Forty Creek’s John K. Hall tells the tale of how American bourbon showed Canadian whiskey the way from counterfeit hooch to finely crafted whiskey.
Have Your Pappy and Your Dickel Too
The rise of craft American whiskey now extends beyond the bourbon belt. Here’s the shortlist of major players nationwide.
GETTING TO KNOW THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Peering over the Hudson River from between two iconically New York red brick buildings, the brand new Hotel Hugo SoHo features a mix of modern urban escape and industrial warmth. This new kid on the block is an excellent place to call home for a brief stay in New York City.
Private barrel selection at Woodford Reserve and the drive back to Louisville
In day five of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we soak in the last rays of Kentucky sun, watch a group pick their own single barrel of Woodford Reserve, and more.
A Video Tour of the Process from 12 Bourbon Distilleries
We toured 12 distilleries in a five-day blitz, asking everyone we met to walk us through the bourbon-making process. Here, you’ll find all of the steps that go into making America’s unique take on whiskey.
What's the right way to enjoy America's Whiskey?
Is there a proper way to drink Bourbon? We asked experts in the industry to weigh in.
Town Branch, Buffalo Trace, Old Rip Van Winkle and more
In Day Four of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we visit Town Branch, learn from a true bourbon master, and Ben nerds out. (A lot.)
Gleaning the Importance of the Family Tree
“Buffalo Trace is already making the bourbons of the future”, said our guide Freddy Johnson. It sounded bold until we stopped to think about it. Whiskey has to age before it can qualify as bourbon, so technically, every distiller is making “the bourbons of the future” today. Still, after we spent an afternoon learning about the company’s quest to make the world’s perfect bourbon, his phrasing seemed prophetic.
Admiring the Selection at Lexington's Blue Grass Tavern
Call it the Pappy effect if you want, or just plain business savvy, but most distilleries saw an opportunity in limited, premium bourbons in the early 2000s. At one of Lexington’s best bourbon bars, the Blue Grass Tavern, we laid eyes on some of the absolute best.
The Taste of a productive day
The Irish have Irish coffee, the Scotch have Highland Coffee, the Germans have Rüdesheimer Kaffee, and college students have vodka and red bull. Kentuckians have the Kentucky Sundowner. Here’s how to make one.
Demystifying World's Most Famous Bourbon
I’d say that Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction, except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy”, other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight by getting a couple of basic facts out of the way.
Staying Sober in Bourbon Country
We posed the same question to everyone we spoke to on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: “If someone is only going to visit Kentucky once, what should they do?” Here are their responses.
Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and More
In day three of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we check out small (Wilderness Trail) and big (Four Roses, Wild Turkey) distilleries on the way to Lexington — and get to taste something particularly special.
The Best (and Only) Hotel in Lexington’s Historic District
The Gratz Park Inn isn’t just the best place to stay at in Lexington’s Historic District — it’s the only boutique hotel in Lexington’s Historic District. You’re just a short walk from enough comfort food, bourbon and good Kentucky weather. What else could you want?
Maker's Mark, Willet, and More
In day two of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure, we get lost in the backwoods, explore the Willet Distillery, taste a few bourbon cocktails made by a pro, and more.
A Night in Kentucky's Oldest Family-Operated B&B
Close your eyes. Form a picture in your head of what a historic B&B in the heart of Bluegrass country should look like. What remains though in the mind’s eye should look quite close to Harrodsburg’s Beaumont Inn owned by the Dedman family.
Wild Kentucky Catfish Over Beer Cheese Grits
The Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky is a centuries old family mansion converted into a premiere restaurant, serving local cuisine amplified by knowledgable Head Chef Newman Miller. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming and the bourbon is some of the best you’ll find anywhere. Here’s a recipe from their November menu.
How a next-generation master distiller helped relight the stills
Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen doesn’t have time for bullshit. It’s not something he has to tell anyone. The message shoots from his eyes like a railgun. Even at a relatively young age, it’s clear he’s heard it all before. He talks like someone who’s lost years listening to others dribble on, and worked hard to eradicate the behavior in himself; his speech is terse, verging on curt. You can’t blame him for him ignoring the noise. A lot rides on his shoulders. He and his family worked for years to rebuild the family distillery, which reopened in 2012, and now he’s determined to prove a point.
High proof cocktails in the bourbon capital
Sometimes out of the bottle with a beer is the best way to have a bourbon”, admits Chef Newman Miller, owner of Harrison Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky. But not always. The three bourbon cocktails he showed us are truly made to meet the expectations of the local Kentuckians.
