Friday, February 20, 2015

My Favorite Bourbon

Three days before Christmas I got a phone call from our friend Greg telling me that he had a guy that he really thought I should meet.

"Greg, the store is packed with customers" I said. "This is not a good time."

Now, I trust Greg and when he pushed for me to take a few minutes with this guy I finally agreed to "5 minutes and not a second more".

A little while later this guy Joe walked in to the store for his very rushed visit and a little face time to introduce me to his company. I very hurriedly introduced myself and with the store buzzing wasn't a very good host but I did shake his hand and force a bit of a smile. He could feel the obvious tension and told me that he was just going to drop his card and introduce himself and he would be out of our hair in no time.

"Phew" I thought.

As he dropped his backpack on the table and began to tell me about his company I realized why Greg had made the call. This guy wasn't really trying to sell me something, He was opening a door and extending an invitation to join him in a mutual passion. He presented a bottle of Barrell Bourbon Batch #3 and asked if I had time for a quick taste and not knowing what was about to happen, I curtly said "Yes, a quick one though".

The next few minutes were very memorable...

Now there are a lot of good Bourbons out there and we have a nice selection along with a pretty good allocation of the hard to find ones but even in the upper echelon of great Whiskey, this one is unique. I don't want to over sell it but it shows so many great layers of flavor that I don't think I will.

Just looking at its deep mahogany color I immediately took notice. The way it moved in my glass got my attention next, there is a viscosity to it, an almost oily texture as it swirls in my glass. I hadn't smelled it or tasted it yet but I was already feeling like this needed more than 5 minutes because it was fast approaching and I was slowing down dramatically. The nose was next and as Renzo and I tasted it we both just sort of looked at each other and started naming its components. Dried Orange peel, Caramel, dried grass, Chocolate, Vanilla, Melted Butter, and the list went on. I'm not sure how long it was before we actually tasted it but that 5 minute rule was in the rear view mirror.

Let's taste...

Wow! What a monster... Very spicey, hot, high in alcohol are the only things I could think as I felt my eyes start to water up and my whole face flush from the high alcohol. Err... not a delicate or pleasing first sip. "Wow Joe" I said through my breaking voice that had just been accosted by his Bourbon "Thats Big".

"Yes it is" He said with a smile, "I bottle everything at proof" (this one is 122 proof) "Taste it again".

I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to it but I did my job and went back to it. To my amazement some combination of my palate adjusting to it and I think the viscosity made that second sip completely different. It was soft and feminine, warm and inviting and all of those layers that I was smelling started to come through on my palate. This was very interesting. What was more outstanding was the long finish. It seemed to go on forever and While Joe and I talked that glass just kept whispering to my to taste it again. I tasted it again and again and every sip was better that the previous on. It was like drinking a great wine that keeps opening and evolving in your glass.

Soon he was talking about some of his other projects and talking about the differences in white whiskey's as they come off the still and, with the store buzzing around us, he had me captivated with his easy style and great knowledge. My "no more than five minutes" had turned in to 45 minutes and it wasn't long enough.

We did have to stop the meeting but I have asked him to do a guest appearance for us and lead us through all of the things we touched on at our first meeting in a class format. He has agreed and anyone lucky enough to get a seat is in for a real treat. He is going to let us tasted a few of his selected Whiskies (I have since found out that they are all very good). Talk about and try some other styles and producers and he will bring along some white Whiskey for us to taste and learn from.

Here is the information for those that are interested:

This very special Bourbon is also on our shelf right now and very well priced at $82.99. That may sound high but this bottle earns every penny of it!


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