A Bourbon Oasis Where You Would Least Expect It

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Editor’s Note: Lee Stang is our guest blogger today with his review of Sidebar Bistro in Aruba. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments as well as online where you can find Lee at @Balashi963.

Rock Hill Farms!!! I am in a restaurant/bar and they have Rock Hill Farms!

Maybe not unusual for Kentucky. Very unusual for any place in my home state of Virginia. I am in neither. I am in Oranjestad, capital of Aruba.

Sidebar Bistro Aruba Bourbon Selection Photo

Rock Hill Farms and Willet Pot Still at the Sidebar Bistro.

My wife and I like to travel and have visited Aruba every October since our honeymoon in 2001. When we travel we like to try different and unusual restaurants and bars, especially bourbon bars. Tasting bourbon is not just about sitting in your house and having a pour, although that is enjoyable too. The environment of a great bar can make the experience exceptional. Moreover, the bourbon, cocktail or whatever spirit you desire can taste that much better. Just prior to this trip in 2015, I discovered that a new bourbon bar had opened in Aruba and because of my love of bourbon, it was a must visit. Continue Reading →

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WhistlePig Boss Hog Review

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Editor’s Note: Jim Halbleib is our guest blogger today with his WhistlePig Boss Hog review. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments as well as online where you can find Jim at @kramerica099.


With the rye whiskey renaissance, it was only a matter of time before someone decided that ryes needed something that would make a statement as big and bold as any old, high-proof bourbon. Turns out that someone is WhistlePig.

WhistlePig is a rye whiskey company. They only make rye whiskeys, and they are trying to do them differently. They’re not making rye for the cocktail market. Rather, they’re making rye to enjoy neat and sip slowly as any great whiskey. Their 10-year and Old World ryes have won awards and have been well-received, even though they do get taken to the wood shed over their marketing.

WhistlePig has been sourcing their rye distillate from distilleries in Canada, and the company has been forthcoming about that. Some whiskey snobs are crying foul. Personally, I think their ire is misguided. There have been non-distilling producers for 50 years. It is nothing new. Frankly, most of the flavor comes from aging and barrel selection more than the actual distilling process So really, the focus should be on whether it is good or not rather than distillate sourcing.

They now have a still, and they will be distilling their own juice. But it will be some time before that will be released. Continue Reading →

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Balcones Single Malt Whisky Review

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Editor’s Note: Charles Brooker is our guest blogger today with his Balcones Single Malt Whisky review. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments as well as online where you can find Charles at @charlesabrooker.


The Bourbon Renaissance is in full effect and continues to become even more prominent as the demand for bourbon grows. Traditional distilleries continue to make great product, but the bourbon fervor has led smaller guys to jump into the game.  Like the microbrewery movement, there’s no shortage of microdistilleries cropping up all over the country that are making (or sourcing) their versions of bourbon alternative whiskeys.  Texas has been an active participant in this movement with over 20 registered whiskey distilleries in state.

Balcones Distilling is among the most prominent of these distillers, and arguably the progenitor of the Texas Whiskey movement–it’s Baby Blue product was the first whiskey made in Texas since the Prohibition days (although Garrison Brothers lays claim to having the first legal still in Texas since Prohibition).  A grain-to-glass distiller, all aspects of whiskey creation are performed in house.  They are renowned for making a great product–such a great product that they have traditionally met only 10% of market demand. Continue Reading →

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Four Roses Single Barrel Review

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Editor’s Note: Alan Mitnick is our guest blogger today with his Four Roses Single Barrel review. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments as well as online where you can find Alan at @AlanAlguit or @AlanMitnick.

Author’s Note: This review was written first by hand using my pen whose barrel is made from old oak taken from a refitting of the USS Constitution—“Old Ironsides.” Bourbon barrels, perhaps surprisingly to some, is not the only good use of this mighty wood. I thought this pairing to be appropriate.

In choosing a bourbon to review, I started with my own collection and learned that Pops had reviewed them all; in fact, I think I bought each based on his reviews! Consequently, I hopped in my snow-capped Fusion and five minutes later stood before a newly-expanded selection at a local store. What once was three shelves of mostly big-label names, Maker’s and Beam and Buffalo Trace now includes Elmer T. Lee and I.W. Harper and other brands not so common in northern NJ. Still, Pops’ reviews have been far-reaching, and I was thwarted until I stared at the middle of what is now five shelves and saw the lovely shaped bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon…according to my search, it has not been yet reviewed for Bourbon and Banter, so here we go! Continue Reading →

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