Category Archives: Bourbon

Spirit Review: Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr

vanwinkle10yr107 If you are a diehard bourbon fan, no doubt you are familiar with the Van Winkle name. Probably some of the hardest to find bourbons on the market today, the Van Winkle distillery (owned by the Sazerac Company) releases their products only once a year, and has bourbons labeled at 10yr, 12yr, 15yr, 20yr and 23yr, as well as a rye whiskey.

The Van Winkle line of bourbons with the exception of the 23yr features a high wheat mashbill produced by Buffalo Trace, similiar to (or exactly the same) as the W.L. Weller line of bourbons. So how do the legendary van winkle bourbons actually stand up to the hype? Well, I will say that they are delicious. Whether or not they are worth seeking out and paying through the nose for is a matter of personal taste, but they are excellent bourbons. Here we are going to be tasting the Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr iteration.

Nose: The nose of Old Rip is strong. It has a great sweet smell, like some vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce on top, banana pudding, and some oaky spice. Definitely strong hit of alcohol.

Palate: Silk and Velvet intertwine with butterscotch, dry cinnamon spice, oak and vanilla custard.

Finish: The wheat in the mashbill is really highlighted in the finish, where spice are met oak, toffee, creamy vanilla and a slight bitter char from the barrel. The finish is long and smooth.

Overall a very solid bourbon. If compared on its own, without the hype of the name, I would recommend it based upon its price point and quality. Would I stand in line for hours waiting for a bottle, or pay for it on the second hand market, probably not.

Rating: ★★★★½

Spirit Review: William Larue Weller

Hailing from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, this unfiltered, barrel proof, wheated whiskey clocks in at an amazing 68.1% ABV. And while Buffalo Trace produces a whole lineup of Weller branded wheated bourbons, this once a year release is widely considered to be the best of them all.

Nose: Sweet, complex, and almost subdued. Caramel sweetness mingled with scents of toffee, tobacco and cinnamon. Despite the ridiculous strength of this whiskey, it is remarkably gentle on the nose.

Palate: Taken with just two drops of water, there are nice oak and leather flavors balanced out by vanilla and notes of figs and dates. A slight hint of pepper, with a really pleasant burn. Not harsh or medicinal in any way, but a nice rich grassy flavor.

Finish: Long, warm and dry, with just a hint of lingering burn. Very pleasant.

Due to the limited production of this bourbon, it may be little harder to find, but it is worth snatching up if you come across it.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Park Avenue Manhattan

The Manhattan. Probably one of my favorite cocktails and one that is open to almost endless tweaks and variations, while still remaining distinguishable as a Manhattan. This particular variation is one of our house cocktails at the Oyster Bar, and really shows the versatility of this classic cocktail.

While at first glance chai and bourbon may not seem like a likely pairing, the flavors of chai and vermouth pair extremely well, and a nice high proof bourbon ties the sweetness together perfectly. Cheers!

Park Avenue Manhattan
1 oz Chai-Infused Vermouth
2 oz Bourbon (90 proof or higher preferred)
3 dashes Orange Bitters

Chai-Infused Vermouth
750ml Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3oz (by volume) loose Chai
Steep in covered container for 24 hrs. Strain through coffee filter and bottle. Refridgerate infused vermouth for up to one month.



Vintage Cocktails #75: The Mint Julep

Perhaps nothing defines a classic as much as the Mint Julep. First appearing in print in 1803, three years prior to the first defintion of a cocktail, the julep is complex and versatile, yet so simple at its core. While juleps rained supreme in the 18th and early 19th centuries, they soon gave way to the family of drinks known as “smashes”. Faster to prepare and consume, smashes meshed well with the increasing pace of American life.

While early juleps were likely mixed with cognac, the accepted spirit nowadays is bourbon. For the preparation of a proper julep, a few things are needed. Firstly, a traditional silver or pewter julep cup is essential, allowing frost to form on the outside of the cup and keeping the drink icy cold. Secondly, crushed ice is a must. I make my crushed ice by placing it into a canvas lewis bag and crushing it with a mallet. Thirdly, lots of nice fresh mint is needed both as an ingredient and as a very functional garnish.

So let’s begin. A traditional julep is made with just four simple ingredients, Spirit, sugar/syrup, ice, and mint. I switch mine up just a bit and use a sweet liqueur in place of the sugar, which adds a little bit of extra flavor to the drink. We start by gently muddling roughly a dozen mint leaves in the bottom of the cup. The goal here is to gently express the mint oils and coat the glass, not to shred the leaves to a pulp. I usually add the liqueur (Apricot in this case) at this time as I like to get the flavors incorporated. Next we will fill our cup with the crushed ice, and pour in our Bourbon. A quick stir is really all that is needed, just enough to get the cup to start frosting on the exterior. Then we will pile more crushed ice on top to give it that adult snow cone look. Then we will garnish with several large sprigs of mint, the more the better in my opinion, and place our straw nice and close, so that in sipping the beverage your nose is treated to the wonderful aromatics of the mint. And there you have it, a perfect summer sipper for those long hot afternoons. Cheers!

The Mint Julep
2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Orchard Apricot Liqueur


Spirit Tasting Class: American Whiskey

This month I will be resuming my series of classes on different spirits at the Bayou Oyster Bar.

This month’s class will be January 15th at 6:00pm, and we will be looking at the history of American Whiskey. We will dig into the main types of American Whiskey, enjoy some cocktails, and take part in a tasting of a variety of some bourbon and rye whiskies.

The class will be limited to 10 people, so if you are interested, or know anyone who is, reserve your spot now at the Bayou Oyster Bar, preferably between the hours of 5:00-7:00pm. It should be informative and a lot of fun, and I hope to see you there. Cheers!