Category Archives: Spirits

Ian Somerhalder’s and Paul Wesley’s Brother’s Bond Bourbon Now Available In 17 States

Ian Somerhalder’s and Paul Wesley’s Brother’s Bond Bourbon is now available for sale online, at national and regional chains, and many independent retailers in 17 states including: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The brand name is a nod to their on-screen characters, “The Salvatore Brothers” from CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” their shared love for great bourbon, and a reflection of the sense of brotherhood they have formed over the years. From the bourbon liquid development to the brand identity, packaging, marketing and advertising, Ian and Paul have been pivotal in every step of producing the bourbon.

Brother’s Bond had the most successful pre-sale launch in the history of Reserve Bar (highest velocity of sales in a 24hr period) following pre-sales last fall and again in January. Brand momentum and excitement have surpassed all expectations and early indicators point to the bourbon being the fastest-selling super-premium bourbon in the USA. In the first 60 days of the launch, over 40,000 cases have shipped. The brand has already accumulated over 1.4 million followers on their official Instagram page (@brothersbondbourbon).

Brother’s Bond Bourbon

“Our characters bonded on-screen over bourbon and so it made sense that we would do the same off-camera. Never could we have imagined that our creation would come this far and help establish new bonds as well as strengthen old ones. We are so proud of the success of our initial release and are excited to say that this is just the beginning,” said Ian and Paul. 

“The positive consumer response has exceeded our expectations,” says Vincent Hanna, CEO. “Everywhere we go people are lining up to buy a bottle, two or three and this is magical. When you see your strategy come to life in such an authentic way, it really gives our whole team the drive to know we are doing something very special.”

Brother’s Bond had the most successful pre-sale launch in the history of Reserve Bar (highest velocity of sales in 24hrs)

Brother’s Bond Bourbon

Brother’s Bond Bourbon is elegant and exceptionally smooth, complex, and balanced with a touch of sweetness and spice. The four-grain, high rye bourbon is 65% corn, 22% rye with the percentage of wheat and barley kept a secret. Aged for a minimum of four years in virgin American oak barrels, the barrel staves with #4 char and the barrel heads with #2 char.

Product description: Hand-selected and rooted in the desire to create the perfect bourbon, Brother’s Bond Bourbon features aromas of baked banana bread, jammy ripe fruit with walnuts and orange honey, and tastes of rich dried fruit and honey sweetness accompanied by hints of black tea and warm rye spice. The toasted cereal grains are rounded out with notes of honeysuckle and the finish of fresh-cut oak is energetic and smooth with perfectly balanced warm spice.

ABV: 40%

Bottle sizes available: 750ml

Suggested retail price: 39.99

It’s Time to Bond with Brother’s Bond Bourbon. Drink Responsibly.

Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley by Dean Bradshaw

Quick Bites: Oak & Eden Re-releases Seasonal Caribbean Rum Infused Rye

Inspired by the coastal life, Rye & Rumba begins with Oak & Eden’s award-winning rye whiskey, and is finished with a Caribbean Rum-soaked American Oak spiral.

Oak & Eden originally launched Rye & Rumba in the summer of 2019, which consumers quickly made clear the desire to keep the product as a rotating seasonal. This will be the product’s first encore into the market since launch.

Oak & Eden Whiskey has pioneered a patented process called “In-Bottle Finishing,” where they place a 5″ long spiral-cut piece of wood, called the Spire, into their fully-aged bottle of whiskey, imparting new flavors and characteristics to the whiskey that wouldn’t be achieved in a single barrel alone. In the creation of Rye & Rumba, Oak & Eden steeped an American Oak spire into a craft Caribbean Rum for two weeks before placing it into a bottle of rye whiskey.

Oak & Eden Re-releases Seasonal Caribbean Rum Infused Rye

“Rye & Rumba is among our most balanced & flavorful whiskeys,” says Joe Giildenzopf, cofounder and CEO of Oak & Eden. “There is a delicate complexity of flavors that exist when you introduce Caribbean Rum into rye whiskey. Putting the two together creates a rich, aromatic whiskey that is full of flavor and a clear fan favorite.”

