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What is bourbon… really? Breaking the myths While it is well-known how bourbon must be made, a few untruths or misunderstandings about bourbon still need to be cleared up. Before we get into those, let’s take a moment and review what we know. First of all, to be considered a bourbon, the mash-bill must comprise at least 51% corn and then can contain any other combination of cereal grains. While these cereal grains most commonly will be rye and malted barley or wheat and malted barley, we are starting to see more expressions consisting of all four grains. To be classified as a bourbon, it must also be aged in a new charred oak container, be a minimum of 80 proof, distilled at no more than 160 proof, and entry proof of no more than 125 proof. There are a couple of items that need to be called out here. First is that the container must be a new charred oak container. This oak can be American White Oak, French Oak, or any other type of oak. Also note that the regulation states that it’s a container, not a barrel, so essentially, the container could be a new charred oak bucket, as long as it is new and has gone through the charring process. The second item is that no minimum age must be considered a bourbon. While Scotch, Irish, and Japanese whisky all must be aged a minimum of three years, effectively, whiskey can be regarded as a bourbon as long as the mash bill is 51% corn minimum and it was stored in a new charred oak container while carrying it from the still to the bottle. What about Straight Bourbon Whiskey? According to Chapter 4 of the Alcohol Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau, Straight Bourbon Whiskey is…

Top 5 American Whiskies of 2022 We all love the Top 5, 10, and 100 lists. The legendary David Letterman was known for the crazy top 10 lists he presented on his show, and every musician dreams of having a song reach the Billboard Top 100 list. Distilleries, Wineries, and Cigar blenders get excited when one of their creations ends up on a Top list from their fans and publications. However, every list can be subjective to the author’s taste or preference. Does the author like Ryes? Do they prefer old-world wines over new-world wines? When it comes to the world of whiskies, how does their profile differ from yours? As you read my Top 5 American Whiskies, you will likely ask yourself these questions. In creating this list, I looked back to the whiskies I had tried throughout the year and which ones left a memory. I then went back to revisit several different whiskies, was that memory worth revisiting, looking for overall balance in the profile, and most importantly, was this a whisky that I found worthy of wanting to share with my friends? Ultimately, I had to narrow the list down to 5 whiskies. This was challenging; I eliminated some excellent expressions, such as Blue Run Golden Rye, Larceny Barrel Proof Batch B-251, and Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select. Once I had my selections narrowed down to the following 5. I returned to the memories, sat down with each of them individually, shared them with my friends, and began taking notes on the expressions themselves. So, as I sit here with a dram poured, putting the finishing touches on this article, I present my top 5 American Whiskies for 2022. Castle & Key Rye 2021 Batch 1 I know this is my top 5 whiskies of 2022;…

Kentucky Owl Takumi Edition Whiskey Review journey through a tasting Exploring a new whiskey is a journey. A journey that will explore all of your senses, beginning with your sight and ending with your sense of touch and taste. First, you will choose a bottle based on the name, the shape of the bottle, how the label captures your attention, or what you have read about the whiskey. Once you’ve picked the bottle up, you’ll notice details about the whiskey, such as the color, proof, blend, or age. If any of those are not what you are looking for, you’ll put the bottle down and move on to the next. Next, you will use your hearing to experience the whiskey you chose—the sound of the wax, foil, or paper around the cork. The anticipation builds up as you take the wrapper off for the satisfying sound of the cork popping out of the bottle and releasing the aromas that were trapped in the bottle. The aroma brings in the first time you use your sense of smell; however, the sound does not end there; while you are taking in the aroma, you will begin pouring the whiskey into your glass and listen to the sound as the liquid hits the glass. All this time, your sense of sight has been enhancing the experience, but now, this is where your eyes take over as you look closely at the color of the whiskey. Is it a deep amber, a light golden, or somewhere in between? How does it look as you begin swirling the whiskey in your glass? Does the liquid slowly move back down the glass into the bowl? How does it look when you bring the glass to your nose to dive deep into the aromas? It is time…

Diageo acquires Balcones Distilling Diageo acquires Balcones Distilling, one of the leading Texas Distilleries known for their American Single Malt. With expressions such as Texas Single Malt, Lineage Single Malt, and Baby Blue Corn Whiskey, Balcones brings Diageo a long-lived heritage of Texas Whiskey and increases its portfolio, which already consists of well-known brands such as Johnny Walker, Bulleit, and Guinness. You’ll be able to read more about this recent acquisition here.

