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Archive for May, 2016

What Makes Whiskey Qualify as a Rye?

Prior to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791, rye was the most popular grain distilled by American farmers and breweries.  Its simplicity to grow and overall resiliency helped bolster its popularity—the rye grain supplier had a hefty demand to fill as post-Revolutionary Americans filled their glasses with rye whiskey.  Business was booming for the rye grain company and the outlook was sunny.


Rye Whiskey Takes a Hit

Enter in liquor taxation and the eventual illegalization of fermented beverages.  The Whiskey Rebellion stymied the profitability of the industry, but rye merchants could still make a living.  Americans rioted, tax inspectors were tarred and feathered, and Washington sent in troops to control the insurgency.  Rye whiskey held on by a thread.

Following the Prohibition, however, rye production ground to a halt.  The crippling laws of a dry country forced Americans to settle for bootlegged Canadian whiskey, a softer form of the drink.  Rye faded into the backdrop of history as a legendary drink of old.   Rye’s jazzy overtones with a coupling of sweetness seemed destined to remain in story and song.


Rye Whiskey: the Comeback Kid of the Liquor Industry

Today, rye has made an astounding comeback.  With the explosion of micro-breweries across the US and the freedom of breweries and distilleries to operate without debilitating taxes and laws, rye grain suppliers and merchants can now flourish. Americans are warming to the bold flavor of rye whiskey as they once again fill their glasses with the distinctive beverage.

So what qualifies a whiskey as a rye whiskey?  Here are the rules:


  1. Distillers must use at least 51% rye as the base grain.
  2. The whiskey must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
  3. The product must be barreled at no higher than 125 proof.
  4. It must be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof.
  5. “Straight” rye must be aged at least two years.  If aged less than four years, there should be an age statement on the bottle, and if a bottle is labeled “straight rye” lists no age, it should be at least four years old.

Source: Eater 

The history of whiskey dates back centuries.  It is often said that this distillation process was started amongst Christian monks in both Ireland and Scotland during the 11th and 13th centuries.  The practice became privatized when King Henry VIII removed all of the monasteries in Scotland.  This left the monks without an income, so they started private distilleries and rye grain services that spread across the country.  The process continued to grow and expanded across the ocean, leading to both the Scottish and American whiskey rebellions.

Scottish Whisky Rebellion

All was going well for the private whisky distilleries in Scotland, until the Scottish and English crowns merged into one in the early 18th century.  This merger of the crowns imposed high taxes on all unlicensed alcohol breweries.  The harsh taxes caused thousands of secret distilleries to crop up across the country producing contraband whisky.  These taxes were put on the rye grain companies as well as the production of the product, making it a heavy burden.  From the rye grain supplier to the distributor, the laws and taxation crippled each leg of the industry.  The demand for whisky remained, but due to the government taxation it was impossible for distilleries to stay financially afloat.  Throughout these 150 years of taxation, smuggling whisky became an art form.  The smoke coming from the figure distilleries would cause questions from the authorities, so whisky production was changed to a nighttime activity to help camouflage the smoke.  This nighttime practice of whisky making in the moonlight gave the beverage a new name:  moonshine.   

American Whiskey Rebellion

Just a few years after the American Revolution of 1783, the US government repeated the history laid out by the Scottish and English governments.  They issued hefty taxes on quality grain services, production, and the sale of the whiskey, thereby initiating the American Whiskey Rebellion.  High quality grain suppliers were once again dealt a terrific financial blow.  To make matters worse, the Prohibition from 1920-1933 made distilleries illegal overnight.  Production was limited strictly to that of religious wines and whiskey for medicinal causes.  This illegalization of whiskey led to it being smuggled across the country which initiated the formation of an underground movement for making and transporting the beverage.

Today, the whiskey distilleries stand strong.  Harsh taxes on ingredients and production have disappeared, making it possible for whiskey distilleries to succeed in their business.  Whiskey is a favorite contemporary alcoholic beverage from the US to throughout Europe and beyond, and the modern rye grain company can once again flourish.  From the rye grain supplier to the distillery, the whiskey making process is continually being perfected in efficiency and quality in order to keep up with popular demand. 

Rye has been grown in countries with colder climates- Russia, Scandinavia, Poland- since its cultivation in around 400 B.C. because it has the ability to grow in virtually any soil and climate.

