198 – The Stave is the Rave with Peggy Noe Stevens

We all know wood influences bourbon, but to what degree? This episode explores both natural and human impact to understand the chemical breakdown of what happens in the barrel. Peggy rounds this out by pairing it with food so you know how to train your palate. Peggy Noe Stevens is renowned for her ability to combine all of your senses into a memorable experience when you are drinking any bourbon. This session took place at the 2018 Kentucky Bourbon Affair and you can buy tickets to remaining 2019 events at kybourbonaffair.com.

Show Notes:

  • Behind the Scenes of Four Roses Small Batch Select – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my9YR-fr95s
  • Kenny’s Big Batch Mint Julep Recipe – https://www.patreon.com/posts/26331151
  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about who you would like to go out drinking with.
  • All the magic of bourbon happens in the barrel.
  • Overview of barrel making and charring barrels.
  • Innovation with barrels.
  • As much as we try to control barrels and warehouses, mother nature still controls a lot of variables.
  • Barrels provide 6 basic food flavors: sweet, spice, wood, smoke, fruit, and floral.
  • Understanding aroma and flavors.
  • Tricks to neutralize your olfactory sense.
  • What decisions affect the flavor of bourbon?
  • What flavor does toasting a barrel provide?
  • What flavor does charring a barrel provide?
  • The chemistry behind bourbon.
  • Importance of oxygen and water.
  • Exploring the texture of bourbon.
  • Where do the barrel notes hit the tongue?
  • When is it over oaked?
  • The Chew Down: bourbon and food pairing.


You know how we always talk about the angel share the evaporation of the whiskey going up. But I have to tell you that sometimes that evaporation takes on some of the off notes of a product. So you wonder if those angels out there are going too much tannin. Too much acid.

Hello, everybody and welcome to Episode 198 of bourbon pursuit. I’m Kenny, one of your hosts. And let’s run through just a little bit of the news. Four roses small batch select has hit in five markets across the United States. You’ve got Of course Kentucky. You’ve also got New York, Texas, California and Georgia. We did a behind the scenes video with Master distiller Brett Elliot during the media day for this particular release. Brent shares a lot of the information on the mash bail breakdown.

which particular versions he wanted to go into this blend, and why even chose to do certain yeast strain runs years ago in anticipation for this, you can catch that video in our show notes as it was previously aired on YouTube and Facebook. Now the other kind of fun thing about this release is a full on as money. You’ve got to remember this is a product extension a line extension of four roses, that means it’s going to be widely available, but the first bottle hits secondary in sold for around $200. And now that we know that the bottles just keep popping up that there’s a lot of groups that are doing cost plus shipping. Plus, there’s a myriad of retailers out there that are able to get this to your doorstep just through online purchases. So just a humble word of advice, don’t overpay if you don’t need to. The retail cost is somewhere between $55 and $65 depending on your region. Derby season is finally upon us and that means I get to make my annual big batch of money.

juleps and take to Ryan’s Derby party. I use 100 proof bourbon and a 1.75 liter handle, mix my own simple syrup, marinate some mint leaves in there. And really this simplifies the whole process because instead of actually having to create individual drinks now I can just pour directly from the bottle and I promise you, it’s a lot better than any pre mix that you’re going to find out there on the market. Ryan likes to call it a derby party in a bottle. I’ve posted that recipe for anybody to access on our Patreon page. It’s public, so go and check it out. patreon.com slash bourbon pursuit. And today’s show is all about bourbon food and knowing how to really train your palate. It’s a session that took place at the 2018 Kentucky bourbon affair. Now you’re going to get to know Peggy know Stevens a lot more in a few weeks with an upcoming episode. But she has some real pedigree when it comes to bourbon, its history and her connections within the industry. If you’re interested in know more about the events that are taking place at the bourbon affair, you can

See what Tickets are available at ky bourbon affair.com. on our end, we’ve got some new barrel selections that are coming up for sale really soon. Get to four roses barrels of Buffalo Trace barrel and an Elijah Craig barrel. It’s a lot of bourbon, and you can get your chance by signing up and supporting [email protected] slash bourbon pursuit. And this is all possible thanks to our retail partner, keg and bottle out of the SoCal area. If you want to visit them online, you can do that keg the letter in bottle.com. Now let’s hear from our good friend Joe over a barrel bourbon. And then you’ve got Fred Minnick with above the jar.

Hi, this is Joe from Barrell Bourbon. Batch 16 was a project that took over a year, we selected nine to 15 year old barrels with similar profiles from different distilleries. It’s deeply concentrated, but not too oaky and finishes with a toasted orange note. Find out more at barrellbourbon com.

