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:
- Busted, The Black Keys
- Peaches, The Stranglers
- La Grange, ZZ Top ZZ Top
- Pill Bug Blues, The Gourds
- Sugar Never Tasted So Good, The White Stripes
- 50,000 Unstoppable Watts, Clutch
- Search & Destroy, The Stooges
- Stuck In Thee Garage, The Dirtbombs
- Bitch, I Love You, Black Joe Lewis
- Diggin’ My Grave, William Elliott Whitmore
- Cold Water, Tom Waits
- The Desperate Man, The Black Keys
- Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, Led Zeppelin
- Me And The Devil, Gil Scott-Heron
- Gypsy Woman, Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights
- Too Many Drivers, Lightnin’ Hopkins
- Always a Friend, Alejandro Escovedo
- Can’t Let Go ,Lucinda Williams
- 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