What Bourbon Can’t Cure, There is No Cure for.

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I recently came across  a great article in Men’s Health magazine on-line, “Science Gives You Yet Another Reason to Order Whisky.” The author, Christa Sgobba, provides a very interesting revelation on the correlation between whiskey and bacteria. In her article, Sgobba references an Italian study published in the Annals of Microbiology where researchers tested 60 samples of ice cubes made in homes, bars, restaurants and industrial facilities. Disturbingly enough, 52 different strains of bacteria were discovered. That’s right…52! And some are known to cause sickness in humans like the B. Cereus bacteria known for being associated with food poisoning. As you can imagine, the ice cubes found in restaurants and bars were the most vile offenders.

The research study incorporated 4 of the most common bacteria (out of the 52 discovered) found in the ice cube sample and tested them in various drinks, both alcoholic and non. Coke, peach tea, vodka, martinis, tonic water and whiskey were the drinks analyzed. The study didn’t specify what type of whiskey, but considering that bourbon is a whiskey and for the sake of this article, we will assume that bourbon was the whiskey tested.

In the final analysis each drink did reduce a good portion of the bacteria from the ice, however, there was a distinct difference in the anti-microbial effects between the drinks. According to the study,  all 4 bacteria strains remained when introduced to the peach tea and vodka. Does that surprise you about vodka? It shouldn’t. As you’ve heard me preach before, vodka is over distilled, tasteless and lacking character. It’s no wonder that it tested the way it did. Anyway, back to the results. Two strains of bacteria hung around in the Coke and martinis samples and only one persisted in the tonic water. Yes, tonic water on the rocks tested safer to drink than vodka! Finally, and not surprising to The Bourboneer, whiskey fared the best. Apparently, due to whiskeys acidity levels (pH of 4.2) it neutralized all four strains of the bacteria introduced. Of course it did! Just another reason to drink whiskey (bourbon) instead of any other distilled spirit.

I have written before about the medicinal benefits of bourbon. Not even a century ago it was prescribed to combat numerous common ailments and has even been studied to be a benefit today as a remedy for conditions you probably didn’t realize. See below.

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Do you really need another reason to drink bourbon!?! It tastes great (a little sweet and spicy), you look really cool and sophisticated drinking it and, oh, it’s a 100% made in the USA product.  I can go on if you’d like.

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I think I am going to partake in a little preventive medicine and pour myself a bourbon. And thanks to the generosity of a great bourbon drinking friend (BF), I will partake in a glass of Blanton’s (my favorite). Here’s to my health…and yours!

-The Bourboneer

 

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Blantons Original Single Barrel Bourbon KSBW, 46.5% ABV or 93 proof (NAS), Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfurt, Ky.

References: Men’s Health Magazine: Science Gives You Yet Another Reason to Order Whisky.” Christa Sgobba, December 8, 2017.

A Flight for the Ages

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If you are planning a bourbon tasting or just want to experiment on your own, here is a recommended flight from The Bourboneer.

I like to call this offering the “Unique Aging Style” flight. There are 4 bourbons presented, each with it’s own specific and unique aging method. The particular aging methods are introduced after the initial 4 – 6 year aging process and are considered secondary. The four bourbons selected were Maker’s Mark 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whisky, Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Jim Beam Double Oak Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Hillrock Solera-Aged Bourbon Whiskey. Each one of these selections uses a secondary aging process lasting from several weeks to several months.

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Angel’s Envy

Mashbill – 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barely. Alcohol By Volume – (ABV) 43% or 86 proof. Distiller – Louisville Distilling Co., KY. Age – 4-6 years with secondary aging in ruby port casks. Color – Butterscotch. Price – @ $45.

Nose – Bourbon and wine. Corn, malty sweetness candied and spicy fruit. Some hints of cocoa, currant and SweeTART.

Taste – Bourbon with noticeable wine notes. Rich corn, dark dried fruit, caramel, some spice from the rye and vanilla. Also there are some notes of chocolate covered sherries and oak.

 

Hillrock

Mashbill – 63% corn, 37% rye. ABV – 46.3% or 92.6 proof. Distiller – Hillrock Estate Distillery, NY. Age – 6 years by solera process (rotating and mixing new bourbon with older bourbon) with secondary aging in Oloroso sherry casks. Color – Golden Amber. Price – @ $85.

Nose – Sweet fig, tobacco, with strong caramel and vanilla notes. Floral and honeysuckle scent.

Taste – Sweet, bit of spice from rye, cinnamon and nutmeg. Maple syrup, brown sugar, dark fruits, cloves and Heath bar.

