Bourbon Zeppelin
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Steve Akley Presents...

This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article:

Yellowstone's Barrel Picks
Quickly becoming a favorite of bourbon fans
by Colonel Steve Akley

Got a Yellowstone Pick: Take My Money!

In today's episode of The Bourbon Show, Stephen Fante of Limestone Branch is on to talk about his role he moved into last year organizing the company barrel picks (give the show a listen right here). I'm not exactly sure how it happened, and if Stephen Fante gets all of the credit here, but Limestone Branch is killing it with its barrel pick program.

It seems I can't go into a store without a stack of cases on an end cap loaded up with a Yellowstone store pick. The program has evolved as well making it even more desirable for bourbon fans. In year's past, if you got a Yellowstone pick, it was 93 proof, which is the same proof as the "shelfie" version of Yellowstone (the bottles you find sitting on the shelf every day). Now, I see some are 93 proof, others are 115 proof and still others are simple barrel strength so you get proofs like 102.9 or 109.6. At around $55, these represent a good value pick for an interesting and flavorful offering. In fact, I can't pass them up. I currently have a policy of "seeing a Yellowstone pick = buying a Yellowstone pick." I would just argue that they might be at the absolute intersection of cost and value. You can buy them guilt free and I haven't found a bad one yet.

I've been enjoying drinking them, sharing them with friends and I've even partnered with Stephen Fante to share some of my finds in an event where we compare it to the regular shelfie version (
click here to learn more about that event).

I just assumed everyone was with me on this but I was surprised to talk to a few colleagues who hadn't yet gotten on the Yellowstone barrel pick bandwagon. I'm here to tell you that if you haven't been grabbing these yet you are missing out. Remember, see a Yellowstone pick = buy a Yellowstone pick. You'll thank me later.

It's a good time for the bourbon industry. People are back to traveling and visiting distilleries. We've got several festivals coming up over the next few months and we're almost to the Bourbon Hunting Season.

We've also got a great issue of BZ here for you. It's filled with all original material for your reading enjoyment. Like I always say, I hope you have as much fun reading this issue as we had putting it together for you.


Editor-in-Chief of Bourbon Zeppelin, Owner of the ABV Network, Podcast Writer, Producer & On-Air Personality, Filmmaker, Blogger, 30+ Years Bourbon Fan, Bourbon Staff Writer Food & Dining Magazine, Maker's Mark Ambassador (Ambassador #14,903/member since 2000), Four Roses Mellow Moments Club Member (2016), Author of the Best-Selling Cocktail Book Series Bourbon Mixology (Four Volumes, 2015-Present), Apprenticed at a Bourbon Distillery (2016), Completed the Bourbon Trail (2016), Executive Bourbon Steward (2017), Whiskey Warrior Award Winner (May '17), Founding Member Jefferson's Bourbon Ambassador Program (2017), Bourbons Bistro & Total Wine Barrel Selection Committee Member & Kentucky Colonel (2016).
Editorial by Colonel Steve

Fall Releases

The Calendar Says August... but the releases are coming out as "fast & furious" as if it were November
by Colonel Steve Akley
Just this past week, I got confirmation the Maker's Mark DNA Series wasn't a rumor it will hit the gift shop soon. Friends were buying the 2021 Yellowstone Limited Edition at the distillery. I saw Lux Row announced their David Nicholson 1843 was getting a newly redesigned bottle. Old Forester had another release of its 117 Series. Finally, Barrell Bourbon was getting ready to release Batch #30. 

In summary, there was a lot going on. As Shane Leonard discusses in his column below, there seems to be an abundance of energy out there from distilleries, event organizers and bourbon fans. 

I hope the excitement of all these announcements this week continues as we move forward. It's shaping up to be an exciting rest of 2021!

About Colonel Steve Akley
Steve Akley, a Kentucky Colonel, is the company owner of the ABV Network, LLC, as well as an author, podcaster,  movie/TV show producer. He has been a bourbon fan (legally) since 1989, but notes that while his family didn't drink very much, when they did, it was a cocktail with bourbon as the base so he's always been around it. He enjoys splitting his time between his home with his family in his beloved hometown of St. Louis and Kentucky, where all of the bourbon fun is. You can reach Steve via social media or the web with everything under the name Steve Akley, or, you can go through the company website at:

Click the button below to head to the ABV Network's online shop:

On the Road, Here We Go...


The highway is a weird place; your mind wanders, especially if you have no one to talk to. Let me clarify, if your co-pilot decides to go to sleep in the middle of a long road trip, then it’s a weird place. I’m getting off subject, let me focus.

We’re in the middle of a major move and considering where we’ve lived for that last (insert long years) it, is…huge! Anyway, during drives, your mind wonders about things and me in particular, of late, they are about bourbon. Like, for example, Elijah Craig, the father of Bourbon, was a preacher.



