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THE BOURBON RESOURCE: JANUARY 2023
You spent how much on a Pappy? Leopold Distillery Tour, Benchmark FP review
I almost renamed this WTF News in this one instance. One bottle of 23-year Pappy sold at a Sotheby’s auction in December for $52,500. “Synonymous with enthusiasts, whiskeys bottled under the Van Winkle brand have gone on to become amongst the most highly rated and sought-after, gathering an almost cult-like following,” Sotheby’s said in a media statement. But come on people. That’s like bidding $50K on an ’82 Margaux. It’s great and all but is it worth the price of a small home? For context, Pappy ’23 costs $249.99 retail, though you’re likely to find the Ark of the Covenant before you find a Pappy at that price. Even on the secondary, the 23 goes for $4,500 to $5,000, so if you have 50 large burning a hole in your pocket, you could buy 10 of them for that coin. I’m guessing the $50K to the bidders is like $100 to me. But damn people.
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January tends to be light on bourbon news, so just two items this month.
Matthew McConaughey’s partnership with Wild Turkey has come to an end. McConaughey joined Wild Turkey as creative director in 2016 and partnered with master distiller Eddie Russell to create Longbranch, a charcoal-filtered, smoky, 8-year-aged product. I normally roll my eyes when I see celebrity-backed products, but Longbranch is a solid daily drinker and will remain in production. I’m sure McConaughey has other things to do.
There’s no slowing down the bourbon train. Kentucky, the No. 1 bourbon producer, reported $2,1 billion(!) in new bourbon-related investments in 2022. That’s a lot of jobs for the $9 billion a year bourbon industry.
PLANS FOR 2023
Thanks to all of those who have subscribed to the Bourbon Resource. By just word of mouth, this little newsletter --- which started with 25 people last July --- is approaching 200 now. I’ve never had an open rate of 70% and last month it hit 76%. If a newsletter open rate hits 20% or so, that’s a very good outcome. Thank you for opening and reading,
I have one audience goal for 2023 --- 500 newsletter subscribers. I might buy some ads but I thought I would ask all of you first. Please consider forwarding this to someone you know who likes bourbon. It’s free, I try to keep it short and relevant, and all you have to do is click on this button below.
I’m also in the planning stages of bourbon talks. I’m unsure of the frequency (one a month? Every two months? Quarterly?) and format but I’m thinking through that now.
Again, thanks for your support!!!!!
WHAT’S NEW ON MY SHELF
Benchmark Full Proof
Distiller: Buffalo Trace
This very well may be the best, low-price bourbon on the market.
As most of you know, I love higher-proof bourbons and I find that 110-130 proof range as my sweet spot. Benchmark’s named after the McAfee brothers, who left Virginia in 1773 to explore uncharted territory. The story goes that the brothers settled in what is now Kentucky and the site of the Buffalo Trace facility, according to the Buffalo Trace website.
Benchmark is made from Buffalo Trace’s standard yet mysterious mash bill No. 1, which most suspect is low-rye. Buffalo Trace, EH Taylor and George Stagg are all made with mash bill one.
If you judge this bourbon by the nose you might be tempted to give it to someone who uses bourbon as a mixer. The heavy grain and alcohol upfront masks a little sweetness and doesn’t make for an appealing first impression.
But the taste is another matter. Chocolate, brown sugar, maple, and sweet vanilla mingle and make a marvelous pour. The deep, long licorice, caramel candy, and vanilla finish are one of the best at this price point.
Benchmark isn’t as thick as other, more expensive full-proof pours (no surprise), but it compares well to 1792 Full Proof, another bargain at about $30.
I like this so much that I bought four bottles and have to stop myself from making this a daily drinker. I don’t do that because it’s hard to find on the shelf. Otherwise, I’d start my night with Benchmark Full Proof.
THIS MONTH’S COCKTAIL
THE BROWN DERBY
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce honey syrup*
Garnish: thin slice of grapefruit
Place all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until cold, and strain into a glass. Easy!
* you make honey syrup in a 1:1 ratio of honey and water, so in this case ¼ ounce (1.5 teaspoons) each of water and honey.
REVIEW: TOUR OF THE LEOPOLD DISTILLERY, DENVER, CO
Our friends at Bourbon Obsessed publish a lot of my reviews and I’m thankful. They do a great job reviewing distilleries, so each month, we’ll bring you some of their work.
We’re kicking off with Leopold Brothers in Denver Colorado. You can read the full review in BourbonObsessed.com, which notes: “I have never been on a tour like this before.”
That’s it for this month! If you’re an NBA fan, take a look at the Knicks Film School newsletter, the smartest commentary and all thing the New York Knicks and NBA basketball.
Ray Marcano writes and publishes the Bourbon Resource monthly. He’s a bourbon lover and long-time journalist who has worked for some of the country’s largest media brands. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror, and a Fulbright fellow.