Bourbon Zeppelin
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This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article
A Look at....

The Role of Kentucky's Water on Bourbon

by Andrew Wiehebrink

Kentucky limestone filtered water…necessity or icing on the cake?
Everybody has heard at one point or another that Kentucky’s water is one of the reasons, if not THE reason, that Kentucky makes the best bourbon in the world. A good portion of the state sits on a limestone shelf and being so, the claim usually goes something like this…water is trickled through this limestone, filtering out unwanted substances and lending some favorable ones. More specifically, removing iron and adding minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Well, that sounds great, but what does a lack of iron and the addition of calcium and magnesium really do for the whiskey making process? The answer varies depending on whom you ask. If you do a little research I think you will find that everyone agrees if there is iron in the water supply, the bourbon will appear black. Dark whiskey is usually a sign of age and therefore, quality. However, a bottle of whiskey that has the appearance of motor oil would probably turn most customers away. So no iron is good, I agree.

The addition of calcium and magnesium is a little trickier to examine. Limestone is basically calcium carbonate but depending on the limestone, also contains other minerals, one of which being magnesium in one form or another. The addition of calcium and magnesium by themselves will have a direct effect on the pH level of the water. They both lower the pH level. Magnesium doesn’t have as great an influence but both do the same thing. A more acidic mash will have a positive influence on the fermentation process so that is a good thing. In addition, magnesium is a yeast nutrient so if there is a concentration of magnesium in the water, yeast cells care happier.

However, the argument can be made that when water gets filtered through limestone it does not pick up calcium and magnesium in their elemental forms but rather in the form of calcium carbonate for example. Calcium carbonate is a buffer. So one could make the argument that limestone water doesn’t lower the pH but controls the pH and that could be a good thing as well. This debate makes for some interesting reading and in an effort not to deny you of that, I will let you make the decision which theory is more plausible or more beneficial.

Could it be both?

Ok so we have examined some benefits of limestone filtered water but the question we set out to answer remains unanswered. Is Kentucky water necessary to make good bourbon? If Kentucky happened to be the only state with hard water, I would say there might be some merit to that. However, Kentucky is not the only state in the union with naturally hard water. The following map provided by the USGS details a map of the U.S. as it pertains to water hardness.
As you can see, Kentucky water is special in a certain regard but it is not the only state with hard water. In fact, looking at the map you will notice that about 85% of the country has what the USGS considers to be hard water. Some states like Texas have water that has very high concentrations of calcium carbonate; more so than in Kentucky. Kentucky water is special without a doubt but it is definitely not unique.

Does that mean that distilleries that do not have access to hard water cannot make a decent bourbon or whiskey? I don’t think so. Some distilleries that make great whiskey run their water supply through treatment systems which completely takes water out of the equation all together. In addition, grain based mashes have calcium in them to begin with so if you are making whiskey, there should be plenty in the mash already.

Limestone water is a benefit to the process in more ways than one. I think it is up to the distiller or drinker to decide how much of a benefit it truly is. Being from Kentucky, I have great pride in Kentucky bourbon and as much as I enjoy drinking whiskey from other states, deep down I sometimes wish that it was all about Kentucky and that we were the only ones that could make great bourbon. But I know that is not the case.

Kentucky produces truly great bourbon but I attribute that to some other things. First of all, we have been making bourbon for a long time and with just about anything in life, the more you do it, the better you get. More importantly, I believe Kentucky has the ideal climate for making bourbon. Hot summers, cold winters, humidity, good soil for growing bourbon’s majority ingredient, etc.
One thing is for sure, bourbon is full of great history and a lot of brands have great stories behind them, some true and some false. It is those stories that first got me interested in drinking bourbon and to this day I still enjoy reading the bottles. Kentucky limestone water is definitely part of that history as well. Whether it is true or not really isn’t the point. Instead of asking, “Is that story true?” Instead ask, “Is that story good?” For me, I will always cling to the hope that there is something magical in Kentucky water that we have yet to test for or have yet to discover.

Cheers my Friends!
In this issue...
Are you a bourbon fan?
Of course you are! What we have assembled this month is nothing short of amazing. This issue is packed with information, stories, announcements... basically, everything bourbon. It's way cool if I must say so myself.

We've got two new columns this month. John Edwards has started a Bourbon Zeppelin Hall of Fame. That's right, each month he's recognizing on person who has made an amazing contribution to the world of bourbon and putting that individual in our very own hall of fame. I love this concept!

We've also got another one I'm going to give a shot to thanks to some good work by Associate Editor Hasse Berg in finding them. Zac and LeAnne Smith have started something they call the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award. Basically, it's recognition to those who contribute to the world of whiskey, but are outside of it. It could be bloggers, bartenders, individuals with a large social media presence that support the whiskey industry, etc. It's a fun concept and we're going to try out partnering with them to announce their monthly winner. This one rests firmly in the hands of the readers. If you love it... let's keep them in Zeppelin. I will say their first contribution is solid which includes an overview of the award and an excellent first recipient.

As always, we get help from readers and fans. This issue is no exception. My buddy Sofia Smith talks about her favorite bottle right now and BZ reader Mike Bonin tells us what historical figure he would share a dram with.

As always, I hope you enjoy reading BZ as much as we did writing it... for you!

Editor-in-Chief & Kentucky Colonel
Reviews of Unique Bourbon Offerings by Steve and Four Bourbon Zeppelin Team Members

This month we take a look at:
Woodford Reserve
Double Oaked
A cornerstone of Bourbon Zeppelin are the Steve + 4 Reviews. In this regular feature, Steve and four of the B.Z. team members will rate and score a bourbon. Knowing that there is something intrinsically wrong with any scoring system, BZ attempts to smooth out the human factor in three ways:

1). Right out of the gate, having five evaluators automatically adds legitimacy to this type of system which is typically completed by one person.

2). Steve + 4 helps remove personal bias by tossing the top and bottom scores, leaving only the three scores in the middle as the ones that count.

3). The three scores that are left are then averaged giving us the final score for the monthly selection.

All final scores are tallied and kept at the bottom of BZ allowing us to have a growing comparative database.

Let's see how this month's selection fared:

Review #1
Jess Rubin - 79.0

Aroma - Fruity notes with oak undertones.
Taste - Oak with liquid caramel and baking spices. Apple pie like in flavor. Smooth drinking with no burn.
Final Evaluation - This one is an enjoyable pour but doesn't quite live up to the $55 price tag.

Reviewer #2
Corey Chandler - 75.0

Aroma - This was pleasant with great notes of fruit and chocolate. 
Taste - Again, lots of fall fruit and spice. Apple, hazelnut, black cherry that play together nicely.
Final Evaluation - I was surprised with this one. I have passed it on the shelf many times, but this will have a home on my bar soon. Nose and palate were much more complex than other available bourbon in this price range. The balanced finish was probably the most surprising part for me, lingering far longer than I expected and leaving you with tons of apple spice!
Continued in next column.

Review #3
Aaron Cave - 83.0

Aroma - Nice hints of butterscotch, toffee, brown sugar, apricots, cloves, and toasted oak.
Taste - Vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, cinnamon, raisins, hazelnuts, and wood tannins.
Final Evaluation - Good pour, but the price is a little high for what you get. 
Tossed Reviews

Steve Akley - 83.5
Aroma - Caramel and apples... so, caramel apple?
Taste - The double oak is great. It's got a solid caramel taste. Hint of cinnamon.
Final Evaluation - I do like this one, but for $30 less the offering from Beam is a better choice.

Kimberly Burns - 72.0
Aroma - On the first pass, this bourbon didn’t hit me with any kind of alcohol punch; it was all wood straight up front. After nosing a bit more, it smelled earthy and woody and like a bit like fresh baked cake.  Coffee, tobacco, woodshop, and vanilla.
Taste I was fearing an over-oaked toothpick-y flavor, but was very pleasantly surprised. The flavor was rich – smoky warmth, light caramel sweetness, notes of plum and rye-like spice.  What I would consider a medium finish both in length and in heat when sipped neat. 
 (Bonus: it was a great compliment to the apple tart that I probably shouldn’t have eaten, but did anyway.)
Final Evaluation - In my mind, this bourbon had a few strikes going in (Woodford Reserve, oak x2…). I had some preconceived notions about how it would taste, and how I’d definitely not like it, but it turns out I was wrong. This one took me completely by surprise, and I am looking forward to adding one to my bunker. Perhaps a smidge pricey, but this was a really tasty bourbon, and I want more of it.

Combined Score
The final score for this one is...

Who doesn't love a little trivia about their favorite distilled spirit?
What is the suggested retail price of the Old Rip Van Winkle 25-year-old that is being sold for the first time ever this month?
The answer is below at the bottom of this issue (under Hasse's column)
News About Bourbon the B.Z. Team has Heard

Julian Van Winkle Enters Another HOF
Whisky Magazine honored Julian Van Winkle III with its highest accolade Tuesday, inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Van Winkle was recognized at the 2017 Whisky Magazine Awards America presentation held in New York on Feb. 28.“This is a great honor,” Van Winkle said. “World class whiskey is a tradition to be taken seriously and I’m very proud to be a part of. I feel extremely honored and grateful to receive this recognition.”

Whisky Magazine’s Hall of Fame honors those who have made a lasting contribution to whisky. With the renown and highly sought after Van Winkle line of bourbons, Julian’s mark on the industry is one that already spans generations.

The Bourbon Virgin Tries...

Woodford Reserve
Classic Malt

(90.4 proof)
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gather around!
​ ​
The Bourbon Virgin kind of enjoyed this one! Before I even tried it, I knew it would be pretty good. The light, g​olden color of the liquor made me feel like I found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; th smell penetrated every single hair on my body making them stand at attention like a drill sergeant just yelled at them, but was​ inviting;​ and h​ow could I not like something that has the word ‘malt’ in it?

​Oh man, can you imagine having this mixed in with a vanilla malt?! My life would have a whole new meaning!
Overall, I would say this one gets one and a half thumbs up from me (figure that one out, lol). :)

About The Bourbon Virgin
Amanda Hoppes, the Bourbon Virgin, is a poet/author from Iowa (she has never lived on a farm, owned a cow, nor does she constantly have one of those long pieces of straw hanging from her mouth). With the exception of some experimentation in college with Jim Beam, Amanda's drinking has pretty much kept to Bud Light and cherry bombs. Bourbon Zeppelin is going to try to redefine her palate by introducing her to bourbon. We'll see what happens each month as she tries something new! Follow her on Instagram (@abhoppes) and Twitter (@shehoppes). Her book of poetry, From Midnight to Moonlight, is available on Amazon by clicking here!
The Bourbon Scene in Jacksonville, Florida
by Sidney Youhouse

It is admittedly difficult to leave the great state of Kentucky if you’re as invested in bourbon as I am, both as a hobby and a career. I was fortunate enough to work for an incredible craft bourbon distillery during my time there, but last October I made the decision to move back down to my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida to be closer to family. Growing up in this city, I was never particularly fond of it, but a change of pace was needed and I ended up packing my bags. What I found when I returned, however, was not the city that I left years ago.


Jacksonville is positively vibrant when it comes to bourbon and whiskey. On September 25th, 2016, Jacksonville welcomed Manifest Distilling, the first full-scale craft distillery to open in Jacksonville which plans on releasing a rye whiskey in Fall 2017. Another distillery, Burlock & Barrel, is set to open this year as well, and will be producing small-batch bourbon. The Jacksonville Bourbon and Whiskey Society, run by Will Atkins, who is behind the Will the Whiskey Man Instagram account, is also an active part of the whiskey scene, with members including James Ashcraft, who runs the Bourbon Enthusiast Instagram, and Blake Riber, the founder of the popular blog Bourbonr. Women and Whiskey Jax is another popular organization that’s geared specifically to female drinkers.


