a mini wagon train wandering Westward. Since we are intrepid explorers , we are not lost but rather seeking your advice and recommendations for bourbon distilleries, and we need to eat so a selection of restaurants.
Our route is following the trails from Del Rio to Pecos Texas. Then onward to Santa Fe New Mexico. Just for you we will stay with whiskey even if the Tequila draws us within tasting range. Buckaroo Bob needs to concentrate on moderation in Santa Fe, since the boot shop will be open.
(For the timid, temptation is a by-product of too much tasting).
We will be traveling North through Durango Colorado over to Moab then finally Salt Lake City.
Please a guidance here because we are traveling to enlighten you on distilleries and best bourbon bets.
Oh the photo Ken is toasting to Miss Lily Langtry in front of Judge Roy Bean’s Court room. The proper toast to Miss Langtry is Wild Turkey Long Branch smooth bourbon whiskey.
Written by Sherry Monahan and Jane Perkins. They conducted exhaustive research the value of whiskey in settling the West so pick up the book and update your knowledge.
AND Jane and David Perkins founded High West Distillery, a wonderful delightful couple distilling wonderful whiskey in vintage styled bottles. I am honored to be invited in their home, and this doesn’t happen often, I was invited to come back. So this writing is accompanied with High West Yippee Ky-Aye which puts Pappy in third place just behind Eddie Russells Private Reserve. Get the book so you can be really knowledgeable.
(For the Kentucky enthusiasts I am also enjoying a taste of Willet Bourbon from Bards-town.. it will make you smart.
Now Sherry and Jane inform us: In the case of the Latter Day Saints’ settlement in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, Brigham Young who had taken on the leadership after the murder of founder Joseph Smith, was not only a religious leader but also a shrewd businessman. In addition to many other businesses that he and other settlers started, Young began distilling his own whiskey from wheat grown in in the area around the Great Salt Lake.
While corn and rye were the typical ingredients used distilling whiskey, the availability of wheat made it a common choice in the West. Under the guidance of their compassionate and brilliant leader, the faithful started manufacturing many goods including wool blankets, pottery and a tannery. The finely crafted products were given the nickname “Valley Tan”.
Historians Sherry and Jane’s publication also provides: “ In 1853 the Mormons were well on their way to establishing a solid community when a new business opportunity presented itself. It started with the purchase of a machine that would convert beet roots into sugar, but what they produced was gallons of useless syrup. The frugal Mormons did not want to waste the syrup, so Brigham Young found a new use for the syrup- they distilled it!”
Several distilleries popped up around the Valley and in neighboring towns such as Brigham City, Ogden and Park City. Since the wheat whiskey was distilled for medicinal and religious purposes President Young eliminated the competition. Porter Rockwell, a follower of Brigham Young, was allowed to open a bar in Ogden, to assist the travelers and settlers in staying healthy and jovial. Matter of fact it is revealed: “Whiskey was a trade and a social lubricator, it was liberally used for its supposed medicinal purpose. When Chasten Bowker Allen traveled to Kansas Territory from Massachusetts with her husband and children in 1854-1855, she witnessed the effects that whiskey had on snakebite victims.”
And Mark Twain observed the Utah Whiskey in the Salt Lake Valley was tightly regulated. Twain wrote: “The exclusive Mormon refresher, valley tan is a kind of whiskey, or first cousin to it; is of Mormon invention and manufactured only in Utah. Tradition says it is made of imported fire and brimstone. If I remember rightly, no public drinking permitted among the faithful, except they confined themselves to Valley Tan.” And Mark Twain knew his bourbon/whiskey.
Again, a toast and cheers to Sherry Monahan and Jane Perkins, authors of “The Golden Elixir of the West.”
My compliments to President and Territorial Governor Young. Truth to be told, I challenge any man, regardless of faith, to maintain marriage to twenty-seven wives and refrain from a nightly taste of Valley Tan or similar golden Elixir.
The Renaissance Weekend is three days of delightful people from all over the Country, gathering to share enlightening, educational and entertaining information.
