Bourbon Zeppelin
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Written for bourbon fans, by bourbon fans!
Steve Akley Presents...

This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article:


Can the #ABVNetworkCrew Club Change Bourbon?


by Colonel Steve Akley

The ABV Network's Club Successfully Launched on 7/1

Can the club put together by the ABV Network change the bourbon experience for fans as we know it?

Well, the simple answer is, "No... no it cannot."

That being said, I truly believe we have something pretty magical here. I just don't want to overstate what we are doing. Bourbon distilleries may be owned by individuals, corporations and multinational conglomerates, but bourbon itself, that's owned by all of us. The people who drive around to find our favorite bottles, plan vacations and travel around distilleries visits and spend our free time going to bourbon education classes... that's who truly "owns" bourbon. After all, if we stop doing all of these things, it's "goodbye bourbon boom."

As such, we can't say we could change bourbon because bourbon is bigger than an entity like the ABV Network. Even with this in mind, I do think we can enhance the bourbon experience for people with the club we launched on July 1.

The reason for that is, we're tapping into several areas of bourbon that have never truly been mined by anyone else. This is unexplored territory we are finding ourselves in and McNew and I, the people behind the #ABVNetworkCrew Club are having a blast doing this.

The first thing that sets the Club apart from anything else being offered out there is the partnerships offering deals to our members. We have almost 70 partners offering cost savings that is in many cases pretty significant and it's easy to put a pencil to paper (whether really doing so or simply using an app) and start figuring out how much you can save by getting a membership.

The second thing we have going for us is events. At the moment, we're focused on Kentucky and St. Louis, the two places where we have a physical presence at as well as strong membership numbers. We've found distilleries to be very willing to work with us to provide these amazing unique experiences that you simply can't get anywhere else. Barrel naming committees, barbecues with company owners, a homemade lunch at the distillery, involvement in new product development... the offerings thus far have been out of this world if you are a bourbon fan.

The third component already in place is the community we are building through communication and interaction with our members. These casual events allows our group access to us, but we are also committed to communication through email and we have our own Facebook group for members. As a member, you are truly part of a group you can interact with and share bourbon experiences. Your bourbon network will definitely grow as a member of the Club.
#ABVNetworkCrew Club
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This group is designed for members of the #ABVNetworkCrew Club to stay up-to-date on the latest events and share their experiences from the club.
Click "Join Group" to interact with the Crew on FB
The future should bring several more cool things to the mix. Once we get our membership numbers up even further, and find a solution to shipping bourbon (they say laws may be changing in Kentucky), we can legally start doing barrel picks that are available to everyone through the mail.

We also have plans to expand our live events to places beyond St. Louis and Kentucky. Ambassadors are needed and these aren't simply titles you add to your social media profiles. We want people to be the onsite coordinators filling in the roles occupied by Steve and McNew at the Kentucky/St. Louis events. 

So, while I don't think we can "change bourbon" I do think we can enhance the bourbon experience for members and that's pretty rewarding for McNew and I. If you are interested in learning more, or perhaps becoming a member, please check out our club page at:

About Colonel Steve Akley
Steve Akley, a Kentucky Colonel, is the company owner of the ABV Network, LLC, as well as an author, podcaster,  movie/TV show producer. He has been a bourbon fan (legally) since 1989, but notes that while his family didn't drink very much, when they did, it was a cocktail with bourbon as the base so he's always been around it. He enjoys splitting his time between his home with his family in his beloved hometown of St. Louis and Kentucky, where all of the bourbon fun is. You can reach Steve via social media or the web with everything under the name Steve Akley, or, you can go through the company website at:
Back when I had a job, we would gauge summer by the big three work holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Even though summer hasn't technically started according to the calendar, we would say it's 1/3 done when Memorial Day was over. Well, we just hit the 2/3 mark with the passing of the 4th of July. Don't miss out on making this a great bourbon summer... get out there and enjoy this final third of the summer and have some fun. AFTER, you read this edition of Bourbon Zeppelin.

We've got a lot of great information as always. The team never stops delivering the best bourbon information and entertaining insight on these virtual pages so enjoy. 

Like I always say, I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.


