April 2020 | Issue 01
INSIDE INTERVIEW WITH PEERLESS MASTER DISTILLER CALEB KILBURN PLUS: A LOOK AT NULU'S NEW WHISKEY WHAT IT'S LIKE TO GRAB A DRINK AT THE SILVER DOLLAR IN LOUISVILLE WOODFORD RESERVE DISTILLERY SPOTLIGHT AND MORE!
WHISKEY CULTURE, LLC
TABLE OF CONTENTS 01
A letter from the editor
Interview with Peerless Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn
06 Places to Visit: The Silver Dollar in Louisville, KY
11 Cocktail Corner: Peach old fashioned
04 Nulu's New Whiskey Release
Distillery Spotlight: Woodford Reserve
Over & Under: Micther's 20 & Michter's US-1
The History of Japanese Whiskey
Sneak Peek for May '20 Issue #2
Editor's Note Thank you all so much for supporting the blog and our very first edition of our monthly mini-mag! We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did writing it!
Welcome to the very first edition of the Whiskey Culture Magazine What a wild ride is has been everyone. The last year for us has been incredible. With your support, we have been able to move from a fringe website started on a spur-of-the-moment decision to something great. We've got a budding whiskey community on Facebook growing (click here to join) and we're just shy of growing to 30,000 followers. This has been all because of you and your love for all things whiskey. If we didn't have people reading, there wouldn't be much point in us continuing to write. That's why our very first editors note is dedicated to you, the reader. From the bottom of our hearts, we'd like to raise a glass in toast to your incredible devotion to the culture that we find so fun to explore and write about. We hope you enjoy this first issue as much as we enjoyed writing it. As our audience grows, so will our magazine!
Whiskey Culture is a labor of love. Greg started his whiskey journey in Tallahassee, Florida where he tried his first allocated bottle of bourbon on one of his friends' 21st birthday. A multi-month bottle hunt followed, and when he finally found the bottle, his passion for tracking down and trying unique and rare whiskies was born. Today, he lives in Tampa, FL and travels to Kentucky frequently to write about his experiences exploring the culture that surrounds whiskey.
President of Whiskey Culture
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MASTER DISTILLER CALEB KILBURN
Peerless Distillery is one that takes pride in its unique fusion of heritage and modern innovation. The distillery was started in the early 1880s by Henry Kraver, a banker by trade. By 1889, he had increased production from eight to 200 barrels of whiskey per day. Unfortunately, when prohibition laws were enacted, production at Peerless ceased and the remaining 63,000 bottles were sold off for medicinal purposes. Years later, Kraver's great-grandson and great-great-grandson, Corky and Carson Taylor, moved to Kentucky and purchased the 120 year-old tobacco warehouse that is home to the distillery today. On March 4th, 2015, the revived Peerless Distilling Co. filled it's first new barrel of bourbon. We were fortunate enough to be invited out and get an interview with Caleb, the master distiller behind the bottles.
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Caleb's first real statement during our interview mirrors the history of the distillery itself. That is, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, and doing something meaningful and impactful. Caleb was there with the team pulling up boards and actively becoming part of the rebirth of the brand. This gives him a unique pride and purpose in his distilling that you can really sense in the care he takes with his craft. Caleb isn't afraid to tell it like it is or get things done. He's been hard at work creating the distinct red and green bottles denoting the Peerless Bourbon and Rye expressions that have been coming to the forefront of the whiskey scene as of late. However, Caleb shares our passion for stories and history. He's translating that love of uniqueness into his single barrel program, available only at the distillery.
The bourbon is sweet and the rye has a bold and earthy flavor. Both qualities you want in your drams. But, the single barrel program at Peerless is something different. Caleb crafts unique stories within each of these barrels. There are no additives to these single barrel project releases, just a dance between barrels or choose a unique wood or barrel charring.Â He hit it on the head when he said that sometimes, when he's tasting and screening the barrels, there's just one that's so unique it deserves its own bottling. We were able to try the upcoming Smokehouse single barrel, and, let us tell you that it is unbelievable.Â It's full of hickory, smoky, thick, and is absolutely beautifully balanced. The crazy part is that the only difference is that 2-3 months into it being filled, there was a leak and they had to change to a new barrel. If you have the opportunity to visit Peerless, do it, grab a single barrel, and ask for Caleb.
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Above The beautiful fusion of modern equipment and the historic architecture is absultuely striking.
"If you grabbed barrels that all tasted the same, it would be so boring. Imagine you were cooking at home and you only used black pepper. Granted, I like black pepper, but I need some diversity." Caleb discussing the importance of Peerless making their batches unique with each expression.