The Jacksonville bar scene is particularly strong, with whiskey-centric bars such as Sidecar, The Volstead, Grape and Grain Exchange, and MOJO no.4, Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar featuring extremely diverse selections of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch. These bars are backed by an incredible community of bartenders, along with an active United States Bartenders Guild chapter which sponsors regular bartending competitions, such as the regional Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience and the Whistlepig Best in Show competition.

Bottle to commemorate Al Young’s 50th Anniversary with Four Roses Bourbon

Four Roses Bourbon’s Senior Brand Ambassador and Bourbon legend Al Young will celebrate his 50th Anniversary with the brand this year. To commemorate this milestone, Four Roses will release a special 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon in his honor this June.

Al Young has served in a variety of roles at Four Roses for the past 50 years. In 1990, he became Distillery Manager and in 2007 was named Four Roses Brand Ambassador, a role that has him crossing the country sharing the story of Four Roses and its Bourbon. He is also historian for the storied 129-year-old Kentucky Bourbon brand, having researched archives, distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts in order to write the coffee-table book Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, published in 2010. Al Young was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and is also a member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

“After 50 wonderful years with Four Roses, I am honored to be recognized with my own bottling of the Bourbon that I love so dearly,” said Al Young. “It is surreal seeing how the brand has grown during my years here and I am proud to have played even a small part in its continued success.”

Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott and Al Young worked hand-in-hand to select four of Four Roses’ 10 unique Bourbon recipes to create the Small Batch Bourbon.

The recipes, each with different flavor characteristics, include 5 percent of a 23-year-old selection of Four Roses’ OBSV recipe (featuring a delicate fruitiness, with a hint of spice and creamy vanilla and caramel), 25 percent 15-year-old OBSK (full-bodied, light spice, caramel), 50 percent 13-year-old OESV (light, creamy, fruity) and 20 percent 12-year-old OBSF (herbal, full-bodied).

“After he’s spent half a century handcrafting our product and guiding the Four Roses brand, Al’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon had to be as memorable as the man himself,” said Master Distiller, Brent Elliott. “He wanted to utilize an older Bourbon, if possible. We tried different quantities of the 23-year-old and the chosen 5 percent was just the right amount. It mingled with the other recipes perfectly for an incredible flavor.”

The Bourbon exhibits aromas of sweet caramel and floral honeysuckle. The palate offers flavors of fresh peaches and apricots, encompassing a luxurious and warm fig and rich oak, finishing with a hint of mint.

“With the blend of recipes used, I believe we have created a unique Bourbon worthy of Al’s legacy,” said Elliott.

The bottle that will hold this Limited Edition Bourbon is just as storied as what’s inside. For this bottling, Four Roses has selected a retro bottle shape and label, modeled after the bottle design from 1967, the year Al Young started with the company.

Approximately 10,000 bottles of the 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon are planned for distribution. The Bourbon will launch on June 10, 2017 at Whisky Live Louisville.

Like any business, Bourbon Zeppelin has expenses. While we've elected to go with a strict no advertising policy, those fans who enjoy reading BZ and want to assist in helping with some of these expenses now can since we have started a Patreon page. We've got rewards and recognition for those who can help us continue to deliver incredible and unique bourbon-focused content.
Bourbon Zeppelin Welcomes its Third Patreon Supporter
Meet William Reigle, Pappy Level BZ Patreon Supporter
Five Questions with William Reigle
1. How long have you been drinking bourbon?
I've been drinking bourbon since college. But in the past few years I've turned my recreational bourbon drinking into more serious bourbon drinking!
2. What concerns you with bourbon right now and what do you like?
Prices continue to rise. As scarcity of some brands/releases increase, higher prices are inevitable. When a brand seemingly artificially inflates MSRP I get a bit concerned. But this effect can lead to some excellent craft bourbons entering the market with truly unique profiles that have a chance to compete on price. 
3. What's your all-time favorite bourbon?
The bourbon I haven't tried. I maintain about 100 open bottles at home that I rotate through. When I'm out drinking I usually look for something I've never had.
4. What's your favorite column in Bourbon Zeppelin?
I enjoy learning about bourbon history, that section always catches my attention. Bourbon played such a large role in American history. The individual brand histories are always entertaining as well.
5. If you could have a drink with any Bourbon Zeppelin staffer, who would it be, and why?
This is a tough call but I'll have to go with Chrissy Martin. Being a trained sommelier she probably has some great tips that apply equally as well to bourbon nosing and tasting.
Bulleit Distilling Co. Celebrates Ribbon Cutting Event at New Distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky
The Bulleit Family ceremoniously cuts the ribbon to open The Bulleit Distilling Co. The event was held in Shelbyville, Ky. on March 14, 2017. (Brian Bohannon/AP Images for Bulleit Distilling Co.)
Opening of Bulleit Distilling Co. Continues Investment of More Than $130 Million in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Since 2014
In 1987, the Bulleit Distilling Co. was founded by a young entrepreneur who quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his true passion – creating quality bourbon. Today, millions of cases of whiskey later, the Bulleit brand is proud to celebrate its 30th anniversary with the official ribbon cutting event for the opening of its new distillery in Shelbyville, Ky. Governor Matt Bevin and a number of other elected officials and dignitaries joined Bulleit Distilling Co. Founder Tom Bulleit for the festivities and tours of the new distillery.
“We’re so proud to open the Bulleit Distilling Co. here in Shelbyville,” said Tom Bulleit. “Seeing this distillery come to life has been a truly surreal experience that couldn’t have been achieved without the tireless work of so many men and women. We can’t wait to share the delicious whiskey that will be produced here for centuries to come.”
Under the supervision of Vice President of Distilling, Pauline Rooney, the distillery employs approximately 30 people for the whiskey distillation and maturation processes. While the distillery is opening at the previously announced capacity of 1.8 million proof gallons annually it was built as a modular distillery and expansion opportunities are being explored. 
“Today marks a huge achievement for Tom Bulleit and everyone at Diageo, as we open an amazing facility that will further establish the legacy of Bulleit here in Kentucky,” said Deirdre Mahlan, President of Diageo North America. “We look forward to continuing to watch the brand grow as we become part of the Shelbyville community.”
The distillery, which has already begun producing Bulleit Bourbon represents the latest technology in warehousing and distillation, including enhancements that help conserve and reuse resources, resulting in improved efficiency and less impact on the environment. The 300-acre campus includes four barrel houses (each capable of holding 55,000 barrels), a 52-foot still that was crafted by Vendome Copper and Brass Works in Louisville and the first industrial solar array in Shelby County, which will collect enough energy to run all on-site mobile equipment.
Diageo’s initial investment in building the distillery is $115 million for the Shelbyville site. Combined with the $18 million investment that was made to open the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller, Bulleit has contributed more than $130 million to Kentucky’s economy since 2014.
“It is an honor to join Bulleit Distilling Co. today to celebrate the opening of its new distillery in Shelbyville,” Gov. Bevin said. “Bourbon, in addition to its status as a signature Kentucky product, is an important driver of state’s economy and workforce. Bulleit, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in conjunction with today’s ribbon cutting, continues to add international acclaim to Kentucky’s proud spirit-making tradition. I congratulate the company on these achievements and expect they'll see continued strong growth in the coming years.”
Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison says Bulleit is a valued partner. “From providing quality jobs, working with local farmers to buy corn and using byproduct for animal feed, to participating in our community, we are look forward to a bright future working together.”
“We are proud to have the Bulleit Distilling Co. call Shelby County home,” said Sen. Paul Hornback (R), Shelbyville. “The completion of the distillery shows, once again, that Shelby County is open for business. We congratulate Bulleit on this milestone and are excited to play a role in the new era of growth of the Kentucky bourbon industry.”
While the Bulleit Distilling Co. will not initially be open to the public, guests are invited to learn more about Bulleit and its family of whiskeys by visiting the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller (3860 Fitzgerald Road, Louisville, KY 40216) on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or going to
Top American Whisky Attraction Announced
Whisky Magazine has named Buffalo Trace Distillery its 2017 Icons of Whisky America Visitor Attraction of the Year. The Distillery received this award Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 at the Whisky Magazine Awards America presentation in New York City where it was honored for its visitor experience. The Distillery’s Visitor Center Manager, Matt Higgins was also highly commended for Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year.“We hold a strong commitment to providing an exceptional visitor experience for our guests and work very hard to continually expand our abilities to support the growing number of people we welcome,” Meredith Moody, marketing services director said. “We are thrilled and beyond honored to be named Visitor Attraction of the Year.”

To support its ever-growing visitation, Buffalo Trace Distillery has more than doubled capacity with the expansion of its Visitor Center, and is continually expanding its tours. In calendar year 2016, the Distillery welcomed 170,587 guests, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year, and a 227 percent increase since 2010.

The Distillery currently offers five unique tours and provides all tours and tastings complimentary to its guests. With its visitors and the preservation of its history in mind, Buffalo Trace will also be incorporating the recent discovery of the intact O.F.C. Distillery foundation and fermenters into a future tour yet to be announced.

Buffalo Trace Distillery will now go on to compete for this title on a global level. The global Icons of Whisky awards will be announced March 30 at the Whisky Magazine Awards Dinner in London. American Icons are determined following nominations from producers, retailers, distributors and importers, which are then voted on by those in the industry before Whisky Magazine’s editorial panel reviews and draws up a shortlist from which the winners are selected.
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.

Bourbon Author/Blogger Chuck Cowdery
Featured on The Bourbon Show - Today!

by Colonel Steve Akley
We had an incredible time at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival. It was a great honor to be the Official Podcast of this great event. We truly enjoyed everything the festival had to offer and look forward to attending again next year. We plan on a feature story in next month's issue where we really share everything that happened including some awesome photos.

Our shows are doing great and we thank all who have supported them by buying from our sponsors. Speaking of sponsors, we
welcomed another incredible sponsor to the family. Here's a little more about them:
Coupon Code: Bourbon (10% off your order) offers everything you need to create the ultimate home bar. Best of all, over 1,000 of their items can be customized to create a bar experience uniquely your own in your home. As they say, Dare to Be Awesome!
We are as pleased as can be to be associated with this great organization!
The Current ABV Show Lineup
The Bourbon Show
Hosts: Steve Akley, Seth Brown & Evan Haskill
Bourbon banter, news and interviews with industry influencers from the world of bourbon.
The Bourbon Daily
Hosts: Alicia White, Steve Akley and Evan Haskill
A daily show (Monday - Friday) featuring a new bourbon topic everyday and "Fun Fridays" where anyting goes.
The Last Beer Show
Hosts: Wayne Pelletier and Jason Dominy
Discussion of everything related to the world of beer.
The Firewater Review
Hosts: Seth Brown and Aaron Cave
Hosts Seth Brown and Aaron Cave welcome a guest host each show to review a distilled spirit.
Host: Steve Akley
Host Steve Akley sips bourbon and interviews celebrities and notable individuals.
Beer Reviews with Pepper and The Colonel
Hosts: Pepper Roth and Colonel Akley
One beer a week is reviewed along with some laughs.

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

Deals for Bourbon Zeppelin Readers

Free shipping on your first order of barbecue from Pig of the Month BBQ when you use the coupon code, "bourbondaily".

Save 20% on your order at Dirty Knees Soap company with the coupon code: "bourbon20".

