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Written for bourbon fans, by bourbon fans!
Steve Akley Presents...

This Month's Bourbon Zeppelin Feature Article


A Shot of Ingenuity


by Andrea Holak

The Role of Distilleries in WWII
During World War II, the United States faced many new and unknown enemies that challenged both body and spirit. The battles were fierce and the days and nights seemed never-ending. Support came in many shapes and forms, and often, the need wasn’t known until it was dire. Luckily, the bourbon industry stepped up to the plate and left its indelible mark on one of the most historic battles to shape our world. Science and ingenuity came together to form a partnership that would change modern medicine and save lives.  

So, how does bourbon fit into the picture?
Reeling from Prohibition, which forced many distilleries to shutter their operations from 1920-1933, distilleries were eager to get their operations up and running. While very few maintained a medicinal permit, many were forced to close completely. Reopening meant a long startup time, as bourbon needs to age before it hits the market. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, they began to divert both troops and support resources in earnest toward the war effort.  
As injuries, illness and casualties rose, the need for preservation and health became a critical priority. While penicillin as an antibiotic had been discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928, it remained scarce in supply during the early months of the war. Reproducing it on a large scale was very difficult and required great skill and specialized equipment.  
The War Production Board reviewed industries capable of mass producing penicillin, and distilleries fit the bill. The process for producing penicillin was similar to that used by distillers producing alcohol from yeast and sugars. The fermentation tanks were the perfect resource for mass production of the life-saving penicillin. The War Production Board worked with distilleries to retrofit their equipment to separate the mold used in penicillin creation so it could be purified and used for antibiotics. 
Chemists and scientists from the distilleries worked side-by-side with the chemists who had spent their lives developing medicine. Each learned from the other--both improving their craft. In the end, an antibiotic was produced that was easily portable to the front lines, giving injured soldiers a chance at healing and hope. 
In addition to the life-saving penicillin, distilleries also contributed other valuable products to the war. Industrial alcohol and fuel grade alcohol were produced in the retrofitted distilleries. Industrial alcohol could be used in smokeless gunpowder, antifreeze, plastics, medical supplies, pesticides, and a variety of other products that supported the war. This provided a bit of income to keep the distilleries going through tough economic times when rations were commonplace.  
In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Chain, and Sir Howard Florey were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases.” Fleming was critical, yes, but without the help of the distilleries in mass producing the penicillin as an antibiotic, many more would have most assuredly perished in World War II. Bourbon may have provided liquid courage from time to time on the front lines, but the partnership the distilleries formed with the War Production Board saved countless lives.  
Bourbon has been said to cure what ails you, and now I think I truly believe it!  Giving courage, saving lives...all in a day’s work!  

About Andrea Holak
Andrea Holak is a St. Louis resident where she works as a grant administrator at a local nonprofit which provides housing and related supportive services to people who are affected by HIV/AIDS. In her spare time, in addition to spending time with her husband, two Australian Shepards and a cat, Andrea enjoys all things bourbon. She has joined the BZ team to tell the stories of bourbon history. You can find Andrea on Twitter or Instagram with the name @redtumbleweed virtually hanging with the bourbon crew!
Table of Contents
Click to go straight there!

Spring is "sprunging" and the bourbon releases are starting to bloom... yes, we are finally getting past the winter bourbon doldrums. We have a "handles" worth of bourbon info here today for you. 

We've got historical information, interviews, photos, breaking news and much more lined out for you. Yep... it's BZ time!

Like I always say, I hope you enjoy reading this issue of Bourbon Zeppelin as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you!

Editor-in-Chief of Bourbon Zeppelin, Owner of the ABV Network, Podcast Writer, Producer & On-Air Personality, Blogger, 30+ Years Bourbon Fan, Bourbon Staff Writer Food & Dining Magazine, Maker's Mark Ambassador (Ambassador #14,903/member since 2000), Four Roses Mellow Moments Club Member (2016), Author of the Best-Selling Cocktail Book Series Bourbon Mixology (Four Volumes, 2015-Present), Apprenticed at a Bourbon Distillery (2016), Completed the Bourbon Trail (2016), Executive Bourbon Steward (2017), Whiskey Warrior Award Winner (May '17), Founding Member Jefferson's Bourbon Ambassador Program (2017), Barrel Selection Committee Member for New Orleans Bourbon Festival (2018), Bourbon Educator for Total Wine in St. Louis, New Orleans Bourbon Festival Hall of Fame Committee Member, Bourbons Bistro Barrel Selection Committee Member and Kentucky Colonel (2016).

Tickets for the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival Now On Sale!

Pick up your tickets to the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival by clicking here.
The ABV Network is the fastest growing podcast network on the web. Here's the latest news with this exciting group of shows, many of which are helmed by Bourbon Zeppelin contributors.

Christine & Lauren Riggleman
Silverback Distillery
Featured on The Bourbon Show - Today!

We have some great programming coming up on the ABV Network. Here's a sneak peak at some of the upcoming shows:
The Bourbon Show
March 1- Christine and Lauren Riggleman of Silverback Distillery
March 15 - Freddie Noe, Jim Beam

The Bourbon Daily
March 1 - Wood Hat Spirits with Gary Hinegardner
March 7 - What in Bourbon Gets Gail the Snail's Goat?
March 8 - Bourbon Facts You Didn't Know!
Bourbon Bettys
March 4 - Winter Bourbon Releases
March 11 - What's the Next Big Thing in Bourbon?

