Monthly Archives: January 2014
We have heard from many of our Bourbon loving friends that we must attend The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM if the opportunity ever arises. On a cold and snowy Saturday in January that opportunity finally came. Not only was The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM taking place in our town, it was also taking place at our favorite establishment in Northern Kentucky, The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar. Knowing our love for Bourbon, this event was a must.
The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM is a one-day class led by Michael Veach, the Filson Bourbon Historian. According to their website, “The Filson’s Bourbon AcademyTM mission is centered on education and adding to our already internationally recognized archives and special collections of a product that is synonymous with Kentucky – Bourbon.”
The morning of the event we had to drive through treacherous conditions caused by a snow storm but we all made it safely to The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar. Not long after we arrived, Michael Veach from The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM arrived safely, and in spite of the weather we knew The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM would go on. Everyone grabbed a seat and prepared to learn about the history of Bourbon.
Michael began the class with a brief explanation of what Bourbon is and then he began to tell us about the origin of “Bourbon.” We learned about the people who moved from other parts of the world to finally settle in Kentucky. We were taught how they actually arrived to Kentucky, usually through the Cumberland Gap or down the Ohio River from the Northern side. We discussed many aspects of history, such as how the Bourbon making process began, who is thought to be the first person (people) to ever make Bourbon, the first mention of charred barrels in the Bourbon making process, how Bourbon got its name and the role of the Whiskey Rebellion. Michael taught all of this before 10:00 a.m.!
After a break, we began a session on how to taste Bourbon and where the six sources of flavor come from. We also discussed the types of Bourbon (traditional rye, high rye and wheated) as well as the proof and filtration or lack of filtration. Though The Bourbon Guys already had a lot of experience in this area, it was still a lot of fun getting Michael’s perspective. During this tasting session we sampled Bourbon from Old Forester and Larceny. One unique twist in this tasting session was that bowls of pecans and dried cherries were placed next to us. After doing an initial tasting of the Bourbons we then took a bite of either the pecan or dried cherries and then re-tasted the Bourbon. Tasting the Bourbon after the pecans and dried cherries, we noticed different tastes that came through the Bourbon each time.
Next, Michael began a session that covered the 19th century history of Bourbon. Some of the fascinating topics covered were the invention of the copper still, the steam boats and railroads that transported Bourbon, some pioneers in the industry such as Christopher Crow and E.H. Taylor, how the Civil War affected Kentucky and how Bourbon was mainly sold in barrels at the time. We even discussed the invention of the lithograph, which was responsible for the first color advertisements of Bourbon. One of the most interesting topics we covered had to do with a man named George Garvin who legally used his doctor’s name, “Dr. William Forester,” to name his first Bourbon — Old Forester. This became the first bottled Bourbon that was for sale.
We took a break for lunch before beginning another tasting session that included samplings of George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey and Wild Turkey 81 Rye. We talked about the differences of Tennessee Whiskey and Rye whiskey when compared to Bourbon. This session was brief but it’s always fun to taste whiskey.
Right after the second tasting we began our session on the history of Bottled in Bond legislation. Even though our after-lunch food coma was beginning to set in, the very informative Michael Veach managed to keep our full attention throughout this entire session. He discussed topics such as the first bottling machine that was developed in the late 1880’s as well as the pros and cons of the Bottled in Bond Act. We talked about E.H. Taylor’s dismay for this Act as well as how James E. Pepper was the first to develop tamper-proof labeling. We discussed many other topics as well, including how the President William Howard Taft defined “straight whiskey.” Our final lesson took us up through Prohibition. We covered government taxes and the effect that World War I had on the Bourbon industry.
In a third tasting, we sampled a small batch Bourbon, Knob Creek, and a single barrel Bourbon, Four Roses. Michael explained the differences and we enjoyed our samples. Even though most in attendance knew the differences between the two, it was still a great time and Michael Veach always adds a few interesting tidbits that we weren’t aware of.
Michael Veach began our final session, covering post-Prohibition up to the 21st century. We discussed everything from the Great Depression, the grain shortage, job layoffs, the repeal of Prohibition, the gangster George Remus, and World War II all the way up to today where we discussed the great Elmer T. Lee along with Booker Noe and others.
After all of the day’s sessions were complete, Michael Veach led us into a blind tasting of an unknown spirit which he had previously poured into his green decanter. We each tasted the spirit and were told to guess things like the type of whiskey, the age, the proof and brand name of the whiskey. We being The Bourbon Guys thought we would ace this test (LOL!) but to our surprise we couldn’t guess the name of whiskey in the decanter. We must also add that no one guessed the name of the whiskey, which we won’t name in the event that Michael chooses to use this whiskey on another class of unsuspecting students.
