We recently hosted a private bourbon tasting. We invited about 100 of our closest friends and family and allowed them to taste a number of different bourbons, many of which they had never tasted before. There didn’t seem to be a clear favorite among the crowd. Different people loved different bourbons, which to us speaks to the variety of bourbon flavor profiles. There’s something for everyone.
Thank you to Wild Turkey, Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbons, Bull Run Distillery, Woodinville Whiskey, Few Spirits, Four Roses, and Angel’s Envy for making this possible.
We’ll be sure to post additional pictures of the tasting as we receive them.
We are going to have an impromptu Rye Week here because sometimes we like to drink other kinds of whiskey besides bourbon. First up is Hudson Manhattan Rye from Tuthilltown Spirits. We decided to start with Manhattan Rye because Tuthilltown’s Four Grain Bourbon is one of our favorites. On the other hand, we were lukewarm on their Baby Bourbon, but mostly because we like full-bodied whiskeys more than the lighter stuff. Feeling in the mood to treat ourselves, we finally picked up one of these mini bottles of rye.
We had high expectations, and we’re happy to say the Manhattan Rye met them. Like their other whiskeys, this rye is pot-distilled and aged in small barrels for less than four years. The color is a dark red, amber color. I thought the nose was mostly floral and full bodied, while Rachel got hints of cherry and amaretto. We agreed on the flavor, tasting a lot of raisin, apple, vanilla, and of course rye. The finish was lightly peppery and stuck around long enough to make you want to drink more. I also thought there was a slight char flavor in the aftertaste that rounded out the overall sip. We really, really like it. At 92 proof, it’s right about average for most whiskeys. The only real drawback of this—and the other Tuthilltown Sprits—is the cost. At $45 for 375ml, the Manhattan Rye becomes a special occasion spirit.
We are not always walking around with glasses of bourbon in hand, though this blog may leave you with another impression, but we do find it easy to incorporate bourbon into many areas of our normal eating habits. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes to make, and since my go-to recipe calls for bacon bits, I took the opportunity to add bourbon to the mix too.
The final product is an earthy, tangy soup complemented nicely by the subtly sweet bourbon and maple flavors in the bacon. A bonus of this recipe is that it allows me to organize the chopped ingredients neatly. I am one of those clean-as-I-go cooks; a messy kitchen makes me crazy.
To make bourbon maple bacon, simply lay out raw bacon on a Silpat mat-lined baking sheet (it’s best to use one with a bit of an edge on it to contain the grease) and drizzle a bit of bourbon maple syrup on each slice. Then bake at 375° for 30 to 40 minutes, or until crispy. Note: it is important to put the bacon into a cold oven and let it rise to temperature with the oven, otherwise it won’t turn out crispy.
Put four pieces of the cooked bacon into the refrigerator to chill. When your soup is ready, crumble a bit of the bacon on the top. This is comfort food at its finest.
If you have a bourbon lover in your life, Noble’s Tonic 01: Tuthilltown Bourbon Barrel-Matured Maple Syrup makes a good gift. We used it recently to top lemon sour cream waffles, and its rich flavor impressed us because it tastes quite a bit like bourbon, but not so much so that you wouldn’t want it for breakfast. On the contrary, this is precisely what we want for breakfast pretty much every day now. (Could be a problem…)
It is made with maple syrup from Quebec, which then gets aged in bourbon barrels at Tuthilltown Spirits in New York, where they also sneak in a touch of raw bourbon. Pure delight.
We were attracted by the packaging design. Simplicity gets us every time, and the little wax drip from the cork is charming. Unfortunately, the wax was annoyingly difficult to remove in order to actually pull the cork out, and the second time we used the syrup, the cork was wouldn’t come out because it was, presumably, being held in with sticky syrup. We ended up having to use a corkscrew on it because the plastic cap came unattached from the cork when we were pulling on it. (This was a serious battle of wills, you guys.)
One star off for the cork issues, but the taste and quality of the syrup were worth the struggle.