The patented technique of In-Bottle Finishing has led Oak & Eden to producing and launching 10 unique whiskeys into their portfolio, such as Bourbon & Vine (Cabernet infused Bourbon), Bourbon & Brew (cold brew coffee infused Bourbon), the Ale Series (beer infused whiskeys), among others.

Oak & Eden has taken home 30+ Platinum, Double Gold, and Gold medals across the industry’s most prestigious competitions since 2019, and has been named among the Top 10 Whiskies Made in the U.S. by Best Products, one of the Spirits Business’ Top 50 Innovative New Spirits, and has been included on Top 10 whiskey lists by publishers such as Forbes, Wide Open Eats, Brobible, UPROXX, and many others.

Rye & Rumba is available for sale across most of the 22 states that Oak & Eden distributes within, and is also available for sale online at

Learn more about Rye & Rumba at

If you’ve thought about brewing beer or distilling spirits, this may be the course for you. Fall courses with August sign-up, Veterans qualify for educational benefits

“This course is great for students that want a deep dive into the theoretical and practical foundation of brewing beer and distilling professionally.”

The Brewing and Distilling Center (BDC), based in Knoxville, TN, is a trade school geared towards the student wanting professional training in beer brewing and spirits distillation that will help them get a job in the industry. The center is led by President, Dr. Todd White. The BDC is offering a new session of the Professional Brewing & Distilling Technology course, this fall starting August 16, 2021. Registration deadline is August 9th. The class qualifies for Veterans Affairs Educational Benefits – giving former service members the ability to increase their secondary education in brewing beer and distilling spirits.

“This course is great for students that want a deep dive into the theoretical and practical foundation of brewing beer and distilling taught by professionals in the industry. It’s also a great class for anyone who wants to work with beer distributors, become product reps, manage taprooms and start companies providing products in brewing,” says Dr. White. “Our graduates get jobs and we help many get their own breweries started right out of the gate!”

Lectures happen on site for students who can travel to the BDC and online for others who cannot, making classes available to anyone anywhere in the country. Each student also participates in 4 practical brewing days on a professional pilot system in the BDC Brew House onsite either throughout the session or in a concentrated week for online participants.

“The possibilities for students after this course are endless. Having a solid understanding of these two industries serves a wide variety of career choices whether for employment, professional enrichment or for the entrepreneur,” explains Dr. White. “We regularly work with our industry contacts to help connect our students with job openings in the industry. There is and will be an ever present and growing demand for qualified professionals for these industries.”

The class also accepts and works with many former service members to qualify for Veterans Affairs Educational Benefits and takes pride in helping place many veterans in job positions after graduation.

“Obviously, we support our veterans because of their sacrifice to our great country. We want to assist these men and women who want to enter the brewing and distilling industry job market,” says Dr. White. “We have many veteran graduates that are gainfully employed in the brewing and distilling industries. From our past experience, our veteran students are extremely disciplined, dedicated and passionate about learning the industry trade and entering the job market or even starting their own brewery or distillery.”

With a scientific and entrepreneurial background as veterinarian, an architect, a collegiate science instructor and a craft beer shop owner, “Doc” considered the rapidly-expanding US craft beer market and wondered “Where are these new breweries getting qualified, trained brewers?” After market research, he discovered a demand for affordable professional brewing and distilling instruction. In 2013, the Brewing & Distilling Center was established to meet this demand.

Fall Course
13 weeks | 12 hours/week
Classes: Monday – Wednesday, starting 5:30 PM EST
On Site Brew Days: 4.

Learn more here:

Brewing And Distilling Center Knoxville Is Kicking Off Sign Ups For Their New Class In The Fall.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson And Teremana Tequila Reveal The Mana Mobile And Launch The Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip

The Mana Mobile Will “Bring the Mana” to Main Streets, Military Bases, Fire Stations and Local Events in Towns Across the Country

Teremana, Dwayne Johnson’s small-batch handmade tequila, announces The Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip.  Inspired by The Rock’s famous phrase “MANA. GRATITUDE. TEQUILA.”, the Mana Mobile will travel the country, visiting towns, communities, and cities to “Bring the Mana.”

