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A refreshing summer cherry limeade...with booze!

Posted on by Eric Burke

Even though tonight I'm sitting here with the windows open enjoying a nice breeze and temps in the low 70s—low 20s if you use the less precise space points that most of the world uses—this has been an overly warm summer here in Minnesota. Multiple instances of 110°+ (40°+ LSSP) heat index has driven me indoors for a good portion of the summer.

Now, I'm not one to complain about heat. Legitimate chances of snow 9-10 months out of the year will do that to you after 40-plus years of dealing with it. No, but that doesn't mean I don't want to enjoy a nice refreshing drink when the heat proves to be a little too much to handle (or sometimes even when it doesn't). And it just so happens that I stumbled across just such a refreshing drink while making this year's batch of Orange-Spiced Cocktail Cherries. It's really simple actually. I just mixed equal amounts of the syrup and lime juice and topped with soda water. But since much of the country has ripe cherries in the store at the moment and probably also has a few more months of lemonade weather, I thought it might be nice to share the recipe. And the recipe you'll need to make the recipe.

Arok's Cherry Limeade

  • 2 oz Orange Spiced Cherry Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (use less if it gets too tart or add some sugar...I like it tart though)
  • 1 oz 100° proof bourbon (or higher, if you'd like)
  • Ice
  • Soda water

Pour all your ingredients, except soda water, over ice. Top with soda water. Take a photo if you are the type, then stir and sip this tart cherry goodness.

Arok's Orange Spiced Cherry Syrup

Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherry puree (puree pitted sweet cherries in a blender, run it through a fine mesh screen sieve, discard the solids)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar

Syrup Spices

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon chunks (crushed cinnamon sticks)
  • 2 tbsp Juniper berries
  • 2 tbsp whole Allspice 
  • 2 whole Star Anise (broken up slightly)

Syrup Sprits

  • 6 fluid ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao 
  • 3.5 fluid ounce new make rye (I used Buffalo Trace)
  • 9.5 fluid ounce Bourbon (I used Knob Creek)

In a medium saucepan, combine the cherry juice, water, sugar and the spices and bring almost to a boil. (If you want to avoid straining it later, tie the spices up loosely in a piece of cheesecloth so you can fish them out). Once the mixture is at a simmer, let it simmer for 5 minutes to infuse the spices. 

Allow the cherry juice to cool to at least below 160 degrees (don’t want that alcohol boiling off), remove the spices, add your spirits and stir. 

At this point, you can bottle it and refrigerate. It made just under a quart and a half of syrup. My math says that with the spirits I used the proof of this syrup is roughly 40° proof, so it should keep a little while. But your proof will vary depending on the proof of the spirits you use.


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Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Red Wheat Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

While trying to figure out the DNS issue this site was having last night, I ended up doing a little research for an upcoming post. One of the unsung benefits of being a spirits writer is that if you plan to write about what you are drinking, then you can just say you are doing "research." And the greatest part of that is, it isn't even lying. 

So since I was busy doing IT work (and doing research on future posts) last night, I thought that it might be a good time to finally get around to the third of three bottles of Limestone Branch Experimental Bourbon that I bought back in May.

This one has a very similar name from the second bottle I reviewed. So much so that the reason that the reviews were written in the order they were was because I grabbed the wrong bottle when I did the second review. There is a single word of difference in the names. This one does not have the word Malted in it. Which of course means that this is a much more typical wheated bourbon mash then the malted wheat bourbon was.

Limestone Branch Red Wheat Bourbon is a 98 proof bourbon distilled from a mash of 60% White Corn, 28% Wheat, and 12% Malted Barley. It is 22 months old.

Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Red Wheat Bourbon

Purchase Info: $22.99 for a 375 mL bottle at Total Wine, Louisville, KY

Details: 49% ABV. Single Barrel. Barrel 59. Mash bill: 60% white corn, 28%  wheat, 12% malted barley. Barrel Entry ABV: 50.58%. Barrel Char level 3. Aged 22 months.

Nose: Caramel, wintergreen, cardamom, and peach.