Check out the podcast here
Nulu's New Whiskey. Prohibition Craft Spirits' brand, Nulu, is known across Kentucky for their Vodka, Tequila, Gin, and Rum.Â Now, it's entering the whiskey scene with a splash. A Brilliant Partnership Owner Keith Hazelbaker picked up the Prohibition Craft Spirits brand and revitalized it into something great. He and master distiller Harrison Hyden take pride in their products, and aren't willing to put something on market they feel isn't ready. Enter MGP. A distillery legendary for their collaborations with incredibly popular whiskey brands such as Smooth Ambler, Angel's Envy, Bulleit, and High West. Prohibition Spirits has teamed up with a quality producer of quality whiskey while their barrels mature.
"We want to be as transparent as possible with our releases. We want people to know what they are getting, and we want them to know we're proud of what we have here for them to pour and enjoy." Many other brands hide behind their sourcing strategies, but not Keith. He proudly displays that Nulu is sourced for now, with the promise of their own product to come. It is refreshing seeing a company be so transparent with their audience. We got to try it, and it is the real deal. The higher proof drinks smoother than you'd think, and the classic flavors of sweet caramel and vanilla are wonderfully balanced with notes of oak and leather. It makes for a very bold and well balanced pour.
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PLACES TO VISIT
THE SILVER DOLLAR Louisville, KY The Silver Dollar in Louisville, KY is a place that we'd kept hearing about time and time again. On our trip, we were invited out to come try some of their incredible food and rather impressive selection of whiskies and barrel picks. We were glad we did. The Silver Dollar is something unique. Something that defies the status quo of whiskey bars. It isn't so much of a concept as it just is. And that's a great sigh of relief for those who feel whiskey bars are increasingly becoming carbon copies of one another. Originally built in 1890 as Hook & Ladder Co. Firehouse No. 3, it operated as such until 2009. After the closing of the firehouse, The Silver Dollar moved in and embraced the heritage and unique atmosphere.
The owners were inspired by the dust bowl migration of Southerners into California during the 1930s. Those who migrated would try to bring a slice of southern hospitality to establishments wherever they could. The menu is inspired by a classic 1950s Bakersfield, California honky tonk. The selections are modernized and elevated versions of classic working class dishes that would have been available to the dust bowl settlers. Their menu items contain classics, like their old fashioned and manhattan, to new classics like their gold rush cocktail. However, alongside all of their heritage and originality, The Silver Dollar is another thing, a premium whiskey bar. Continued on page 6......
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The Silver Dollar's whiskey selection is equally impressive in size and scope. Their "wall of whiskey" contains hundreds of selections. From your daily drinkers, to an impressive selection of high-end and premium whiskey, you'll likely not want for much while you're browsing their menu. They have nearly the entire selection of BTAC for you to enjoy, and they offer half-pours (1/2 oz) for you to sample new whiskey without the price tag. Some of these higher end whiskey can make you strongly consider taking out a second mortgage on your home.
Some of the selections that The Silver Dollar features are pours you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere. For example, many whiskey enthusiasts are familiar with the Old Fitzgerald releases (15 year old released this year). However, many may not be familiar with the John E. Fitzgerald very special reserve, which is aged 20 years and only had 12 barrels of the juice transferred to Haven Hill to continue aging when they purchased the brand. Once these bottles are gone, they are gone. And you can find one sitting on the shelf while enjoying The Silver Dollar's insanely delicious southern flair deviled eggs.
One of the other cool things they have available to consumers is vintage whiskey. The selections here, while pricey, are a drinkable part of history that are unavailable and out of production. Again, once it's gone, it's gone. If you're ever in the neighborhood and in the mood for good food, a massive whiskey selection, and some great atmosphere, you don't have to look any farther than The Silver Dollar to provide all of the above.
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Woodford Reserve A YOUNG DISTILLERY ADHERING TO OLD PRACTICES
By: Greg Sinadinos President of Whiskey Culture
The drive to Woodford Reserve is a beautiful one. You travel through the countryside, down a winding road boarded by well-maintained white fences, beyond which lie green fields. The road eventually deposits you in front of a rustic white chapel only a few blocks from Woodford. The distillery welcome center is built from wood and stone. The two primary building blocks that comprise the vast majority of the historic distillery. We were able to link up with Woodford's very own Katie Farley for a walkthrough of what makes Woodford such a unique and well-known brand.
