By now, you’ve caught a glimpse into my world. You know that I love whiskey, watches, and bad jokes; but, what you get to learn this week is that I love – LOVE – baseball. It’s the best time of the year! Think about it: fresh cut grass, that sound of a strike, the excitement of a home run…Baseball season! And what better way to ring in this season than with a soft and fresh bourbon?
I’m thinking something from Michigan – such as the Traverse City Port Barrel Finished Bourbon! Oh my! This. I’m done. Like, completely undone. The texture is light and clean, which is perfect for the hot summer days that await us. The port cask finish has you smelling cherry instead of oak, meaning you’ll happily take that second sip (and third and fourth and…you get the point). I mean, I know I’ve taken many a happy sip of this Bourbon while cheering on our Boys of Summer.
Did you hear about the mimes that abducted my friend? You don’t want to know about the unspeakable acts they performed!
Over the last several months, I’ve tasted through hundreds of spirits for our shelves. So, when something grabs my attention, I tend to jump at the chance to bring it in. One of the first whiskies to pull me in was the Traverse City Port Barrel Finished Bourbon. This isn’t your typical port barrel-finished whiskey that has some added sweetness. We’re talking soft and supple, with lingering notes of cherries on the finish. Which brings us to understanding bourbon.
What makes a whiskey bourbon?
Well, there are a few rules that guide the definition of what a bourbon is – actually there are laws governing what can be deemed a bourbon. First of all, for a whiskey to call itself a bourbon, the mash (or recipe) has to contain at least 51% corn – the balance of the mash can be rounded out by barley, rye, or wheat. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, and barreled at 125 proof or less. The barrels that are used must be freshly charred oak. AND (because that’s not enough), if you want a straight bourbon, it must be barrel-aged for a minimum of two years.
Oh, technicalities. We can make it more complicated, but those are the rules by which a bourbon maker must abide.
While Kentucky is the home of bourbon, it is not the only place from which this liquid gold hails. Consider New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. All make some really interesting products that meet the base criteria for being a bourbon. As long as the above guidelines are followed, you have yourself a bourbon. A few of my favorites from these areas, I know you want to know? Widow Jane 10 Year from Brooklyn, Knockout Distilling’s Bare Knuckle Bourbon from Manassas, and New Liberty’s Kinsey 10 Year from Philadelphia. Seriously. These are some dope bourbons that deserve some love.
So, enough already. What do I love about the Traverse City Port Barrel Finish Bourbon? Everything. Starting with the nose, the first thing you might notice is the smell of cherry blossoms and caramel – an enticing aroma. The lower proof means there is almost no heat. The port cask finish gives it a fruitiness that is unlike most other bourbons – think cherries and notes of raisins. The corn isn’t over-pronounced as can be the case with many whiskeys. And the finish! The lingering sweet finish. This fine lady of a whiskey wins me over every time. Every. Damn. Time.