Happy (Belated) National Bourbon Day

National Bourbon Day was yesterday. Sad to say my tipoff was an email from Liquor Barn which is a large chain in Kentucky. I apologize for not keeping up with the calendar to alert you to such a momentous day!

To make up for it, here is a good video put out by NBC News. I’m kind of shocked that NBC actually put together a decent story but it was. It talks about craft distilling, sourced whiskey, bourbon marketing, and the half-truths put out regarding the various brands of bourbon.

The key words to keep in mind are “distilled by”. If it doesn’t say that on the label, it is probably sourced whiskey. “Produced by”, “bottled by”, “made by”, and other words are marketing tools used to confuse the buyer into thinking the people behind the brand name on the label actually distilled the whiskey. It is probably from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana or one of the other major distillers in Kentucky who had some excess production.

Carolina Meets Kentucky

As the two NCAA Division 1 basketball teams with the highest winning percentages, the Universities of Kentucky and North Carolina have a storied rivalry. Having met 37 times, Carolina leads Kentucky 23-14. Between them, they have 13 NCAA championships.

However, this post is about another meeting of Carolina and Kentucky. It is about a meeting of two of their better known products – Cheerwine and bourbon. Cheerwine, for those that aren’t familiar with it, is a cherry-flavored soda that originated in Salisbury, North Carolina. It isn’t a cherry cola nor is it Dr. Pepper.

I used 1.5 oz of the Heaven Hill Green Label to 6 oz. of Cheerwine. If you want a stronger bourbon taste, cut down on the amount of Cheerwine.

Useful Map If You Are Attending The NRA Annual Meeting

I came across this US Whiskey Map today. With the growth of small craft distillers, it is not a complete map. For example, here in Asheville, we have the Asheville Distilling Company which produces Blonde Whiskey which is a mix of Turkey Red Wheat and White Corn.

Nonetheless, if you are attending the NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville next month, it lists the major Kentucky bourbon distilleries. Many of these distilleries have tours that include a sample or two at the end. The Complementary Spouse and I are making the trip to the Annual Meeting a vacation which will include visits to a number of these distilleries. We plan to hit the Louisville area ones before the Annual Meeting and a number of the other ones afterwards.

Who knows? We may just run into you at one of these bourbon distilleries!

 US Whiskey Map

From Visually.

Cheerwine Cocktails

Cheerwine is a cherry soda that originated here in North Carolina. The flavor is sort of like cherry Dr. Pepper. It is sweeter and more cherry flavored than regular Dr. Pepper. While it is now expanding its distribution, it is still more a Southern drink found in the Carolinas. The company even used to run ads about New Yorkers smuggling “our Cheerwine” to the North.

Seeing a can of Cheerwine in the refrigerator got the Complementary Spouse and I to thinking about cocktails using it. Lo and behold, there are a number of them on the Internet. So we did a taste test on a couple of them last night and I think we can give them both two thumbs up.

From the Tempered Spirits website, we found Cheerwine Cocktail No. 1. It is a mixture of gin, lime juice, and Cheerwine that tastes a lot like a cherry limeade with a kick. It was really tasty and was the Complementary Spouse’s favorite.

The recipe is simple. Mix 1 oz. of gin (I used Plymouth’s) with the juice of a half lime in a tall ice-filled glass. Top off with 6 oz. of Cheerwine. Tempered Spirits say you can also add 1 1/2 oz. of soda water to this but I think it would just dilute it. If using a dry London gin, they suggest using 1 1/2 oz.

The second cocktail was simply Bourbon and Cheerwine. Lisa Frame writing in Southern Spark calls it the “cocktail of Southerners”. She first came across it at one of our local restaurants Tupelo Honey. Here’s how she described her first taste of it.

The first sip was a burst of flavor, a sensation of icy cold, sweet, along with slight hint of cypress and an oakey finish….

Had Scarlett O’Hara had Cheerwine and Bourbon, she’d have been the one looking at Rhett and telling him she didn’t give a damn. But, she wasn’t.

I suggest you get yourself to the local ABC store, pick up a bottle of Maker”s Mark and then hie yourself over to the nearest Piggly Wiggly and grab a 2 liter Cheerwine.

Head home, grab a Highball and fill it half full of ice. Everything is always half full in the South. Always.

Now, open your Maker’s Mark and pour a healthy splash in the Highball. No, that piddly splash isn’t going to do it, halfway full is more like it. Now, top it off with some fresh, highly carbonated Cheerwine. Grab your sterling cocktail stirrer and give it a quick whirl.

I made mine with 1 1/2 oz. of Marker’s 46 and 6 oz. of Cheerwine. I squeezed a little bit of fresh lime in it as well.

All I can say is that Bourbon and Cheerwine puts Bourbon and Coke to shame. It is light years ahead of it in my opinion.  I can see myself sipping this on the porch in the summer when I don’t want bourbon on the rocks. I might not use my Woodford Reserve or Blanton’s in this concoction but it would be a good use of bottom to middle shelf bourbon.

I do have one warning. Be careful. Both cocktails are so easy to drink you might get carried away. Literally.

Infographic For The Weekend

I like infographics. A good one can convey a lot of information in a short amount of time and space.

Here is one I stumbled across on Pinterest (yes, even guys have found out about Pinterest) and then went to the source of it – Sourmashed.com. That site, by the way, has a lot of good reviews on bourbon and other “potent potables”.

Profile of the Average American Bourbon Drinker by Sourmashed.com | Bourbon, Wine, and Liquor Reviews

Building Jobs By Building Exports

The bourbon industry has figured out the key to growth is through exports. The industry has grown by 18% this year alone and bourbon is now exported to 126 countries. This growth has meant jobs for the people of Kentucky.

As for ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, I wonder how much he had to pay his producers to let him do this story given all the bourbon tasting he was doing!

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Didn’t Return Home Empty Handed

I didn’t return home empty handed after attending Chris and Elise’s wedding in Cincinnati this weekend.

From left to right is Pure Kentucky XO, Willett Pot Still Reserve, and Buffalo Trace’s White Dog Mash No. 1. The Pure Kentucky XO is a 12-year old small batch bourbon from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. while the Willett Pot Still Reserve is a single barrel bourbon by the same company. The White Dog isn’t yet bourbon because it hasn’t been aged. It is essentially legal moonshine. On a side note, the Willett Pot Still Reserve has the coolest bottle – it is shaped just like a pot still.

If we didn’t have to get home early today, I might have been able to pick up some others not available through the state-owned North Carolina ABC Stores. However, there will be future trips and more bourbons to find and try.

As to Chris and Elise, their wedding was wonderful, the bride looked stunningly beautiful, and Chris looked quite handsome in his tux. Elise, who graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law School in May, found out on the morning of the wedding that she had passed the Ohio Bar which made the rest of the day even more of a celebration. Congratulations to both of them and best wishes for a long and happy life together.