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A lengthy stone staircase cuts down the hill from the welcome center leads you to the distillery grounds. It's like walking back in time. You can feel the history around you as you stand before stone buildings over 150 years old. You're immediately greeted by a full sensory experience built for lovers of whiskey and history. You can smell the faint scent of cooking mash, the stone, the river, and the foliage. You can hear the sounds of barrels being rolled down rails and the faint echoes of machinery churning out that beautiful amber juice we all love. And you can see the wear of the years on the faces of the stone.
Katie brought us into the still room where three massive pot stills are turning mash into white lightning before it's placed into barrels. The stills truly are a sight to behold and you can feel the heat pouring off of them. It's a great place to be during a cold Kentucky day. Katie also let us know that the pot still helps add the unique flavor to the Woodford line, as many distilleries have moved to more modern and efficient distillation methods to improve production and reduce cost. However,Â Woodford is not taking the easy route. They are taking the path that they feel produces the best whiskey.
The mash room is dominated by these beautiful wooden mash cookers. Again, many distilleries have turned away from using wooden cooking vats because metal has been proven to make a quicker and simpler process of cooking mash.Â Woodford has preserved their method of mash cooking to continue to mirror their pension for preserving heritage. The mash is actually a much more rich golden color than we've been used to. Katie said that's because of the slower and more controlled methodology when it comes to handling the mash. Woodford adds additional time to the cooking and fermentation. Again, asserting their care for the craft. The smell is also different than many other distilleries, as you can both smell and taste some citrus notes in the mash which surprised us.
There are multiple different types of warehouses in which Woodford's whiskey is aged. This is because the distillery has been continually expanded over the years. However, the scope and beauty of them can't be overstated. The warehouse is cooled by the stone in the summers, and insulated in the winters, but not so much as to compromise the aging process of the whiskey. The more modern warehouses have been fitted with massive ricks upon which barrel after barrel are stacked to mature until they have been deemed ready to be blended into a Woodford expression. There is no "specific time" for which the barrels are aged, as each one is allowed to rest until they have the desired notes and age for their blend.
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The barrels are rolled down old rails between the buildings. From cooking their mash, to aging, to transporting their barrels, everything is done the old fashioned way. It really is an impactful display of their heritage to be on a tour and be stopped at the rails to watch barrels of whiskey roll past you. Katie was wonderful when it came to describing how the preserved distilling processes and extra effort put forth into their products is an affirmation of their direction both for their brand and their operation. Easy isn't always the answer at Woodford.
We were lucky enough to be surprised with a visit from Woodford's master distiller, Chris Morris. He started his whiskey career in 1976 as a trainee at the BrownForeman central lab. In 1977, he apprenticed to Lincoln Henderson, Woodford's first master distiller. In 2003, Chris took the reigns and has been responsible for some incredible releases, such as Woodford Double Oaked Rye and the Master Collection. He knows his whiskey. To Chris, intentionality and patience are the name of the game. He said that Woodford takes a unique approach to crafting their products. They start with the end consumer in mind and reverse engineer what those people prefer, and then find the aging, wood, grains, and cooking methods, and time that will produce it. He believes being intentional with each of these steps and not cutting corners is crucial to Woodford's success. The last of our time at Woodford was spent with Katie testing their portfolio of products and talking about the whiskey climate and shifting consumer preferences. We found that each of their products carried a delicious uniqueness to them. The rye is beautiful in that it isn't nearly as spicy as you'd expect. It has a nice earthy and complex palate. Another favorite was the Double Oaked Rye. It has a very unique profile with notes of dark chocolate and toasted oak that compliment each other nicely. It's an easily drinkable pour that doesn't sacrifice flavor for smoothness. If you're ever in the area and are looking for a truly unique place to visit on your own distillery tour trail, ensure that you make time to stop at Woodford Reserve.Â P.S. Don't leave without trying their bourbon cheese spread.
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Michter's Limited Release 20 Year Bourbon is a delicious pour with a hefty price tag, sitting at over $700 MSRP, and almost always over $2,000 in stores if you can even find it available.
The nose is lighter than you'd expect with notes of toasted oak, vanilla, citrus, and caramel. It's sweeter than what you'd expect for a 20-year bourbon. The body is bold and carries one of the most incredible vanilla notes I've ever tasted. It's also extremely woody in a great way. Caramel and tobacco finish the dram. This was a bucket-list pour for me, thanks to Silver Dollar in Louisville for making it happen!
