Last Thursday we had the privilege of selecting a couple of barrels from the Barton 1792 Distillery. The entire staff at Barton 1792 was amazing to work with. Josh Hollifield led us on our barrel selection and I must say his hospitality was outstanding and much appreciated. At no time did we ever feel rushed. In the end we selected two fantastic barrels that should arrive in early May! May can’t come soon enough! In the meantime here’s a brief slideshow of our tour and selections.
The Bourbon Guys, in conjunction with a number of our brown water blogger friends, were treated to a wonderful tour of the former Old Taylor distillery, which is currently under renovation. Marianne Barnes, the new master distiller of the newly named Castle & Key Distillery, led the group throughout the entire facility, describing where all of the various stages will take place in the in the new Castle & Key distilling process.
Walking through this historic venue, it was hard not to be swept away to the 1887. In their first visits, founding partners Will Arvin and Wesley Murry had to blaze a trail through overgrowth and trees to try to gain some vision into what remained of this beautiful old site. Of course, the castle was built to last, with 26 inch walls in some places. Much of that structure was still intact. Many of the outbuildings that were added later had suffered great deterioration from the elements and Mother Nature. It was exciting to see the garden, the pond, and many of the buildings coming back to life. Many of the original equipment sites will be reused, though with some very modern updates.
Strolling through the grounds, we were surrounded by the history of the place, and the excitement of an impending spirits launch. Fresh copper, still wrapped in plastic, towered above us from the first floor to the fifth. Growing many of the botanicals on property, this slice of Kentucky history newly name Castle & Key will begin producing its very own gin by July, 2016. In 2018 they also plan on introducing a rye whiskey.
Of course, that is not our greatest point of interest. Rather, we were very excited to learn that a new brand of bourbon from Castle & Key will be flowing from those walls as soon as 4 years from now. It’s also exciting to hear that the bourbon will be Bottled-in-Bond in the spirit of Colonel Taylor. Congratulations and best of luck to Marianne Barnes and the team at the new Castle & Key Distillery! We look forward to getting our hands on some of these fine spirits as they arrive in the not too distant future!
See Castle & Key Press Release Below:
ANNOUNCING CASTLE & KEY : KENTUCKY-BRED BOURBON
From the Historic site of Old Taylor Distillery Under Restoration By Partners
Including Marianne Barnes, The First Female Master Distiller of Bourbon In KY
Millville, KY, February, 2016—Inside the walls of a 19th century limestone castle in the heart of bourbon country, history is being honored–and made. Master Distiller Marianne Barnes and her team are painstakingly resurrecting the historic site of the former Old Taylor Distillery to produce their Castle & Key brand bourbon and gin. Production of Castle & Key’s flagship bottled-in-bond bourbon is planned to begin this summer. As Barnes puts it, “The core of Colonel Taylor’s vision with bottled-in-bond was building a relationship of trust with his consumer, providing a literal guarantee of bourbon’s authenticity and, by extension, quality. Our goal is to embrace and enhance that vision, creating products and sharing the story from the plow to the bottling line.” Castle & Key plans to introduce a KY native botanical recipe gin this year, rye whiskey by 2018, and, then, traditional style Bottled-in-Bond bourbon to honor the Colonel’s legacy.
When founding partners, Will Arvin and Wesley Murry, first saw the 1887 distillery, it had sat decaying for over 40 years. Despite decades of neglect, Arvin and Murry recognized the potential of the site with much of the existing buildings and equipment in a salvageable condition. “Under the rubble and overgrowth, there were 100 year old buildings that were still structurally sound and architecturally astounding, and while a number of people seemed to have passed on this hidden treasure, we knew it could be revived to make great spirits,” notes Arvin.
Combining vision, passion and talent, the team is bringing the distillery back to life using existing, new and repurposed equipment and materials. State of the art distillation equipment manufactured by Vendome Copper & Brass Works has recently been installed positioning Castle & Key to begin production this summer with an annual capacity of 12,000 barrels per year. In addition to distillation capabilities, the facility has two barrel storage buildings one of which is the longest bourbon rick house in the world measuring almost two football fields in length.
