I wrote my first guest column for Bourbon & Banter in 2013. At that time I was an avid follower of the site and a special education teacher who loved bourbon. I had done a lot of reading and even more drinking on the subject. I’d even done a little blogging on a Cincinnati drinks website. But being given a chance to write for Bourbon & Banter was an honor. I felt like I was getting a shot at the big leagues. My work with the site led me to attend my first Whiskey Festival. I interviewed Wes Henderson and learned to understand what real bourbon problems are. I even willingly drank Cleveland Whiskey. All of those changes led to the biggest change of all. Three and half years later I am now employed by two of the distilleries that I have written about, as a Sale Manager for Middle West Spirits and as a part-time tour guide for New Riff Distilling.
Have you ever wondered how much difference there is between two barrels of bourbon with the same mash bill, yeast, age, and storing conditions? How about which of your local liquor stores do the best barrel picks? Without just the right samples and conditions most of us will never know the answer to these questions. Luckily for me, I am a member of the Bourbon Society of Greater Cincinnati. The group is run by and for bourbon lovers who dedicate their time and resources for the sole pleasure being able to gather together to learn about and enjoy bourbon. One of these members, Buster Daniher, recently created the opportunity for a select group of members to explore these very questions.
Tenn South was founded by Clayton Cutler and Blair Butler, an engineer, and a doctor respectively. While they had long talked about the idea of opening a distillery one day, the change in Tennessee laws that allowed distilleries in 41 new counties spurred them into action in 2011 after several years of research. They purchased 28 acres and a pot still, spent two years learning everything they could about distilling, and finally began production in 2013. Tenn South currently makes Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey, All Purpose Moonshine, Abernathy Gin, Black Mule Vodka, and a variety of flavors of moonshine.
Here at Bourbon & Banter, we love our bourbon, but we also embrace whiskeys made all over the world. Today’s post should appeal to the single malt lovers among our readership. Instead of heading to the Scotch aisle we are looking across the channel to Brenne French Single Malt Whiskies, specifically Brenne Ten.
I’ve already reviewed their Estate Cask single barrel but for review purposes, Brenne is a seed to spirit whisky produced in Cognac, France. The barley is grown by the distillery that makes it. It is then fermented and distilled in a way similar to cognac. They use colder, small-batch fermentation and twice distil on a copper alembic still. The Estate Cask is then aged in new Limousin oak barrels before it is finished in used cognac barrels.
Sometimes it is ideal to take a break from the full-bodied, in-your-face awesomeness that is American whiskey, and take it easy with a nice single malt from across the seas. Often this means heading for the Scotch aisle of the liquor store, but Brenne French Single Malt might be just what you are looking for. Brenne is a seed to spirit whisky produced in Cognac, France. The barley is grown by the distillery that makes it. It is then fermented and distilled in a way similar to cognac. They use colder, small-batch fermentation and twice distil it on a copper alembic still. It is then aged in new Limousin oak barrels before finishing in used cognac barrels. Brenne currently offers a single barrel Estate Cask Whisky and the Brenne 10, a ten-year-old blended product. Today I will be reviewing their Estate Cask Whisky but look for my review of the Brenne 10 soon.
Maker’s Mark is one of the most iconic bourbon brands of the modern age. Bill and Margie Samuels lead the way, post-prohibition, in bourbon marketing, tourism, and helping people outside of Kentucky rediscover quality bourbon. Without Maker’s Mark, there is no doubt that bourbon would not be where it is today. Despite the fact that it was such a forward-thinking brand when they first started, for awhile it looked like Maker’s Mark was getting a bit stale. As other brands began to offer single barrel, barrel proof, or other special edition bottles, Maker’s Mark continued to provide their same product year after year. Their fans didn’t have a problem with this, but other bourbon lovers like myself passed on Maker’s Mark to try something new, something higher proof, or even better value for the price point.
Although my experience with tequila is mostly limited to cocktails and a few tasting lessons on my honeymoon in Cancun, I am never one to shy away from a challenge. So when Corralejo Tequila asked Bourbon & Banter to review their Reposado I was only too happy to answer the call of duty. Since I have tasted far fewer tequilas than bourbons in my life, this review will be based more on my personal tastes than on how closely it meets the platonic ideal of a reposado tequila.