I never really fancied myself a brown liquor fan — that is, until we were introduced to Whiskey Wednesdays. Top-shelf whiskey cocktails for the price of a Starbuck’s coffee concoction provides us all the reason we need to belly up to the neighborhood bar mid-week. And, in turn, has converted me to a whiskey drinker. Of sorts.
As an amateur whiskey drinker, I’ve pretty much stuck to the mildest of cocktails on the tiered libations menu. I couldn’t tell you the exact ingredients of the delicious drink that’s put in front of me by our favorite bartender, Jordan, but I do know it has some kind of whiskey and persimmon. A delightful combo that’s not only yummy, but when served up in a classic champagne glass, makes for a pretty Happy Hump Day.
Dave, a more experienced and learned whiskey drinker, ops for the Quadropehnia on most visits. A mix of barrel-aged wild turkey, rye, vermouth, the drink is rimmed with a flamed orange. Think liquid fire. Yummy, yes. But definitely not intended for amateurs like me.
In the past year, Dave has become not only a more seasoned whiskey drinker, but he’s become quite the learned whiskey / bourbon student. Apparently, for example, all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. To be a bourbon, it must contain 51% corn, be bottled at no less than 80 proof and must not contain any added flavoring or coloring.
These facts (and more) we learned on a recent visit to the Woodford Reserve in Kentucky.
On our drive home from a road trip to Canada a few weeks back, we exited I75 for a quick detour — on a mission to sample some good bourbon. At Woodford, we signed up for the 2:30 tour, giving us about 30 minutes to scout out the gift shop. It was a bourbon-lover’s paradise. Oaked and double – oaked bottles. Aged bourbon barrels that they will “Put in your car for $195.”
After filling the car with spirits, we embarked on our $10 tour. Fitted with our own personal earpieces (the-better-to-hear-Gwen-the-tour-guide-with), we hopped on the bus for the short ride down the hill to the distillery.
The tour included an overview of the whole process, which was pretty fascinating- especially for a novice such as myself.
Gwen took us through the distillery, giving us a look at the huge fermentation barrels and the copper pot distillation vessels.
And then we strolled over to see the stock of toasted oak barrels (that smelled incredible!) waiting to be filled with the amber elixir.
After a first-hand look at the bottling process, the bus-load of brown liquor drinkers were ready for the promised tasting that ended the one hour tour.
Back at the main house, we were treated to a sample of Woodford’s signature Reserve and their award-winning Double Oaked, paired with a bourbon dark chocolate.
It came as no surprise to me that I preferred the smooth, caramel flavor of the more expensive double oaked bourbon. If my wine budget over the last five years is any indication of how discriminate I have become about my alcohol, I think I might have to swear off further bourbon tastings. Yes, I have champagne tastes. So even though I’m Canadian and I feel some sense of nostalgia when I pass those bottles in the package store, I guess Canadian Mist is off the list for my go-to bourbon whiskey cocktails this summer. And I blame you, Woodford. I blame you.