Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Golden Age of Bourbon

So there I was, standing in my living room wearing my leopard-print leotard, dancing to Barbara Striesand and drinking my favorite imbibery, Straight Bourbon, and I hear a knock on my front door.  Figuring it's one of my ex-girlfriends, I ignore and keep dancing.  The Straight Bourbon I was drinking was some of the finest bourbon in the land, Kentucky Gentleman.  Right in the middle of my minuette, I hear wood splintering in the distance.  Frozen in fear, I waited to see who was about to come around the corner.  I'm thinking thieves - this is a robbery and I may get myself killed.  But much to my chagrin, it was only the Police.  But before I could say anything, I was eating carpet with one of the officer's knees in my back.  Oiled up, wearing my leotard, with my mini-mouse cap on my head, I asked, "Is there a problem, officer?  Because, you know, I'm really upset that my Kentucky Gentleman bourbon was spilt."

The office quickly  jumped up and turned me around with the cuffs still on and said, "Are you kidding me?!  Was that really KG?"  I said yes while pointing to the bottle of bourbon sitting on my mantle place next to my Peewee Herman doll and picture of Oprah Winfrey.

His jaw dropped to the floor and he began to drool.  One of the other officers in my house began singing, "Awwww yeeeeeea, there's a party up in here, up in here, up in here," while the other four officers dance around Babb's.  I was quickly uncuffed and introduced to the crew of officers.  Lt. Robert Stonecolde, the one who threw me about like I threw Peewee in bed, shook my hand and asked if he could have a drink.  I said, "Have a drink?  Why sure.  You all can."

After pouring five additional GlennKaren glasses with this lucious bourbon, I asked why they broke into my home, as I handed each a glass.  Lt. Robert responded, "We're looking for a Perv who lives in this tenement matching your description.  But hell no can it be you.  We obviously got the wrong apartment.  After all, no man who drinks Kentucky Gentleman can be a bad guy.

Now, of course, that is a paraphazed advertisement inside of a 1956 Sports Illustrated magazine I found in my Grandfather's garage years ago but one I will never forget.  I tell you, those '40s and '50s bourbon advertisements were just great!  What a time to be alive and drinking bourbon.  Too bad those carefree, purified days are over.

Gone are those days but, dare I say, we are in golden age of bourbon like no other.  If I may make a baseball reference, this is like going back in time and watching Johnny Rice and Dave Raghetti battle it out on the baseball diamon in '77.  We have so much quality bourbon in our midst, that it's almost unfathomable.

I mean, how many off-shoot micro distilleries are pumping out top notch, unique, collector's items, bourbon like the Knob Creek distillery, Booker's Distillery, KD, Diageo, George P. Stagg Distillery, W. E Weeler Distillery and so on?!  I've never tasted so much diversified bourbon in all my life and I lived through the great bourbon glout of 1956 when bottles in bond were 50 years old and 100 proof (Snitzel and Weeler and Old Grand Pop to name a few).  And I will tell you, even still, we've got it much better than that.

Let's be thankful to originator and Grandfather of Straight Bourbon, Elijah Craig and those who brought it to the forefront like Elmer T. Lee, Bill Bixby, JJ Dynomite and Mr. No.

Boys, we have it good.  And even though it makes my job tougher (with all the reviewing of so many bourbons, covering the opening of so many new distillerators, interviewing so many bourbon legends, and ectcetra), it sure is a blast!

What's that old saying, "Find something you love and never work a day in your life."  Well, don't that hit the nail on the head?  Don't it?!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Elijah Craig was the keystone of Bourbon

I was reading the blog of much respected, Chuck Cowdrey, who claims that Elijah Craig was not the founding father of Bourbon and this, my friends is very untrue.  Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact.

Prior to Elijah Craig's invention of bourbon, the prior alcohol of choice was born from the Native American tribe, Plaboians.  They were a small group of Indian, now extinct who migrated from the West to the East back in 1701.  They were an interesting tribe in many ways, however, there was one physical trait that really stood out more than any other; they had sloped foreheads.  This occurance was not natural but as a result of a head brace the was harnaced to a new born's head.

Anyway, the selebate local medicine man, Van Dome Broken Hose, was conjuring up his typical Diptheria drug when he inadvertantly boiled his corn, barley and rye in a covered copper pot.  Condensation began to build up and rise to the top of his teepee.  The next thing Broken Hose knew it was raining on his head.  Looking up with his mouth open, one of the drops managed to fall into his mouth.  And he liked it.  And that's how corn whiskey was born.

Where does Elijah come into play, you ask?  Simple, one day in November of 1787, he meandered upon a drunken Indian tribe and asked what they were imbibing in (thanks to subtitles, Elijah was able to communicate perfectly with the tribesmen) and the medicine man gladly showed him.  Once in control of the master recipe for this new-found concoction, Elijah burned them all alive, took over their 5,000 acre corn, barley and rye fields, and created a distillerator of his own design that he called The Vandome - in loving memory of the ex-master distiller Van Dome Broken Nose.

The rest, I've already mentioned in another post but I will quote myself here as it is a very important turning point to the history of whiskey, specifically Bourbon.  After sitting on this future goldmine for 3 years, Elijah using it only for his family's own consumption, the events to follow ocurred rather randomly.

"Back in 1792, a Catholic Minister and accomplished Whiskey distillerator named Elijah Craig -- who invented the Rick House, Fulling Mill and Paper Mill -- upon realizing that he'd distillated too much corn whiskey, decided to store the leftovers in an empty old sugar barrel. A month later, after having run out of corn whiskey in his house, Elijah Craig decided to tap the sugar barrel he stored in his hay barn.  Upon drawing the corn whiskey from the barrel, he immediately realized that it had turned from clear to a light reddish hue.  Once he tasted it, he knew he was on to something.

"Before too long, Elijah Craig built a house to store these barrels and began selling them to the public at varying levels of "agedness," as he called it - from one month to two years.  He decided to name the house which stored his aging bourbon, after his eldest son Richard. Hence the now famed name, Rick House.

INTERVIEW: Harlen Wheatlee

I was very fortunate to have the good luck of sitting down with Master Distiller, Harlen Wheatlee.  He was actually at the Ohio Bottles in Bond Bourbon Fesitval in Mt. Peate, OH.  We had a raucous time.  I was about 3 bourbons full to the till while Harlen was 5 deep.  Still, we were both able to keep our composure and put on a good interview.  It was crazy, we had about 10,000 people who impromtuly gathered around us trying to get their listen on.  So here it is:

ME:  Harlen, it's great to have you here and thank you for sitting down with me.  Whatcha drinking?