$50 Micther'sÂ Unblended American Whiskey can be found at most stores for around $45, making it quite an affordable pour. However, there are some whiskies that are both affordable and delicious as many aficionados will tell you. The nose has notes of mossy oak, charcoal, toasted sugar, rye, and just a small twinge of sweet corn mash. The body is mild and smooth with notes of torched oak, vanilla, tobacco, and leather. It's a very straightforward whiskey that finishes with notes of creamed corn and toasty oak. For a pour that's sub $50, this one is a winner.
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PEACH OLD FASHIONED Recipe & Photo By: Will Taylor (Nashville, TN)
Winter has faded and spring is in full bloom. We have a cocktail perfect for this time of the year. Will has been with us on many of our Kentucky trips and has been a contributor to the blog for a while now. He never disappoints with either his collection or the impressive armada of cocktail recipes he's developed or modified to his liking over his tenure as a whiskey collector. Today, he is sharing with us one of his springtime favorites.
Ingredients: 2 oz bourbon 1/2 oz simple syrup 3 dashes angostura bitters 2 dashes peach bitters 1 peel of lemon 1. Combine simple syrup, bitters, and bourbon into a tall mixing glass & add ice. 2. Stir until well mixed. 3. Strain cocktail into an old fashioned glass over large sphere or cube of ice. 4. Twist lemon peel over the cocktail glass to release the oils. 5. Rub peel along the rim of the glass and then drop the peel into the glass. 6. Enjoy!
Its a quick recipe to impress. It gives a nice peach and citrus flavor that can satisfy your sweet tooth on a hot day.
“I prefer bourbon to rye in this recipe as a sweeter option that pairs well with the peach flavor.” - Will Taylor
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A MODERN HISTORY
The history of the Japanese whiskey market is somewhat mysterious before the early 1990s. Japan had isolated itself from trading with the western world save for a single Dutch trading outpost on a small island in the Nagasaki harbor. This isolation would continue until one fateful day in 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry floated into Tokyo harbor with a group of four war ships, leaving behind textiles from the western markets as an enticement for Japan to join the growing global trade. One of the textiles he left behind? A massive 110 gallon barrel of whiskey for the Japanese to enjoy.
By: Greg Sinadinos
Japanese authorities began trading for whiskey as they relaxed the strict measures they'd had in place for ages. Though, the trade of whiskey required a rather lengthy travel across land and perilous seas before it could be sold to the Japanese making it expensive. It was considered a commodity until 1918, when a Japanese chemist by the name of Masataka Taketsuru moved to Scotland to attend the University of Glasgow.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
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18 Taketsuru was studying chemistry to learn the art of grain distillation in an effort to bring it back to his homeland. After graduation, he interned at a handful of distilleries across the Scottish countryside and took volumes upon volumes of notes to bring back with him to Japan. The Start of Something Big When Taketsuru returned to Japan, he partnered with a pharmaceutical wholesaler by the name of Shinjiro Torri, who had always dreamed of starting his own distillery. Torri had experimented with distillation before, using his knowledge of distillation to create oils and medicines. However, he lacked the practical knowledge to develop his own whiskey. Torri had started a distillery in 1899 called Kotobukiya, which was later renamed Suntory Distillery. He had been producing fortified wines until 1923 when Taketsuru came onboard. They formed a new distillery specifically for whiskey called Yamazaki. Unfortunately, the first release of Suntory Shirofuda (meaning "white label") wasn't met with the same enthusiasm. After going back to the drawing board, they created a second release with scaled back malt flavor that took the market by storm.
After his 10 year contract with Kotobukiya, Taketsuru decided to go independent. He traveled north, settling in Yoichi, Hokkaido. In 1934, he built his own distillery. The distillery first produced apple products under the name "Dai Nippon Kaiju" meaning "The Great Japanese Juice Company" as Taketsuru prepared his operation to begin distilling whiskey. In 1936, Taketsuru commissioned and received Japan's first pot still and distillation began. It was in 1940 that Taketsuru's first whiskey was produced, NIKKA WHISKY (which was short for Nippon Kaiju). It was then that Japan began to develop its own variety of national whiskey product, and the history of Japanese whiskey began to spread.
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May '20 | Issue 2
Distillery Spotlight Take a trip down the rabbit hole with Rabbit Hole Distillery
Places to Visit Check out the delicious selections available at Carson's in Lexington,KY
Over & Under $50
Two giants in the whiskey scene owned by the same company get reviewed.
Inside Bardstown Bardstown has blitzed onto the scene making some of your favorites.
Bottled in Bond Take a look into the bottled in bond act and how it shaped the whiskey world.
THANK YOU Without your readership our entire blog wouldn't be possible. Thank you so much for being a valued part of our culture.
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