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Mr. Boston Drinks website

Posted on by Eric Burke

I don't make a lot of cocktails. Wait, check that. I make a ton of cocktails, they just all happen to be a variation of the Manhattan. And over the course of the last couple years, I've been trying to expand my horizons. Which is why last year when Sazerac launched the Mr. Boston site, I bookmarked it.

And then waited a year to remember that I had done so.

Last week, I was cleaning up my bookmarks when I remembered it was there. Of course, this seemed like a great excuse to put it through its paces and see if I could find anything interesting. 

According to Wikipedia, Mr. Boston was started as a distillery in, you guessed it, Boston in 1933. Within a few years, they were publishing their Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide to help promote their products. For the next 77 years, the company and its various owners published the book with the last edition being published in 2012. In 2009, Sazerac bought the brand and its guide as part of their purchase of the Barton Distillery and brands. According to the company, they immediately started working on bringing the venerable old publication into the modern age by putting it online. 

And this is the part that I find pretty cool. They have digitized the records of every edition they could lay their hands on. That means, if a drink was in multiple editions, you can swap back and forth between the editions to see how the recipe has changed over time. I find that pretty cool and is a step that many companies wouldn't have bothered to take since it probably took a lot of extra time and money to accomplish.

So is the site any good? Yeah. I love it. It's designed with a cool Art Deco feel that is very appropriate for a site that celebrates a history that goes back to when Art Deco was cool the first time. It is easy to use both on the desktop and on your phone. The directions come with an image of the glass you might want to use and a difficulty level so that you know what you are getting into. You can search for recipes by ingredient or name or you can use a "Discover" option that allows you to find recipes based on an event or occasion. If you log in, using Facebook or Google, you can save your favorites and even add your own recipes. 

While doing research over the last week or so, I decided to try as many new cocktails as I could find. I have limited ingredients in the house and even so, I was able to find more than I had time to drink. I even learned that my homemade cranberry juice goes well with bourbon. I have a feeling that I am going to be keeping this particular bookmark and trying a lot of new options.


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Jack Daniel's Red Dog Saloon

Posted on by Eric Burke

Jack Daniel's Red Dog Saloon is a limited release whiskey from Brown Forman's Jack Daniel's distillery. The brand tells us that they released it to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the opening of a saloon by Jack Daniel. A casual Google search of the subject brings up no mention of Jack Daniel's saloons. Well, none that are not either from the Jack Daniel's website or liquor stores/reviewers talking about this product. Still, not knowing much of the history of Lynchburg, Tennessee, I have no real reason to doubt that statement as it seems plausible enough that a whiskey maker in a small town might have a saloon or two as well during the late 1800s. 

Of course, we all know the history of Jack Daniel's well enough. Taught how to make whiskey by a local slave, Jack Daniel launched a distillery (and it seems some saloons). He passed the business to his nephew. Along the way, Prohibition forced the distillery out of Tennesee and then out of business. The family eventually sold the brand and business to Brown-Forman who grew the brand into the number one selling American Whiskey in the world. During the American whiskey slump of the 80s and 90s, they lowered the proof from 90° proof to 86° and then from 86° proof to 80° in the early 2000s. Today they still sit at 80° proof, but they've started to give a nod to folks who want a bit more by doing barrel strength versions, rye whiskey versions and limited releases like Red Dog Saloon.

Jack Daniel's Red Dog Saloon

Purchase Info: $24.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 43% ABV, non-age-stated. 

Nose: Caramel rolls, spearmint, banana, and baking spice.

Mouth: Mint, subtle spice, banana, and caramel.

Finish: Warm and of medium length with lingering notes of mint, spice, and caramel rolls.

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Thoughts: Hands down, better than the standard Jack. The flavors are similar, that Jack Daniel's Banana note is still there, but in this case, it is supported by more caramel and spice. I don't know if it is the six degrees of proof difference between this and standard Jack or if it is barrel selection, but it makes me wish that they hadn't lowered the proof way back when. But they are the largest selling American Whiskey brand, and I'm not so what do I know? As long as they keep putting out affordable options such as this, I guess it'll be ok.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the generosity of our patrons and by the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to become a patron visit patreon.com/arok or if you'd like to shop for bourbon goods, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Watkins Select Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

One of the many ways I make money right now is as a dog sitter. I have dogs, so watching a couple of extra is something that isn't too far removed from what I am already doing during the day. Plus, I can do it while working on any other client work I have. 

Most of the dogs I watch are very well behaved, but one of the ones I am currently watching is...well...he pooped on my rug. Twice. On two separate days. Plus he doesn't listen when you try to get him to come in from outside. 

He's a sweet boy, only ten months old, and very affectionate. Still, I'm having a hard time getting past the not listening and rug pooping. I'm assuming he doesn't do this at home since I require that all dogs be house-trained. Maybe he does. I guess I'm not there and some people are willing to try to pull a fast one on you.

I'm pretty sure he won't be coming back. That makes me a little sad. He's young, still a baby of sorts. But obviously not well trained, which isn't his fault. But sometimes those are the breaks. You take a chance on something, hope it will turn out as good as others, and then are disappointed.

Speaking of which, Watkin's Select Bourbon is a Total Wine Exclusive that is bottled in California. It isn't a TerrePure whiskey like some of the others, but it didn't come from Buffalo Trace either. I thought I'd take a chance on it. Read on to see if it pooped on my rug. 