 

Jim Beam Double Oak

Mashbill – 77% corn, 13% wheat, 10% malted barley. ABV – 43% or 86 proof. Distiller – Beam Distilling Co., KY. Age – 4 years with secondary aging in new charred oak barrels. Color – Dark Caramel. Price – @ $22.

Nose – Oak, caramel, vanilla, toasted corn, toffee, hint of bettescotch and cinnamon.

Taste – Oak, caramel, dry corn, vanilla toffee and lights hints of maple.

 

Maker’s Mark 46

Mashbill – 70% corn, 16% wheat, 14% malted barley. ABV – 47% or 94 proof. Distiller – Maker’s Mark Distillery, KY. Age – (No Age Statement) estimated about 6 years with secondary aging by introducing seared french oak staves into original barrel. Color – Deep Amber, Price – @ $35.

Nose – Very sweet. Cherries, caramel, vanilla, oak and a whiff of pastry or candy.

Taste – Caramel and toasted wood, vanilla ice cream, sweet grains, roasted corn, cinnamon toast and many sweet dessert notes.

Be sure when you nose the bourbon that you keep your mouth open slightly. This will cut the strong alcohol scent and allow you to pick out the different flavor notes. When tasting, add a few drops of water to cut the alcohol. This will open up the natural flavors of the bourbon and will allow you to enjoy with less of the alcohol burn. DO NOT SHOOT bourbon. It’s a sin! Shoot crap like vodka, there is no taste worth savoring anyway.

I hope you enjoy your Bourboneer recommended flight. There will be more to come. Cheers!

-The Bourboneer

 

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: William Wolf  Traditionally Crafted Bourbon Whiskey, 43.4% ABV or 86.8 proof (aged a minimum of 6 months) Wolf Distilleries, North Charleston, SC.

South of the Border

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A few months ago I traveled south of the border for our family summer vacation. No, not south of the border down Mexico way, but South of the Border South Carolina way (Myrtle Beach actually). You know where within 100 miles of the actual SC border you start seeing signs for Pedro practically every mile and you can by fireworks that are illegal in the 47 other contiguous states. Yeah, you know the place. It’s quite annoying to be honest, but I do have a favorite sign, however: “South of the Border – 75mi. You never sausage a place!” Get it? Sausage = saw such. Simple, yes, but it made me chuckle.
Besides looking forward to spending a relaxing week of sun and sand with my loving family, I secretly looked to stockpile bourbon, add to my collection and save some money in the process. I knew that South Carolina only charged a 6% tax on alcohol as compared to 9% in my home state of Maryland and it goes without saying that things are just cheaper in the south. So I figured I’d bring home a few bottles of my old stand-byes like Bulleit and Evan Williams single barrel and potentially add some new or top shelf bourbon to my bar at a discounted price. Prior to our trip I, as any good Bourboneer would,  did some research on area liquor stores near our hotel. To my excitement nearly all the stores in the surrounding area prominently displayed the word “Discount” in their title. The gears in my head began to churn, “Discoooooount booooourbon  ahhhhh” I salivated in my best Homer Simpson. Sweet and provoking thoughts of rows and rows of cheap bourbon cascaded through my mind (and by cheap I mean in price not grade). Not only was there a lower tax rate on alcohol but it was discounted too!?! Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to patronize as may stores as possible.
Now to provide a little background information. In the U.S., there are 17 states in which liquor sales are owned and run by the state government. South Carolina is NOT one of them. Neither is Maryland for that matter. So if the store is not state run then it is individually owned and operated as a small business. This means liquor, beer and wine can only be sold in these stores and no where else. Since the state government does not have a hand in the proprietorship, the alcohol is generally sold for less than in a state owned store which, of course, is music to the ears for any bourbon lover like myself.
Keenly aware of this information, I knew that SC did not participate in state owned liquor stores and I knew the prices would be considerably cheaper there than in a state like, let’s say Virginia (state owned with a 20% tax on distilled spirits). I also knew that MD, even though it shared SC’s self proprietorship and was not state run, had more expensive liquor prices as it is historically famous for being one of the higher overall taxed states in the country. All leading to the conclusion that Myrtle Beach, SC would be a great place to buy my bourbon on the cheap.
I WAS WRONG!
The use of the word “discount” is a sales/advertising ploy and clearly a subjective term. I probably should have seen that coming but I let my avarice cloud my common sense. The reason I mention this is due to the fact that there was absolutely no discount in either of the two liquor stores I visited in Myrtle Beach. It wasn’t even close. My favorite mass produced bourbons like Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Evan Williams were several dollars higher in price than they were in MD. Yes! That’s right! More expensive than Maryland!!! The mid to upper shelf labels like Woodford’s and Michters were priced even higher, averaging about 7-10$ more per bottle (750 ml). And the smaller brand, boutique bourbons…forget about it. They were outrageous. To add salt to the wound, I was laughed at, yes laughed at when I asked one of the sales reps if they stocked Blanton’s (my favorite). Dismissively, he called out to his fellow sales rep and actually said, “We should have shirts made that say we don’t carry Blantons”. Really… shirts made!?! Maybe you should have a shirt made that says you’re an asshole!
What was going on here? How could this be reality. Nothing is cheaper in MD south of the state line! Nothing! Was this price gouging as a result of Myrtle Beach’s high tourist population. I am not sure. But what ever it was, it was disappointing. My ambition of stocking my bar with affordable bourbon was dashed. No way was I going to pay for any bourbon at 20-30% more than what I do at home, vacation or not. I do have some fiscal standards believe it or not.
So I guess the moral to my story is that things aren’t always cheaper South of the Border, especially if you love distilled spirits, preferably bourbon. Oh and by the way SC…I can buy Blanton’s in MD:)
                                                                          -The Bourboneer
Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Old Forge Reserve Single Barrel Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey, 44.5% ABV or 89 proof (Aged 10 years) Old Forge Distillery, Pigeon Forge, TN