I’m Fred Minnick. And this is above the char Bourbons filled with

Some of the greatest characters of all time. There are so many that it’s almost impossible to pick just one you’d like to go out drinking with. Whether it’s on a golf course fishing pond or a watering hole, there are so many unique individuals, it would be tough to choose. That became obvious when I put this question out on Twitter. Who would you like to most go out drinking with and bourbon? While flattered many suggested me, I really am. Jim Beam spread No. Buffalo Trace is Freddy Johnson and wild turkeys Jimmy Russell were the leaders in the clubhouse. Then after all the obvious names were taken. Folks started expressing their desire to drink with deceased urban icons such as Elmer T. Lee Booker know and the Jim Beam. Perhaps the most touching came from Kyle Henderson of angel’s envy, saying he’d give anything to have one more drink with his grandfather and master distiller Lincoln Henderson, who passed away in 2013. That thread got me to thinking

Who would I

Like the most go out drinking with first when I go out I mean really go out to have a good time. I don’t want to stuffy turd who will complain about the bill being $5 too expensive. Nothing worse than the guy who complains about everything. No. I want a jovial laughing rip roaring. Good time fella. And my answer may surprise you, but I’d love to go out drinking with former 1800s era distilling great Cyrus Noble. Today Cyrus noble is an NDP owned bourbon that is owned by the same company that owned it in the 1800s the Hoss brothers, Cyrus noble was a savant distiller whose whiskey was so good that somebody actually traded a gold mine for it. That’s right. a gold mine that later yielded $250,000 and high grade gold or here’s the catch though with drinking was Cyrus. He was a big drunk at 300 pounds. He likes

Whiskey and was known to drink so much that he would fall over in the mash. And people would pull him out as he was swimming in his own fermented liquid.

But even if I had to pick up the drunken distiller, I’d love to hang out with the guy whose whiskey equaled a gold mine, wouldn’t you? And that’s this week’s above the char. Let me know who you’d like to go out drinking with on Instagram or Twitter. You can find me at Fred Minnick. That’s at Fred Minnick. Until next week, cheers.

For those of you who might know me or don’t know me, I’m Peggy know Stevens, and I’m the founder of the bourbon women Association. And that’s who is actually going to sponsor this today as well. But first of all, as people were coming in the door, I was curious. How many of you were here last year with me in my food pairing seminar? Yeah. Okay. And then how many of you this is the first time you’ve heard me speak

I’ve done a food pairing. Wonderful. Good.

I’m glad I got a few fans in the back of the room. Well, let me tell you that whether you have been through a food pairing with me, or not a food pairing with me, or if sipped bourbon and tasted bourbon with me, I’ve got some good news. I’m gonna put you on an even playing field today. Let me see a show of hands for those of you who like to drink bourbon.

Now, tell me if you really like to drink robust bourbon. Even better, even better. Heck, yeah. How many of you like food

and that means you like to eat. Right? So we’re going to have a good day. We’re gonna have a real good day. But I gotta tell you, I had a lot of fun with this topic today. That’s why it’s called the stave is the rave because I don’t think our barrel gets enough credit. And I wanted to make sure that was very energetic today. I wanted to make sure that I had quite a bit of rest for you today. So I only drank Baker’s 107 last night, because I knew we were going to do some big, bold bear

Strength Bourbons today, and we’re going to pair it with food. So we’re going to appreciate that because you know what the staves arrived today. So if you have any takeaway at all, for me personally, this is my little quote for today. grains are the recipe. Yeast may be the sole, but all the magic of bourbon happens in the barrel. And I’ll tell you who taught me that all the magic of bourbon happens in the barrel is Lincoln Henderson. And when I was becoming a formal master taster, he taught me that, and I didn’t quite believe him, because I knew there were so many variables to creating a great whiskey, right. But at the same time, I have to show you today all the secrets behind it. And the reason why I want to do that is because you see connoisseurs all the time. You see, experts like me all the time. We stand in the front of the room, and we go, Oh, it’s got such lovely barrel notes. Oh, I just love the barrel notes. But we really don’t explain what we mean. So what does that mean? We just smell wood.

know we have a lot of flavor and a lot of spirit, if you will, in the barrel. So with that, let’s first of all show a little respect for the barrel. Because in the 1800s of course, the reason why the barrel even came into play is because it was kind of the UPS cargo of the day, right? That’s how our whiskey or good Kentucky whiskey was transported down the Ohio River. I called that the superhighway of the 1800s. But it was transported down the river, because they would use the barrels and sometimes those barrels Believe it or not, they transported fish, apples, or whatever else they needed, and that’s where charring kind of came into play. Because before they put whiskey in it, they needed to get out those other flavors of the barrel that they use apples, fish, etc. For so they char the inside of it. And little did they realized they were making something very special for Kentucky. And if you think about it, even our

Definition of bourbon, which was an act of Congress in 1964, requires actually for a barrel, new, charred, and white oak, we can never use a barrel a second time. But what I can say is that all of these pieces of the barrel are used. And I’m going to show you that in a little bit too. So let’s have a little bit of respect and see what I left for you. This is a stage.

