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Archive for November, 2015

Making Your Own Craft Bourbon

Bourbon is as classic as it gets. The unique taste of the drink emerges from the grains used in making it, the aging process, the char on the barrel used for storing, humidity, temperature, and many other factors. What if it was possible to make a craft bourbon, where the customer can control right from the grains used in making the liquor, to the process of proofing, and everything in between? Wouldn’t it be simply marvelous? This is exactly what the new online tool from Buffalo Trace Distillery allows people to do with their “Craft Your Perfect Bourbon” Program.

It starts from the grains itself. Shoppers (or dare we say distillers) can choose from corn, rye, barley and wheat to make their favorite bourbon. However, it is essential that they keep the percentage of corn to a minimum of 51%, if they are looking to make a bourbon. The tool also tells the effect each type of grain will have on the taste of the final product, so that the users can take their pick accordingly.

Shoppers have complete control, and no step in the Bourbon making process is left out. Processes such as milling the grains, cooking them with pure Kentucky limestone water, fermenting the sweet and sour mash, and distilling the whiskey are also included. These are information intensive steps, where the user does not necessarily do anything actively. But, these steps definitely teach a great deal about the excellent quality liquor they will be consuming soon.

Then there is the fun step of charring the barrels in which the concoction will be stored. Now, the char on the barrel lends the bourbon a deep, rich flavor, and the overtones of burnt caramel. Then there is the choice of the time period for which to age the liquor. With time, the taste of the bourbon changes dramatically. Then the tool takes the user to the warehousing options available and also sheds light on the kind of effect the various factors, be it temperature, humidity or anything else, would have on the flavor of the bourbon. Then, of course, there is the aging and there is an option to choose from zero to as long as twenty three years. Not only this, it will also tell you the corresponding change in the taste of the liquor as the time increases.

Once the shoppers picked their choice blend of bourbon, they now have the option to proof it as they like. The step would let them dilute the concentrate to suit their style from bold to robust to smooth to mellow.
At the end of the ride, the results of the process would be displayed. This would include a detailed flavor profile of the finished bourbon and the time by which it would be ready if it was blended today. What’s more? Customers can actually get a suggestion for an existing bourbon that matches their requirements. This is the dream!

What would your perfect craft Bourbon be?

Barrels in which bourbon is aged, can make or break the flavor of the final product. The color and flavor of the bourbon are immensely affected by it. So, it is important to understand a thing or two about these barrels. A number of factors such as the wood, the process of charring it, and its very size, have a great influence on how barrels affect the flavor. We have quite a thorough knowledge of how the ageing process works, and how the barrel size can affect it. Here, we will share them with you.

Flavor profile
In smaller barrels, more of the barrel is in contact with the bourbon. Thus, the liquid can extract more of the flavor from the wood. The flip side of this is that bourbon can actually taste too much of the wood, if not monitored regularly. While the small barrel bourbons produce the same kind of dark color and charred taste, the difference in taste is quite significant. At times, true connoisseurs may actually be underwhelmed by the lack of character and depth.

Time period
Since the liquid takes on the flavor of the smaller charred small barrels quickly, it requires much less time to steep. In other words, the whiskeys are produced much quicker. This reduction in time is quite significant. While whiskeys in a big barrel can take up to a decade to age, small barrels can churn them out in a year or two. This can result in huge cost savings for businesses. However, not all distilleries prefer to use small barrels and they must have good reason for that. It is about the change in flavor.

Better for small businesses
Small barrels are undoubtedly good news for smaller distilleries. They can make more of their product without having to go through a long gestation period. Neither do they have to spend thousands of dollars in maintaining the facilities. From our experience, it appears that it is good news for consumers too. But it is important to choose the right distillery to get a good product. These will monitor their barrels regularly to check for the change in flavor. It will not be wrong to say that small barrel whiskeys are still in the experimentation stage. There are products out there that taste absolutely horrible, while some of the results are delightful. The hit and trial method does not always work.

So, which is better?
This is a difficult one for sure. On one hand, we have the traditional bourbon that follows the age old practice of aging the liquor in big barrels and then there is this new found trend of using small barrels. All we can say for now is that it is really a personal choice, depending on whether you wish to find a textbook bourbon or just a good whiskey. If you are looking for the traditional bourbon taste, small barrel may not be for you. It is a big barrel thing. You see, it is not only about the looks or the charred taste. The long aging process in big barrels also introduces wood sugars and a much deeper flavor to its contents. On the other hand, some of the small barrel whiskeys are known to taste great too. They are not exactly the same, but have quite a distinct taste that feels good to some. Take your pick.

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**