Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

I state in my Statement of Ethics that, if I ever discuss a product that is produced by one of my friends, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Fred Minnick is my friend. And while I don’t know his exact relationship with the publication he is Editor-in-Chief of, I did buy the subscription to support his work. All opinions on that work are my own, but it won’t hurt to keep in mind that I might be biased.

It’s been over 15 years now since I started my career. My second career, actually. My first was as a shipping coordinator at a metal stamping factory. Eventually, the grind of factory work wore on me to the point where a change was needed. Enter college and a fancy degree in graphic design.

My first real job in my new career was as one of a team of designers for a log home magazine. I eventually worked my way up to the Design Director position. I had a team of designers and was in charge of how the magazine looked and the experience our readers had as they interacted with it.

One of the proudest moments of my working life was when I walked into a random Barnes & Noble, in a part of the country that was nowhere near home, and found one of “my” issues of the magazine on the newsstand. If the world had developed smartphones yet, I would have probably snapped a photo of the page with my name on it.

Eventually, that job went away, and I moved on to other areas of design work. First newspapers, then agencies, marketing departments and now freelance. But my love of magazines never went away. Somewhere in the back of my head was a little dream that one day I would make my own. So it was with great interest that I learned that my friend Fred Minnick was going to be the Editor-in-Chief of a new Bourbon-focused publication. If I wasn’t going to realize my little idea, I couldn’t think of a better person to vicariously realize it through.

Bourbon+ Premiere Issue

Purchase Info: I subscribed to this at a $35 yearly subscription price. I see on the Bourbon+ website that you can do it for $30 if you so desire.

Nose: The delightful odor of ink on paper.

Mouth: Are you kidding? I’m not tasting this… I will however keep tasting the Four Roses OESQ single barrel that I was sipping on while I read the issue.

The issue is delightful. The book is a satisfying nine by eleven-ish inches in size. The paper feels like it has a slightly “soft-touch” coating to it. Most people like this…I’m not a fan, but I can live with it. The issue is beautiful. The layout is easy to read, with large and luxurious margins. It’s filled with beautiful large full-page, full-color photos. Even the ads are good looking. And the content?

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Well, the content is fantastic. I mean, with names like Fred Minnick, Carla Carlton, Chuck Cowdery and Lew Bryson in the issue excellent content is expected. And the excellent content was delivered. There are departments and columns covering everything from entertaining to cocktails to craft distilling. Feature articles include a profile on Maker’s Mark’s Bill Samuels Jr., the science of corn, and even rum. This is a wide-ranging and comprehensive read covering all of the interests of the bourbon lover. I loved it and can’t wait until the next issue.


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A collaboration with Jim Beam: Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager

Hey, I redesigned the site! After having the same design through two different content management systems (the second of which I wrote CSS to look like a template on the first), I’ve decided that it was time to give the site a little facelift. Allow more room for images, get rid of a few dated design elements, things like that.

And now, if you are a reader of this blog who primarily reads it on your mobile device, you are now being treated to something that desktop readers have been (probably) ignoring for years. That would be the site’s tagline. I kept the same one for the first 5 years or so, until I notice that Josh over at the Whiskey Jug was using essentially the same one (we both started our sites about the same time and came up with it independently).

Since that discovery, I have decided to make things a little more topical. I couldn’t come up with just one that I wanted to use to sum up the site, so I change them up whenever the mood strikes me. For example, the current one is “October is a spooky time. Fortify yourself with a little bourbon.” Which means I will need to remember to change it at the end of October…

But it is also a great lead in to tonight’s review. I’m straying a little from the whiskey I typically cover tonight to talk about something that is “whiskey adjacent.” I’m taking about beer. And not just any beer, a beer that has been co-branded between Budweiser and Jim Beam. It’s not “barrel-aged” per se. The language that they use in the press release is “aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves.” But some of the flavors of a barrel-aged beer do come through. Overall, it’s a respectable beer. I read somewhere that if it had been released under one of AB-InBev’s “craft” labels that people would be raving about it. I have to agree. This is a good beer and well worth picking up a six-pack to try. But, let’s get onto the more formal review, shall we?

Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager

Purchase Info: $13.99 for a 12-pack of bottles at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 6.2% ABV. Aged on Jim Beam Bourbon Barrel Staves

Visual: Lovely copper color

Nose: Caramel, a light booziness, and classic Budweiser biscuity notes.

Mouth: Sweet with caramel and malt, nutty, a mild booziness. Notes of nuts, cooked rice and oak linger.

Thoughts: I’m going to admit something here. I do not hate Budweiser products. Even as a fan of craft beer, Bud Light is my “yard work beer” of choice. At the same time, I tend to dislike barrel-aged beers. They are typically too sweet, too strong, and too heavy for me to want to finish more than a couple sips. This splits the difference between the two. It is lighter than a typical barrel-aged beer but is much more flavorful than a Budweiser, even while retaining some of the Budweiser flavors. This beer just works. I like it. On Untapped I gave it a 3 out of 5, which is what I use when I like something, but am not is a real hurry to buy more when the amount I have is gone. As I said above, it’s worth picking up to give it a try.


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, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Angel's Envy Distillery Tour, Louisville, KY

On my last visit to Kentucky, I made a point to visit a few of the distilleries that had popped up in the last few years. It had been a few years since I had gone on a distillery tour (there are only so many distilleries that are worth touring) so I figured that they time had come to visit a couple newbies.

Upon entering the Angel’s Envy distillery, you are greeted at a desk, checked into your tour and invited to wander the gift shop until your tour starts. It really is a lovely gift shop with exposed brick, honey color wood, and black ironwork. There is a story about why the elevator in the back has the name Vermont American above it. Apparently parts of this building used to be a Vermont American plant.

Fun fact, my father worked for a Vermont American plant in northern Wisconsin making drill bits for many years before the plant was shut down and the jobs moved elsewhere.

The tour starts by taking the elevator under the Vermont American sign up to the cooking and fermentation area. The exposed brick of original factory is still a major design element, accented by the wood and metalwork from the gift shop.

The fermenters are closed fermenters, though they will open one up for you to look in.

If you turn around while they are describing the cooking and fermentation process, you get a nice look at their column still. More on that area later.

The mashbill for Angel’s Envy is (very coincidentally, wink wink) the same as Old Forester and Woodford Reserve. I guess it makes sense that it would be since Angel’s Envy was founded by the former Master Distiller of Old Forester, Lincoln Henderson. It was what he liked, knew, and reportedly the whiskey he bought to make the sourced version of Angel’s Envy that is currently for sale (aged stock from this distillery won’t be ready for a while).

After going through the cooking and fermentation area, we were taken to the still room. If you aren’t looking at the still, you will see a nice view of the Downtown Louisville skyline from the window.

The still area is dominated by the copper “Spirit Safe” style display. It was designed to be in the shape of an Angel’s Envy bottle and if all the computers go down, you could crack that thing open along the seam and stick a hydrometer in if need be.

After the still area, we made our way over to the barrel filling area. This is one of the tanks that hold the new make as it comes off the still. I liked the phrase stenciled on it. I feel like that would make a good tee shirt for me.

As you walk out of the barrel filling area, you will notice the barrels waiting to be filled. They do not have an aging area on site, so these will be trucked to another location to age after they are filled.

Here the tour steps a little out of order on the process. The bottling line is between the filling and dumping areas. It wasn’t being run very fast while I was there. Sounds like that might be a usual thing for them.

Of course, the thing that makes Angel’s Envy what it is, is the barrel finishing that the bourbon goes through before bottling. The aged bourbon is brought to the facility and put into barrels that had previously been used to age port wine. In this stage, they leave it for a relatively short period of time (think months not years) stacked on pallets. This step is done on site.

I love being able to see barrels being dumped. I’m not sure why but it always gives me a little thrill. We were lucky enough to catch them dumping some just as we left the barrel finishing area.