Mouth: Caramel, brown sugar, mint, hints of baking spice.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. There is an immediate "young" note upon swallowing which is followed by peach and baking spice. 

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn neutral face

Thoughts: I have never had a peach note show up in a bourbon before, so for that, I find this really interesting. This shows a lot of promise, but sadly just isn't there yet. As they release older versions though, this will be one to keep an eye on. 


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O.Z. Tyler, Bourbon and Rye

Posted on by Eric Burke

When I was a kid, Walt Disney's Bambi taught me two things.

1) The mom will always die in a Disney cartoon.
2) "If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothin' at all"

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OZ Tyler Bourbon and Rye

Purchase Info: $0.99 each for 50mL bottles from Liquor Barn Middletown, Louisville, KY

Details: 45% ABV. Processed using the TerrePURE fast filtering process.
Bourbon: "Aged a minimum of a year and a day in new charred oak."
Rye: "Aged a minimum of six months in new charred oak."

Nose: 
Bourbon: Caramel Corn. Smells very young.
Rye: Buttered corn initially. A hint of rye spice appears after a bit.

Mouth: 
Bourbon:
Gentle spice (mostly alcohol tingle), Sweet corn. 
Rye: Thin and cool in the mouth. After holding it in the mouth for a while, rye spices appear. Slightly sweet with a hint of citrus.

Finish:
Bourbon:
The finish really reminds me of the sips of Seagrams 7 and 7-up that I'd steal from my dad as a kid. Thin, grainy and just a bit longer than you'd hope for given the flavors.
Rye: Gentle and short with hints of rye spice that fade quickly.

 IMAGE: A hand drawn face with a frown, tongue sticking out and x's for eyes.

Thoughts: It is my understanding that most of the TerrePURE whiskey is being either sold as bulk whiskey or bottled as store brands. Given that, you can be sure that it will end up in plenty of private labels near you. I know that Total Wine has multiple of their own brands that are made from TerrePURE whiskey. I've tried a couple. I haven't found one yet I could recommend. I bought this thinking that since this was a brand being released by the producers, that it might be a good representation of the best that they could do.

I still decided to only risk $4.

If this is representative of TerrePURE whiskey, then "Distilled in Indiana" will become the mark to look for on unknown bourbon instead of "Distilled in Kentucky." This bourbon gives Kentucky bourbon a bad name. Luckily most of the TerrePURE whiskeys I've had have been labeled as such. But maybe we should avoid all store brand Kentucky bourbons, just in case. And in case it wasn't obvious, I really do not like this. At all.

 IMAGE: A hand drawn  neutral face

The rye is pretty meh. It's light on rye flavor. Doesn't have the punch you'd expect from even young rye. But, hey, it is much better than the bourbon. So there is that.


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!

Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Posted on by Eric Burke

Apologies for the delay on this post, paying work had me up until midnight last night and didn't leave much time for writing. Thanks for understanding.

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Heaven Hill for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

My daughter is in her mid-twenties (or as I like to tease her, almost thirty). She moved back home to save up money and doesn't really have too many bills, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when she came to us a few months back and said she was going to be traveling across the country to visit a friend for his wedding.

What was a little surprising was that she was buying a camera for the trip. She's not a gadget person, and I just assumed that, like most of the population, her smartphone was going to double as her camera. What was even more surprising was her choice of camera.

Yesterday the camera arrived, and last night she tried it out using the dog as her model. I was working in my office when I heard the familiar "clickclick...whirrrr" of an old-style Polaroid camera come from the hall.  Shortly after, she came bouncing into my office to show me that her new toy had arrived. Not usually being the bubbly type, it was unusual to see this much excitement from her. It turns out that my daughter has a bit of a hipster streak to her and bought a brand-new Polaroid-style instant camera to take on her trip.

I was shocked. I've been practicing photography for decades now. I remember when I was helping on studio photoshoots and the pros would have Polaroid backs on their medium-format cameras to preview a photo set-up because that was the only way to make sure everything was set-up correctly. It was a pain, and I was delighted when digital workflows made that unnecessary. Little did I know that my daughter is not alone in her desire for an expensive and low-quality image. There are so many people in the market for this old-style type of camera that I was able to find websites that reviewed and ranked all the currently available choices on the market. Having lived through it because I had to, I'm confused by the desire of people to, voluntarily pay that much for a single image.

