Tag Archives: bourbon

Product Review: Ben Milam Whiskey

Hey, North Texas: there’s a new bourbon in town, and it’s goooooood. Ben Milam Whiskey—Bourbon and Rye—are now available in select bars and liquor stores around town.*

As some of you might know, I like to know the story behind what I drink—it somehow just makes it taste better. Ben Milam Whiskey has a great story for those tried and true Texans. For starters, the distillery is smack in the middle of our fare state, Blanco, Texas. Additionally, the namesake was involved in the Texas Revolution and led the attack on the Mexican Army in San Antonio on December 5, 1835. Unfortunately, Milam took a bullet to the head on December 7th during the battle for San Antonio, but, on December 9th, the Mexican forces negotiated a truce and surrendered San Antonio.

Owner, Marsha Milam, fell in love with bourbon by visiting the bourbon trail in Kentucky. She (yes, she) loved how relaxed the whole process is; you can’t rush bourbon. There’s a beauty in that.

Like the bourbon’s namesake, Ben Milam Bourbon stormed onto the spirit scene and won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its 86-proof single- barrel bourbon. For those of you who don’t know, this competition is a blind taste test. In order to win the double gold, every judge has to rate the spirit a gold—this is no easy feat.

Currently, the bourbon bottles state the bourbon is distilled in Tennessee and bottled in Blanco, Texas by Provision Spirit, LLC. When Marsha started down the bourbon road, she was very specific on the grain bill and flavor profile she was after. She she started with purchasing already distilled spirit that was aging in oak barrels. She brought the oak barrels to Texas to finish aging and to bottle the final product in Blanco. The distillery in Blanco is currently distilling the same grain bill that Marsha first purchased. Due to bourbon aging regulations it will take a few years for the first bourbon distilled and aged in Texas to be bottled, but the product is well on it’s way to being a Texas native.

The corn and the rye that are found in Ben Milam spirits are from the midwest, but the water is from Blanco. As a true bourbon, it is matured in new charred oak barrels and the recipe is 51% corn.

*Currently, Ben Milam products are available in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In Fort Worth, you can find Ben Milam at Fixure, Proper, King’s, and Chicotsky’s.


Ben Milam
BenMilamWhiskey.com
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The tasting room at Ben Milam Whiskey opened on Texas Independence Day (March 2) this year and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 6 p.m. Whiskey flights (which include both bourbon and rye), cocktails, and bottles are available for purchase. The tasting room is fairly small, but there is an outdoor seating area as well. Head to the website for more info on distillery tours. Blanco is located in the hill country, not a far drive from Austin or San Antonio.

Firestone & Robertson Debuts a Bourbon

While most people know Firestone and Robertson Distillery (F&R) for their TX Blended Whiskey, their original plan of creating a bourbon is FINALLY hitting store shelves. (Actually, it probably didn’t hit many shelves because of the high demand for the product … and it was sold out within 15 minutes on those shelves!) The first bottles of TX Bourbon were released at the distillery on December 10. People started lining up around 7am the morning of to make sure they were able to get their hands on a bottle. (F&R was only planning on selling to about three hundred bottles, yet they ended up having to cut the line at 750.) Leaving a few hundred people without as well as leaving few bottles for liquor store shelves. I personally know that a Spec’s store in Fort Worth had a line waiting for the shipment. (… leaving those of us with 9 to 5s to revert to signing up for a wait list and hoping for our phones to ring.)

Now to Fort Worth’s newest shinning star–the bourbon. F&R prides itself on using local everything. They use Texas corn, Texas soft red winter wheat, Texas water, and Texas yeast. (The yeast strain they use was cultivated from a pecan tree in Somervell County.) Even the DNA analysis of the yeast took place in Fort Worth inside a TCU lab. (Go frogs.)

Courtesy of F&R

F&R is truly cultivating a Texas product. Once the mash is distilled, it goes into charred oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. (Bourbon must be aged for 2 years by law). The oak barrels are what give the bourbon its color and flavor. The product that comes off the still is essentially moonshine, a clear corn whiskey. As temperatures fluctuate throughout the year, the whiskey interacts with the oak barrels, taking on some of its flavor notes. When hot, the oak barrel’s pores open up and the whiskey permeates into the oak. When cold, the oak barrel’s pores shrink and force the whiskey back into the barrel. This interaction is the key to making great bourbon. Without that interaction, the bourbon would not get the color and flavor from the oak. F&R barreled their first bourbon in March 2012. A long four and a half years later, they bottled that first batch.

I was honored to be one of the first people to sneak a taste of the bourbon. The first smell provides a soft hint of the oak barrel, and the first sip provided a hint of vanilla and a short, smooth finish. (The sweetness is what we’ve come to expect from F&R products, so we’re good with it.) As someone who enjoys bourbon, I was hooked from the first sip. It didn’t have a sting that I get from some other brands.

Courtesy of F&R

Now that we’ve gotten the fun out of the way, I’ll clear a little something up that may be lurking in the back of your mind … yes, it can be called “bourbon”. Some think that a spirit has to be made in Kentucky to be called “bourbon”, but not so. “The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5) state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be: produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof, [and] bottled at 80+ proof.” (Thanks Wikipedia!) So there.

For those of you lucky enough to get a bottle of this first release, congratulations (I’m jealous). For everyone else, wait a few months and then you’ll get your turn … it’s truly worth the wait.

 

Firestone and Robertson Distillery – Bourbon
frdistilling.com
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901 W. Vickery Boulevard (Fort Worth)

Nose: oak, honey
Flavor: vanilla, honey
Finish: smooth, short
Aged: 4+ years
Proof: 82 (41% ABV)

They offer distillery tours on select Saturdays.

 

RECIPE: Apple Pie Bourbon

I got a wild hair about a month ago and decided that this year’s holiday gift would be homemade infusions.  I decided to make jalapeño vodka, lavender gin, and (wait for it) apple pie bourbon.

The bourbon was very easy to make.  I began with Jack Daniels, a middle-of-the-road liquor without any wild flavors in it.  I began with a recipe for small batch infusions and ended with the proportions below.

APPLE PIE BOURBON
1.75L bourbon
3-4 Golden Delicious apples, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 sticks of cinnamon (roughly 3-inch sticks)
roughly 1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup simple syrup

Place apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg in an airtight container.  Pour bourbon over ingredients, ensuring the ingredients are covered by the bourbon.  Seal the container and let sit at room temperature for three days.  Shake or stir periodically to agitate the ingredients.

After three days, take a sip to test your infusion (it’ll be a bit bitter).  Add more ingredients if necessary, and seal for another day.  Test one more time after four days (total).  Some infusions may take up to five days.

When you’ve achieved the desired flavor, strain the solid ingredients out of the bourbon using a colander.   To remove the small sediment, strain the mixture using a cheesecloth.  Add the simple syrup and stir for at least thirty seconds.

Bottle your mixture in an airtight container.  I ordered swing-top bottles from specialtybottle.com and painted them using chalkboard paint.  For gifts, I added a tag with recipes to use the bourbon.  Your apple pie bourbon can be stored for up to two months in the refrigerator.