ABV Network shows can be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Libsyn and more. Just search for the name of the show! You can even listen in on our website:

Join the Revolution
We love knowing who fans of our shows are. Please join ABV Network staff by putting the hashtag #ABVNetworkCrew in your social media profiles. 

"Bourbon Life" Experiences Offered by the ABV Network

by Steve Akley
As the ABV Network has grown from a start-up media company to the largest creator of bourbon-themed content in the world, we've gained a lot of friendships in the industry along the way. I'm pleased to announce that we are offering some unique experiences offered through our friends in the bourbon industry for the Patreon sponsors of the ABV Network. 

It's really simple. Each month, on the 20th of the month we are announcing a new experience... things you can't normally do at a distillery... we're talking experiences so unique, money can't normally buy them. The contest then runs through the 5th of the next month for Patreon supporters at the $5/month level or higher. 

The prizes are absolutely amazing. The first one... running now (through March 5) involves spending a day at Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta, Kentucky. There,  you will be making bourbon. Royce and his grandfather PawPaw, will have it staged out where you can cook a mash, run the still and make a cut from heads-to-hearts. Of course, if you are making bourbon, you gotta try some bourbon, right? The team at NFD sure thinks so. That means you will be leaving with a bottle pulled from the barrel in the gift shop.

Pretty amazing, right?

Well, we keep rolling with the our "Bourbon Life" Experiences later this month when we announce our next contest on March 20. For this one, Stumpy's Spirits in Columba, Illinois, is offering the unique opportunity to craft your very own bourbon or whiskey. That's right, you determine the mash bill and Adam Stumpf, the owner of Stumpy's will make it. We're not talking some 5-gallon experimental still either... we're talking a full run which means he will have 8 barrels of your whiskey. What will he do with it? Well, that depends on how good it is. One thing is for sure, each year as it ages, Adam will send you a sample so you can track its progress maturing in the barrel.

As you can see, these are unique opportunities to get involved in the bourbon industry like you never have before. If you want to get in on the fun, become a Patreon sponsor for the ABV Network. Click below to see our sponsorship levels, sign-up and enter in our monthly contests.


On a related side note, I would like to reiterate how important our Patreon campaign is to our mission of providing you the best content in bourbon. Doing what we do isn't easy and it is fairly costly. By becoming a patron for the ABV Network, you help ensure us being able to continue to deliver the content that goes above-and-beyond simply getting up-to-date on an industry, it becomes part of your daily routine. I thank all who have joined our campaign and thank anyone thinking about joining for his or her consideration.

Bourbon Hunting – March 2019 by Jeremy Schell 

March is upon us and so is the madness that comes with it. The 2019 bourbon hunting craze is in full frenzy and it seems people are either suffering from FOMO syndrome (Fear of Missing Out), TE (Tater Envy) or severe chafing from (ECS) excessive crotch shots.

That’s right folks, the madness is real, and it is vile and unrelenting. Fret not, there are a few cures handy and these are not even allocated. 

No, I’m not talking about a little baby powder on your private parts or the short-sighted exhilarating rush encountered when finding a member of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection peacefully sitting alone on the shelf… only to discover it is a hundred dollars over secondary prices. A cure for this madness is actually very close and well within the means of your wallet. Just step inside a retailer near you and discover there are an almost limitless selection of bourbons and rye whiskeys waiting to be tried. Some of these are really good if you give them a chance. Some of these may never be found again.

Seasoned bourbon hunters as well as those recovering from FOMO, TE and ECS have discovered that quality whiskey doesn’t mean it is allocated or even high price. Good bourbon is in the taste of the drinker and how they decide to drink it. Granted there are some better than others but ultimately it is only up to you to decide what you like and what you’re willing to pay to enjoy it. 

Now, for those who are still suffering from one of those previously mentioned dreaded illnesses or still in denial of your current condition, perhaps now is the time to start hunting for something that may already be under your nose. If you are looking for the next hidden gem to put on your bar, the growing trend of store and private barrel selections could be the new unicorns or sasquatches you seek. Albeit, I’ll take mine without any hair in the bottles, thank you. 

Store and private barrel selections give consumers the unique opportunity to purchase a familiar brand with the potential of being different (and better) from the brand’s typical blended profile. For most brands, each (small) batch is comprised of a blend of barrels ranging from a few barrels to several hundred. This blending is designed to deliver the taste profile intended by the master distiller. Store and private barrel selections are bottled from a single barrel, with only the characteristics of that unique barrel. Single barrel products can provide the drinker an opportunity to experience a broad range of the brand’s potential, sometimes good and sometimes, outstanding. Most importantly, because these characteristics are unique to the barrel, each barrel selection is bound to be distinct and most likely never duplicated again.

