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Jim Beam Signature Craft Six Row Barley

Posted on by Eric Burke

I'm dog sitting this week. It's a 9-month old Huskey puppy that belongs to the adult daughter of one of my neighbors. Interestingly enough his litter-mate lives at my neighbor's and so they get to play with each other whenever the daughter comes to visit her folks. 

Having had a pair of Huskies for a decade and a half before my current pups, I know some of their quirks. Like their tendency to find a way to get above, around or under any obstacle in between them and where they want to be. Tonight the boys played with each other through the fence. Until the one who lives next door decided that it would be much more fun if he was in our yard and jumped the four-foot fence separating our yards.

To be honest, that's something I have been expecting since he really likes playing with my pups too. And I found it hilarious...my neighbor? Not so much. And truthfully, it is one of the things I love about Huskies. They are smart and they love to learn new things.

Which brings me to tonight's bourbon. I've recently had a lot of Jim Beam products on the shelf. I used to say I didn't care for things with Jim Beam on the label. But somewhere over the last couple years, I realized that I didn't really mind it. In fact some of them I actually liked quite a bit. So when I saw the entire line of the six Jim Beam Signature Craft Harvest Bourbon Collection on sale for a third of the suggested price, I knew I needed to give it a much closer look. See if I could learn something from it.

Jim Beam Signature Craft Six Row Barley

Purchase Info: $16.67 for a 375 mL bottle (on sale) at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN

Details: 11 years old, 45% ABV, Six Row Barley as flavoring grain.

Nose: Caramel, nutmeg, and oak.

Mouth: Spicy ginger, vanilla, caramel, a toasty/nutty note and oak. 

Finish: Spicy with a medium length. Oak and hints of brown sugar. 

Thoughts: I went into this one not expecting much. The brief taste of it I had at a whiskey festival a couple years ago didn't leave me wanting more. Especially for the suggested price of $50 for a half bottle. When I saw the entire line of six on sale for $100 though, I figured I better take the plunge and give it another chance. If nothing else, I'd get a few blog posts out of it. But guess what? I really like this. And though I probably still wouldn't pay the suggested price, I'd happily pay $50 for a full bottle, but twice that? Nah. It's too bad Beam priced this out of the range of sane shoppers.


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Robin's Bourbon and Beer Chili

Posted on by Eric Burke

It's a cold, damp and rainy spring day outside today. The kind of day that I know is necessary to a lush green summer but still not the type of day that is all that fun to live through. Especially when you are sick with a cold. I have the kind of cold that affects the upper respiratory. So of course, that means no fun tastings either. 

But wait! There is one thing that would be perfect on a day like today, a big bowl of Chili. I talked to my wife about it and she was gracious enough to share her secret and award-winning (office chili cook-off winner is an award, right?) recipe with you fine folks.

She wanted me to share that this is a heavily adapted version of a recipe that was shared with her by a fellow Minnesotan via Twitter. 

Robin's Bourbon and Beer Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of beer – Heavy stouts or hoppy IPAs both work nicely, Stouts make for a sweeter finished product.
  • 4 oz of bourbon – Make it something you like to drink. We use Old Grand-Dad 114 or Wild Turkey 101. The sweeter the bourbon, the sweeter the chili will be.
  • 1 pound of stew meat – we use beef or venison
  • 1 pound of Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 12-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 – 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 cans of chili beans (We use 1 spicy Bush’s and 1 of the Black chili beans)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of Mexican Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
  • 2 Dried Chipotle and 1 Dried Serrano Peppers – chopped or otherwise broken up. (We grow our peppers. Then we dry and smoke the jalapenos into chipotles or just dry the serranos.)

Instructions

Start boiling the beer and bourbon in an 8-quart stock pot.

In a large skillet, brown the meat. It helps to do the Italian sausage first and then the stew meat. Add to the pot.

Brown the onions and garlic in the skillet you used for the meat. Add butter or oil if needed. Add to the pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Feel free to add any other spices you like in Chili.

Heat until boiling and then simmer for at least a half hour for the flavors to meld.

