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Tiffiny: a Jim Beam poodle

Posted on by Eric Burke

My family has a log cabin in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It was built by my grandfather, his brother and father. It’s not a big place or a fancy place, but it is a comfortable place. And aside from necessary maintenance, it’s the perfect place to unplug and relax. 

You almost have to. Unplug that is. There is electricity, but no phone, no tv, very little cell reception and no running water. This last one is a bit inconvenient and is one of the reasons that I tend to bring my camper to stay in. (The other being the previously mentioned lack of size.) One of the side effects of the lack of running water is that I find an excuse at least once a day to make a trip into the nearest town.

It’s not that hard to find an excuse. I like going into town. It’s a area who’s major industry is tourism. Lots of folks out fishing means that there are also lots of people who don’t like to fish who need something to do. Main Street is usually a busy place. There are shops that sell everything from kitsch to charming, a candy store that makes it’s own chocolate and taffy, a winery and, of course, numerous bars.

The town also has plenty of liquor stores. You could probably find a Fleischmann’s Rye if you wanted. You probably shouldn’t want to though. I’ve visited most of them looking for dusties, but these places tend to discount unsold merchandise to get it out the door. 

That doesn’t mean a dusty hunter there is out of luck though. I’ve had a lot of luck at small town antique stores. And a tourist spot like this has a ton of antique stores. On one trip last summer I found an adorable little poodle decanter, which was unopened and full of 8 year old Jim Beam from the early 70s. Tiffiny, the poodle, was the mascot of the National Association of Jim Beam Bottle & Specialties Clubs. And since Jim Beam made decanters to celebrate almost everything (seriously, I once saw one for a chili cook-off) it’s only natural that they made one for one of the clubs that celebrated that fact.

The upside is yummy old Jim Beam. The downside is that there is a possibility that, in the 40 years it sat in that glazed decanter, the alcohol leached lead out of the glaze and into the liquid*. I’ve read conflicting reports online, but to this point I haven’t had it tested. 

I did take the risk to have a small amount of it tasted. By me.

Bourbon from Jim Beam Tiffiny Poodle Decanter

Purchase Info: Antique store, Hayward, WI

Details: Aged “100 months.” 86 proof.

Nose: Brown Sugar and maple. Cherries. Leather. Dark chocolate. Faint floral notes.

Mouth: Nice and Thick. Leather and chocolate covered cherries. There is a nice tingle on the sides of your tongue. Lots of floral notes and baking spices, plus the classic bourbon notes of caramel and vanilla.

Finish: Nice. A tingle all the way down. Classic bourbon notes of caramel and vanilla. A Hint of baking spices.

Thoughts: (unlike the normal measured thoughts, these are just transcribed from a stream of conscious set of notes I made while tasting it) “Wow! I just want to keep smelling this. The nose is almost alive in it’s complexity. It keeps evolving and changing. The mouth and finish have such a nice tingle. It’s crazy that the proof is so low. It’s relationship to today’s Jim Beam is apparent, but this is so much richer. This is a bourbon you smell for a half hour before tasting it, and then realize 20 minutes later that you’re still smelling way more than tasting. It isn’t that the taste is bad, far from it. It’s that the nose is so pleasurable. I wish I could drink like this more often.”

So yeah, I liked it…but on the whole, I’m not sure I’m willing to sit down and have a glass of this without further testing. Even though it’s really good, I’m not sure that risking my health is worth it.**

*http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?16193-Leaching-of-Lead-into-Whiskey-from-Ceramic-Decanter-Glazing

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


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