Several stores, restaurants and private groups are already famous for their barrel selections due to their exceptional palates and ability to identify infamous honey barrels from a vast barrel lineup. Some of these include: Lincoln Road’s Jamie Farris; Westport Wine & Whiskey’s Chris Zaborowski; Brad Williams and the Liquor Barn team; Bill Thomas, Jack Rose Dining Saloon; Jason Brauner, Bourbons Bistro; Larry Rice, Silver Dollar; the Bourbon Cartel; and a double secret Derby City Bourbon group. These are just a few that have made a name for themselves because of their outstanding barrel selections. Barrel selections from any of these groups are often highly coveted for their unique flavors and high secondary market values. These are not the only groups to hunt for their barrel selections as new ones are appearing every day and all worth a try.

For myself, I look for barrel picks not only by select groups, but I also look for barrel selections of specific brands. Many brands provide a greater opportunity with their barrel selections for distinctive flavors that will never be found in their traditional packaging. Here are my Top 10 favorite brands I look for when hunting private barrel selections. 

10. New Riff – Now that New Riff is releasing four-year products with their own distillate, they are offering private single barrel selections. So far these have been nothing short of delicious. Creative barrel selection teams have adorned the bottles with entertaining barrel pick stickers, embossing and even, wax tops making them highly sought after already.

9. Blanton’s – I almost hate to include Blanton’s on this list because every Blanton’s bottle is a single barrel product. Although that makes all of them unique, finding a Blanton’s from a renowned barrel selection store or restaurant is well worth the allocated prices.

8. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked – Woodford Reserve Double Oaked may be my favorite daily drinker but WRDO barrel selections tend to be spicier and more flavorful than the traditional batches. When you find a good one, contact me, I probably will want to try it.

7. Willett Family Estate – Ok, let’s be honest, if you can participate on a WFE barrel selection, you’re already a unicorn. We bow to you. Regardless, if you find one, buy it. Don’t ask who selected it, it may not be great or even very good but these have incredible secondary value.

6. Eagle Rare – The brand’s 2018 hiatus from offering barrel picks has just made these even more sought after. Don’t worry, Eagle Rare barrel selections are coming back in the program for 2019. Many of the ER barrel picks from 2017 still rate as some of the best 90-proof bourbons you can buy. Just don’t drink an entire bottle in one sitting, please.

5. Old Forester – Old Forester has been hitting on all cylinders these past several years with no signs of letting up. The OF 1920 single barrel selection last year is still considered to be one of the best, ever. The Old Forester Single Barrel options are also quite tasty and rich. If you can make it to the Old Fo’ Distillery in Louisville, KY, check out the gift shop for one of the single barrels in the Master Tasters’ series. Jackie Zykan has been knocking each of these out of the park. Must be nice to have your own personal pick of anything in the warehouses. Jackie, need an assistant?

4. Weller Antique – Allocations have made OWA increasingly difficult to find however barrel picks provide stores and restaurants the chance to purchase higher quantities and unique selections that are only available to them. Regardless of the difficulty to find, if you see an OWA store pick, grab it!

3. Four Roses – With all the recipe options that Four Roses makes available, any FR barrel pick is bound to be interesting and a must try. Often, I hear people who state they only like the OBSK or OESV or some other specific recipe, take some time to blind taste test the various recipes and you may find you enjoy more of them than you realize.

2. Makers Mark Private Select – The Maker’s Mark barrel program is without a doubt, the most innovative in the industry and probably the most controversial. Maker’s Mark Private Select allows the retailer the ability to fine tune the barrel’s flavor profile with additional toasted staves inserted into the barrel for its final maturation period. These range in flavor and most people either love them or not. Either way, these are unlike anything you have tasted.

1. 1792 Full Proof – Barton’s 1792 Full Proof is the most unsung value of any high proof product on the market. These are released at a consistent 125-proof and affordably priced at under $45 retail. These offer an extreme diverse taste profile with each barrel selection and some are the best bourbon I’ve ever tried.

If you have a favorite store, restaurant or private group for barrel picks or even a favorite brand not mentioned here, let me know. I’m always on the lookout for my next prized catch. 

Happy hunting!

Mar. 2019’s Featured Bourbon to Hunt:
“It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” -- Ferris Bueller
Blanton's Straight from the Barrel

For many, Blanton’s represents all that is perfect about bourbon. Excellent flavor, easy to drink anyway you like, packaged in one of the most iconic bottles ever produced and exclusively available as a single barrel product. Touted as the original single barrel bourbon, Blanton’s are selected from center-cut of the famous Warehouse H. These were once

designated for ambassadors, dignitaries, and Colonel Blanton’s family and friends. In the U.S., Blanton’s can only be found at the 93-proof version.

Although this is quite delicious, you haven’t truly enjoyed what Blanton’s truly has to offer until you have sipped Blanton’s straight from the Barrel. Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel (SFTB) represents the cask strength, purest version of how Blanton’s is meant to be drank. Each Blanton’s SFTB is released at the cask proof of the barrel making each release slightly different and unique. Even though each barrel is unique, they all share the distinctive flavor profile of Blanton’s. Rich and complex, Blanton’s SFTB has a classic dark chocolate, caramel and earthy or nutty aroma with strong notes of vanilla, toasted nuts and rich spiciness on the palette. Virtually everywhere in the U.S., Blanton’s is an allocated product, however the Blanton’s SFTB is only available internationally in select markets. In some cases, it can be purchased from international online retailers who ship to the U.S. Be sure to check their web sites first to know where they allowed to ship. It may be inconvenient to obtain the Blanton’s SFTB, they are well worth the effort and expense.