Teremana, Dwayne Johnson’s small-batch handmade tequila, announces The Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip.

The Teremana “Mana Mobile” is a rolling envoy designed to share the Teremana Tequila philosophy of “Bring the Mana”; sharing joy and gratitude and of course some fun throughout the country to local communities.  The celebratory Mana Mobile will stop by military bases, fire houses, hospitals, and other locations to share gratitude towards the nation’s first responders.  It will also stop at main streets across America to help encourage all to come out and support local businesses.  Road trip stops will showcase delicious Teremana Tequila cocktails (where allowed) shaken up by the Mana Ohana mixologists and delicious treats such as “DJ’s” cheat-meal favorites (his prized brioche French toast with Teremana Tequila-infused maple syrup) amongst others. 

“I created Teremana to bring people together and I can’t think of a better way to bring people together than bringing the Mana Mobile directly to them.  Our Mana Mobile will deliver delicious Teremana cocktails, fresh and amazing eats and a whole lotta gratitude to people, towns and cities across North America,” says Teremana Founder, Dwayne Johnson.  “Our Teremana is proudly crafted by hand at our distillery in a small town in Jalisco and has truly become the “Tequila of the People”.  So keep an eye out for the Mana Mobile in your neck of the country and let the Teremana adventures begin!”

The Great American Mana Mobile Road Trip stops can be found online at, with additional locations to be announced as the road trip progresses.

For more information, visit and follow the tour at #ManaMobile on Instagram and Twitter at @teremana.

Teremana Tequila

About Teremana Tequila
Teremana is an ultra-premium, small-batch tequila crafted at the highest peaks of the Jalisco highlands, founded by Dwayne Johnson. With two expressions, a blanco and a reposado, its name directly translates as ‘spirit of the earth,’ from the Latin word ‘terra,’ meaning earth, and the Polynesian word ‘mana,’ meaning spirit. Made from fully mature, thoughtfully harvested and naturally sweet agave which is slow roasted in small traditional brick ovens and distilled in custom made copper pot stills, Teremana has quickly become the tequila of the people.

SOURCE Teremana Tequila

Maker’s Mark® Bourbons Earn Top Honors at Spirits Industry’s Most Prestigious Tasting Competitions

Iconic Kentucky Producer’s Classic Maker’s Mark Expressions as well as Wood-Finished and Custom Offerings Named Among Best Bourbons of 2021

Maker’s Mark®, the iconic, red wax-dipped Kentucky Bourbon, created in Loretto, Kentucky in 1953, is proving that that its time-tested whisky still has what it takes to please the most discerning of palates, with top marks across its portfolio at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits CompetitionInternational Whisky CompetitionUltimate Spirits Challenge and the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Black Bourbon Society (BBS)’s collaboration with the Maker’s Mark Private Selection® program, the Black Bourbon Society’s Maker’s Mark® Private Selection: Recipe 2, has led the way as one of the world’s best bourbons of 2021, with numerous best-in-class designations and high scores from judges. The limited release, made by finishing fully-matured cask strength Maker’s Mark Bourbon in a single secondary barrel featuring a custom selection of ten proprietary oak finishing staves, was named Best Bourbon and Best American Whiskey overall at the 12th annual International Whiskey Competition (IWC); awarded 96 points and the Chairman’s Trophy as the top small batch bourbon at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC); and earned 98 points and a medal of “Spirit Gold – Outstanding” at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

“Maker’s Mark Distillery at Star Hill Farm in Loretto, Kentucky, home of the award-winning Maker’s Mark portfolio.”

Results for other Maker’s Mark limited release, wood stave-finished bourbons, often described as some of the best values for bourbon hunters searching for special and unique releases, continued to prove the portfolio’s depth and quality with additional wins. The Maker’s Mark® CommUNITY Batch, a collaborative 2020 release benefiting hospitality non-profit The LEE Initiative, and the only blended whisky in Maker’s Mark’s lineup, was named a “Finalist” and earned 95 points at the USC, as well as a “Gold” medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). The Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series 2020 Limited Release received “Spirit Gold” with 96 points at IWSC and its 2021 counterpart, the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series 2021 Limited Release: FAE-01 earned its own “Gold” at the International Spirits Challenge (ISC).