This is better reheated the next day so prepare it the day before.


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Bourbon Supreme, Williamsburg Decanter, bottled in 1969, emptied in 2016

Posted on by Eric Burke

In the past, I've talked about my antique-bottle project. I spend a lot of time in antique stores looking for the information for my spreadsheet. Of course, I almost never go into a store intending to purchase anything. But, of course, intend is the key word there. 

Tonight's review comes from one of my antique store finds. It is a decanter of Bourbon Supreme from 1969. When I bought it, the cork was intact, and the tax seal was intact. So I decided to decant the liquid out and give it a look. 

These days, Bourbon Supreme is a blended bourbon produced for select markets by Luxco. But in days of yore, Bourbon Supreme was a product of the American Distilling Company out of Pekin, Illinois. American Distilling Company was an old company, at least as far as US companies are concerned. Pre-ProWhiskeyMen mentions that the company was formed in the mid-1890s and, after taking over a few other companies, by 1908 was mashing 6000 bushels of grain per day. The company continued to grow from there, though. A 1964 article in the Chicago Tribune Magazine states that capacity had grown to 12,000 bushels per day. Of course, in the end, all things must pass and Mike Veach says that by the early 1980s American itself had been acquired by Standard Brands who was acquired by other companies until pieces of what used to be American Distilling Company found itself part of Diageo.

The Bourbon Supreme brand though did not go with the American Distilling Company. In the thread mentioned above, Mike Veach mentions that the brand passed through the hands of either Heaven Hill or Barton to its final resting spot, the David Sherman Company, today's Luxco.

Today's Bourbon Supreme doesn't sound much like anything I'd want to try, but let's see how a version from almost 50 years ago tastes. 

Bourbon Supreme, Williamsburg Decanter, 1969

Purchase Info: Some antique mall in St. Paul, MN for I'm guessing under $20. (It's been a while).

Details: 86° proof, 74 months old (my label is partially torn, this info was found by searching eBay for images of the bottle)

Nose: The nose starts with vanilla and coconut that transition to fruit, caramel, and floral notes. After more time, the fruit and floral wander away to be replaced by rich leather...mmmm...caramelly leather. 

Mouth: Sweet butterscotch with a little oak spice. 

Finish: Light and short with distinct floral notes. 

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Thoughts: This has a wonderful nose, an ok mouth, and a terrible finish. It's very interesting but this might just stay a curiosity for friends to try when they visit. Serious meh on this one. Maybe it's how the decanter was handled for the last half century or maybe the stuff put into the decanter just wasn't that good to begin with.

A word on lead: There is a forum thread on straightbourbon.com that details the story of a man getting the whiskey from one of his decanters tested for lead and finding very high levels of it. I do not have the equipment to test this myself. I did, however, allow the bourbon from this decanter to evaporate and then drip the contents of a lead paint tester into the residue (saving a drop or two for the confirmation strip) and there was no red for lead. I won’t say this bourbon doesn’t contain lead or that any of the bourbons from old decanters you find will or will not contain lead. But this test satisfied my curiosity enough to allow me to do the small tasting I did for this post without fear of too much harm.

For more information on lead poisoning visit: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002473.htm


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Lazy River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

Lazy River Straight Bourbon

Every so often, Total Wine will have a display of miniature bottles in the bourbon aisle. I have often picked them up. I have also often regretted doing that (see the Parker Hayes Reserve review). But even though I don't often care for what is being pushed, I still keep doing it. 

For one thing, it's an inexpensive way to get content. And seriously, I do have a lot of fun unloading the day's frustration on a terrible whiskey. But the other reason I keep buying them is that I am an eternal optimist. I keep hoping that just one of them is going to turn out to be something that is a good everyday drinker. One that isn't expensive, but also doesn't taste awful.

It's ok. You can wish me good luck on that. I'm not offended, the miniatures they push in this way don't have the best track record. If I were anyone but a blogger looking for content I'd probably write that placement off as the kiss of death for a product at this point. 