Panel discussions on a wide variety of topics, including Guest Speakers – Astronauts and Retired Naval Captains Scott Kelly, Frank Culbertson and Retired General Charles Bolden. We were honored to be informed and inspired about NASA and the past and future of space. Frank Culbertson was partial to High West Bourne from Park City.
Now a highlight of the weekend was “Everything you want to know about Bourbon” by Buckaroo Bob. (Oh I was invited to present and no I didn’t invite myself).
The panel discussion was extended throughout the day and on into New Year’s Eve dinner. .
Rugby USA CEO (also an attorney but Rugby is more important) welcomed the opportunity to taste Wild Turkey Long Branch Whiskey. Long Branch somehow has a vanilla-ish mesquite taste a bit reminiscent of Texas. AND Shahla Cowan and Irina Melnick added a classy touch to our dining experience and enjoyed John Emerald Single Malt Bourbon Whiskey, since it hints of Scotch and provides inspiration for a glorious new year.
The tasting discussion included a High West Rye, Amador Whiskey with an extra aging in a Napa wine barrel and Long Branch from Mathew McConnaughy and Eddie Russell (Wild Turkey) which started at 9:00am. The BBBB Consultants are always available and willing to share our knowledge, opinions and travel on Bourbon Whiskey as long as our fee of plenty to taste and a complimentary shot glass. (We have standards)
MORE TO FOLLOW ON OUR NEW CONSULTANTS -TRAVELS AND THE LONG PROMISED BOURBON AND HISTORY OF THE WEST.
My apology, yea I know, Buckaroo Bob has been blog-less for a while but hey I have been busy with – well never mind
Hopefully you will have time to read this “Christmas” message before the appropriate store closes, allowing for last minute armament necessary to get through the holidays. Let’s focus on Christmas and, I promise, a New Years’ post will be posted in plenty of time for preparation.
I know, I know, Christmas is that jolly time of year with festivities, relatives and friends…. And herein lies the potential for problems – You or that special someone tried one more time and burnt the pie crust to resemble the lump of coal in your stocking, then, relatives are great but what about cousins not invited, the ex-wife thought a surprise visit would fun, screaming nieces and nephews and you are almost saved by the arrival of your long time but he forgot to mention bringing your old girlfriend.
Now if everything is going well, Mom is not upset you are late, the kids are happy with the presents or you just don’t care – still timely advice.
Christmas Breakfast – (Remember Bourbon is not just for breakfast) Four Roses – Single Barrel – Kentucky bourbon. In addition to the smooth vanilla pleasure to wake up the tongue, the distinctive peach pie aroma and taste is Christmas morning at its’ finest. For the baby boomers who are immediately thinking but wasn’t Four Roses that cheap old pal to get through college or pre pay day party. The Consultants visited the Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky and were delighted. (More on single barrel and small batch immediately after Christmas)
When close friends arrive you suddenly tremble when you notice they are bringing a gift. WILD TURKEY MASTER’S KEEP .AGED BY EDDIE RUSSEL FOR 17 YEARS.
Wait is a treasured friend but this a smooth refined treasure from Master Distiller E. Russel. So, grab the small jam jars, your wife keeps hoarding, pour the an ample amount in the jars. Explain, this is a limited edition, which is true, and you can’t let weird Uncle Bruce see the bottle. Do not share $150.00 a bottle with relatives, they will not leave.
Now for the single followers, the small jam jar is a fun gift because she will say oh I will just have a tiny taste and smooth aging and personal touch she will soon notice how much you resemble Mathew McConaughey and your gift, well enough said.
Speaking of Mathew McConaughey, The burnt pie, obnoxious Step Uncle Fred and Aunt Flo standing in front of the football game on TV will become joyous with the addition
Longbranch signature Kentucky bourbon with mesquite aging. More on this later, in the essence of time trust me.
Finally, settle your nerves with a taste or two of THE BARRELED BOULEVARDIER – BOURBON WHISKEY, BITTERS AND SWEET VERMOUTH , a perfect evening partner. More on this too Thanks to Dave Perkins, Founder High West.
No time to edit, she cut her finger trying to make sweet potato pie so Buckaroo to the rescue or something like that.
I promise follow up posts on West and Whiskey plus How to Handle New Year’s Eve and New Years.