The classic Maker’s Mark portfolio also impressed, with its Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon being awarded a “Double Gold” medal at the SFWSC, the competition’s highest medal tier. Judges at the USC agreed, awarding the iconic bourbon an impressive 91 points. Rounding out the lineup, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength earned 95 points and a “Spirit Gold” title at IWSC as well as another “Gold” medal at the SFWSC, while Maker’s Mark 101 was named a “Great Value” and awarded 93 points at USC.

“We’ve always been proud of each and every bottle of bourbon that comes out of our distillery here at Star Hill Farm, and it’s incredibly gratifying to see that the bourbon we’re making is something that whisky fans genuinely enjoy and continue to get excited about,” said Rob Samuels 8th Generation Whisky Maker and Grandson of Maker’s Mark Founders Bill and Margie Samuels. “With so many amazing American whiskies on the market these days, I have no doubt that my grandfather would be humbled to see his recipe continuing to be recognized as some of the finest bourbon available.”

For more information about Maker’s Mark and its award-winning bourbons, please visit

LOUIS XIII Introduces the Ultra-Rare Red Decanter N°XIII to the World’s Most Exclusive Nightclubs

With only 200 N°XIII red decanters available worldwide, the rare N°XIII experience is limited to one decanter per club per night: only 0.0000038361% of people worldwide will have the chance to experience N°XIII

LOUIS XIII cognac is the result of the life achievement of generations of Cellar Masters, blending the finest eaux-de-vie using grapes grown exclusively in Grande Champagne. It is essential for LOUIS XIII to be experienced as a ritual, drop by drop, to reveal a prolonged and evolving expression of flavour, in a single moment of excellence. Customers who want to try their luck by ordering one of the N°XIII Experiences can log on LOUIS XIII Society* or directly through the selected nightclubs. A LOUIS XIII Brand Ambassador will contact each of them to organise this unique adventure.


Decanter: N°XIII by LOUIS XIII, the rare red decanter dedicated to select nightclubs

Time is the raw material of LOUIS XIII, and N°XIII allows us to explore a whole new expression of time. Nightlife is captured and amplified by the N°XIII tasting ritual: a red individually numbered crystal decanter, revealed from under a LED cloche. Six red bespoke crystal glasses on a luminous tray accompany it, standing out from the crowd. LOUIS XIII is served using a pipette, known as the Spear, to prolong the drop–by–drop service ritual.


LOUIS XIII has collaborated with Saint–Louis, to create the N°XIII red decanter and red cognac glasses; their vibrant red hue can only be achieved using a secret process that requires the addition of gold. Its shared passion for tradition, savoir–faire and innovation comes to life into those rare decanters: blown, cut, decorated and engraved by hand, and individually numbered, it is finished with the LOUIS XIII signature dentelle spikes and a palladium neck. Following a N°XIII tasting ritual, the client may leave the nightclub with his N°XIII decanter (if the rules of the Club and regulations and laws of the country allow it) as a treasured souvenir of the most memorable of nights. The NFC–enabled stopper grants the owner exclusive access to the LOUIS XIII Society and all its membership benefits.

LOUIS XIII N°XIII recommended selling price on demand, available only in nightclubs.

*The LOUIS XIII Society is a private members club for owners of LOUIS XIII Cognac decanters.


Sugarlands Caps Largest Pot Still in U.S., Distilling 4,500 Gallons of Whiskey Mash

Event offers sneak-peek of new distillery, barrelhouse and production center in Kodak, Tennessee

Today, Sugarlands Distilling Company hosted a Pot Still Capping Ceremony, offering a sneak-peek of the company’s newest distillery, barrelhouse, and production center in Kodak, Tennessee. Following a barbecue luncheon, attendees gathered to see the copper “helmet” of the largest pot still in the U.S. permanently bolted into place. The new still has capacity to distill 4,500 gallons of whiskey mash and will be used to make Sugarlands’ celebrated Roaming Man Whiskey. The new facility will complete phase one of Sugarlands’ Kodak footprint, and will serve as one of the largest distilleries in Tennessee.

“Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey has won dozens of international awards, including ‘Best Whiskey’ from the American Craft Spirits Association in 2019 and the Double Gold from the San Francisco International Spirits Competition in 2021,” said Ned Vickers, President and Founder of Sugarlands Distilling Co. “Featuring the largest copper pot still in the U.S. and set against the backdrop of stunning Kodak, Tennessee, we are looking forward to opening this new facility to our customers, partners and friends.”

Sugarlands Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey is pot-distilled and aged in premium barrels. Bottled twice a year, the whiskey has historically sold out within hours of release. The new distillery and barrelhouse will expand distribution of Roaming Man Whiskey nationwide over the coming years.

from left to right: Ned Vickers (President, Owner and Founder), Kent Woods (Owner), Greg Eidam (Master Distiller)

During the ceremony, master distiller Greg Eidam provided a guided tour through the new distillery, which is expected to open in late 2021 and will offer a retail component along with tasting and tour experiences in the coming years. Made possible with grant support from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the facility will use raw materials like Tennessee grown white corn, rye, and malted barley to make its Roaming Man whiskey. 

“When we opened Sugarlands Distilling Company back in 2014, I had no idea what a ride we were in for,” said Greg Eidam, master distiller for Sugarlands Distilling Co. “I feel like we grabbed ahold of a rocket ship and there is no telling how far it will take us. I am absolutely honored to be surrounded by this amazing team as we’ve grown Roaming Man into the nationally recognized and celebrated Tennessee Rye whiskey it is today.”

“At the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, we’re excited to support the distilling industry in Tennessee including Sugarlands Distilling Co. We are proud that the Ag Enterprise Fund was a part of their growth and expansion, and we are looking forward to seeing their continued success,” said Keith Harrison, Assistant Commissioner for the Business Development Division.

The new Kodak facility will include a 32,364-square-foot distillery as well as a 26,500-square-foot barrelhouse. The total facility will feature 58,864 square feet of space to distill, bottle and age whiskey. Sugarlands will support Tennessee farms and employ more than 40 new production staff at the Kodak location, including distillers, blenders, bottlers, barrel warehousemen, maintenance, and programming personnel. The company currently employees more than 100 team members in Tennessee.

The project’s building contractors include Gunn Construction, J&F Mechanical, Morristown Automatic Sprinkler Co., and McGaha Electric Co. The process piping, tank and equipment installation is being performed by United Group Services, out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Funderburk Electrical Services, LLC is responsible for all process related electrical work.  Ryan Steel, Inc. produced the structural steel for piping and equipment supports, as well as the mezzanine. And the magnificent copper pot still was hand built by the oldest still manufacturer in the U.S., Vendome Copper and Brass, out of Louisville, Kentucky.


Sugarlands Distilling Company, located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a craft distillery producing award-winning moonshine, rum, cream liqueurs and rye whiskey. Their line of spirits is distributed in 40 states nationwide and made available for home delivery via Reserve Bar. Sugarlands hand-crafted cocktails can be sipped on in restaurants, bars, and festivals across the country, as well as on the Back Porch located at the downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee distillery. More than one million people visit their distillery every year. It is TripAdvisor’s number 1 thing to do in Gatlinburg and the world’s most top-rated distillery experience.

Since 2018, Sugarlands has entered partnerships with country music superstar Cole Swindell, the Atlanta Braves, baseball Hall-of-Famer and former Braves player, Chipper Jones, Bristol Motor Speedway, and Indy Car Race Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

Sugarlands Distilling Co. believes giving back to the community is of the utmost importance. Since 2014, Sugarlands Distilling Company has donated over $675,000 to nonprofits across the country through their giveback program, MoonShare.

For more information, please visit and follow them on TwitterInstagram and Facebook

SOURCE Sugarlands Distilling Company

Kentucky Owl Enters the Premium Rye Market

November 2017 By Michael Pendley | Photography Cheryl Pendley

Fresh on the heels of the recently announced expanded release area for Kentucky Owl Bourbon, the Harrodsburg, KY based company has again surprised the whiskey world with the recent release of its first ever Kentucky Owl Rye.

