Tag 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: ★★★★★


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

MxMo LXIII: Retro Redemption

Well, it’s time for Mixology Monday once again. This month is being hosted by the esteemed Jacob Greer who pens the Liquidity Preference blog. His challenge this month is to take a drink from those years that yielded few respectable cocktails, but many that were bright, sweet, cloying, or just downright horrid, and to rework it into a drink that should see a revival.

In a way, I was spared by most of these drinks, as my journey into cocktails started around the time of the current cocktail revival. In fact, my first cocktails were probably made around the same time as the inaugural MxMo event. However, one of the first cocktails that I ever made was the White Russian, and so it seemed fitting to focus on that particular cocktail.

Created in 1949, probably by Gustave Tops, the Belgian barman responsible for the Black Russian, and later launched to an almost iconic status by “The Dude”, this is a cocktail that really isn’t all that bad. I for one am not opposed to a cocktail that takes the place of my dessert as long as it still remains balanced, and this seems a perfect candidate for the task. And as luck would have it, a viable rendition is currently being served at one of my favorite bars in town, the Bayou Oyster Bar.

As many people know, I am not a huge vodka fan, and since part of my goal was to cut the sweetness of the drink and maybe add a little flavor to it, I chose to go with a coffee infused bourbon as my base spirit instead of the vodka present in the Oyster Bar’s version (Sorry Jim). So here you have my twist on the Black Drop, an updated White Russian for the 21st century.

The Bourbon Black Drop
1 1/2 oz coffee infused bourbon (I used Knob Creek Single Barrel)
1/2 oz Coffee liqueur (I used Starbucks coffee liqueur because I had some)
1/2 oz Creme de Cacao
Heavy Cream

Spirits Review: Dry Fly Washington Bourbon

Dry Fly is a distillery that seems to be bound and determined to push the envelope while still retaining the highest standards possible. Every product they have released has been distilled to a fantastic level of quality, while breaking out of the molds that most seem bound and determined to stay in. They have a vodka that is not flavorless, a gin that includes hops and apple in the botanicals, and a whiskey made from winter wheat.

This last weekend marked the Seattle release of Dry Fly’s newest product, a 101 proof Bourbon distilled from corn, unmalted wheat, and barley, and as luck would have it, I happened to be driving though Seattle right as it went on sale. Unfortunately for those who were not in Seattle or Spokane for the releases, all 480 bottles were sold within hours, and I am told that the next release is not until late next year. But, back to the bourbon.

This is not your average bourbon, perhaps having more in common with your great-great-grandpappy’s bourbon. Aged for only three years, this golden liquid is bold and in your face. The aromas are packed with spices and a faint oakiness. On the tongue, you get big sweet flavors of caramel and vanilla, the alcohol hiding in the fringes, despite the hefty proof. The flavors fade out with a long spicy finish laced with cinnamon and oak. All in all, a fantastic bourbon that will only continue to improve with age. Cheers to Don, Kent, Patrick, and the whole Dry Fly family for another fantastic product!

Today the first bottle of Dry Fly Bourbon ever produced, sold at an eBay charity auction benefiting the Spokane chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities for $2650!

Rating: ★★★★½