Winter Citrus Hot Toddy

Posted on by Eric Burke

My wife has been sick as a dog the past few weeks. At first, she was sick just like any other time, tired, headache, fever, etc. But then, after healing up for a bit, she felt great aside from a sore throat and nagging cough. I tried getting her to go to the doctor for most of a week, but she insisted that she was fine. Finally, after consulting people on the internet and asking for advice on if I was crazy or not, she relented and went to Urgent Care.

Strep. (I'm holding off on the "I Told You So's" until she feels better, or at least until she isn't contagious.)

Now, my wife is the person who asked her oncologist how soon after chemo she could have a whiskey, so you better believe that right after the strep diagnosis came back, she asked the same question. The doc told her that was fine. It wouldn't affect anything if she had whiskey. 

Now while she had been refusing a doctor's care, she was more than happy to accept an old-timey sort of cure for a sore throat. A Hot Toddy. Warmth and honey for the throat and bourbon for the spirit. After a bit of trial and error while waiting for her to go to the doctor, I finally hit upon what I think was the best recipe of the week, and now I'm going to share it with you. 

Winter Citrus Hot Toddy

  • 1.5 Ounce of Bourbon (I used Wild Turkey 101)
  • 1 Ounce of Fresh Mandarin Juice (Cuties, Halos, whatever brand your local grocer carries is fine, you'll probably need the juice of 2-3 fruits)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • 6 shakes of Homemade Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 Cup of Boiling Water

I mix everything else together before adding the water so that it stays nice and hot. 

I originally tried this without the grapefruit juice, and it was way too sweet. Lots of honey and a sweet juice will do that sometimes. After futzing with all the variables for a bit, I decided that everything was fine, it just needed some more complexity. The addition of grapefruit was just the thing to make this something you didn't need to be sick to enjoy.

This site is primarily supported through the generosity of readers like you. Think of me as PBS, but with bourbon and no tax write-off. If you would like to join the ranks of site patrons, go to to pledge your support. Or if you'd rather get a little more than warm feelings in exchange for your money, you could always buy something at From now until January 31, 2017 I am offering $20.17 off any purchase of $100 or more. Just us coupon code HAPPY2017 at Checkout.

If You've Had... Bulleit Bourbon Edition

Posted on by Eric Burke

My Goodness! I can't believe that it has been almost a year since I last did one of these! I love these posts. They are just the most fun to do the tastings for. And if you like them too, then I have good news: I've got two more for sure on the editorial calendar and another two that will depend on the availability of products. So without further ado, I present the fourth installment of the If You’ve Had… series. 

In case you missed it last time, the setup is like this: "If you've had Whiskey A then Whiskey B is..." hotter, spicier, sweeter, more floral, etc. Each section is written as compared to one of the whiskeys. So if you've had that one, but not the others then that section will be of the most use to you. Remember there are no value judgments here. You get to decide based on what you know of Whiskey A if Whiskey B sounds like something you'd want to try.

Up tonight is the Bulleit Bourbon family. Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit 10-Year-Old Bourbon, and Bulleit Barrel-Strength Bourbon. 

If you’ve had Bulleit Bourbon then…

Bulleit 10 Year is: less floral and drier on the nose. The mouth has more complex flavor with more peppery heat, baking spice, and cocoa notes. The finish is longer with more baking spice.

Bulleit Barrel-Strength is: similar on the nose though more concentrated while showing more baking spice and oak. It shows more floral notes in the mouth and is hotter due to the higher alcohol content. The finish is longer, warmer and shows more floral and baking spice.

If you’ve had Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon then…

Bulleit Bourbon: shows more cinnamon candies and less cocoa on the nose. The mouth is much less floral with a finish that is slightly shorter and less spicy.

Bulleit Barrel-Strength is: sweeter and less floral on the nose but shows more cinnamon. The mouth is sweeter and hotter with less oak presence. The finish is longer and warmer.

If you’ve had Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon then…

Bulleit Bourbon is: similar on the nose, though it does show more black tea. The mouth is much less hot, with less spice but seems sweeter because of that. The finish is shorter. 

Bulleit 10 Year is: Oakier on the nose. The mouth has less heat but more oak and cocoa notes. The finish is shorter, with less heat, but is more floral. 