Do you feel the weight of this stave? Yeah, I want you to think of these as large blocks of sugar. Okay, large blocks of sugar because it has some things in it, some properties in it. And this is how I ended up pairing some of the products that you all have today. I noticed some of you are nosing it which is lovely, I love it. That’s great you’re supposed to but can you believe that 28 to 31 of these staves are used to make a barrel. You feel heavy and stiff. This is

Right, this is a barrel heads Dave. And what they do, it’s a handcrafted method. This wood is bent best steam, okay to form the barrel so this solid wood is formed 28 to 31 and no wood glue, no nails. Okay, it’s handcrafted, the hoops are put on. And that’s what you have the barrel 100 pounds empty, almost 500 pounds full to roll that barrel. Okay, so that’s just a little bit of that handcrafted Enos. But even more so what’s happening in our industry today is a lot of innovation with barrels. And that’s why I was saying I don’t think that we pay homage as much as we should think about this. This is an actual barrel with some stave inserts. So in other words, after you age, the barrel, some distilleries are actually putting inserts in the barrel to add to the flavor, so they might season it for another five months or four months. call that the finish.

Another thing that’s happening in the industry and innovation is infusion bags. Think about infusion bags. Everybody likes a tea bag every now and then steeping your tea. And infusion bag is a tea bag with bits and particles of wood. And they’re steeped into the whiskey of the barrel. So you can see how creative we’re getting brands like Devil’s cut, that you’ve heard, they’re actually soaking used barrels to get the best of that whiskey out of the barrel. And if you don’t believe me, I brought a sample as a matter of fact, and hopefully I’ll pass this around for you just don’t hitting by in the head with it as you’re passing. But this is how deeply the whiskey will soak into the wood. This is called the red line, the red line. That’s how deep the whiskey when you empty it soaks into the wood pulling those flavors and karma so I’ll kind of pass it around so you can see it.

But I’ll tell you as much as we try to innovate

As much as we tried to control, you know, the situation with the barrel in the warehouse of the barrel, Mother Nature kind of has its way with us. All right, we can’t fight Mother Nature. And let me explain what I mean by that. There are certain variables that Mother Nature controls, and sometimes it’s temperature related for a barrel. Other times, you know, it might be weather related. And the beauty of it and this is what people don’t know sometimes what happens inside the barrel inside the barrel. If you think of a big Mount Everest, which I have that first picture of Mount Everest. A lot of the whiskey has its main activity in the first two to four years if you can believe it, in the first two to four years now, I will tell you, if you have whiskey less than two years, I call that headache whiskey. All right, and you might say it’s really sharp or a little too spirited. If it’s too long in the barrel.

You leave that whiskey too long in the barrel and it tastes kind of a stringent etc. I call that overlooked. We call that long in the tooth and Kentucky. Okay. So think about climbing Mount Everest, all this work, it’s really hard. But that’s what’s happening Mother Nature’s making it happen inside the barrel, then we kind of go to the Rocky Mountains, the Rocky Mountains kind of not as hard to climb, but you’re still working inside the barrel and you’re still making that maturation of the whiskey. But it’s kind of mellowing out a little bit. And then finally is the Appalachian, the Appalachian Mountains, you know, we’re just over the years, you’re not going to have a big climb at all, it’s going to be a whole lot easier, but it just kind of gets complexity and color and those types of things that benefit. So those are the things that Mother Nature sometimes can bring to us. But you should know to more on a scientific basis. You know, there are a lot of compounds in this barrel. Okay, and this is where Mother Nature meets

There’s a lot of compounds in this barrel that affect the flavors. And if you think about it, alcohol has a real affinity to wood. It likes wood. In fact, you know what it allows it to do alcohol in the wood allows us and again, Mother Nature helps us with this. But through evaporation, it sometimes sends out. Sorry about that.

Evaporation kind of sends out some of the not so great notes. All right in the whiskey, and then what happens what we want in the whiskey is it actually brings flavor notes inside the barrel. Okay, so that’s a good thing for whiskey it actually helps churn it but the more sugar and the more tannins are in wine because of low barrel entry proof 15% barrel entry. So you know what I say to you one folks,

your sissies 15%

Come on now, really, you know when we’re having 125 proof, whiskeys and barrel strength whiskies and you know, we’re not scared and Kentucky, because we know that’s going to bring complexity over time. We know that’s going to bring depth over time. So I kind of get a kick that it’s 15% entry proof on some of the ones that are put in. Also, when you think of a barrel proper, and let’s just think about a barrel like it was a menu. If I never added any whiskey whatsoever to that barrel, and I just said to on that would chew on that word and tell me what you think what you’re going to get is sweet

spice. would sometimes from the wood, you’re going to get some nutty notes. Okay, and then smoke, fruit and floral. Now, do you see a little flavor and aroma grid to your right. Do you see that we’re going to follow that pretty closely because