What was his day-to-day like to say, “yo son, I’m about to bang out some high proof spirits!” A little research in to his past, and I’m talking only what Wikipedia could tell me, his family were some straight up religious ballers! 

Apparently, the move from where they grew up, to where they eventually landed was a strong push from people who were NOT feeling what they were putting down! Some old, yo, y’all gotta be out! He did lead us to a path that has become a hobby for some and a full blown career for others. Thanks Rev.!

My other mind drifting question, was, where do old bourbon barrels go? I have to know. I know from some distillers, they go to Scottish distillers and that imparts some of the flavors into their spirits, but, for one particular distillery that I am a fan of, Buffalo Trace, where do their bourbon barrels go? I need to know; I want to follow the flavor and see if I can detect it in the spirits. I’m sort of geeking out, like the kids say, “ATM” (at the moment), for the old heads like me! 

I know these are randoms thoughts and questions, but hey, who was sitting around in the dark like, yeah, lightbulb, that’ll do it! Weird and random created the world around us, so, say we all see what we can come up with. I for one am going to research and see if I can tap a resource to help me on my way with this little experiment, that long hours on the road have embedded in my mind. Let’s see if I can share a little interesting knowledge with the people. If nothing else, I’m sure it will add so much more fun to my bourbon journey. On the flip, even if it doesn’t, I’ll have a lot to “type” about!

Until next time, cheers!

About Raymond Culbert
Raymond is a current resident of New England and is here purely because someone loves the four seasons that living here brings. He loves beer, bourbon, food and golf, not necessarily in that order, but it works alphabetically. You can usually find him drinking beer, sipping bourbon or eating good food in the company of my 5’ roadie, the four-season-lover! He is an Air Force veteran, but isn't biased and shares love with his military peeps, both veteran and active alike. Time away from the day job is in search of the next great craft made IPA! You can contact him on Twitter and Instagram via @My_Government_Name_Is 

All hate mail can be sent to: madlef2000 [ at ] 
ABV Network Texting Successfully Launched!
On June 14, 2020, the ABV Network successfully launched texting as means of communication. The first text blast was used to announce a one-day only sale for National Bourbon Day at the ABV Network Shop. Don't miss out on these message by filling out the opt-in form at
The ABV Network is the fastest growing podcast network on the web. Here's the latest news with this exciting group of shows, many of which are helmed by Bourbon Zeppelin contributors.

Stepen Fante
Brand Ambassador / Single Barrel Curator
Limestone Branch Distillery
Featured on The Bourbon Show - Today!

We have some great programming coming up on the ABV Network. Here's a sneak peek at some of the upcoming shows:
The Bourbon Show
August 15 - Stephen Fante, Brand Ambassador for Limestone Branch
August 18 - Why Is "Smooth" Such A Bad Bourbon Word Online?
June 27 - Bourbon Fad or Bourbon Trend?

The Bourbon Daily
August 15 - StilL 630 Missouri Bourbon #9 Release
August 16 - Greatest Distillery Series: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
August 25 - What Bourbon Can You Actually Find in Kentucky?

ABV Network shows can be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Libsyn and more. Just search for the name of the show!

Bourbon Nuggets
Key West in January? Heck yes. Join the ABV Network team, fans and bourbon industry celebrities January 27-30 in Key West, Florida. Click here to learn more.

JD Shelburne and Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel 

It’s August, which means it’s Mandy Kaplan’s birthday month! Show her some love if you see her out and about.
I truly believe just like how bourbon brings people together, so does good country music. My only concert since the pandemic was JD Shelburne when he visited Indianapolis, and this concert in March brought me and Mandy Kaplan back together. I hadn’t seen her since December. One of the things I missed the most in 2020 was small concerts with good friends. The concert was held at The Irvington Theatre, one of Indianapolis’ oldest venues. I love this venue, it’s intimate and you can actually talk to the people you came with. Mandy and I had a blast and drank way too many White Claws instead of bourbon here, but nonetheless this concert brought us back together. JD also released a new album this summer called Straight from Kentucky that you should absolutely go download. So many catchy, fun but thoughtful songs. A few of my favorites from this album are Church Pew Bar Stool and Sunburn. 
Even though we drank White Claws at this concert; I asked Mandy what bourbon she would pair this new album with and she said Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel because it’s “not impossible to find, but different from the rest too.” I would have to agree with her. Much like EC Toasted,  JD Shelburne is easy to find especially if you live in Kentucky. And different from the rest as well. He’s definitely not pop country and not outlaw country either. He walks a fine line between the two. 