HARLEN:  First let me say, I am a huge fan of your blog.  And this is just a quick shout-out to all you listenin', go visit for the most accurate information you'll find on the 'net about bourbon.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, has knowledge that this guy's got (HUGE APPLAUSE FOR LIKE 10 MINUTES OR SOMETHING).

HARLEN:  But to get back to your question, John, I'm drinking one of your recipes, funny enough.  Of course, I've tried them all but this here one is the Mexican Lollipop and it's a damn fine drink, I tell you.

ME:  Tell me a little bit about your first time in a rick house and working at a distillery.

HARLEN:  I musta been 5 years old and I was so enchanted with the rick houses that I snuck away from my Daddy, Waldo Wheatlee, and ran up to the tippity top of the rick house.  Now, I know you're familiar with a rick house but for those of you who ain't, they're made out of 100% pine and rickety as all get out.  Anyway, there I am on the top floor and it's starts swaying and I got so scare I nearly mussed my overalls.  So, I comea runnin' down only to see my Daddy at the bottom of the stairs and he, right then and there, gave me a beatin' I will never forget.  Actually, I kindda did forget it since I was knocked unconsious and had a sever concussion that landed me in the hospital for a couple weeks.  But I do know it was 'cause a Daddy hittin' me.

ME:  Ain't nothing wrong with putting a beating one of your own.  In fact, I just beat the crap out of my 29 year old daughter for coming over to my house for dinner and not domesticating enough with her Mom.

ME:  So tell me, Harlen, what's your favorite bourbon?

HARLEN:  Of course I'm gonna say one of our own, and I'm not bein' biased neither.  My favorite bourbon is Ten High.

ME:  That's one of my faves too.

HARLEN:  I know.  I saw it on your blog (ALMOST UNENDING UNCANNY LAUGHTER).

ME:  How about for mixing?

HARLEN:  Oh for that I go with somethin' not special at all, like a Sazarac 17 year.  Overage bourbon is perfect for mixin'.

ME:  Damn, we think alike.  I feel the same way.  So, let me ask you about this White Dog you came up with and I'm seeing all over the market.  Give me the lowdown on that if you would?

HARLEN:  Sure, I'd be delighted.  I came up with this myself and got the whole industry sucked into it.  White Dog is nothing more than distilled vodka fed through a filter, walkin' the dog, as we say in the industry, but instead of using charcoal we use raisins.  And that's why you get that potato/raisin flavor up front.  It's the cheapest thing to make and we charge like $50 a pop to the suckers out there who don't know no better (ABSOLUTE LAUGHTER FOLLOWED BY "SUCKERS" CHANT).

ME:  So what's next, what's brewing?  Any new expirements going on at the Trace?

HARLEN:  Oh yea.  We are currently aging some distillerate in used pine box coffins and also we've got some plastic barrels with led floating in it that we've been aging for 12 years now.  In fact, I just tasted it and it's wonderful stuff - got sick for a week after, but I honestly think that once the human body builds a tolerance to it, it will stop all the hurtin'.  What's weird though, is all the black smoke and funky burning plastic smell but other than that, it's awesome.  We'll be bottling and packaging next week.

ME:  You're going on 99 this October.  Tell us what your secret is.

HARLEN:  Me and Ernie (Earnest Bourgnine) subscribe to the same theory.  It's called "self love" (puts his right hand in the air), meet Mary Palmer and her 5 sisters (UNCONFORTABLE SILENCE AS HARLEN FONDLES HIMSELF THROUGH HIS JEANS).

ME:  Well that wraps it up.  I've got to run, it was real nice talking to you until you broke out Mary and her sisters but it was still a pleasure.

HARLEN:  Oh, it's a pleasure indeed.


Friday, August 26, 2011

My favorite bourbons

Now, of course, everyone has their own palet so each person's list will vary but usually there are bourbons that show up in every list and those are generally referred to as the greats.  Please see my list below and, as you will notice, many of the bourbons listed are on yours as well.

Wheatered Bourbon
1. Ten High
2. Pure Kentucky
3. Old Fitzy
4. Old Forester
5. Cabin Stall

Ried Bourbon
1. Jim Beam Black
2. Heaven Hills
3. Eva Williams
4. Old Taylor
5. Old Crow

Bottles in Bond Bourbon
1. J.W Dant
2. Old Heaven Hills
3. Old Fitzgerald
4. Old Forester Signature
5. Old Grand Dad 114
6. George P. Stagg
7. William Larry Weeler

Great Mixers for your bourbon

Leave it to Uncle Johnny to show you the way of the mixer.  All that you've read about mixers for bourbon, just throw it out of your mind.  Any hardcopies, burn 'em.  Any computer softcopies, print them out and then burn 'em and that should get rid of them.

I told you this is a one-stop shopping blog for all things bourbon.  So use these mixer recipes only.

Included below are classic bourbon drinks, with my own spin, as well as my own concoctions.  Enjoy, because they are all AWESOME!

Mint Julep
4oz of your favorite Bottles in Bond
4 ice cubes
5 mint leaves muddled with 1tsp of dark brown sugar
1tsp of red curry
1/2tsp of yellow curry
1 shot of Guinness

Directions:  Throw it in a glass and drink it

Mexican Lollipop
3oz of your favorite wheatered bourbon
1 packet of Fire from Taco Bell
10 Ghost Chilis
1 five leave clover (if you can't acquire this, use swiss chard of okra)

Directions:  Throw it in a glass and drink it

Spanish Fly
5oz of your favorite Rie Bourbon of 7 years of age only
1/4oz Poontang juice (if you cannot acquire this, then use unfresh cod or the tail of a beaver)
1 cucumber blenderized
1 cumquat
5 anchovies

Directions:  Take all ingredients and throw in a Magnum condemn, shake and transfer it to a rock glass with 2 1/2 pieces of crushed ice

Kraut Hammer
10oz of your favorite 107 proof bourbon
1 whole bag of Boare's Head Sour Kraut
1 Russett potato blenderized (juicer is even better)
1 cup of Kosher Salt
1oz Deviled ham
1/4 of a devil dog
The zest of 1 lemon
1 strand of hair from a dead Third Reich Nazi (if you cannot acquire this, an easy equivalent would be 1oz of fresh dog shit

Directions:  Mix and serve straight up in a martini glass

Bourbon and Coke
4oz of your favorite 70 proof bourbon (I usually go with George P. Stagg)
100 Coca leaves muddled in a glass with ice
5oz of Seltzer water
1 drop of immitation, sugar-free honey

Directions:  Mix and pour in your favorite leaded GlenKaren glass

Try all of these and I guarantee you will be satisfied.  Please feel free to leave comments as to how awesome these recipes are.  And, if you didn't like them (very unlikely), please do tell why (though, you probably screwed it up by not following my recipes to a tea).