It’s my job today to kind of break down in some of the flavors of this wood and its natural state, and in its toasted in charge state, because if I can dissect it down for you, you’re going to really understand your prize at the end. And the prize at the end is we’ve paired in order with it, you’re going to see how we build these up. Because by the end of this, there are three words I want you to use after drinking this whiskey that I’ve poured. And notice I didn’t put the names of the whiskey, because I’m gonna see how good you are in guessing some of these right? But I want you to say their plush. Hello, Chrissy. I want you to say they’re engaging. And I want you to say they’re downright seductive. All right, because we’re playing with the big boy Bourbons today. Alright, so let’s get started. Here’s how we’re going to use this aroma and flavor grid. We’re going to talk about food flavors first. Look at this little piece in front of you with an A on it. Okay, that is vanilla. That is

Want you to open that up, take a little note of it, dip your finger in it if you like. And also do me a favor. Once you’re finished put the lid back on so we don’t dissipate all of the aromas in the room

that knows that a little bit. That is a very important flavor or food flavor in the wood because there’s what’s called Van Allen in the wood. Literally there is vanilla waiting to be part of our whiskey. So Van Allen in the wood helps the extraction process and that’s why you taste sometimes the first note of a bourbon can be vanilla. Now the second one I want you to kind of hold on to your seats here because it’s intense. And this is close. I just want you to knows it. There’s nothing to taste. This is the aroma sensory but your olfactory senses, frankly are sharper than your taste buds. Now the reason why I want you to think of that close even though it is intense

If you know what clove is, it’s a spice, right? But it’s a flower from a tree. And it’s very intense. It could be warm, it can be bitter. You know it can be flavorful. So when you think of variations that happen with spice, you can think of other types of spices that come along the way like all spice, peppers, etc. But if I were to have my straight barrel, clove would be the first one to lead the process. Okay, now let’s go to the next one here. How about oak? I know that some of you picked up your stage that’s in front of you the Glen pick it up again if you didn’t earlier and knows that one of my first training guidelines that I learned from Lincoln Henderson, when you want it to impress upon me, the presence of wood and whiskey is he had me knows a glass of water. So you have a glass of water in front of you so knows that glass of water.

We’re lucky and

We have pure tap, right? We have great water. Not much there though, right? You don’t want to smell much from a glass of water, and then smell the wood, the wood in front of you, because what he did was he took a bunch of toothpicks, there’s a true story, took a bunch of toothpicks, and he put the toothpicks in water and let them soak and he said, Peggy, smell the water.

Now smell the water with the toothpicks in it. We’ve only been sitting here 15 minutes. Now can you imagine over the course of five to eight years with that alcohol sitting in the wood, what a different set presence is going to make right? So I was pretty impressed by that. Now how about we trash See, this is floral notes that come out from the wood. So what we did is we put a little bit of rose water because that’s a pretty prominent floral note that you might find. And then other floral can come from that. You know you might have had viscous. You know you might have a little bit of honeysuckle but other florals along the

Way over maturation will happen. But I wanted you to heighten your senses. Because it’s a very sensory exercise. I wanted you to heighten your senses on the actual floral notes. And then in front of you on a little plate or some dried cherries, I want you to understand the fruit note. So pick up a couple dried cherries, pop them in your mouth, chew on it a little bit and see what you think. Because would can bring out some cherry notes. Again, over time those cherry notes turn into other fruit notes. You know, fruit notes like apricots. You know, fruit notes like apple. You know, those are two very basic ones that would come out but I want you to have that baseline before we move in. Make sense? All right, good. So if you’re not too full after eating two cherries, we’re going to go ahead and move to the other ones smoke, the smokiness which also can turn very quickly to savory but I’m going to give you an example of

Your tongue lighter of what savory really means. So the smokiness of bacon made sense to me. So if you’ll try a little piece of the bacon strip, if you don’t care for bacon, that’s just fine. But I want you to gain an understanding of what that does to your tongue that smokiness it’s a little heavier, right, little heavier little bit more texture to your tongue. But we have a good understanding of that.

And as we move each one, just to let you know, you might want to take a bit of a rinse of your water if some of the nosing just to let you know if some of the nosing like the clove gets a strong sense for you. A little trick we use is to smell the back of your hand. It will neutralize your olfactory senses just smelling the back of your hand and that allows you to go to the next area. Okay.

So you can

See, as we follow along this flavor grid and aroma grid, the master distiller has a hell of a lot of decisions to make. There’s so many variables to the barrel. In other words, when he decides to toast it and char it, which we’re going to talk about and taste those flavors, how deep does he want to go? So this represents the coloring. This also represents does he want to start spicy, and go all the way to butterscotch? How much chocolate notes does he want or she want. So think about dialing up or dialing down what happens inside the barrel. Over the years, the master distiller needs to make that decision, and they need to make a lot of other decisions about what goes inside the barrel. And we’re going to talk about that. So let’s talk now about inside the barrel. In the second column of your flavor grid. We’re going to talk about what I call interior flavors into

flavors are certainly the toasting and charring. Okay? But as far as the toast goes, many people think, Oh, well, once you toast the wood, you get more of the caramel notes. And I’m not saying I don’t disagree with you. But many times when I do tastings, I talk about after tasting, I’ll say it has it really. It’s framed with toast, or it has a toasted framework. And the reason why I say toasted framework is because that toasting of the criminalisation is all working together for me. Okay, so it just has a light toast. Remember that when we start talking about our appetizers, so take a bite of the Cristini that’s on your small plate.

