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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Eastside Distilling: A Bourbon Across America Visit

Photos courtesy of Cheryl van Grunsven.

I first visited Eastside Distilling in September 2011 when they were called Deco Distilling and all they had to offer was rum. It was fine rum and they made some tasty cocktails, but it was a day of dudes strolling Portland’s Distillery Row and it was the 4th place we visited. Things got murky that day.

A few months later, they re-christened themselves as Eastside Distilling and have been growing since. After their Belize-style Below Deck Rums (silver, coffee, ginger and spiced), they created Portland Potato Vodka, Burnside bourbon, Cherry Bomb whiskey, Marionberry whiskey and a set of holiday liqueurs. Production and sales have increased from 400 cases a year to 6400 cases annually.

I met with Eastside’s master distiller Melissa Heim. Having previously learned her craft as rum distiller at Rogue Spirits, she came to Eastside 3 years ago and recently signed a contract extension through 2020. With all of the talk of women in whiskey these days, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Heim is the only female master distiller west of the Mississippi. 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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Four Roses Bourbon Tasting Dinner

Four Roses Bourbon Dinner & Tasting Info Image

Who wants to have dinner and drinks with Four Roses’ Master Distiller Jim Rutledge?

Bourbon & Banter is pleased to announce that Jim Rutledge will be joining us on May 6th to host a Four Roses bourbon dinner and tasting at Copia Restaurant & Wine Bar in St. Louis, MO.

Four Roses has won American Whisky Distiller of the Year honors from Whisky Magazine 4 of the last 5 years for good reason. Much of that success is due to the passion, expertise and dedication of their Master Distiller, Jim Rutledge. Here’s a short bio lifted directly from Four Roses’ website:

Jim Rutledge has been the Master Distiller at Four Roses since 1995. It’s a vocation that requires the use of every one of his considerable talents: chemistry, artistry, craftsmanship, marketing and salesmanship. It’s a good thing he’s so passionate about Four Roses that he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to create and produce a Bourbon with perfect consistency day after day. As a member of the inaugural class of the Bourbon Hall of Fame, Jim watches over the character, quality and consistency of each barrel of Four Roses Bourbon. Every stage of the distillation process is critical and you’ll find Jim’s hands, eyes and nose – as well as his heart and soul in every one of them.

“Mr. Four Roses,” as Jim has come to be known, takes both his passion and knowledge about making Bourbon with him wherever his travels take him. And as Four Roses’ biggest ambassador, Jim is truly a man in constant motion. There’s a new friend to make, a new story to tell and a little Bourbon to share each step along the way. So pull up a chair, pour yourself a sip or two of your new favorite Bourbon and visit our Mingle section to see when Jim’s travels might take him to your area.

2012 – Whisky Magazine inducted Jim Rutledge into its Global Whisky Hall of Fame. He was the 13th person to achieve this honor and recognition.
2008 – Whisky Magazine names Jim Rutledge the industry’s “2008 Ambassador of the Year for American Whiskeys.”
2007 – Malt Advocate Magazine awards Jim Rutledge the “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

We hope you can join us for what will be an unforgettable evening of great food, amazing bourbon and spirited banter with a true bourbon legend. Complete event details and online ticket sales are available via the button below.

Learn More About the Four Roses Bourbon Dinner

PS – We’ve had the privilege of spending time with Jim on several occasions and every time we come away simply amazed at his knowledge, passion and stories. He doesn’t get to St. Louis very often so we strongly encourage you to join us for is sure to be one of the bourbon highlights of your year.

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