The Man Who Brought Bourbon Back

Buffalo Trace Patriarch Elmer T. Lee - Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ the world's best whiskey stones.


If you’re a bourbon lover who’s reveling in the currently thriving whiskey market, we’d like to suggest that you pour a tipple out for Elmer T. Lee next time you imbibe.


It’s a fact that not too long ago the bourbon industry was in deep trouble. Lee is the man who turned it all around. Looking around at today’s booming bourbon market, it seems improbable that it ever needed a recovery. Whiskey revenue was up 10% last year, to about $2.7 billion dollars. In a relatively short period of time Kentucky has doubled the number of bourbon-related jobs and tripled its number of distilleries. The bourbon revival has gained so much momentum, that consumers are actually stockpiling whiskey in case supply can’t keep up with demand. Hardly seems like an industry that was ever in decline. Sure, the world loves bourbon, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 70’s, bourbon was experiencing a sharp decline in popularity. Gone were the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, people were into vodka and gin.

Then along comes Elmer T. Lee, he had started his career in 1949 with Buffalo Trace – formally known as George T. Stagg. He worked his way up the ladder to Master Distiller. It wasn’t until 1984 though, that Lee began his crusade to bring bourbon back into the limelight. And he did it with just one barrel. During the 80’s the drinking public still wasn’t very interested in bourbon with flavor, but Lee gave it to them regardless. The story goes that Col. Albert B. Blanton, the distillery boss, had the been selecting bourbon from barrels in the center of Warehouse H for his private use, believing it was of the highest quality. So when Lee decided to rock the boat, he turned his back on blending and bottled his bourbon from a single barrel. He focused on character rather than consistency. And he started with Blanton’s secret stash in Warehouse H, creating Blanton’s Single Barrel – the first of its kind on the market.

Blanton’s was uncommonly good for bourbon at that time, and customers quickly became obsessed. Many distilleries have followed suit, and now single barrel bourbon is a mainstay in a flourishing bourbon market. Heaven Hill, Jack Daniel’s, Knob Creek and Four Roses all offer at least one, if not several, single barrel choices. Blanton’s is aged for eight years in newly charred white oak barrels, bottled at 93 Proof – a potent 46.5% ABV. While flavors will vary due to being a single barrel bourbon, you can count on sweet caramel and spice, clove, citrus, burnt sugar, vanilla, and honey. Lee was a man who knew what he was doing. Lee was eventually honored with his own bourbon by the Buffalo Trace distillery – Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel. We like our Blanton’s and Elmer T. Lee poured over a frozen whiskey stone, it chills without diluting. And we always pour a tipple out for Lee. He died almost thirty years after bringing whiskey back to life, at the age 93 – the same proof as his bourbon. 

 

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Treat Bourbon Right, Or Else

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

 

We all have that one friend, the one who insists on mixing expensive, high-end bourbon with Coke.

As purists it’s hard not to get offended by such behavior. Just think of all the years a premium whiskey has to wait – patiently cradled in American oak. All those skilled hands that lovingly craft and pamper it. And your friend repays such selfless effort by using a mixer that can take chrome off a bumper. Despair no more. Now there’s a way to avenge the best of bourbons – The Time Bomb Cocktail.

It’s a simple, yet deviant plan. Take an ice cube tray and add water as usual, then drop a Mentos mint into each reservoir. Place the tray in the freezer and await your sweet revenge. When the aforementioned transgressor shows up, offer to make their favorite drink. Surreptitiously slip in a couple of your specially engineered ice cubes and wait. When the cubes melt and the mints are revealed – kaboom! Take that, you bourbon violator you.

Here’s the science behind our wicked and wily cocktail. All the carbon dioxide in soda is squeezed into the liquid and looking for a way out. It’s drawn to any tiny bumps that it can grab onto. Those tiny bumps are called nucleation sites: places the gas can grab onto and start forming bubbles. Nucleation sites can be anywhere there is a high surface area in a very small volume. The surface of a Mentos mint is sprayed with over 40 microscopic layers of liquid sugar. That makes it not only sweet, but also covered with tons of nucleation sites.

In other words, there are so many microscopic nooks and crannies on the surface of a Mentos that an incredible number of bubbles form around the Mentos when exposed to carbonated soda. All that pressure has got to go somewhere, and before you know it, you’ve got a big bourbon and Coke geyser exploding in your face. Sure, it’s another terrible waste of good bourbon whiskey, but it just might get your point across. Think of it as a necessary sacrifice. One premium bourbon dies so that others may live. You my friend, have just done humanity an enormous favor.

