Tasting Notes for March 22, 2013 Holly Hill Inn Menu

Around the World in 80 Days • Dublin, Ireland 1872 • Bourbon & Cocktail Flight



Irish Whiskey. Blend of malted barley (column still) green barley (pot still) whiskeys. 40% ABV. No age statement. 

Jameson is the #1 selling Irish whiskey in the world and very often the #1 selling whiskey in any category (it flirts with that title with Jack Daniel’s). In 1870 it was already well on its way to that title being the second largest brand in Ireland producing nearly 1,000,000 gallons annually.

Nose is floral, citrusy and slightly sweet. Taste is light, moderately sweet with strong malt and grains. Finish is short with cinnamon, vanilla and grass.


Bushmills 10 Year Old

Single Malt Irish Whiskey. 40% ABV.

Probably the second most well-known Irish whiskey and nearly the size of Jameson. A single malt style Irish whiskey aged for 10 years in American oak casks (mostly ex-bourbon).

Nose is light with floral, citrus and cinnamon notes. Taste is slightly sweet with mild grains, some caramel, vanilla and chocolate. Finish is medium length, crisp and grassy with lingering notes of vanilla and cinnamon.


Giants’ Gate Cocktail

Adapted from the original recipe by renowned bartender Max La Rocca.

Recipe: In mason jar, gently muddle 2 cardamom pods. Add 1 1/3 oz Bushmills, 1/3 oz lime juice, 2/3 oz simple syrup and 2/3 oz Guinness Stout and shake over ice. Double strain into a cocktail glass. Perfume with 6 spritzes Guinness Stout and garnish with a skewer of whiskey-soaked raisins.

Taste is rich, creamy and slightly spicy. The citrus contrasts the sweet notes without overwhelming. Easy to savor and easy to drink. A perfect match to either the apple cake or the bread pudding.

Guinness Extra Stout (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers)

Dry stout style beer. 5% ABV. 12 oz bottle.

This is the most popular alcoholic drink in Ireland currently and the brewery is one of the most popular tourist destinations.

Taste is rich, creamy and thick. Finish is creamy and very long with complex spice notes, vanilla, chocolate and malt.

Tasting Notes for March 15, 2013 Holly Hill Inn Menu

Around the World in 80 Days • New York City, 1872 • Bourbon & Cocktail Flight


The Boulevardier Cocktail

This is the precursor to the Manhattan. It seems to have been developed in the 1890s, about 20 years after Fogg would have been through. The cocktail is sharp, robust and slightly bitter with almost no sweetness.

Recipe: 2 oz bourbon,1 oz sweet vermouth, 1 oz Campari. Stir over ice for 60 seconds, strain and garnish with an orange twist. (For the flight, pour size is half.)

Larceny Bourbon (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers, 1.5 oz pour)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Grain bill: corn, wheat, malted barley (very high wheat; specific proportions not released). 92 Proof. Blend of 6 to 12 year old barrels.

Larceny is named for John E. Fitzgerald, who, in the 1870s, was a federal bonded treasury agent who made a fortune by ‘appropriating’ the best bourbons and reselling them under his own name. He was part of a tax evasion conspiracy so large it reached up to O. E. Babcock, then President Grant’s personal secretary.

This bourbon is a small batch containing less than 100 hand-selected barrels. Nose is strong wheat with notes of toffee and butterscotch. Taste is buttery caramel, honey and mild spiciness with a rich mouthfeel. Finish is long, gently sweet and savory with subtle grain and grass notes.

2012 Malt Advocate “Best Buy.”


Old Forester Signature 100 Proof 

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley. 100 Proof. No age statement.

From the marketing department: A spirit so finely crafted that in 1870, bourbon pioneer George Garvin Brown bottled it, sealed it, signed it and pledged: “This is mine, I guarantee every drop.”

Old Forester was the first bourbon to be sold by the bottle only. It launched in 1870 and would have been just appearing in New York in 1872. The newly released 100 proof Signature edition is a small batch from hand-selected barrels and most likely is the closest we’ll get to the flavor profile of the 1800s version.

