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Exploring Private Barrel Selections with Nasa Liquor

Exploring Private Barrel Selections with Nasa Liquor header

Disclaimer: A sample of Four Roses Single Barrel and Smooth Ambler Old Scout Private Selection bourbon were provided to us by Nasa Liquor for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the booze with no strings attached. Thank you.

“It was like staring down a bourbon tsunami. I couldn’t make a decision or move my feet from sheer awe and fear of making a bad decision.”

That’s how one of my friends described his recent experience visiting a liquor store. He had gone in looking to buy a bottle of whiskey for a house-warming gift. A simple task he thought. He wasn’t prepared for the reality of today’s bourbon market.

Liquor store shelves are flooded with new bourbon brands seemingly every week making it increasingly difficult for consumers to make a decision. Don’t get me wrong. Choice is good but when taken to the extreme it can be paralyzing. Add in the fact that many of these new brands have questionable, yet enticing, back-stories and it quickly becomes dumb luck for many people to pick a bottle with actually decent juice inside.

I can only imagine what happens after someone’s fallen victim to sexy labeling and shitty bourbon more than a few times. I suspect many return to their “safe” bourbon and give up on trying something new. Others will attempt to keep an open mind but every trip back to the “bourbon tsunami” results in unnecessary stress and anxiety. Being gun-shy about a bourbon purchase is no way to live one’s life.

If you’ve ever found yourself in or want to avoid this situation, I suggest you explore your favorite store’s private barrel selections.

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What I Learned From Dinner With Jim Rutledge

  • Four Roses Dinner with Jim Rutledge
    There's no better sight than a bunch of Four Roses standing at attention.

Last week Bourbon & Banter had the honor of hosting a Four Roses bourbon tasting dinner with Jim Rutledge as our guest of honor. Before his arrival at dinner, I was like a child at Christmas–eagerly awaiting Santa Claus to come down the chimney. I had met Jim on several occasions, but couldn’t help but be excited that he was coming to St. Louis to spend some time with the local Bourbon & Banter community. There was no doubt in my mind it was going to be an amazing evening.

Upon arrival guests were treated to one of Juniper’s signature cocktails, a local riff on a Presbyterian featuring Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, Big O Liqueur, ginger beer and lime juice. Drink in hand, everyone met Jim before dinner and engaged in some banter with other guests. Once seated for dinner, Jim began by sharing a detailed overview of Four Roses’ history in the US and how he became involved with the brand during his years at Seagrams. As each dinner course was presented by Juniper’s chef, Jim provided an overview of each Four Roses bourbon paired with it. Over the course of the evening we sampled Four Roses Yellow Label, Small Batch, Single Barrel and a special private selection single barrel chosen by Juniper. (Special thanks to Juniper for extending an amazing offer on bottles of their selection for our guests.)

Throughout the evening Jim spared no details in answering questions and educating us on all things Four Roses. While I was already familiar with much of what Jim shared, there were some interesting nuggets I wrote down to  share with our readers. Continue Reading →

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Sharing Bourbon…and Banter for a Good Cause


The bourbon industry is so hot right now that it’s easy to get caught up in the game chasing down the next great thing or trying to just keep up with industry chatter. At times I get more than a little overwhelmed with it all and question if I should just move to a remote part of the world with my bourbon and enjoy it without distraction. Fortunately I tend come to my senses quickly knowing that bourbon without banter gets boring real fast. So when my wife and I recently had a chance to play host to some friends and neighbors who purchased a bourbon tasting in my home from the annual auction at my kids’ school, we decided to go big and create an event that was all about spreading the bourbon gospel.

The original auction tasting included three bottles of bourbon for the group accompanied with some basic appetizers. The winners were to take home the remaining bourbon to share with other friends as they wished. We decided to call ant audible about 5 days before the event that involved opening up my entire personal bourbon collection for the group to enjoy along with some selected bottles to help introduce them to the world of bourbon. Additionally, my wife outdid herself by creating an amazing spread that included everything from candied bacon to chocolate covered figs. Everyone had a great time and I was thrilled to have been able to introduce folks to bourbon in a way that made it more accessible and enjoyable. Continue Reading →

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What I Did Right at WhiskyFest Chicago

WhiskyFest Chicago 2015 Glass

Well I have survived. Thank to Pops and everyone else who were praying for me to make it back relatively unscathed and with a few stories to tell. After failing miserably at my first whiskey festival I learned a few things that I applied this year, and I think I can say that the weekend was a success. Here are some of the top things that helped me make the most of my experience at WhiskyFest Chicago.

1. I downloaded the app: One of the promotional emails I received prior to the event suggested I download the WhiskyFest app prior to attending and it turned out to be a great resource. When you open the app you see the event’s social feed. When I opened it the evening before the event it was full of people taking selfies on the train and asking for recommendations and advice. Even today, five days after WhiskyFest, it is still full of pictures and excitement. It was a really nice way to instantly bond with a group of strangers. Once I got into the grand tasting the map of the floor, and especially the list of whiskey, made it invaluable. I was actually able to keep track and rate of each one that I tried. I even managed a few notes before I decided that typing was really not worth the effort. Continue Reading →

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