Just take a little bite of that plain simple, but need you to identify that toast flavor and then there is a Carmel

on your plate. Go ahead and unwrap that into

A little bite of the Carmel now notice, I did not and it was purposeful. I did not do a dark Carmel. I did a light Carmel. You know, frankly, it’s craft karma that you probably remember dipping apples in right to make candy apples, very light, very airy, you know nothing that’s going to make it too heavy for you. But what we’re doing when I told you that those staves are large blocks of sugar, we are criminalizing the wood sugar of the barrel. We’re taking a flame to the wood, and just simply karma. So anybody like Kimberly in here, okay. It’s like the topping of timber lay light and airy but not burnt, not smoked, dislike Mary. And so that’s what we’re going for with toasting. And as I mentioned, it certainly does move to the Carmel but it’s not a heavy Carmel. And that’s important to note. Now are you ready to kind of go into the fun part the

fun part is moving into the charming. The charming is taking a very intense flame to the wood and we’re blistering the wood. You know why we’re doing that? We want to open up the pores of the wood so that great whiskey soaks in and out and in and out of that would also attribute charring to that beautiful rich amber color. That depth of color we have in whiskey also contribute to that camp fire smokiness that we have in whiskey. That’s so wonderful. So with charring, you’re going to get many things. Okay, we’re kind of moving from that Carmel that you just took a bite of to a little bit deeper karma and the best example I could possibly give you and you were probably wondering when you were looking at everything that I have for you to eat in one hour. That piece of chocolate that’s in the white cup. Let me share with this is this has

special meaning to me because this is called a majestic. majestic is considered Louisville’s candy. And my father This is what I grew up on frankly in Kentucky or majestic is my father. It was one of his absolute favorite candies. And now I know why because you could drink it with his bourbon. So what you’re going to have here is dark chocolate. Marshmallow. All right. And then Carmel. So you’re going to get the Triple Crown. All right of charming flavors. This is identical to charming flavors. So take a big bite but save half of it for later because I had a bit of it explosion Pres. At the end of this for your mouth, I promise. So save half of it for later. What do you think of that? You get that you get that chocolate caramel marshmallow wonderful combination. So that’s what happens with charming it’s like a little campfire. Like a small almost

I feel at this point, you’ve had a nice little preamble for your mouth. All right, you’ve learned a few flavors along the way. We’re going to do a couple more. But at the same time, I have to turn because my inner geek turns out a little bit. during the session, I said toasting. I said charming. I said white oak wood, which is all extremely important. But there’s a lot of chemistry that happens. And so this is where my inner geek comes out. So I want to share a couple things with you. This is just wood notes. And believe me, not all barrels are created equally. Alright, so when you go to a Cooper bridge, and you see sometimes the barrel staves outside, they’re being seasoned, and they’re outside and they’re drying out, because what that does, when you season the wood, it actually lessens the density of that hard block that you just touched. All right, it lessens the density, so that air flows through

Whiskey throws flows through it a lot easier. Alright, so that’s part of it. And also we’re trying to bring out the esters. esters are just a fancy word for stay in flavors. We want wood sugars, and we want tannins, we want the best of wood sugar, we want the best of tannins. And then this is a sample of a woodblock, up close, and all those little dots and all those little veins, if you would, this is called tableau. See, Tableau see is very important. And the only way I can describe it to you of what happens in the barrel is almost like capillaries. All right. If I were to hold a handful of straws in my hand, very loosely, and I poured water over those straws, what would happen? water would go straight through, right? Well, what it does for us is if I were to hold those straws in, squeeze it a little bit, some are open, some are not open, you know

I might have a little bit of water fall through once I pour. That’s what Tyler OC does, it lets the team and soak in a little slower. So it’s not rushed. So that’s what it helps us do. And that’s a very important piece to helping with the flavor components and bringing out the right things that we want for our whiskey. So the next thing that’s a variable to think about, and this is the hardest thing, oxygenation, or just plain oxygen and airflow to make it easy. This is the hardest thing for Cooper ej to really get their hands on. And I go back to Mother Nature helping us along a little bit. But oxygenation is really important, because the more air that’s flowing through the more fruit notes, floral notes. Also what what we want to happen is oxidation. When people say well, what the heck is oxidation I have no idea what that is. Think of an apple if it were sitting on a table and you left it there a couple days.

It might brown a little bit and it actually gets sweeter as it goes sometimes. That’s what happens within the barrel oxidation with the the Van Allen and the wood sugar is going to kind of oxidize and that actually mellows and brings more flavors. So you want oxidation inside the barrel. So that happens as well and it can also bring some earthy notes. Now once you to taste there’s a little sliver of mushroom because I want you to understand what earthy notes bring in your palate. So take a little bite of the mushroom.

