In celebration of Bourbon Heritage Month, I had the absolute privilege of attending two Bourbon Social’s at St. John’s Meeting Place and Bar. I mean, trying great whiskey AND being able to talk about how great the whiskey is with other like-minded whiskey lovers? Sign me up! 

The Meeting Place most certainly did not disappoint their guest, treating us to quite the collection of libations including some rarities from Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam as well as some hard to find (for me) Colorado whiskeys. My tastebuds left happy and my heart warm. Here’s a look at all that was offered paired with my thoughts on each incase you are looking to treat yourself this week. Happy sipping!

The Woodford Reserve Collection

Woodford Reserve, a.k.a The Derby Favorite 

Before the Bourbon Social, I admittedly had only tasted the Derby Favorite in a Mint Julep, which I suppose is pretty fitting. However, I must say I enjoyed this whiskey neat as much as I enjoyed it mixed into a favorite classic cocktail. I smelled mint and oranges on the nose with a faint touch of vanilla. Once I tasted it, the notes of citrus really hit my palate paired with snips of cinnamon. The finish was very smooth with a warmth that lingered.

Woodford Reserve Double Oak

The Double Oak takes a pretty innovative approach to twice-barreled bourbon by maturing in two separate, charred oak barrels. Woodford takes the second barrel and deeply toasts it before a light charring which is suppose to extract additional amounts of that sweet oak character. From the nose, the smell of oak overpowers in the best way possible. Upon a second sniff notes of caramel and maple started to appear. The taste was just as delightful as the nose with a lot of wood from the oak. It was very sweet with notes of vanilla, dark caramel, and dashes of hazelnut. The finished lingered at the back of the throat with hints of fruit.

Woodford Reserve Classic Malt

The Woodford Reserve Classic Malt is aged in pre-used bourbon barrels and has a grain-focused profile causing it to be very Old World in style. The nose gave way to a lot of oat, barley, and grass with underlying caramel and vanilla. The sniff was very smooth on intake with more earthy notes paired with dashes of sweetness. The bourbon lightly coated my palate and gave way to a lot of citrus with the vanilla and caramel undertones. It had a sting that lingered, but I assure you I am using the word “sting” in the best way possible here.

Woodford Reserve Straight Malt

I must admit, that the Woodford Reserve Straight Malt was one of my favorites of the night. When I first took a sniff, I immediately thought play-dough so obviously this one was a bit muddy to me. However, upon a second (okay maybe third or fourth) sniff I realized that play-dough smell was really just banana and oak blended together. Which would make sense considering that the Straight Malt highlights the impacts of new-oak cask maturation. I found the taste to be light and delightful with notes of caramel and vanilla bean paired with brown sugar and short hints of the banana which I found in the nose. This bourbon was incredibly smooth going down with what I found to be a heavy, creamy peanut like finish. The Woodford Reserve Straight Malt takes after the Classic Malt with its Old World style, however the new-oak cask maturation definitely gives this spirit a unique and delightful taste.

Offerings from Jim Beam

Jim Beam Rare Spanish Brandy Finish

The one thing I love about Jim Beam and the American Stillhouse is that whenever you find one of their bourbons you can expect a tried and true American whiskey, the Jim Beam Rare Spanish Brandy is no different. The nose invites scents of citrus with light vanilla and bits of caramel. You can definitely feel the heat as the aroma enters your nostrils and that heat carries over to the palate, pairing well with the bits of sweetness present from the oaky vanilla barrel. Jim Beam says to drink it neat or on the rocks, however I would be interested to see how this does in a cocktail that tries to bring out the fruity brandy compliments a bit more.

Jim Beam 12 Year

This deep, rich amber whiskey is filled with sweet notes of caramel and vanilla, however it also carries a lot of heat on the nostrils. Upon your first sip you’ll find bits of sweetness from the vanilla as well as a lot of spice. This bourbon is perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks.

The Colorado Whiskeys 

Stranahan’s 

I was super excited to be able to taste Stranahan’s whiskey since I haven’t been able to find it here in the South and I have heard nothing but good reviews. I got a small sip, but not enough to really dig into the essence of the whiskey. Hopefully they’ll make it down to the great state of Tennessee soon and I will be able to fully enjoy and experience the flavors. If you’ve tried it, share your thoughts with me so I can tell the world!

Tin Cup

Ever since I discovered Tin Cup I’ve been very drawn to it, mainly because its branding and packaging is top notch. At first, I was a bit disappointed to find out its actually made in Indiana at MGP and just filtered with Colorado water, but good whiskey is good whiskey, and Tin Cup is good whiskey. Like most things coming out of MGP, Tin Cup is a blend of rye, corn, and malt and aged in American white oak casks. The nose is bold and spicy which carries over to the palate. Once it hits your lips you’ll find that signature rye spice paired with sweet notes of cinnamon. Though this is a great sipping whiskey, I would love to get my hands on some to experiment with cocktails. I have a feeling that bold and spicy flavor could do some amazing things when paired with bitters.

And thus concludes my exploring of the libations at St. John’s Bourbon Social. Each and every whiskey had something great to offer and I would definitely sip on all of these again. So if something is calling out to you, TRY IT! And then let me know your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, cheers-