THE BOURBON RESOURCE: July 2022
Arrests in a bourbon scheme, a cool bottling program, Alias Straight Rye review
BIG BOURBON NEWS
In Virginia, authorities charged four men with felonies after they say the suspects used their positions to find out when and where allocated bourbons would go on sale and tip off certain buyers … for a price. One of the suspects worked at a state-run liquor store, and a second suspect is a former employee, according to the Virginia Mercury. This is not at all shocking. The number of buyers for premium bourbons far exceeds the number of bottles, with some buyers willing to go to outrageous lengths to get, say, a Russell Reserve 13 year. Someone trying to capitalize on the craze isn’t at all surprising.
Buffalo Trace announced, in a press release, it will convert an existing gas station at one of the distillery’s entrances into a tourism and dining destination. The company said it will break ground on the facility in August and it should open sometime in 2023. That place is already bustling and a “dining destination” should be a smash hit.
Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Decade Series kicks off with a 10-year bourbon and is ready for pre-order. At $95, I’d love to try it but it’s not available to ship to Ohio. The bourbon is getting rave reviews.
This is cool. Louisville distiller Cooper and Kings has launched its first bourbon, but you have to bottle it yourself. That’s right. You go to the distillery, take a tour, taste bourbon from four barrels, and bottle the one you like. That’s something I need to try. (Who’s with me?) It’s $100 total for the tour and a bottle of bourbon signed by the distiller. (Side note: You should then stop at one of the many outstanding restaurants and make it a night).
Some business news. Bardstown Bourbon Company, which is backed by an investment company, recently purchased the small Owensboro-KY-based Green River Distillery Co., according to the Messenger-Inquirer. Bardstown wants to grow and sees the Green River acquisition as central to its plans. I also find it interesting that Bardstown went for a mid-price brand (Green River sells at about $38) when other distillers are shooting for higher-end products. I’ve had Green River, which laid down its first barrels in 2016 for this five-year release, and I only hear good things about it. This is on my “get” list.
Lastly, a new regional distiller, Timberwolf Whiskey, has launched a barrel-proof brand. I mention this because its high-rye mash bill (60/35/5) mimics that of Four Roses. I’m trying to get a sample.
WHAT’S NEW ON MY SHELF
Brough Brothers Bourbon, $30
A new entry-level bourbon that’s good on its own or as a mixer
NOTE: I’m going to start breaking out “what’s new on my shelf” because I buy those. “Reviews” will be bourbons and whiskeys distillers send me, free of charge, for the purpose of unbias reviews.
Brough Brothers bourbon has an amazing backstory. It purchased a building in a poor part of Louisville and hired community members to help transform it into a distillery. When the distillery opened it became the first and only Blacked-owned distillery in Kentucky and is now the largest Black-owned bourbon brand in the country. (Uncle Nearest is the largest Black-owned whiskey brand). While the distillery sources its current product it hopes to have its release its own distillate in 2023.
I had a chance to interview the company CEO, Victor Yarbrough about his expansion plans and he noted he hopes to have a 100-proof offering --- a “connoisseur’s” bourbon, as he called it --- sometime this year. (I can’t wait). For now, we have the Brough Brothers 82-proof offering, an entry-level product for people who aren’t familiar with bourbon (that, of course, is not this group).
Brough Brothers keeps its mash bill close to the vest but confirmed it’s 75/21/4. The bourbon is very light in the bottle, even lighter than the Corner Creek small batch. But I had to adjust my expectations and remember that this is an entry-level product.
Viewed through that lens, it’s good. On the nose, there’s menthol and alcohol and a hint of sweet citrus. The alcohol continued on the tongue, followed by orange, a little allspice, and cloves. The rather full and thick mouthfeel surprised me given the light color. Drink it straight or mix it; Yarbrough told me it goes great in lemonade and there is such a thing as a whiskey lemonade.
All in all, it’s fine for an entry-level crowd curious about bourbon. It’s easy and simple along the lines of a Benchmark Bourbon Old No. 8. Yes, there’s a big price difference between Brough Brothers ($28) and Benchmark ($11). But one comes from a small distillery and the other from the powerhouse Buffalo Trace. There’s bound to be a price difference.
Alias Straight Rye Whiskey, provided by LuxCo
A rye that has bourbon qualities? Sign me up.
Those of you who read this newsletter know two things. I’m a huge fan of Lux Row bourbons. (I think Ezra Brooks 99 is one of the best values on the market and the Lux Row 12 is one of my favorites). And you know I’m not a fan of rye whiskey, although our Starlight barrel picks has started to change my mind.
So image my surprise when the good folks at LuxCo send me a bottle of Alias Straight Rye Whiskey to try. It’s produced out of the company’s Ross & Squibb Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and LuxCo just released the whiskey in May.
“We believe rye fans and lovers of all whiskey types alike will truly enjoy what Alias has to offer,” Fletcher Buchman, VP of Marketing at MGP Ingredients, said in a press release. LuxCo merged with MGP back in 2021.
It’s a beautiful bottle with a sophisticated design bathed in a mysterious black that doesn’t let me see the contents.
It’s a light-colored pour akin to the color of the Brough Brothers and to my surprise, I didn’t get a lot of the spice I get on ryes. There’s a reason for that. The mash bill contains just 51% rye (45%c corn and 4% malted barley).
Now I don’t know what to expect.
But I taste a little fresh citrus and mint on the tongue, a very pleasant combination. As it warms I do get caramel characteristics you don’t normally find in rye. Then the spice kicks in and that’s when I get that pepper, rye, and clove. At 90 proof, it’s an easy drinker and at less than $30, it’s easy on the wallet.
Bourbon drinkers won’t need ice with this; it’s very smooth. Sure, you could use it in a Manhattan but I think you’ll miss a lot of the character by diluting it.
This one will not go in my rye whiskey graveyard. You’ll be able to easily spot I on my shelf, for a short time anyway. This is one I’ll drink. Get a bottle if you can.
Whiskey Smash (Source: Spruce Eats)
5 to 8 leaves spearmint, to taste
1/4 lemon, cut into 3 pieces
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Mint sprig, for garnish
It’s simple. Add all of the ingredients together, shake and stir.
That’s it for this month! Here are some other newsletters/pods you may like:
Jon Macri’s Knicks Film School includes a daily newsletter and his YouTube channel, where he interviews the biggest names in hoops, like Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Mike Breen. You don’t have to be a Knicks fan to appreciate this.
The Invention of Dreams website and its Final Review podcast have quickly become my go-to, along with ScreenRant and SlashFilm
My boy Rob Parker has been busy. The co-host of the Odd Couple with Chris Broussard on Fox Sports has launched a podcast --- Inside the (Rob)Parker.
Former newspaper editor and now author Jeff Bruce’s Sharpen Up newsletter is a mix of irreverent, whimsical, and fun.