About Jeremy Schell
Jeremy is a Virginia native transplanted to Louisville, Kentucky in 1990. An entrepreneur and survivor of the dotcom era, he is a 25-year veteran of the Internet industry. Jeremy is a partner and the Chief Digital Officer with PriceWeber (, a full service digital advertising agency in Louisville, KY. Over the years, working with notable clients such as Brown-Forman, Hershey, Makers Mark and others, he developed an affinity for drinking, collecting and talking bourbon …. and chocolate, mostly just eating it.  Connect with him on Instagram @jeremyschell or visit his web site
Bourbonfest - Columbus, Indiana
by Stephanie McNew
Over the past weekend, I attended Bourbonfest in Columbus, Indiana, benefiting the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra. It was hosted at The Commons, which was huge event space, yet still intimate and inviting. There was live music continuously playing lightly in the background. I was very impressed by the giant harp player. 
There was an array of samples to be had from big bourbon to Indiana craft distillers. The VIP ticket generously offered 12 bourbon samples and  6 beer samples. That’s a lot of tastings so it definitely made you grateful for the snacks in between. There were of course self serve bar snacks like pretzels and popcorn, and mini water bottles handed out by Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Additionally servers walked around with trays full of cocktail shrimp, meatballs and potato skins. 

MGP had a huge presence here and I learned that the George Remus Repeal Reserve is actually a different mash bill every year. Maybe
this is common knowledge and I just haven’t been paying enough attention. (Most likely I just haven’t been paying attention since it’s listed right on the label.) This year’s, though, was fantastic.

As some of you may know, I am huge fan of wheated bourbons. They are primarily my go-to daily drinkers. At these type of events, I make it a point to challenge my palate and try more ryes. I’m coming around!

One of my favorite samples of the day was local Indianapolis craft distillery Hotel Tango’s Whiskey. It was still sweet, and just a little bit
spicy. I actually preferred it over their wheated Bravo Bourbon. Rabbit Hole’s bourbon finished in sherry casks was also stellar. Another stand out sample wasn’t a bourbon at all but a Moonshine Margarita from Jeptha Creed; which was perfectly timed since the previous Friday was National Margarita Day, and they just turned it into National Margarita Weekend. 

Finishing the day I played a game blind taste testing and trying to identify 4 different bourbons. I’m honestly embarrassed by how bad I did at this (But in my defense, it was the end of the day and I had already been through 12 samples.) So I’ll just leave you with guessing how many I
got correct; or incorrect. All-in-all it was a great day and it helped a really worthwhile cause in the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra.

About McNew
Stephanie McNew is a regular co-host on The Bourbon Daily, an ABV Network podcast. In addition to her work on TBD, she can be heard hosting her own show, The Nightcap, which highlights some of the between-show conversations and show outtakes. McNew lives in Indiana with a veritable zoo of dogs and cats. When she isn't podcasting, running the ABV Network Patreon page or writing, she can be found drinking Larceny bourbon from Heaven Hill... her all-time favorite bourbon. Follow McNew's journey on Instagram: @miss_mcnew.
LEAF LESSONS 101 – Tools of the Trade

Cigar Cutters (Part 2 of 2)

Today we finish our look at cigar cutter options.

The Shuriken Cutter
The Shuriken Cutter is one many may not have even heard of since it is one of the newest cuts in the cigar industry. Shuriken, the Japanese word for “hidden sword”, was introduced in 2011 and branded by Shuriken Cigar Cutters. While there are knockoffs of the style, the original Shuriken carries the name.
This innovative cutter uses 6 surgically sharp blades arranged in a star pattern enclosed in a capsule to ensure no tobacco fallout. The Shuriken "I Draw Technology" is considered a revolutionary way to cut your cigars. These 6 razor blades allow you to choose just how much of the cigar you cut and allows you to set or adjust your draw rate. The science behind the Shuriken is that it draws the smoke evenly throughout the cigar, resulting in a cooler, more flavorful smoke. It positions the smoke onto the tongue where the most pleasant tastes are experienced, and the draw is controlled by the pressure of your mouth on the slits made by the cutter.

How to Cut:
The Shuriken Cutter looks kind of odd, but the design is functional....and it cuts well too. Simply open the device, carefully insert cigar, and gently push. The Shuriken Cutter creates 6 tidy slits in the cap, while keeping it fully intact, but opening it enough for a perfect draw. Sometimes, it's so clean you won't even notice the slits. But take a pull on the cigar and be amazed. In many ways it is the opposite of the cigar punch. The middle of the cap, which is removed by the punch and clip methods remains intact, while the outer edges are cut.
Plus, this cutter works on the torpedo size as well. It's one of those got to-see-it-to-believe-it kind of things. 
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Among the advantages professed by the Shuriken Cutter is that because it leaves the cap almost entirely intact it allows for a more even draw from all aspects of the cigar (wrapper, binder, filler) by allowing the cigar to be drawn through the whole of the cigar, and not just the center. Also, the odds of any tobacco debris getting in your mouth is zero to none. The main disadvantage is the risk that it will not always provide enough of a cut to allow for a full, easy draw and could require multiple cuts. Another potential disadvantage is because the Shuriken Cutter can cut up to a 60-ring gauge sized cigar, a smaller ring cigar’s cap edges could get frayed and lead to unraveling.