Everybody identify the mushroom, it almost looks like a brownie.

They saw it for me right? So it’s good but take a little bite that is an earthy note.

That is an earthy note and you can get earthy notes from this and also from the next thing that I want to talk about and that’s water. Water is key. You know the first point of

Water that we’re going to experience with a barrel is what anybody know?

Anybody know the first time that we experience water with a barrel?

How about barrel entry? Now in Kentucky, of course, we can go up to 125. But some distilleries really debate what the barrel entry of their whiskey is going to be, you know, as low as 103. With Victor’s, you know, 110 I think makers and Woodford Reserve us but you can go up from there. So think about when water goes with the whiskey inside the barrel for the first time, it’s a bit of a marriage, right? It’s a bit of marriage, they have to react together. So the more water that you put in the barrel for the first time, over time, evaporation is going to happen. And that’s also a water feature, if you will, evaporation happens and when evaporation happens, the alcohol proof actually goes up because of the big

Operation Has anybody in here heard of the term Angel share. And you know how we always talk about the angel share the evaporation of the whiskey going up and we can lose 28 to 30%. So it’s no joke that there’s evaporation. But I have to tell you that sometimes that evaporation takes on some of the off notes of a product. So you wonder if those angels out there are going too much tannin. Too much acid. You know, we joke about it like it’s a great thing. Yes. Okay. So, back to this. Another thing that is important is humidity. Think of the humidity that you have humidity actually slows the interaction within the barrel slows the interaction within the barrel, and then the water that you actually put when you pour a glass of whiskey, and you put some water with a splash that actually opens up the fruit notes of a whiskey so you can really focus on the

Fruit now to the whiskey

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Now, before we get into texture, and I know you had that beautiful, majestic, right, take a sip of water, and I want you to taste one more thing before we go into the actual pairing. When you taste de de is what’s called liquid smoke. Okay, liquid smoke also happens in the charring. But what else happens in my opinion is it aids in the texture of the whiskey, that smokiness now just take a little fingertip because

You don’t need much. Believe me, not anything you want to drink. Just a little test on the tongue get that savory smoky almost wish to share. And go ahead and put your cat back on.

So dead and dead in your senses. Would you think of that?

Yeah, it’s intense, right? It’s really intense. And that’s what I want you to know that it can go from that sweet chocolate marshmallow to that really intense smoke. And it will affect a little bit of that texture that we will now when I talk about texture, I’m talking about the structure of a whiskey. So dip your finger in your water glass, put it in your hand and slide it Okay, it’s wet, right? But it doesn’t slide super easy. It’s just wet. If you were to take oil or corn oil, it would glide correct. same example of texture on your tongue. Water has a certain texture

oil has a certain texture. licorice has a certain texture. So you can see in the row of texture. There can be a soft texture, a sharp texture like licorice, you know that kind of leaves a readiness on your tongue. And when I call viscosity, so there’s a little bit of jello because most people don’t really understand the viscosity standpoint. viscosity is how heavy it is. So waters thin, right? Coke, if I were to drink a Coke is a little thicker, but then jello would be the thickest. So there’s a little piece of jello in a glass there. Do you see that on that little plate and a spoon if you want to just get a feel for heavy viscosity? Why is this important? Because the barrel strength products that we’re going to taste have a lot of texture. And I want you to be able to do this, just to balance is it no texture, wet TechStars

Dry moist rough, smooth, you know oily thin, because it really plays a role.

The barrel notes that we’re getting ready to taste as well should have kind of a heavy sweet feel on your mouth. Now there’s always those basic flavors, you know bitter, salty, etc. So we’re going for big, we’re going for bold, we’re going for robust, and so I want surround sound. I want kind of a heavy mouth feel. So when we taste these whiskeys, you can tell me what you think about that.

And then the other side of the fence from all the great things that we’re talking about, is how to identify a bourbon that might be a little overload. Now I want to make it clear there is no bad whiskey out there. There’s no bad bourbon, but at the same time, sometimes things can get a little overlooked. So in that one column on your flavor grid, it can go from Gosh, astringent, kind of causes you to pucker. So after you drink a

Whiskey if it kind of pulls your self in with your cheeks heat, too much warmth kind of burnt cinnamon flavor. So if I taste something that’s too heavy and cinnamon, you know, I walk away from it. Cool. A little bit of mint is a good thing. If you feel like you squirted some Colgate in your mouth, not a good thing. Okay, so something can be too minty. So those are just three little variables that you can look for, to judge some of the over openness, which is very rare to find. But sometimes when I’m doing I’m also a spirits judge. So I taste a lot of whiskies and so sad, very sad. Sometimes I can taste the difference of something that’s overlooked, versus one that maybe is too sharp hasn’t been in the barrel long enough. All right. So with that, are you ready to eat eat? We have tested your tongue. We have it’s like calisthenics, right? We’ve built you’d like an athlete right now.