And of course the tour ended with a tasting. They only taste the standard Angel’s envy release. But they give you a generous pour (for a tour) before inviting you to put a message into a tube in their wall, buy a cocktail in the on-site cocktail lounge or wander around the tasting area.

The tasting area is dominated by a very large split log table. Two tables were carved from this one log that had been ripped down the center. It was an impressive sight. The tasting room followed the same honey wood and black metal work as the rest of the distillery. It was beautifully done.

I was super impressed with the Angel’s Envy tour. They were very transparent about both the sourced whiskey they are currently bottling as well as the stuff they are making now. I felt extremely welcome on the tour. It was entertaining and beautiful. All in all, I’d recommend this one.


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, please visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Old Forester Distillery Tour at the Old Forester Distilling Co., Louisville, KY

It's Bourbon Heritage Month and I just got back from Kentucky so I thought it might be a good time to highlight some Bourbon Fun. Tonight, I’m taking a look at the Old Forester Distilling Co. A new visitor experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville, KY.

Hey! I’m back from my annual trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival…only this year, I really didn’t go to the Festival all that much. I only went to two events that were officially part of the Festival, and only one was a paid, ticketed event. It’s odd, but I might be falling out of love with the KBF. All of the prices have increased to the point where I just don’t want to pay them anymore. Which, on one hand, really sucks. I don’t like to be priced out of things I enjoy (welcome to bourbon in 2018…amirite?) But on the other, it did allow me to have a lot of other experiences that I normally wouldn’t have had time for.

Experiences like tours of some of the new distilleries (or distillery-like experiences) that have popped up since I last took the time to wander away from Bardstown. One of the tours I took was of the new Old Forester Distilling Co. experience on Whiskey Row in Louisville.

When you walk in the door, you are immediately greeted by a large brick and wood room that contains a desk for checking into your tour (or buying tickets) and a waiting area. This is where your tour will start. Depending on how early you arrive, you may decide to visit the gift shop. they will certainly let you, but in true Disneyland fashion, you will also exit the tour into the gift shop as well. So when you give them your money is up to you.

If you choose to visit the Gift Shop before you take your tour, you will be greeted with the best view of the tall copper column still (as well as branded merchandise and multiple bottles that are available for purchase).

By a strange coincidence, one of my fellow tour-takers was a distiller from England who was there as a guest of Brown-Forman and Campbell Brown, the President of Old Forester (who also tagged along for a good portion of the tour as well). This meant that not only were there a few more geeky questions than you normally find on a typical bourbon distillery tour, but we also got a few more candid and honest answers than you would usual too.

Above is the entry to the official “tour area” this area talks about their mash bill and the benefit of Kentucky water.

One of the especially candid answers we received on the tour related to the fermenters (shown above). When the English Distiller (whose name or company I have forgotten) asked why they had open fermenters instead of closed ones, Mr. Brown answered that it was because it provided a better visitor experience and that they have closed fermenters in the big distillery. I enjoyed the candor. It’s refreshing to go on a distillery tour and not be overloaded with marketing speak.

When we stopped to take a look at the still, which I had already seen in the gift shop, I turned around and looked at the other wall which featured these windows showing where spirit at various parts of the distilling run would be visible. One thing I liked about the tour, was that it was really set up to be an education in to how bourbon is made for the average consumer. They wouldn’t have had to have made all the extra graphics to explain what was going on, but they took the time to do it. Nice touch.

Of course the highlight of the tour was the barrel making area. And not just because we happened to have one of the cooper’s grandfather and other older relatives on the tour with us (though watching the young kid sneak up to surprise an elderly great-aunt with a hug was heartwarming as well). Once again, they showed all the steps and let us know which pieces of equipment were state-of-the-art and which were from a previous era of barrel making. More refreshing candor. Some things were just there because it made a better show on a small scale, not because they were efficient on a large scale.

This was our tour guide (I forget her name because her hair covered her name tag and I’m bad with remembering names at the best of times). In any case, she was excellent. Normally, I have a conversation with myself regarding the things they are over simplifying or just plain getting wrong. I didn’t have that conversation here. She was very knowledgeable and I don’t remember a single of noticeable error.