Last week we jarred up our apple-vanilla bourbon to let it steep for the week. We tasted it after about three days and decided it needed a lot more time. At that point, the apples hadn’t affected the bourbon flavor at all, while the vanilla smothered everything. We let it sit another three days, hoping the apples would grab hold. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
The final product is a pleasant infusion. We used Berkshire Bourbon so we could end up with a super New Englandy product. I could imagine apple-vanilla bourbon as a fine addition to some Autumn orchard excursions. There’s an apple tartness followed by the vanilla smoothness to the flavor, all without completely masking the bourbon’s flavor.
That being said, this probably isn’t something we’re likely to drink straight. We’re more interested in how we can use it in cocktails. Of course we’ll be posting those results here as well.
As you can see, we repurposed an empty Hudson Four Grain Bourbon bottle to store this new creation in. Its label washed off easily and the cork is still sealing well. It looks like the multi-purpose aspect of these bottles is helping to offset the expense of the Hudson bourbon.
Another potentially fun situation we have on our hands is we now have a mason jar full of apples that have been soaking in bourbon for a week. There has to be something fun we could make with them, right?
Who wouldn’t be charmed by a cocktail named Old Pal? The name’s “aw, shucks” quality is belied by the drink’s sophisticated complexity of aroma and flavor. Not that the actual recipe is complex at all.
1 ½ oz. bourbon
¾ oz. campari
¾ oz. dry vermouth
Stir all three ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
If you’re thinking this recipe looks familiar, you’re right. It is a variation of two other cocktails we’ve featured, the boulevardier and the little italy. Basically, we love bourbon mixed with vermouth and something bitter. Patrick doesn’t usually like campari, but he really enjoyed this drink. I think the sweetness of the Hudson Baby Bourbon helped to counterbalance the bitterness somewhat. The bourbon’s color mixed with campari also contributed to the drink’s lovely deep red color.
After recently trying (and loving) the Hudson Four Grain Bourbon from Tuthilltown Spirits, we knew we’d have to get our hands on some of their Hudson Baby Bourbon. Like the Four Grain, this bottle will set you back about $45-$50 for 375 ml.
The Baby Bourbon shares a similar appearance to its Four Grain sibling; it has a deep amber color, though this whiskey has a wonderful clarity and slight purple/pomegranate juice color to it that is very pretty. We’re not sure exactly where that color comes from though, considering its made from 100% corn. In our experience, corn whiskeys tend to be on the lighter side. The flavor here is all corn, though. It’s light all around, a little sweet and a little earthy, but somehow still very balanced. Bourbons from 100% corn mashes don’t tend to be our favorites, but this Baby was better than some of the other corny bourbons we’ve had.
While we prefer the Four Grain, don’t hesitate to give this Baby a shot if the super-high corn mash is in your flavor wheelhouse.
Another pleasant surprise is how easily these bottles can be repurposed once you’re done with the bourbon. Expect to see them pop up on some of our DIY projects.
We had our eyes on Hudson whiskeys by Tuthilltown Spirits for a long time before finally scoring a bottle of the Four Grain Bourbon at a local store. Their squat little bottles with deep red wax seals are immediately appealing, though the price can be off-putting (expect to spend around $50 for 375 ml).
What we noticed immediately upon tasting is the deeply complex bouquet contributed by the four grains—corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. We were impressed by how smoothly the flavors came together to form a really mellow yet full-bodied taste. Its aroma hints at vanilla, but the flavor profile is so rounded that is more difficult to pick out distinct flavors like, caramel or fruit, than with bourbons primarily made from corn. This bourbon is not as spicy as some other higher proof bourbons, giving it an easy sipping quality.
Recently we’ve seen some disparaging remarks about distillers aging bourbons in small batches. This is exactly how Tuthilltown makes their spirits, and we didn’t find anything to complain about. They’ve found the perfect balance even with a more accelerated aging process, and their hand numbered bottles are charming, too.
Tuthilltown has another product called Hudson Baby Bourbon that we would also like to get our hands on, but can’t seem to find it locally. We don’t give up easily, however, so expect to see a review of it sometime in the future.