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Archive for July, 2015

What is the difference between Bourbon and Whiskey?

You may have heard the saying that “all bourbon is whiskey, but whiskey is not always bourbon.” If you’re a whiskey (and especially bourbon) drinker, you need to know what that means.

The simple answer is that a strict set of federal trade regulations defines what’s what. While whiskey is made all over the world, American whiskey is a distilled spirit made from fermented grain and usually aged in an oak barrel. The various types (rye, rye malt, wheat, bourbon and corn) each include different ingredients in accordance with alcohol trade regulations known as the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits.

The history of bourbon is uniquely American. It was traditionally distilled in and around present-day Bourbon County, Kentucky. The area takes its name from the Bourbon dynasty, a royal family that ruled over various countries at different times over the last 500 years. Bourbon is the most popular type of whiskey in the US, but in the 1900s it was considered a “commodity” spirit: cheap, bitter and almost universally bad. The introduction of the federal standards improved the taste and reputation of bourbon and it is now considered the most distinguished form of US whiskey.

To classify their spirits as bourbon, manufacturers must stick to a strict set of standards: their bourbon must be made in the US from a grain mixture that is at least 51 percent corn, it must be distilled to a maximum strength of 160 proof, bottled at a minimum strength of 80 proof, and barreled for aging at no more than 125 proof. It must be aged in new charred oak barrels. To be considered “straight bourbon,” it must meet all the above requirements as well as contain no added coloring, flavoring or other spirits.

The top selling brands of bourbon whiskey in the US are Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey. Some whiskeys, including Jack Daniels, qualify as whiskeys but are not marketed as such.

What Makes a Bourbon: A Cheat Sheet
• Must be made in the United States.
• Must contain 51 percent corn.
• Must be aged in new oak charred barrels.
• Must be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125 proof.
• Must be bottled at no less than 80 proof.
• Must not contain any added flavoring, coloring or other additives.

Everyone knows about wine tasting parties, but if you want to host a night that will set you apart from the rest, it’s time to bring out the big guns, and host a whiskey tasting. So just buy some whiskies and get your friends over right? Not quite. You know that there’s more to whisky than slamming it back straight or doubling it down with a well known cola, and soon your friends will too, if you make the right preparations.

Whiskey: Firstly, it would be easy to get carried away and want to include all 50 of your favorite whiskies, however it’s worth focusing on a particular theme so that you can provide clearer points for comparison. Single malts are a good starting point for beginners, and about 6 – 8 should provide a good selection, allowing for 15 minutes for each one over a two hour period.

Glasses: Having the right glasses and sufficient space to place them will be key your guests enjoying the experience. You’ll need a separate glass for each whisky, and these should be clear, tulip shaped tasting glasses which will help capture the aroma of each whisky. It’s worth hiring these from a catering equipment company to save you the hassle of washing them in between, and then you can have all your whiskies out ready for the guests arrival. You’ll need a biggish table to place all the glasses on, and any other bits and pieces needed. It can be a nice touch to provide notepads so your guests can scribble notes and compare as they taste.

Food: In order to make sure that your guests make it through the tasting without getting drunk, you should make it clear that they shouldn’t come on an empty stomach, although they also shouldn’t have eaten too much! Consider providing some snacks, but spicy foods and any strong garlicky foods should be avoided as they can overpower the palate. Stick to plainish things like crackers, which are also good for palate cleansing in between glasses.

Water: Water is an important element that cannot be ignored. Room temperature spring water needs to be provided, as a good mouthful should be drunk between whiskies. Guests may also want to add water to explore how that changes the profile of the drink. Choose a bottled water without minerals so it doesn’t color the flavor.

Entertaining: Lastly, remember to have fun! Adding a mystery element into the evening will help to inspire conversation and make it more enjoyable. Blind tastings, where no one knows exactly which whiskey they are drinking, are a good way to combat any preconceived notions about each whisky. You can organize the glasses by using tasting pads, which have space for each numbered glass to be placed on, along with a handy list of flavors for easy reference when taking notes. Listen how people who only 20 minutes ago knew absolutely nothing about whiskey talk of “notes of leather, with coffee highlights” like they have been quaffing single malts for years.

