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Holiday Gift Guide for 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for 2015

It’s the time of year when we’re all shopping for Holiday Gifts. I’m a big believer that for most people Wine makes a great gift. If you have someone on your list that’s really into one category or another get them something slightly outside their normal drinking zone and help them expand their palate. Here are a dozen delicious ideas. If you need spirits, head over to my gift Guide for The Daily Meal to read about my spirits suggestions.

Big Reds and Whiskey for Dad

KaikenMai10Father’s Day is around the corner, so it’s time to get Dad a gift. I suppose you could get him a tie, but it’ll probably end up at the back of his closet with so many other unnecessary artifacts. Instead, give him something delicious to drink. Here are 11 well-made wines and whiskeys that will quench his thirst and leave him smiling. Who knows — if you’re lucky, he may share. Harney Lane 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel ($35)

All of the fruit for this truly old vine zinfandel was sourced at a single vineyard site. Lizzy James Vineyard was planted in Lodi, California, back in 1904. It was aged in French oak for 21 months. Black raspberry and plum aromas lead the charge on the deep, dark, and heady nose. Blueberry and blackberry flavors fill the...Head over to The Daily Meal to read The Rest.

Four Roses Bourbon: A Kentucky Legend Reborn

small batch_2013I recently spent several days in Louisville Kentucky as the guest of Four Roses Bourbon. In addition to visiting their warehouse and distillery I ate at several terrific restaurants, imbibed at a couple of killer cocktail bars and generally soaked in all things Louisville. It was a memorable time, punctuated by lots of tasty Bourbon in a variety of different settings. Four Roses Bourbon has a long and winding history that starts with being bonded all the way back in 1888. Over the years they’ve been owned by several larger companies and managed in a variety of styles. One of those owners made them an export-only producer. For that reason, over a period of many years, Four Roses was only available internationally. Japan has for decades been their largest export market and Four Roses produces several selections exclusively for release there. Therefore it’s no surprise then when their previous owner went belly up, and Four Roses was for sale, a Japanese firm purchased them. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Booker’s Bourbon: Intense, Concentrated, Masterpiece

bookersWhiskey comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people are avowed bourbon drinkers, while others swear by Scotch. Personally I love them both, it just depends what I’m in the mood for, in a particular moment in time. Life is all about context after all. Comparing the similarities and distinctions between bourbon and Scotch is as inspiring to whiskey lovers as contrasting a Napa cabernet with a fine Bordeaux is to a wine lover. One of the things that make bourbon so appealing is the wide array of small batch offerings appearing on our shelves. There are distillers popping up all over the country making interesting examples of bourbon. Many of the large distillers also have a small batch program whose focus is on specific lots produced in limited quantities. I just tasted one that’s part of the Jim Beam family of whiskies and it left a strong impression on me. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Basil Hayden’s: An Easily Adaptable Bourbon

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I tend to lump my Bourbons into two distinct categories: those I like to drink neat or on the rocks, and those I use in cocktails. Often the ones at the lower end of the price spectrum aren’t as palatable neat, whereas I’m often loathe to mix higher-end bourbons with anything. So when I sat down to taste Basil Hayden’s, I tried it both ways and really wondered where I’d land with it.

The recipe used to distill Basil Hayden’s dates back more than 200 years. It’s made from both rye and corn to create a Bourbon with a wider flavor profile, and to this day they still use... Read the rest over at The Daily Meal

Buffalo Trace - Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Distillery has a history that dates back many years. However they took their current name in 1999. Their flagship Bourbon is the Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; additionally they make a number of other selections regularly as well as special bottles of limited Bourbons from time to time. Today I’m going to take a look at a few of their releases that I recently sampled and really enjoyed. First up is the flagship offering, the Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This is a widely available selection that sells nationally for right around $25. Hints of vanilla bean, toast and hazelnut emerge from the nose of this standard bearer of Bourbon. Rich flavors are in evidence on the silky mid-palate which is loaded with apricot, toffee and spices. Crème Brulee, clover honey, and white pepper are all in evidence on the lengthy and warming finish. This is a smooth and layered Bourbon that offers excellent value and complexity in its price-point. It’s important to have go to options in life, things you can count on to provide quality and value at a reasonable price. This stalwart from Buffalo Trace is just that.

Next up is the Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This selection was aged for 10 years prior to release. It’s also available nationally and most often sells for right around $30. Bits of white chocolate and vanilla bean are prominent in the nose here. The palate is ultra smooth and dotted with spices, almond and nectarine characteristics. The finish is super-long laden with orange peel, white pepper and a hint of toffee. This Bourbon does a phenomenal job balancing power and grace from the first whiff through the last sip. The Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon represents an absolutely tremendous value.

Finally, here’s a quick look at a couple of their rare bottles. Officially these are part of the Experimental Collection and they’re made sporadically and in very small batches. I sampled the Buffalo Trace Rice Bourbon as well as the Buffalo Trace Oat Bourbon. The Rice Bourbon starts with a big and booming nose loaded with caramel and vanilla aromas. Apricot, yeast and spice notes are part of the palate which is weighty and substantial. The lengthy finish is layered with orange peel, spices, burnt sugar and almonds. This is a distinct and powerful expression of Bourbon. The Oat Bourbon has a markedly subtler nose with bits or stone fruit and gentle spice characteristics emerging. The palate shows mesquite honey, spices and lots of nuance. The finish has good length with vanilla bean and white pepper in evidence. These are both interesting expressions that stand out from the pack and are well worth investigating for those seeking the road less travelled.