I never really understood carrot cake. Cake is cake and carrots are, well, a vegetable. I like them separately, but they just didn’t go together to me. Why wouldn’t you just have a salad and then eat a piece of cake?
But it was Easter, and I like that whole bunny and carrot connection. When I came across a carrot cake recipe that had bourbon in both the cake and the frosting, I thought worth a try. It will at least taste better than a carrot cake without bourbon in it.
When I asked the bartender at the Brandy Library what people usually want to drink – rye, bourbon, Scotch – he said people tend to want to try something they haven’t had before. It’s no wonder with their selection – I could look around and know there was definitely plenty I hadn’t tried yet.
I went with a couple of randoms – ones I hadn’t even heard of, Sam Houston and Pikesville.
But I got a few extra treats because a member of the Glenfarclas family, George Grant – 6th generation in the whisky business! – happened to be there to host a tasting. I had just tried Glenfarclas Scotch for the first time a few days before, wanted to explore it more, and here it was handing itself to me. I tried a few different years, but I think the 21-year was my favorite. I’d give you a really thoughtful analysis and all, but I had my notes put away and my smile out instead. So…it was really good. I can say that.
I am a firm believer that most things are improved with the addition of a little whiskey. For instance, life. Life is improved with the addition of a little whiskey. Karaoke. Blind dates. Really any dates. Also syrup, ice cream, coffee, and anything baked.
And that syrup, ice cream, coffee category is where William Wolf bourbon with pecan flavor would be good. It’s not technically a bourbon since flavoring was definitely added to it. It’s closer to a whiskey pecan liqueur, or as one person put it “William Wolf Pecan stuff,” kind of a whiskey dessert that tastes like bourbon candy with pecans.
You can drink it straight – preferably over ice – but if I am going to drink bourbon, I want to just taste bourbon. However, if I was going to pour some whiskey over French toast, this would do the trick.
One thing I have learned on Smith Street is to ask if the bartender has a whiskey menu. They don’t always hand it to you as you sit down, but if you ask for one, you are usually rewarded with a hefty little book. Clover Club was no exception. They are a speakeasy-style joint known for their cocktails, but I saw a lot of Scotch on those shelves waiting to be drunk on their own.
Oh, and I found an American whiskey I hadn’t had yet. A nice afternoon tasting – flavorful but not overpowering Scotch next to a deep, rich bourbon. I might be alone in that assessment for my neighborhood. The bartender said the ryes tend to go first – people are looking to get away from sweet things, and in cocktails the spicy rye retains its power. I will happily drink a good rye, but I see no need to avoid the caramel of bourbon or the sherry edges of Scotch.
Bread and whiskey tend to go together – it’s that grains connection (unless it’s cornbread and then it’s that corn connection). That really comes through in Revival Four Grains bourbon out of the High Wire Distilling Co. in South Carolina. The distiller is a former baker who sold his organic bakery and turned his attention to small batch distilling. They are so into the handmade angle that they even claim to use hand-hammered, German copper stills during production.
What I knew:
94 proof, mash includes four grains: heirloom white corn, red winter wheat, malted barley, and Carolina Gold rice bran.
What I discovered:
The whiskey hits the tongue a little tart, but then the taste of the four grains in the bourbon really come through, especially the rice. This is an earthy whiskey, without the sweet, vanilla flavors of a typical bourbon. It doesn’t seem to gather many flavors from the barrel. It has a robust flavor, but is easy drinking, and it softens as the nuances sink into the tongue. It doesn’t linger – still tastes new – but it leaves a tasty impression. As compared to some other unique grain whiskies I have tried, including ones made from brown rice and even quinoa, this one didn’t taste like it was trying to be different. It just tasted good.