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Teach Your Friends to Respect Bourbon

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

 

We all have that one friend, the one who insists on mixing expensive, high-end bourbon with Coke.

As purists it’s hard not to get offended by such behavior. Just think of all the years a premium whiskey has to wait – patiently cradled in American oak. All those skilled hands that lovingly craft and pamper it. And your friend repays such selfless effort by using a mixer that can take chrome off a bumper. Despair no more. Now there’s a way to avenge the best of bourbons – The Time Bomb Cocktail.

It’s a simple, yet deviant plan. Take an ice cube tray and add water as usual, then drop a Mentos mint into each reservoir. Place the tray in the freezer and await your sweet revenge. When the aforementioned transgressor shows up, offer to make their favorite drink. Surreptitiously slip in a couple of your specially engineered ice cubes and wait. When the cubes melt and the mints are revealed – kaboom! Take that, you bourbon violator you.

Here’s the science behind our wicked and wily cocktail. All the carbon dioxide in soda is squeezed into the liquid and looking for a way out. It’s drawn to any tiny bumps that it can grab onto. Those tiny bumps are called nucleation sites: places the gas can grab onto and start forming bubbles. Nucleation sites can be anywhere there is a high surface area in a very small volume. The surface of a Mentos mint is sprayed with over 40 microscopic layers of liquid sugar. That makes it not only sweet, but also covered with toms of nucleation sites.

In other words, there are so many microscopic nooks and crannies on the surface of a Mentos that an incredible number of bubbles form around the Mentos when exposed to carbonated soda. All that pressure has got to go somewhere, and before you know it, you’ve got a big bourbon and Coke geyser exploding in your face. Sure, it’s another terrible waste of good bourbon whiskey, but it just might get your point across. Think of it as a necessary sacrifice. One premium bourbon dies so that others may live. You my friend, have just done humanity an enormous favor.

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Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Take this test and see how you rate.

  1. True or False: Bourbon County gets its name from the numerous bourbon distilleries located there.
  2. True or False: “Straight” bourbon must be aged in American oak for a minimum of four years.
  3. True or False: The main difference between Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey is the type of wood used in the aging process.
  4. True or False: The name given to fresh-from-the-still, un-aged bourbon is White Dog.
  5. True or False: To qualify as “Bottled-in-Bond” a bourbon must be bottled in Bond, Kentucky.
  6. True or False: Bourbon distilleries were repurposed during World War II to produce penicillin.
  7. True or False: The bourbon making process creates a leftover “slop” that is used to make tortillas.
  8. True or False: The Mint Julep, a quintessential cocktail made with bourbon, inspired the invention of the modern drinking straw.

 

Answers:

  1. False: It is named after Louis XVI, the last Bourbon King of France. The name honors his helpful alliance with the colonies during the American Revolution.
  2. False: Straight bourbon must come from a mash of at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof and barreled in charred oak at 125 proof or below. It must be aged at least 2 years and be free of added flavoring or coloring.
  3. False: Tennessee whiskey is charcoal-filtered, Kentucky bourbon is not.
  4. True: The term reflects the liquor’s lack of coloring and it’s ability to “bite” the person imbibing in too much.
  5. False: It must be produced in one season, by one distiller, at one distillery. It also must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse at least four years and bottled at 100 proof.
  6. True: Penicillin is a by-product of fermentation and distilleries were able to make it in large amounts. This greatly reduced the number of injury-related deaths during the war.
  7. True: It is also used to make granola, and to feed livestock.
  8. True: In 1888, Marvin Stone was tired of drinking his Mint Juleps through a stalk of rye grass. He disliked the flavor and residue it added to his drink. He patented the first modern drinking straw made of paper.

 

Scoring:

All Correct    Bourbon Master – Pour yourself a drink and celebrate.

6-7 Correct    Bourbon Aficionado – This deserves a drink.

4-5 Correct    Bourbon Apprentice – You too should celebrate with a drink.

2-3 Correct    Bourbon Rookie – You’re trying, have a drink anyways.

0-1 Correct    Maybe you should stick to flavored vodka.

 

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Bourbon Marshmallow S’mores

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Make your own S’mores with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows.

Nothing will take you back to your childhood faster than a warm gooey marshmallow. As kids we’d layer them on expertly built S’mores while surrounding a campfire. And sometimes, we’d stuff them into our mouths straight from the bag. Nobody cared that those lovely, sticky treats were mass produced and loaded with unhealthy ingredients. That’s one of the best things about growing up; as you age you develop refined tastes and you gain wisdom. Now that we’re wise adults, we know we deserve a little better. We know we deserve a marshmallow that’s free of additives. And, we definitely know we deserve a marshmallow that contains bourbon.