Save 15% on your order at RoundTable Woodworks when you use the coupon code, "thebourbonshow".

Save 10% on your order at company with the coupon code: "bourbon".

Please support our sponsors so we continue to deliver incredible entertainment!
The Adventures of Bulleit Bill
Sure, he may be "just a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon" to some, but Bulleit Bill is living quite a life. Follow the ups-and-downs of our favorite bottle of bourbon on Instagram: @bulleitbill.
The Bourbon Classic
Do you like bourbon, gourmet food, and out of this world cocktails?

If you do, and I know you do, then the Bourbon Classic is for you. The Bourbon Classic is a must attend event for any foodie or bourbon enthusiast. This year's Bourbon Classic was held at the Kentucky Center in Louisville, Kentucky. It was jampacked with chef pairings, fantastic seminars and a food and cocktail challenge tasting event.
Since I live in the bourbon capital of the world, to say that I attend a lot of bourbon events is an understatement. After attending this year's Bourbon Classic, it has become my favorite bourbon event in Kentucky. It's really an amazing marriage of gourmet food and upscale surroundings. It gave me a reason to break out my fancy clothes and push my culinary knowledge to the next level.  
Now I'm not gonna lie; I might be a little bit of a foodie and you know that I'm completely bourbon obsessed, so the Friday night Cocktail Culinary Challenge is something out of my dreams. The Bourbon Classic brought together some of the top bartenders and best chefs in the Kentucky area for an epic face off. The best part is you get a chance to taste everything and meet the contestants to talk to them about their creations. I know what you're thinking; how in the world could you top this?

Well Saturday's events were even more spectacular. 
Saturday was chock full of seminars, meet-and-greets and pairings; all to be finished up with a grand event that tops everything. This year's event was “Toast to the Commonwealth” a celebration of Kentucky's 225th anniversary of statehood. This event is an unbelievable experience of the best, with a VIP lounge that had all the top shelf bourbons you could want to taste. The Saturday night tasting event was a bourbon lover's paradise. All the big boys from the bourbon industry were in attendance with some of their best pours.

My favorite pour for the night was a Michter's 10 year, yum! For 3 hours you got to mingle with other bourbon heads like myself and taste some great bourbons. So go ahead and mark your calendar for the 2018 Bourbon Classic. I promise you’ll be thanking me.
The Bourbon Sipper is a Louisville resident who writes about activities appealing to bourbon fans visiting Kentucky with her column Off the Bourbon Trail. She is a regular member of the Instagram crew (@bourbonsipper) and she can also be found on Twitter (@bourbonsipperky).

Bourbon tourism in Kentucky is mirroring the rise of bourbon itself and has been doing so, dramatically I might add, for the past couple of years. People come from all over, often planning entire vacations around hitting all the stops of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The Kentucky tourism committee does a good job of printing pamphlets and advertisements that drive tourists to the main distilleries and historical locations along the trail.

The only problem is after about 4:00pm, you will find that most attractions are closing with 8 hours left in the day and your trusty bourbon trail pamphlet leaves you hanging in terms of what to do next. The Kentucky bourbon experience doesn’t have to end when the last tour leaves the distillery in the early afternoons. If the distilleries didn’t supply you with a good enough dose of bourbon intake for the day, there are some places you can visit to make the experience last a little longer so to speak.

The bourbon craze has given rise to numerous bars and restaurants who have built their entire concept around bourbon. So for you visitors coming to Kentucky on a bourbon adventure, this series of articles is designed to give you a handful of options that you might consider for a little after hours action. I have tried to stay away from the higher profile establishments and concentrate on places I like to describe as “where the locals go”. Being that I am a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, I feel like I can provide some useful insight for those looking to plan a visit soon. So if you are in town for Bourbon Festival, Kentucky Bourbon Affair (if you haven’t been to this, check it out), or just hanging around on by chance, make sure to check some of these places out.

What I have tried to do is provide you with 6 points of criteria by which each establishment is judged and then give each establishment a grade on price. Each category is rated on a 5 star basis with one star being bad and five stars being excellent. I hope you guys can find this series of articles helpful during your next visit to Bourbon Country!


Andrew Wiehebrink

The Manhattan Project
2101 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206

Hours: 4:00-10:00pm Mon Tues
4:00-12:00am Wed Thurs
4:00-9:00pm on Friday
11:00am-2:00am Sat Sun
I try to rate the atmosphere of an establishment based on its “bourbon feel”. If it doesn’t ooze bourbon, I give it a lower rating. However, there are some cases in which the establishment may not scream bourbon, but has a cool atmosphere nonetheless. This is one of those places. This place has a very modern and simplistic feel to it. With the insane number of televisions it has the feel of a sports bar. With the very industrial and dim yet colorful lighting, it has hints of a night club. And with the well-stocked bar and decent food menu, it has the makings of a nice drinking establishment. The best way to put it…it is a solid mix of elements that make for a cool hang out. The patio is very impressive and the bar opens up to the patio by way of a series of overhead doors. The bar actually sits below the patio so when you walk in and sit at the bar, the patio provides a cool backdrop behind the bar. The bar sits on Frankfort Avenue with a number of good spots surrounding it. So it makes for a great place to start, or with its late hours, makes for a great place to end. Nothing really says bourbon other than the selection but it still provides an enjoyable atmosphere.

The bourbon menu has everything you will need for a good night of tasting whiskey. You will not find anything remotely rare here except for a few Pappy offerings. Although, when I asked for a pour of 15, they were fresh out. I really didn’t find this too upsetting or even slightly upsetting. I find this to be a common occurrence with “bourbon” bars. But not to worry because the list of stuff they did have in stock was more than enough to satisfy my taste buds. I didn’t notice any barrel picks which is something I always look forward to. The list covered just about every major distillery and some smaller ones which is a good thing. The spread across each distillery was good as well. Cheap stuff and the good stuff. The menu wasn’t really organized in any particular fashion like some other bourbon establishments but it was simple and easy to navigate through.

Unfortunately I did not get a chance to really talk with the bartenders at all so I had to go right down the middle at 2.5 stars. I came here with some friends to eat so the only employee I had any interaction with was the waitress. I gave her 2.5 stars because she did make some good recommendations and when I asked for Heaven Hill, she asked if I wanted a particular brand or just the 6 year old bottled in bond. Most people with a less than average knowledge about whiskey probably wouldn’t have known about this pour so I assumed if the waitress was somewhat knowledgeable.  

Food -
The food here is really good. The dishes are varied and man are they tasty. Great presentation as well! The deviled eggs are awesome and the club sandwich is fantastic. They have a pretty sweet build your own Mac-n-Cheese dish I could only imagine was as good as it sounded. Macaroni and cheese with meat balls? Yes! This is a place I would come to eat and then enjoy a good bourbon after I savored the meal. Worth trying if not for the bourbon, definitely for the food.

I didn’t sit at the bar so I didn’t get any kind of special treatment. Just a plain rocks glass brought to the table by the waitress. I rate the pour as a combination of a few things. Do they pour the whiskey in front of you? Do they show you the bottle and talk about it a little? Do they pour in a correct glass? Do they use jiggers? As you can probably guess, by sitting at the table the only thing I can judge them on is how much whiskey I got and the glass…for the price it was a more than fair amount.

Bang for Your Buck
The whiskey prices aren’t what I would call outrageous. I came when they first opened a few months back and I was enjoying $20 Pappy Van Winkle 20 year pours. A rare occurrence in these parts. When I came back to do this review, let us just say the price had been elevated. My guess is they were drawing the bourbon geeks in with low prices at the beginning. Either that or they just weren’t aware of how allocated PVW is in this area. The former sounds more plausible. The food is great but it is a little more expensive than your average bar food. If you get the mac-n-cheese decked out you will be paying $30+ for the whole dish. I was in New York and ran across $120, mac-n-cheese so I guess this isn’t too bad. I had some deviled eggs at $9 and a club sandwich which ran about $12 or so. Couple that with $6 Heaven Hill pours and I am a happy camper.  
Andrew Wiehebrink is a bourbon scholar, corn scientist, engineer, farmer and cigar enthusiast. You can follow him on Instagram (@andrew_wiehebrnk), where he is regularly interacting with the Bourbon Zeppelin crew.
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The Latest and Greatest from Inside a Barrel (And Beyond)

by Sydney Youhouse

“...barrels are essentially Dickensian nano-factories--dark, sooty, mysterious places from which marvelous things emerge.” -Wayne Curtis
It’s a poetic but accurate statement. Barrels represent the great unknown in the bourbon- and whiskey-crafting process. We understand certain processes, we understand parts of the science, but there are still variables that remain a mystery. At Buffalo Trace, deep within the confines of the experimental Warehouse X, chemists have discovered about 300 different compounds that are produced in the aging process, but have only identified roughly 200 of those. For years, barrels represented an uncontrollable aspect of the whiskey production; we didn’t know why certain barrels tasted as good as they did, and frankly, we didn’t particularly care. But with the mercurial rise of America’s native spirit, distilleries and cooperages alike are starting to pay attention.
So much attention, in fact, that Independent Stave Company has recently made a hefty investment in the form of a new barrel research center in Lebanon, Kentucky. The first of its kind, the center will feature a lab, experiment library, a tasting room, and various ISC offices. Its goal? To improve the “quality, consistency, and variety of barrels,” while also “enhancing structural integrity and recovery yields”. In layman’s terms, ISC is attempting to build the perfect barrel.
The barrel industry is comprised of about 15 different cooperages, and new technology coming out of any of them tends to focus on two variables: innovation, and/or customization. Black Swan Cooperage in Park Rapids, MN pioneered its innovative honeycomb-etched design on the insides of its barrels, a method that increases liquid-to-char surface area while reducing aging time. Lasers, infrared cameras, and sensors are regularly utilized in the crafting of barrels; measuring the perfect stave cuts, or the perfect level of char, is now easily achievable. In the end, though, every tree is unique, and no two barrels will ever be identical. According to Brad Boswell of Independent Stave Company, “You can use some automation, but in the end, every barrel is going to be a little different.”
America would be nothing, however, without its rebellious spirit, and the same applies to the whiskey-world. With the current boom and the ominous whispers of shortages of age-stated juice, the stage has been set for new aging technology to emerge. Lost Spirits has been one such pioneer with their THEA One reactor. THEA is defined as Targeted Hyper-Esterification Aging. Barrel aging, in theory, is a relatively simple process; catalysts in the wood transform acids into esters, and wood polymers such as lignins and cellulose are broken down while also interacting with oxygen. Over time, the angel’s share is also at work intensifying those compounds and concentrating certain flavors. THEA hacks this aging system by focusing on chemical composition; by extracting those catalysts, the system pulls out the polymers and effectively shreds them, producing, in theory, the taste signatures of a 15 year or 20 year old whiskey. Another promising company, Terresentia, based out of Owensboro, KY, has created the TerrePURE system. According to their website, TerrePURE is comprised of “a carefully controlled application of ultrasonic energy, heat, and oxygen, and other factors designed to automatically improve the quality and taste of a wide range of distilled spirits. It works by removing harsh-tasting impurities (‘congeners’) present in all spirits.” Essentially, TerrePURE is aging through extraction and filtration rather than the changing of chemical composition, and Terresentia claims it can offer the equivalent of 4-6 years of maturation. Cleveland Whiskey is another notable game-changer; by focusing on oxygen, temperature, and intense pressure, the company produces a whiskey that they claim is aged only one day.
The advantages of such techniques are noteworthy. Companies invested in these technologies can quickly put “aged” product on the market at a more affordable cost. Experimentation is easy and low-risk. However, there are numerous challenges as well. Classification of such spirits can be a huge issue; is this “whiskey” actually fulfilling the definition of “whiskey”? Pushback from bigger producers is also a concern, as is existing brand loyalty and marketing. Will whiskey and bourbon drinkers even embrace this newly “aged” juice?