Good luck and have fun!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

REVIEW: Knot Creek 100 Proof Bottles in Bonded

Sorry for the delay in writing however my job comes first (no, not this one - the one I actually get paid for doing).  I've noticed since I've been gone that I was sorely missed.  And since I'm so sawed after in this Blog world, I forced myself back to the blogger station to get one of my latest reviews (just taste-tested this bad boy last night and took not while get pye-eyed).

Okay, so here goes:

For those of you who don't know, Knot Creek is an independent micro-distillery located in Sandymare, KY.  There are a certain group of people who think they're smarty pants and swear on the good book that Knot Creek is not a distillery at all but just a fancy name given by the infamy-ed bourbon distillery Jack Beam.  Well let me be the first to put this silly noshion to bed-rest.  This aint true!!!!!

After much research (including reading the bottle very thorowly and other such researching) here's the low-down on the KC:  One day while fishing in his favorite spot -- no, it wasn't a Knot creek, though it was a creek), a little boy of 10 years of age, going by the knickname of Big Ears, caught a larged-mouth trout about the size of a Mexican Wombat fresh from a goose berry feeding frenzy!  Anyhow, Big Ears ran home lickety spit to his tiny little earth-floored, one room home.  He flew threw the door and showed his Momma the catch.  He was so proud of himself, as was his Momma, which made him all the more prouder of what he'd done.  She couldn't believe how big it was.  Big Earrssss's Momma made quick work of gutting the fish, quatering it, and immediately frying about 1/5 of the catch while quickly salting and hanging the remaining pieces.

His Momma had a smile on ear-to-ear, as did Big Ears, that is until the head of the household came barrelling threw the door in his typical shape - drunk to the gills on some hard stuff.  Big Ears quickly tried to sway the mood back to a happy and pieceful place by telling his Daddy about the great catch he had down at his favorite creek.  Half way threw his sentence, Big Ears was back-handed by his Daddy's bear-sized hand and was knocked to the floor.  He told his boy to shut-up and kindly asked his wife, "Where's dinner, WOMAN?!"

As his Momma began to relay the story about the fish, Big Ears flew out of the house and into the backyard.  While sitting under a tiny tree in his backyard (they only had one), he could still hear his Momma and Daddy fighting and he knew who was winning - Dear ole' Daddy.  This wasn't the first time "Daddy let loose on Momma" and it probably wouldn't be the last.  Standing up from the little 3 foot tree, Big Ears made his way to his Daddy's shed and started tinkering with some tools.  Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed an Axe resting in the far left corner on its butt and for a split second thought about lopping his Daddy's head off with it.  But he quickly rid himself of such a horrible and greusome nosion.

Gradding the axe, Big Ears found one good way to get back at his Daddy.  Quickly walking out of the shed and toward the tree, he thought to himself, "I'm going to chop down Daddy's prized possession."  The tiny little tree that he and Daddy planted 3 years ago and never grew, bore fruit, nor did it ever die.  It was almost as if time stood still for it.  Still, his Daddy still loved that tree and would often water it with his leftover white-lightenin' while hungover the following morning.

Big Ears wielded the axe thusly into the bottom core of the tree and, with one more rip, felled the tree to the ground.  No sooner did the tree lay horizontal did his Daddy yell, "BOY, WHERE YOU AT?!  MOMMA'S NAPPIN' AND I NEED SUMAN TO FINISH COOKIN' THESE VIDDLES."  Ears stood frozen for a second and then ran faster than an oiled lantern back into the shed, quickly replacing the axe where he'd found it, hid the tree under a workbench, and ran back out.

Just as he exited the shed, His Daddy came from around the front of the tiny log cabin and saw his son.  With that, he came "fast walkin'" on up to Ears, stood angrily over him and said, "BOY, YOU DON'T HEAR SO GOOD, DO YA?!  I SAID FINISH DEM VITTLES UP, MOMMA'S NAPPIN' AGAIN."  As Earss's's's Daddy finished his sentence, he glanced to his right and noticed only the stump remained of the tree.  Now furious, he screamed even louder at Ears, "BOY, DID YOU CUT DOWN MY TREE?! WELL DID YA, BOY?!"  Just as his Daddy raised his fist to bring the devil on down to his son's face and body, the boy stood firm and said, "Daddy, I did not cut down your tree.  I swear!  I just noticed it was missing too and was about to go in and tell ya, but you beat me to it!"  His Daddy's fist unclinched and fell to his side.  "Boy, are you tellin' me the truth?" The boy's father asked.  "Yes, I am, Daddy.  I cannot tell a lie." Believing him, Ear'sss's's Daddy ordered the boy into the house to tend to the cooking as his Daddy looked about for evidence of his missing tree.

After dinner, Ears told his Momma, who was awake by now and cleaning away, that he was going outside to play.  His Daddy was long gone by now.  He was already in the process of tying another one on.  Ears ran into the backyard shed and grabbed the tree from underneath the workbench, jumped the fence and ran back to the creek where he'd caught the big mouth trout.  Off in the distance, he could hear his Momma calling him, so he acted quickly by flipping the little cherry tree into the creek and ran back home.  As Big Ears walked threw the front door, his Momma said, "Abe, please don't stray far from the house.  It's dangerous with all those wild animals out there.  Why don't you set down and get yourself educated.  Go ahead and read that paper on the chair - The Political Times."  And so he did.

The next morning, an out of work whiskey distillerator in dieyer need of clean limestone water for his future distillery, stumbled across Abe's favorite creek.  Munsy Trudone's eyes bulged out as he noticed the fresh, clean water.  As he walked down to catch a closer look and taste the water, he noticed a tiny little knotted cherry tree dancing in the busy water.  As he pulled it from the creek, Distillerator Munsy Trudone laughed and proclaimed out loud, "This hear creek shall be forever knowed as Knot Creek and my distillery shall be called the creek's name.  And so it was, from that point forward, the newly built distillery was named Knot Creek.

Anyway, onto my review:

I pour this female dog of a bourbon into an old fashioned single rocks glass and let her set for 2 1/2 hours.  After waiting, I swirl and sniff and immediately can smell that cherry and cinnamon note that KC is known for.  My not-so-new american oak turns stiff.  As it begins to throb, I take a swig, and let it sit on my tongue for a spell then swallow.  I get pomegranet, ocra, spam, chicken roe, houndstooth hair, tonic and peach cobbler - you know, the typical KC profile we've all come to expect.

One of the all-time best bourbons out there, especially bottles-in-bonded.

