The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 116 of 120

116 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { on the road } KENTUCKY'S STAR CONTINUES TO RISE AS A DESTINATION, FUELED IN part by its homegrown bourbons, whiskeys and specialty spirits, from commercially successful giants' best-sellers to upstart producers' yields. However, many produc - ers and purveyors have moved on to the next thing: getting deeper into the nuts, bolts, historical appeal and future potential of America's native spirits. Are You Experienced? Kentucky is banking on bourbon interest and spirits tourism. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville shakes up the familiar distillery tour by placing greater emphasis on bourbon's historic and cultural impact. Brown-Forman's cooperage tour sheds light on the hand crafting of aging barrels. Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail draws enthusiasts through its network of bars with extensive and diverse bourbons and whiskey libraries. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter, a recent addition to the Trail, houses a craft distillery and offers distilling courses designed for both industry professionals and general consumers. While seventh-generation Jim Beam distiller Fred Noe remains an iconic pres - ence in Bourbon Country, he views the future of the category as resting with a new generation of mixologists, distillers and entrepreneurs. "The mixology folks have really built a fire under the bourbon category," Noe observes. "They have taken their work and ours to the next level through their cock- tails. When customers order things like an Old Fashioned on the Urban Bourbon Trail, they are aware that today's mixologists use the highest-quality ingredients, such as fresh-squeezed lemons and homemade simple syrup. Bourbon collectors are just as serious. I know of one gentleman who hangs little paper tags around the neck of each of his bottles of Booker's." The Arts & Crafts Movement Social media also confirms Noe's observations, according to Tom Fischer, founder of, and contributor Stephen Dennison, a chef and mixologist in several Louisville-area establishments. While has encouraged bourbon fans to embrace their inner geek, it has also become a valuable tool for bar professionals interested in boosting sales by helping expand their customers' knowledge of bourbon and its offshoots. "With so many products out there, the greatest tip I can offer bartenders or home enthusiasts is to organize a blind taste test and ask your guests to give you honest impressions of what they smell and taste," advises Fischer. "A blind tasting flight provides you the opportunity to educate and stir conversation about what makes a given bourbon 'good,' and gives customers the fun of determining which bourbons come from independent versus major distilleries." Dennison stresses a good bar manager or buyer can generate interest in less well- known bourbon marks through how bottles are displayed on the bar and the menu. "Although you may not sell all 130 selections on your backbar, you can be creative Those Crafty Kentuckians! BLUE GRASS STATE DISTILLERS, BAR OWNERS AND MIXOLOGISTS KEEP INTEREST IN BOURBON AND OTHER AMERICAN SPIRITS FLOWING by Elyse Glickman PHOTO: ELYSE GLICKMAN PHOTO: ELYSE GLICKMAN The entry to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville. Seventh-generation Jim Beam distiller Fred Noe is optimistic about the future of bourbon.

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