Wow, what a whirlwind week! First to Kentucky with the great people at Makers Mark and Jim Beam to see how their products are made and to spend a bit of time at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
I'll get more posts up about this later, but two highlights for me were tasting the new 130.1 proof Booker's Bourbon from Jim Beam. At 5 proof higher than the previous Booker's offering, this barrel strength bourbon would seem to be unbearably hot and yet I found the 130 proof offering smoother and sweeter than the 125 proof version. Of course, let me recommend a bit of water or ice for either offering, I think it opens high proof whiskies up a bit more and releases some of the underlying flavors.
The other highlight that I experienced was a tasting with Kevin Smith, Master Distiller for Maker's Mark in one of their rickhouses. Kevin explained that Maker's rotates each barrel two times in an effort to ensure consistently smooth whisky. Makers usually bottles whisky at around 6 years old, and Kevin offered up a sample of 12 year old Makers as a comparison. Unlike many other older whiskies that I'd tasted, the 12 year old Makers was tannic, dry and almost dusty in flavor, practically undrinkable. That isn't a criticism of Makers at all, their goal is to produce one, consistent whisky and they do that very well.
Next, Jacob Grier and I were presenters at the Oregon Restaurant Association's annual conference at the SunRiver Resort. I hate to brag, but I think Jake and I knocked this one out of the park. The presentation was very well received and I had a great time while I was down there. It was my first time presenting at a restaurant conference and I'm very happy with how it all went. Now we're applying for the Washington Restaurant Association's 2010 conference.
Lastly, I'm excited to announce that next month I'm going to be competing in the cocktail competition at Crave AZ, one of the preeminent food events in the Southwest. Its been a long time since I was last in Scottsdale and I'm looking forward to this event.
More later when I dig out of email jail and rest up.