That’s a whiskey tasting success!

Overall in the United States, despite the climate change, wheat production is above previous levels. All wheat growth combined is forecasted to be up 6%. These predictions are about on par with the industry predictions of 2.149 billion bushels.

The only type of wheat that is expected to see a negative hit is winter wheat. Forecasts of the production have it currently down 3% but that is still greater than the 2014 yield. In total there is expected to be a 33.3 million acres of winter wheat harvested which is 3% greater than 2014.

Durum wheat is expected to do especially good this year. The estimated increase from the 2014 numbers is 42% or 75.5 million bushels, this is despite a .1 bushel per acre reduction. The total number of area that is expected to be harvested for Durum is 1.91 million acres, 43% up from last year but on track for this year’s predictions.
Other wheat to be harvested during the spring is forecasted to be 617 million bushels or a total of 13.2 million acres. Both the acreage and the bushel count is up 4% from last year’s numbers.

In a wheat supply and demand report the United States Department of Agriculture stated that is believes the carryover for wheat to June 2016 will be 3% higher than last year. This number of bushels being carried over is below the projected amount by over 100 million bushels.

For other crops there is also a reduction in carryover. Corn is predicted to carryover 10% less and soybeans are predicted to carryover 11% less than 2015 numbers. Both corn and soybeans are below projected numbers. Tobacco in the United States is seeing a major hit at 21% less production than the 2014 numbers.

Oranges are also seeing a 1% lower production than the forecast. More than that though, it is 6% below last season’s utilization. While Florida is slightly above expected production levels it is still seeing a lower number of production than last season’s utilization. California oranges are down 5% from the last forecasts and a total of 11% from last season’s utilization numbers.

While 2015 is going to be a good year for wheat some other crops may see less success. Also, despite the increase in wheat production there is going to be a reduced amount of wheat carryover suggesting that there is more wheat being used this year than last year.

To see the full report released July 10, 2015, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) click here

If you are making plans for a fall vacation, consider heading out to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. This is an exciting event for Bourbon lovers! This year, the festival is held September 15-20, 2015. Here are some great things you can expect to check out while you are there.

The Barrel Relay Race

Whether you sign up to be a part of the relay or just be a spectator, this is a fun part of the festival. Participants have to roll barrels of whiskey down a track and get them onto racks. It is certainly a test of strength and speed and everyone loves to watch to see which bourbon team takes home the win!

Culinary Art Cooking School

The culinary art cooking school is a place where you can sit with friends and watch an instructor make dishes. They use different types of bourbon and show you exactly how to make different meals. Dinner is served and you can bet it’s delicious.

You will also receive take home bags from the class to get you started on your own food preparation. Always nice to get something to bring home and let’s face it … cooking with bourbon is always on our “to do” lists!

Boots and Bourbon

If you like the nightlife, then you need to check out Boots and Bourbon. This festival event offers a fun environment with a new age saloon feel. You can order many different type of bourbon as well as other types of drinks.

Get out on the floor and dance if you dare. We hear they may even teach a few new steps! Be sure to stop by and get your picture taken while you are there. This event usually carries a separate ticket – but it’s well worth the fun if you’re looking for some entertainment during your visit.

Find Out Who Made it Into The Hall of Fame

Each year, distilleries are nominated for the Hall of Fame for their outstanding bourbon. Those that put on the Kentucky Bourbon Festival have the ability to make nominations for this award as well. You can find a list of the participating bourbons here: Hall of Fame Bourbons. This is a great place to find out which distilleries are the best. Stay tuned … can’t wait to see who wins this year!

This festival would make for a lot a of fun for you and your group. Worried about the Kentucky heat – then this festival in September will be a great event to attend with cooler weather expected! Are you excited about the Kentucky Bourbon Festival so far? Be sure to tag our Twitter or Facebook feeds with your photos so we can see the fun you had!