Cigar Scissors
Cigar scissors are viewed as the more ‘elitist’ method of cutting a cigar and tend to be the most expensive form of cutters in the base model. These cutters have very nice designs, cases and extremely sharp high-precision, surgical-quality stainless steel blades. It is because of this that cigar aficionados buy a pair of cigar scissors ensuring that every cut made with the scissors is a flawless one. They are frequently seen in cigar lounges and are the cutter equivalent of a table lighter.  If they are sharp, they perform well

How to Use:
Scissor cutters are a sub-genre of the straight or guillotine cutter. They look like a cross between a cigar cutter and scissors. They feature a heavily rounded blade that sandwiches the cigar and cuts it when a squeeze is administered. Just like scissors cutting paper, thus the name.

Advantages and Disadvantages:
Besides the surgical-quality stainless steel blades, another advantage is that cigar scissors will cut just about any ring gauge. The disadvantages include the fact that they are generally much larger than traditional guillotine cutters and are thus less handy to carry around.  Also, if they get the slightest bit dull, they will mangle your cigar by fraying the cap.

Even if this is not your preferred method of cutting, pick one up and have one handy.

Well if you ask an old timer this is their method of choice. LOL. To listen to a cigar elder, they are quick to inform you that there were no fancy tools other than those pearly whites and that’s all you need. So, should you find yourself without a cutter and in no position of getting your hands on one for a smoke, what do you do? You simply follow the old wisdom way of chomping the cap off. However, prepare to have tobacco debris all in your mouth as well as a rough cut that may destabilize the structure of your smoke. Simply locate where the neck ends and bite off. 

Wrap Up
Well there you have it. Some of the most common tools of the cigar cutting trade. Like we convey in every instance, which cut and what cutter to use is a matter of personal preference. I’ve even seen cigar smokers caught in a pinch even use pocket knives and fingernails to perforate the cap on the head. While there are a variety of effective methods and tools to use it truly depends on your confidence level, the shape or size of your cigar and how deep of a draw you prefer.  Lastly, proper cutter hygiene is ESSENTIAL. Please clean your cutters and discourage anyone from wetting the head of their cigar before using ANY CUTTER especially one that is not personally their own.

About Joyce Larkins
Affectionately  known as "Joy" and "Cigarfoxy," this premium cigar lifestyle aficionado lives to enjoy life and the next great pairing that her palate gets to enjoy. Whether it's pairing a mild bodied full flavored premium cigar with an Earl Gray tea varietal or a full-bodied full-flavored beauty with a rich complex bourbon or scotch...the journey into exploring the flavor profiles and marrying them in effort to find that WOW is what her life is all about. She moderates nosing and tasting cigar pairing sessions called Leaf Lessons and posts about pairings she favors on her company's Instagram page Lashes and MustASHES, an upscale portable cigar lifestyle event production company. 
Store Picks and Barrel Selections 101
by Wes Hardin
Let’s face it, we have all been there. You walk into a liquor store and you are browsing the shelves filled with bourbon. After an undetermined amount of browsing, the store owner heads your way and asks if he or she can find something for you. In my early years of bourbon hunting, I would usually reply with “What do you have that is good?” In quite a few cases, the store owner will start their pitch of selling you their “personally selected bourbon” they have on display. They possibly even offer the same bourbon that is not a “personally selected bourbon” which puts us, the consumers, at a decision point.
Let’s assume we have no previous experience with store picks and we are then put on the spot to make that decision: “Personally Selected Bourbon” or the tried and true regular version? Below is basic store pick information that may help you choose wisely.
What is a store pick? – A store pick is a private barrel whiskey selection made by the store owner, staff, or outside group (think bourbon club or Facebook group) of a single barrel of whiskey. Offerings that normally are blends of different barrels (1792 Full Proof, Old Forester 100 Proof) then become single barrel offerings.
How can I look at a bottle and tell it is a store pick? - All bottles from the barrel are labeled with an identification tag on the bottle, in addition to the manufacturer’s labeling. Often the group selecting the barrel will also name the offering a creative name. The default is to use the store name but recent trends show creativity in naming the selection. Recent bottle names I have seen include Glazed Donuts, Big Poppa, Rickey Bobby, to name a few.
Are single barrel picks better than regular bottles? – It depends on a number of factors including maturation of that single barrel and the flavor profile from it, palette of the group choosing the barrel, and as always your own palette. In a future article I will discuss tips on vetting store picks and stores offering them.
How much more expensive are the store picks? – Price usually depends on the store you purchase the bottle from. Typically, the bottles range from $5-$10 more per bottle. In some instances, the price does not change. It is a rare occasion that I have seen a store pick with an outrageous price tag compared to its normal counterpart.
Where can I buy a store pick? – Store picks are becoming increasingly popular. Allocated bourbons are harder and harder to obtain for a fair price and the hunt for those become exhausting. Bourbon drinkers are now seeing the value in finding and requesting solid store picks. If your local retailer doesn’t offer store picks you can ask the owner if they have attempted to obtain barrel picks from their reps. You may also search other stores in your area. There are select restaurants and bars that carry a package liquor license who also have started selling their barrel selections at the restaurant. Bourbon forward bars and restaurants is where I look.
In a future article, I will explore the tips and secrets on how to ensure you are purchasing a solid store pick and will answer any questions from this article.