With this same uncompromising respect for both tradition and innovation, Barnes is crafting recipes using timehonored traditions and methods to create distinctive Bourbon and gin. Grains will be sourced from a local Kentucky farmer who is helping Barnes resurrect a strain similar to what would have been used during the prime of Colonel Taylor’s era.
“We’re very excited to be part of the revitalization of something important in the history of Kentucky bourbon whiskey, and integral in the momentum of the Bourbon Trail,” says Brook Smith, the investment partner who, among his many successes, created the iconic restaurant, 610 Magnolia.
Over a century before the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. had the vision to create a distillery that would be a destination for visitors, a notion far ahead of its time. The Castle & Key team is picking up where Taylor left off by carefully resurrecting the property and bringing it forward into the twenty-first century. From the renovation of the glorious grounds and structures, to the bourbon production, they are taking bourbon tourism to the next level. “It’s so encouraging to see how much people want to know about the bourbon they drink, who made it, where and how it’s made,” says Barnes. “Castle & Key is a destination that encourages people to be our guest, taste, see and enjoy a step back into bourbon history.”
The original 1887 formal sunken garden has been revived beyond its original splendor by world-renowned Kentucky fine gardener Jon Carloftis. Located at the foot of the towering castle, it features a koi pond with benches surrounded by greenery, southern magnolia and hydrangea. Carloftis also designed a quarter-mile botanical garden path from which Barnes will source botanicals for her gins.
A key to true Kentucky bourbon is the water. Castle & Key’s clear, limestone-rich source water bubbles up from the ground and fills a key hole-shaped pool under the restored 19th century springhouse. Facing the springhouse is a charming red brick train station—where guests arrived in private rail cars for Taylor’s famous Derby parties— that is planned to be transformed into a full-service restaurant. With Carloftis’ creative touch other outbuildings will also be transformed into appealing event spaces for tastings, cocktail parties, weddings and private events. Bourbon aficionados and day-trippers will enjoy a Napa Valley experience at Castle & Key. Curated tours of the site, engaging tastings, leisurely strolls through the botanical garden, picnicking on the banks of Glenn’s Creek, or shopping inside a renovated boiler house are all experiences guests can expect and enjoy. A number of interactive distillery experience itineraries will be available when the distillery plans to open to the public late summer of 2016. Follow our progress – CastleandKey.com
About Marianne Barnes
As a student at the University of Louisville, Marianne wasn’t exactly sure how she would utilize her chemical engineering degree. In a stroke of fate, she accepted an auspicious internship at Brown-Forman, where she rose to the position of Master Taster in an unheard of five years. “Being mentored by Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Learning from him really brought all of my studies and hard work together,” says Barnes. She holds the remarkable distinction of being the first woman to earn the title of Master Distiller of KY bourbon since Prohibition. With her technical knowledge, hands-on experience and a specialized palate, Barnes is destined to produce exceptional products at Castle & Key.
CASTLE & KEY, Kentucky-Bred Bourbon
4445 McCracken Pike, Frankfort, KY/859.873.2481
MEDIA CONTACT: Philip Ruskin, Ruskin International
Communications 212.749.5511/ email@example.com
IF WE HAD A BENJAMIN
The following is The Bourbon Guys’ contribution to a collaborative effort of many great bloggers, retailers, and other industry “folks” to the question of, “If you had a Benjamin, what bourbon would you buy?” Of course, we can’t do anything “traditional,” so the following is our rollicking, pitiful attempt at poetry with a message. If you can stomach any more, we’ve taken some time to write up a serious recommendation following all the terrible rhymes. Thanks for reading!
IF WE HAD A BENJAMIN
If we had a Benjamin,
Oh the bourbon we could buy.
A Wild Turkey 101,
Or three, or four, or five.
Traditional, with lots of rye,
this bourbon makes the grade.
Jimmy Russell and his boy Ed,
watch closely how it’s made.
Russell’s Reserve at 110 proof,
it sips just like a dream.
That telltale rye it balances
this bourbon’s caramel cream.
Old GrandDad surely hits the spot,
A favorite tried and true.
The 80 proof may fade in drinks,
where the 114 shines through.
