5 Amazing Bourbons to Try Next Month

Here at Ad Lib, we celebrate awesome food and outstanding spirits on a daily basis. To craft menus that really stand out, we rely on a team of passionate experts like Jeff Lyons, Beverage Manager. Today, we sat down with Jeff to talk about the amazing bourbons he’s selected for next month’s Bourbon Tasting Dinner.

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“Here are some things regarding the Bourbons I selected for this dinner. [Chef] Mike Rittel created a menu that will compliment each of them.

I wanted to offer products with rye, rather than wheat, in the mash bill. By law, Bourbon must be made with no less than 51% corn in the mash. Barley is used, then either wheat or rye to complete the mash. Rye provides spicier notes on the palate, and, as the guys from Jefferson’s found, compliment food.

For the reception, I’m offering W.L. Weller. It is produced by Buffalo Trace. The Weller line is the only Bourbon they produce that has wheat in the mash and no rye (yes, we start with a Wheater). Weller is hard to find in PA.  This Bourbon, for the price, is one of the best out there. It has also been said that it is the one to sip if you can’t find Pappy Van Winkle. Not a bad comparison.

For the dinner, we start with Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, produced by Buffalo Trace. There is none available in PA. This has not been available for 18 months. It has 15% rye in the mash. Elmer became Master Distiller of George T. Stagg Distillery after returning from WWII, where he was a bombardier. He retired from the distillery in 1985. He was honored for creating the world’s first Single Barrel Bourbon, Blanton’s, named for the man that hired him.

Next up is Basil Hayden‘s, produced by Beam Suntory. It was released in 1992, along with Beam’s Small Batch Collection, including Knob Creek, Bookers and Baker’s. This one has 27% rye in the bill, a mash similar to what Basil used. Basil Hayden Sr. was a Catholic minister in Maryland. In 1785 he moved his small congregation to Nelson County Kentucky (near what is now Bardstown). He started the first Catholic church west of the Alleghenies. He was also a Whiskey distiller. Later, his grandson, Raymond B. Hayden founded his own distillery, Old Grandad, naming it after his grandfather Basil. The image on the bottle is that of Basil Hayden.

Next is Stagg Jr. Cask Strength, also produced by Buffalo Trace. There is 15% rye in the mash. George T. Stagg built the most dominate distillery of the 19th century. This one has some heat, being Cask Strength, meaning it is not cut with water. The barrel is dumped, the Bourbon filtered, then bottles. This is rare stuff. Until this month, I could not find it for 3 years. Suddenly, it appeared. I bought 10 bottles. I recommend a dash of water in it to calm it down. Beautiful stuff. Being not cut with water, you really taste the oak notes. There are several bottles of it still left in PA, but none locally.

Last is Four Roses Single Barrel, produced by Four Roses Distillery, founded in 1888. This one is not your grandfather’s Yellow Label. There is 35% rye in the mash. The distillery’s founding is obscure and several names are given as to who actually started it. It has been owned, in later years, by Seagrams, Vivendi, Diagio and now Kirin.”

If you want to learn more about bourbon, or just taste these 5 gems, our upcoming bourbon dinner on June 15th is a great place to start! Email Nancy to book now – seats are limited.