From Brunch Spot to Global Food Sensation
Hillbilly Tea sounds like an Urban Dictionary revelation — or the latest product from the minds of White and Pinkman. For all we know, both of those statements are true. It’s also one of Louisville’s hottest brunch spots, and a burgeoning international brand. And if founders Karter Louis and Chef Arpad “Arpi” Lengyel realize their ultimate vision, that’s just the beginning.
Inside Louisville's Copper & Kings Distillery
A stack of freshly painted neon orange and black shipping containers stand in stark contrast to the red brick warehouse aesthetic of East Washington Street in the Butchertown area of Louisville, like a shiny new Google campus in the middle of a housing project. The large steel rectangles are the first of many signs that the Copper & Kings distillery is anything but traditional.
Greetings from the Bluegrass State
We figured the best way to get to the bottom of the recent bourbon boom was to head to the Bluegrass State with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days of Kentucky scenery, friendly locals and distillery tours. Here’s a play-by-play of day one of our investigation on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Never Order the Scotch
An aimless night in Louisville turns into a booze-fueled expedition, filled with new friends, a bar with 1,600 beers, and a cat that’s not to be fucked with.
A Roaming Journal of America's Spirit
Bourbon is booming, but only decades ago, it was on a path toward failure. This was most evident in the 1980s, at the height of vodka and big hair, when distilleries in the Bluegrass State were shuttering their doors. They simply couldn’t give bottles away, the same bottles that just a generation before were lining executive conference rooms and hotel bars throughout America. It was by definition an all-American drink, and it was quickly fading. But then in the mid-2000s, distillers realized the atmosphere was changing. Bourbon started coming back. Fast.
This explosion, which continues to grow to this day, raises plenty of questions. What’s fueling the bourbon boom? Is it going to burst, like tech and housing? Are some bottles really worth $5,000, and more importantly, who’s buying them? What makes a bourbon good? The best way to get to the bottom of this was to head to the Bluegrass State, where 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is made, equipped with a few cameras, some notebooks and clean livers for five days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail — a triangle of distillery tours throughout the state with endpoints at Louisville, Lexington and Bardstown — for many early mornings and late nights drinking and talking with some of the foremost professionals in booze. We came back with five days of fear and loathing on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
New Bird on the Block
From The Horn of Plenty to the myriad mouths to feed, Thanksgiving is all about abundance. Your bird should reflect that. Perhaps on the basis of size alone, turkey is the default — but there’s a better way to feed your folks. A more delicious, more moist, more tender way. Its name: the capon. Chef David Waltuck, of Chanterelle fame, invited us to watch him prepare one the right way.
Rocks Sunrise-Side of the Mississippi
Freddie Wilkinson makes his home in the White Mountains, where he climbs and guides most of the year between putting up alpine first ascents on expeditions to Alaska, Nepal, Patagonia, India and Antarctica. These are his four favorite climbing areas out East, plus some inside tips on what to do when you’re in the neighborhood.
Peeping leaves and climbing rock
For nearly 80 years, the Gunks have been one of the East’s most hallowed (not to mention busiest) traditional climbing areas, featuring more than 1,400 routes on four major cliffs clustered outside of the college town of New Paltz. But Sky Top — privately owned by the Mohonk Mountain House, a 145-year-old luxurious Victorian castle resort that restricts crag access to high-rolling guests and Alpine Endeavors clients — is utterly serene, and our group is alone on the lichen-covered rock.
The Poor Man's Fondue
Seen as an instant fondue, raclette is a variety of cheese and pastime in itself: groups of friends collect around a heat source to melt, scrape, and gorge on delicious, full-fatty cheese. Though the culture has grown to include its own type of conventional raclette-style grills for any variety of gastronomic exploration, we recommend focusing on the essentials next time you and your friends find yourself around the campfire. Read our guide here.
Americana in a bottle
If you’re into vintage — your dad’s aviators, reclaimed wood counters, old military watches — then it doesn’t get much more old school than apple brandy, a spirit distilled from the hard cider of fermented fresh apples and then aged in oak.
Common Sense, the better part of Valor
Already strapped in, with a stranger tightening my parachute, it becomes jarringly clear Red Bull race planes don’t have ejection seats. “In the event of an emergency, the canopy flies open, and I’ll be yelling ‘Bail! Bail! Bail!’” instructs François Le Vot, my French aerobatic pilot.