Editor-in-Chief of Bourbon Zeppelin, Owner of the ABV Network, Podcast Writer, Producer & On-Air Personality, Filmmaker, Blogger, 30+ Years Bourbon Fan, Bourbon Staff Writer Food & Dining Magazine, Maker's Mark Ambassador (Ambassador #14,903/member since 2000), Four Roses Mellow Moments Club Member (2016), Author of the Best-Selling Cocktail Book Series Bourbon Mixology (Four Volumes, 2015-Present), Apprenticed at a Bourbon Distillery (2016), Completed the Bourbon Trail (2016), Executive Bourbon Steward (2017), Whiskey Warrior Award Winner (May '17), Founding Member Jefferson's Bourbon Ambassador Program (2017), Barrel Selection Committee Member for New Orleans Bourbon Festival (2018), New Orleans Bourbon Festival Legends of Bourbon Committee Member, Bourbons Bistro & Total Wine Barrel Selection Committee Member & Kentucky Colonel (2016).

Our Own Colonel Steve's

St. Louis Bourbon Experience

Our very own Colonel Steve Akley recently started a private Facebook page called the St. Louis Bourbon Experience. Notes Steve, "I started this group for three specific reasons. First, I wanted to document the relevance of St. Louis in bourbon both historically and today. I have nothing but complete respect for Kentucky for its history, passion and skill in making bourbon, but St. Louis has always been a contributor to the bourbon scene as well. Second, I wanted to document what I am doing in both St. Louis and Kentucky so my friends in St. Louis can always follow along with me. Finally, I am lucky enough to have met some great people from the world of bourbon that those of us in St. Louis don't typically have access to. Creating a forum where I can interact with the people of bourbon is a great way to give access to my friends in St. Louis into the world of bourbon."

While Steve notes he would love every bourbon fan from St. Louis to join his group, he's not putting any walls around membership. "Not necessarily zoned, but beautiful" was chosen as the slogan for the group because Steve never wanted it to be just about St. Louis. Steve says, "I love rock-and-roll from the late 60s and early 70s. Heck, this publication is a nod, in part, to Led Zeppelin. I wanted to incorporate my passion for bourbon, with a means to get the word out about it how great it was and zeppelins have been used as advertising vehicles for a long time. You combine that with Led Zeppelin, a hard rockin' band that uses a zeppelin as its identity and you've got the perfect name in Bourbon Zeppelin for this publication. The St. Louis Bourbon Experience is a nod to Jimi Hendrix and his band the Jimi Hendrix Experience with their song, Are You Experienced?, where Jimi states, "Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful." I thought a slight twist off of that in making it "zoned" captured the essence of that while this is about St. Louis and anyone interested in getting involved could be because we aren't limiting ourselves only to St. Louis members.

If you are a fan of bourbon and you want to get in on the St. Louis Bourbon Experience, just hit "Join Group" and Steve will approve you in as a member.
The St. Louis Bourbon Experience
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St. Louis has an impressive history in bourbon, let's celebrate the past and present with this group dedicated to STL bourbon drinkers and those inter...
Searching the Bourbon Trail for Spirits
by Kim Moser
Sitting in the home studio one Sunday afternoon after having a couple of glasses of bourbon and two podcast episodes recorded, I blurted out to my best friend and podcast co-host Jen, “do you want to go to Kentucky with Ryan (my husband) and I?” She got this little grin on her face, screamed “YES” and the rest was history. 

We booked our flights, which were surprisingly very inexpensive and then we waited… we waited 6 long weeks until we ventured down from Ohio to Kentucky in a rental car that stated it would hold 4 suitcases in the trunk. Very quickly we realized that was false advertising. Every time we packed that damn car we were risking breaking the frame of each of our suitcases. 

We had decided on a few distilleries that were “must sees” and others we were advised to visit by Steve Akley, who is so well connected in the bourbon world, how could he steer us in the wrong direction? Us, as novice bourbon distillery visitors, had no idea what we were in store for. I am going to share with you a list of places, not just distilleries, I would recommend visiting if you’re looking for a great little Kentucky getaway. 

Since Jen and I cover both ghost stories and bourbon on our podcast show Boos & Bourbon, we had to make sure we covered both bases. We started our adventure on Saturday evening at around 7 pm at Buffalo Trace Distillery for a Haunted Distillery Tour. The property itself is breathtaking, the history of the place just oozes from every corner of every building. This tour was both educational and unique because it is the only tour that takes you to Stoney Point, the former home of Col. Albert Bacon Blanton. This is where he took his last breath as he passed away in the sunroom, which is now used as an office. Our tour guides were exceptional and even shared some personal encounters and stories of their own.