Like the bourbon, this rye release consists of a mingling of sourced barrels blended by Dixon Dedman. While it isn’t known exactly where the rye was distilled, the term “Kentucky Straight Rye” rules out distilleries outside the state. Kentucky Owl 11-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey will be available in limited quantities in the following markets: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

DSCN7897.jpg edit1bWhile the new rye release comes soon after the purchase of the Kentucky Owl brand by industry giant Stoli, Dedman says the project is one he has been working on for a while. “I’m super excited about this rye and have been for some time.  I’ve been working on/with it for quite a while.  I finally felt like it was time to let it go and the response has been amazing.

It took me a while to figure out exactly where to put it.  It was 130+ Proof when I put the batch together.  As I worked with it and found it to have all the structure, backbone and complexity of a full-flavored rye, not missing any of the barrel notes, but also not eliminating the spice on the back end, even after making it a bit more approachable at 110.6 Proof.  I’m loving this stuff.”

In other Kentucky Owl notes, news that SPI Group, parent company of Stoli, is exploring plans for a new, $150 million distillery in the Bardstown, KY area to produce Kentucky Owl Branded products. According to documents released in late September by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, Strigiformes LLC, a subsidiary of SPI Group, the parent of Stolichnaya Vodka, “is considering property in Bardstown to establish a distillery, rickhouses, visitor’s center and other related facilities for the production of bourbon.”


I asked Dedman to comment on the possible distillery. He replied, “The distillery plan is a work in progress, but one I’m excited to be a small part of.  For Kentucky Owl to have a home is a dream come true and to be able to work with a company so committed to building more top-quality brands in the Bourbon marketplace is one I’m very excited about.  They’re going to let me keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing, but do to it in a place I can call my own home.  For me, that’s a dream come true.  We’ll see how it all shakes out.”

Does the rye live up the standard? It does for me. Even at the high retail, I am enjoying this bottle immensely.

Tasting Notes, Kentucky Owl Rye, Batch #1

Proof: 110.6 proof and 55.3% ABV

Age: 11-year age statement

Mash Bill: Undisclosed

Color: Dark copper

Release date: September 2017

MSRP: Right around $140

Tasted: Neat, no water or ice

Nose: Very floral, mint, leather, baking cinnamon bread

Palate: Fruity and floral at first, then cinnamon spice. This pour has a strong, thick mouth feel, slightly oily, it coats the mouth completely, making the flavor last. The finish is long, with mint, vanilla, and oak remaining even after the swallow. Complex, I picked up on several flavors on each sip, with those flavors changing the longer the rye was in the glass.

Finish: Classic rye. Long, lingering, plenty of spice. At 110 proof, you feel it, but it isn’t at all harsh. A drop or two of water would probably tame the burn a bit, but I enjoy the bit of heat that comes with a good rye. While excellent, this might not be the best pour for a new rye drinker unfamiliar with the spiciness of a nicely aged rye.

Overall thoughts: I have long been a fan of Kentucky Owl Bourbons. I still maintain that Batch #6 is one of my all-time favorite whiskeys. Does the rye live up the standard? It does for me. Even at the high retail, I am enjoying this bottle immensely. Will it be a regular pour? Probably not. I’ll save it for special occasions.

Dixon said of the new rye,” Good rye, to me, is not an everyday pour. It’s a sipping whiskey that, at its core, should be thought-provoking and heavy-hitting.” I think that pretty well covers this release. Pick up a bottle, if luck and budget allow, and enjoy it with good friends who enjoy and appreciate a nicely aged rye.

BSProfile2Michael Pendley lives in the heart of central Kentucky’s bourbon country. When he isn’t poking around local distilleries, he can usually be found searching for dusty bottles of old whiskey that might be hidden in the back rooms of liquor stores. He, along with his wife and three children, are very active in the outdoors. Michael also writes the twice-weekly wild game cooking blog Timber2Table at


Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2017

September 2017 by Michael Pendley

Bonfire19September is Bourbon Heritage Month. To celebrate, the city of Bardstown, KY throws a week-long, bourbon centric party for the entire world. Last year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival saw approximately 53,000 attendees hailing from 44 States and 14 different countries descend on the small, central KY community for a week of bourbon games, bonfires, food, bourbon tastings, seminars from bourbon experts, and cocktail parties.