About Wes Hardin
Wes Hard is a Business Unit Manager for automotive supplier by day; bourbon freak by night. He grew up in southern Kentucky and moved to Louisville in the year 2000. It was during that time he started getting introduced into the world of whiskey and specifically bourbon. He got the bug pretty heavy four years ago and recently began writing reviews on store picks for the ABV Network's Whiskey Corner and writing stand-alone articles for different outlets on the AVB Network.  If you have a sample you would like me to review here, please shoot me a message on Instagram @bourbon_wes or email me at

Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Reveals New Label

Limestone Branch Distillery introduces a vibrant, new Yellowstone Select bottle label. This smooth, well-rounded bourbon features a hand-picked blend of sweet, spicy, and smoky bourbons, each chosen to give this exclusive whiskey a taste that celebrates its deep, family origins.
“We are excited about changing the look of Yellowstone Select’s label – we see this as a refresh of this brand,” says Steve Beam, head distiller and co-owner of Limestone Branch Distillery. “While the look is updated, consumers can still expect the same caramel flavor notes and smoky oak and brown sugar finish from the bourbon inside.” 
The new label was designed by David Cole, prominent designer. Keeping the ornate golden lettering, Cole applied a bold and vivid design to a brighter, cream-colored background, making the label easier to read in a retail environment – both on the shelf and behind the bar.  Adding to the vibrance of the design is an enhanced, colorful depiction of the classical waterfall at Yellowstone National Park. “Limestone Branch Distillery Co.” was also added to the front of the bottle to make a stronger connection between the brand and the distillery.
“The new design is more attention-grabbing and draws the eye to the iconic Yellowstone logo, which has been used continuously since 1872,” Cole explained. “Additionally, colorizing the waterfall art was inspired by a recently discovered and previously unknown historic Yellowstone label, which featured a gorgeous, similarly colored rendition of the waterfall.” 
Taking home gold medals from both the 2018 SIP Awards and the 2018 San Francisco Spirits Competition, Yellowstone Select dates back to 1872 and is known for its smooth-sipping and time-honored original recipe, featuring leather with hints of citrus and oak on the nose. On the tongue, it’s spicy rye with soft cherries fading to smoked caramel and a memorable finish, rich with brown sugar and Kentucky tradition. 
The new packaging will hit the market in March and will be available in 750ml. The SRP is $39.99.

Our Favorite Brands of Whiskey in Amazing Photos!

About Nate Woodruff
Nate Woodruff's company, Whisky With a View, is dedicated to bring you beautiful pictures of whisky. He's a regular in the bourbon community on Instagram where you can find him with the ID of @whisky_nate.
Bourbon Nuggets

Get ready for Kindred Spirits, the movie about Kentucky craft distillers that debuts this month. Follow the journey of Kindred Spirits via it's page on the ABV Network Website:

The B-Line Announces Addition of Two New Stops

The B-Line has announced the addition of Neeley Family Distillery and Coppin’s at Hotel Covington to the collection of stops comprising Northern Kentucky’s bourbon experience.

First introduced in early 2018, The B-Line includes four Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour distilleries, five bars, and five restaurants. Participants create their own experience by following a self-guided trail and complete the Line Guide by collecting two stamps from each category of distilleries, bars, and restaurants.

“All Kentucky bourbon has a history,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, Vice President—Sales & Marketing at meetNKY | Northern Kentucky CVB. “But the history exhibited at Neeley Family Distillery cannot be found anywhere else. As eleventh generation moonshiners, they have a great product and so many authentic stories to tell.”

Neeley Family Distillery, located in Sparta, Ky., began operations in 2015 and was officially named a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour earlier this year.

Also newly added to The B-Line, Coppin’s at Hotel Covington opened in 2016 inside of a luxury boutique hotel that underwent a $22 million building restoration of the iconic 1910 Coppin’s Department Store. Coppin’s Restaurant and Bar boasts a menu influenced by local sourcing, features bourbon-infused dishes, and shelves more than 50 bourbons.

“Adding Coppin’s to The B-Line gives participants another excellent choice in culinary experiences throughout Northern Kentucky,” Kirkpatrick said. “The unique, local menu options are the perfect beginning or ending to a day of bourbon exploration.”

The bourbon energy in Northern Kentucky continues to grow with the announcement of the October 2019 Kentucky’s Edge festival in Covington & Newport which promises to bring new visitors into the region to experience all the B-Line stops as well as the entire culinary and spirit scene in the area.