Bourbon, check.

Ghosts, check. 

Our next stop on Saturday night was not a distillery, but here we found a different kind of spirit. We went to a very historical place, called Waverly Hills Sanitorium, it’s easily one of the most haunted places in the world. Here we got a good dose of history of Kentucky from the early 1900’s to the 1960’s when tuberculosis was a serious problem. Families who had both terminally ill family members and healthy family members  came to this hospital for care. Even with its dark past and countless sad stories, this place still gave us a feeling of wanting to come back to explore it again on our next visit to Kentucky. It was truly captivating and spooky and may have even given one of us nightmares that night (not pointing the finger at who had nightmares, but it wasn’t Jen or I). 

Sunday consisted of us heading out to Four Roses Distillery. We again were blown away by the beauty of this place. The gift shop is out of this world, anything you can possibly imagine in Four Roses swag you will find there. The place is just so classy and again filled with so much history (both Four Roses and Buffalo Trace were operating during prohibition for medicinal purposes with a prescription). We learned so much about the process in which the grains become bourbon, got to see their massive expansion and we had just about the most educated guide you could ask for, if you want to ask for her specifically her name was Kelli.  

Sunday late afternoon we ventured over to Sparta, Kentucky and got acquainted with moonshine and an 11th generation moonshining family who are the first generation to do it legally. Not only do they make amazing moonshine at
Neeley Family Distillery, but they make some damn good bourbon, too! Royce Neeley gave us a private tour and filled us with so much bourbon knowledge it was mind blowing. Michele Neeley makes likely the best cocktails I’ve ever had here. I opted for the Bourbon Mule and now that’s the only kind of Mule I order. This family has so many stories to tell about moonshining I could have stayed there all day and just listened with a drink in hand on the front porch.  We missed out on meeting the legendary PawPaw, but Jen didn’t miss out on the opportunity to get a photo with his life sized cardboard cut-out! Find me on Instagram @boosandbourbon, send me a direct message and I will send you the picture. 

Monday evening we headed down to Bourbon’s Bistro in Louisville for a bite to eat. What a cool spot, the bourbon selection is extreme here. Us Canadians needed to decide what bourbon we were going to purchase and bring across the border, so this really helped us make our selection easier. Now we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t buy the Angel’s Envy Rye while we were there, that stuff is just soooo good. We just finished up ordering our food when owner Jason Brauner came over to the table and introduced himself. We were thrilled when he took us through the building for a tour and gave us some history on the place. Side note, Jen and I think the basement in haunted! When we got back to our table we had the most delicious burgers and everything was done just right, even the bun was spot on. The food, the atmosphere and the people behind this restaurant/bar are A+. It was exactly the low key atmosphere we were looking for. I highly suggest choosing a table outside next to the exposed brick wall and fireplace. It’s perfect for sipping bourbon. 

This experience gave us a small taste of how wonderful Kentucky and it’s people are. I cannot wait to go back and visit so many more places and also return to the places I mentioned above. If you’re planning a trip to the Bourbon Trail, make sure you allow yourself enough time to not just hop from one distillery to another, leave yourself enough time to have conversations, to ask questions and to soak up the memories.

Kentucky truly is a very special place. 

About Kim Moser
Kim Moser is a resident of Nova Scotia, Canada. She has dedicated her career to being a travelling salesperson in the heavy equipment field. Her favorite pastime is spending long summer nights cruising the Atlantic Ocean with her bourbon enthusiast husband Ryan. If she’s not on the water you can find her on the golf course sipping her favorite bourbon. In the winter months she’ll be snuggled up by the fire with her two cats, reading ghost stories. Kim is also the co-host and producer of the Boos & Bourbon Podcast. You can find her on Instagram @boosandbourbon and on Facebook “Boos and Bourbon - The Podcast.” 
Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a review of things to do, places to stay and honey holes to visit off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The Liquor Barn/Springhurst

Off the Trail - July 15, 2019
by Jeremy Schell
Just the Intro, Click Below to Read the Whole Article...

The Liquor Barn store in Louisville’s east end shopping center of Springhurst has been a mainstay for adult beverage shoppers. The location's brand new 20,000 sq. ft. facility offers everything an adult beverage consumer could ever dream of finding.

