Thursday, June 23, 2016

News from Buffalo Trace - Second Year of Corn – A New Variety – Planted

FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (June 23, 2016) A little over a year ago, Buffalo Trace Distillery quietly purchased an additional 293 acres of farm land adjacent to the Distillery, with the intention of building more barrel warehouses to meet the growing demands of bourbon. In the meantime while permits were being secured for the new construction, Buffalo Trace decided it would be “fun” to plant its own corn, with an idea of creating its own farm to table “single estate” bourbon experience. 
But it couldn’t be just any corn that was planted, the Distillery wanted to plant something that had historical meaning to this 243-year-old National Historic Landmark. Research began, and soon a strain was identified that dated back to 1876, around the same time E. H. Taylor, Jr. was making his mark on Buffalo Trace. The strain originated from a White Mastodon variety and through selection techniques in isolation it became “Boone County White,” after a farmer named James Riley coined the name. Coincidentally, Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace, was born in Boone County, Ky., making that strain even more fitting. 
After planting 18 acres of the non-GMO white corn in the summer of 2015, Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley and his team eagerly watched the corn sprout up and begin to grow, and grow, and grow!  And harvest time, the stalks were well over 12 feet tall! The corn was harvested in August of last year and the grain was processed to be dried. After drying all winter, the corn was fermented and distilled at Buffalo Trace on May 31, 2016. All told, 117 barrels of the Boone County White Corn variety were distilled and are now aging in Buffalo Trace’s warehouses, to be taste tested periodically over the next few years to check on progress, and then eventually released, provided the taste profile is up to Buffalo Trace’s rigorous standards.
Now, in 2016, the cycle is beginning again, with Buffalo Trace planting its second year of non-GMO corn, this time Japonica Striped Corn, a strain originally from Japan and dating back to the 1890s. This variety will have variegated leaves of green, white, yellow and pink stripes with dark purple tassels and burgundy kernels. Typically used as an ornamental corn, this variety will be a true experiment to see how it tastes once fermented and distilled next year!  In addition to both the Boone County and Japonica Striped corn being from E. H. Taylor, Jr.’s era, both are dent corn varieties, which have a high starch content and are ideal for distilling, unlike traditional sweet corn one might see in the grocery store.  Buffalo Trace uses a different variety of dent corn in the distillation of the rest of the bourbons in its portfolio.
            Buffalo Trace Distillery intends to plant a different variety of corn each year at its farm so each year in the future there will be a unique release.  Name, age or price of this future bourbon has not yet been determined.
About Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery's rich tradition dates back to 1786 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee.  Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won seven distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named Whisky Magazine 2010 World Icons of Whisky “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 200 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tales from the Bottom Shelf - Review of Old Grand Dad 114

The title of this post, “Tales from the Bottom Shelf” may be perceived as a negative connotation.  Trust me when I say that this is only referring to the spot that the liquor stores choose to place this hidden gem of the bourbon world.  In an age where some enthusiasts are only seeking the latest limited edition offering from one of the big boys, there are missed opportunities for great tasting from these same distilleries.

One such offering is the classic 114 proof sipper from Jim Beam – Old Grand Dad.  Since this bottle spends its life on the bottom shelf of almost every liquor store, it doesn’t get too much attention.  My first introduction to this beauty was in a cocktail paired with a cinnamon syrup, ginger and soda.  A fine cocktail but once I realized how great this was on its own, I quickly changed my ways.

There is a ton of flavor packed into to OGD 114.  Much like its brethren, the more mature Basil Hayden, the lower proof 100 edition and the 86 (or 80 depending on how old the bottle is) it presents in a deep amber color with nose of orange among the classic caramel notes.   My favorite way to drink bourbon is to find the sweet spot around 108 proof.  At 57% ABV, This can be a bit spicy.  I suggest letting your dram breath for a few minutes, take a sip and add a small piece of ice to further soften.  

The palate brings more orange with hints of fresh pepper, cinnamon, herbal notes of sage and mint with a classic vanilla tone.  Though it does not offer an age stamp, OGD 114 drinks like 4-year-old bourbon.  The hints of oak and deep color validate this assumption.  

