The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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Page 108 of 148

108  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 "W hen I was little, my dad let me eat the cherries out of his nightly Manhattan," said Megan Breier, West Coast Bourbon Brand Ambassador, Beam Suntory. The personal anecdote is a perfect example of how the passionate bourbon educator leverages her own story to humanize a more than 200-year-old institution like Jim Beam. The Kentucky native led whiskey tastings and self-branding panels for women in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. At the heart of the messaging was the importance of authenticity and passion. "Passion is key. You must own what you are passionate about," Breier continued. Passion certainly is at the heart of Jim Beam, a seventh-generation family-run company whose current Master Distiller Fred Noe is Jim Beam's great-grandson. The world's number one bourbon, Jim Beam Original Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, is aged at least four years, twice as long as is required by law. A mash bill of at least 51 percent corn, complemented by rye and barley malt, is cooked in limestone-filtered Kentucky water. Then a secret strain of yeast, the same used for the past 75 years, is added. After fermentation, the liquid is distilled at less than 160 proof and barreled at no more than 125 proof, then aged at least four years in new charred oak barrels. No additives, only water, is allowed to be added to lower the proof, what comes out of the barrel is smooth and refined, with notes of vanilla and caramel. Breier prefers the "Kentucky chew" method of swishing, chewing, breathing out through the mouth to let the alcohol out and allow the flavors to pop. "I'm an educator; no detail is too small to learn," Breier insisted. "I'm encour- aged to have my own voice and personality but have to know the stories and history first—then can put my own spin on it." The Certified Spirits Specialist is known for creating unique, approachable bourbon events. "I choose to do blind tastings, to remove the branding and help audiences re-connect with why they love what's in the glass," Breier said. The spirits blind-tasted included Booker's Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Knob Creek Straight Rye Whiskey, Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Jim Beam Black and Baker's 7 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Branding Yourself with JIM BEAM THE ICONIC KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY PROVES IT HAS THE TOOLS TO THRIVE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME by Becky Tsadik Megan Breier, West Coast Bourbon Brand Ambassador, Beam Suntory, led a blind tasting of some of the bourbons (and one rye) in the company's portfolio, offering pairings of sharp white ched- dar, walnut and dried apricot to tease out and discuss flavor notes. She asked: "Where does it hit you? Can you feel the Kentucky hug? Is there a long finish? Is it mouth-drying or mouth-watering?" Coolhaus Manhattan ice cream sand- wiches, featuring Jim Beam Black, showed the spirit's diversity in cocktails and culinary creations alike. PHOTO: HARDY WILSON PHOTO: MARGARET SOSS PHOTO: MARGARET SOSS Megan Breier, West Coast Bourbon Brand Ambassador, Beam Suntory.

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