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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome back to Wakey Whiskey here at Bite And Booze.  Last week I broke out one of my "bigger" whiskeys in anticipation of a big matchup with Florida, and this week is an even bigger matchup with Georgia even if the loss last week takes off a smidge of luster.  The truth is, LSU's still almost as in control of their own destiny as possible, just without any more margin for error.  Now, I'm not booking my hotel rooms for the championship just yet, but it's still in play, right?  

This week I'm sticking with the Jefferson's line of whiskey, but instead of the 21-year bourbon like I finished off last week, this is the 21-year rye.  There's something fun about drinking a whiskey that's old enough to drink, and I've always been a big fan of rye whiskeys in general, as I find that they tend to be a little more complex than one with a primarily corn grain bill.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

The pour is a dark brown with hints of red, a similar color (as expected) to the 21-year bourbon.  The nose has strong notes of caramel and licorice, with a bit of cinnamon spice.  It's sweet, with a bit of a burn for the 90.4 proof whiskey but the licorice is a bit surprising to me.  The taste is strong with oak, cinnamon, caramel, with the licorice fading and a hint of vanilla coming out.  There's a bit of a burn on the back end, but as a whole it's a very smooth drink of rye, that I like a little more than last week's bourbon.  

Unfortunately this one, like last week's bourbon, is going to be almost impossible to find out in the wild, but the good news is that I still have some left, so if anyone wants to bring a few bottles over to share, I'll be happy to share some of this with you!

Cheers!  And GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: St. Bernardus's Abt 12 Quad

By Eric Ducote

Good morning and welcome back to Feature Beer Friday!  I've been featuring a lot of local beers recently, which I'm not ashamed of at all because there are plenty worth featuring, but today I'm headed across the pond to Belgium.  Belgium has always been one of the world leaders when it comes to beer due to their distinctive Belgian-styled ales.  The small country is littered with small breweries (often associated with monasteries) putting out excellent beers.  Belgian ales were really one of my first introductions to the world past macro lagers, as even before the craft scene blew up in Louisiana these options were readily available. One excellent example of a non-Trappist Belgian brewery is St. Bernardus, known for a wide range of styles and their distinctive Witbier.  Today's offering though, is their Abt 12, one of their three "core" beers and the strongest of the bunch. 

St. Bernardus Abt 12

This beer is a 10% abv Belgian-style Quad, which is sometimes referred to as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  Typically Belgian ales start at their enkel or "single" which is the lightest offering and usually drank by the monks themselves. After that is a dubbel which is a little stronger and darker, the tripel which is stronger still although typically lighter in color and more floral, and the quadrupel which is dark like the dubbel and even stronger.  The Abt 12 is one of the most popular and well regarded versions of the quadrupel style.  

The beer pours a brown color reminiscent of a coca cola with a very bubbly off-white head. The aroma is fruity, dominated mostly by sweeter plum flavors but also some grape and a little bit of floral hoppiness.   It's extremely pleasing and inviting, and I can't wait to get in a sip.  The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I remember from my early days of beer appreciation, but the flavors are still full and complex, with some rock candy sweetness, fruity esters from the yeast, and a floral bitter balance from the hops.  This was a fresh bottle of Abt 12, but I'd imagine the sweet and fruity flavors would be enhanced with age while the hoppy notes fade.  This beer has earned a reputation as one of the best in the world, and it does not disappoint.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 should be pretty easy to find around Baton Rouge, either in a corked & caged 750 ml bottle, a 4-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles, or in a gift set along with the dubbel, tripel and a glass like you see pictured above.  I know it's "on trend" to fill the beer fridge with all hazy IPA these days, but here's an outstanding chance of pace.  Cheers! 


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and happy GAMEDAY to you all!  This afternoon the Fighting Tigers of LSU are taking on the hated Florida Gators, so I figured that called for stepping up my whiskey game a bit.  I've had this bottle of Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-year for quite some time, as it officially released on April 1, 2013.  Unfortunately I'm getting down to the very end, so I had to make sure I gave it the full wakey whiskey honors before my bottle is dry.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select (named after Thomas Jefferson) is produced by Jefferson's Bourbon, which is owned by Castle Brands along with a few names you might recognize in the Irish Whiskey world like Knappogue Castle and Clontarf.  The first two editions of Presidential Select were the 17-year and the 18-year, but they were made from a wheated whiskey that was distilled at Stitzel-Weller of Pappy Van Winkle fame.  The Presidential Select 17-Year actually won the whiskeys of the world tournament that Jay and I hosted (along with James Lawson and Jeremy Spikes) back when we were producing the Raise A Glass radio show, and the 18-Year offering has been featured on Bite and Booze before in a Whiskey Wednesday post.  This 21-Year offering was not distilled by Stitzel-Weller though, and it has no wheat in the grain bill, so the flavor profile is definitely expected to be different.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