About McNew
Stephanie McNew is a regular co-host on The Bourbon Daily, an ABV Network podcast. In addition to her work on TBD, she can be heard hosting her own shows, W(h)ine Time with McNew and Bottle Kills and Last Meals. McNew lives in Indiana with a veritable zoo of dogs and cats. When she isn't podcasting, running the ABV Network Patreon page or writing, she can be found drinking Larceny bourbon from Heaven Hill... her all-time favorite bourbon. Follow McNew's journey on Instagram: @miss_mcnew.
A repository of whiskey knowledge for beginners and experts alike. As a tasting room manager at a craft distillery, I serve everyone from bourbon aficionados to whiskey acolytes, which can be an adventure in vocabulary and definitions. Hopefully, this series helps illuminate the obscure and refine the understanding of the obvious, for me, as much as you. 
Entry #21

Etymology of Drinks 

I had a lot of fun writing about the history of the letter 'e' in the word 'whiskey' in a post from a few months ago, so, I thought this month I'd look into the background of a few terms around whiskey and spirits. Here they are in quick-hitter format. 

Originally from the Arabic al-kuhul meaning the fine metallic powder used to darken the eyelids, alcofol was in English through Latin by the 1540s meaning a “fine powder produced by sublimation.” It wasn't until around the 1670s that it would refer to “any sublimated substance, the pure spirit of anything,” and not until the 1750s that it began to refer to the “intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor.” Before the adoption of alcohol in English, rectified spirits, or simply brandy, was the preferred term for distilled liquor. 

A "cylindrical vessel or cask, generally bulging in the middle and made of wooden staves bound by hoops," dates back to around 1300 from Old French baril. The act of barreling as in “to put into a barrel” dates to the 15th century, and the use of barrel as a standardized measure for trade dates to the at least the 18th century. What about barreling, as in “moving so quickly as to be almost unstoppable?” We've been barreling down highways since at least 1930. Just imagine a whiskey barrel weighing hundreds of pounds rolling at speed down a hill – that's hard to stop. 

This one is pretty clear: Bourbon County was organized in 1785 by the Virginia legislature before Kentucky became a state, named for the French royal family whose support was crucial to the American Revolutionary War. Farmers in that county began distilling corn whiskey around 1789, and by 1846 people regularly referred to corn whiskey made in that style as bourbon whiskey. 

First appearing in the early 1800s, it's surely always referred to a “strong, stimulating, cold American drink” with several theories of its origin posited by H.L. Mencken. One of the most likely traces it to the French coquetier or “egg-cup” because cocktails were first served by Antoine Peychaud in egg-cups at his apothecary in New Orleans. Another dictionary claims it derived a “horse with a docked tail” or cocktail, which was only performed on horses of mixed pedigree rather then pure bred. Mixed pedigree, therefore, mixed drink or cocktail. 

Literally “grain” from Old English when it meant the single seed of a cereal plant or the plants that produce those seeds. So wheat, rye, barley, and other plants were all called “corn.” It's derived from Proto-Germanic's kurnam which meant “small seed.” It wasn't until around 1600 when it began being restricted to referring to maize specifically, which was called Indian corn before the adjective was dropped. 

Meaning a “piece of a barrel,” stave dates to 1750, formed from the plural of staff, staves. “Stave off” meaning to push back with a staff is from the 1620s, and before that stave was used nautically with “break into staves,” referring to breaking into a cask by force. 

Whiskey (whisky): 
As I wrote a few months ago, whiskey came from Gaelic uisge beatha and Old Irish uisce bethu, meaning “water of life,” probably around 1715. Most likely it was translated from the Latin aqua vitae which has the same meaning, perhaps because whiskey was first distilled in Britain by monks and other church personnel who probably primarily spoke Latin.

About Ryan Blackwell
Ryan is a tasting room manager for Silverback Distillery at their Poconos location. Several years ago, he discovered a passion for homebrewing that led him to look for work in the beer industry, but somehow he ended up in the whiskey biz - crafting cocktails and getting to light things on fire isn't a bad gig. When he's not slinging drinks or contemplating fermentation, he likes to run 5Ks very slowly, and play rugby very poorly.
Bourbon Nuggets
Join us on a Virtual Bourbon event by clicking here.

Bourbon is Back with a Vengeance

Bourbon is back!

It’s as if bourbon is unleashing all its pent-up energy from COVID. I feel as if there is almost a press release daily of the newest and greatest product that is coming out. Summer used to be the down time for bourbon hunting and the industry focused more on festivals and events. Festivals and events have not been sanctioned yet by most states, thus the bourbon industry has pivoted to releasing products during the summer months creating a frenzy. It seems as if everyone is trying to make up for lost time. 