We’ve trained you. So now we’re going to put it all together and so closest to you knows the whiskey. The first one closest to you and tell me what you think. What do you think it is? This is cask strength, if that gives you a hint.

This is Maker’s Mark cask strength.

And let me tell you, this is an engaging whiskey for me. I think it’s very exciting to drink because it truly took on this whole other element by doing a cask strength. So again, credit where credit’s due to the barrel, right? When you knows it.

Sure, it has some elements for me, like makers that I’m used to those elements being honey notes, really nice honey notes, some citrus notes. I normally get that with Maker’s Mark Of course, and have a nice body of work.

Meet with Maker’s Mark. But with this cask strength, I have to tell you, I get maple syrup. I get big spice bigger than makers normally has in a spice Would you agree? I also get some walnut and some pecan, little bit of nutty note

in some of this barrel note, tell me what you get in the nose, anybody.

And again, feel free to neutralize

clothes, absolutely see clothes are kind of that baseline, and then things come out from there. So I would definitely agree with that.

Little bit of that roasted marshmallow

that we talked about.

Alright, so now we’re going to taste it and for those of you just to let you know this is between one and 114. So if the proof level seems to overpower you, I’m going to show you a little trick that you can do anytime and I

specifically do this when I’m pairing food because it helps really bring out the flavors. I would not suggest that you do this at a bar when you’re trying to pick someone up. All right, but let me show you this one.

I take a little taste of it

and then I blow out. It releases some of the alcohol. And when you start talking after that, you’ll really be able to taste it. So do a little taste, save some for your food. Just take a little tiny taste of it. But save the other half for the food pairing that we have done with it. That I immediately get that marshmallow. I mean just absolutely get little cinnamon from it.

Little maple syrup. I even get a tad bit of mint,

tad bit of mint, that that maple syrup really comes out for me. And that’s why I just want to tell you what we paired today. Again, starting on your left to right we have a smoked duck

With a citrus sorghum on a corn waffle. Now, let me let me break down the layers. Here’s why we did what we did. The smoke duck brought to me these wonderful earthy notes that we’ve been describing. For the last hour. The citrus notes when I was nosing this and tasting this, I get always get citrus from makers, always. So I wanted to add a little splash to that. That was important to me. And then the sorghum. I said, I get maple syrup. So we wanted to add a syrupy note to it. And that’s the sorghum put it on a corn waffle. Because that helps with a little bit of that sweet toasted framework from the barrel. And so take a really big bite of that. It’s a duck. Again, smoked duck even more important with citrus sorghum, take a bite of that and then take a sip of that whiskey and tell me what you think.


I was going for just to let you know normally when I train for food pairings in anybody who was with me last year, do you remember this chart that I showed? I go for either balance, counterbalance or what I call explosion. And I’m going to I’m going to tell you about that. Balance is when I’m trying to match flavors. I’m trying to create what I call harmony between the food and the whiskey. I’m trying to complement the flavors that are already taste in the whiskey. counter balance is when I might go the opposite direction. For example, like taking a Cajun pecan and drinking it with a white Riesling or Riesling wine rather, you know, it’s it’s sweet, too hot. We’re not doing counterbalanced today simply because these are barrel proof. All right, barrel strength. explosion is when it’s almost too much of a good thing. It’s dramatically rich. It’s surrounded

sound in your mouth, it’s it’s, it’s just almost takes your head off. And we’ve got one example of that today, which is going to be our last one. All the lines simply mean the level of intensity. And so as we’re talking and as we’re tasting you know if I say gosh, I get honey notes or cinnamon notes, you could say gosh, what level you know, just small cinnamon notes are really really robust cinnamon note, because that’s how you can manage the balance of your food and your whiskey. So that being said, let’s go to the second one. They might want to guess what the second one is.

This one is plush. I promise you.

I’ll give you a little hint. It has a very Admiral, admirable texture to it.

Big texture to it. Very elegant nose. Do you agree?

Very elegant nose. I immediately have to say I get on the spice data get all spice fruit notes.

Get from Apple to blackberry on these fruit notes Would you agree? Four roses. Excellent. This is four roses hundred proof, single barrel.

One of my favorites. So easy to pair with, because you have these big all spice cinnamon ginger notes to me, you know, whenever you have a lot of spice to play with. You can make anything taste good, I promise. But I do get some light chocolate notes. Vanilla caramel,

take a sip of it, and that’s when the heat will hit the back of your throat but I get an earthy note along with it. So taste it and see what you think. Chocolate for sure. Absolutely you do. They might get the BlackBerry that referred to once you tasted that. Isn’t that interesting? And what about the texture? Remember, I said admirably textured. What’s your tongue doing right now?

Nice, heavy, wet, not too oily. It’s a long sweet dry finish, which I like in a whiskey.

It’s just impeccably balanced. So here’s what we did on number two, and it’s your middle, the middle appetizer in front of you. It is all spicy braised pork

with a barrel aged maple. Okay.