Liquor Barn isn’t just your neighborhood adult beverage store with everything under one roof, this store is an
intimate experience all its own accessible right Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Read more

About Jeremy Schell
Jeremy is a Virginia native transplanted to Louisville, Kentucky in 1990. An entrepreneur and survivor of the dotcom era, he is a 25-yr. veteran of the Internet industry. Over the years, working with notable clients such as Brown-Forman, Hershey, Maker's Mark and others, he developed an affinity for drinking, collecting and talking bourbon…. and chocolate, mostly just eating it. Connect with him on Instagram @jeremyschell or visit his web site


The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is celebrating the launch of online ticket sales today with the release of its very first handcrafted piece of commemorative merchandise – the 2019 Official Poster. Designed and produced by local Kentucky artists, only 120 premium numbered prints are being made available for purchase on the Festival website

The 2019 Official Poster is highly representative of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival itself – steeped in tradition. It was produced on vintage letterpress equipment using a hand-carved wood template and hand-mixed ink in the Festival’s signature colors. The art itself also includes miniature metaphors depicting bourbon culture. Vignettes include angel’s share, a whiskey thief, bourbon flights, and more. The price of a regular-edition print is $25, while the price of a premium print will be $50. Both editions can be purchased on the 
website. A short video, which details the design and development of the print, is included as an attachment.

“Bourbon has influence across the world and we see proof of that every year when the Festival draws over 50,000 visitors to Bardstown,” says Kentucky Bourbon Festival Interim Executive Director Mike Mangeot. “In an effort to keep that momentum, we’ve put pen to paper to rework some of our favorite events. We are constantly reassessing the festival and making it better for our attendees - with these new ideas, we’re looking forward to hosting our regulars, as well as new industry friends who are looking to join the experience.”

Marking its twenty-eighth year, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival will be celebrated in Bardstown, KY, from September 18 through September 22, during National Bourbon Heritage Month. Tickets for the Festival are now on sale and can be purchased 
here. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival will continue to host its signature events in 2019, including Bourbon, Cigars & Jazz®, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame®, The Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Cocktail Party, and the ever-popular World Champion Bourbon Barrel Relays®. 
For more information on this year’s events and to purchase tickets, please visit the Kentucky Bourbon Festival at

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

Life... It Happens!
Dear Reader,
This is a post of apology. Since my last article and testing recipes for Old Fashioned, we have done nothing. If you read on from here, this will not make much sense, but it will give you a peek into what has been going on.
  1. Work-  a change in location has increased the time I have to even sit for a moment and try to do anything bourbon related, with the exception of the occasional, “sip”.
  1. Life- during the few downtimes, we are madly “lazy”, meaning exactly that. There is usually a project or task assigned that has to be completed.
  1. Graduations- ‘tis the season for young minds to transition from high school and make their way to college. I am sad and happy to report that my cousin was successful in his graduation and will be attending Michigan State in the fall. I guess now I will have a reason to root for the Spartans during basketball season, at least to pick him out of the crowd at the games…. [insert tears]
I purchased a bottle of Angel Envy, finished in port wine barrels, after only one taste, it is very smooth and you get hints of the port. Not overwhelming, but just enough. Again, I apologize and we will be back on task next month. Until then, cheers!

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

All hate mail can be sent to: madlef2000 [ at ] 
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.

Freddie Johnson
Tour Guide / Kentucky Bourbon Hall-of-Famer 
Featured on The Bourbon Show - Today!

We have some great programming coming up on the ABV Network. Here's a sneak peek at some of the upcoming shows:
The Bourbon Show
July 22 - The Strange Economics of Craft Distilleries
July 29 - People We Would Like to See in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame

The Bourbon Daily
July 15-19 - Distiller's Week (featuring: Adam Stumpf, Alan Bishop & Royce Neeley)
July 24-25 -
Getting to Know The Bourbon Daily Team (Jason Brauner is the host)
July 30 - The Best Kentucky Craft Bourbon Tour

Bourbon Bettys
July 22 - Baker's is Now Going to Be A Single Barrel Product... What Does That Mean?
July 29 - What Happens if Bourbon Distilleries Catch Up with Demand?

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

Bourbon Nuggets
It's a fun activity for whiskey fans to work on their own blends. Here's a tip from Freddie Noe, a guy who knows a little about blending whiskey... Build your base first by mixing the whiskeys you believe are the foundation, then start adding other ingredients... don't try mixing them all together at one. 
StilL 630 Experimental Series Reviews

X-25 Review
Type of Experiment: Bourbon
Barrel Char: 3
Age: 17.5 months
Proof: 100 (50% ABV)
Expression: Not clear (it's coded on the bottle)

Colonel Steve's Review
Nosing Notes: Chocolate, orange, barley

Tasting Notes: This one hits you sweet upfront, chocolatey mid-palate and spicy at the back.