My favorite part of this $24 bourbon is the finish.  Long, rich, delicious without a hint of bitterness.  Even at this proof, it is dangerously smooth and easy to drink.  One warning - don’t enjoy it too much – it will make you swear off those 80 proof “watered down” bourbons! 

Where to find OGD - Any liquor store....

Price - $19 - $30.00

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review of the Barreled Aged Pure Maple Syrup aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels

The word “pappy” has almost become a common household name these days.  At least around here in Kentucky anyways.  And even though many know it as bourbon, many of them don’t realize that there are other products that have received a golden kiss from the empty barrels that once aged the most sought after bourbon in the world.  One of those products is the barrel-aged pure maple syrup aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels sold by the Pappy & Company. 
The Pappy & Company partnered with a great family owned company found in the state of Ohio called Bissel Maple Farm to form this barreled finish sweetness.  I love bourbon and I love maple syrup and this is a perfect match simply made in a barrel. The strong smell of bourbon is very distinct when the cap is removed and The color of the maple syrup has a dark amber, enhanced from the finishing process of bourbon barrels.  The Pappy syrup is thinner than one would find in a store bought maple syrup, a good characteristic of a well-balanced syrup.  This property helps using it in cocktails, cooking, and a high stack of flapjacks.  

Many believe that maple syrup has natural antioxidants that can prevent diseases caused by free radicals, such as cancer or diabetes.  So both with whiskey having a history of medicinal proposes along with the natural benefits of maple syrup, this is a combination that cannot be missed. 
It’s set at a good price point considering it’s an artisan style syrup and the fact that it’s finished in pappy barrels.  

So, if you want to further in light your friends in your bourbon knowledge, make them some fluffy pancakes or french toast and finish it off with some real pappy syrup.   

Per Pappy & Co.
This current batch of pure maple syrup was made with sap harvested from the Bissell's maple Farm in Ohio in the Spring of 2015 and aged 6 months in Van Winkle 10 and 12 year old barrels. 

Retail Price - $38.00

Where to buy? 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review of the Highspire Whiskey - Made with Pure Rye

If you are like me, you love a good rye and recent additions to the market have not failed to impress.  From the 110 proof Pikesville from Heaven Hill to the various offerings from Smooth Ambler, there are numerous products on the market to satisfy your taste and price point.  In order to fulfill demand for rye, we are now seeing a multitude of “young” whiskeys on the market.  Initially, I was scared to drop good money on the Willet 2 year product but I am sure glad I did.  I have to say the mellowness and flavor coming out of that bottle is truly impressive.  The Willet 3 year rye has not disappointed either.  In the spirit of appreciation for these under-aged products, we submit this review of Highspire 6 month Rye.  

Coming out of Kentucky Artisan Distilleries in Crestwood, KY, Highspire comes in at 80 proof after being finished in wine barrels from Austin Hope Winery in California for 4 months.  The attractive bottle comes sealed with blue wax.  I must say that once I poured myself a shot, I certainly did not expect as must color to have been extracted from the barrel in the brief time it spent while at-rest.  It had a nice brown hue.  Not nearly as red hued as your typical sipper but still appealing.  Similar to its more-aged brethren, this 100% rye whiskey was extremely floral but with a sharper nose often refined by 4+ years of aging.    

The flavor was immediate.  Reminiscent of a flavor-forward reposado tequila, this whiskey covered the palate with floral and red berry notes.  Due to its youth, the sharp flavor did not evolve or develop throughout the tasting.  It is not overly complex but it definitely suggests that this juice will soon develop into something more refined and flavorful down the line. 
I rarely mix my whiskey but I wanted to see how this rye would interact in a cocktail.  I muddled my first peach of the season, some mint, lime and a bit of sorghum in a mug, poured some Highspire and let it mingle for a few minutes.  I shook the mix with ice and strained into a new iced highball and topped with a splash of soda.  It turned out to be a pretty good cocktail.  The complexity of the sorghum countered the youth of the rye.  The juicy peach complemented the fruit forward notes and the herbal flavor of the mint softened the sharpness of the spirit.

At this level of aging, Highspire is better served within a cocktail to complement its flavor profile.  There certainly are some things to be excited about if this label continues to provide ryes with a bit more age.  Coming in at a price point of approximately $45, they are churning out a decent product now but should soon develop into something special. 

Check out their website - 

Other sites to visit for additional info -