Sydney Youhouse is the field reporter for Bourbon Zeppelin. As such, she brings firsthand accounts of bourbon topics and events, research pieces and personal narratives. Sydney spent time working for MB Roland Distillery in Pembroke, KY, a craft distillery located on the Kentucky Bourbon Craft Trail, and has first-hand experience in all aspects of bourbon production. She now works for Manifest Distilling in Jacksonville, FL. Her interests in whiskey include alternative grains, craft whiskey cocktails, and the grain to glass distilling movement. Follow her on Instagram @syouhouse to see what she’s drinking, what she’s working on, and lots of cute dog pictures.
Special Cigar Edition
Oliva Series G Robusto Cameroon 
Body: smooth rich texture
Flavor: cedar, espresso bean with a walnut finish
Burn: razor sharp ash and an extremely easy draw
Definitely pour a finger or two of bourbon with this one.
About Mark the Imbiber
Mark the Imbiber has been designed to help you select a bourbon based on flavor profile. The column is written by Mark "Cake" Hansen, a childhood friend of Steve Akley. Cake is not only blessed with a sophisticated taste palate, he combines it with a keen ability to convey those tastes with words. In his personal life, he puts these abilities to work brewing beer. Additionally, he is a graphic artist by trade and deisgns most of the artwork in Bourbon Zeppelin. You can reach Cake via email by clicking here.
by Derek Haas
French Pressed Old Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Brenne French Single Malt 

1/2 oz Vanilla Orange Simple Syrup

4 Dashes Orange Bitters 

3 Luxardo Brandied Cherries 

1 Espresso Ice Cube


In a glass mixing pitcher combine Brenne, bitters, simple syrup and a large ice cube. Stir for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled old fashioned glass with an espresso ice cube. Garnish with Brandied cherries and an orange slice. 

About Derek Haas
Derek Haas AKA @spirited_amateur on Instagram lives in NYC where he is a Manager of Recruiting at a global fashion company. Derek has recently developed a passion for crafted cocktails after visiting the countless speakeasy and cocktail bars around Manhattan. Bourbon is always his first choice but he tries to experiment with other spirits as well.



RENEE: How long have you been building your bunker?




















RENEE: ROD, THAT’S SO NICE OF YOU TO SAY ( HE NEVER SAID THIS). Once again thanks to Rod! He’s hilarious, if you don’t follow him on the gram, I suggest you do so! AND HERE IS…MR. BOURBONDY’S BUNKER.

Renée Howe / @renee_m_h on Instagram and @reneehowe on Twitter

Renée Howe is a fashion and lifestyle blogger out of Kitchener, Ontario. She is also a regular member of the bourbon crew on Instagram. Through her "Show Me Yours" column, she plans to feature bourbon bunkers each month... including yours! Send your bourbon bunker photos directly to Renée by clicking here (your bourbon bunkers only please... ya filthy animals). 
This Month Aaron Reviews:
O.K.I. Single Barrel

This month, I will be reviewing a bourbon that is “Distilled in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky, and enjoyed in Ohio.” 


Yep, you guess it: “O.K.I. Single Barrel Bourbon”, from New Riff Distillery in Newport Kentucky.


New Riff Distillery opened its doors in the Spring of 2014.  While no, they don’t have their own distilled bourbon yet - they are distilling and aging bourbon as you read this.  Like many start up distilleries, New Riff is sourcing bourbon from MGP in Indiana.


Via New Riff’s website: “In the course of our business at New Riff, we taste each and every barrel of O.K.I. Bourbon whiskey. (Rest assured, it is hard work.) We have always been impressed with the overall quality of these barrels of Indiana-distilled whiskey—there’s not a bad one in the bunch. That said, inevitably we find some that are extra, extra good. These barrels show, most of all, a greater degree of balance, depth, breadth, and finish than the norm. We set these barrels aside and bottle them as a single barrel. Hence, the specific set of flavors and aromas of a single barrel, the texture and finish, must of course change from batch to batch. But they will always be the best we have, and always selected by hand and palate, in person here at New Riff. We present these single barrels to you, dear Ranger, in all their unalloyed beauty, uncut and uninterrupted, with no dilution, at full barrel proof, and as ever, without chill filtration. It is the best we have to offer. —J.E., N.R.D.”


I think these guys are doing it right in that they are making their own bourbon and aging it, but - to make some money and get a product out while their bourbon becomes of age -they are sourcing bourbon in, while being upfront about it via saying, “Yes, we source, but we taste everything to make sure it meets our standards before it’s released” (as paraphrased above). 

Okay, onto the review!  The bottle of “O.K.I.” I am reviewing is a 10-year old bourbon, and is barreled at 107.7-proof - while being uncut and unfiltered. 


The color with this bourbon is a deepened amber, and it is rich and oily.


The nose is a classic bourbon nose: Tons of caramel and vanilla, followed closely by spicy-rye, sweet cinnamon, leather, mint, and heavy oak!


The palate is true to the nose.  Sweet corn, caramel candy, vanilla cream - all hit first.  Next, is a big pop of spices - along with pepper, cinnamon, and rye.  Right at the end, there's that heavy oak, with a hint of leather and tobacco.


The finish is a long and hot spicy rye and mint, with a little caramel, some peanuts, and oak!


This is a great classic bourbon! 



About Aaron Cave
Aaron Cave is a bourbon enthusiast from Columbus, Ohio. Living just a short drive from the Bourbon Trail, Aaron enjoys keeping up with the latest in the bourbon world. He recently made a dream come true by spending a day at Four Roses helping with barrel selection and getting to sample bourbon straight from the barrel. Aaron is a regular member of the Instagram bourbon crew where he enjoys talking bourbon and sharing photos. You can follow him on Instagram (@acave0324) or Twitter (@AaronRocky0324).
Bourbon Nuggets
How did the name Bourbon Zeppelin come about? Well, one day Colonel Steve Akley just thought of it on a walk. He had been toying with the idea of doing a bourbon newsletter, once the name came to him, he fast-tracked what had been something sitting on the burner for a while. The Zeppelin launched on June 1, 2016 and it's been flying once a month since.
Welcome to the first Whisk(e)y Warrior Award! My name is Zac Smith and my wife LeAnne and I have created the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award (WWA) to help make the whiskey community even tighter and more close-knit. So many of you are making wonderful contributions to the world of whiskey and not asking for anything in return. We want to deliver a big thank you from all of us in the whiskey community.

On the first of each month, someone will be awarded the prodigious title of Whisk(e)y Warrior. A question and answer interview will be conducted with the valiant warrior, and then distributed to the world in a special Whisk(e)y Warrior Release.
What’s a Whisk(e)y Warrior?
A Whisk(e)y Warrior is someone who is passionate about whiskey. They devote their evenings and weekends to being active in the whiskey community. They’re the first person you think of when you hear “whiskey enthusiast.” They’re also the first one you turn to when you need recommendations, reviews, or have questions.

Would you like to say thank you to the Whisk(e)y Warriors in your life? Then click this link,
Whisk(e)y Warrior Award, and nominate them! Further instructions and details are on the nomination page. Thank you for helping your whiskey community come closer together.

And now, we proudly present your very first Whisk(e)y Warrior.
He works tirelessly to help the whiskey community. His knowledge of Scotch is second to none. He has co-founded a 501c3 nonprofit Whisk(e)y School in Austin, TX. History will show him to be one of the most influential people who quietly shaped the whiskey industry. He is…

Daniel Whittington, Whisk(e)y Warrior!
Zac: Daniel congratulations on winning the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award. We’d like to interview you so the readers get to know you a little bit and learn about your contributions. What first got you into whisk(e)y?
Daniel: I spent time in Scotland in my teens, but it wasn’t until my twenties that I discovered a true love for whisky.

Zac: Nice. As a teenager that must have been an awesome experience. Do you remember what your first whiskey was?
Daniel: I started with Irish and worked my way in.

Zac: Ah the Irish. Many a person’s first whiskey. Fast forward to now. We all have bills to pay, so what’s your day job?
Daniel: I’m the Vice Chancellor of Wizard Academy. It’s an independent business school that exists for entrepreneur minded people. We teach big ideas quickly in an environment of adventure and whimsy.

Zac: So you help run a business school. Where does whiskey come into play?
Daniel: I’m also the co-founder of Whisky Marketing School, certifying Whisky Sommeliers and investing in the future of an educated and snob free whisky world.

Zac: Wow, what an interesting duality – a business and whisk(e)y school! How did that come about? What made you want to help other whiskey drinkers?
Daniel: I’m a huge nerd. When I find something interesting, I obsess and study it endlessly. I went from a general enjoyment of whisky into studying the history, science, and art of it all. We live in an era where the resources are almost endless for someone wanting to learn.

I started into the wine sommeliers programs, but they were focused on only about 10% of what I was interested in. I found that I was spending a lot of money learning things I could have Googled. 
I was finishing up Heather Greene’s “Whiskey Distilled” (a really wonderful book from a brilliant woman) and Adam Rogers’ book “Proof” (another amazing book) and found a really insightful interview with a wine sommelier that completely rewrote what I thought about the process of deductive tasting. Deductive tasting and the science of taste was one of the most valuable things I encountered in wine sommelier programs, and this new approach of it put me down another path.

There are dozens of extremely valuable programs teaching people about the history of whisky and the science of making whisky. There are no programs that I could find that focused on teaching you the systems, brain patterns, and art of understanding whisky with a focus on communicating it to others. No one was teaching people how to market it, speak it, and tell great stories.  In real life, these are all things that take a good sommelier into being a fantastic sommelier.

I was talking that over with Roy Williams, the Chancellor of Wizard Academy, and he said, “Well, why don’t we do that?” That hadn’t occurred to me at all, but once it was out there, everything started moving pretty quickly.

Zac: That’s so exciting! How did you take it from an idea to a real school?
Daniel: I took all the information, history, and facts of whisky that I had learned over the years, countless resources from others, and the methodology and science we teach at Wizard Academy and applied it all to a program to train Whisky Sommeliers. I hoped to create a community of whisky experts who were anti-snob and invested in the future of the industry. A lot of the structure we implemented around the school went into that goal.

Zac: What challenges have you faced and/or are facing?
Daniel: Building a certification program from scratch is pretty damn daunting. Luckily one of our instructors at Wizard Academy ran one of the foremost certification consulting associations in the world, The Communicators Inc. Working with them, Tom Fischer ( and many others, we developed a multiple day program with levels of certification and instruction.
The biggest challenge is ongoing. How do we run a program that focuses on our student’s success and development in the industry instead of just making them walking whisky encyclopedias? If our students graduate with their heads full of information and then just return to their normal lives, we’ve failed. If we can’t help them make money at what they know, we’ve failed. That’s an ongoing quest for us.

Zac: You’ve obviously poured a lot of time and effort into this. What have been the rewards?
Daniel: There’s been a lot of early acceptance from the industry from people that we know, love, and trust the most. The excitement we encounter from other experts and enthusiasts in the whisky industry keeps us excited about the future. The single biggest reward is the community we’re building. We have graduated a lot of really amazing people.  I’m grateful to have a part in how our students affect the industry.