We expected a lot from The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM and we were not disappointed. It was absolutely amazing how many topics Michael Veach covered in one day! If you enjoy history and Bourbon we highly recommend that you attend The Filson Bourbon AcademyTM whenever you get the opportunity. The knowledge that you will gain in one day is absolutely incredible.
Thanks again, Michael Veach!
The Bourbon Guys are always looking for new or changing trends that are taking place in the world of American Whiskey. One of the recent trends we’ve been seeing is the term “Solera” aged whiskey. One of the most popular of the “Solera” aged whiskies comes from Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram, New York. We wanted to learn more about this product so we thought we would do a little research and give it a try.
According to the Hillrock Distllery website the term “Solera” aging is described as “A stack of barrels where a small portion of whiskey is removed periodically and new whiskey is added. No barrel is ever fully emptied, and age and complexity gradually increase over time. Hillrock marries small barrel-aged Hillrock Estate Bourbon with mature seed bourbon before finishing in 20 year-old Oloroso Sherry casks to balance flavors and add layers of complexity.”
According the the Hillrock website, “the resulting spirit offers a pronounced nose of caramel, dried fruit, vanilla, oak and spice, accentuated by an elegant floral note. The full-bodied palate opens with rich notes of brown sugar, molasses and toffee, followed by roasted corn, clove, cinnamon and a touch of spicy rye. Oloroso Sherry notes of walnut, fig and candied fruit merge with caramel and butterscotch on the long, balanced finish.” Wow! Now that is quite the description for a whiskey!
Our friend Jason just happened to have a bottle of Hillrock Solera aged bourbon, so we asked him to join us for this review. Let’s see if this bourbon lives up to its description:
Bourbon Name: Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon
Distiller: Hillrock Estate Distillery
Color: Medium Amber (Looks a little darker in the bottle)
Age: at least 6 years old (according to the distillery)
Barrel Number: 6
Nose: The nose is very light when neat. We got earthy notes of honey, raisin, sassafras, root beer and vanilla. When we added a little water more sweetness developed along with some sweet tobacco.
Taste: The taste when neat started very mild and then a grainy astringency rose in the mid palate. It was almost a tannic feeling, which could be from the Sherry finish. We also tasted a little bit of vanilla but it was very mild. The taste wasn’t bad but there were not a lot of flavors. When we added water the bourbon really opened up and a great deal more rye spice came out. This bourbon tasted much better with water.
Finish: When tasted neat, the finish was mellow and didn’t stick around very long. The main flavors of vanilla and oak were noticable but very faint. After adding water the rye spice developed quite nicely.
Overall: At a price point of $79.99 to $92.99 we had high expectations, but the Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon didn’t blow us away. The bottle is beautiful but the whiskey inside doesn’t quite match up. In addition, we feel that you really have to add water to this whiskey to get any of the more complex notes to emerge. Due to the overall lack of flavor profile along with the price point we would probably pass as there are other superior whiskies available for much less.
Overall Rating: 85/100
The Bourbon Guys want to thank our friend Jason Farler for graciously sharing his bottle as well as his tasting input.
Many of you have asked us to review Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration, the latest joint venture from Jefferson’s Trey Zoeller and the famed Louisville Chef Edward Lee. According to the Jeffersonsbourbon.com website, “the Chef’s Collaboration developed after a late night spent tasting some of chef Edward Lee’s culinary creations led Trey to the idea that someone should blend a bourbon that would pair well with the bold flavors in chef Lee’s cookbook and other modern cuisine. Without hesitation, Trey and Ed set forth. The result is a blend with a spicy upfront and a fruity finish, enhanced by the addition of rye whiskey into the mix. Perfect with meals, for mixing cocktails or simply drinking neat.”
The description sounded intriguing to us as we have been a fan of Trey’s whiskey for quite a long time. We bought a bottle the day that it arrived in stores and we weren’t disappointed. Here are our tasting notes:
Bourbon Name: Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration Bourbon
Proof: 92 Proof
Color: light amber
Nose: The nose is very nice and light but at the same time has lots of explosive rye spice. It has a slight youthfulness to it but that doesn’t detract from the overall nose.
Taste: The front palate begins with the same nice rye notes that you get from the nose and then rises into the bourbon spectrum with a very well balanced oak and cherry flavor.
Finish: The Chef’s Collaboration finish is fairly long but mellow with continued oak, cherry and cinnamon flavor. Very nice!
Overall: We tasted the Chef’s Collaboration neat, with water and on ice and this whiskey tasted great any way. The nice rye spice on the front followed by the smooth bourbon finish is a perfect match when pairing with food. In our humble opinion Trey Zoeller and Chef Lee have done an excellent job with this project. At a price point of less than $40.00 the Chef’s Collaboration is a must for any foodie/bourbon fan!
Overall Rating: (90/100) highly recommend