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent

My Score:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Struttin' with some Barbeque...and Bourbon

There's a great site out there called B&  Please don't confuse it to be a listing of Bed & Breakfasteseses but rather it's a world wide web site (WWWS) that waxes (on and off, if your Danielson) about bourbon and ladies (kindly referred to as Bitches on the site).

After checking it out two weeks ago, I decided to wilt my appetite with my two favorite B's - Bourbon and Barbeque.  So, I headed off to this local barbeque dive that's been in business since the 80's.  It's only known to the locals and I almost hate to put the name on here because it will be all the more difficult to get a seat, but it is called Taco Bell.  It has the most wonderous barbeque menu and it's unbelievably flavorful.  It's so damned good that if you ain't sportin' wood after your first bite you're banned from the joint for life!  Seriously, you actually have to stand up after your first bite and show everyone your trousers.

Anyway, here is a sampling of their barbeque menu:

Taco Supreme
5-layer beef borrito
7-layer beef borrito
Nachos Supreme

BBQ Sauces:

It is located in Spokeydoke, OK, if anyone cares to try it.

Anyway, while blowing virtual loads while eating me some 5 Taco Supremes and 2 Taco Volcano barbeques, I broke out the perfect coupling - Bourbon.  Nothing goes better with Taco Bell than George Pendleton Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  Now this baby is a rare one for two reasons: 1. They only have 10 releases of this stuff a year and 2. it holds the very rare and coveted distinction of Kentucky Straight Bourbon!  There are only 5 bourbons that can carry, by law, this distinction on their bottle.  The others are Michters (under the lable of H.J. Hirsch), W.H. Harrison, Jeremiah Weed (only the banana flavor) and White's.

As I pulled this puppy out of my napsack and gave myself a little pore, an apparent Taco Bell employee comes up to me and says: "Ey you, no dranka day like-wars in hea."  Not understanding him, I shook my head, raised my glass and said, "Why, yes it is hot today. My momma said it was gonna be."

I don't think he understood me well either.  I drew this conclusion while laying flat on my back on the Taco Bell floor with him sitting on my chest knocking about my face and head with his knuckles.  It wasn't until much later on, while I was recovering from a concussion at the Okie Hospital, that I found out that Pablo Fuentes - the guy who was so kind to put me down for a nap on the oh-so-clean floor at Taco Bell - was trying to tell me that I could not drink liquor on the premisis.  He then thought I said in return, "Your mother is a dirty whore" to which he responded swiftly.

Anyway, I'm much better know.  The ringing in my ear is not nearly as loud as it was last week and I know longer have the elusive triple vision - it's down to two now.

Moral of the story: A. Never mess with Pablo Fuentes if you decide to eat at Taco Bell and 3. always pair your favorite barbeque with bourbon.

Your pal,


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for viewing my blog.  Just so that you know, I do this not for me, but for the benefit of all of you.  One day I will no longer walk -- or blog, in my case -- this earth, and I realized that I'd better get my knowledge out there to the public before it dies with me.

The question is, who will carry the baton if I fall?  My hope is, that it will be any number of my readers!  Don't look so dismayed!  You can do it.  Believe it or not, I have yet to scratch the wax of the bourbon surface.  There are many more blog posts along the way from which you can build upon and one day, you too will be pure genius when it comes to Bourbon Afficianading just like your Mentor (me! :D ).

If there is one golden rule I've learned in life it's, when someone is looking the other way, kick him in the nuts!  This is just a fancy, eloquent way of saying, take advantage of the situation that is before you, else you may on the receiving end of a crotch shot!  So, please, take advantage of this blog.  I promise you, you will walk away a much better Bourbonite, human being and confidence man for doing so.

Also, earlier this morning, Google sent me the following email:

"Hello John,

"We at Google would like to apologize for the latency issues you and other bloggers have experienced over the past 7 days.  We have determined what the issue is and we are moving fast to resolve it.  As it turns out, your blog has had such a signifigant amount of traffic that our Linux servers, in certain geographic regions, are bogging down to the point where some are actually crashing and going offline.  Fortunately, due to various protections against this, such as Data Redundancy, we have been able to keep all blogs up and running but on a much slower pace.

"Based on this, we have decided to migrate your blog to a server dedicated soley to you. This will take no longer than 24-hours.  Once this transition is complete, you will be informed immediately by email.

"Thank you for your continued service and for giving us such a great showing as each blog is a reflection on us here at Google. 


The Google IT Team"

So I guess there is some good and bad in there.  The good:  there is lots of traffic.  The bad:  We are killing the servers.  If you all are experiencing issues with my blog at any time, please email me and I will be glad to inform Google on your behalf.

I've never looked at any of my numbers and found out after the above email that there is a way to look at traffic.  The numbers I have for the past two days is as follows (and it doesn't seem like that much).
Pageviews today
Pageviews yesterday

Interesting too, are some of the sites that I have received traffic from: (no relation to me)


Monday, August 15, 2011

INTERVIEW: Chuck Cowdrey

Mr. Cowdrey, contacted me via email and asked more about me.  I gave him the "pencil shavings" in a snap and he was immediately intrigued.  After racking his mind, he remembered having met me about 25 years ago in Beaumont, KY.  He had forgotten my name, but he had never forgotten me.

To follow, is an interview that I recorded (with his permission, of coursed) with Chuck and thought I would share it here.  It's not an audio file, just a typed-out version (I dont' know how to put the tape onto my computer for uploading).

ME:  Well Mr. Cowdrey, thanks for following up to initial email conversation, with a phone call, much appreciated.

CC:  No problem, John.  Like I was saying, I remember you way back when we met at the Beaumont fair, and you were the first to introduce me, and get me hooked, on straight bourbon.  I remembering being in awe of your knowledge of all things bourbon and how you could, at a moments notice, talk of the history of each bourbon label and distillery.  You were like rapid-fire with the information and I soaked it in like a sponge.  We must have talked for 3 hours that day as we watched the Ferris wheel go round.  I had forgotten your name, but not your wisdom, knowledge, onstensibility or class that you brought to bourbon.
ME:  Gee, thanks, Chuck.  That mean something to me.  You know, it's good to take a little fella under your wing and teach him the ways of bourbon.  Glad to see you caught on.

CC:  Thanks to you.  Had we not met, who knows what I would have done in my spare time.  But since our chance meeting all those years ago, I have become almost as brilliant as you when it comes to bourbon.  I know that I will never surpass your knoledge, I'm no Luke Skywalker, if you know what I mean.  I'm forever the student you are forever my teacher.

ME:  Okay, enough about me.  Shoot, I'm so embarrassed on the other end of this line, I look like a red-sauced tomale.  Tell me about what you've been doing in the name of bourbon since our meeting.