With new products being released, the secondary market has gone insane. Prices of allocated and new products continue to climb weekly. New groups and posts on social media platforms have started to spread like wildfire. More and more people continue to get into bourbon, but many are just seeking to flip bottles to make a quick and easy profit. It has become increasingly difficult to get allocated bottles for this reason. So much so, that bourbon lovers really start to second guess opening their favorite bottles to share. I am a firm believer that bourbon is meant to be shared among friends, but I understand the panic that sets in not knowing when that next “special” bottle is going to come from. Many of us common folk do not have thousands of dollars to spend on one bottle. This fact has many times left me on the outside looking in and fearing I am missing out on something special. When I do get that allocated bottle, it makes it that much more exciting and special. 

The secondary market is a necessary evil in my eyes. While brands cannot publicly endorse the secondary market, it does act as a gauge of public interest on each product. In a lot of ways, it is free publicity and marketing. Brands like Smoke Wagon have directly benefited from the crazy of the secondary market. Pappy Van Winkle has become unworldly, and God like. The value and interest of bourbon has increased in a large part because of the secondary market. The secondary market is not all good for the industry. 

The secondary market has led to a lot of shady characters and corruption into the industry. Any time there is a high demand and low supply and money to be made, people will take advantage. Netflix documentary Heist features two episodes called, “The Bourbon King,” discuss what many know as Pappygate. Toby Curtsinger, a Buffalo Trace Distillery employee, was involved in the theft of the coveted Pappy Van Winkle bourbon whiskey. Toby and his softball gang were out for max profits with no love for the industry. The show is worth watching especially if you are unfamiliar with the scandal. Ultimately, the show does show the dark side of bourbon and the industry because it is so desirable and hard to get. 

In an effort to fill the void of my FOMO (fear of missing out) I have started a TikTok talking about all things bourbon. Shameless plug, I can be found @barrelofknowledge. TikTok provides me with an outlet to help educate people who are interested in American whiskey. It occupies the time I was spending looking at the secondary market wishing I had bottles. It has opened up a whole new world to me with a whole new group of people/whiskey fans. I was hesitant at first to join TikTok at first, being a middle-aged man who maybe going through a midlife crisis, but it has only added to my whiskey journey. Feel free to look me up and ask a question in the Q&A section. 

Keep fighting the good fight and don’t give up hope. The bourbon gods do believe in good karma, and it will eventually be your turn. I had never won in a lottery (I have been to a bunch), but this last week my number was finally called. I was able to come out with an Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch 1. It is one of my favorites recently released allocated products, so to say I was over the moon when I found out I won, would be an understatement.

About Shane Leonard
Shane Leonard is an editorial writer for the Bourbon Zeppelin. Shane is a 30-year-old Kentucky spirit with bold flavor. His articles have a easy to read feel with a long lasting finish of spice. The proof of his journey can be followed on Instagram @BarrelofKnowledge. #openbottles
Further Reading...
by the ABV Network Team
Our blog is on our website and it's called the Whiskey Corner. You can check out this ABV Network exclusive offering by clicking here.
Items from Steve and the Bourbon Zeppelin team
Bourbon Mixology is author Steve Akley's best selling book of all-time. The premise is simple: have 50 iconic bars share their signature bourbon cocktail. The bars selected do not fail to impress with their unique takes on some classic drinks and well as some very original creations.

The book literally becomes a travel companion piece as you will want to see out these bars on your next business trip or vacation. Get your copy right now!
Buy Now
Bourbon Mixology Volume 4 is author Steve Akley's newest bourbon cocktail book. In this edition, 50 craft distilleries share signature bourbon cocktails made with their bourbon. 

Grab your copy today!
Buy Now
Mules and More takes a look at beer cocktails which have increased in popularity with the resurgence of the Moscow Mule. In this book, 40 craft breweries share their signature beer cocktail. 

Grab your copy today!
Buy Now
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Bourbon Zeppelin accepts product samples in exchange for a fair and honest review by a B.Z. team member or members.

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We love it. While it's classified as "Tennessee Whiskey" it's treated with the same as any other bourbon here.
By the way, the same goes for George Dickel (we love them, too!)
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Bourbon Zeppelin - The Team
In addition to the guest contributors, Bourbon Zeppelin has an incredible staff in addition to editor and publisher Steve Akley. Steve's daughter Cat runs the BZ Facebook page. The writing team includes: Editorial Writer Shane Leonard and the following Columnists: Abby H., Six Feet of Dynamite, Andrea Holak, Wes Hardin, Greg Schneider,, Stephanie McNew and Kim Moser.

Interested in joining the B.Z. team as a contributor? If so, just email Steve Akley to talk about it!
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Bourbon Zeppelin is delivered to you raw an unedited by author Steve Akley on the 1st and 15th of every month. (Apologies for any errors.) Check out Steve's books by clicking here: Steve's Catalog on Amazon.