I've got a gift for you. From now until January 31, 2017, you can enjoy $20.17 off any purchase of $100 or more at Just use coupon code HAPPY2017 at checkout. Don't feel like shopping? Consider becoming a patron at Thanks for reading!

Bulleit 10 Year Old & a Rant About Agglomerated Cork

Posted on by Eric Burke

Do you know what I hate?

Agglomerated cork closures on whiskey bottles. Never heard of agglomerated cork? Neither had I until I looked up what the closures made of compressed cork granules were named. But now that I have a fancy name for them, I hate them even more. 

What is agglomerated cork? Well, it's just what I listed above. It's a  closure made out of real cork, except instead of being a solid piece of cork, it's created from the ground up bits that are left over from making a solid piece of cork. Think of it as the particle board of the cork world. It's a bunch of different pieces of cork glued back into a cork shape. 

Now, from my research, there seem to be some really good reasons to use particle cork. It apparently keeps air out a little better than solid cork. And, lo and behold, it is also much cheaper than solid natural cork. Both of these are excellent things. One keeps the whiskey in the bottle in better shape, for a longer time-frame, and the other helps keep the price down.

So why do I hate them so much? Easy. Every broken cork I've ever had to fish out of a bottle of whiskey has been particle cork. For my money, if you have to use a low-cost option, go with a screw cap. I know. I know. It doesn't have the same aesthetics. (And as such it won't help you justify the higher cost you've put on that pretty bottle.) So if a screw cap is out of the question, maybe a synthetic cork? I've had them break as well, but normally it is the glued-on top separating from the closure, not the closure itself breaking in half.

In any case, particle cork is my least favorite closure. And yes, I am geeky enough to have both a favorite and a least favorite closure. But fortunately, as I look at my shelf, I see particle cork is the least well represented, used by only Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Wild Turkey Rye, a rum, and the three open bottles of various Bulleit expressions on my shelf. Which brings me to the bottle that set off this entire learning experience. 

Bulleit 10-year-old Bourbon

Purchase Info: $42.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 45.6% ABV. Aged ten years. 

Nose: Floral with cotton candy, caramel, and baking spices. 

Mouth: The mouth follows the nose. Floral, caramel, baking spices, cocoa nibs, and oak. 

Finish: Long and warm with lingering floral notes. 


Thoughts: This is a tasty, though drier, version of Bulleit. It is very floral and tends toward bitter (in a cocoa nib sort of way). This reminds me of some of the blends I came up with while doing my Four Roses blending experiment a while back, which isn't terribly surprising since there is probably a still good proportion of Four Roses juice in here. 

Is this worth twice as much as the regular release of Bulleit. That depends on how you feel about dry and bitter versus sweet bourbons. But personal preference aside, I have to say that in an era of increasing prices and disappearing age statements, it is nice to see a ten-year-old bourbon for under $50.

Well hey there, bourbon-lover. I just wrote a great big thing about cork yet; I have nothing made from cork for sale over at Is this some sort of mistake? Did my marketing team miss the boat? No. It just goes to show that I am not driven by advertising. Even when I'm advertising for myself. And that I have no marketing team. Anyway, if you want to support you have two choices. Head on over to and buy something or head on over to and sign up for a recurring donation. Both are great ways to make sureI can pay all my bills.

Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

I visit Kentucky, on average, a couple of times a year. Often it isn't the destination, but I find a way to make most of my Eastbound road trips route through it. I'd try to route the other road trips through there as well, but I haven't figured out how to frame the argument that Kentucky really is on the way to Colorado from Minnesota.

Every time I visit Kentucky, I'm struck by the same thought: "How broke would I be if I lived here?" I mean there are bourbon events, bourbon bars, even bourbons that are only available there. If I had all of that around me all the time...

Well, I'd probably still be a hermit. But I do think that my budget for the occasional special bottle or dram would strain a little harder than it does in Minnesota. What, with all the temptation and all. 

I think about things like this, like moving to a warmer climate, a lot at this time of year. Don't get me wrong, all things considered, I like Minnesota. But I hate winter. I mean I really hate it. And when the temperature dips, not just below freezing, but into the sub-zero range it gets a bit rough. (That's somewhere around -20 C for those of you who use that other measuring system). Today I had to bundle into boots, hat, heavy coat and gloves just to get the mail. 

