Buffalo Trace Store pick: Westport Whiskey & Wine

Posted on by Eric Burke

Back in September, I met up with a fellow blogger for his first trip to the Party Source. It's in the Kentucky part of the Cincinnati Metro area, and he'd just moved to Ohio. We'd never met in real life before, and I'm always up for a bit of whiskey shopping, so I was more than willing to make the drive from Louisville to Cincinnati.

And boy did I fill my cart. I didn't get anything too special, but everything I did get was unavailable here in Minnesota, so that made it special to me. I must have bought like eight to ten bottles of bourbon. I doubt I spent more than $12 on most of them. It was fun. A lot of chatting. A bunch of shopping. Good times had all around. 

So of course, after heading back to Louisville, we decided that since we were driving right past Westport Whiskey and Wine that, well, we'd probably better stop in. I mean we are right there. It'd be a shame to have to drive all the way back over here, wouldn't it? (Not going to mention we were visiting a friend later in the week that lives about 15 minutes from there...)

After we had convinced ourselves that this was, indeed, the best course of action we stopped in and took a look around. WW&W is not a huge mega-store. It's a nice sized store that has a decent selection and has had a private selection of one sort or another, every time I visit. I can't remember what we actually went in looking for, but I'm pretty sure we didn't find it. What I found instead was a liter bottle of a store pick Buffalo Trace. I hadn't picked up a Buffalo Trace for a while, so when they offered me a sample, I was pretty sure that I was going to buying it if it was at all good. And it was. It was very good. 

Or well as good as anything can be in a tiny disposable plastic shot glass. 

Buffalo Trace Private Selection, Westport Whiskey & Wine

Purchase Info: $37.99 for a one-liter bottle at Westport Whiskey and Wine, Louisville, KY.

Details: Barrel # 111, 45% ABV

Nose: Cinnamon sugar, crisp apples,and almonds.

Mouth: Fresh Green apple, almond, and baking spices rounded out by vanilla and oak.

Finish: Warm with lingering vanilla and apple. 

Thoughts: This is a tasty variation on the Buffalo Trace flavor profile. This is a good example of why I like store picks. 

If you've had standard Buffalo Trace, then the store pick is...

Fruitier on the nose with more prominent cinnamon. The mouth is softer with more fruit and spice, but with less pronounced almond notes. The finish is a little warmer. 

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Yellowstone Limited Edition 2016

Posted on by Eric Burke

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Common Ground PR for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

So there I was, at the Lux Row Distillery announcement, trying to act like a real reporter instead of the clown at the back of the room for once. I don't usually cover events like this, but since I was going to be in town for it anyway, I thought it might be interesting to attend one so I could see how they work. 

As I stood there, taking notes, a couple joined us. The male half was wearing a Yellowstone shirt. He introduced himself as Paul Beam, and we chatted for a bit. Paul is half of the team of brothers that started the Limestone Branch Distillery. After a while, my friends from MB Roland wandered over along with Steve Beam, the other brother from Limestone Branch.

Over the course of the week, as I hung out with my friends from MB Roland, I got to chat with Steve Beam quite a bit. I learned a lot of things I can't share...which is really no problem since I tend to have an awful memory. In any case, I decided that I liked Steve Beam. He was a nice, though opinionated, guy who was fun to hang out with over a few bourbons. 

And so, when I got the press release that the Beam's and Luxco were releasing another of the black labeled limited edition Yellowstone bourbons for 2016, I wasted no time in accepting a sample to see what he and his brother had been up to.

The 2016 edition of Yellowstone Limited Edition features two bourbons, a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old, that were mingled and allowed reentered into new toasted wine barrels for additional aging. Now I want to be sure I am clear here (mostly because my wife misunderstood me the first time I read this to her as well). These are new, toasted barrels that were intended for wine...not barrels that once held wine. Big difference there. 

But there is still one question to be answered, was it any good?

Yellowstone Limited Edition 2016

Purchase Info: This sample was provided by Common Ground PR, but the suggested price is $99.99.

Details: 7 years old. 50.5% ABV. Finished in toasted barrels.

Nose: Fruit and mint lead with caramel, oak, and cardamom pods coming after.

Mouth: Peppery heat with the initial sip. Oak, caramel, cinnamon spice, anise, and mint follow.

Finish: Long with a nice warmth. Fruit and spices linger. 


Thoughts: This is a very good bourbon. There is enough proof to make itself known, but not enough to overpower. The age gives nice oak and spice. The fruitiness is present, but not overly so. Very good bourbon. 

So you are wondering about price, aren't you? Well, I think in today's market, this is good enough to warrant the price being asked. Being a freelance designer and writer, I probably won't see it in my budget anytime soon, but if I had $100 extra and saw it sitting on the shelf, I'd certainly think about it. 

This post is brought to you by readers like you who have pledged $1 or more per month to support Not a patron yet? Consider going to to pledge your support and get bonus content. It is also brought to you by Your source for bourbon inspired home decor, tasting journals, and collectibles.

Bar Review: The Silver Dollar, Louisville, KY

Posted on by Eric Burke

I don't usually review bars. Partly because I live in suburban Minnesota and there are few really good bourbon bars near enough for me to frequent them without a half hour to forty-five-minute drive afterward. So when I'm at home, I tend to have my bourbon in my home. 

When I travel, on the other hand, I go out more. Seriously why wouldn't you? That's part of the reason you are away from home in the first place, to not to do what you do at home.

When I visit most places in the country, I tend to find a brewery taproom to settle down in or at least a bar with a good selection of local things on tap. But when I go to Kentucky, it's all about the bourbon. I try to hit at least one new place every time I'm there. But there is one place I visit every single time. 

