September was a ton of fun - a well-needed (and earned) break from the disaster that is 2020. The #30DaysofBourbon challenge was bigger, badder, and better than it has ever been. This year, I relaxed one of the rules allowing for different proofs of the same label to be counted as different Bourbons. You can thank COVID-19 for that.
Truth be told, until the last few years, I've hated being in photos and I still hate being in videos. I don't mind public speaking, I don't mind being a guest on someone's webcast. In fact, I enjoy those things. But, when I'm on my own doing my own thing, I really dislike being in front of the camera. As such, part of the 30 Days of Bourbon challenge is for me to make myself uncomfortable.
Things started off with a video introduction and explanation. Then, on September 1st, the challenge kicked off with Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond. This is my house Bourbon, the one that I never allow to disappear from my whiskey library.
Day two was a celebration of George Garvin Brown's birthday. He was the namesake of Brown-Forman, which owns Old Forester, and is credited with offering the first bottled Bourbon. Each year, on September 2nd, Old Forester releases its Birthday Bourbon. This release is from 2016. By the way, check out my t-shirt!
On Day three, I decided to go with something discontinued. In this case, it was Ezra Brooks 7-year, which is a 101° rumored to be sourced from Heaven Hill. If you stumble across this one on the shelf, do yourself a favor and grab it. You can thank me later!
For the fourth day, I decided to crank things up a bit and pour something barrel proof. That led me to EH Taylor Barrel Proof. This one is from 2015 and rings in at a hefty 124.7°. It was the first Bourbon I had that gave me a purely overwhelming blast of berries.
Day Five was my introduction to Barrel-Proof Bourbon: Elijah Craig. Not this particular release, but still before the bottle redesign. This beauty came out of the barrel at 139.4° in May 2016. In the current labeling system, it would be called B516.
As day six rolled around, I selected an exemplary reason why it is so important to #DrinkCurious. When I was early on in my whiskey journey, my wife bought me Old Weller Antique. It burned like hell and my palate was just too young to appreciate it. About two years ago, I revisited it, and ever since then I've been kicking myself for passing up all the opportunities I had to buy it while it was easy to find. Lesson learned: If you don't like something now, give it a second chance down the road.
To round out the first week, Day 7 was probably the most unusual pour: Jim Beam Signature Whole Rolled Oat. This is an 11-year Bourbon whose mash substituted rolled oats for the typical rye content. These Signature releases seem to hit the clearance aisles of liquor stores that I've visited, and they're mostly good stuff.
On the eighth day, I selected another discontinued label, this time from Heaven Hill. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond went from an everyday opportunity to an allocated, limited edition run. You used to be able to pick these up for about $20.00. The new version will set you back over $100.00, but carries an age statement and is aged many more years.
The ninth day went to the first private barrel (a/k/a store pick) of the month: Maker's Mark Private Selection. This one was for Mahen's which has a few stores in the greater Madison area. Maker's is customizable by the customer - you get to choose from various staves to add to the finish and make it all your own.
I'm big on humor. Learn, Laugh, & Enjoy Great Whiskey is my slogan. The 10th pour of the month has a funny name: Cinder Dick. It was the name that encouraged me to first try it, because, good or bad, it made me smile. As it turned out, this is a serious whiskey.
The choice for my 11th pour was not easy. September 11th is a somber day for the United States. What makes one distillery better than another or more deserving? Bourbon is America's Native Spirit, I don't think any single distillery is more "American" than another. But, the Blaum Bros use red, white, and blue on their in-house distilled labels, of which Old Fangled Knotter Bourbon is not. I selected the 12-year cask strength at 114°.
I had something completely different planned for the 12th day, but as happens every single year, things change. Wiggly Bridge Distillery sent me a bottle of its Bottled-in-Bond expression for a review, and after a few days, I couldn't stand the suspense and cracked it open.
The 13th day brought a very limited-edition pour from Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. out of Dekalb, Illinois. It is a 5.5-grain Bourbon made from wheat, oats, rye, malted barley, and then two types of corn: green and yellow. Those two corn varietals make the 1.5 of the 5.5 grains. It was aged only a year, but it was one tasty pour.
I rounded out the second week with Old 55 Single Barrel Bourbon. Old 55 is a farm-to-glass whiskey out of Indiana, and their rickhouse is in the basement of a former elementary school, giving it very little change in temperature despite seasonal changes.
