Sour or Sweet: The Father of Modern Bourbon

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The last time you found yourself at Ye Olde Liquor Store, your eyes might have wandered to the bottom shelf where labels are stuffed with text emphasizing the quality and heritage of the bourbon, proudly boasting, “SOUR MASH WHISKEY.” You might have wondered what that even meant as you settled up for your bottle of Evan Williams, and why very few other bourbon brands boast this quality of their whiskey so proudly.

The early nineteenth century was a cluster of a great variety of bourbon quality, from excellent products to worse-than-rotgut to everything in-between. Distillers, including commercial and farmer-distillers, usually utilized two processes to create mash for producing whiskey: sour mash and sweet mash. These processes are exactly the same in regards to the amount of grain in the mash, the mash bill, fermentation, and yeast, but with one essential difference: the sour mash process includes a portion of spent mash from the previous distillation, just like sourdough bread contains a portion of dough from a previous batch of bread. It was the distiller’s preference for whether they chose to distill sweet mash or sour mash that day, and distillers didn’t specify which mash produced the whiskey they sold. Continue Reading →

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The Craft Cocktail Party: A Review & Giveaway

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Let me preface this review by saying that I am not much of a cocktail drinker: A glass of wine, sure, bourbon on the rocks, great, an occasional manhattan or a hot toddy on a cold winters night (made by my lovely husband), excellent. So when he asked me to review, The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion, I thought, well never mind what I thought. I agreed, mostly out of wifely duty, and well, I am really glad I did. Continue Reading →

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From Grain to Glass: An American Craft Spirits Renaissance

Here’s a wonderfully produced “grain to glass” documentary produced by our friends over at Hudson Whiskey. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey and take 15 minutes out of your day to enjoy this peek into the craft distilling world.

And congrats to Hudson Whiskey on 10 great years!

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Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Bourbon Review

Disclaimer: A sample of  Master’s Keep  was provided to us by Wild Turkey for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the booze with no strings attached. Thank you.

For many, the 17-year age statement of Wild Turkey Master’s Keep is more than enough to get them to stand in line for a chance to get their hands on Wild Turkey’s oldest release to date. For others, the fact that this barrel strength release comes in at just 86.8 proof–well below what we expect from a barrel proof release–makes it a bottle they must own so they can try to make sense of it all. (Remember, proof normally goes up when a bourbon ages in the warehouse–not down.)

For me, I was curious to taste Wild Turkey’s latest creation because Wild Turkey is one of my favorite brands and I’m always curious when they release a bourbon that is well above the age range that Jimmy Russell has publicly stated is ideal for their whiskey. I go into the tasting hoping for something truly amazing but also concerned that it won’t meet my lofty expectations.

I’m very aware that I have very specific things that I enjoy in a bourbon and gravitate towards when doing a review. It’s hard not to do so. That in mind, I invite you to watch my review of Master’s Keep and hope you’ll watch it to the end. (My apologies for it being so long but I really wanted to do a review and provide context with some other Wild Turkey releases.)

Master’s Keep is just one of three new releases coming from Wild Turkey later this summer. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to explore this one I’m really looking forward to Russell’s Reserve 1998 and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye. God bless Jimmy and Eddie for continuing to push the Wild Turkey brand forward and preaching the bourbon gospel.

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