Why Bardstown? Because the area truly is the Bourbon Capital of the World. The community of Bardstown has been making bourbon since 1776. Today, 69% of the world’s bourbon is distilled in Nelson and the adjacent counties. Expand that range out a few more counties, and you get a staggering 95% of the bourbon produced on earth.

This year’s Festival runs September 11-17. Sponsors include Barton 1792 Distillery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., Beam, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Rebel Yell, Wild Turkey Distillery, and Woodford Reserve Distillery plus the Independent Stave Company and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Additional major sponsors include Bulleit Bourbon, Blanton’s and Michter’s.

Boots85Full events list and ticket costs can be found at and include live Music on the Lawn Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. till midnight and Sunday from 1 p.m. till 4 p.m. Ticket costs vary by event, and range from free to $185 per ticket.

This year’s seminars include talks from The Moonshine University on The Science of Maturation. During this session, they will take a look at how whiskey matures within the barrel it calls home.  Barrels have additive, subtractive and interactive properties, each will impact the whiskey in different ways. The seminar will explain what each action does and how the barrel, and where it is stored, will affect what is happening to the spirit inside.  Instruction includes analysis of barrel pulls and how each individual barrel imparts its own unique flavor. (Thursday, September 14th from 10a.m-12 noon)

Gala030Moonshine University will also present the “A Whiskey and Its Grains” in which they will host an in-depth class that examines how each individual grain can greatly affect the spirit that comes off the still.  They will examine corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, the four grains that make up on 99% of whiskeys, and how each grain adds its own specific flavors and aromas to whiskey. Learn the nuances of each grain and how it will impact the final product. They will also cover the fast-growing trend of using alternative grains and how those will change the whiskeys that we know and love. Instruction includes a thorough analysis of each individual grain distillate, as well as the production process of milling, cooking, fermentation, and distillation. (Friday, September 15th from 10a.m-12 noon)

The Bottled in Bond Fire is always a must tend event. This year’s will be held at Wickland, Home of Three Governors from 7 – 11 pm on Saturday the 16th. Kick back and cozy up to the bonfires as you enjoy Bottled in Bond Bourbon while host Susan Reigler, Executive Bourbon Steward and President of the Bourbon Women Association discusses the nuances of Bottled in Bond Bourbons.

For classic car buffs, the Whiskey City Cruisers, the area’s largest club, will hold a car show at Bardstown City Hall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The event is free to the public and always features some outstanding custom automobiles.

Since you can’t have bourbon without barrels, the coopers from Independent Stave Company will demonstrate the historic craft of making special oak barrels for aging Bourbon. The event will be held at Spalding Hall Lawn on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. This event is also free to the public.

Gala033As you would expect from a Bourbon Festival, cocktail parties abound at the event. Events like the Sip & Savor in the Spirit of Old Kentucky, The Great KY Bourbon Tasting & Gala, Boots and Bourbon, and the Bourbon, Cigars & Jazz offer something for everyone.

If you get thirsty, be sure to stop by the Spirit Garden to sip a Kentucky Bourbon cocktail, such as the Petal Pusher, the Official Cocktail of the 2017 Kentucky Bourbon Festival. A variety of Kentucky Bourbons and cocktails will be available for purchase. Beer will also be available for purchase. Pick up a drink and head over to the Food Court to sample the wares of numerous food venders from around the area.

While you might not think of a Bourbon Festival as a family event, there is always entertainment for attendees of all ages. A Family Fun Area will feature a variety of interactive games, inflatables, train rides and more for family enjoyment. The Hot Air Balloon Glow will light up the night sky with the glowing colors of numerous balloons. Arts, crafts and Kentucky Proud booths will be scattered throughout the downtown area. A four-person golf scramble will be held on Saturday at the nearby Bardstown Country Club at Maywood course.

If you are a fan of bourbon, or even just a fan of a good time, head on down to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and enjoy the events.