But I am also smart enough to know that sometimes the things that excite one person are not the same things that excite everybody else. Take tonight's whiskey for instance. Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch is not only a mouthful of a name but is also the oldest bourbon I've personally ever tasted. I'm on record as being a fan of bourbons that fall in the 6- to 12-year-old range. And even then, I sometimes feel that the higher end of that has a reasonable possibility of having too much oak presence for my palate. But far be it from me to yuck someone else's yum.

The bourbon itself is a batch of 41 barrels that were distilled between 1989 and 1990 at the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in Bardstown. That distillery famously burned down in 1996. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is comparatively little of this juice remaining and that much of what is still around tastes more than a bit like you are sucking on an old log. Heaven Hill backs up that assumption by saying that only those 41 barrels passed their taste test. And that those 41 barrels only had enough liquid in them to allow the release of 3000 bottles at barrel proof.

That's right barrel-proof. But before you proof-chasers get all worked up, remember that this barrel proof is only 94.7° proof. One of the reasons this was able to last for a minimum of 27 years was that most of the barrels aged on low floors where the proof actually dropped while in the barrel.

But now we come to the moment of truth, how does it taste?

Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Purchase Info: This sample was generously sent to me by the distillery at no charge. The suggested retail price is $399.

Details: Aged 27 years. 47.35% ABV. Pre-fire Heaven Hill distilled.

Nose: Floral spice with a slightly astringent note greet you upon pouring. After a bit of time in the glass, soft vanilla and red fruits appear as well.

Mouth: Soft in the mouth. You could easily hold this in your mouth for minutes. Notes of floral oak and vanilla predominate.

Finish: Medium length with a strong floral oak presence.

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this, though not as much as others will. It is very, very, far out of my price range, but it also has a much more prominent oak presence than I prefer. Because of that, I'm going to let my wife, who is a fan of old and oaky bourbons take over from here.

"If given this blind, I would have guessed it was in the late teens, maybe low twenties in age. Honestly, before I tasted it, I was expecting it to be an oak bomb. There is a lot of oak, but I don't think it is too much. This is a good bourbon for those who love older bourbons and are lucky enough to have both the means and opportunity to buy it. The floral notes remind me of some of the old dusties we've found. I love it."


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Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week I was on a family vacation to the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. As we drove home, I was able to finagle an evening in Louisville, one of my favorite cities to visit. Which reminded me that I should probably get around to talking about a bottle that I picked up on my last trip to Louisville back in May. 

It was on that May trip that I remembered that there was such a thing as a private selection of Elijah Craig Small Batch. Well, one that wasn't the Barrel Proof version, that is. I was sitting at the bar of the Silver Dollar having a drink with one friend while waiting to have supper with another. My friend and I both ordered one of their private picks of Elijah Craig, erroneously thinking it was the barrel proof version of the product. It was not. 

It was, however, delicious. Which meant that when I hit up all my favorite stores to do a little whiskey shopping, I needed to keep my eye out for it. And I found it at a store that had been recommended to me by a reader called Evergreen Liquors. It was only my second stop there, but I had really enjoyed the private picks I'd picked up there the September before. And so with those two thoughts in my head, I picked up tonight's bottle. 

Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Purchase Info: $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Evergreen Liquors, Louisville, KY

Details: 47% ABV

Nose: Worn leather, cotton candy, vanilla, and nutmeg

Mouth: Nice and spicy. Sweet with a good hit of baking spices and vanilla with fleeting hints of fruit.

Finish: On the longer side of medium with lingering notes of oak tannins, mint, and sweet fruits.

 IMAGE: a hand drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is a very good selection from a store where I've been happy with previous picks I've purchased from them. Two data points are not yet a trend, but it might be a trend forming.

Compared to the standard release, this bottle is spicier in the mouth with a warmer and oakier finish. The noses are very similar. 


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!