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Colonial Spirits: a Toast to Our Drunken History

Posted on by Eric Burke

I bought the book Colonial Spirits knowing nothing about it, or it's author. I saw the title and thought it sounded like a fun read. Until I did a little internet searching, I did not know who Steven Grasse was. I did not know that he used to run an ad agency. I did not know that he is the creative force behind Root, Snap and other delightful sounding drinks that I haven't ever had before. But, I am a history buff, and I am a fan of drinks. These topics often intersect in Colonial American history. So it sounded like a good bet that I would like this one.

But there is a problem. The book takes the idea of "Drunken History" a little too seriously. I like the history. I like the recipes (even if it did say to shake a Sazerac). But the book is loud, brash and feels a bit too likely to scream "'Murica!" at me. It reads a lot like a drunk man is telling you stories in the oh-so-confident way that only a slightly inebriated person can manage.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. But, we've all been around drunk people. They can be fun, but then without warning, they can be quite emotional. They can be brash and loud until they become quiet and morose. Sometimes they pick fights and wonder why people are picking on them. In other words, drunk people can be really fun until they are not. My problem with this book is that it was written in the voice of the fun drunk person and I kept waiting for it to turn into the emotional, mean one. I get that this is more about me than the book.

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The book is worth a read, and the cocktails are worth a try. My favorite (and the one pictured in the photo above) was one called the New Amsterdam. It's a take on a Manhattan with Cherry Bounce instead of whiskey and both dry and sweet vermouth to go along with orange bitters. It's sweet but quite delicious. 


Hey, have I told you about BourbonGuyGifts.com? It is one of the ways you can support the blog and still get something back. I hand-craft items from barrel bungs, barrel staves and more to make coat racks, candle holders, tasting journals, drink coasters and more. Check it out, won't you? Also if you'd just like to support the blog and don't need anything in return check out patreon.com/arok where you can pledge your support and help keep the lights on around here.

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. 


Have I told you about BourbonGuyGifts.com? It is one of the ways you can support the blog and still get something back. I hand-craft items from barrel bungs, barrel staves and more to make coat racks, candle holders, tasting journals, drink coasters and more. Check it out, won't you? Also if you'd just like to support the blog and don't need anything in return check out patreon.com/arok where you can pledge your support and help keep the lights on around here.

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. 

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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 bourbonguy.com. Not a patron yet? Consider going to patreon.com/arok to pledge your support and get bonus content. It is also brought to you by BourbonGuyGifts.com. 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.

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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 http://www.whiskeybythedrink.com/


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

Announcing: BourbonGuyGifts.com

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 BourbonGuyGifts.com

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 bourbonguy.com. Not a patron yet? Consider going to patreon.com/arok to pledge your support and get bonus content. It is also brought to you by BourbonGuyGifts.com. Your source for bourbon inspired home decor, tasting journals, and collectibles.