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Evan Williams Master Blend

Posted on by Eric Burke

I like blending bourbons. I've mentioned that ad nauseam here on the blog. I think that blending what you have on hand to make "new" bourbons is fun and lends variety to the bourbon shelf that isn't always there otherwise.

Blending is an art celebrated by whiskey producers in other countries. Master Blender is an important title, and media outlets interview those that hold it.

Here is the States? Not so much. We assume that a blend means it contains vodka (mostly because American Blended Whiskey is allowed to be blended with vodka) and so, with a few notable exceptions, we rarely talk about blending. 

So when I was walking through the liquor store and saw a $50 bourbon, from a large manufacturer, with "blend" in the name...well I had to take a look. It turns out that it was a bourbon that was intended to be an exclusive of the Evan Williams Experience. Due to a quirk in Kentucky law, liquor stores are allowed to order them as well, and this one had.

So what was it? Well, it is a blend of various Evan Williams expressions: Black label, Bottled-in-Bond, 1783, Single Barrel, and 23-year-old. That last one possibly to justify the price, because it is a little pricey. I paid $54 for a bottle that is made up of things that normally cost right around $20. Good thing it was a souvenir. Some people overpay for T-Shirts while on vacation, I overpay for whiskey.

Evan Williams Master Blend

Purchase info: $53.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Westport Whiskey and Wine. 

Details: 45% ABV. A blend of 5 Evan Williams products. 

Nose: Floral with vanilla, caramel, nutmeg, dried grain, some oak and a hint of soap. 

Mouth: Good Spice with nutmeg, vanilla/caramel, dried grain, and oak.

Finish: Nice length with a gentle warmth. Lingering baking spices.

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Thoughts: I like this. It is a nice blend that captures the essences of its constituent parts. The grain is there from the younger varieties of Evan Williams, but some of the oak is there as well.

So is it worth the price? Not a chance. Evan Williams Master Blend is an interesting souvenir bottle, but nothing more.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

David Nicholson Reserve Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

Sometimes you buy something just because you normally can't. That happened more than once during my last trip to the Party Source in northern Kentucky. In this case, it resulted in me bringing home a bottle of David Nicholson Reserve. 

For most of its life, the David Nicholson brand was owned by the Van Winkle family (you've probably heard of them, so I'll quit there). Today the David Nicholson line of bourbons is owned by Luxco and has only limited distribution. According to their website, it is mostly sold in Missouri and Illinois (though I bought mine in Kentucky). 

And that brings me back to why it ended up in my shopping cart (yes, I need a cart when I shop for bourbon in Kentucky). Simply put, I'd never had it, I can't get it, and so I wanted it. Plus I'd heard good things about it.

Did the bourbon live up to the kind words I'd read though?

David Nicholson Reserve

Purchase Info: $31.99 for 750 mL bottle at the Party Source, Bellevue, KY.

Details: 50% ABV. Non-age stated.

Nose: Vanilla, dusty, dried grain, and mint plants with soil. 

Mouth: Leads off with a nice spice. Mint and more grain follow. 

Finish: Medium length with lingering mint and grain.

Thoughts: Taken in a vacuum this is a tasty enough whiskey and is probably worth the $30 or so that you'd pay for it. It reminds me a lot of Evan Williams Bonded, which makes sense since there is a good chance that they came from the same place. Which, of course, means that it is hard to compare this in a vacuum. Evan Williams Bonded is under $20 per liter, which is less than half what this sells for (if you compare price per milliliter). But that said, $30 is still not a terrible price for a decent, if fairly grain forward, bourbon.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Old Forester Statesman

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last night I finally got to see the movie Kingsman: the Golden Circle. It was a minor miracle that it happened. My wife hates almost everything about the movie-going experience. She doesn't like spending the money on a ticket or food. She doesn't like all the other people around. She doesn't want to go during the weekend because it is too crowded and she doesn't want to go during the week because she doesn't want to leave the house after working all day. In fact, just about the only thing she does like is the fact that our local movie theater now has a bar and you can carry the drinks into the showing with you.

I, on the other hand, love going to the movies. So much so that I occasionally go by myself. But I don't go to just any movie. I'm married to an accountant, so if I'm going to spend the money, it has to be a spectacle. It has to be big and loud, with amazing special effects. Most of all it needs to be fun. You will almost never find me watching a depressing drama outside of my house. 

The original Kingsman movie was one of the most fun films we'd seen in a while. It was fun, action-packed, and most importantly didn't take itself too seriously. It was fun, and better yet, funny. So when we heard that the sequel had bourbon as a backdrop? Well, that just made it easier for me to convince her to come along. 

I won't give any spoilers, but there is a brand of bourbon called Statesman that is featured rather heavily in the movie. It is Old Forester in all but name. (Shoutout to WhiskyCast for an excellent interview with the folks from Old Forester about that.) In fact, as you go through the film, sharp eyed bottle history buffs will find more than one antique Old Forester bottle as set dressing. Is it any good? Yeah, I thought it was just as fun as the first one. 

Oh, you meant the bourbon? Well, let's find out!

Old Forester Statesman

Purchase Info: $51.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Party Mart, Louisville, KY.

Details: 47.5% ABV. Non-age stated.

Nose: Caramel, cinnamon, ginger ale, bubble gum. 

Mouth: Spicy with ginger and cinnamon spice, sweet vanilla, mint and a touch of astringent oak.