Often referred to as, “the poverty grain,” rye was seen as a food for the lower class, and back in the day, the nobility nibbled on the richer wheat bread while peasants filled themselves with the coarser, heavier, but also healthier, rye bread.

Rye continues to flourish in many European countries but has yet to become popular in the U.S. despite the nutritional value it contains. While we wait for rye to get the attention it deserves, here are some fun, healthy facts to satiate your hunger.


  1.      Rye can help you lose weight

In the world of grains, rye is considered to be superior to barley and wheat when it comes to weight loss. Rye contains more fiber than any other common cereal, and high-fiber foods make you feel fuller faster. The quicker you feel full, the less you will eat.


  1.      Rye can help prevent gallstones

Recent research has found that people who consume large amounts of fiber (soluble and insoluble) have a lower risk of developing gallstones. Insoluble fiber helps food move more quickly through the intestines and reduces bile acids that contribute to the formation of gallstones.


  1.      Rye is a better grain for people with diabetes

Blood sugar is an everyday concern for people with diabetes, and big spikes and drops in blood sugar can be dangerous. Wheat is made up of small molecules that are easily broken down into simple sugar which ultimately triggers an increase in insulin. Rye, on the other hand, is made up of larger molecules that take longer to be broken down, and as a result, rye has less of an effect on blood sugar.


  1.      Rye is great for the digestive system

In addition to aiding in weight loss, the impressive amount of fiber found in rye can help with constipation, ease stomach pain and cramps, reduce excess gas, and even help prevent serious conditions like ulcers, colon cancer, and breast cancer.


  1.      Rye is heart-healthy

Consuming rye on a regular basis, such as eating a bowl of rye oatmeal every morning, can help reduce the risks of high blood pressure and heart attacks.


  1.      Rye may help prevent cancer

Ongoing research has found that the phenolics, or powerful antioxidants, found in rye have the ability to fight off cancer and other chronic diseases.


  1.      Rye can help protect from childhood asthma

Research has found that children who consume whole grains, like rye, have a significantly reduced chance of developing asthma. This likely has to do with the anti-inflammatory compounds found in whole grains as well as high levels of vitamin E and magnesium.

Have you ever noticed that they are two different spellings of whiskey?  Well, here is your chance to gain a little more knowledge.

The spelling of “whisky” without the ‘e’ is used for whiskys produced solely in Scotland.  It has been said that it is spelled without the “e” because the Scots believe that the extra letter wastes perfectly good drinking time.

The rest of the whiskey producers in the world use the spelling of “whiskey” with the “e”.   Starting with the Irish and moving to the whiskey producers in the U.S, the word “whiskey” is used.

When it comes to purchasing grain from a rye grain supplier, climate is one of many factors that play a key role in the process. Climate affects everything from the production of the grain all the way to energy being used to produce the bourbon. Here are three ways in which the climate may impact the environment or how the distilling process impacts the environment itself.

Grain Production

Thinking about how the grain production process is impacted by climate change due to the effects of greenhouse gases in the environment, we have to look at the rye fields themselves.   Since it’s predicted that Kentucky will be experiencing more rainfall and warmer summers in the coming years, it doesn’t look there will be a huge impact on the grain production.  There are continued studies that are looking into how grain production will impact rye grain merchants and their customers in the long-term future.


The aging process of bourbon is what lends to its signature rich flavor.  Bourbon is often aged in a non climate controlled building called a rickhouse.  Warmer Kentucky summers could play a major role when it comes to moving the aging liquor barrels.  It is a challenge to predict the full impact that the weather will have on this part of the process.  The main expectation is that there will be more bourbon lost through the wood from evaporation.

Energy Usage

The bourbon distilling process is energy intensive.  Many (if not most) distilleries use gas boilers as their source of energy in this process.  There are also many who supplement their use of gas heat with the use of wood burners to generate the energy needed.  This is a process that is not likely to change altogether, but there are ways in the making that can help distilleries to reduce their carbon emissions.

From start to finish, the environment plays a role in the bourbon making process beginning with the rye grain company all the way to the technology used in the distilling process.  However, it doesn’t look like the bourbon industry will have many negative effects due to the increased heat of Kentucky. So keep enjoying the great taste of your favorite bourbon!

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**