CC:  Ever since that day, I purchased every book there was about Bourbon.  I would make weekly trips to bourbon country and visit all the distilleries over and over again until I knew them cold.  Then I researched every single bourbon label and to which distillery it belonged from inception to current day.  Based on all of this, I decided to write a book called, "Bourbon, Straight", which I dedicated to you.  In fact let me read the dedication verbatum:  "To that wonderful all-knowing man whom I met years ago at a fair who turned my life around and made me the man I am today.  I have forgotten your name but I have not - and will never - forget you my dear friend and teacher.  You have molded into a complete success in all ways in my life.  THANK YOU!"

ME:  Wow, I don't know quite what to say, other than Thank You.  I'm so honored.

CC:  Would you mind terribly if I shipped you a couple thousand of my books and autograph them for me.  I will sell them on ebay and we can split the profits.  They'll sell quicker than cracker jack at a ballgame.

ME:  Chuck, you know me all to well and so you realize that I would never allow myself to make a penny off of bourbon.  My delight comes from people like you, Chuck - the student - whom I help guide through life and make, not just better, but whole.

CC:  I'm sorry.  I just got so carried away, My Mentor.  Would you please sign one of my books just for me?

ME:  Of course, Chuck, of course.  So, let's get back to you.  You've written a book and I understand you have a monthly leaflet on bourbon, is that correct?

CC:  Not quite, but close.  About 17 years ago, I started a monthly column in the Kentucky Kazette about bourbon and I had such a reader-ship in a year's time that I decided to start my own paper called, "The Bourbon County Reader," and now it's a huge success.  I sell about 750,000 of these newspapers per month and my online subscribers is up to 300,000.  Also, I produced, wrote, directed and stared in a documentary called, "Made and Bottled in Kentucky" - a bourbon documentary, which was released in the Spring of 1997, and due to its cult popularity, made it to the movie theathre - first in KY, then in Chicago and finally Nationwide.  All told, ticket sales were through the roff and beat out E.T. and Star Wars in total sales!

ME:  WOWzers!  Chuck that is amazing!!!!!  You've come a long way, my student.  Great job.  I'm smiling ear-to-ear with pride!  Way to go!!!!!

CC:  Thanks, John, but I couldn't have done it without you.

ME:  I know.  Of course you couldn't have.  Well, time's running short, Chuck, and I've got to run but lets get together next year's Bourbon Festival and sit down for a couple bourbons.

CC:  That sounds great.  But for old time's sake, how about we make the venue the Beaumont Fair.

ME:  (crying) Awe, Chuck, how touching.  Now you've gone and made me cry.

Friday, August 12, 2011

REVIEW: Maker's Mark Straight Bourbon

I have tasting notes on this straight bourbon from 3 weeks ago and figured why not add it into my blog.  But a little history first (yeah, yeah, I know, just get to the tasting notes, right? But please indulje me).

A Telegraph Operator for Western Union and part-time appelette court stenographer, Mark Maker, was sitting home on his victorian-style couch in his Federalist-style home with his wife Wilma and dog Petree.  The years of telegraphing and stenogrophizing had caught up to him and he developed a very bad case of, what was called back then, "Crazilious Fingeritis", known today as Crazy Finger Syndrome or in leymen's terms, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.  His days of working at WU and the court were numbered and he knew it.  At 40 years of age, Mr. Maker knew he had to develop a new trade and apply it quickly.  But what?  When?  How?

Wilma suggested he go to finishing school and become a Butler or talk to his good friends from childhood, the Brother's Ringling, about starting up that traveling entertainment business with the tents and animals and such.  But Mr. Maker didn't want a thing to do with either and slapped his wife in the jaw and said, "Pipe down woman and go domesticate me some dinner and a drink!"  Realizing her error of speaking without permission, Wilma jumped to her feet and fetched Mr. Maker a drink.  When she returned with a glass of bourbon, he took a swig and then through the glass across the room in disgust.  "Don't you ever bring bourbon again, woman, you hear?!  Kentukyans don't know how to make good whiskey!"  He then commenced to putting a beating on Wilma the likes she'd never seen before, and one that Mr. Maker will never forget.

As Wilma lay on the kitchen floor with an ax in her head, clearly dead, Mr. Maker quickly had to devise a plan to get rid of the body.  Visibly shaken, he placed her body in a suitcase, zipped it shut, threw it in the back of his Ford pickup truck and sped down the road.  Not sure what to do, after a few miles, Mr. Maker pulled over to the side of the road and began to cry.  As he gazed at the night's full moon, he eyes became fixed on the silloueted building just below.  It was the defunct McKrowzenheimer Distillery.  No one had been on those grounds in years, Mr. Maker thought.  Quicker than greasilized lightning, he stepped on the gas flew down the road at 100mph to the distillery's Rick House A.

He dragged the suitcase full of dead-weight (fingeratively) and pulled through the dirt and over-grown weeds to the entrance to the Rick House.  Climbing to the top floor, Mr. Maker stopped and looked around.  Out of breath but clearly motivated to rid himself of this "suitcase"ket, he moved on through the first hallway he saw.  With every step he took, the rickety olding building sounded like it was going to break in half.  His mind wondered if that's why they called it a Rick House, because it was so damn rickety (having followed my blog, you know the real story).  Mr. Maker stopped and lit a match to get his bearings.

Completely surrounded by barrels that must have been sitting there since the distillery closed 15 years before, he began to feel each one to see if any were empty.  Sure enough, he found one.  The barrel was sitting on its bunghole and the pressure must have forced out all of its contents.  Mr. Maker pulled it off the rack and tendered it open with a pocket knife.  He opened up the suitcase, yanked his eternal wife out and crammed her into the bourbon barrel casket.

The next day, he went into town and asked who now owned the distillery.  "Nobody," said the town clerk.  "Those Mick Krawts dun went back to there homeland."  He asked the town clerk if he could take over the operation and she said yes, so long as he was willing to pay the back taxes.  Well, it turned out the taxes weren't so bad, afterall, so Mr. Maker bought it up.

Over the next few months, he worked his backside off in getting the distillery back up and running.  He hired an out of work distillerator by the name of Bo Oxley to come by and take a look at the still equipment and see if he could get it back operating.  Bo determined that all 27 pot stills were in perfect order due to its craftmanship.  Afterall, these were Vandome pot stills!

Since Mr. Maker could not pay Bo a salary, they both signed a contract that they drew up together, giving Mr. Oxley 35% ownership of the business.

Inquiring about the Rick Houses, Mr. Maker said not to worry about those, he was going to burn all the barrels and make room for new ones.  Bo almost fell over.  Realizing the potential instant gold mine he had, Bo ran to the the first Rick House - A.  Screaming, Mr. Maker ordered Mr. Oxley to stop.  Stopping at the entryway, Bo waited for Mr. Maker.  "Let's go to warehouse B instead," Mr. Maker suggested.  "This one is very dangerous."

