Limestone Branch Distillery

Limestone Branch Distillery

by Consultant Bill Schwerei

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.

Wild West Whiskey Road Trip – Second shot

Wild West Whiskey Road Trip – Second shot

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 Dick single 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 Branch gleams 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. 

Thank you Ron for getting me home to Mobile.