Good Taste (post script)

After I wrote my last article, Good Taste, I had an opportunity to watch the movie John Wick starring Keanu Reeves. I’d heard a lot of buzz about the action scenes in the film and how entertaining it was, so I checked it out for myself. I can honestly say John Wick didn’t disappoint. I found the movie very reflective of my life especially the way I fight and drink. LOL! Just kidding. I truly can’t remember the last fight I was in and if I tried some of the moves made by Wick…I’d be in traction for a year. The drinking aspect of Wick’s lifestyle parallels mine however. Check out a still from a scene in the movie (below).

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Yes, that’s Keanu Reeves (John Wick) drinking Blanton’s bourbon (clearly identifiable by the unique pineapple shaped bottle). Such good taste! I am impressed. Good on ya, John Wick and/or Keanu Reeves. You now have a new fan in The Bourboneer!

-The Bourboneer

 

Image rights belong to John Wick, a Thunder Roads film 2014.

Good Taste

Good taste is certainly a subjective perception. Each person possesses their own catalog of likes and dislikes, their favorites and non favorites. It’s what makes us unique, it’s what makes us similar.  If we are fortunate enough we find others that share these commonalities, these “tastes.” The Bourboneer is no different. And when you share “good taste”, I believe it should be, not only be developed, but recognized.

Yesterday, a bourbon loving friend of mine handed me a low ball drinking glass. Well, in all honestly, the glass was a gift and it wasn’t a glass at all. It was a 10oz, stainless steel YETI Rambler. Yep, that’s right a YETI! And you thought they only made coolers!

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I am always looking for a new vessel to enjoy my bourbon. So the minute I was handed this Rambler, I knew it had just one, definitive purpose…to convey my bourbon from this day forward. As you probably know, YETI has made their millions and reputation on the ability of their products to keep things cold for a long, long time. So for me, being a fan of Blanton’s Single Barrell Bourbon on the rocks (just one rock actually), the Rambler was the perfect gift.

I’ve always been an admirer of YETI products, the ones I can afford anyway, but seeing that YETI also shares my affinity for bourbon, I now have deeper level of respect for the company. Not that I didn’t before, but you have to love an American company that promotes America’s native and distinctive spirit. How do I know YETI likes their bourbon? Take a look at the label that came with the Rambler.

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Look closer.

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Of course, I had to follow the directions. That’s four fingers of bourbon. I know that’s not Blanton’s but I am currently out. It’s not easy to get around here. Nothing wrong with Jim Beam!

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After my first bourbon in my new Rambler, I let my next drink sit for a few hours just to test how cold it would be. I was not surprised when my last sip was as chilled as my first. I am not a YETI spokesman nor do I play one on TV, but, if you love your bourbon on ice or neat, I recommend picking up a YETI Rambler as soon as possible. If it happens to be too pricey for your “taste” then just have a good friend buy you one:)

-The Bourboneer

 

Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Jim Beam Double Oak KSBW, 43% ABV or 86 proof (NAS), James B. Beam Distilling Co., Frankfurt, KY.