Zac: What are your whisk(e)y goals?
Daniel: Are you allowed to have whisky goals? That’s awesome. I’d love to continue building an understanding of what exactly affects the various things I can taste and smell in whisky. I’d also love to be a part of building a worldwide network of kickass whisky people.

Zac: What’s the biggest thing you’d like to see change in the whisk(e)y industry?
Daniel: I don’t see a lot of changes I’d like to make in a negative sense. I think we’re living in a golden age of whisky where variations are only limited by imagination. I really love the movement John Glaser of Compass Box has started with transparency. One of the things I’d like to see in the future is a full ownership and disclosure of a whisky bottle from what and when to how.
I’d also love to see people in US whiskey industry creating malt blends and things like they’ve been doing in Scotland for 100’s of years. There’s a lot of innovation in the American Whisky around grains, distilling, and aging. But think of how awesome it would be to have American Blended Malts that represent multiple distilleries across the US. I’m sure it’s already in the works.

Zac: I know you’re aware of the friendly banter between Scotch and Bourbon drinkers. Where do you fall? Are you Team Scotch or Team Bourbon?
Daniel: I’m Team Scotch. It just happens to be my first love, and I keep coming back to it. The peaty, rich whisky of Islay and the Islands, the warm notes of Highland and Speysides, the amazing blends….   What’s not to love! Tom Fischer started my bourbon education. I’m only just now learning to enjoy the depth of American whisky due to spending decades focused on Scotch.
Ask me again in two years.

Zac: Ok, we’re supposed to be bringing everyone together. So what’s one thing you appreciate about Team Bourbon?
Daniel: The bourbon industry is an industry of innovation. I love it.

Zac: What are your hopes for the future of whisk(e)y drinkers?
Daniel: More and better whisky, less snobs, and more community.

Zac: Where can we find you and your content?
Daniel: Our Whisky School can be found at
A friend and I have started a Youtube Channel doing daily, irreverent whisky reviews by working our way through the Whisky Vault at the school. You can watch those at
The Wizard Academy is what started this all. You can find it at

Zac: Daniel, from everyone in the whiskey community, thank you for all the contributions you’ve made. We eagerly look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!

We’d also like to give a HUGE thank you to Steve Akley and the Bourbon Zeppelin magazine for running the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award this month. If you enjoyed the interview and would like to see more, please let Mr. Steve Akley know!

The next award will be released May 1st. We’ll see you then, and remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by clicking
- Zac Smith

Learn Something Guy
If you see him, pay attention... education is straight ahead!

A Message from Learn Something Guy
@always_neat_review on Instagram
"Where were you the moment Ashley dropped her first video review on Instagram making everyone else's video reviews irrelevant?"

Learn Something Guy
About Learn Something Guy
Learn Something Guy is one of the most brilliant minds from the world of bourbon... he's just a bit of a tool. Knowing this, and If you go in with the right attitude, you just might learn something every time he appears in Bourbon Zeppelin.
Blood Oath Pact No. 3 Released
St. Louis-based Luxco has launched Blood Oath Pact No. 3 – the third chapter in the limited release, ultra-premium bourbon series, Blood Oath. Blood Oath combines rare, top-notch bourbons, blended and bottled by hand for a distinctively exclusive and unimagined Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.
Pact No. 3 offers the most unique expression yet, with a masterful union of three rye bourbons ranging in age from seven to 12 years. A 12-year rye bourbon is artfully joined by a seven-year rye bourbon and – to add an unforgettable layer of complexity – another seven-year rye finished in cabernet sauvignon barrels.
“These carefully selected bourbons come together for a spicy, yet incredibly smooth flavor profile. By finishing some of the bourbon in cabernet sauvignon barrels, I was able to drive more character and depth into the bourbon,” says John Rempe, creator of Blood Oath and Director of Corporate Research and Development at Luxco. “Not only will you taste the spiciness of the rye along with the sweet notes from the wine barrels, but you’ll also taste strong caramel and chocolate overtones, giving it a velvety, well-balanced finish.”
To make Pact No. 3, Rempe conspired with like-minded craftsmen in the heart of California wine country. Nestled in the Oakville region of Napa Valley, Swanson Vineyards has been making nationally known and limited small batch wines for more than three decades. These prized cabernet sauvignon barrels were the perfect choice to add a layer of complexity to the whiskey.
“I wanted to partner with a high-quality vineyard that specialized in small, limited releases and with a winemaker who shares the same passion and pride for his work,” says Rempe. “We found that in Robin Akhurst at Swanson Vineyards.”
Swanson Vineyards has a long-standing reputation for classical Bordeaux-styled wines with great finesse, character and elegance. “The level of expertise and devotion that goes into our wines mirrors the creativity and skill that goes into creating the Blood Oath series,” says Robin Akhurst, winemaker at Swanson Vineyards. “It was fantastic to see the character transfer from our barrels come alive in this ultra-premium bourbon.”
Blood Oath Pact No. 3, like its predecessors, is topped with a custom, eco-friendly natural cork, sealed and labeled with certificate-style paper stock signed by John Rempe. Each bottle of Blood Oath Pact No. 3 will be sold in a commemorative fire-branded wooden box. Pact No. 3, bottled at 98.6 proof, is available in limited quantities nationally in 750ml bottles, with a suggested retail price of $99.99.
Pact No. 3 is limited release, with only 10,000 cases (3-packs) created – this bourbon will never be made again. The Blood Oath series launched in 2015 with Pact No. 1, and will highlight a different variant, or Pact, each year.
Lux Row Distillers, the future home of the Blood Oath series among other bourbon brands, is a new bourbon distillery experience coming to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2018. For more information about the distillery, or to view the construction in real time, visit: You can also like Lux Row Distillers on Facebook or follow the distillery on Instagram @luxrowdistillers.
For more information on Blood Oath, visit:

Bourbon Zeppelin Fans and Staff Members Share the Stories of their Current Favorite Bottle of Bourbon

This Month, Colonel Steve's Friend Sofia Talks About:
Bulleit Bourbon

In the Emerald City where everyone is cold, wet, and (somewhat) miserable for 6 months out of the year, a great staple bottle is a necessity. During the summer, its rosé all day. In the winter, it Bulleit Bourbon. This bourbon is flavorful and exceedingly versatile for my restless palate. It is the perfect bourbon for those in search of a balanced, spicy bourbon for a modest price. The oaky vanilla and cinnamon notes complement both a traditional Old Fashioned (only with Luxardo Maraschino Cherries) and a Hot Toddy.

The ‘whiskey burn’ is really what I’m yearning for in the rainy season. Bulleit might not be the fanciest, but it gets the job done and I don’t feel guilty mixing it with it’s modest price. It warms the soul and keeps me happy through the long winter nights.
Sofia Smith is the Client Services Director of CMS Relocation and Logistics, a United Van Lines agency in Seattle, Washington. Hired to this position in February 2016, she oversees customer satisfaction, business development and marketing.

Do you have a favorite bottle? Please reach out and tell us so we can feature you in a future edition:
Click here to tell us about your favorite bottle!
A look at the what's ahead for the world of bourbon
Look for the latest release of Colonel E.H. Taylor limited editions hitting the market this month. Four Grain features a mash of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. At a suggested retail price of $69.99, this is the "must have" offering of the spring.
Did you know, our own Kimberly Burns designed this column header art with the molecular structures for whiskey? #awesome
Hosted this month by:
Michael Bonin

A few week ago I received a PM on Instagram from the Colonel himself, Steve Akley. “Hey Bonin, want to write an article for the Bourbon Zeppelin?” Me, being the self-confident guy that I am, boldly accepted. The topic: "What historical person would I have a dram with?"

Please…are you kidding me…I got this…no problem!


Wait, this is harder than I thought! I have now spent the last few weeks trying to figure out who the hell I would actually sit down and share a bottle with. Let’s face it, during a conversation with a historical person, a dram isn’t going to cut it.

After racking my brain, going through many bottles, juggling people around in my head like a clown on acid and meth…I finally found the perfect person for me. None other than John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or better known by his pen name: J.R.R. Tolkien.

Makes sense for me, right?

Juggling clowns on meth and acid obviously go hand-in-hand with someone who would invent childlike in size, overly cheerful, chubby fuckers that live in holes. A ring that corrupts the heart and makes you disappear. A mind that invented languages, and fictional histories which helped rebirth fantasy, giving him the identity of “The Father of Modern Fantasy."

Yeah, I want to get crazy with that guy!
I would have to call him John, as J.R.R. would become awkward to say repeatedly. Plus, I am sure he would punch me in the face if I tried to be cute and give him some pet name like Tolky. 

What would John and I be drinking?

Bourbon of course!!!

My fantasy meeting, my choice in booze. No tea time today Tolky!

Anyway, on to the conversation...
I would ask when and how he first came up with the books characters. Was it from his own fantasies as a child? Was he influenced by another; maybe a teacher, friend, a book he read, or stories his own mother may have told him? Did he come up with Shelob from being bitten by a large baboon spider as a child? Seriously, look it up! Those things are scary, and the description is darn near on point.

Would the lands John describes in his books have changed much in scenery, if he didn’t have the influence of the city, and countryside of England, or his Aunt Jane’s farm of “Bag End”.
One thing for sure, I would let John know how much his books sparked my imagination. How I have read them over and over again, and how each time is like the first. Sharing the first time I read his books, they were actually read to me by my grandmother over the course of a summer. A much cherished memory of her that has stayed with me because of his books.

Being able to share my love of his books with my own daughter. Constantly encouraging, and fueling her own imagination. Creating new unforgettable memories every chance I get, just to keep hold of that feeling that only an imagination can provide. The countless others he as touched and strongly influenced in many aspects.
Being the nice guy I am, I would gift John with a few of the fantasy books that I started reading due to his enlightenment of fantasy. Explaining how most of the authors were influenced to write fantasy as well because of the Lord of The Rings.

Eagerly awaiting his reaction when John Reads about R.A. Salvatore’s character Drizztz Do’Urden, a Dark Elf, which just destroys Orc’s by the hundreds at a time. Curious to know what John thinks about Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. That if he too feels Robert Jorden should just end the damn series already?  Or my favorite (I wouldn’t tell John that), Terry Brooks and his tales of Shannara. Which takes you through many different treacherous and mythical lands. Constantly introducing, and killing incredible characters that you become attached to, such as Bilbo Baggins.
By this time in the conversation I am sure that bottle is dry. I probably have professed my love to John numerous times, speaking in cursive, touching a little too much, and have become uncomfortably close to him. Luckily, with John being s-faced too, as I don’t drink alone (in public), I am sure he doesn’t notice, or won’t remember…or if he does, maybe I will become a new character in a book of his…The dreaded Boozgraber!!!!

Scary, I know!

In reality, there is no way this could be just a conversation that would last a day. It would take years for me to get my fill of conversation from John…although I am not sure the feeling would be mutual. I guess that is what restraining orders are for.
In closing I realize some may not think J.R.R. Tolkien is a historical figure or person. To that I say…(fill in the blank yourself).

My story, my rules.
Michael Bonin is a 38-year-old husband, father, stay at home dad, "MacGyver," at home chef, part-time bartender (a.k.a. therapist, comedian, confidence booster, and reality checker) and bourbon enthusiast. He lives his everyday life in California, where he spreads happiness through his outgoing personality, inappropriate jokes (for some…), cooking, and bourbon. Michael has visited almost every distillery in Kentucky (small and large), is a Friend of the Trace, Ambassador at Maker's Mark, an avid bourbon hunter, and struggles with FOMO daily. You can follow Mike and his bourbon hunting adventures on Instagram @bonin2thefuture.