This was a pretty cool machine. It was a hydraulic press that put the hoops on the barrel. I don’t remember seeing anything like this when I toured Independent Stave a few years ago, but my memory is notoriously bad (and it may have been behind the scenes as well). Still, having been a metal-stamping press operator for a few years after high school, this looked like much more fun (and much less noisy) than those were. It even had a JoyStick!

Of course after you build a barrel, you need to test it. And this was where my fellow tour taker’s nephew/grandson came in. He basically adds some water, fills it with air and looks for bubbles.

This is a fairly small distillery by big bourbon standards, but it is a working distillery none-the-less. And they say that some of the liquid that is being made on sight is also being aged on site. Not sure how I’d feel about all that flammable liquid being there, if I was Duluth Trading Company next door.

And this is a bottling line. Once again, it seemed like it was there so you could see a bottling line and learn what they do. It was running pretty slowly compared to others I’ve seen in other distilleries.

And no tour would be complete without a tasting at the end. This tour offered tastes of Old Forester 86 proof, Old Forester Statesman, and Old Forester 1897 bottled in Bond.

IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Overall, I really enjoyed the tour. There was little, to no, “Marketing BS” and the entire place was set up not only to show you how bourbon was made, but also to help you learn about how bourbon is made. Plus it was fun! And honestly, that’s just as important at the end of the day.


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!

Stubbees Bourbon Infused Honey

Unless you just stumbled onto the site, and this is your first time reading one of my posts, it is safe to assume that you know I have a fondness for bourbon. What you may not know is that I also have a fondness for honey. I love honey. It is by far my favorite sweetener. 

I've preferred honey to sugar my entire life. I used to love to put honey on my Cheerios and corn flakes as a child. When I was old enough to understand that it was acceptable to put honey into tea, I became a tea drinker at an age when most of my friends were chugging Mountain Dew. 

As I grew up and learned that much of the honey that was available for purchase in grocery stores had been adulterated in some way, mostly by adding additional sweeteners to the honey, I became a bit more choosy in my honey purchasing. These days I only purchase honey from producers I trust. Both locally and online. 

So when you combine my love of bourbon with my love of honey, it is no wonder that my interest was piqued when a press release for a bourbon-infused honey came across my desk from Stubbees Honey in Jacksonville Florida. Now I've often seen honey-flavored bourbon announcements come across my desk—many of them with little or no actual bourbon or honey in them—but I had never seen a boubon-infused honey before. So I did a little digging. 

Stubbees sources US-produced, organic, raw honey "only from hives located at nature preserves and farms that are free of pesticides." This is great as it supports both US beekeepers as well as keeping the hives healthier since the bees aren't ingesting pesticides. Based on the research, I decided to order a bottle from their website. It was $22 for a 12-ounce bottle. More than I normally pay for honey, but what the heck. If it really tasted of bourbon, it would be something fun to try.

When I first opened the bottle I was amazed at the boozy note coming from within. It was like a big, boozy barrel-aged beer. Sweet, but with a definite vinous note underneath. That note carried over to the mouth but transitioned into something much more in-line with bourbon notes. It has a good honey flavor that pairs really well with the bourbon notes. I really like this. 

And while I could probably just sit and eat honey by the spoonfuls, I decided to give this a little bit more of a thorough taste test. In the label, it claims that it is great in meat glaze or cocktails. So of course, the first thing I put it in was a cocktail or two. My wife loves the occasional Mint Julep so I surprised her with one sweetened with this honey. It received rave reviews. It did similarly well in other cocktails I tried it in. Where it blew my mind though was in a breakfast sandwich. I cooked some home-cured and smoked bacon that I had received from a family friend, placed that on a freshly baked biscuit along with this honey and a little cheese. Wooohhh momma! Was that ever good! that sandwich was worth the purchase price right there.

If you get a chance, and you are as big of a honey fan as I am, consider picking up a bottle.


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!