Pack Your Bags!! We’re Going On A #Bourbonjourney

Let me be the first to welcome you aboard the Bourbon Express!! Please step forward with your ticket and prepare yourselves for a fun, interactive experience as we explore one of America’s greatest treasures – BOURBON!

Bourbon Journey Header

Let me be the first to welcome you aboard the Bourbon Express!! Please step forward with your ticket in hand and prepare yourselves for a fun, interactive experience as we explore one of America’s greatest treasures – BOURBON! We are about to embark on a year-long bourbon journey that will begin the second you pop open your bottle and catch that initial whiff of sweet corn, and will continue, well, until we run out of whiskey. In case you missed my first post on this topic, let me take a moment to catch you up to speed.

I don’t think it’s any secret that the aromas and flavors found in whiskey can change with time, and for me, that is usually a welcomed change. This is not to imply that I dislike the first dram of any particular whiskey, but only that it seems to get better with time… and that is the basis of this community involved “review”. I put three different bourbons up for consideration and after tallying the votes across social media and from the comments section here on Bourbon & Banter, the whiskey we will be using is Angels Envy, Port Wine Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon (full post can be found here).

As some of you may know, I am a Scotch whisky drinker at heart, but over the past few months, I have been trying to broaden my whiskey horizons to include more American whiskeys, and I have managed to twist a few of my malt-mate’s arms into joining me on this bourbon adventure. If this is the first you’re hearing about this, I welcome you to the discussion and invite you to come along for the ride. The more people we can pack on this train, the more each of us will get out of the trip.

Now please keep in mind, my goal here is to create a fun, judgment-free environment for those newer to bourbon, and for more experienced bourbon drinkers as well. I have no plans to submit our findings to any scientific journals and will likely not be nominated for any Nobel Prizes or Journalistic awards. The point being, don’t take things too seriously here. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to about this has similar expectations, and we’re all here to not only try something new but hopefully gain a little bourbon appreciation along the way. There was one commenter who suggested I maintain a reference bottle that was to be injected with air after each session so as to maintain consistent air pressure throughout the experiment, and to be sure to store that reference bottle at constant temperatures in a cool dark place. While I admire this person’s scientific integrity and attention to detail, in all honesty, I can assure you that just won’t happen in my case. I will be keeping my bottle right on my bar top alongside the many other bottles in my collection and once a month I will pour a small glass from that bottle and make notes of what I observe.

I want to keep this as “real life” as possible and while I don’t know what to expect, two or three months of the same observations could get pretty boring pretty quickly. To counter that possibility, each month after I have taken my notes on the first few sips (neat, from a Glencairn glass) I’ll be using whatever is left in the glass to explore different pairings. What does a bite of dark chocolate do to the perceived flavors of the whiskey? What about a handful of salty almonds? Maybe drop an ice cube or two in the glass and take note of what happens. I encourage everyone to come up their own pairings as well and let the rest of us know via the comments section each month how it influenced your whiskey experience. The sky is the limit, and there are no right or wrong combinations… pair it with a piece of fruit or some potato chips, a spoonful of peanut butter, maybe try it side-by-side with an entirely different whiskey, or a glass of rum for that matter, and see if you can pick up any new flavors when you go back to the Angels Envy. While the primary focus of the ongoing monthly reviews will be to see how the whiskey itself changes over time, a secondary topic will be how the different pairings affect your whiskey in the moment.

OK, so where do we go from here?

Well, I’ll be posting my monthly reviews and pairing notes during the first week of each month, starting with the initial review in July. So, if you haven’t done so already, go ahead and get yourself a bottle of Angels Envy Bourbon (Port Wine finish, 43.3 ABV) and towards the end of this month (June), find some quiet time to pop the cork and pour yourself a dram. With a pen and paper nearby, make notes of your observations. Whether you can pick up on 1 or 2 descriptors, or a dozen, it doesn’t matter. Take a sip and write down the first things that come to your mind. Swirl it around in your glass, take a big sniff and let it soak into your brain, and with that smell still fresh in your head, take another small sip, let it sit on your tongue for a few moments before you swallow, and write down what you observe. It’s not a bad idea to have a glass of water handy to cleanse your palate now and again, and with a fresh mouth, give the whiskey another sip to see if you can detect anything different. Try to have a little fun with the pairings as well and be prepared to share what works and what doesn’t. Not only do I hope to improve my tasting abilities by keeping close tabs on what I observe each month, but by each of us sharing our individual experiences, we may give one another flavor profiles to seek out on our next tasting that we may have otherwise missed out on going at this alone.

So that’s it for now. But before you go rushing out to get your bottle of Angels Envy, make sure you are signed up for the Bourbon and Banter email updates, so you don’t miss a beat. You can choose whether you want daily or weekly notifications and you will be emailed directly when new content is available. If you made it this far, I thank you for your interest, and I look forward to seeing you here on the Bourbon & Banter blog during the first week of July to share how your first tasting went. If you plan on participating (and you don’t necessarily have to have a bottle to follow along) feel free to introduce yourself below so I can start to get a handle on who will be involved… everyone’s thoughts and opinions are important! If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to leave them below in the comments or look me up on twitter at @FL_ScotchLover aka Mr. Scotch. I’m looking forward to getting this journey underway, and I hope to see you all aboard next month. Cheers!