From Jane Alonso. Her passion for food and spirits leads her on frequent excursions into Borderstan’s land of bars and restaurants. Email her at jane[AT]borderstan.com.
Now is the time of year when rare, small batch, highly-sought Bourbons whiskeys are released to liquor stores throughout the country. If you can get your hands on some of these prized concoctions, savor them (or auction them off for some extra cash!) — the limited supply and increasing demand is creating a consumer craze for these bottles.
Pappy Van Winkle — only 7,000 cases of the spirit are made every year, with small batches released in the late fall. Pappy Van Winkle is officially made by “The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery,” which is – in realty – just a brand name. The whiskey is actually the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
“Bourbon is a type of American whiskey – a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky (which, in turn, was named after the French House of Bourbon royal family). It has been produced since the 18th century.” – Wikipedia
A blend of bourbons from several distilleries, it comes in 10-, 13-, 20- and 23-years old batches. The distillery describes it as being made from a family recipe from corn, wheat and barley, instead of corn, rye and barley. They say the “wheated recipe gives the bourbon a much softer, smoother taste and it also allows the whiskey to age more gracefully.” For more on Pappy Van Winkle, reference this recent Washington Post article.
George T Stagg – Often referred to as “liquid gold,” George T. Stagg is a limited-production bourbon whiskey distributed by Buffalo Trace Distillery, as part of its “Antique Collection ” series. It is a high proof (between 140 to 150 proof) uncut and unfiltered bourbon, aged for approximately 15 years. Tasting notes highlight vanilla, fruit, and caramel. It is distributed twice a year — in later fall and early spring. After release, it is typically gone from store shelves within one month.
Don’t expect to wander into your local liquor store and score one of these bottles. Local liquor stores such as Schneider’s, Potomac Wine and Liquors, and Calvert Woodley typically have waiting lists for their limited allocations. If you can’t get your own stash, sample a glass of one of these bourbons at Borderstan favorites such as Jack Rose, Smoke and Barrel, or Rogue 24.