Finishing Notes: This one has a spicy rye kick. It warms up nicely.

Colonel Steve's Notes: I'm not big into the ones with chocolate in the equation, and this one kind if fits into that. Justine seems to like these so I'm guessing she will be a fan but we will see.

Colonel Steve's Rating: I think this is as solid of a Try Before You Buy as we have seen. You may just love it.

Justine's Review 
Nosing Notes: The nose on X-25 is sweet and earthy. I am picking up slight hints of caramel and chocolate, but mostly I pick up cherry and tobacco. It reminds me of a cherry Swisher Sweet. 

Tasting Notes: On the palate, it does not sway too far from the notes on the nose. I definitely get the cherry, tobacco and chocolate with an oak finish.

Finishing Notes: The heat hits at the back of my tongue and throat.  The hug on X-25 definitely lingers. 

Justine's Notes:  I really like this one. I believe it is one that you could drink neat, but would hold up well in a cocktail like a Manhattan. 

Justine's Rating: I would totally buy X-25 now, but would rate it between try before you buy and buy it now just because some may not care for the earthy, smokey taste.

Colonel Steve and Justine's Rating System
  • Pass - This is going to need some work to enter into StilL 630's product lineup.
  • Try Before You Buy - The ones that are unique enough may be best suited for individual tastes.
  • Buy It Now - As stated... get your hands on that one immediately.

Charley Crockett - Maker’s Mark  

Every once in awhile, I’m lucky enough to come across an artist that sounds like my childhood. I’m not talking about a childhood that was filled with nursery rhymes or whatever the ‘Baby shark’ of that era was. My childhood was filled with bluegrass, blues, and any and all types of country radio thanks to spending most of my summer days with my Grandpa. I was exposed very early in life to the voices of George Jones, Tawnya Tucker, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash  and so many others of their same caliber. An artist having that type of raw talent in today’s music scene is almost unheard of; even if they do possess that type of talent they usually sell out to labels and put out over-produced pop sounding music. Earlier this year a song by a guy named Charley Crockett popped up on one of my Pandora stations. I was blown away; Not only does he have a bluesy voice with a deep Texas accent; his music isn’t auto-tuned, synthesized or anything else that sounds like pop instead of country.
After hearing Charley on Pandora I jumped down a rabbit hole of his background and into his music. He started out in music by busking on the streets of New Orleans, and traveled all over the US and Paris as a street performer for years. He came out with albums of original songs in 2015, 2016 and 2018; all are excellence. But my favorite albums of his were released in 2017 and 2018; Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee and Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Bonanza respectively. Both of these are filled with covers of all the great honky tonk heroes I grew up listening to. 
I had the opportunity to see Charley play live last month when his tour came through Indianapolis. It was everything I could have hoped for; the set featured some of his original songs but mostly it was filled with all of the old covers I’ve always loved so much. The concert venue didn’t have much of a bourbon selection; but they did have Maker’s Mark. Maker’s Mark  was the first bourbon I ever sat down, enjoyed, and wanted to learn more about. I thought that it was perfect to drink this classic bourbon while listening to these original, classic songs; or Charley Crockett’s covers of them. Tying together my personal beginner bourbon with songs of my childhood just feels so special, and brings back so many happy memories. 

About McNew
Stephanie McNew is a regular co-host on The Bourbon Daily, an ABV Network podcast. In addition to her work on TBD, she can be heard hosting her own show, The Nightcap, which highlights some of the between-show conversations and show outtakes. McNew lives in Indiana with a veritable zoo of dogs and cats. When she isn't podcasting, running the ABV Network Patreon page or writing, she can be found drinking Larceny bourbon from Heaven Hill... her all-time favorite bourbon. Follow McNew's journey on Instagram: @miss_mcnew.

Exploring Chattanooga:
Matilda Midnight

Before my bourbon journey began in earnest, there was Matilda Midnight; by the time it had gone full-bore, it traveled right along with me, thanks to its excellent selection of whiskey.  Set in downtown Chattanooga, it’s the perfect halfway point between family in Atlanta and those towards whom I travel in Nashville. It’s also an excellent place to kill an hour or two when the traffic gets so bad that it’s better to get off the highway and explore the city, rather than languishing in your car and getting road rage for 60-90 minutes. (No shame, though—I love ya, Chattanooga.) 