That got me to thinking about one of the Kentucky-only bottles that I'd picked up on my last trip south and I decided it was time to take another look at it.

Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon

Purchase info: $48.99 for a 750mL bottle. The Party Source, Bellevue, KY.

Details: 59.6% ABV. Non-age stated. 

Nose: Rich with ripe cherries, cocoa nibs, herbal mint, and oak.

Mouth: Peppery heat with caramel/vanilla, oak, JuicyFruit gum, cloves, mint, and anise. 

Finish: Long and lingering with fruit, mint, cinnamon, and anise. 


Thoughts: This is hands down the best whiskey in the Bulleit family. The more concentrated flavors from the higher proof really shine in the glass. Toss in a price in the $40-50 range and this is a real winner. I can't recommend this enough. Love this one.

This site is primarily supported through the generosity of readers like you. Think of me as PBS, but with bourbon and no tax write-off. If you would like to join the ranks of site patrons, go to to pledge your support. Or if you'd rather get a little more than warm feelings in exchange for your money, you could always buy something at From now until January 31, 2017 I am offering $20.17 off any purchase of $100 or more. Just us coupon code HAPPY2017 at Checkout.

Kentucky Gentleman, or "Don't Get Distracted at the Liquor Store"

Posted on by Eric Burke

Sometimes I go into a liquor store, and I know exactly what I want. Other times, I know roughly how much I want to spend. When I visited the Party Source with a fellow blogger back in September, neither of these were true. 

I was in Kentucky to stock up for a few months of blog posts, see some friends and drink some bourbon. And when we made plans to visit the Party Source, I knew I would probably be picking up a few things that I had on the list to bring home. I figured this would be a good time to get some of the non-limited, everyday items out of the way. What I didn't expect to do was get so carried away with tossing things into the cart that I didn't bother to read the labels...either that or I was too busy chatting and wasn't paying close attention. In any case, I found myself with two miniature bottles of Kentucky Gentleman in my cart. 

Now if you know what Kentucky Gentleman is, you are probably wondering what could have caused me to pick that up? To you I will say, please see above. If you don't know what Kentucky Gentleman is, be assured you are not alone. I knew it was a cheap whiskey brand and I knew that it probably wasn't worth buying a full bottle of. 

It turns out that Kentucky Gentleman is not a bourbon. It is: "A Blend of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Spirits from the Finest Grains." In other words, it's bourbon mixed with neutral grain spirits (NGS or as it is more commonly known unfiltered vodka). It's an American-style Blended Whiskey made from 51% three-year-old bourbon and 49% NGS. And to be honest, it's the first one I've reviewed and possibly the first one I've had since I got serious about whiskey. 

So...yay? There's learning to be done here.

Kentucky Gentleman

Purchase info: $0.99 for a 50 mL at the Party Source, Bellevue, KY.

Details: 51% three-year-old bourbon and 49% neutral grain spirits.

Nose: Delicate with light mint and faint baking spices.

Mouth: Flat in the mouth with faint mint and baking spices.

Finish: Short and unbalanced. Medicinal vodka and whiskey notes fight for prominence (and the loser is my mouth).


Thoughts: So...this is not the worst whiskey I've ever reviewed. That honor still goes to the Hayes Parker Reserve. But this is really close to the worst I've reviewed. To be fair, I'm tasting this neat in a Glencairn, which is just the opposite of what it was intended for, which brings me to my major problem with this whiskey. 

I'm just not sure what it actually is intended for. 

I know that this style of whiskey has long historical roots. I know that it was a way to stretch supplies after prohibition. I know that Seagram's built their business on it. And I know that maybe 40 years ago, people may have hoped it would compete favorably with vodka. 

But today, why does anyone buy this stuff? If I want ok whiskey, I have plenty of ok whiskey to buy, much of it sold at the same price point. If I want vodka, same thing. Hell, if I want something that has just a little more flavor than vodka to put a spin on a vodka cocktail, I can buy plenty of new make spirits. 

I'm sure that this fills a hole for someone, but I think I've learned that there isn't a hole in my life that an American-style Blended Whiskey can fill.

Are you one of those people that get money for Christmas? If so, how would you like to get yourself something nice and support at the same time? Head on over to to check out some of the fun hand-made items that I create and sell. Of course, if you'd rather just get yourself a warm sense of well-being, you could become an ongoing patron of the site at