People so awesome they are inducted to the Bourbon Zeppelin Hall of Fame

by John Edwards

It is an extremely important job to be entrusted with selecting and inducting worthy individuals into a Hall of Fame. It’s a job and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Sometimes, it can be difficult for such a job to know where to start. That is exactly the problem that I faced leading up to this issue of the Bourbon Zeppelin. Do we start from the beginning, and travel chronologically through the history of bourbon, or do we try to weigh individual accomplishments and induct members in that order? After long nights sipping different bourbons for inspiration (with a heavy emphasis on sipping different bourbons), I was guided to a name that is most fitting, at least for me, as our first inductee into the Bourbon Zeppelin Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Without this man, the bourbon industry would not be where it is today. You may expect me to immediately site Julian Van Winkle for that honor, but that would be too easy. However, for me, I have to start with a man who is not only responsible for my favorite bourbon, but who is also responsible for every bourbon out there that was bottled by a single, solitary bottle. That man is Elmer T. Lee.

Elmer lived quite a life before his start at the George T. Stagg Distillery, which would later be known to everyone as Buffalo Trace. He was born in 1919 in Franklin County, Kentucky and lived on a tobacco farm until his father’s death when he was 12. It was at that time that his mother moved them into the city to pursue opportunities in industry to support the family. Upon graduating Franklin High School in 1936, he worked for a shoe company for five years, until he joined the military just in time for World War II. In the war, he served as a radar bombardier on the B-29 Superfortress. One can only imagine the stories he has of flying missions over Japan until 1945.

Upon his honorable discharge in 1946, Elmer T. Lee headed to Lexington, where he enrolled at the University of Kentucky to study engineering. In 1949, he graduated with honors, as I’m sure you all would have expected by someone who would come to know his craft so well.

In 1949, he was hired by, then President of the George T. Stagg Distillery, Col. Albert B. Blanton, to work in the engineering department. Although, he almost didn’t get the job to begin with. Col. Blanton had informed Mr. Lee that they were not hiring when he first stepped foot on the distillery, but Orville Schupp had told him to come back anyway. Elmer spent years honing his craft. As he would describe in interviews, experience was the number one thing which allowed him to eventually become a master distiller. In fact, his on-the-job training lasted for 10 years before he was allowed the honor. During this time, Elmer’s star quickly rose in stature as he became the Plant Superintendent and later the Plant Manager and Master Distiller.

In 1984, Elmer honored the man who hired him by introducing the world’s first single barrel bourbon, Blanton’s. Named after Col. Blanton himself, this bourbon was different. This was the first bourbon to be produced from the fruits of a single barrel, and not a collection of a group of barrels. What this means for all of us, is that every time we enjoy a premium bourbon that enjoys the title of “single barrel” we can trace its roots back to Elmer and his foresight into creating a premium spirit. The introduction of single barrel bourbon, I believe, is one of the most radical and influential marks made on the modern era of bourbon. One could argue that charring the barrels or aging techniques could have warranted an earlier induction than Elmer T. Lee into the Hall of Fame, but I would argue that without Elmer and his single barrel Blanton’s, the bourbon, and market, that we enjoy today would not exist.

Elmer retired from the distillery a year after this breakthrough in 1985. In 1986, he was honored with his own namesake bourbon, Elmer T. Lee. Not only is this bourbon my all-time favorite all-around bourbon, but I bet you could have guessed, it was a single barrel. Elmer served as an ambassador and Master Distiller Emeritus for the distillery, where he saw the famous distillery undertake another name change in 1999 to the Buffalo Trace Distillery. He continued to share his love for bourbon until his passing in 2013.

The following individuals have entered the Bourbon Zeppelin Hall of Fame:
Elmer T. Lee - 2016
John Edwards, otherwise known on Instagram as @subourbon_dad, is a former award winning sports broadcaster turned Client Engagement Manager and Project Manager for technology and healthcare companies. Although originally born in New England, it was his many years in Kentucky and eventually Nashville, TN where he honed his appreciation for the finer things in life: horse racing, basketball, and bourbon. Most days he can be found spending time with his family, but you can find him most nights, after his wife and daughter go to bed, sipping bourbon, talking with Steve and Alicia on Instagram live chats, or writing bourbon reviews on
Bourbon Nuggets
Did you know ABV Network host Evan Williams lives in Grand Rapids? If you listen to the show you probably know this... how could you not? He relentlessly talks about his hometown and continusouly plugs the businesses based there.

Evan Haskill.... hometown proud!
It's Bourbon Zeppelin PSA Time!

Because the more you know, the more you enjoy bourbon!
Evan Haskill is on vacation and will return next month.
About Evan Haskill
Evan Haskill is a lover of good bourbon and craft beer as well the announcer of The Bourbon Show podcast. He can be found on Instagram (@evanhaskill), Twitter (@haskillevan) and Untappd (@bourbon_neat84).
After a month hiatus, I’m back any ready to help you find your next unicorn! This month, I want to talk about hunting the bottle that has been out for a long time…. a really long time. I often get asked, “how do I find these older bottles?” or “how do I afford this stuff." The short answer is a lot of internet time, a lot of research, lots of trading, and a lot of rejection.
There is a vast world of bourbon and lots of it is hidden in different corners of the world and internet. Search! See a bottle that interests you? Google and see what its valued at, what it has sold for, and where they have been sold in the past. There are auction sites, trading sites, and more where these bottles exist. Make sure that you go beyond one site and check what that bottle may have sold for elsewhere and when. Find out when they sold, sometimes you will find something that has not sold at auction for a little and can scoop in low.
Do as much reading on these older bottles as possible. There are times where labels have moved between distilleries or sourced from different distilleries where they will cost/be worth significantly more or less (not to mention taste significantly better or worse). This is also a good way to position yourself in negotiations if you know more about the bottle.
Don’t be afraid to trade your way up. Most people are not going to trade these unicorns for cases of Weller 12 or ETL, but you can trade those for bottles in between and work your way up. Always know your values and what the person with the unicorn is interested in then piece it together. There are plenty of trades where I have not had what the other person wanted, but I figured out how to put it together. It takes a creative mind and some work, but it can be done!
Last, don’t be afraid of rejection. The worst someone can say is no! Where there is a will there is a way and if you want a bottle, there is a way to get it within your means. Find a way and don’t give up!
Until next time,
Corey Chandler
About Corey Chandler
Corey Chandler lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he enjoys bourbon hunting with his wife. Corey is in the process of realizing a lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. Look for him to share more information about this as he get closer to opening his place next year. He's part of the regular bourbon crew on Instagram where he's always sharing his latest finds. Check out Corey Chandler's Instagram page: @mrshacorey

The Whiskey Rebellion

As long as America has been organized as a nation, it's seen its share of conflict. One of the earliest that involves whiskey dates back to the Revolutionary War. With the Revolutionary War still fresh in their minds, the early settlers of the United States of America had a robust spirit of standing up for what they felt was wrong or unjust. Though not looking for a conflict, they weren’t going to win their freedom, just to be pushed around again. They loved their freedom and they loved their whiskey. The Whiskey Rebellion is a tale of the newly formed American government trying to interfere with man’s (and woman’s) love of their whiskey. 

The flag of the Whiskey Rebellion

Facing a hefty debt that was inherited from the Revolutionary War, and learning how to operate fiscally as its own country, President George Washington needed a way to generate revenue for America. He and Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, proposed an excise tax that would hit the whiskey industry especially hard. They proposed a tax on all distilled spirits. News of the tax spread quickly when it was passed by Congress in 1791, and farmers and distillers in western Pennsylvania began to resist, seeing the impact on their businesses. 
The impact of the excise tax varied with the scale of the whiskey production. Large producers had an easier time financially paying the new tax. They could make an annual tax payment of six cents per gallon. A smaller producer, who only made whiskey occasionally, had to make payments throughout the year at a higher rate of nine cents per gallon. Large producers could reduce the cost of the excise tax if they produced even larger quantities. The new tax gave the large producers a competitive advantage over small producers, providing additional spark for conflict.

The smaller producers, who were in the frontier areas, detested the tax. It was only payable in cash, which was rare to find on the frontier. They relied mostly on bartering and this tax posed an additional challenge to come up with the cash to pay this additional burdensome tax. Because of the hardship to transport harvested grains over the mountains to the markets of the East, farmers felt it made much more sense to transport the distilled spirits of their grain rather than the raw grain itself. This tax hit them doubly hard and they let President Washington know about it!

By 1794, nearly 400 whiskey rebels gathered and set fire to the home of a regional tax inspector near Pittsburgh. That served as a battle cry for the rebellion and a wake up call for President Washington. The rebellion grew in number and in force and they weren’t going away easily or quietly. President Washington responded by sending in negotiators to seek a resolution. Still enraged that the tax wasn’t being revoked, the rebels fought back. President Washington and Secretary Hamilton countered by sending in nearly 13,000 militia to quell the uprising. The battles pushed the rebels to the western fringe areas of Pennsylvania. When the dust settled, the militia arrested 150 for treason. Only two were tried and convicted, and were later pardoned. 

The excise tax would be repealed by President Jefferson in 1802, but the impact that the Whiskey Rebellion had on the United States would not be quickly forgotten.  At the time, it was viewed as a “sin tax,” placed on those who were involved in the production of the intoxicating drink. However, the economic impact that it had on the farmers and distillers who shaped colonial America was one that caused a more far reaching effect. While it applied to all distilled beverages, it hit the whiskey industry the hardest as it was the most popular and most produced drink at that time. The Whiskey Rebellion was one of the first times that the government interfered with mankind and his whiskey, but it certainly wasn’t the last. 

God bless that pioneering spirit that keeps us fighting for our whiskey!

