Last night I did a fund raising bourbon tasting for the Black Acre Foundation here in Jefferson County. Black Acre is about 400 acres of farm that was set aside by the heirs of the Tyler family as a nature preserve. There is a farm house in the federal style, built in 1844, and a dozen or so out buildings and barns. The money raised foes to educational programs and maintenance of these buildings.
The program started at 6:00pm and was held in the main house. This house sets back off the road about 1/4 mile off Tucker Station Road in south eastern Jefferson County. The long drive is a single lane and gravel so I was glad it had not rained for a few days, and driving back to the house really give the illusion of being out in the country. There are no neighboring houses in site as the house is surrounded by fields and groves of trees.
The tasting was set up in two rooms with about 15 to 20 people in each room. The speaking would be done from the doorway connecting the two rooms. This was a real challenge since every time a question was being answered in one room, the other room would get noisy. Tickets for the event were sold at $100.00 each, $75.00 to Black Acre Foundation members. They raised over $3,000.00 last night.
Carolyn Comer, the President of the Foundation, made the introductions and then another board member and Tyler decendant told a little of the history of the farm. The Tyler family moved there in 1784 and one of the sons farmed the farm while the father went on into town and opened a tavern. They ran a distillery onn the farm for the next 40 years making whiskey and cherry bounce. Most of this was sold in the tavern at first, but later they took some of the whiskey to New Orleans. This was not very profitable and they quit doing this by 1825.
The whiskey I selected for the tasting were of a historical nature in that they were either made at distilleries that don't exist anymore or the brand does not exist anymore in this form.
The first bourbon was Old Taylor, 6yo, 86 proof, made at the National Distillery in Frankfort in the early 1980's. It was a nice product at first but it had a sourness to the finish that I did not care for personally. My survey at the end of the night showed that four people like it the best of the night.
The second product was another National product from Frankfort and it was Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond from 1984 judging from the bottle numbers. This is after government deregulation took this valuable information from the tax stamp. It was a very spicy rye bourbon that still had a great finish with corn and vanilla sweetness. There were 5 people who liked this the best at the end of the tasting.
The third product was Old Fitzgerald Prime 86 proof from Stitzel-Weller bottled in 1987. It was the only wheated bourbon served that night and had the simple, straight forward sweetness the brand is known for. There were 5 people who preferred this as their favorite for the night.
The fourth bourbon was Old Forester Bottled in Bond. They still make a 100 proof Old Forester, but they call it "bonded" anymore and even so they say it still meets the requiremnets for being a Bonded Bourbon, they don't have to do so anymore. This was a very good bourbon it had lots of candy corn sweetness with a hint of apricots with a caramel finish that lingered for a long time. This prooved to be the most popular of the night with 7 people voting it the best of the night.
The fifth product was Jacob's Well 84 proof, 84 mos (7 years) old. This is the so called "micro-distilled" small batch product that came out in the 90's and was discontinued after only a couple of years. The taste profile is pretty much the same as Jim Beam Black and since the bottle cost twice as much as Jim Beam Black, we can all see why it failed. Nobody disliked the product, but nobody liked it best that night.
The last product tasted was Wild Turkey 8yo, 101 proof. This was a very good bottle even though the cork fell apart and several people had some cork floating in their glass. It was Wild Turkey as it was meant to be with rye spiciness and corn sweetnes blended with barrel tannins to give a sweet start with a dry finish. There were 6 people who thought this was the best of the night.
The tasting was followed by a meal of pork tenderloin stuffed with bourbon marinated fruit, bourbon baked beans, potato salad and bread. The deserts were furnished by the Tyler House Bed and Breakfast just down Tucker Station Road from Black Acre and included a chocolate and raspberry tort, Apple cake with caramel icing, caramel-bourbon bread pudding, pumpkin cake and pumpkin pie. Red and White wines were funished by the New Castle Winery.
The event was to end at 9:00 but everybody was enjoyin themselves that so much that it did not start to break up until closer to 10:00. It was decided that a similar event would be held next year. If you live near Louisville and would like to come next year, let me know. They planned upon 40 people (the most that would fit into the two rooms) and sold 36 tickets.