Matilda Midnight inhabits half of Dwell Hotel’s downstairs area, and it contains a space for the bar with a dark interior and long couches in jewel tones beside it. The front room is lighter, more open, and sunny, and it’s a great place to enjoy one of their coffee-bourbon cocktails, if you’re there earlier in the day. 

One of these included ESPRESSO-INFUSED Old Forester, people! 🤤 

While their summer menu currently features lighter liquors like tequila and rum, the bar is well-stocked with classics like Blanton’s, Knob Creek, Four Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Angel’s Envy and Michter’s, as well as local Chattanooga Whiskey picks. They may even have the coffee cocktails I enjoyed last summer available, if you ask nicely ;-). 

They have an excellent happy hour 3-7 pm with small plates, and I found this an enjoyable time to be there on my first visit. The bar curves in a J-shape, so you can see sideways into the rest of the place for the most part, which leads to great people-watching. 

The essential piece, of course, are the crafters of the drinks. The artisans behind the bar are friendly, patient with describing options and offering advice, and generally awesome, smart people. I can’t wait to check it out again this summer!

The next time you’re in downtown Chattanooga or need a place to escape to from the traffic, you can find Matilda Midnight at 120 E 10th St., Chattanooga, TN, 37402; call via 423-710-2925; and go in person anytime from 3 pm to midnight.

Next month, we return to our distillery tours! Thanks for stepping my way to explore some Tippling Travels.

Abby H. aka @flaskandpen
Abby H., known as @flaskandpen on Instagram, is a teacher who’s explored life in Vegas, Georgia, Florida, Kuwait and Beijing before settling for now near Shanghai, China, where she teaches high school and enjoys bargain prices on 威士忌 (whiskey) in a country that hasn’t discovered it yet. Her favorite city is New Orleans, but she stumbled into bourbon in Jacksonville, Florida, and will always have a soft spot for the First Coast.
Bourbon Nuggets
The annual Bourbon Mixer (the combined event with the Whisky Chicks and Bourbon Brotherhood) is happening on August 17 at 6:00 p.m. Click here to get your tickets or learn more about this year's festivities.
Molecular Whiskey
Glyph Molecular Whiskey (image via Endless West)

What is the best whiskey in the world? In one form or another, this is the most commonly asked question that I get from friends and family. I never really have an answer for them because the question is subjective in nature. Some of the best products that I have had are near impossible to get, they don’t make anymore or it just agrees with my palate so I am biased towards that product line. I often dodge the question, but is there hope that science can create the perfect whiskey? Endless West, a California based company has developed what they call the first “molecular whiskey,” called Glyph (/Gilf/). Glyph is a product that is completely made in the lab. The process to make Glyph takes around 24 hours and their final product never touches a barrel! Glyph is categorized by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) as a Spirit Whiskey. 

Whiskey is defined by the U.S regulations as an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain. Spirit Whiskey is a separate category defined as, a mixture of neutral spirits and not less than 5% on a proof gallon basis of whiskey. The base of Glyph is made out of new make whiskey to which flavors are added to make Glyph look smell, and taste like a whiskey. 

Glyph is not made in the traditional way, instead it is almost reverse engineered. It uses the desired aromas and taste profile to drive the product on what molecules should be present. Glyph uses a three-step process that they refer to as a note-by-note production.

Step 1: Mapping- First a team studied the world’s best whiskeys and tried to understand what made them great. These whiskeys were broken down on a molecular level. An electronic nose and a electronic tongue were used to help this process. With this knowledge, the team identified key molecules that were used to develop their own unique product. 

Step 2: Source - Finding the molecular that should be present in the final product. If it is deemed that vanilla or caramel should be in the product, it is found through its molecular structure. Think of it as the piece of the puzzle that tells your brain vanilla when you taste vanilla in vanilla ice cream. Glyph’s building blocks are grains and extracts from nature in their peerest form (plant yeasts). Each component captured on a molecular level to have the exact proportion that Endless West deems appropriate. Endless West claims to use no artificial flavors that are synthesized in a lab. Molecules are gathered from resource-efficient natural sources (ester found in fruit, sugars found in corn, and acids found in citrus and wood). Alcohol is developed through the use of grain.