My friend Fred introduced me to the Silver Dollar on one of my February road trips to someplace without snow. I was passing through Louisville on my to someplace theoretically warmer than Minnesota, and we made plans to meet for supper and a drink. The weather outside was cold and rainy, but inside, the warm and friendly atmosphere made me immediately feel welcome as I waited for everyone to arrive. This is the kind of place that has big Christmas lights on the walls and where the music comes from a vinyl record.

I was impressed by that first visit, and when my wife and I found ourself back in Louisville on my birthday, it was the first place I thought of to get supper. Smoked brisket and creamy mac and cheese. Mmmmm. Add in a glass or two of bourbon from one of their privately selected barrels, and it made for a perfect birthday meal. 

I've gone back every time I've been to Louisville since. Sometimes more than once. When I have it, the food is always good, and I always search out a private barrel selection for my glass. They often have more than one barrel of whatever they've got. I always ask the bartender which they prefer, and I've never been disappointed when I followed their advice.


I can't recommend this place highly enough. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you need to remedy that on your next trip to Louisville. 

The Silver Dollar can be found online at

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Posted on by Eric Burke

A little over a month ago, I got it into my head to buy 1000 whiskey barrel bungs. It took a little fast talking to convince the wife that it was a good idea. Especially since we had recently learned that my biggest client was going to be drastically reducing their need for me. But I had an idea that I wanted to try. 

About six months ago, my wife filled her tasting journal. She asked me to come up with a new one for her. I tried a few things, but I finally came up with a workable design and format a couple weeks ago. Now she can stop using the spiral bound notebook she picked up in the school supply aisle at Target.

Two weeks ago, I noticed someone from South Dakota selling used wine and whiskey barrels on craigslist. At this point, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd be getting at least one. Even though I had other things to do, the barrel had to come apart first. 

What do any of these things have to do with one another? Well, it is no secret that I love whiskey. Bourbon especially. I love bourbon in a glass, but I also love everything else about it. I like seeing barrels and bottles. And every time I go to Kentucky, I have to convince myself to not buy the things created from barrels and bottles. 

I love building things. I like creating real things with my own two hands. It's exciting and real in a way that creating a digital file never will be. And since I had the time and opportunity to do so, I decided to start creating things. Some big, some small. And as of today, I am offering them for sale. I've created an Etsy store, but you can get there by going to

I've created a lot of things so far. Art prints, holiday ornaments made from whiskey bungs, coat racks and candle holders made from staves, Bourbon Tasting journals, a bourbon tasting kit complete with glasses and more. And with more to come. I have a lot of ideas and to this point, I've only made enough to get the store up. so check back often and if you have an idea you'd like to see created that I don't have up yet, drop me a note in the comments. 

This post is brought to you by readers like you who have pledged $1 or more per month to support Not a patron yet? Consider going to to pledge your support and get bonus content. It is also brought to you by Your source for bourbon inspired home decor, tasting journals, and collectibles.

My Wandering Eye: Chateau de Laubade Armagnac, 1976

Posted on by Eric Burke

Chateau de Laubade Armagnac, 1976

In case you’re new to the "My Wandering Eye..." series, let me recap. Bourbon prices are creeping up. So much so that even mediocre products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. A $50 750 ml bottle of Cognac or Armagnac doesn’t sound outrageous next to a $50 Old Forester 1870 or a $50 375 mL of the Jim Beam Harvest collection. As a response to this, my eye has started wandering down other aisles of the liquor store. Sometimes I save money. Sometimes I spend the same amount. And other times...

I recently turned 40. Forty is a pretty big birthday. One of the milestones where you take stock of your life and make sure it is where you want it to be. I remember a couple quotes from a terminally ill Steve Jobs.

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"


"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

After taking stock of my life, I realized that though my life is pretty good right now, there were a few things I wanted to accomplish yet. If my life ended today, I wouldn't be doing all of the things I want to do. 

I recently lost one of my biggest clients. On my birthday, they were found guilty of fraud and are no longer allowed to do business in the state of Minnesota. It's kind of a big deal for my bottom line, but it has allowed me to take stock of where I'm at and realize that though I love being creative, design is only one facet of it. There is so much more that I want to do.

To that end, in addition to my design business, I'm starting a new business venture (details to come soon). I've taken on a freelance writing gig. Basically, I'm in the process of making my freelance design business just one of many ways I make money and express my creativity. 

It's a scary and yet satisfying time. It's scary because I've been doing one thing professionally for the last decade and doing anything else is a little uncomfortable. It's scary because I am flexing different parts of my mental muscles so that I might do and create new things. And yet that last one is also the most satisfying part of it all. In the end, I may have to go back to design full time. I may have to pound the pavement and hustle up new clients. Who knows? The future has yet to be written, and I'm just going to do what I love so that I make sure that I am living my life doing what it is that I'd want to do should any particular day end up being my last. At forty, I figure that my story is only half written. It's time to start making sure the second half is the more satisfying one. 

In the spirit of the milestone that a round number birthday is, I decided that I wanted to buy myself something special. Due to the previous examples of the "My Wandering Eye..." series, I knew that I was really starting to enjoy brandy. So when I saw an Armagnac on the shelf at one of my local liquor stores distilled the year I was born? Well, I had to get it. 

Chateau de Laubade Armagnac, 1976

Purchase info: $159.99 for a 750 mL bottle, Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: Distilled in 1976, blended and bottled November 2015. Bas Armagnac. 

Nose: Caramel and brown sugar, ripe fruit, herbal notes and rich leather.

Mouth: Caramel, brown sugar, mint, dried fruit, leather, and oak.

Finish: Sweet caramel coats your throat before making room for a very slight warmth and some lingering oak and herbal notes.

A heart because I love this dram.

Thoughts: This is a fantastic drink. Worthy of celebrating a milestone. Sweet, fruity and a real treat for the bourbon lover. 

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