Coppin’s and Neeley Family Distillery join a celebrated list of existing B-Line establishments including New Riff Distilling, Boone County Distilling Co., The Old Pogue Distillery, Purple Poulet, Prohibition Bourbon Bar at Newberry Bros., Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, Wiseguy Lounge, Bourbon Haus 1841, The Globe, Chandler’s on Market, Tousey House Tavern, and Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar.

For more information about The B-Line, to download a Line Guide, or to learn more about joining, visit

Bourbon Ads of Yesteryear
Celebrating the history of bourbon by sharing ads used in the past.

Meet Eric Byford:

Owner of Beardforce Films

by Justine Mays
We have all heard the phrase “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." That is only partly true, you still have to work to succeed, but it sure does make it easier to go in every day when it’s your passion. I recently had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker Eric Byford about starting a career he fell in love with years ago and his new documentary Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon.

During his senior year as a broadcast major, the project was to create a news story, shoot it and edit it. With a majority of the class having their sights set on becoming news anchors, Eric decided his role was behind the camera. It was during this time that he “fell in love with the film making process of running the camera, telling the story through his eyes and the editing process of putting all of the pieces of the story back together again."

Working his way through college as a night club owner, the next step after graduation was to attend film school. At the age of 22, he thought about it again and said “the hell with more school” and decided to enjoy his youth and travel. Fast-forward to 2012, living in California working in real estate ventures, he found out that his third son was on the way. He decided it was time to move home to Nashville. Finding himself in what he felt like was a “now or never situation," he signed up for film school and felt like the dream he had years ago was finally coming true. Once in film school, he found himself in a rather large class and everyone in it knew what they wanted to be. It wasn’t only people who wanted to be directors or actors. As it turned out, every position he needed to make a film was in this class and as a former business owner, he realized he had free labor right in front of him. 

For the documentary requirement of his film production degree, he decided to expand on his years in the bar industry. He originally chose to do his documentary on moonshine, but once he got into the research he found out there was more to it. Not only is there the political history, but “there is so much romanticism behind it. The stories of the distillers, their families and all of the other craziness that goes along with it.”  The 5-10 minute project quickly turned into 37.5 minutes and became
Straight Up: Tennessee Whiskey. This film also led to Eric starting his production company BeardForce Films in 2014.   
After graduation, he received a call from Cary Ann Fuller who was the producer of a festival called the Taste of Tennessee. She had heard about his film and asked if he would show it during the festival. During production meetings with her, they talked about whiskey and how she had just returned from touring distilleries in Kentucky. It was during that conversation that the idea for Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon was born.  

Again, once he dove into the research on Kentucky bourbon, he found so much more that what he bargained for. Not only was he surprised by how much Kentucky bourbon has influenced American history and culture, he learned more about the complexity of the spirit itself. He said that Freddie Johnson from Buffalo Trace was the first person to show him a bottle of whiskey under a light. He saw all the particles floating around in the bottle and realized it’s not just a clear liquid. 

One of the most important things he learned was during the making of both documentaries. While interviewing Phil Prichard of Prichard’s Distillery for Straight Up: Tennessee Whiskey, he asked him “How did Jack and Dickel treat you when you came on board?” and “How do you feel about all of the new craft distilleries now?” His answer “Together we rise. A rising tide raises all ships." At the time, the meaning didn’t sink in. During filming Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon, he was talking to Bernie Lubbers about the Heaven Hill fire. Listening to the same story told by Al Young, Chris Morris, Jimmy Russell and others, the thought of Phil saying “A rising tide raises all ships” made perfect sense. “These guys are competitors, yet they started making whiskey for Heaven Hill and giving them parts until they got back up and running again.  Like Al Young says in the film they are all friends”.  

As far as getting the people of Kentucky to share their history and personal stories, that was easy. What wasn’t so easy, was getting the film exactly how he wanted it. He set up a private screening for everyone that had a part in the film at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville 2 ½-years ago. On a normal screen, the film looked good, but on a 40-foot screen he wasn’t pleased with the sound or the coloring of the film. He spent 2-more years and went through 4 or 5 more edits getting the color and the sound how he wanted it. He said “There were a lot of times in the process where I didn’t think that I was going to be able to complete the film. One of the reasons I made this film was to prove as a filmmaker that I could make a feature film. This is my first feature film and if I’m going to put my name on it, I want be just like those guys who put their name on their whiskey.  I want to approve every part of it and I wasn’t happy with the first cut. It really took 4-4 ½ years. It is funny how it worked out like that because that’s about the time it takes to get a good whiskey in your hands. The film had to age a little bit I guess.”

The Kentucky bourbon story is not the last in the Straight Up series.  Pre-production has begun on Straight Up: Tennessee Whiskey Vol. 2 Still Sippin’ and also a story on tequila. In the future, he would also like to feature other spirits such as rum and wine. During his research for Kentucky bourbon, he found a book on how rum played an important role in the early colonial years.  He wants to tell the stories on “alcohol’s importance to the culture where they are geographically located."  

Alcohol is not the only projects in the future for 
BeardForce Films.  There are two Nashville projects on the table. The first is about the journey of the athlete from childhood to professional athlete. As the father/coach of three boys that play sports this is truly a passion project. The second project is the story of the “Rock Block” in Nashville where many rock bands have gotten their breaks over the years.  

