Friday, June 24, 2011

Where The Buffalo Roam: A Bourbon Tasting




Recently, I attended a rather unique tasting – it was called “Bourbon, Barbeque And Bluegrass”, featuring various bourbons from the Buffalo Trace distillery, along with some rather tasty barbeque and it was all accompanied by a bluegrass band playing music to add to the southern atmosphere.

Although I have attended these tastings in the past, I always enjoy making a return visit because I seem to manage to learn something new. One such tidbit was about the barrels used to age the bourbon. According to the distributor’s representative, they actually lose money on the barrels when they are re-sold to Scotch manufacturers. I was absolutely astonished by this because I always assumed that the barrels would be re-sold at a profit since they were actually adding value to them after aging the bourbon in the casks for a period of years. Alas, I was informed that while the distillery purchased each barrel for $125, these heavily-charred new American oak barrels were re-sold for the bargain-basement price of a mere $75 to age Scotch! By the way, another thing I found out was that while similar types of barrels may be used to age rye, it is only the bourbon barrels that are re-sold to the scotch manufacturers, not the used rye barrels.

While the focus of the evening was to taste bourbons (and the occasional rye), there were some cocktails mixed. I would like to share with you one that you’ve got to add to the Must-Try category in the event you’re assembling a bucket list.

Among the cocktails offered at the tasting was something called The Salve Germainia , created by Philip Pepperdine of St-Germain– an eclectic mixture of Buffalo Trace bourbon and St-Germain elderflower liqueur, the recipe is as follows:

  • 2 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • ½ oz. St-Germain
  • 2 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Basically, you put all of the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice, then stir and strain into a whiskey glass, also with ice; optionally, add a lemon peel for garnish.

Unless you’ve tasted this one, you have absolutely no idea what a brilliant cocktail this is, despite its seeming simplicity. Not only is its taste unforgettable, but the aroma will just knock you out – between the nose of the bourbon, the scent of the liqueur and the smell of the bitters, this cocktail is something you may have as much fun inhaling as you will drinking. Until I tried this cocktail, I had no idea that Angostura made Orange bitters. They may be a little difficult to come by, but it’s worth the effort to buy some … if for no other reason than to merely make this particular drink!

As you may already know, both bourbon and rye may contain corn and rye in their ingredients, but in order to be bourbon, 51% of the ingredient must be corn. However, while bourbon is often thought to be associated with Kentucky, it doesn’t necessarily have to be made in Kentucky in order to be called bourbon. A true Kentucky-made bourbon will state “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” on its label.

Well, that’s about it for now. Have you ever tried Buffalo Trace bourbon? Made any interesting cocktails using this particular whiskey? If so, please post a comment and share it with the rest of us.



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