100 proof is just as good,
They’re each a value pour.
With Benjamin we’re sure to carry
several out the door.
But then you ask, do we like more?
We’re sure to tell you Noe.
Bold flavor in his coffee cup,
Ol’ Booker made it so.
Knob Creek another favorite,
and here we’ll include rye.
Beam-Suntory raised the bar
for all you Jim Beam guys.
Our Benjamin would also let
Evan Williams come our way.
The vanilla nose and butterscotch
says, “Take me home today!”
And then there are so many brands
that Wheatley brings to bear.
A Buffalo Trace and some pecans
are an inexpensive pair.
Weller of almost any sort
represents the wheat,
while Eagle Rare at just 10 years
is the barrel char elite.
Jim Rutledge serves Four Roses
in so very many ways,
But for sheer value in the glass
His Small batch earns our praise.
Now, we know you Woodford folks
think it’s Brown-Forman’s best,
But we believe Old Forester
Is the one to pass that test.
On we could go with this bourbon show,
and on perhaps you’d read,
but all this talk of whiskey
only serves to fuel our greed.
So, if we had a Benjamin,
Which bourbons would we buy?
We’d load our cart with many here,
and to our glasses fly!
If I only had a Benjamin – By Larry Parece (The Bourbon Guys)
If I only had $100 to spend on bourbon, I would need some time to consider just how I would spend it. As in our rhyming mayhem above, there are so many stellar options under $100. Of course, I would have to consider how long this bourbon would need to last. Assuming I had reasonable expectations of another Bourbon Benjamin appearing somewhere in my future…
I would begin by purchasing an Old GrandDad 114. At $23 per 750 ml, this bourbon has the flavor and integrity to be enjoyed straight or in your favorite cocktail. Too, if it is a little bold for a guest, an ice cube or two tames the heat, making this a versatile choice.
The next bottle would have to be a Wild Turkey 101. I love most everything that Turkey puts out, but this one is a true value pour. At 101 proof, it provides the flavor-forward, high rye profile that many bourbon drinkers look for, but it doesn’t bring the heat you normally would expect from a 100+ proof whiskey. It is also about the same price as its 80 proof little brother, so I would take the 101. If I choose to, I can always proof it down myself.
My next choice is, perhaps, one of the better kept secrets in bourbon. Unfortunately for us, theword has gotten out of late, and it is harder to find than it once was. I’m talking about Johnny Drum Private Stock. At 101 proof, and roughly $30 per bottle, it is another excellent sipper. Of course, it would hold up in your favorite cocktails, but I would hesitate to alter the experience of enjoying this bourbon neat. Now, in the event that Johnny Drum Private Stock is unavailable (as it often is lately), its substitute would have to be another Wild Turkey offering. With a rich mouth-feel and bold front palate, the 112 proof Wild Turkey Rare Breed exhibits an excellent mid to back-palate balance of oak and savory spices that rise up to meet the front, without overpowering it. In truth, selecting between these two would be more a matter of stock level than personal preference.
For my final bottle, I have to agree with my partner Tim that Old Forester Signature 100 is one of the best bourbons below $20. Exhibiting greater refinement than some bourbons that cost twice as much, Old Forester Signature 100 is a pleasant sipper and enhances any cocktail. For my money, I’ll just take it neat.
If I only had a Benjamin – By Tim Beckelhimer (The Bourbon Guys)
If I only had a Benjamin to buy bourbon, I would first be a little bummed. All kidding aside though, it would be fairly easy for me to decide what bourbons I would buy with my Benjamin. The first bottle I would grab is without a doubt Maker’s Mark ($26.99). Not because it’s a bourbon that I regularly drink but because many of my friends like to drink it and it’s also my wife’s favorite! After all, Happy wife, Happy life!
As I continue to walk through the liquor store aisle, I would without a
doubtgrab a bottle of Old Forester Signature 100 ($19.99). This 100 proof gem is one of my favorite all-time pours in the under $20.00 price range. It provides a fantastic foundation for any bourbon cocktail such as an Old Fashioned. The nose, taste and finish are also above average compared to any bourbon in this price range. This is a great sipper and it’s great to use in blind taste tests as well. Old Forester Signature 100 is one of my true everyday drinkers.