So try that. That pork. Again capturing the earthy note. But notice I said all spice because truly with four roses, I get a whole lot of all spice nutmeg, cinnamon, little clove, and I knew it would balance okay. You like that one?

Which one did you like better? The first one or the second one?

Second one. Okay.

Did you get the all spice balance the harmony of all that.

And again, four roses is 100 proof. So we didn’t have to work too hard, you know to pair with a food and let the food flavors come through which is nice. Now take a little sip of water. Because the next one I dial that up a bit. I definitely doubt it up event. Does everybody remember me asking you to hang on to the other half of your MMA, Jessica? Okay, good. I’m glad you did. Because

I want you to knows that third glass and tell me what you think it is.

I mean, it is it’s really dramatic. Dramatic knows, I have to say.

I was at a bourbon women function. It was called Heaslip she sips and we had blind tastings all over the room. And this barrel strength whiskey

was the favorite among women, which should not surprise me. You know, I’m in seven cities with bourbon women. We have thousands of members across the United States. And we always go for the more robust, heavier whiskies. It’s very interesting to me.

But isn’t that knows incredible? Do you get immediate kind of smoky Carmel? Pardon me? Yes, allows your Craig barrel string Very good. Very good. And I have been so impressed because it’s just lavishly built. This whiskey is just lavish.

So I get the smoky notes, of course, I get the heavy Carmel notes. I also of course, get a little vanilla and believe it or not on the spice side of things, a touch of paprika.

And I get a little touch of paprika you know, not too strong, not too harsh.

very subtly balanced in that not like the four roses where I get more of the spice notes if you will. So what I decided to do with this because where you’re going to, frankly just almost freak out is the texture of this whiskey. When you taste it, let it sit, swallow and let it come back to you. I think you’re going to be impressed with the texture and then I’ll tell you what I paired it with. Take a little sip. Do you see how that fills your entire mouth with texture from the tongue to the upper roof of your mouth, the cheeks, everything in its surround sound.

I get dark brown sugar.

And this is barrel strength. And how subtle

how subtle but dark brown sugar for sure. Huge vanilla.

Huge Carmel.

And the chocolate notes just screamed at me. Did they scream at you?

And that’s why I couldn’t help myself. Take that much Jessica, pop that thing in your mouth. Take a sip of this, but leave a little bit for the dessert that I came up with. This truly my husband and I were sampling the majestic is with this. It was the best sugar buzz I’ve had in quite some time.

Promise. What do you think of that? Now again, this is between 128 to 140 proof what I decided to pair with this because on the fruit note side, I certainly got Apple, but also got a lot of heavy red pair. So what we decided to do was a poached pair with dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow.

So it’s almost like eating a Jessica cake. So when you get a chance for that don’t even rent Don’t waste your time.

Just go for that poached pair cake. It’s the last one there. And take that last bit of Alaska with you.


And that crazy good as not as good as crazy good.

Now I am confident that you have a ton of questions for me and I’m happy to answer them. We covered so much track in an hour. I can’t even believe how much we ate in an hour. I don’t think since the moment you sat down, you’ve stopped chewing actually. Which is kind of a good thing with a food pairing. Right? Do you feel like we’ve identified some real flavors of the barrel? Does anybody have a new respect for barrel notes? That when somebody says, Oh, I get a barrel note, now you can be descriptive and say Oh, are you getting a little clove? Are you getting a little floral? What are you getting? And even more important, you can actually pair food with your barrel strength.

bourbon, or it doesn’t even have to be barrel string, it could be a bourbon, just find out the age of the whiskey. And you’ll know what kind of barrel notes because remember, you know, short barrel notes, probably two to four years, you know beyond four years, you’re going to get more complexity, more barrel notes, which I’m not saying that every whiskey has to be old and aged. We’re not like those scotch folks, that it has to be a 20 year whiskey. We like to drink our whiskey, you know, while we’re still alive. So that’s important. All right. And you probably are wondering

why the heck did she put out a little packet a Mentos say my wondering what we’re gonna do with that.

Because by the time I’ve had you all eat all that you’ve eaten in the last hour, if you go talk to somebody outside, you’re gonna need this.

Alright, so we will make sure that you take your Mentos so they don’t blame it on me. All right. Any questions? y’all been such a great group today? Okay, that’s

A good question he was asking, you know, between your bites of Food Sampling pairing going to the next one kind of what’s the timing? What’s the timing of it? And I will tell you, yeah, yeah, you just start chewing and then take a big swig of the Spirit. That’s important. The other thing I purposely did that I probably should have told you, I paid attention to the flavors of the appetizers. And I went from light to heavy. And I tried to do that also with what you tasted on the plate when we were talking about, you know, dried cherries to bacon. Notice I had you eat a Jessica first before we went to liquid smoke. Because I want you to gradually build your taste buds. I want you to gradually think about how to, you know build flavors. absolutely wonderful. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and enjoy the rest of the Kentucky bourbon affair. And we’ll talk soon. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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