Step 3: Blend - All of the ingredients are blended together in small batches. This includes the 5% per proof gallon whiskey, which allows for the standards of identity of a whiskey as a Spirit Whiskey with natural flavors.  

This technology is really exciting to me from a consumer point of view. Thinking of the possibility of in the future a company being able to make a complex whiskey in just 24-hours is mind-blowing. I don’t think anyone or any company can cheat father time in the long run. I also wonder what kind of chaos we would have in the world if the went to all synthetic alcohol and angels didn’t get their share. In similar news, Microsoft has technology that can map any whiskey on a molecular level. The fact that Microsoft is exploring getting into the world of whiskey just shows how big the industry is getting. You can learn more by listening to episode 629 of The Bourbon Daily podcast. 

I do believe my brain and palate can be tricked into believing there are certain flavors present based on the molecular structure. I still do not know if the perfect whiskey will ever exist. Taste is very subjective to the individual person. The way we taste things with our taste buds is broken down into five different categories: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (savory). The mid-back of the tongue is used to taste bitterness. The side of the tongue is where we taste sourness. The front of the tongue is where we taste the sweetness and the front sides are where we taste saltiness.

Everyone's receptors are different and the sensitivity of each of the five categories may differ. Something that is sour to you may not be to me. These receptors are not the only factors in tasting something. The sense of touch also plays a key role in experiencing taste, as evidenced by the strong opinions on crunchy versus smooth peanut butter. In whiskey, we call this the mouthfeel. The way things smell, too, impacts our tasting abilities. Just ask anyone with a stuffed-up nose picking away at what seems to be a plate of bland food.

There are a lot of different factors that impact our taste including environment, health, age, gender, experiences, what we ate that day, and the list goes on and on. For these reasons, the perfect whiskey does not exist, but we are able to train our palate and hone our senses to increase our experience to find what we like. It seems that our whiskey palate is at its peak for the average person from age 21 to about age 60. Most peoples sense of smell and taste start to decline after age 60, this doesn’t mean you should stop drinking whiskey, you are just past your prime in sensing notes. I would still take Jimmy Russell against just about anyone in the world, but he isn’t your average person. 

Training your palate is a life long journey. With every new food you eat or scent you smell, you are building your inventory. When you are eating your next meal think about what each specific item on your plate smells like and while you are chewing it, what it really tastes like. Savor your food to really connect with it so you are later able to identify the exact note that you are picking out in your whiskey.  

I will continue to search for the perfect whiskey. Maybe science will be able to bring world peace by finding the perfect whiskey for everyone. For now, I will continue to train my pilate by eating more and drinking more whiskey. Glyph can be purchased in California, New York, and as of June 2019, Michigan. Endless West is not just a whiskey company, they plan on offering other spirits so be on the lookout for their other offerings.

About Shane Leonard
Shane Leonard is an editorial writer for the Bourbon Zeppelin. Shane is a 30-year-old Kentucky spirit with bold flavor. His articles have a easy to read feel with a long lasting finish of spice. The proof of his journey can be followed on Instagram @BarrelofKnowledge. #openbottles
Listen to This Issue of BZ
It's true, you can actually listen to this issue via Bourbon Zeppelin, the Podcast. The show is hosted by BZ's own Wes Hardin. He picks some of the top stories and reads/comments on them. He also adds in some bonus material.

You can listen to BZ on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, your favorite podcast provider or you can tune in on our website by
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Further Reading...
by Colonel Steve Akley
I have launched a blog on under the "Cool Muses" section called, "Our Bourbon Journey. It's a combination of my personal bourbon journey, the journey of my team at the ABV Network, what's happening at the ABV Network and bourbon reviews.

If you love Bourbon Zeppelin, you are going to also love this blog. Check it out today!
by Jordan Grigsby and Team
The newest offering to is a blog run by Jordan Grigsby and a team of bloggers. It's called Whiskey Corner and it covers whiskey reviews, the whiskey lifestyle, events, product sampling and much more. You can check out this ABV Network exclusive offering by clicking here.
Items from Steve and the Bourbon Zeppelin team
Bourbon Mixology is author Steve Akley's best selling book of all-time. The premise is simple: have 50 iconic bars share their signature bourbon cocktail. The bars selected do not fail to impress with their unique takes on some classic drinks and well as some very original creations.

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

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

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