That day, Bo let Mr. Maker in on a little secret.  With 10 Rick Houses full of aged bourbon - some overaged but 75-80% rated good to excellent to Mr. Ox's pallette.

That night Mr. Maker sat by his bedroom window and watch as the Wellsboro Fire Depot attempted to put out the fire that occurred in Rich House A.  He sighed, with a rye smile, jumped in bed and slept like a baby.

Maker's Mark opened its door on October 29th 1937 in Willsboro, KY.  And so that's how Maker's Mark was founded.

Getting back to the distillery's location for a minute.  Maker's Mark is located on the border line of Kentucky and Ohio.  Notice how the title of this blog post only says Straight Bourbon and not Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  Why, you ask? Even though 67% of the distillery is located in KY, the OH address of the distillery supercedes all else.  Originally, MM distillery used to have a Kentucky address and all their whiskey was that of Kentucky Straight Bourbon - it said so proudly on the bottle. 

This all changed one hot summer's day in 1952 when the MM's main entrance door swelled shut due to the heat and humidity.  Mark Maker knew he had to do something so he hired a local construction compan that rebuilt Warehouse A all those years ago, and he commissioned them to quickly make a new entryway on the North side of the Distillery building so that his Distillery Tour business would not be affected.  Unfortunately, what Mr. Maker did not realize was the North side of the distillery resided in the state of Ohio. 

Once the state of Ohio found out, they officially changed the address to 1 Maker's Way, Munsy, OH and they were not allowed to use Kentucky Straight Bourbon on their barrels or bottles from that point forward.  Mr. Maker fought this ruling for years in the high courts but lost out over and over again.

Onto my tasting notes.

Maker's Mark Straight Borubon tasting notes:

After resting 10 minutes in my rocks glass (no "rocks" though) the nose is just lucious.  I semll hot and sour soup, caramel, coconut sun tan lotion, escargot, peaches & cream and wet dog.  As I take my first sip and swallow, my mouth is on fire.  This is hot stuff at 90 proof.  It took 5 sips to get used to the burn and taste all the different nuances.  My buds are telling me, Corn, Potatoes Awe Grawtin, Spanish Fly, Ocra, caramel, chocolate and vinegar.

What an awesome bourbon!  So well balanced and complex.  So many different flavor.  I could lip-bang this bourbon all night long.  This is why Maker's Mark is known among the bourbon experts, like myself, as the cream of the crop (no, not Cream of Kentucky! :D ).

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent

My Score:

A tale from the Local Liquor Store

So I decided to pop by Srinivasan Gupta's Fine Wine & Liquor Emporium after work yesterday evening hoping to find some Weeler 7 years 107 proof bourbon and who should appear to ask if I need help but the owner, Srini.  Now, Srini's a nice guy and all but his accent has this pitchfork-on-a-whiteboard affect on me. 

Anyway, I'm with my 2 year old son and I see Srini out of the corner of my eye approaching and I'm thinking to myself, I just don't have time for this.  So, I pinch my son's ear until he starts balling his eyes out and wouldn't you know it, good old Srini makes a V-line back to the counter.  It worked!

After calming my son down -- and telling him to shush about, "Why did you pinch my eaw, Daddy?" -- I spotted a 750 of Olde Grand Dad Tennissean Whiskey and it has a tax stamp on it.  Of course, it's on the bottom shelf and about a half-a-mile away in the back but my son is a good fetcher and was able to bring back the goods lickety-split.  It is a Bottles in Bonded and the date on the tax stamp shows that it was distillerated in the fall of 1963 and bottled in the spring of 1990!  Wow, the mother load; a 26 years old Tennesian Whiskey at 100 proof!

Now, I've already mentioned that I'm not a big fan of the Tennessian stuff but for you to get a better understanding as to why I'm so excited about this find, here's a brief history lesson on this bottles family tree:

All the way  up to 1969, Old Grand Dad followed the distillerating, aging and bottling practices of Kentucky bourbon makers with the only difference being that it was distillerated, aged and bottled in Tennessee.  This may sound like a subtle difference, but in the aging process, the flavors inparted into the distillatte are part oak wood and part environment.  Up until 1969, Old Grand Dad's distillery was located in Chiquita, TN while their Rick Houses were located in Planters, TN.  Then in the summer of 1969, the Rick Houses in Planters were desconstructed and relocated to the distillery location in Chiquita. 

Given that this bottle was put in barrels for aging in 1963, this means that for 6 years this puppy had been aging right next door to the peanut farm in Planters and then moved to Old Grand Dad's distillery location where it aged for another 20 years right next door to a banana farm in Chiquita, TN!

Wow, this is the rarest of the rare bourbons out there and always thought, up until now, that all these bottles were far removed the liquor store shelves.  But time forget about this bottle, fortunately for me!

While checking out, Srini began to pitchfork the whiteboard and so I pinched my son's ear again, told Srini that the poor little guy has an ear ache, put down a $20 bill, told him to keep the change, waved and walked out the door.

I will be trying this bad boy tonight and will put up a review over the next day or two.  Had I not spent part of last night at the ER with my son for stitches in his ear, I would have drunk it then.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

REVIEW: Old Fitzgerald Prime 90 Proof (The legendary Snitzel & Weeler brand)

I bet all you bourbon zealots want to know how I came across this little number, don't you?!  Well, it's from a very dear bourbon pal whose liver has developed some fatty deposits.  So, since he can't drink it, he had me buy it off him for what he paid for it:  $15!

For the bourbon rooks out there whom don't know the allure or history of Old Fitzgerald, please allow me to spin this yarn for a bit.

The Old Fitzy label, as I call it, came about as a result of two companies merging their assets of fine straight bourbons; Snitzel and W.L.Weeler.  On the 75th birthday of Hans Snitzel in the winter of 1936, he decided that it was time to hang up the mash and decided to merge efforts with deer friend Pappy Van Winkle (no relation to the fable-tale).  As part of the agreement, Pappy would take over day-to-day operations with Hans claiming the title of Master Distiller which was just a fancy title for retirement.  Upon the completion of the merger on September 5th 1936, Pappy decided on a new label called Old Fitzgerald, named after his mother's Maiden name.  As a result, he had to create a Mini Distillery called Old Fitzgerald Bourbon Distillery located on the grounds of W.L. Weeler.  To stay within the law, Pappy had his top notch contruction team build the signage, labeling compound, and rick houses.  The first distillatte ran of the potstill on September 9th 1936 and the first bottle of Old Fitzgerald was a Bottles in Bonded released on September 29th 1936, followed by Old Fitzgerald Prime 90 released on October 19th 1938.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

This fine bourbon not only caught on in a big way, but lives in bourbon lore and legend and is coveted by all bourbon lovers around the world.  It's oftened referred to as the Holly Grayl of bourbon.  Anyone who has read any of the great bourbon message boards (this is where most of my research and knowledge comes from, especially know about the famous Snitzel and Weeler, better known as S/W Old Fitzgerald.  The current bottling has no relation to the S/W distillery whatsoever but, rather, it's owned by the Seagram's Golden Wine Cooler Company and is just okay.