All Photo Credit / Kentucky Bourbon Festival


BSProfile2Michael Pendley lives in the heart of central Kentucky’s bourbon country. When he isn’t poking around local distilleries, he can usually be found searching for dusty bottles of old whiskey that might be hidden in the back rooms of liquor stores. He, along with his wife and three children, are very active in the outdoors. Michael also writes the twice-weekly wild game cooking blog Timber2Table at





Early Times Kentucky Whiskey Enters the Bottled in Bond Bourbon Market

September 2017 by Michael Pendley

Ask any liquor store manager near a college campus today what their bestselling whiskey is, and chances are high they will answer Early Times Kentucky Whiskey. What makes it so popular among the collegiate crowd? Well, mainly the price, which normally comes in right around $12 per 750ml bottle.

But other bottom shelf dwellers share that price range and don’t see near the popularity. Why? Because Early Times is very drinkable, either on the rocks or in mixed drinks. The high corn, nearly 80%, and low rye mash bill offers up a lot of sweetness with very little burn. Couple that with a relatively low 80 proof, and you get a very smooth, very easy to drink whiskey.

Notice I say whiskey, and not bourbon. Let’s go over the rules a whiskey must to meet in order to be labeled as bourbon.

IMG_0099.jpg edit1A bourbon must:

Be distilled in the United States

Have a mash bill of at least 51% corn.

Be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume)

Have a barrel entry proof of no more than 125 proof

Be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof

And must be aged in new, charred-oak barrels

It’s that last rule that makes the original Early Times a whiskey and not a bourbon. New oak barrels are expensive. As a cost-saving measure, Brown-Forman ages Early Times in used barrels. Pour a glass and look at it against the light and it becomes readily apparent. The whiskey lacks the deep coppers and rich ambers of bourbon aged in new barrels.

So, what happens if you take that same easy-to-drink mash bill and put it in a new barrel? And what if you leave it in the warehouse for at least four years? And, if you are going to do all that, shouldn’t you bottle it at 100 proof to classify it as Bottled in Bond?

The folks at Brown-Forman must have wondered the same thing, because that is just what they have done with their new Early Times Bottled in Bond Bourbon release. The new barrels and extra year are immediately apparent when you hold it up to the light. The color is much richer, a deep copper. Hold it up to your nose and inhale and you instantly know this isn’t the same old Early Times.

In today’s overinflated bourbon market, it is refreshing to see the folks behind the new Early Times release have held the price at a very reasonable $30 or slightly less for a liter sized bottle. Most limited releases these days come in at double that price or more.

IMG_0083.jpg edit1Distiller: Brown-Forman

Mash Bill: 79% Corn, 11% Rye, 10% Malted Barley

Proof: 100 (50% ABV)

Age: At least 4 years (4 years is the minimum age to be labeled a bottled in bond bourbon)

Appearance: Deep copper, much richer and darker than standard Early Times

MSRP: Around $30 for a one-liter bottle, I paid $25.99

Nose: Not noticeably strong, but classic bourbon. Heavy on corn and apple. A bit lighter on caramel, vanilla, and oak. Tilting the glass on the inhale gives strong ethanol.

Palate: Sweet corn comes through immediately, fruit, apples and raisins. The oak is very light. Noticeably little burn for a 100-proof whiskey.

Finish: Short, crisp. Very little lingering burn. The flavor disappears very soon after swallowing.

Notes: Is Early Times Bottled in Bond one of the best new releases of 2017? Not even close. Is it a respectable bourbon? Absolutely. Great on ice, but more than robust enough to sip neat. This is an excellent introduction to Bottled in Bond Bourbons, flavorful without being overly complicated. For the price, you should definitely pick up a bottle when you see it on the shelf. A very respectable upgrade to a 75-year-old classic.

BSProfile2Michael Pendley lives in the heart of central Kentucky’s bourbon country. When he isn’t poking around local distilleries, he can usually be found searching for dusty bottles of old whiskey that might be hidden in the back rooms of liquor stores. He, along with his wife and three children, are very active in the outdoors. Michael also writes the twice-weekly wild game cooking blog Timber2Table at


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