Here you go – The Homemade Bourbon Marshmallow. Quick and easy to make, and a gazillion times better that the marshmallows you enjoyed as a kid. You’re head is going to explode when you realize the multitude of possibilities. We have dozens of ways we like to eat these, but nothing beats a S’more made with Bourbon Marshmallows. Heck, we still pop them right in our mouths just like we did as kids, and there’s no one here to stop us. That’s because we’re adults now and we run the show.

We highly suggest you save a bit of the bourbon to enjoy later. Pour it over one of our handcrafted whiskey stones. It will chill without diluting. Make yourself a toast to having regained a slice of your childhood.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold bourbon
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sprinkle powdered sugar to cover and coat. Set aside. Pour cold water and gelatin into a mixing bowl. Gently mix once with a spoon, let sit while you make sugar mixture.

In a medium sauce pan combine sugar, bourbon, syrup and salt. Heat over low heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat up to medium let sugar come to a boil. Let boil for 8-12 minutes. Measure temperature with a candy thermometer, remove from heat at 240 degrees F.

Pour sugar mixture into mixing bowl over top of the gelatin. Mix on low till ingredients are blended. Then, mix on high and beat for for 6-8 minutes. Mixture should grow in size and be white and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add egg whites and vanilla extract to the sugar-gelatin mixture and beat until just combined.

Pour marshmallow mixture into 9 x 13 pan. Spray a spatula with non-stick spray and smooth top surface of 9 x 13 pan. Dust powdered sugar on top and let sit 3-5 hours until firm. Once firm, turn the pan upside down on a cutting board to release marshmallow rectangle. Cut into pieces.

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The Dependable Delectable Boilermaker

The Boilermaker - Posted by Hammerstone's Whiskey Disks, makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Only two things make whiskey better: More of it, or chasing it with beer.

A whiskey, beer back, is hardly the highlight of creative bar-tending. But as many of us know, not every beer-and-booze pairing works. Finding a perfect pairing takes a little thought. You have to be careful not to overpower the flavors in any direction – like having a super heavy beer with a whiskey that’s a little more intricate in flavor. And it’s not about slamming the spirit down. It’s about enjoying a taste of both. You start with a sip of the spirit, then a taste of beer. Consider, as well, that the combination of one neat spirit and one beer probably contains less alcohol than the two cocktails you’d slurp down in about the same amount of time. Here are some of our best-loved pairings:

  • An American pilsner, Yuengling Premium Beer and Suntory Yamazaki 18-year-old. The first sip of this fat, malty, peaty Japanese stunner and your troubles will be forgotten. Finish with the crisp, bright pilsner and you are a veritable laser beam of optimism. Not a bad thing.
  • On the bourbon end, rich Smuttynose Robust Porter, with its roasted malt and chocolate notes, is a perfect match with the higher-proof bourbon, Knob Creek Single Barrel.
  • Our favorite British ale, Old Speckled Hen, is what we love to pair with our Glenlivet 18-year-old whisky. Unlike the lighter Glenlivet 12, the magnificent 18 has enough wood to stand up to the ale without stepping on its creaminess. Dee-licious.
  • Then of course there’s Guinness and Powers Irish Whiskey. A no-brainer. Powers is what they drink with their Guinness in Dublin. Good enough for us.

The simple desire for a beer and a bump can provide countless avenues for exploration. A little whiskey and beer is also a dependable do-it-yourself cocktail. When at home, we always take our liquor neat over one of our frozen Whiskey Disks™ to create a smoother drinking experience. We let the spirit warm on the tongue, enjoying the flavors as they develop due to the slight change in temperature from the whiskey stone. Then, a sip of beer and “BOOM” goes the dynamite!

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Kentucky Watermelon

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Everybody enjoys watermelon when summertime rolls around, here’s a fun and easy way to make your favorite Kentucky straight bourbon and watermelon become fast friends.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium-sized watermelon
  • 1 pint and a half of good Kentucky straight bourbon

 

PREPARATION:

Place watermelon on a rimmed tray, carefully score diagonal gashes several inches apart all around the melon, cutting through the rind into the meat. With a long sharp knife, cut out a conical plug from the top center. Use a corkscrew to remove this cone, it should be about two inches in diameter and about six inches long when removed from the melon. Place the tray with the melon in refrigerator for at least an hour. Moisture will seep out during this process through the side gashes and will rise in the hole left by the cone. Pour off liquid from the tray, and then from out of the hole. Fill the hole slowly with Kentucky straight bourbon. Return the melon on its tray to the refrigerator, chill thoroughly. Keep adding bourbon periodically. Serve sliced.