All S/W bourbon, including the Old Fitz labels, are known for their caramel, cheery pie, toasted almond and green peppercorn flavor notes.  If you can't sport wood with this bourbon, then you best go find yourself a Budweiser and quit the bourbon-drinking business for good.

So, without further adoo, here's my review and tasting notes.

Old Fitzgerald Prime 90 Proof (The legendary Snitzel & Weeler brand)

This bottle is in mint condition and still was in the box - a pristine box, no less.  I immediately noticed the tax stamp which had a date of 1938.  The bottle and tax stamp (which is notorious for falling about) looked as if it wasn't touched by human hand nor light since its packaging.

This is highly coveted, not only for its breed (S/W) but because it's the first release of Old Fitz Prime!  I called one of my bourbon bottle-collecting pals and he said that it was worth somewheres around $2,500!  But since it was a gift meant to be drunk, I was hell-bent on drinking it rather than make a profit off my deer friend.

As soon as I popped the cork, I could smell that old S/W nose.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm, what a smell!  I could just nose-screw this bourbon all day and be satisfied!  I poured it in my Glennkaren crystal glass and let it sit for 24 hours to let some of the crystals led bleed through (this does not work well for all bourbons but for S/W it's insane).

The next evening, I pulled the bourbon from my vestabule and nose-screwed it some more.  WOW!!!!!  This is unbelievable!  My dog-like sniffer picks up every nuance: sod, limestone, led paint cherry coke, lemon seed, grass, rye bread, american cheese, dirt, poppy seed and caramel.  I immediately take a quick sip and let it play amongst my taste buds then swallow.  And BADA-BING, this is true bourbon royalty.  It's absolutely insane.  I get kit-kat, caramel, rye bread, cornmeal, lead pipe and cherry pie flavors.  And then the finish was chalk-full of banana bread and molded earth.  It is excellent!

It is a near-flawless bourbon.  It's an addiction!  Anyone who loves an A+ traditional-style (1st grain is rye) bourbon then this is for you.

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent

My Score:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is Tennessian Whiskey?

People ask me about this all the time and while I certainly don't mind repeating myself (it's an important job for us elders to perform this task to help youngsters along through life), I figured while I've got this blog about straight bourbon, I might as well discuss it here.  It's what I like to call a Hot Topic.

Tennessian Whiskey is actually quite different than straight bourbon.  First off, it's whiskey from Tennessee.  Also, the distillatte* goes through a process by which it is filtered of all impurities by using old, charred Single Malt Scotch barrels which are actually old straight bourbon barrels (funny enough).  This filtering process, better known as "washing the 'dog"**, occurs three times.  Once complete, the distillate is dumped into new Tennessee Oak Barrels charred at varying level depending on the denseness and "juiciness"*** of the wood.

Tennessian Whiskey is then aged for a bare minimum of 4 years in Rick Houses and then bottled.  What's funny is George Dickel (a Tennessian Whiskey) actually referrs to their Rick Houses as Dick Houses.  Pretty funny.

Here is a basic check list of what makes whiskey, Tennessian Whiskey:
  • Whiskey must be distilled, filtered, aged and bottled in the state of Tennessee
  • Filtering must occur three times using old, used Single Malt Scotch barrels
  • Whiskey must be aged in new Tennesse Oak barrels for at least 4 years in Rick Houses
  • Whiskey must have an employee onsite, within the Rick Houses 24/7/365.
*Distillatte is a fancy way of saying vodka that is fresh off the still.  That's what all whiskey uses prior to aging.  In fact, one of the only major differences between Vodka and Whiskey is the aging part.  That's where Vodka transforms itself, much like a cattapillar to a butterfly, into Whiskey.

**"Washing the 'dog" is a phrase used among Tennessian Distillerators that mean filtering the distillatte through charred Single Malt Scotch barrels.

***Juiciness is a commonly used whiskey industry phrase for moisture in the wood.  Seasoning occurs prior to making whiskey barrels thus removing some moisture from the wood.  Some whiskey distillerators season their oak for 3 weeks, while others will season it up to 5 years (carefull though, the longer the oaks is seasoned, the more likely it is to leak due to the poreosity.

Famous Tennessian Whiskeys:
Jack Daniel
George Dickel
Old Grand Dad

REVIEW: Old Forester Bottles in Bonded

Hello Folks,

Here is my second review of a straight bourbon.  This one is real unique as it is a Bottles in Bonded (BiB) straight bourbon which means that all BiB rick houses only have one floor so that it can suck up the natural surroundings such as grass/weeds, sand/dirt, etc.  BiB's are some of the best straight bourbons ever produced and are highly coveted by myself and other bourbon experts.  It is aged between 4-6 years and can be 100 proof or higher, not to exceed 170 proof.

So here goes:

I pored this one in a sifter glass and it turned out to be a very smart thing to do because once I put my nose over the entry of the glass I took a big sniff and could actually taste the bourbon through my nose - this is known within the bourbon industry and among straight bourbon conniseaurs as ND or Nose Distillation due to the science behind what happens when such a thing occurs.  Please see below for explanation.*  This is something that is very rare to happen and when it does it usually means the bourbon is going to be spectacular. 

Anyway, back to my tasting notes.  The nose is incredible.  I sense tapioca, grass seed, anise, lemons, poh boy sandwich (weird, I know) and juniper. 

As I put this luscious liquid to my lips, I felt a tinge of bourbon on my upper lip and once I got this bourbon juice on my tongue, I could taste apricots, cookie dough, lemon zest, tangerine and turnips (the earthy flavor), hay and new england weed grass.

This bourbon is AMAZING and know wonder it gets such rave reviews and is unbeliebably loved by us (my bourbon conniseaur breatherans).

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent

My Score:

*ND or Nose Distillation is very scientific and I could speak on it in great length but I would probably confuse the vast majority of leymen out there so I will abbreviate instead of digressing.  Simply put, when you breathe in (via the nostruls and not the mouth) a special science happens where the bourbon vapors turn into liquid and reach the pallet via the nose chamber.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

REVIEW: Eagle's Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Here is my first review and tasting notes on Straight Bourbon.  For this I picked Eagle's Rare 10 year Kentucky Straight Bourbon* which, in my opinion, is an exceptional Straight Bourbon.