Andrea Holak is a St. Louis resident where she works as a grant administrator at a local nonprofit which provides housing and related supportive services to people who are affected by HIV/AIDS. In her spare time, in addition to spending time with her husband, two Australian Shepards and a cat, Andrea enjoys all things bourbon. She has joined the BZ team to tell the stories of bourbon history. You can find Andrea on Twitter or Instagram with the name @redtumbleweed virtually hanging with the bourbon crew!
I'm standing in the recesses of the produce aisle at the local grocers, one foot propping open the door of the refrigerated "health beverages" case. I've been standing here for over ten minutes now --- awkwardly cradling my cell phone to my ear as a constant wave of arctic air blankets me --- thumbing through the ornately-decorated, overpriced bottles of organic-this and antioxidant laden-that inside. On the receiving end of my awkwardly-cradled phone is my friend Jake, and he is both unwittingly and vicariously, along for the ride. Jake, who flexes his bartending skills at the likes of Small Bar and Societe Brewing in San Diego, California, is rattling off the purported health benefits of fermented food and drink, particularly kombucha.
More than two months out now from the first of the year, the second wind of New Year's resolutions impetus has struck us both. We want to eat cleaner, drink more water, consume less alcohol, exercise more often, routinely visit our respective primary care physicians, and intake more vitamins. A simpatico team, Jake and I have been hatching a loose plan to cheerlead one another in the accomplishment of these goals, and my first goal I've determined, is to learn to love kombucha.
A variety of fermented, lightly-effervescent sweetened teas, kombucha is created through the infusion of water, sugars, and tea --- usually green or black --- that is then fermented by bacteria and yeast known as a "SCOBY" (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). While the consumption of kombucha has been touted to aid in everything from disease prevention and immune support to diabetes management and joint health, kombucha is most widely known for containing probiotics, namely Gluconacetobacter, Acetobacter, Lactobacillus, and Zygosaccharomyces. Although these live bacteria and yeasts alone cannot cure illnesses, many claim that the consumption of fermented foods --- and hence, the probiotics they possess --- promote improved digestion, weight loss, and increased energy.
Jake is somewhere in between relaying health benefit eight and nine when I confidently declare, "I'm just going to buy them all," and place the fantastically-labeled selections --- from jasmine blossom and lavender flower to ginger lemon and rose hibiscus --- one by one into the shopping cart. By the end of that week, I had not only sampled every flavor of kombucha imaginable, but I had declared myself a kombucha aficionado. I had raved about the beverage's fizzy brightness. I had pushed sample-size cupfuls of it onto neighbors. I had contentedly stated, with a cold bottle in one hand and gym towel in another, "you're either Camp Kombucha or you're not…"
One week of interval jogging, kale salads, and kombucha later, I waltz into the natural light-filled taproom of Arkane Aleworks in Largo, Florida. Filled with optimism and Omega-3s and an assurance that I deserve some sort of "reward" for my week of clean eating and kombucha consumption, I sidle up to the bar and review the tap list. Customarily, I defer to berliners here --- their ever-stellar lineup including popular offerings such as Unicorn Blood (a raspberry key-lime Florida weisse), The Passion of the Weisse (cranberry passion fruit Florida weisse), and Gypsy Tears (pomegranate ginger Florida weisse) --- but on this occasion, I stumble upon something new. There on the draft board, scrawled in bright canary yellow chalk: KOMBEERCHA ON TAP NOW.
Mouth all but agape, I announce in the most dramatic manner achievable that I'll indeed have the "kombeercha". Placed in front of me moments later, it's a beauty of a pour: the quickly dissipating head and bubbling fizz, all atop a veritable whirlpool of straw-colored liquid. It smells incredible --- with an almost ginger-like quality --- and when sipped, the effervescent liquid dances at the tip of the tongue. It's a lightning bolt of tart flavor that, exploding almost instantly once passed the lips, journeys down the throat more like the soft blink of a lightning bug. Within three minutes, I had finished the entire snifter.
Kombeercha is kombucha electrified.
So how is this rousing mixed-culture concoction made? To learn more about their kombucha-inspired beer, I turned to Arkane Aleworks' brewers and co-owners,
Joe Scheibelhut and Dan Graston. According to Scheibelhut, "kombeercha" is created utilizing the brewery's base gose --- a German-style sour wheat beer --- which incorporates American ale yeast, alongside Chalkboard Kombucha's (a locally-based kombucha home brew operation owned by Ryan Walker) fermented tea, which incorporates SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). "Following fermentation," Scheibelhut notes, "batches are typically blended to achieve the desired flavor characteristics. It's a unique sour character from Arkane's lacto sour in the gose, and the vinegar quality from the kombucha..."
Ringing in at about 3.1% ABV, the final product is both entirely drinkable and, entirely versatile. Not unlike kombucha itself, kombeercha's drinkability, thirst-quenching qualities, and lower alcohol content make it a more-than-appropriate beverage for the "beer and brawn" crowd. At a time where beer consumption and healthful living is no longer mutually exclusive, we are beginning to see more and more breweries embracing physically-oriented events and group activities, from inter-brewery running clubs and pub relays to nightly "beer yoga". Have the members of Camp Kombucha found their drink of choice?
There's good news and there's bad news. The bad news? Don't expect to see "kombeercha" everywhere. Small batch methods are not conducive to mass distribution, and while some breweries are testing the waters with kombucha-inspired beers, few are doing it well. The good news? Arkane Aleworks and Chalkboard are onto something here, and because every batch is a little different, various treated versions, like cherry limeade kombeercha, will soon see its way onto the draft list in the brewery's Largo taproom. With Arkane Aleworks' kombeercha, there will always be something new, and whether you are a lifetime member of Camp Kombucha looking for a refreshing post-workout brew, or a craft beer lover seeking out an innovative new twist on the traditional gose, there's only one way to truly discover them: to drink all the things.
Tanya Lawrence is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, DC. She moderates the Instagram page babels_cameron, dedicated primarily to craft beer and craft beer tourism throughout Florida and beyond. She lives in Tampa with her dog Santiago, and enjoys bird-watching and cheeseboards.
Bourbon Nuggets
So what distillery does Alicia White work at?

That would be Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville, Kentucky. She started as a tour guide but recently went into sales. Be sure to ask for her if you happen to drop by.

Check them out at
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Offers Special, Limited Edition Kentucky Derby Festival Bourbon Bottle
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will release a special edition bottle of 2009 Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon to commemorate the 2017 Kentucky Derby Festival. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will also be the sole location providing Pegasus Pins through March 6.

Dipped in a unique gold wax with a commemorative pin sealed atop the cap, the bottle features a special face label with the Kentucky Derby Festival logo, and includes a 2017 Pegasus Pin in an envelope attached to each bottle. Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Artisanal Distiller Charlie Downs and Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO Mike Berry unveiled the official 2017 pin and limited edition bottle at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Thursday, Feb. 16, by personally hand-dipping two of the limited edition bottles.

This bottle will be available for purchase at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and other area retailers for $74.99 while supplies last. 

The limited edition 2009 vintage is bottled at 107 proof, commemorating both the 62nd Kentucky Derby Festival and 45th Pegasus Pin anniversary. Like a fine wine, each bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon contains the exact day it was put in an oak barrel to age.

The Bourbon is matured in natural open-rick warehouses under the careful supervision of Heaven Hill's Master Distillers, who monitor the progress of each year's vintage to ensure it maintains its intended flavor profile and superb quality.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage has won five “Whiskey of the Year” awards and is one of the most critically-acclaimed specialty Bourbons produced by Heaven Hill Distillery, the world’s second largest holder of aging Bourbon.

"The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is proud to partner with the Kentucky Derby Festival to share the unique Kentucky spirit that is unmatched elsewhere," said Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Artisanal Distiller Charlie Downs. "We're honored to raise a toast to Kentucky's heritage and welcome Festival Fans across the globe to join in celebrating the 2017 Kentucky Derby."

Bringing the community together since 1956, the Kentucky Derby Festival has grown to become a whirlwind of more than 70 special events leading up to the big race in May. The Kentucky Derby Festival runs this year from April 20 - May 5. Pegasus Pins, which allow entry to Derby Festival events, may be purchased at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience as well.

“We couldn’t think of a better a pairing of two entities. Both the Derby Festival and Evan Williams Bourbon are part of Kentucky’s history and tradition,” said Mike Berry, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO. “We know this special edition bottle will be very popular with pin collectors and Festival Fans alike.”
This month Chrissy shares a recipe created for Bourbon Zeppelin Readers
This Recipe Uses:
I have always loved pork chops and I am always looking for new ways to make them because they truly are one of my most favorite things. (truly underrated in my opinion) My husband however happens to not be a pork chop fan, why do you ask? Mainly from having those dry, rubbery pork chops he remembers from his childhood. Let's face it, we all have at one point or another had that terrible pork chop experience. But not today and definitely not with this recipe! If you thought this food pairing was already a match made in heaven, then you are in for a treat with the addition of bourbon! These delicious pork chops and applesauce recipe has been paired nicely with Old Forester’s 1897. 

Side note: I always think of Bobby Brady from “ The Brady Bunch”  when it comes to pork chops and apple sauce.

"Pork chops and applesauce, isn’t that swell?”  - Did I just date myself? 
 2 Large bone-in pork chops
 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
 3 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
 2 apples (preferably tart) sliced in ½-inch slices
 ½ Onion, thinly sliced
 ¼ Cup Old Forester 1897
 Salt & pepper to season the pork chops
½ Cup CC's Honey Fire BBQ Sauce
1 Cup Sweet Apple Pie Spread (found at Whole Foods)
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Old Forester 1897
½ Cup light brown sugar
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat add all ingredients for the sauce, bring it up to a soft boil. Once the sauce is bubbling (about 10 mins) drop the heat to low and allow to simmer.
  3. In a large cast-iron skillet or large oven proof skillet, add in 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Salt & pepper to both sides of the pork chop and place into the skillet. Brown each side about 3-4 mins (depending on thickness of chop) Remove chops from the skillet & set aside. 
  4. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan along with ½ onion. Sauté the onion until it begins to caramelize (8-10 mins) carefully add in ¼ cup bourbon and continue to cook down an additional 10mins.
  5. Add the pork chops back to the skillet, add the sliced apples to the pan and on top of the pork chops, then carefully pour the sauce over the apples and chops. Place into the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and remove the chops from the pan, set aside for them to rest. (about 3-4 mins).

Serve & enjoy! 
Get the "story behind the story" for this recipe, along with other recipes incorporating bourbon as an ingredient on Chrissy's blog (click on the site name below to check it out):
A Lil' Dab of Bourbon
About Chrissy Martin
Chrissy Martin is a whisk(e)y sommelier residing in the greater Kansas City metro area. In addition to her love for bourbon, she enjoys cooking. As a trained sommelier, she is able to combine her love for food with bourbon by pairing them together. Like most of the BZ team, Chrissy is a regular member of the bourbon crew on Instagram (@alildabofbourbon).
This Month's Selection...
Black Note Stout
by Bell's Brewery
It's April, and what else could I possibly review other than Maple Jesus!

This American imperial double stout from micro brewery Eviltwin comes to you straight out of Brooklyn. At a 12% ABV this stout is aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels. At first sip (and this is a sipper) there's vanilla, wood, and a boozy burn. Thick, sweet and outstanding.

About Six Feet of Dynamite
Arizona resident. Chi-town girl. Avid craft brew drinker. Stout and porter lover. Getting to love all things craft... one brewery at a time. Like most of the BZ team, Dynamite is a regular member of the bourbon crew on Instagram and her Untappd account is not to be missed (@sixfeetofdynmite for either Instagram or Untappd).
A Look at Rebel Yell

I am writing this column with a heavy heart as I just found out that Chuck Berry, one of the fathers of rock as we know it, has passed. Being from the south, I’m sure he enjoyed his bourbon. This month, I am going to review Rebel Yell Ginger and Root beer flavored bourbon. Rebel Yell is one of my favorite brands. I hope I am not the only one who likes to chug it down while listening to Billy Idol sing “with a Rebel Yell." (I’ve been a fan since Gen X.), Billy Idol has said in his episode of VH1 Storytellers that his hit "Rebel Yell" was inspired upon joining Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood in taking swigs from a bottle of Rebel Yell at a gathering they all attended. He liked the sound of the brand name, and said he recalled that he actually asked if they (Jagger and Richards) had no objections to his use of the brand name for a future song title.

Rebel Yell is made by Luxco who is opening up a new distillery as you know from my last piece. The W.L. Weller & Sons company was founded in 1849 by William Larue Weller, who pioneered using wheat instead of rye in his mash for a different flavor than the older style of bourbons. The W.L. Weller company merged with the Stitzel distilling company (est. 1872) to form the Stitzel-Weller distilling company in 1910.The "Rebel Yell" brand was created for Stitzel-Weller by Charles R. Farnsley (a former mayor of Louisville) around the 100th anniversary of the original Weller company, with the idea to distill it in limited batches for exclusive distribution in the southern United States. This plan lasted until the early 1980s, when, after some other changes of ownership following the break-up of Stitzel-Weller around 1972, the brand was purchased by the David Sherman Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri (now Luxco). By 1984, Rebel Yell was distributed nationally.

Side note my current favorite treat bottle is Old Weller antique 107 proof. It is delicious probably because of the wheat.