Nose is strong and complex with the typical caramel, vanilla and oak plus rich spiciness with cinnamon, clove, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg and orange. Taste matches the nose with excellent balance of the flavors. Finish is long with the sweet notes falling away early letting the spices linger.

2003 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Gold Medal.” 2004, 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Double Gold Medal.” 2004 San Francisco World Spirits Competition “Best Bourbon of Show.”


Bluegrass Sundown Kentucky Bourbon Coffee Cocktail

Bluegrass Sundown is a dark roasted coffee liqueur infused with Kentucky Bourbon and designed to produce a velvety, rich dessert drink. (It’s like an Irish coffee with Kentucky pride!) It’s made by Alltech, the company that produces Peirce Lyons Reserve single malt whiskey, Town Branch bourbon and KY Bourbon Barrel Ale.

Recipe: 2 oz Bluegrass Sundown, 4 oz boiling water. Stir together in coffee mug. Float heavy cream on top. (For the flight, pour size is half.)

2012 International Spirits Competition “Gold Medal.”

Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond (Alternate for non-cocktail drinkers, 1 oz pour)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Grain bill: corn, wheat, malted barley (specific proportions not released). 100 Proof. No age statement.

Like the Old Forester, the Old Fitzgerald brand hit the market in 1870. Unlike the Old Forester, which was sold only in the bottles and targeted the average whiskey drinker, Old Fitz was sold by the barrel and originally exclusively to steamships and railways giving it a certain allure. (It was later discovered to have been sold to gentlemen’s clubs in larger cities as well.) If Fogg were to have had a fine bourbon on his railway journey across the United States, this would likely have been it.

Nose is very soft and sweet with oak, vanilla and some fruit. Taste is a bit rough with notes of grains, barrel char, leather and light spice. Ice brings reduces the barrel flavors and brings up the sweet and nut character. Finish is medium length, hot and slightly oily with flavors of raisins, orange peel and oak. Ice reduces the heat and oiliness.

Distilled at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, KY (owned by Heaven Hill). Bottled by Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, KY.


A New York State of Mind

March 15-16. $40. Wine pairing available. Vegetarian options available.

Hors d’oeuvre

“Lobster Roll”

Buckwheat blini with lobster salad

First Course

Grand Central’s Oyster Bar Oyster Pan Roast

Fresh-shucked oysters sautéed with a little cream and butter over toast points

Benito II’s Mozzarella en Carrozza

Fresh Mozzarella sandwiches pan fried in olive oil with lemon caper sauce

Second Course

Caesar Salad

Nicola Paone’s way

55th Street Lobster Bisque

Rich with lobster butter and toasted croutons


Pan-Fried Flounder Canal Street Style

Dusted in corn starch and soy and sauced with fresh ginger black bean sauce over scallion dumplings

Midway Meets Mulberry Stuffed Veal Chop

Boneless 10-oz. veal chop, butterflied and stuffed with thin-sliced prosciutto, Taleggio and golden raisins with Marsala mushroom sauce

Le Cirque’s Original Spaghetti Primavera

Lexington Pasta’s fresh spaghetti with Sirio’s original recipe of broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, tomato, fresh herbs and a touch of cream and Parmesan


New York Cheesecake

High and light

Hannah Davis’ Baked Apple Crunch

Spiced apples with a butter crumb crunch topping

Craft Bartending – The Old Fashioned

There are three key components to craft bartending:

  1. Quality ingredients
  2. Precise measuring
  3. Perfect technique

This Old Fashioned recipe highlights all three spectacularly.

The Old Fashion is a fantastic cocktail but unfortunately it tends to be mangled more than it’s made right. As much as I praise Mad Men for helping to reinvigorate craft cocktails, Don Draper does not make a hell of a cocktail (spoiler: this video horrifies me).

A few notes on what an Old Fashioned isn’t:

  • It is not a fruit salad
  • It is not a slushy
  • It is not a whiskey and orange juice

A stickler could successfully argue that an Old Fashioned is actually just a bittered sling, citrus optional … and there’s ample historic evidence to support that. But your average consumer has a vision of an Old Fashioned with orange and cherry and I tend toward making what my customer expects rather than something historically accurate.