Finish: Medium length with warm spices. 

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Thoughts: This is another tasty Old Forester product. If you like Old Forester, give this a shot. I like it. I'm not thrilled with the price though. I'm not sure if I would pay $50+ for it again, maybe if I saw it on sale.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Old Forester Single Barrel: Liquor Barn/Forecastle Selection

Posted on by Eric Burke

Today I was up and on the road by 6 am to drive the six hours (each way) to Milwaukee to buy some empty bourbon barrels to use as raw materials for my Etsy store, BourbonGuyGifts.com. It was a fun and tiring day. Tiring because I was driving for about 12 hours. Fun because I got my hands on four great looking empty bourbon barrels and three very pretty wine barrel heads. I didn't plan on getting any wine barrel heads, I mean my store makes things for bourbon lovers. But they were in good shape, very pretty and the price was right. I'm sure I'll be able to figure out something to do with them.

In a way, those wine barrel heads are kind of like the bourbon I'm drinking tonight. When I bought each of them, I was looking for something else. But in each case the price was right so I grabbed them instead. 

See, around this time every year I try to get a bottle of Birthday Bourbon for my wife. But at a suggested price of around $80 per bottle, I wasn't trying too hard this year. Instead, when I was down in Kentucky. I grabbed a bottle of Old Forester Single Barrel. It was half the price and every bottle I've picked up has been very good. 

This bottle was no exception. 

Old Forester Single Barrel: Liquor Barn/Forecastle Selection

Purchase Info: $38.99 for a 750 mL at Liquor Barn Middleton, Louisville, KY. 

Details: 45% ABV. Chosen for the 15th Anniversary of the Forecastle Festival. Aged in Warehouse H on Floor 5.

Nose: Sweet with vanilla, mint, and almond.

Mouth:  Sweet with a light spice. Notes of vanilla, mint, and almond.

Finish: Nice and spicy with lingering notes of mint and almond. 

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Thoughts: This is by far the best bottle of Old Forester Single Barrel I've had. I am really digging it. Which is kind of amazing to me since I basically bought it in place of a limited edition that cost twice as much (and which in recent year's has been kind of lackluster, in my view). 

Damn. Wish I'd thought of that in the store...I would have bought two and felt justified doing it.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

The Bourbon Bar at Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace, Bardstown, Kentucky

Posted on by Eric Burke

Let me tell you. I may have found my new favorite place to grab a drink while attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. And I came across it quite by accident. 

As you are aware, I visit the Kentucky Bourbon Festival every year. And every year, one of the many things I like to do is visit the lawn area where the distilleries and local craftspeople sell things to the public. I seldom buy anything, but I always like to look. One of the other things I like to do is wander around downtown and see the window displays that the distilleries put into the shop windows. It reminds me of the things that used to happen in the town I grew up in, back before the future happened and people stopped caring what local businesses looked like.  

So last year, we were walking between the lawn and 3rd street on one of the warmer days of the week. We decided to check out this store called the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace. Mostly as a way to hop out of the direct sunlight that was threatening to burn our Northern skin to a crisp. We'd been in there before and knew that in addition to the "souvenir" store and liquor store, there was also a bar in the building. Most of the times I had walked past previously, the bar had been packed, but this time for whatever reason it wasn't and we had the opportunity to stop in for a drink. Weirdly, I knew the bartender...or at least I knew who he was and had interacted with him on previous trips to Bardstown. His name is Don. Longtime readers might remember Don as our first tour guide at the Barton 1792 distillery way back on our first BourbonFest trip in 2012. Don was as good a bartender as he was a tour guide and for most of the same reasons. He's just fun to talk to.

Which means we were extremely happy when we stopped in this year and found that he is still working behind the bar at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace. And this time around, after talking to Howard (the owner) and realizing he was just as nice and fun to talk to, I decided to take a few photos and let you guys in on the secret of the place too.

You enter the store from Flaget Street. It is very conveniently located one block north and one block west of the roundabout in the center of Bardstown. If you are in Downtown Bardstown you are only a few minute's walk to it, no matter where you start from.

This is a very small place. There are 8-10 seats at the bar and three tables with 3-4 seats each. There is some standing room. I made use of it on Saturday afternoon of my most recent visit. There is also a patio in the warmer months, as weather allows. But one of the things that makes this a good place to visit is the selection. Every pour is $9 aside from the middle section of the shelves. These ranged from $15 up to $90 (as you might guess, the highest proces went for those in the bags on the top shelf...).

Speaking of selection, this was the bar where I had myself my first taste of the Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Small Batch. It was $15 and it was delicious. I wish I had been able to get a bottle, but I'm happy enough to have tried it in a nice place surrounded by good people.

They also have cocktails. My wife was particularly fond of the Bardstown Bubbler, a house cocktail that won the title of "Official Cocktail of the 2016 Kentucky Bourbon Festival." It has Peach Bitters, Campari, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Buffalo Trace and is topped with sweet Champagne and garnished with a mint sprig. I would, however, avoid their take on the Sazerac. It leaves out the Absinthe and lemon peel and is garnished with an orange peel. So basically, it is a Rye Old Fashioned. 

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But that aside, every bartender there was fun and interesting to talk to. The drinks were reasonably priced. The atmosphere was friendly and fun. All in all, it was a nice place to pass the afternoon and grab a drink or three.

The Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace is located at 110 West Flaget Ave in Bardstown, Kentucky. 


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!