Until tonight's selection, that is. This one looks to be another Total Wine exclusive, (though you can buy it online at Ace Spirits for cheaper should you wish). Unlike many of the Total Wine house brands though, this doesn't look to be a Terra Pure product or to be produced by Sazerac. In fact, a little digging shows that the COLA belongs to Frank-Lin Distiller's Products. They are the company who owns the Medley and Wathen brands of bourbon. Not the greatest bourbons, but also not bad either.

Lazy River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Purchase Info: $1.99 for a 50 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.

Details: 45% ABV. No age statement.

Nose: Granulated white sugar, juicy fruit gum, mint and a touch of oak.

Mouth: Peppery spice, sweetness, and a general fruitiness. 

Finish: Short to medium length. Peppery spice with a good hit of dry oak.

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Thoughts: This is not a bad bourbon. Not at all. It isn't fantastic. But around $25 it is certainly worth giving a shot, especially since you can pick up a 50 mL for just a couple bucks. It straddles the line between meh and liking it for me. Your mileage may vary though.
 


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Four Roses Elliot's Select Single Barrel, 2016

Posted on by Eric Burke

If you follow me on Twitter, you might realize that I am a passionate guy. Whether the topic is politics, football or my loved ones, my opinion is out there for the world to see. But there is no topic that I am more passionate about than my wife. Over the years, I've lost count of the number of times that I've slept in a hospital chair as she recovered from surgery. But the one that happened about five years ago was the worst by far because that was the time she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

One of the reasons that I love my wife so much is that she has an unconquerable spirit. Instead of just quietly accepting her illness, she took every bit of her doctor's advice. She not only went through the chemotherapy but, to quote her, she did her very best not to let it "get in the way of living." Three months after Chemo was over, with her full strength just starting to return, she hiked up a mountain in the Rockies. 

My wife truly is the best thing in my life. And so on Monday, when she got back from her cancer doctor and said that the doctor didn't need to see her anymore, we felt it was worth celebrating. And yesterday when we got the final test results back, we felt like celebrating again. Now yesterday's dram was pretty special. During one of her last Chemo treatments, we read the news that Elijah Craig 18 year was going on hiatus. She had me run out the next day and buy her two bottles. One to drink then, and one to put away until she officially reached five years cancer-free. Last night we opened that bottle to celebrate. It was the tastiest bourbon I've ever tasted, and it had almost nothing to do with what was inside the bottle. 

Oh and the one we celebrated with on Monday? Well, that was a sample generously shared with me by a friend of mine. It was last year's Four Roses Elliot's Select. We have been big fans of Four Roses for a long time. Just about five years in fact... 

See, my wife was sitting down in the chair for her first Chemo treatment. She was nervous as hell, as you might expect and earlier that morning she'd posted such on Twitter. Once her treatment began she basically just had to sit in the chair until it was done. When she opened her phone, she found a simple message from the Four Roses Twitter account: "Get well soon! You are in our thoughts." It's weird how much the fact that someone who wasn't a friend or family was thinking of her affected us both. From that moment on, I've been an unashamed Four Roses fanboy. So celebrating with a glass of Elliot's Select just seemed appropriate.

Four Roses Elliot's Select Single Barrel, 2016

Purchase Info: This large sample was a generous gift to us by one of our whiskey loving friends.

Details: 14 years old. OESK recipe. 58.6% ABV. Warehouse QN. Barrel 532W. Bottle 9483 of 10,224.

Nose: Brown Sugar, cedar, and a lovely floral note.

Mouth: Hot and sweet. Floral, nutmeg, and anise. The mouthfeel is lovely and viscous. 

Finish: Long and hot with lingering floral notes. 

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Thoughts: (I did these tasting notes before we got the good news, so it didn't affect what I am about to say) I love this. I never seek out the Limited Single Barrels because they are mostly sold closer to the tall buildings here in the metro than I regularly venture. I really wish I had sought it out. I love floral Four Roses bourbons and much to my surprise, this OESK had that in spades. Just so much love!


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!