Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for that Bourbon Lover In Your Life

Finding the right gift for someone can be hard.  Finding that perfect gift for the bourbon lover in your life can be even more challenging.  If you are not in the know and don't understand what he or she is talking about when your shopping with them at your local wine and spirits store, use this list that I have made up to help make the holiday shopping a lot easier.

Whiskey Glass(s)

Even though their are many glasses on the market, only a few make it to the list.  The top glasses for the whiskey drinker are:

The Neat Glass -

The most scientific glass made to date to get the best taste and notes from their favorite whiskey.

Custom Glencairn Whiskey Glass -

Have a set of glasses customized with their name, logo, or favorite team or whiskey etched right on the glass.

Decanter Box Set

Can't find a bottle of pappy for them?  Order the next closest thing, the Pappy Van Winkle decanter set.  A decanter set that will truly set them apart from all their friends. 

Per Pappy & Co.

Warm, rich, and filled with history: Not just Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, but also the barrels it’s made in. Heritage Handcrafted has breathed new life into reclaimed Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrel wood to create these limited-edition boxes. Limited in production to 250, this treasure will never again be produced. Each box is handcrafted, individually numbered and personally authenticated by Julian Van Winkle with a signed note. Each unique box is adorned with a solid bronze “Old Rip Van Winkle” logo and accented with touches of handcrafted iron, luxurious velvet and hand-braided leather. Inside, you will find a crystal decanter, two crystal glasses and four hand-wrapped Pappy cigars. A perfect set for the bourbon aficionado

Bourbon Apparel

Just because they can't drink bourbon all day long, doesn't mean they can show their love of bourbon throughout the day.


Every whiskey lover needs a flask or two.  Their are flasks for all occasions and adding another to their set will help them along the way.

Whiskey Barrel Stylus Pen

If you care about what they drink, they should care about what they use when they write letters or notes on their favorite whiskey.

Whiskey Tasting Notes Book

Having a good source to keep their notes on all the whiskey(s) will help them remember what they will go back to and what to move on from.

Whiskey Barrel Chairs and Furniture

 There is life for a barrel after all the whiskey has been poured.  Buying a beautiful piece of furniture that has been handmade from a talented craftsman is a great gift to any bourbon lover.


When all else fails, simply ask your local wine and spirits owner for a good reasonably priced bourbon and they will point you to the right direction.  Any spirit lover will appreciate a good whiskey.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Updated Review of Black Dirt Single Barrel Bourbon Batch #5 - Black Dirt Distilling

So why Black Dirt? The Black Dirt Distillery takes its name from the dark, fertile soil left by an ancient glacial lake that once covered thousands of acres of upstate New York known as the Drowned Lands. Because of these natural occurrence, the perfect condition was developed for growing the main ingredient that all American whiskeys needs, corn. 

The history of Black Dirt Distilling, LLC’s origin is not as short as some may think.  The original distillery goes back to 2002 when the first micro-distillery was formed in New York called Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery.  Founded by Jeremy Kidde and Jason Grizzanti, these two men had a plan to do more then what just one distillery could do.  Jump a few years ahead, in March, 2012 Jason and Jeremy formed the Black Dirt Distilling, LLC.  This addition was birthed out of the recent bourbon boom and the high demand for fine bourbon and whiskey outside the bourbon trail.  In order to meet this demand, the Black Dirt Distillery commissioned a 4,000 square foot distillery along with a 60 foot distillation column which was completed in Pine Island, NY in 2013.  Currently they are producing bourbon, gin, and brandy from these two distilleries.  The current batches of bourbon that can be purchased and what was reviewed was aged and bottled at the Valley Winery & Distillery.

Having the title as the first mirco-distillery in New York State, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery / Black Dirt Distilling is growing by name and volume through their years of experience in both distillation and marketing.  They are making a name for themselves by making and bottling their own product from the beginning unlike many mirco-distilleries who purchase whiskey to help generate revenue.

 Mash Bill of Batch 005:

Aged a minimum of 3 years in new charred American Oak at 45% Alc / vol - 90 proof
Char level 3
Distilled from:
80% Black Dirt grown corn,
12% Malted Barley
8% Rye

Nose: Aroma of sweet caramel, vanilla and honey

Taste: Smooth up front.  Has a oily layer through out your tongue

Finish: Bitter in the back and lingers for a moment.

