Bourbon Trail Day 3: Louisville

We started Day 3 on the Bourbon Trail at Angel’s Envy where we made a reservation for later in the day and drove a few short blocks to Peerless Distilling. Peerless was a pleasant surprise. What a beautiful tasting room and bar!

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They have done a great job of restoring the building. Peerless is a name that has been around since 1890 but the distillery had closed in 1917 during the war effort. Corky Taylor wanted to resurrect his family distillery. In 2014 they were able to buy back the original license and Peerless name and began construction restoring a 114 year-old building in Louisville. They filled their first barrel since 1917 in March of 2015.

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Peyton Beall directed our introduction to Peerless and our tasting. She was very knowledgeable about the distillery and its history.

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They do their tasting with a delicious piece of chocolate, and what a difference that makes. Peerless Rye was just selected by Whisky Advocate Magazine as # 15 in the top 20 whiskies in the world.

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Our next stop was Angel’s Envy. You will be in awe of their distillery and tasting room. They have spared no expense. Another facility in a restored old distillery building in downtown Louisville. The effort to restore a lot of the old buildings has paid off with beauty and great old history.

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This tasting was also done with chocolate. It enhances the senses and experience and takes it to a whole new level.

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After the tour and tasting we hung out in their bar and had a cocktail. They make all their own bitters, syrups, and mixers. Do take the time to relax and have a drink with them. It’s well worth the experience.

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Our last stop of the afternoon was at Evan Williams. They are open until 6:00 which helped us extend the day a bit (others close earlier). Their tour will take you through a diorama of the life and history of Evan Williams which also takes you through the history of whiskey and bourbon in Kentucky.

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The tastings are done in one of several bars set up with period design and furnishings from different time periods. Ours was from the ‘60’s. It is a most informative tour and learned a lot about the history, distillery equipment, a mock barrel warehouse.

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It was a great way to end the day before dinner! This was our 5th distillery on Saturday having begun in Lexington and ended in Louisville. It was time to sit down and relax.

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The next morning we drove out to Bulleit Distillery from downtown. Bulleit is a step back in time. “Originally opened on Derby Day in 1935 and reopened to the public in 2014, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery is one of the true cathedrals of the American Whiskey industry.”

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They won’t tell you on the tour but all the Pappy Van Winkle up until a few years ago came from this distillery. The day we were there they were baking Girl Scout Cookies at the adjacent property. They had about 4 inches of snow on the ground. It made for very pretty pictures against those corrugated steel barrel houses.

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The tour was really well done, probably the best we had along the way. I learned a lot and I felt like I was at Mecca. There is no substitute for walking into a warehouse full of aging bourbon, and on a 20-degree day it’s even more chilling!

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You get to taste 4 of their products in the tasting: their rye, bourbon, 10-year bourbon, and Blade and Bow. I was delighted with the 10 year and the Blade and Bow Bourbon. The 10-year is quite a bargain. They also have some of the Orphan Barrel bourbons for sale in their gift shop.

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When in Louisville plan at least a day for these and more of the tours available. We did not do the Jim Beam experience, there are a few craft distilleries, and there are more opening soon. With all the superb hotels, restaurants, and bars you could spend days in Louisville and not experience it all. Plan to go when it’s a little warmer than the weather we had. But cold or hot there is always a bourbon drink for the weather.

Under the Christmas Tree: Angel’s Envy

The rest of this week we are going to feature a bourbon each day that would make a great Christmas gift. Today, that bourbon is Angel’s Envy!

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Angel’s Envy is a really nice bourbon to sip, but it also makes a great Christmas gift because of its bottle and name. The bottle features Angel wings on the back, and the bourbon has Angel in the name – perfect for Christmas (Kudos to my wife, who picked this one for that reason!). At about $45, it is a great price point for a thoughtful gift.

One of my very first bourbon review blog posts was about Angel’s Envy. I’m definitely a fan. I first tried Angel’s Envy when it came out in 2010 and regularly keep a bottle around. It is one of the bourbons I like to keep around to sip and to introduce to friends who are new to bourbons and want to try something a little different.

Happy shopping!

Guest Post: Valentine’s Day Bourbon Ideas

Hey there! It’s Bill’s daughter, Taylor, here with my first guest post.  I’ve been helping my dad in the background with technical support. Today I’m sharing some Valentine’s Day ideas. And tomorrow I’ll be back with a post about decking out your home bar!

Valentine’s Day is right around corner (on Sunday!). I have yet to get my husband a gift, and fortunately he enjoys bourbon as much as Bourbon Bill.  Bourbon is a super easy, yet thoughtful and fun gift, to pick up for your Valentine, guy or girl. You can really tailor it to your someone special. You can easily find a bourbon with a cool bottle, a top rated bourbon, or just something new, for under $50 at your local liquor store.

Below are three bourbons great for any Valentine, and all for under $50 for a 750mL bottle.