After speaking with Eric and hearing the enthusiasm in his voice over these films, I can definitely tell he is living his dream and doing what he loves. 
Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon is available now on all platforms.  It is a movie that you will watch again, trust me I have watched it twice. There is something for everyone in this film. If you are a bourbon aficionado, you will see all of your favorites from the bourbon industry and maybe even learn something you didn’t know.  If you are new to bourbon, this film will not only show you the history of how bourbon became the spirit it is today, but that it’s more than just a spirit. 

About Justine Mays
Justine Mays is a resident of Lansing, Michigan. Justine can regularly be heard on The Bourbon Daily as an invited guest on the show. She is also part of the Instagram bourbon community where she can be found with the ID: @justine.mays. 

Welcome to the Whisk(e)y Warrior Award!
On the first of every month, someone is awarded the prodigious title of Whisk(e)y Warrior. A question and answer interview is conducted with the valiant warrior, and then distributed to the world in a special Whisk(e)y Warrior Release. What is a Whisk(e)y Warrior? Find out more by clicking here.

And now, we proudly present your Whisk(e)y Warrior.

He’s a whiskey Knight-errant questing for quality. Searching for the one true warmth of a Kentucky Hug. He crusades across the rugged range, from storm slapped shores to parched dry counties. He’s a holy pilgrim sent to tame the barbarous Bourbon land. He is… 

Tony Freund
Whisk(e)y Warrior!

Zac: Where in the country are you living? 
Tony: I’m in Bellevue, Washington, right outside of Seattle.
Zac: That’s a beautiful area. Have you lived there your whole life? 
Tony: Yep, I’ve lived in the Seattle area pretty much all my life.
Zac: Do you have a favorite whiskey bar there? 
Tony: Yeah, actually, I like a place in Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood called 
The Barrel Thief. They have a large selection of bourbon, American whiskey, Scotch, really good prices and they have stuff you wouldn’t normally find. Like Single Cask Nation special releases there. Stuff like that.
Zac: On the topic of whiskey, how long have you been into the brown spirit? 
Tony: I got into whiskey about 5-years ago in 2014. I was just kind of looking for something new at the time. I was a vodka and coke or rum and coke kind of drinker and I tried some Maker's and I didn’t know at the time but what I was feeling when I tasted it, the warmth, was you know the Kentucky hug. I just didn’t get that from anything else and I spiraled down from there.
Zac: What prompted you to take a more active role in the whiskey community? 
Tony: Yeah so, the first about three years or so I was finding new bottles maybe once a week and then it kind of slowed down. I wasn’t really looking into what I was drinking, I was just looking to find a brand that I liked, but I didn’t know where it was made, what else they make, and stuff like that.
Zac: So, what changed?
Tony: I went to a local distillery for the rye release for 
Woodinville Whiskey. And I loved it and I was looking around on Instagram one day and I saw a review for a bourbon, and [the reviewer] also had a podcast and I wanted to learn more so I started listening to the podcast. And then I found all the Instagram bourbon and whiskey drinkers and there was so much more than just the taste of the bottle. There’s history, there’s science, and there’s also the great whiskey community; everyone here is just so friendly. I wanted to share all that knowledge that I learned as well.
Zac: If you don’t mind sharing some of your knowledge now, what advice would you give to a new whiskey drinker? 
Tony: Don’t judge a bourbon by its price. Try them side by side and see if you like them.
Zac: That’s very practical. Speaking of price, what would be your top 3 budget or best bang for your buck whiskies? 
Tony: Best bang for your buck, Eagle Rare is one of my go-tos. I found it early on and it showed me that there’s much more depth and flavor out there than just what I was already trying. That’s one I would recommend. Old Grand-Dad Bonded, it’s a very cheap high rye, good if you like the spice. And after that I would probably say Maker’s Mark. You can find that everywhere, in case you like something a little sweeter.
Zac: That’s a great lineup. What have been some cool things that you’ve gotten to do in the whiskey community? 
Tony: I think the kick off for me was when I went down to the New Orleans Bourbon Festival last year. I hadn’t met anyone in the whiskey community, just local people, but there I got to meet a lot of individuals from the community. I took some classes. I learned much more than I already knew and meeting the distillers there and finding out so much more than just what I’m drinking.
Zac: Have you gotten to visit many distilleries? 
Tony: Yeah, so last year I attended Kentucky Bourbon Affair and I got the golden ticket so I was there for about 6 days or so and they take you to various distilleries throughout and then I went back in September for Bourbon Fest and talked to some of the other distillers there that I didn’t get to see.
Zac: What’s your favorite part about visiting a distillery? 
Tony: What I look for when I visit a distillery is unique processes that they have as well as the people that are there. I think when they interact with the master distillers and share a lot and are friendly you get a much better experience.
Zac: Tony, thank you for talking with me today. I also just want to say, from me and from all the supporters of the Whiskey Warrior Award™, thank you so much for contributing to our whiskey community. We really appreciate it.
Tony: Thank you! I’ve been following since the beginning.
Zac: If you’d like to connect with Tony, you can find him on Instagram 
Remember to nominate your favorite Whisk(e)y Warriors by 
clicking here. The next award will be released April 1st. We’ll see you then. 
- Zac Smith