Metallica has done it again, Blackened Cigars by Drew Estate Metallica has been known as one of the most influential bands for the past few decades, releasing hit after hit, including “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters,” and “seek and Destroy.” What you may not realize is that in 2018 Metallica partnered with Master Distiller and Blender Dave Pickerell and shortly thereafter, Master Distiller and Blender Rob Dietrich to create “Blackened,” a whiskey that lives up to the reputation that James Hatfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo have built for their legendary band. Well, now James Hatfield, along with Rob Dietrich, has teamed up with Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate to create a cigar which they are calling Blackened ‘M81’. A blend that consists of all maduro fermented tobacco with a Mexican San Andres Wrapper, Connecticut broadleaf binder, and fillers that consist of Nicaraguan, and Pennsylvanian Broadleaf, this cigar is sure to bring a punch that pairs beautifully with the Blackened Whiskey and Metallica’s hard-hitting music. Read the announcement over at Drew Estate

Mercury Chophouse Review Be Celebrated!  A phrase that I often will tell others, whether it is on their promotions, birthdays, anniversaries, or just because. Recently I decided to take my advice and celebrate by treating myself to a nice dinner. For this celebration, I decided that I wanted to eat at the Mercury Chophouse located in Arlington, Texas. Now, normally I will walk into the restaurant, ask for a seat for one, and enjoy my dinner. This time, however, I decided to make a reservation, mainly because it is a nice steakhouse, and I wanted to ensure that I would have a place to sit, but also out of respect for the restaurant. My reservation was for 6:30 pm on a Friday; When I arrived at the location at 6 pm, I began looking around for parking when the Valet service flagged me down to inform me that Valet was free for the restaurant and told me that the restaurant was located on the 9th floor of the office building where I arrived. Because I was thirty minutes early, I had expected to wait in the lobby when I approached the hostess station. However, they were able to sit me right away.  As the hostess led me to my table, we passed by a nice full bar, grand piano, and some other patrons sitting at nice tables with leather chairs, beautiful lighting, and large windows overlooking the city. My seat was a corner table for two that was part of a long booth. I was able to sit facing the window on the opposite wall and look out over the scenery.  After a few moments, my server stopped by my table and offered me a wine and a cocktail menu which also displayed an impressive collection of spirits. Accepting the…

CTP changes term from “grandfathered tobacco product” In an article recently published by the FDA regarding the Center for Tobacco Products, CTP announced that they are changing the term “Grandfathered Tobacco Product” to that “Pre-Existing Tobacco Product.” This is something to keep an eye on regarding Cigars. While the terminology change doesn’t change anything in the here n now, if we see this continue moving forward as regulation, we will see all of the cigar industry heavily impacted. On Aug. 19, FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) updated the term “grandfathered tobacco product” to “pre-existing tobacco product” on all the Center’s systems. As described in the Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) and Substantial Equivalence (SE) final rules published in 2021, the updated terminology more clearly and appropriately describes these products. You can read the full article here.

** This article was previously published in the Whiskey Network newsletter as a four-part series by Greybeard**  Exploration of Scotch Whisky It is hard to turn around in today’s society and not have heard something about Scotch. You will see it in the movies, television shows, and all over the media and internet. Scotch’s vast history dates back to the 15th century, with the earliest known distillery in Scotland operating in 1494. This article, however, will not be about the history of Scotch, but instead will be a walk through the different regions in Scotland and the Scotches made there. Before we get into the regions of Scotland, there are five classifications or types of Scotch that we will want to understand. Also, it would be good to briefly cover the regulations of how a Scotch is to be distilled. Scotch Classifications Single Malt Single Malts are one of the most common types of Scotches known. The scotch can be classified as a single malt when made at a single distillery, in a pot still, and using only water and malt. Single Grain Single Grain will follow the exact requirements as a single malt, except other cereal grains can be added to the mash bill. Blended Malt (or Blended Single Malt) Blended Malts will be a blend of two or more Single Malts from two or more distilleries. Blended Grain (or Blended Single Grain) Blended Grain will be a blend of two or more Single Grains from two or more distilleries. Blended Scotch Blended Scotch, which constitutes approximately 90% of the whisky produced in Scotland, will contain both malt and grain whisky. Regulations The regulations which define what a Scotch are: Bottled at no less than 40% ABV Contains no additives other than water and caramel coloring Distilled in Scotland…