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  1. Basil Hayden’s Bourbon – This is a favorite of ours right now. I’m not the biggest bourbon drinker and it is smooth enough for me to drink. I love the style of the bottle. The paper label ads a little something unique to it. This would definitely impress a Valentine. BevMo has Basil Hayden’s for $41.99 right now.
  2. Larceny Very Special Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – This is another favorite right now. Really easy to drink and really tasty.  Also, the bottle styling is really cool (are you seeing a trend in how I chose these bourbons??). This one is a great price point at $29.99 on Caskers.
  3. Angel’s Envy Bourbon Whiskey – It’s Valentine’s Day. The Bottle has wings. It was an obvious choice. But in all honesty, it’s another great bourbon, getting all sorts of praise in the bourbon world. Any Valentine would be excited to get this. BevMo has it for $45.99 right now. You can read Bourbon Bill’s review of Angel’s Envy here.

Bourbon Review: Angel’s Envy

Angel’s Envy is the creation of bourbon industry legend Lincoln Henderson. It is known as his masterpiece and until his passing in 2013 he watched over the entire creation process. In the process of aging bourbon in barrels there is a lot of evaporation. The portion that evaporates is known as the “Angel’s Share.” The name “Angel’s Envy” is derived from what is left in the barrel. It is bottled in a tall bottle with angel wings on the back of the bottle.

Angel’s Envy has a distinct spiciness. I, personally, detect a very strong caramel flavor. Others say they taste black cherries, almond, and raisins.   The bourbon is aged 4-6 years in American oak and finished for 3-6 months in port barrels. This is what gives it a sweet taste with a hint of cherry.

I will be the first to admit I don’t have a discerning pallet. What I like about a bourbon or whiskey is how it opens up and how it finishes. When my wife Lynn tried it for the first time, her initial comment was, “This is very smooth.”

I first tried it when it came out in 2010 and regularly keep a bottle around. It is one of the bourbons I like to keep around to sip and to introduce to friends who are new to bourbons and want to try something a little different.

Aged: 4-6 years
Proof: 86.6
Color: Very Medium Rich
Price Point: 750 ML $44.99 (Total Wine)
Whisky Advocate Rating: 93

Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey finished in a port pipe. This is veteran master distiller Lincoln Henderson’s newest creation, and it’s a beauty. Richly textured, silky, and well-rounded, with ripe berried fruits, candied tangerine, light toffee, maple syrup, and creamy vanilla, sprinkled with spice (cinnamon, hint of mint). Smooth, silky finish, and dangerously drinkable! The port pipe notes dovetail perfectly. Lovely just the way it is, but it’s begging for a cigar. My only gripe: why not 45 or 50% ABV? But I’m splitting hairs. I really enjoy this stuff!
(Spring 2011) Reviewed by: John Hansell

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Photo from http://www.angelsenvy.com

My 3+ Favorite Bourbons

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Talking about my 3 favorite Bourbons is a little like trying to list my 3 favorite cars. Pick a category: sports car, race car, weekend driver.   When it comes to bourbon is it neat, on the rocks, best mixer, or best value? How do you pick just 3 from so many good Bourbons? So, I will give this post a qualifier: today I’m talking about my favorite everyday bourbons I drink. Because, given unlimited money, supply, or special occasions you’re talking a whole different ballgame.

In my opinion, you can’t beat Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – either neat, or over a large ice cube (don’t let it get too much water in it). It’s easy to find, regularly on sale, and really smooth. I am also a big fan of 1792 (the year Kentucky joined the Union). It’s an excellent bourbon at a fantastic price point.  Next on my list is Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Blanton’s and Woodford are my 2 sipping whiskies on a regular basis. BTW, if you ever visit the Bourbon Trail, Woodford does an incredible “Corn to Cork” tour that I highly recommend.

If you are looking for a craft bourbon at a good price point, Old Pogue is one of my favorites. It’s spicy and complex, but the distillery is so small it’s not even available right now unless you find a liquor store with a dusty bottle left on the shelf. Go to their website and get on the waiting list; its worth the wait. Also, the Old Pogue tour is the subject of a future blog.

If you are mixing mint juleps or our house’s favorite drink, bourbon and ginger (with a lime), Evan Williams Black Label does the trick. In the Fall 2015 Whiskey Advocate Lew Bryson wrote an article titled “In Praise of ‘Table Bourbon’” a la the way French have “table wine.”

It’s a bourbon that good for everyday drinking-well made, ready for a cocktail, a simple highball, or ice destruction duties-and priced for everyday drinking, too. one of the best values in Bourbon. You can get a bottle of good bourbon for under $25, from the same distilleries, the same warehouses, the same barrels and mashbills as bourbons that are hyped, rare, and over $100 a bottle.

Evan Williams is a great “table bourbon.” You can find the 1.75L Evan Williams Black Label on sale at big spirits stores and grocery chains for $14.99 to $17.99 if you keep an eye on the ads. Well worth stocking up for mixing and parties. This is what we use for mint juleps at our annual Derby Party (more on that later this spring).

But, how can I not mention Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and Angel’s Envy Cask Strength (more on Angel’s Envy on Thursday). It’s hard for me to even stop there. That is why my bar cart has over 25 Bourbons on it. So, moral of the story, I’m having trouble narrowing my favorite everyday bourbons down to 3.  The beauty of today’s market is there are many bourbons for many tastes. Bourbon and whiskeys like wine and should and can suit your particular tastes. My opinion? Don’t listen to the experts, drink what you like.