 

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80-Proof Amp Made of Whiskey Barrels

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Whiskey and great music have always been inextricably linked.

Fender continues to solidify that relationship with its limited release of the “80 Proof” Blues Junior Amplifier. Beautifully encased in repurposed whiskey barrels, the amplifier sports brass knobs and a brass control plate, plus a gorgeous leather handle. And to top it all off, the Fender logo is burned into the wood. It’s a great piece of functional art. Plus, it sounds as good as it looks. Tucked inside the booze-soaked case is 15 watts of all-tube power, reverb, and a 12″ 8-ohm Jensen P12Q speaker. Production is limited to 100 pieces, and the amplifier goes for $1,999 – sixty of which will be sold at select retailers in the United States. So if you want your musical setup to include a bit of whiskey history, best grab one before they’re all gone.

Head over to Fender’s website for details.

 

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Summer’s coming. You’re gonna need this frozen bourbon treat.

Bourbon Slush Recipe - From Hammerstone's Whiskey Disks, makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

Hammerstone’s Bourbon Slush

Meteorological signs favor a historically hot summer for 2015. Experts are predicting that there’s a strong chance of breaking into the top 25 hottest on record. With this news in mind, it’s evident that a plan is needed. A plan on how to beat the impending summer heat. Success begins with preparation; so let’s not waste any time.

Our handcrafted whiskey stones will be essential for chilling your summer drinks without diluting. But, you’re gonna need some backup. You’re gonna need something up your sleeve, something to really turn the tide when the mercury starts to skyrocket. And that something is Bourbon Slush. So, crank up the A/C, make sure it’s in good working order. Tip back the recliner and wash down some imaginary summer sweat with our ice-cold Bourbon Slush recipe.

Remember, practice makes perfect. So get in plenty of practice, cause summer is on it’s way and it’s pissed.

Ingredients:

2 parts your favorite bourbon
1 large can frozen orange juice
1 large can frozen lemonade
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups hot water with 4 tea bags
8 cups boiling water

Directions:

Brew 2 cups hot water with 4 tea bags and the combine with 8 cups boiling water. In a large bowl or container, mix together the 2 parts bourbon, 1 large can frozen orange juice, 1 large can frozen lemonade,1-1/2 cups sugar, and tea. Transfer to shallow bowls or dishes, and freeze overnight/24 hours.

Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and let stand for about 10 minutes. Chop with a wire whisk or potato masher to make a slushy consistency. Place scoops of the frozen slush into glasses and bask in the glory of an eventual victory over the coming days of summer heat.

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The Great Bourbon Heist – Case Solved

Posted by Hammerstone's WhiskeyDisks­™ makers of the world's best whiskey stones.

The case of the great Kentucky bourbon heist has at last been solved.

In October of 2013, more than 200 bottles of the highly sought-after Pappy Van Winkle brand of bourbon went missing from a securely locked area of the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Even before the robbery, bottles of the bourbon were hard to come by – some sold privately for as much as $1,000.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton has always maintained that the theft was an inside job. Recently he announced nine indictments that prove he was correct.

Detectives have been working on the case for more than a year now. Their work lead them to the residence of Toby Curtsinger, where they discovered five barrels of hijacked Wild Turkey bourbon. They also found a trail of evidence that led eventually to an underground crime ring, and additional suspects.

The group of bourbon thieves included distillery employees of Buffalo Trace, with Curtsinger apparently acting as ringleader. According to Melton, stolen bourbon wasn’t the only commodity he dealt in.

Curtsinger allegedly ran an organized crime syndicate out of his home. He not only participated in the theft and distribution of filched bourbon, but also dealt in anabolic steroids. Curtsinger used his connections with a softball league to move the ill-gotten hooch.

Whoever was snatching up the stolen bourbon had great taste, and some deep pockets. Authorities have recovered $100,000 worth of missing bourbon, with one stainless steel barrel of Eagle Rare 17-year-old that’s worth $11,000.

Law enforcement hasn’t accounted for all of the missing Pappy Van Winkle bourbon quite yet. They have a mere 25 bottles in custody at the moment – roughly 10% of what was stolen. The balance has already been sold, and authorities aren’t optimistic about being able to recover it.

So what will become of any bourbon if it’s recovered in the future? Get ready to shed some tears, bourbon lovers – by law it will have to be destroyed.

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