Orange Manhattan

Christmas Burwell Manhattan

These are great…actually one of the house fav’s.

Here is what you will need

  • cocktail shaker
  • ice
  • dash of sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1.5 oz Cointreau
  • dash orange bitters
  • dash maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 maraschino cherry, to garnish – well, make it 2

Mitch Morgan


The Mitch Morgan

-One shot of bourbon;

-One-half slice of cooked bacon;

-Combine ingredients, enjoy.

Yep.  That’s it.  The smoky bacon pairs wonderfully with the wood in the bourbon and makes a delicious garnish, and its fat cuts the bite of the alcohol with ease.  Put them together and you’ve found the perfect way to stay warm this winter.

The drink originates from Telluride, Colorado, specifically a BBQ and Bourbon joint called “Oak…The New Fat Alley.”  Telluride makes sense for this cocktails’ birthplace: know for cold, snow and mountains, the one-time silver mining camp has emerged as a destination ski resort town.  The Mitch Morgan speaks to the town’s hardscrabble roots (it’s easy to see a drink like this counting as breakfast for a miner) and it’s foodie/ski resort present.

One thing, however, is certain: The Mitch Morgan will warm your belly and put a smile on your face at the same time.  Time to stock up on ingredients before the snow cuts you off from the store.

Mint Julep

Mint julep

4 cups bourbon
2 bunches fresh spearmint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar
Powdered sugar

To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice.

Serve immediately.

Manhattan Italiano

Manhattan Italiano

2 ounces bourbon reserve
1/2 once Tuaca
1/2 ounce triple sec
6 dashes of Orange bitters
1/2 ounce of white sweet vermouth


Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

Bloody Mary

Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

1 teaspoon salt / pepper / paprika mix
2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon
2 large lemon wedges
1 tablespoon Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire Sauce
1 can (6 ounces) campbell’s tomato juice

Blackberry Soda


Blackberry Soda

1.5 oz Ole Smokey Blackberry Moonshine
top off with soda water on ice

Rye Rocks

Rye Rocks

Locate your favorite whiskey glass
add ice
pour Rye


Bourbon Iced Tea

Rye Iced Tea
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
  • 6 good-quality black tea bags

Good-quality bourbon

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Bourbon Burger

Rye Burger

Burger Patties and Cheese:
30 ounces ground chuck (20 percent fat)
2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon (recommended: Bulleit brand)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
30 grinds fresh black pepper
6 ounces Dubliner cheese (Kerrygold brand), thinly sliced and divided into 6 (1-ounce) servings

Sauteed Onions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (European style)
1 large Vidalia onion, halved (through the core) and thinly sliced (1/4-inch)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 grinds fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup bourbon (recommended: Bulleit brand)

Brioche hamburger-sized buns, halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (European style), at room temperature

Rye Sour

Bourbon Sour

2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 tsp superfine sugar
1 slice orange
1 maraschino cherry

Bourbon on the Rocks


The Plan

Find a good bourbon
Select your favorite glass from your bar
Drop in a couple of cubes
Pour over ice



Classic Manhattan


3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 dash  bitters
1 maraschino cherry
1 twist orange peel

Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 – 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass. Stir or shake gently so you won’t cloud the drink. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.

Perfect Manhattan


2 oz blended whiskey
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 dash bitters

Shake with ice to chill, pour into a low ball cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


Cara’s Feature


750 JB White
1 can Concentrated OJ (Do not add water)
1 can Concentrated Limeade or Lemonade (Do not add water)
1 jar Maraschino Cherries. (I use DK Michigan Cherry since I don’t care for the Cherries)
2 Ltr Lemon-Lime Soda

Blend all ingredients together-place in freezer minimum 24 hrs.

**Once you remove from freezer, stir mixture from the bottom. Slight separation may have occurred during the freezing**