Another well-rounded bourbon that would I would purchase with my Benjamin is Knob Creek ($27.99). In my humble opinion, Knob Creek is one of the most underrated bourbons on the
market. Thought it recently received high praise at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, it still receives little mention publicly. Knob Creek is great neat, with a splash of water and on the rocks. It’s also nice to know that it’s readily available in many restaurants, which is very nice since I travel somewhat.
For the price, this high rye gem is one of the most well-balanced bourbons on the market. This bourbon is what I call a year-round bourbon; it’s crisp, bright and floral, which makes it a great sipper when sitting out on a porch swing in the summer time. It’s equally delicious in the winter. Four Roses Small Batch is great in cocktails, neat, on the rocks or any other way you prefer to drink it, but I prefer it neat.
Though there are many other fine bourbons that I could just as easily have purchased with my Benjamin such as Buffalo Trace, Weller (not easy to find any more), Wild Turkey 101, Elijah Craig and Evan Williams just to name a few, I must say that Maker’s Mark, Old Forester 100, Knob Creek and Four Roses Small Batch are what I would spend my Benjamin on – at least for today!
The Bourbon Guys hope you’ve enjoyed our take on “If I Only Had a Benjamin…”, but more than that, we hope you’ve found some value pours of which you were previously unaware! Cheers!
Special Thanks: The Bourbon Guys would like to thank Bill and Matt from Modern Thirst for coming up with such a great idea and for allowing The Bourbon Guys to contribute. Check out all our friends’ takes to “If I only had a Benjamin” below:
- Bill with Modern Thirst
- Matt with Modern Thirst
- Ben with Big Earl’s Beverage Co.
- Darren with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
- Chris with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
- Claire with See Claire Write
- Melissa with The Chicagoist
- Ginny & Charlie with the Charlie Tonic Hour
- Brian with Sipp’n Corn
- Jason with Sour Mash Manifesto
On a recent trip to a few Kentucky Distilleries my wife and I took a break for a night’s stay at the beautiful Beaumont Inn. We both loved our stay but my wife loved it so much that she decided to share her thoughts on this lovely Inn.
The Beaumont Inn: A True Slice of Kentucky!
The Beaumont Inn is the perfect mix of historical and contemporary. The grand Inn has been nestled among the hills and bourbon distilleries of Kentucky since 1845. With its front porch pillars and majestic trees, the Inn and grounds provide a quaint getaway to a simpler time. And yet: The Inn is ranked #1 on Trip Advisor and features wi-fi service. Some rooms have electric fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. And visitors can easily make reservations online.
On a recent trip on which we visited all nine Bourbon Trail distilleries in a day and a half (whew – not necessarily recommended), we enjoyed the Inn’s accommodations, food, anddrink. And then there’s the all-important atmosphere – or what I call that oh-my-deep-sigh-this-is-peaceful-and-beautiful-and-I-want-to-sit-on-the-porch-and-pretend-that-it’s-the-1800s-while-I-check-Facebook-on-my-phone-feeling.
Since the Beaumont is first and foremost a bed and breakfast, food, drink, and shelter are of utmost importance. Again, there’s that blend of old and new, historical and contemporary. In the rooms, the ceilings are high and the furnishings hearken back to the glory days of Southern décor. You’ll find lots of real wood, ornate wallpaper, and era-appropriate art. On the other hand, you’ll also find firm beds, clean bathrooms, and flat screen TVs. Likewise with the restaurants: Do you want to dress up and dine like a Southern lady or gentleman? Then make a reservation in the main dining room. Would you rather continue your day of bourbon tasting with a casual meal? Then check out the Old Owl Tavern or the Owl’s Nest Lounge. Regardless of where you dine, you’ll find the charm of good, old-fashioned, Southern cooking and the convenience of fast and friendly service.
For evidence of the Beaumont’s commitment to the needs of its contemporary visitors, simply see their website. Room descriptions and features are thoroughly explained, including photos. Visitors can easily see prices and availability, and can make reservations right online. However, you can also call and get a helpful person on the phone – a rarity these days. The restaurants offer full menus and extensive lists of bourbons, cocktails, and flights, all right online.