The Old Fashioned lends to some very nice variations. For example, restricting the fruit element to just the bitters and the expressed orange oil makes for an excellent cocktail that’s more bourbon-forward. Check out this video for this variation (and notice how different it is from the Don Draper version!).

Here’s my recipe and video for the Ultimate Old Fashioned with Spiced Maraschino Cherries:

Old Fashioned Video Preview


Not a Review: Why I’m Skipping the Bespoke Post Box for December 2012

I absolutely loved my November 2012 Bespoke Post Box of Awesome – the Slate Box. I’ve got an unboxing video here.

But I’m skipping this month’s box. There are actually two boxes to choose from but neither is really appealing to me (but it’s probably just me – read on).


Bespoke Post – Agave Box

This is actually a really nice margarita starter kit. It’s just that I have everything in the kit save the Round Ice Ball Tray (but it’s on my wishlist :)). I also have a much more comfortable shaker, courtesy of Woodford Reserve. BTW – the tequila is not actually included in the kit. 🙁

If you don’t have a mixology kit of your own, this is a great start. One tip – skip the included jigger and get the Oxo.


Bespoke Post – Breathe Box

Another imbibing box (again, without the alcohol). So there’s a nice decanter, funnel and filter. But you know what those little beads are? They’re for cleaning the decanter.

Maybe it’s just me but I’d much rather just use my Venturi Essential Wine Aerator. It decants perfectly and is trivial to clean. 🙂


If you don’t have a nice mixology kit, I do recommend getting the Agave box. But save yourself the $20 and get the Venturi over the Breathe box.


Sign up for a Bespoke Post Box:  http://bespokepost.com/r/1c10f6

(full disclosure this is an affiliate link)

Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Competition – Kentucky Region

Yesterday I had the privilege of judging the first round of the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience in Lexington, KY held at Paulie’s Toasted Barrel. Over 30 Kentucky mixologists entered the competition.

My fellow judges were Adam Hayes (Brown-Forman Whiskey Brand Champion), Seth Thompson and Justin Thompson (both of The Bourbon Review magazine).

The competition was divided into two rounds. Each of the judges met with 7 to 8 of the mixologists individually and sampled their creations. Each judge then picked one winner to move on to round two. During round two, each of the four finalists made their cocktail for all four judges. So we all tasted each of the four finalists and discussed to pick the ultimate winner.

It was interesting to me that the four of us judging initially dismissed cocktails that were either (a) not really manhattans or (b) didn’t allow the flavor of the underlying spirit to come through. For (a), we all talked about it to make sure we were in line on where the line was between a manhattan and a bourbon cocktail in general. But (b), on the other hand, was completely reflexive. It wasn’t until I reviewed the process that I realized how important it was that the cocktail additions (mixers) showcase the spirit used and not cover it up. This is one of the fundamental principles of the moden craft cocktail. Oh, and it can’t be too sweet. Cloying cocktails upset me. 😉

Here’s a sampling of my favorites: Continue reading Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Competition – Kentucky Region

The Woodford Reserve Advanced Flavor Wheel

Yesterday we held our first Advanced Flavor Wheel tasting. This builds on the basic Flavor Wheel tasting developed by Ouita Michel. In the basic tasting participants taste six items – parmesan, toasted nut, dried berry, fresh orange, dark chocolate and sorghum – against Woodford Reserve neat. This type of culinary-aid tasting allows the participants to taste many of the subtle and nuanced flavors in the bourbon that they might not otherwise be able to detect.

For the Advanced Flavor Wheel, participants had an assortment of over 30 different food items to taste against. These ranged from single ingredients – like apple slices, mint springs and country ham – to freshly made syrups and scratch-made rye crackers.

We also served our signature sorghum mint julep cocktail.

This level of tasting allows a very rich palate experience. It’s something very unique and I recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity.

Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Cheeses
Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Cheeses
Corn muffins, bourbon beer bread, rye bread, toasted pecans, country ham and, of course, bacon
Corn muffins, bourbon beer bread, rye bread, toasted pecans, country ham and, of course, bacon


Fresh syrups
Fresh syrups