At the halfway point, I decided my 15th pour would be the Bourbon that changed my mind about Texas Bourbons: Still Austin's The Musician. This two-year-old really impressed me.
I opted out of being in the photo for Day 16 because you'd never see the lettering on the bottle label and it would just look weird. This is Lux Row Distillers' Double Barrel Bourbon, which was my 2019 Bourbon of the Year.
The 17th pour of my challenge was Tumblin’ Dice Barrel Proof. This four-year MGP distillate will knock your socks off, and so will the price. Oh yeah, I'm back in the photos.
The 18th Bourbon was Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond. This is the one that started me on my #RespectTheBottomShelf campaign. It was also my introduction to bonded whiskeys. Unfortunately, this one is kind-of, sort-of discontinued. While still available at 100°, it has lost its Bottled-in-Bond status.
On the 19th day, I poured Wollersheim Distillery's 2020 Spring Release Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. Drink local, right? Moreover, Drink Wisconsinbly!
At the two-thirds mark, twenty days in, I went in with Fighting Cock 103. This is a Heaven Hill Distillery 6-year bottling which hs been discontinued, but a no-age-statement version is still around.
My 21st pour was Kentucky Peerless Straight Bourbon. This is done in small batches but is bottled at barrel proof. In this case, it was 109.5°.
At this point, I planned on everything forward to be a store pick. The 22nd pour would be the only one that I'd not personally picked, but it had to be done because, well, what would a month of Bourbon be without Buffalo Trace? This one is from Monumental Enterprises in McFarland.
And now, for something completely different: Every Bourbon for the remainder of the month is from a barrel that I personally picked. To start that off, the 23rd pour is “Unicorn Slayer” - a 7.5 year Backbone Bourbon bottled at 119.3° and picked by the Secret Midnight Whiskey Club for Niemuth’s Southside Market.
For the 24th pour, I chose J. Henry & Sons Patton Road Reserve. This was picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Riley's Wines of the World in Madison back in 2018. Barrel number 210!
For the 25th pour, I chose "Scott's Holy Grail" - a 1792 Full Proof picked for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquors of Middleton in 2019.
On Day 26, the pour was a Russell's Reserve pick called "The Candyman." Picking Wild Turkey has been an interesting chapter in my life because, until recently, I wasn't the biggest fan. But, I'm at the point in my journey where I appreciate what it is and what it can be. This was a 2020 pick, again for The Speakeasy_WI and Neil's Liquor.
I’m going with a George Remus pick from a few months ago called “Bootlegger Bentley's.” Bentley is a loveable Newfie that belongs to Troy, the owner of The SpeakEasy_WI. Given the opportunity, I’d steal him. This is one of the better whiskeys I’ve stumbled across in 2020 and was picked for Neil's Liquor in Middleton.
And then, there's the 28th. Year over year, my 28th pour is the same. Always. This was picked on September 28th, 2013, which happened to be my 11th wedding anniversary. It was my first barrel pick. I really only drink this Four Roses OBSO on September 28th, with my goal to keep being able to take a sip as long as I'm alive. This 10-year comes in at 126.8° and was picked for Fine Spirits in Cooper City, Florida.
With only two days left, I went with Woodinville Whiskey Co's first barrel-proof release in Wisconsin for the 29th pour, picked with The Speakeasy_WI for Neil's Liquor. We called this one "Whassup? Flockers." It weighs in at 119.6°.
And then, finally, all good things come to an end. Day 30, the final day - what to choose? How about an amazing Knob Creek Single Barrel I helped pick for Riley's Wines of the World with The Speakeasy_WI. This one is called "The Rat Pick" and while I've been involved with some incredible barrel picks, this one's my second favorite of all time. Yeah, that's my face on the sticker.
And with that, we come to the best part of the #30DaysofBourbon Challenge - the giving back. I have selected the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association at RSDSA.org as my charitable donation. I support the RSDSA every year because it is personal - Mrs. Whiskeyfellow has been an amazing Pain Warrior and battling this horrific nerve disorder for several years. The RSDSA provides awareness, assistance, and education about RSD/CRPS and helps drive research for a cure. It is my sincerest hope that one day, CRPS will be a faint memory and those afflicted will be able to live pain-free again.
Thank you for taking part in my #30DaysofBourbon Challenge. Cheers!