So the next time you’re planning a trip to Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail, start with the Beaumont Inn. You won’t be disappointed with your room or the food and drink. And you will be right at home with elements of both the past and the present.
For reservations visit http://thebeaumontinn.com
by: Lisa Beckelhimer
Every now and again, we have the opportunity to try something new. What does not happen every day is experiencing a resurrected brand that has been dormant for 95 years.
The story of the Kentucky Owl dates back to 1879 in north Mercer County. The original distillery was started by C.M. Dedman, an orphan who was adopted by a judge that gifted Dedman the distillery as a wedding present. Dedman operated the distillery until 1916 when the government shut down the operation and confiscated around 250,000 gallons of bourbon aging at the time. Sometime in 1919, after the passing of the Volstead Act, a mysterious fire destroyed the warehouse. It is speculated that the fire burned only bright enough to make the warehouse unusable and that a great deal of the bourbon made it out unscathed before the fire was set: It is thought that the bourbon made it into the hands of those that would sell it in speakeasies across the country. T.C. Dedman, the son of C.M. would fight tooth and nail to receive compensation for the loss, but never saw a dime. Despite insurmountable odds, the family came into ownership of the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, KY, which is run by the Dedmans to this day.
Fast forward five generations, and the Inn is now operated by Dixon Dedman, 33, whose hands-on approach to the management of the Inn speaks volumes of doing things “the proper way” (Beaumont Inn). Several years ago, Dixon met Mark Carter, fellow innkeeper and proprietor of Carter Cellars in Napa Valley, California (Carter Cellars). After long discussions (and a few drinks), plans to bring back the Kentucky Owl, “the Wise Man’s Bourbon,” started taking shape. Dixon and Mark wanted to make sure that this first batch was done correctly and in a way that would pay tribute to the many generations that came before them. With that philosophy in mind, they decided that the first batch would come in at barrel proof and be uncut/unfiltered. Dixon and Mark believe that “the consumer should decide how they want to drink it.” After several iterations and consultation with some of the most respected folks in the bourbon industry, they decided on a blend of five hand-selected barrels that would yield a little more than 1,500 bottles.
We were thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to be one of the first to review this bottle.
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Batch 1 Bottle 1366/1506
ABV: 59.2% 118.4 Proof
We allowed the bourbon to sit for about twenty minutes and did not add water to the first part of the tasting.
Nose: The nose was complex and evolved the longer the pour was in the glass. The aromas of vanilla custard/creme brulee/caramel, mandarin orange, dried apricot and ginger were well represented.
Palate: The palate was remarkably different than the nose. The initial hit to the front palate delivered a viscous mouthfeel that carried flavors of cinnamon candy, savory wood, evergreen, and molasses with an oily disposition.
There was little burn that did not make itself present until the finish. The finish is long lasting and pleasant with evolving citrus and candied fruit flavors. After adding a bit of water, we found that the savory wood was diluted, leaving more pronounced corn sweetness. If one were to use this in a cocktail, it would likely hold up well to ice and bitters.
Concluding thoughts: Overall we enjoyed this pour. One would not think this to be the first batch as the quality of the bourbon spoke volumes of the time that was invested to resurrect this brand. While we believe there is always some room for improvement, this pour was very nice. The bottle should be available in limited quantities in August and will be released only in Kentucky.
Overall grade: 90/100, Buy if you can find it.
If you want to experience Dixon’s hospitality, make a point to venture to Harrodsburg and stay at his Inn. There you can experience a variety of bourbons at the Old Owl Tavern, enjoy the historic charm of the Inn, and even make arrangements to have a bourbon tasting with Dixon.
Thank you to Bill Whitlow and the staff at Wiseguys Bar and Lounge for allowing us to use their venue. (http://www.goodfellaspizzeria.com/wiseguy.php)
And So, the SECOND of our Long-Awaited announcements is here!
WE’RE HAVING A PARTY!
