Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/1074882

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Page 53 of 111

LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 51 Some of the more than 400 vintage spirits available at Bardstown Bourbon Co. remember when I thought it was a lot of money to spend $8 on a pour of bour- bon," he says. "I was like, 'Eight bucks? Must be really good.'" Now, with the new law, Rice frequently gets calls from people wanting him to buy a stash they found in their grandparents' basement or in a lucky estate-sale haul. "ey're not calling me with $30 bottles that sit on the shelf for $30," he says. "ey're calling me with $30 from the shelf that are now $1,500 and $1,800." Louisville-based bourbon writer Fred Minnick is like a rare bottle of bourbon himself: high value and in-demand. Minnick, known for books like Bourbon Curious, Bourbon: e Rise, Fall & Rebirth of an American Whiskey and Whiskey Women: e Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey, does reviews for Forbes, runs a magazine called Bourbon+, has an Amazon Prime show called Bourbon Up and creates the bourbon and culinary programming for the Bourbon & Beyond music festival. And now the Smithsonian wants him as a guest lecturer. In early January, when I meet with him at the Bardstown distillery Bard- stown Bourbon Co., he casually mentions his recent appearance on Bravo's Ken- tucky-themed season of Top Chef. After filming, he says, he and judge-producer Tom Colicchio cracked open some bottles from Minnick's personal collection from the '30s and '50s. Minnick says he "made the mistake" of telling the BBC in 2015 that the Old Crow Chessman decanter from 1969 (the same dusty that Rice found) is the best bourbon he's ever tasted, and he credits his opinion with bringing it to near extinction in the wild. But there are bottles of it in a padlocked cage at Bardstown Bourbon Co., where Minnick has curated what's called the Whiskey Library at the Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar. It includes more than 400 vintage and rare whiskeys that cost up to $2,500 for a pour (like for Van Winkle Hand Made, barreled in 1975 and bottled in 1990). Minnick shows me a bottle (likely the only one in the world) of Cedar Brook Hand Made Sour Mash whiskey from the 1890s, before bourbon was legally defined as such (when, in 1964, the U.S. Congress defined bourbon as distinctly American, with all sorts of standards in production). e Cedar Brook is yellow and has what's called "flocking," a swirl of fatty acids suspended in the liquid that occurred before chill filtration was so commonly used like it is today. It smells like leather. It costs $1,600 a pour. Minnick points to a bottle of Van Winkle Family Reserve Hand Made, barreled in 1974 and bottled in 1990, that sells for $1,500 a pour. It's got red dripping wax — a Maker's Mark infringement that drew cease-and-desist letters, meaning only a couple hundred were bottled. "at's a trophy for some people," Minnick says. With the connections Minnick has built, it's not hard for him to find this type of rarity. On the day we meet, he has already gotten about five emails from people wanting to know how much their bourbon is worth. Last fall, the Speed Art Museum reached out to him about partnering with Bourbon & Beyond on a rare-bourbon benefit auction. "I said, 'No problem. I can get whatever you want. I can get things so rare, you won't even believe it,'" Minnick says. "ey looked at me like — uh-huh, OK." One find was the 10th bottle ever made of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, which the seller had gotten as a gift from Julian Van Winkle III (grandson of Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr. and president of Old Rip Van Winkle, which has its office in Louisville but distills and bottles its Pappy products at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort). e asking price: $20,000. e other heavyweight in the auction was a 1952 Albert Blanton 55th Anniversary bottle that Blanton, then the master "Bourbon was huge before Prohibition," bourbon historian Chet Zoeller says. "It literally paid for the operation of the federal government. The average consumption was two to three gallons a year, including children and teetotalers."

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