Watkins Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Purchase Info: $1.99 for a 50 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN (a 750 mL bottle runs $16.99)

Details: 36 months old. 40 % ABV

Nose: Grain forward with vanilla, wintergreen, sugar snap peas, and a mineral note.

Mouth: Dried Grain, wintergreen, and black pepper.

Finish: Short and grainy with a hint of residual spice.

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Thoughts: There is absolutely nothing wrong with this that more age wouldn't fix. But, as it stands, I find this very meh. If you are a fan of inexpensive, grain-forward bourbons, then you should give this a shot. But if you like a little more age on your bourbon, give this a hard pass.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the generosity of our patrons and by the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to become a patron visit patreon.com/arok or if you'd like to shop for bourbon goods, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

September

Posted on by Eric Burke

Ba de ya - say do you remember
Ba de ya - dancing in September
Ba de ya - never was a cloudy day
(September by Earth, Wind and Fire)

This might be my wife's favorite song. As far as she is concerned, September is the greatest month of the year. The month has both of our birthdays, our wedding anniversary and our yearly trip to Kentucky. Ostensibly, the trip is to go to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. But really, it is a good excuse to see friends and maybe do a little shopping. 

I like September as well, the month...well, and the song too I guess. College football is just hitting its stride, and the weather starts to come down to the point where I can usually sit outside in the evening and enjoy my deck and a cold drink.

Of course, September is also Bourbon Heritage Month. The time of year when distillers release many of their limited edition expressions. It's expected that The Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, and the latest Parker's Heritage Collection will all be released in September. 

All in all, I'm looking forward to September. And here's an old recipe from the blog archives that is just perfect on those remaining warm summer afternoons.

Spiced Cranberry Bourbon Punch

Juice Blend
5 cups + 1 oz cranberry juice
1.5 cups pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice 

Spices
2 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 tsp whole cloves
3 white cardamom pods

The Rest
1 cup bourbon
1 bottle (2L size) ginger ale, chilled

The Procedure

  • Combine fruit juices.
  • Measure out 2 cups of juice blend and put in a sauce pan along with cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, simmer for five minutes. Strain out everything but the cinnamon sticks. Allow to cool. 
  • Fish out the cinnamon sticks. Recombine juice blend with spiced juice blend. 
  • Add bourbon. 
  • Refrigerate until well chilled.
  • Serve mixed 50/50 with chilled ginger ale and this will work out to just about 2.25% ABV. Low enough that you won't have to worry too much if you end up having a couple glasses. 

BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the generosity of our patrons and by the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to become a patron visit patreon.com/arok or if you'd like to shop for bourbon goods, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Bulleit Barrel Strength 2017 edition

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 Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

Well hey there everybody! 

It seems like just a few months ago that we were discussing one of last year's versions of Bulleit Barrel Strength. That's mostly because we were. I bought some in September and didn't get around to reviewing it until January. Life is funny like that sometimes. 

Even though I loved it, because of the recency of my last review I wasn't sure I was going to accept when the PR firm was nice enough to offer me a sample of this year's batch. It turns out that free review samples help the 'ol website budget, so I accepted and told them I would "find something to do with it."

My initial thought was to compare it to last year's version. Last year's was very heavy on the stereotypical Four Roses flavors. But since I am drinking my way through my old sample library, I had already consumed that one. So instead I decided to do something else. I decided I was going to explore the effects of dilution on a barrel proof bourbon. 

I do this quite a bit on high proof bourbons. One of the reasons I like to buy them is because sometimes it means I can add a little water to each glass and make it last longer. Some of them are really good this way. In fact, some are better at the "standard proof" than the standard release is. This time around I decided to dilute the Bulleit Barrel Strength to 90 proof and see how it compares to the standard release. 

Bulleit Barrel Strength

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided by Taylor Strategy. The suggested retail price is $59.99 per 750 mL bottle.

Details: 59.7% ABV. Non-Age Stated.

Nose: Chocolate, cherries, vanilla, caramel, and leather.

Mouth : Peppery heat with mint, anise, caramel, chocolate and vanilla.

Finish: Long and hot with lingering baking spice, honey, chocolate, and mint. 

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Thoughts: The bottle I purchased of last year's batch was fruity. This version captures more of the spicy aspects of Bulleit. Personally, I like last year's better, but I could see someone else preferring this batch. I wouldn't even argue with them since this, while different, is still very good.

If you compare this to the standard release of 90 proof Bulleit, this is similar but stronger. The flavors are basically the same but have been cranked up to 11. If you are a Bulleit fan, I'd recommend this one.

But what happens if you play with it diluted to 90 proof?

Bullet Barrel Strength - Diluted to 90° proof. 

Nose: JuicyFruit gum, banana bread, light caramel, oak and a hint of acetone. 

Mouth: Muted flavors of caramel, vanilla, and mint. Along with some spice and heat. 

Finish: Hot but short with lingering sharp oak and spearmint notes.

Thoughts: Dilution. Was. A. Mistake. This much water destroys this product. If you want a 90° proof Bulleit, drink a pour of one crafted to taste good there. This is better neat or with the addition of a small amount of water or ice. The regular Bulleit Bourbon had a fuller mouthfeel, and the flavors were much more vibrant than the diluted sample. 

Bottom line: If you like Bulleit but wish it had more proof, then buy the Barrel Strength. If you want something a little less hot, go with the 90° proof. But for goodness sake, if you want both, buy both. Don't try to turn one into the other.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the generosity of our patrons and by the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to become a patron visit patreon.com/arok or if you'd like to shop for bourbon goods, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

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