The Bourbon Guys, in collaboration with our friends at DEPs Fine Wine & Spirits, are inviting 30 or so of our closest friends to attend our first Private Barrel Launch Party. DEPs is hosting the event on Tuesday, 5/27/14, at 6:30 p.m. at their Fort Thomas location just off of I-471. If you haven’t been to this facility, we are sure you will be amazed at the vast selection of wines and spirits!
In attendance will be the legendary Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller of Wild Turkey, to share some of his vast knowledge on bourbon and its history (and sign a bottle or two!). Jimmy is a warm and welcoming Kentucky gentleman, a treasure of the commonwealth who you won’t want to miss!
It is also our very special pleasure to have entrepreneur and mixologist extraordinaire, Molly Wellmann, in attendance. Molly is an author, bourbon champion, proprietor of several of the most popular gathering spots in town, and a great friend to The Bourbon Guys.
But this gathering is about the bourbon!
You will have the opportunity to taste (and purchase!) two very special Private Selection Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbons, chosen by The Bourbon Guys (Jason, Larry, & Tim) and the staff at DEPs Fine Wine & Spirits! Space is very limited, so PLEASE RSVP if you are able to attend. We will send out confirmations to the first 30 people who respond. This is a very special and very limited release, something you won’t want to miss! We look forward to seeing you there!
You can find directions to the DEPs location right here.
As many of you probably know, a new distillery is budding on the banks of the Ohio River. Situated at 24 Distillery Way in Newport Kentucky (that’s right, it has its very own street!), New Riff Distillery is the long-awaited addition to the bourbon scene of Greater Cincinnati. With many wonderful establishments such as The Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Arnold’s, Wise Guy’s Lounge, Japps Since 1879, and so very many more, the greatest gap in the area’s bourbon offerings was a functioning local distillery. Well, the folks at The Party Source have seen fit to fill that gap with the off-shoot that is New Riff. Brian Sprance, long-time brewer at barrelhouse. Brewing and Sam Adams Brewery, has been tapped as the New Riff Head Distiller. We know what you’re saying, “A Brew Master distilling whiskey!? Unconscionable!” Let us assure you, it makes perfect sense. Decision makers at New Riff wanted to make whiskey in a certain way, and they didn’t want their new Head Distiller to have to unlearn old habits. At the same time, they had a consultant waiting in the wings to provide decades of distilling knowledge gleaned from one of the largest distilleries in the industry. Larry Ebersold was engaged to guide Brian in the finer points of distillation used in the juices that so many other outfits have been purchasing from Seagram’s/LDI/MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. You couldn’t ask for a better pedigree!
He’s back! Long awaited and much anticipated, Elmer T. Lee has returned to store shelves, even if it’s just for a short while. Today, The Bourbon Guys were fortunate enough to lay our hands on a bottle of 1919-2013 Elmer T. Lee, Single Barrel, Sour Mash, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey! A commemorative, limited edition, this offering comes in at 93 proof (in honor of Elmer’s 93 years spent making this world a better place), slightly higher than the traditional Elmer T. Lee. At just a couple of dollars more than its 90 proof brother, 1919-2013 is worthy of a far higher price tag. Continue reading
So you say you want good bourbon?
So you say you want to meet others who appreciate good bourbon?
So you say you want the inside scoop on what’s coming next in the world of bourbon?
Well The Bourbon Guys have news for you!
We are excited to tell you about the 2nd meeting of The Bourbon Society of Greater Cincinnati, an organization dedicated to providing a forum for people who love bourbon to connect and collaborate. Hosted by Todd Carnes, Chad Finni, Marc Collins and Butch Wilburn, the upcoming meeting will be held on April 14, 2014 at Summit Hills Country Club in Crestview Hills, KY, just 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. The Bourbon Guys were fortunate enough to catch the very first meeting of The Society, and what a great night it was. Continue reading
Over the past year, The Bourbon Guys have had the honor of tasting many great and different bourbons. As a follow up to last year’s “Sweet 16 of American Whiskey” we have decided to share our list of Sweet Sixteen Bourbons for 2013 and 2014. Once again we also wanted to release this list in honor of March Madness. We see this as fitting because it’s the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 and because we are likely to stir up a little “Madness” with our choices. Continue reading