Whiskey Tinged

Some nights call for a fine wine and other nights call for a belt of whiskey. You know that mood – mischievousness fighting with melancholy tainted with mirth. When you have a gleam in your eye that would read “trouble” in a retinal scan, it’s time to grab a rocks glass, your favorite brown elixir and head out to the back porch swing. Dog at your feet is optional, but a nice touch.

I like Irish whiskey, Scotch whisky and Canadian whiskey, but bourbon says love to me. Love American style. It tastes like home. Like its fancy-pants cousin, Champagne, bourbon is closely associated with a small region; in this case, Kentucky. It’s so American, that it has been declared the official spirit of the United States by Congress in 1964, when it was recognized as “distinctive product of the United States.” That fine designation comes with a whole boat-load of regulations on content and qualities which keeps it true to its character.

Recently I picked up a bottle of Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for packaging, and Bulleit comes in an antique looking flask-shaped bottle with raised glass lettering. I felt like I was buying a bottle of snake oil from a transient peddler of the back of a horse-drawn wagon. It’s a great nod to the   “frontier whiskey’s” heritage.

The lore of Bulleit is that Augustus Bulleit first began making whiskey in 1830. Augustus’ potion was popular on the wagon trains headed west, but in 1860 Bulleit died and his whiskey died along with him. That is until his great-great-grandson Tom Bulleit came along. In 1987 Tommy-boy resurrected Bulleit Bourbon purportedly using the original recipe.  That’s likely just a quaint marketing story. The original recipe was probably pretty harsh like white lightning. Anyway, Bulleit Bourbon is now made in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and is owned by Seagrams. It’s so big-time, it even has its own Facebook page.

Great bottle, great legend, but does it taste good? Yep.

Let’s start the inspection. It’s a gorgeous dark copper color like a bottled sunset. I gave it a big swirl and a snort like a wine and breathed in floral scents, juniper, oak spices and hay.

It’s not overly alcoholic like some of the 100+ Proof premium bourbons on the market. Clocking in at 90 Proof, it still billows out through the body like a warm thunderhead growing in intensity.

Bourbon is required to be at least 51% corn. Bulleit takes the sweet edge of that mash with a wicked high rye content of about 30%. Rye is the most important flavor grain for bourbons, which gives Bulleit some complexity. Let’s not confuse it with rye whiskey though, which must have at least 51% rye.   All of that rye doesn’t make it taste like a Rueben, but it does give it a slightly sharper taste than wheat filled bourbon.  The front of the sip tastes like honey, apple and spices, which gives way to smoked sweet-corn and vanilla for a decently long finish, but it doesn’t over stay its welcome.

I typically like my bourbon with a few lumps of ice and nothing else. However, my bro introduced me to a delicious mixed drink over the holidays made with rye whiskey. Here it is:

  • 2/3 rds rye whiskey
  • 1/3rd ginger beer (or to taste)
  • just a little squeeze of lime
  • a large pinch of fresh ground ginger

Stir that up and throw in a few cubes of ice. Deelish!

Like I said at the top of the post, there is definitely a whiskey drinkin mood. When I’m in that kinda mood, I want a soundtrack to accompany it. Here’s my latest mix, Whiskey Tinged:

  1. Busted, The Black Keys
  2. Peaches, The Stranglers
  3. La Grange, ZZ Top    ZZ Top
  4. Pill Bug Blues, The Gourds
  5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good, The White Stripes
  6. 50,000 Unstoppable Watts, Clutch
  7. Search & Destroy, The Stooges
  8. Stuck In Thee Garage, The Dirtbombs
  9. Bitch, I Love You, Black Joe Lewis
  10. Diggin’ My Grave, William Elliott Whitmore
  11. Cold Water, Tom Waits
  12. The Desperate Man, The Black Keys
  13. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Led Zeppelin
  14. Me And The Devil, Gil Scott-Heron
  15. Gypsy Woman, Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights
  16. Too Many Drivers, Lightnin’ Hopkins
  17. Always a Friend, Alejandro Escovedo
  18. Can’t Let Go ,Lucinda Williams
  19. Tuesday’s Gone, Lynard Skynard

OK, so do me a favor, let me know what your favorite whiskey is. What’s your favorite whiskey drink? What do you like to listen to when you’re in that whiskey mood? Give me some good ideas, and I might just burn you a copy of my mix and pour you a glass of Bulleit.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY. IT’S THE MARK OF A GENTLEMAN

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Matt McGinnis

As a marketing strategist for Pen & Tell Us, Matt McGinnis provides marketing, branding and communications counsel to food and beverage as well as other clients globally. He is also an avid beverage enthusiast, chronicling his interests as a Food & Drink contributing writer for CultureMap, as the Food & Drink columnist for Austin Man Magazine, and as a blogger for What Are You Drinking?. He is passionate about the wine industry having previously worked at a winery in Oregon and in wine sales. He has served as Guest Host of Sommelier Cinema at the Alamo Drafthouse, and is a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. His writing has been recognized as a Top 10 Food Blog by the Austin Chronicle in 2013 and 2014, with a 2011 Texas Social Media Award from the Austin American-Statesman.

4 thoughts on “Whiskey Tinged”

  1. Pingback: Your Garden
  2. Nicely written, of course. Made me want to pull up a low ball just as a I rolled out of the sack this morning. My whiskey favorites come from the bitter cold of Scotland. While many flavors burst from this country, I have rested my current favorite from Bowmore. Taste “Darkest” if you choose to take a ride in my palate. As you write, whiskey can throttle the throat with fire. This one does not. It remains true to the family of spirits with a thick envelope of wool that embraces the torso first moving carefully to fingers, toes and scalp next. With Darkest, the distiller takes advantage of sherry casks to build a flavor profile that brings elixir to the level of refinement and mystery. Clearly evocative of deep conversations while settled in hunter green leather chairs which stand in repose in a gentlemen’s library. Philosophy, science and art are discussed in such settings. And while I agree that even the best bourbon sits well with ice, Bowmore Darkest should be savored untouched.

    All that said, my door remains open to you to have a more than just a sip. I’m sure that by the end, we will unravel the universe and then forget it by morn.

  3. There’s only one drink strong enough to make me think that I’m Superwoman, and smooth enough to placate me when I realize that I’m not: The Maker’s Mark Manhattan.

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