Here is a little back-drop info on the history of this bourbon and company: 
This straight bourbon came about as a result of the success of Wild Turkey.  Sanzerac Co located in the heart of Bourbon Country originally started this bourbon out with a 101 proof.  Sound familiar?!  But Sanzerac's "mini-distillery"** (located within the grounds of Sanzerac) started running low on Bourbon stock so, rather than cut into the bourbon bounty at the Parent co (Sanzerac), they decided to cut the proof to 90 (but, fortunately, still kept the 10 year age statement).  How unfortunate as the Eagle's Rare 101 was the essence of Bourbon nonchallance at 101 - little to no burn and a wonderfully effervesent taste profile.

Here are my tasting notes of the Eagle's Rare 10 year and 90 proof:
After waiting 10 minutes to give this puppy room to breathe, I went in for my first sniff; Wow, what a nose on this straight bourbon.  The smell of clove, honey suckle, cranberries and juji fruit dominate the nose with a little bit of alcohol.  Swirling the drink in my Glennkaren glass, I take a sip.  BAM!  Toffee, cherry pie, ginger, corn bread and key lyme pie smack my taste buds like salt on a wound.  And the finish is quite amazing - I went to bed that night and the next morning I could still taste the "essence of Perl" sort to speak.

This is a great bourbon after throwing a fancy party, as an after-dinner drink or as your table bourbon.  It also is cheap enough to be an "everyday pour."***

Food pairing:
  • Wild-caught catfish with corn-flowered/fried asparagus, ginger/tangerine-zest mashed red potatoes, and yellow poached plantaines with kosher salt. 
My rating scale differs quite a bit from the usual score-keeping way since I go with the lowest score being the best (ie., 0 and 1 are the two best scores).

Rating Scale
50+ putrid
40-50 below average
30-40 average
20-30 good
10-20 very good
0-10 excellent


* Kentucky Straight Bourbon differs from Straight Bourbon in that it is distilled, aged and bottled in Kentucky (whereas, Straight Bourbon can be distilled and bottled anywhere but has to be aged in Kentucky.

**"Mini-distillery" is a commonly-used phrase in the bourbon industry referring to small off-shoot distilleries created by large distilleries in order to put a new label on their bourbon.  Now the bourbon could be the same exact bourbon reciped that they offer but want to fancy it up a little bit (please see Henry MacKenna Bottles in Bonded (same stuff as Old Heaven Hill BIB)) or it could be a whole new recipe (different bread yeast, different grains (single malt wheat or single malt rye).  As an example, Sanzerec makes George P Stagg bourbon at a Mini-distillery created on the same grounds as the Sanzerec distillery but it has it's own signage, labeling compound, and rick houses.

*** "Everyday pour" is another commonly used phrase in the bourbon industry and among conniseaurs that means you can drink a certain bourbon everyday since it's affordable and good.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I have been a huge imbiber of bourbon for the better part of 35 years.  My first sip was that of Old Fitzgerald Bottles In Bonded.  For the most part, I know everything there is to know about Bourbon.  Elmer T. Leigh would be jealous of my pallet.  No, seriously.

Anyway, over these next few decades, I plan on blogging about Straight Bourbon only.  No other whiskey need apply, thank you.

Please see below for a little history of Straight Bourbon and various criteria for whiskey to be called Straight Bourbon and Bottles in Bonded.  This is for the rookies of Straight Bourbon out there.  Consider this your unofficial, official guide to Straight Bourbon.

Back in 1792, a Catholic Minister and accomplished Whiskey distillerator named Elijah Craig -- who invented the Rick House, Fulling Mill and Paper Mill -- upon realizing that he'd distillated too much whiskey, decided to store the leftovers in an empty old sugar barrel. A month later, after having run out of whiskey in his house, Elijah Craig decided to tap the sugar barrel he stored in his hay barn.  Upon drawing the Whiskey from the barrel, he immediately realized that the bourbon had turned from clear to a light reddish hue.  Once he tasted it, he knew he was on to something.

Before too long, Elijah Craig built a house to store these barrels and began selling them to the public at varying levels of "agedness," as he called it - from one month to two years.  He decided to name the house which stored his aging bourbon, after his eldest son Richard. Hence the now famed name, Rick House.

Criteria for Whiskey to be a Straight Bourbon
  • Only whiskey produced in the Bourbon County can be called Straight Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon can be made outside of Bourbon County but it can only be called Blended Bourbon.
  • Straight Bourbon must be made from no more than 3 grains with the 3rd and final grain added to the pot still being 75% corn.
  • All straight bourbon (this is essential) must be distillated in pot stills!
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged in new or used, charred (American, preferably) oak barrels.
  • Straight Bourbon must be bottled at 70 proof or more (35% Alcohol By Weight).
  • Straight Bourbon has to be aged in the barrel for at least 4 years in Government-Controlled rick houses.
Examples of Whiskeys that meet this criteria and, hence, are called Straight Bourbons:
  • Fore Roses Yellow Label
  • Old Rip Van Winkle 12 years
  • Old Forrester Bottles in Bonded*
Again, these are just examples as there are many more whiskeys that qualify.

Examples of Whiskeys that are not Straight Bourbons:
  • Jack Daniels (please, don't even insult us straight bourbon lovers that this silly stuff is bourbon - not to act like a smarty pants but this is a Tennessian Whisky (notice no "e" in Whisky)).
  • George Dickel
  • Old Grand Dad

*Bottles in Bonded, also know as BIB or simplly Bonded, is a unique process of making and aging Straight Bourbon (please see below for govnernment criteria for this).

Straight Bourbon that qualifies for the prestigious "Bottles in Bonded" label:
  • Straight Bourbon must come from only one distillery with only one "run-off".
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged in Government-monitored rick houses having only one floor (this is essential as it lends a very unique and earthy flavor profile since ALL the barrels are right on the ground picking up those dirt/sand and grass/weeds flavor that BIB's are known for).
  • Straight Bourbon must be aged between 4-6 years (no more, no less) and bottled at least at 100 proof and higher, all the way up to 170 proof.
Distilleries that are known for their Bonded Straight Bourbon:
  • Heaven Hill
  • Buffaloes Trace

If you have any questions or simply would like to write a comment, please do so at any time.  I would love to hear feedback.  And if anyone has a great idea for making this blog more appealing, please let me know as I am open to change (much like Barrack Obama but, unlike BO, I will not stink up the joint ;) ).

I look forward to reading your comments!

Your trusted Straight Bourbon Connoisseur,

John Ronellio