The RainyDayKitchen folks (OK, just the editors, the interns weren’t invited) were at Blanchard’s Wine & Spirits for a fun evening of learning, tasting, and fashioning cocktails with Bourbon. The tasting featured Breckenridge, Hirsh, Barrell, and Widow Jane.
We learned that we should not put our noses directly into the glass to smell as that would just overwhelm the senses. Instead, we should swirl the spirit in the glass and wave the scent toward our nose. We also learned that we should open our mouths when smelling as the flavor will also be picked up by our taste buds. Cool!!! While we were not experienced enough to be able to distinguish the various flavors tasted by some, we did find bourbon to be a lot “sweeter” whiskey than that from other parts of the world. There wasn’t the “burn” we had come to expect. We were told that this was because bourbon is made primarily from corn and is thus less harsh in that respect.
The “special guest” of the evening was Angel’s Envy. Angel’s Envy is the culmination of the life’s work of Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson. As a small company, they are very particular about their finished spirits.
Each batch is tracked through the side label on each bottle. Every batch is finished in ruby port wine casks. The ruby port wine finish adds subtle nuance to the bourbon. The brand is finished and bottled in Kentucky. There’s no set time for the process. It’s only Angel’s Envy when they say it is. Due to the scarcity of the special barrels and the intricacies involved in the finishing process, they only issue a small, limited release twice a year.
The Angel’s Envy we tasted was Blanchard’s own hand selected creation specifically bottled for their store! Suffice to say, after a few “samples,” our Contributing Editor was very chatty 🙂
We learned a LOT about bourbon, whiskey distillation, and the background of the small makers that created them…much of which we struggled to remember after the “tastings,” especially with the generous pours! Still, an excellent evening and a very “productive” outing!!!
Here is what we managed to recall after tasting all six bourbons:
1. Bourbon whiskey is an American creation and is the official spirit of the United States, by act of Congress.
2. To be “bourbon,” it must be: from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn; aged in new, charred oak barrels; and bottled at 80 proof or more.
3. The water used in diluting the “juice” is as important as anything else. Some distillers use Rocky Mountain water, some use lime-filtered water from caves, some keep their water info close to the vest. BTW, no distillers have as yet admitted to using Charles River water in their bourbon…
BTW, you know you have had enough when you mistaked the bourbon glass for the water glass. Light food (wings, cheeses, bread, etc) where available with all the exquisite and delicious bourbon. A good thing too as the few dozen wings and potato wedges we had enabled us to make the two-mile trip back to the office incident-free 🙂