Over the years, many of you have read my praises of Jay Erisman, retail spirits manager extraorinaire. Jay is a liquor afficiando of world-class proportion, with a special love for whiskey. All kinds of whisk(e)y, of course, but especially American whiskey. And he has both the knowledge and the connections to bring to market some of the finest and most unusual obtainable. In many ways, Jay is a mirror-image of folks like Julian Van Winkle and Drew Kulsveen. They are purveyors of fine whiskies which they obtain from very limited sources and market to a (hopefully) ever-expanding network of distributors and retailers. Jay selects from a large (and expanding) base of sources, and markets through one single retail outlet, The Party Source, on the shore of the Ohio River in Bellevue Kentucky.
Like virtually any serious retail outfit anymore, The Party Source has a website. It's a major retailer, with lots of departments and activities, and it's page is chock full of stuff. Don't ignore all that, of course, but do skip over it all and just add "/whiskey" to the address, as in http://www.thepartysource.com/whiskey
That there young, good-looking guy on the right is Jay. He doesn't look like someone who'd enjoy spending his vacations wading up muddy mountain roads in Mexico and swatting bugs to watch cactus being fermented in a clay pot in someone's garage, does he?
Well, he is.
He's also a contributing author to Drinks and Malt Advocate magazines. And he is the proud owner of more kinds of current-production bourbon and rye whiskey than anyone reading this, all of which he'd love to sell to you, as well as a goodly share of brown liquors that are so new and experimental that he can't sell to you because they don't even have a marketing niche... yet. Every once in awhile, during his scheduled tastings at the store (the Party Source runs various gourmet shows, hands-on cooking classes, wine tastings, beer tastings, and liquor tastings from a full kitchen set, suitable for televised presentations similar to say, Emeril Live) he shares some of these with his audience. Recently we enjoyed an evening with Harlen Wheatley, who brought along some 6-grain white dog (it can't even be called "whiskey", because it includes sorghum and buckwheat in the mashbill), as well as some other Buffalo Trace experimentals you won't find at your local liquor store. Two of those, a rye whiskey "finished" in a sweet wine barrel and a bourbon whiskey "finished" in the barrel the rye had been aged in, were created to Jay's own specifications and bottled by BT in their own Experimental bottles -- albeit at barrel-proof and unfiltered, not at 90 proof. These whiskey products can only be purchased at The Party Source. The same is true for Four Roses' line of single barrel bourbons made from each of their 10 mashbill/yeast combinations. Or at least four of them -- more to come in the future. Jim Rutledge was so impressed with Jay's suggestion that Four Roses now plans to make those expressions generally available, although I believe only those selected for The Party Source will be unfiltered and barrel proof. Jay also has probably more versions of Willett bourbon on his shelves than you've ever seen anywhere.
But the best part (and the reason I'm posting all this gushing praise) is that you can now obtain these wonderful and unique expressions even if you don't live near Bellevue
. Enthusiasts in many states can now receive liquor purchased online from The Party Source. Be sure to check the "Shipping Info" tab to see if yours is among them.
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), not included is my previous home state of Pennsylvania, where the 21st Ammendment is still considered only a temporary setback on the glorious road to full statuatory abstinence. In election after election, the voters of Pennsylvania confirm their belief that private citizens should continue to be forbidden to obtain or possess demon alcohol unless such is issued to them through state-operated liquor dispensaries.
Check out his store's site. There's no way that Jay would post here tootin' his own horn, but I certainly don't see why I shouldn't; it's a public service to American whiskey lovers. If you've been feeling cheated because all us Kentuckians (and nearly-Kentuckians) get to taste all the really special stuff, now's your chance. Unless you live in Pennsylvania.