Final Thoughts:

For such a young bourbon, both in age and in production, I give a lot of credit to a company that is not buying their product from the larger distilleries throughout the United States.  With the sudden boom in the whiskey business in the past couple of years and many mirco distillers opening up, its hard not to buy barrels of whiskey to get cash flowing in.

Featuring a single barrel expression this quickly in one’s business plan is a risky move in the bourbon business. However, being able to say that it's your own gives a distillery more credit than most would think.

Overall, the bourbon is too young to develop much depth of flavor and characteristics you would come across in older whiskeys.  However, that's not the story here.  The heart of this tale is the depth of history which surrounds it.  From their founder, Jason Grizzanti who holds a fruit science degree, to the location of their sweet corn in the unique fertile ground where once stood an ancient glacial lake.  These are the blocks that build a great foundation for what could be an impactful distillery in the North East.  In order to build something that will sustain the sands of time, a good foundation must be laid.  Black Dirt has laid that foundation and we look forward to what the years ahead have to offer. 

Retail Price 750 ml size:

$40 - $47.99

Where to Buy:

Buy online at Astor Wines or Drink Up NY

Website: Black Dirt Distillery

Facebook: Black Dirt

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review of the Smooth Ambler - Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey Aged 7 Years

With our second review from West Virginia based Smooth Ambler Spirits Co., we highlight the 7 year bourbon.  This expression showcases an excellent example of what this company can do and leaves us curious about other spirits yet to come. 

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Straight bourbon whiskey might not originate from the hollers of West Virginia, but the men and women who chose the juice certainly do.  This 7 year bourbon comes in at 99 proof and is produced by MGP in Lawrenceburg, IN.  Bottled in Maxwelton, West Virginia, this whiskey contains a high rye content of 36% and like the label says, carries a truly smooth taste throughout the whole drinking experience. 
Smooth Ambler does not shy away from their current business plan and it's no secret that some of their whiskey is coming out of Indiana.  Like any young distillery, it takes time to distil, age and produce, but what they do have from the beginning is their raw natural talent and the ability to determine what a good whiskey is and what is not. 
According to recent rumors, we will soon be treated to Smooth Ambler’s newest release and their first distillation – a bourbon that will be aged 3 years at 92 proof and will have a high corn mash bill.

Old Scout Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Compared to the 8 year, single barrel, 110.4 proof we last reviewed, the 7 year 99 proof was a much smoother expression and provided a more pleasant finish than the higher proof whiskey.  Believing that single barrel would carry a more distinctive taste with more flavor, we again found that the 7 year bourbon had a more complex taste that filled your mouth with sweet caramel and toffee flavors.  I wouldn't turn down either whiskey, but I feel the mood would determine which bourbon I would choose.  
The Four Barrels Tasting Notes:

 Nose - A youthful bourbon, smooth aromas of rye and cinnamon. Reminds me of an afternoon walk in the fields of Kentucky.  Hints of maple and caramel along with toffee.

Taste - Very smooth up front and carries the same through the middle.

Finish - A pleasant spice that does not linger to long.  Little to no burn.   

Final Thoughts:

The 99 proof and age of 7 years is a good combination that brings this high rye content to a desirable level.  Unlike most young bourbons, this 7 year is at the beginning of the "honey years" of maturity for this mashbill. 

49.5% ALC. / Vol.
99 Proof
750 ML

Retail Price $38.99 - $45.99

Aged 7 years
Barrel No. 58
Bottle Date 2-5-14

Mash bill:

60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malt 

Distillation Process;

Continuous Column distillation
General information per Smooth Ambler:


Gold Medal, Best of Show & Best of Class, 2012
American Distilling Institute, 95 points, 2012 Wine Enthusiast
Silver Medal, 2013 San Fransisco World Spirits Competition

Smooth Amblers Tasting Notes:

Bold, sweet and spicy flavors with subtle apple, leather and cherry pipe tobacco.  Exceptionally drinkable for 99 proof.  Serve neat or use to make a helluva' cocktail.

Website: Smooth Ambler
Facebook: FB Page