The pour is dark as a 21-Year bourbon should be, the barrels selected for this batch ranged from 21 to 24 years old, and that's a lot of time for that liquor to soak in and out of the wood and absorb that char and the flavors.  The nose is strong with oak notes, again to be expected from a 21-Year bourbon, but there are also notes of leather and a hint of citrus.  Mostly though, the oak and associated char flavors stand out.  The taste is smooth, the oakiness is still bold, and vanilla comes through as well, the citrus is still there in a very small amount creating a well rounded profile.  

The finish is smooth as well, with minimal alcohol burn and a still dominant flavor of oak.  There's a subtle cinnamon spice throughout, perhaps some rye went into the grain bill in place of the wheat?  i don't think this is quite as impressive as the 17 and 18-Year batches, but it's still a magnificent bourbon.  

With that said, Cheers!  And Geaux Tigers! 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Parish's Pure Tropics IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday here at Bite and Booze.  This week I'm going to take a look at one of the recent hoppy releases from Parish Brewing out of Broussard, Louisiana.  Those that read this space regularly, and most of you in the South Louisiana area are certainly already familiar with Parish, so I'll dive right into the beer review!  

Parish Brewing's Pure Tropics IPA

This particular beer is the Pure Tropics IPA.  It's a 7% abv brewed with an IPA base recipe then conditioned on mango, pineapple, and pink guava puree.  Sounds amazing to me!  

The pour is effervescent, with a golden orange color that absolutely fits in with the NEIPA style and the tropical notes to the beer.  The aroma is a beautiful blend of hoppy flavors and tropical fruit, with the mango coming through strongest in my opinion, although I'm not all that familiar with the pink guava fruit.  Pineapple is a flavor that tends to dominate any drink, which is why it was always a key ingredient to the jungle juice back in my college days, but it's well blended here and doesn't take over the beer entirely.  Each sip is fantastic, with the hoppy citrus notes married with the fruit flavors in a harmonious relationship.  

Parish has another great offering with this round of Pure Tropics, and I'm pretty sure there is still plenty to be found out and about in town, so if you see a 4-pack, buy with confidence.  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another #Gameday edition of #WakeyWhiskey as LSU takes on (Go To Hell) Ole Miss late tonight and maybe into tomorrow morning.  A few days ago I was looking through my liquor collection and looking through some previous wakey whiskey posts and realized that I've never featured this Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon.  I've had this bottle for years, I believe it was actually a Christmas present from Jay, but due to its large size and unusual shape it always ended up on the "top shelf" of the liquor cabinet and rarely found its way down.  Rather than keep that trend continuing I decided to pull the bottle down and make it this week's featured whiskey.

Willet Pot Still Reserve is produced by the Willett Distillery, which is also known as the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers.  It's still an independent distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, and in addition to the Willett brand they produce Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Pure Kentucky, and more labels.  The bottle that I have is actually a 1.75l bottle styled after a pot still, and is a single barrel version of the Pot Still Reserve.  Around 2015 Willett switched from a single barrel labeling to a small batch labeling, but like I said, this is one of the older bottles in my collection, obviously pre-dating that switch.  It even says on the neck label that this is bottle no. 91 of 117 from single barrel no. 870.  (I think it's 870... the last number is cut off, but it's something round so either 870 or maybe 876... doesn't really matter...)  

Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

Upon pouring and taking the picture, I noticed that the bourbon left in the bottle has a reddish tint to it while the bourbon in my glass is more of a traditional brown.  That's just the light playing tricks though, I can promise it's all the same and I wasn't pouring koolaid back into the bottle.  This is bottled at 94 proof (47% abv) and the aroma is a very pleasant combination of oak, vanilla, and a hint of citrus.  The taste is a smooth note of vanilla, with some charred oak coming through as well as a bit of sweeter caramel, all balanced well by the alcohol.  I think this 94 proof bourbon is right in the sweet spot between the standard 80 proof bourbons and the high proof barrel-strength offerings.  It makes for an interesting complex bourbon without being so strong that it takes away from the flavors.

I know you won't likely be able to find this single barrel version, but if you see some Willett Pot Still Reserve out in the wild, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.  Cheers, and Geaux Tigers!