Normally, I am not a big fan of anything flavored. Most of the cinnamon ones are not much different than Schnapps. I had never had the root beer or ginger flavored bourbon before so I did not know what to think. Since I was going to be drinking Rebel Yell, I thought I should play the song. So with Billy Idol blasting, I got out my Bourbon Zeppelin Glencairn glass and took a swig. I am not going to do my normal routine and go through nose and body etc. I will instead talk about my taste experience and then give it a \m/ or a 1 finger salute. The root beer smells like root beer. No surprise. When you taste it you can taste the vanilla in it. It goes down smooth and I could imagine a wonderful root beer float made of it. It tastes like root beer but there is still a whiskey taste to it. This is very well done and has put my fears to rest as I said most of the flavored bourbons I have tried have tasted like schnapps. It gets a major \m/ from me.

The ginger smells like Vernors. (I’m from Detroit home of Vernors.) The ginger tastes very good. There is an excellent blend of ginger and other spices that are amazing but not overpowering. The ginger also provides a soothing feeling to your stomach like when you eat the ginger ice cream at the Asian resturants.Then there is a whiskey taste. I also love this one and it get the same \m/ from me.

I could make a Boston cooler with this on a hot day. I think that being 70 proof is another thing I love about it. All-in-all both are very good. My friends that I have let try these are also amazed at how good they taste but still have a whiskey taste to them. I will be buying more of both of these because as you can see from the picture I have pretty much killed these bottles.

I really enjoyed this month’s selection and am looking forward to next month. Until then I’ll be staying metal and slamming bourbon in Detroit.

Greg Schneider loves three things.... heavy metal music, bourbon and a good deal. He's managed to indulge all three in his \m/ Value Bottles column. Greg uses a simple system of "\m/" for bottles he recommends (the keyboard shortcut for the Ronnie James Dio "thumbs up") and "m/" for ones he doesn't like (the keyboard shortcut for "giving the bird").

Click here if you would like to email a suggest value bottle to Greg. His Twitter I.D. is: @schneiderg63.
New Orleans

Colonel Steve Akley took this photo of a Bourbon Street street sign while he was at the Bourbon Festival in New Orleans. Look for a detailed look at the event in the May 1 issue.
Do you care to share a photo of a bourbon section you've found in your travels? Would you like to share your personal bourbon hoard? Email those photos to the B.Z. team and we'll run them in a future issue!
And finally...
Straight Up Please

There’s absolutely no denying it... I’m a conservative straight-up neat kind of whisk(e)y guy. Always have been, always will be. No ice in my Glencairn, thank you very much for asking!

I will, however, take a drop of water, to unlock the flavor profile, in a high ABV Cask Strength Scotch Whisky or a Barrel Proof Bourbon. That’s exactly why these high ABV whiskeys are so interesting, because you are able to play around with them, until you get it to the point of your preferred taste. Conversely, adding water to a lower proof whisk(e)y, in my opinion, seems to water it down too much and ruin the flavors.

How other people prefer their whisk(e)y is absolutely up to them. These are my whisk(e)y rules to live by… or so I thought.

Because a while back, I was watching a documentary, called “Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail – How the Best is Done." As the documentary slowly reached its end, I was beginning to drift. But, suddenly the legend himself; Mr. Elmer T. Lee showed up saying, and I quote; “When I make a drink at home, I add a little ice and a little water. Getting it down at 60 proof is where I prefer it. Some people prefer it at bottle proof and other people like the really strong stuff”.

That really woke me up. I was like, “Come again man! Did I just hear you of all people saying that out load?"

That can’t be, let’s rewind it.

But, to my surprise Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee had the nerve to say it again, only this time, straight to my face, so there was no denying it.

I was in shock!

The man who’s work and legacy in the bourbon world speaks for itself. The old and first master distiller at Buffalo Trace, saying that he prefers his bourbon watered down to 60 proof and on top of that, throws a cube in there as well, really came to me by surprise. It rocked my definition on how whiskey is meant to be enjoyed.

His namesake, and loved by many, Elmer T. Lee Bourbon is according to Buffalo Trace, "hand-selected and bottled to the taste and standard of Elmer himself, and bottled at 90 proof." It doesn’t say, "to the taste and standard if you drop it to 60 proof." Never mind that, by the end of the day, Buffalo Trace can state whatever they damn please on their labels. If the man himself says so, it’s worth a closer look.

Elmer T Lee: Without water or ice:
The nose on this bourbon is just heaven. I could sniff it all day long. There are notes of vanilla, leather, butterscotch and a hint of banana.
The taste starts off very light with honey, apricot, toffee and vanilla. Building itself up with medium spices, cinnamon and a hint of pepper that fades into a long warm finish, and I mean warm, not alcohol burn. Just beautiful, smooth and complex.

Elmer T Lee: Watered down to approximated 60 proof with a cube:
Everything in me, tells me not to do this. I love Elmer T. Lee Bourbon. My bottle is getting dangerously low for my liking and who knows when I will be able to score a new bottle? Now, here I am, pouring water in it!

Let me tell you right away, it really doesn’t settle well with me.

I mix it up and let it sit for a couple of minutes to cool it down. As I lift the glass, I’m already sick a tired of the cubes clinking against my glass.
: The water or/and the ice has wiped the nose clean. The leather is strongly presented, and really, it's the only note I can pick out.

Palate: The palate is cloudy and the spices are dominating the show. Especially the black pepper. It is almost jumping out of its muddy waters; followed by cinnamon and light oak.

Finish: The black pepper lingers in the back of my mouth in the medium finish.

As I’m chewing on one of the remaining cubes, I’m wondering what to make of all this? I would like to make some kind of clever conclusion, but I can’t!

I guess I just have to say, "To each to their own." If Elmer liked his bourbon this way, well God bless his soul. I’m just happy he chose to bottle his bourbon at 90 proof. The rest of the ice cubes in my fridge would make a perfect match in our kids' lemonade.

Hasse Berg

About Hasse Berg
Hasse Berg is a passionate whisk(e)y fan and blogger from Denmark. He serves Bourbon Zeppelin as the Associate Editor. His site, Son Of Winston Churchill "A Part Of The Secret Whisk(e)y Society" features independent whiskey reviews and talk. Check out Hasse Berg's Instagram page: @Hasse_Berg

Check out Hasse Berg's S.O.W.C. blog by clicking here!
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Items from Steve and the Bourbon Zeppelin team
Whenever Steve makes a post on social media with his Bourbon Zeppelin glass, there are always a flood of inquiries about being able to buy one of those glasses. Thanks to the good folks at Glencairn Glass, you can pick up the exact same glass Steve uses with the BZ logo directly from the Glencairn site.

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Associate Editor and BZ contributor Hasse Berg leads a team of excellent contributors on his own Son of Winston Churchill blog. He has also gotten a Glencairn glass for sale on the Glencain website.

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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.

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Amanda "The Bourbon Virgin" Hoppes makes her literary debut with From Midnight to Moonlight. This book of poetry explores a full range of emotions.

Yep, Amanda runs a little deeper than simply seeing if she can expand her drinking horizons beyond Bud Light and Cherry Bombs!

Check it out today!
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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.
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All-Time Steve + 4 Rankings:
Here is the ranked complete list of all bourbons that have been rated via Bourbon Zeppelin's Steve + 4 rating system:         Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old/93.50  Booker's Noe Secret/83.00  Michter's Small Batch/80.50  Woodford Reserve Double Oaked/79.00 Stumpy's Old Monroe/77.16  Booker's Blue Grass/76.50 .Heritage Distilling Dual Barrel/76.50  Ozark Distillery Bourbon/76.33  Stumpy'Old Grand-Dad Bottled-in-Bond/75.17  Woodford Reserve 1838 Style White Corn/72.2  Booker's Maw Maw's Batch/71.67
All-Time "From The Cave" by Aaron Cave Rankings:
Here is the ranked complete list of all bourbons that have been rated by Aaron Cave for Bourbon Zeppelin: #1) Knob Creek Single Barrel 95/100 -- 2). Blanton's Straight from the Barrel 95/100 3). Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection OESV Recipe 92/100 4). Willett Family Estate 9 Year Old 91/100  5). Russell's Reserve Single Barrel 90/100 6). Belle Meade 90/100 7). Jack Daniel's Single Barrel 90/100
All-Time Bourbon Barrel-Aged Beer Reviews by Six Feet of Dynamite Rankings:
Here is the ranked complete list of all bourbon barrel-aged beer reviews that have been rated by Six Feet of Dynamite for Bourbon Zeppelin: 5 Sticks of Dynamite: Black Butte XXXVIII by Deschutes Brewery -- Pump[KY]n by Avery Brewing --  Bourbon Barrel Quad by Boulevard Brewing Co.-- Maple Jesus -- So Happens it's Tuesday by The Bruery -- 4 Sticks of Dynamite: Oil Man by Elevation Beer Co. & The Lost Abbey Track #08 -- 3 1/2 Sticks of Dynamite: Collaboration #6 by Boulevard Brewing -- Bell's Brewery Black Note Stout -- 3 Sticks of Dynamite: No entries yet -- 2 Sticks of Dynamite: No entries yet -- 1 Stick of Dynamite: No entries yet
What Historical Figure Would You Share A Dram With?
Here is the complete list of all individuals featured in this colum: Ernest Hemmingway (Hasse Berg), Marilyn Monroe (Steve Akley), Abraham Lincoln (Greg Schneider), George Washington (Bill Alexander), John Wayne (Jeff Nichols)
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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: Associate Editor Hasse Berg, U.K. Correspondent Suzie Allkins, Field Reporter Sydney Youhouse, the following Columnists: Amanda "The Bourbon Virgin" Hoppes, Evan Haskill, Chrissy Martin, Renee Howe, Corey Chandler, Six Feet of Dynamite, Aaron Cave, Andrea Holak, Lisa Carrington, Greg Schneider, Alicia "The Bourbon Sipper" White, John Edwards, Tanya Lawrence and Jess Rubin.

Interested in joining the B.Z. team as a contributor? If so, just email Steve Akley to talk about it!

While we are interested in hearing from anyone creative, there are few specific things we are looking for:
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Special thanks to the following individuals who are involved in the production of Bourbon Zeppelin yet help us promote the brand just because they are fans of our work: Larry Akley (#1), Henry Rimpler (#2), TJ Ivey (#11), Rommel Morales (#12) and Matt Walker (#13), Blue Dram (#14), Andrew McGuinness (#15), Chris Lojkovic (#16) & Jay Reed (#17), Ashley Ommen (#18), Rebecca Fitzgerald (#19), Jeff Couch (#20), Greg Schneider (#21), Rodney Johnson (#22), Erik Hasselgärde (#23), Jeff Franks (#24), Cat Akley (#25), Jenna Brownson (#26), Rob Brownson (#27), Bill Alexander (#28), Chris McKeon (#29), Joe Bartucca (#30), Brent Kauser (#31), Jonathan Gorab (#32), Jessie Hernandez (#33), Ben Pyatt (#34), Michael Devecka (#35), @bourbonwedrink (#36),

Why do Ambassador numbers skip to #11?
#1 and #2 are ceremonial. One goes to Steve Akley's father who passed away in 2012 and two goes to Hasse Berg's grandfather who passed away in 2013. Numbers 3 - 10 are being saved for yet-to-be-determined fans who really go the extra mile to show their love to Bourbon Zeppelin!

Find out about becoming a Bourbon Zeppelin Brand Ambassador by clicking here!
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Bourbon Zeppelin is delivered to you raw an unedited by author Steve Akley on the 1st of every month. (Apologies for any errors.) Check out Steve's books by clicking here: Steve's Catalog on Amazon.