For our May 2015 issue, we’re exploring everything you need to know about the distilleries, bars, cocktails, traditions, private barrels, accoutrements, and high tech experiments featuring Kentucky’s great gift to the world: Bourbon!
Where the special blends and private casks are kept:
Tavern Restaurant Group
More than 15 years ago, founder and CEO Nick Sanders visited the late Elmer T. Lee, then master distiller emeritus at Buffalo Trace Distillery, to choose a barrel of Blanton’s, the group’s first private barrel selection. Today, all of Sanders’s establishments—Nicholson’s, multiple locations of The Pub and deSha’s, and Horse & Barrel—
offer limited-availability special blends of Jim Beam and private single barrels of Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve (but not Blanton’s).
Todd Kelly has been making the trip to Lawrenceburg every six months since 2013 to taste single barrels of Four Roses with master distiller Jim Rutledge. The Netherland Hilton’s executive chef always selects a barrel to bring back. The bar now has eight private single-barrel bourbons reserved for tasting events, and they just scored a private single barrel of Blanton’s.
In February, general manager Tabb Harrison led a team of 4EG employees to Warehouse H at Buffalo Trace Distillery, the property’s only metal-clad warehouse where they age Blanton’s. They decided on a single barrel with sweet notes of green apple and hints of cinnamon and vanilla, which stars in their new cocktail, The Albert, a riff on an Old-Fashioned made with smoked demerara simple syrup.
Hyde Park Country Club
A members-only barrel program debuted at the club this year, which bar manager Les Hemingway says was inspired by another local club’s even longer-running program. In April, eight members—chosen at random from the 180 that called dibs on every last bottle during presale—went to Woodford Reserve to select the club’s inaugural single barrel.