'Bourbon Society' blog posts

Henry McKenna Single Barrel is April’s Whiskey of the Month!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Henry McKennaWe are pleased to announce Henry McKenna Single Barrel as our April Whiskey of the Month. Aged for 10 years, Henry McKenna is the only single barrel bourbon that is bottled in bond, meeting strict requirements for age and proof. Produced and bottled at Heaven Hill Distillery under the watchful eyes of Master Distillers Parker Beam and Craig Beam, Henry McKenna is perhaps the most under-the-radar top notch single barrel bourbon on the market.

The whiskey is named for Henry McKenna, an Irish immigrant who in 1837 settled in Bourbon country and took a liking to Kentucky whiskey. He then set out to reach a higher standard for finished whiskey beginning with his family’s recipe, insisting that his whiskey age in charred oak barrels before bottling, which was still a rare practice at the time, when most whiskey was still produced and bottled as a clear liquor. Heaven Hill produces Henry McKenna Single Barrel according to the original recipe and ages it for ten years, yielding a refined spirit that is feisty around the edges.

Spicy on the nose, with loads of fresh cracked pepper, spice box, and citrus peel aromas, the palate yields to a rich buttery toffee flavor accented by the spicy and grassy notes of rye and rounded out by the smooth vanilla flavors contributed by the oak and corn. The long, smooth finish closes with caramel and black tea flavors that linger. Magnificently complex, Henry McKenna Single Barrel is easy to ponder, and even easier to drink. Bring your passport in for a complimentary pour any time you visit  during April.

It’s free to join the Big Jones Bourbon Society, just ask your server or bartender to sign up on your next visit. You’ll receive a passport to forty of our more than sixty whiskeys. On each visit, members are welcome to one complimentary pour of the Whiskey of the Month (WOM) which will usually (but not always) be a straight Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Big Jones Bourbon Society members will also receive invitations to members-only events such as whiskey tastings and whiskey socials.

Of course you’re welcome to enjoy any whiskey on our list at any time. We’ll mark off your passport as you taste each of the forty whiskeys, and once you’ve tasted them all, you will earn the distinction of Master Taster, and win tickets for two to a one-of-a-kind all-out whiskey dinner. As the ranks of Master Tasters grows, we will host a series of dinners for Master Tasters.

A Bourbon Country Repast, ca. 1880 with Julian Van Winkle – A Piggy Bank Benefit for Southern Foodways Alliance

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

We are pleased to offer some deeply rooted Kentucky cooking for our second Piggy Bank Dinner, a benefit for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Julian Van Winkle will be here to discuss his storied bourbon (12, 15, and 23 year will be served) plus a couple of selections from Buffalo Trace Distillery, and we are cooking up a 5-course menu with receipts and inspiration from Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (Louisville, 1839) and The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. SFA documentary films will be shown, The Poker Night String Band will play some righteous tunes, and good times will be had by all.

“The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor — all who gather — may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation.

A member-supported non-profit, based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, we stage symposia, produce documentary films, collect oral histories, sponsor scholarship, mentor students, and publish great writing. Donations from generous individuals, foundations, and companies fund our good work.” – SFA Mission Statement

Big Jones supports the Southern Foodways Alliance because their work inspires us every day by telling stories about the people and places in the South that make both the history and future of this cuisine. What’s critical about the SFA’s work is that they are going after these stories, collecting them, and documenting them. Without the SFA, many of these stories would be lost to history. As much as this dinner is to raise money for the mission of the Southern Foodways Alliance, it’s also to spread the word.

According to Big Jones tradition, every dish on this menu is made from whole raw farm ingredients processed at Big Jones. Farms and suppliers represented here are likely to be Gunthorp Farm, LaPryor Farm, Slagel Family Farm, Windy Knoll Farm, Genesis Growers, Green Acres, Spence Farm, Kilgus Farmstead, Anson Mills, Burton’s Maplewood Farm, and Seedling, perhaps a few more.

For anyone curious about the date we’ve affixed to the menu, we have used the inspiration of The Kentucky Housewife along with some later 19th-century books, Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book (1867,) Housekeeping in Old Virginia (1879,) and Dishes and Beverages of The Old South (1913,) to create a menu of historically accurate foods from the time, when Bourbon whiskey was reaching its present form and coming into its own.  The legendary A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery was founded in 1872 as a sour mash distillery at a time when that was becoming the preferred distillation method, and Julian Van Winkle I, who was a young boy at that time, would eventually purchase that distillery and merge it with his wholesale liquor company W.L. Weller and Sons, and the rest is Bourbon legend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

6:00 Reception

Virtue Cider, “The Mitten” bourbon barrel-aged cider

18-month aged house-cured country ham, sorghum wild yeast rye bread, pickled ramps, asparagus, and fiddleheads

7:00 Dinner

Pappy Van Winkle 12 year old

Guinea fowl and butterbean dumpling soup with pickled pokeweed shoots

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce with spring onions, heirloom radishes, and hot bacon dressing
Salt-rising bread with cottage cheese and damson preserves

Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old

Crispy chicken livers with buttered Appalachian red corn hominy, young turnip greens cooked with smoked jowl, and gizzard gravy

Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old

Mince pie with syllabub

Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye

Coconut macaroons floating in rum custard with preserved rhubarb and mint

Please join us for a very special evening. The price is $150 per person including tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 773-275-5725.

country hamPiggyBank-logo

January Whiskey of the Month: Booker’s

Saturday, January 11th, 2014


It’s January, and the cold weather is settling in. To help fortify all of our friends against the chill, the whiskey of the month is Booker’s. This is an uncut, unfiltered, barrel proof bourbon from the Jim Beam Distillery. Named for Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson and master distiller for the operation until 2002, the whiskey sits somewhere between 121 to 130 proof. The bottle we’re pouring from as of this writing is a bracing 128.7. It’s aged between six and eight years in barrels kept at the center of the Beam rickhouse, where Booker found bourbon aged the most gracefully.

Any way one drinks the stuff, it’s quite bold and complex, with the char and oak from the barrel giving a rich, smokey nose with hints of vanilla and citrus which leads to some mocho, tobacco, bitter orange and dried fruit on the palate. The finish is long, with a bit of oak, resin and pepper.

Try a complimentary taste with any food purchase, with your free membership in the Big Jones Bourbon Society.

Ages 21 and up

Introducing Willett Pot Still Reserve, Our December Whiskey of the Month!

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

WillettWe are pleased to share with you our December Whiskey of the Month, Willett Pot Still Reserve. By Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, one of the finest small-batch distilleries in America, founded as Willett Distilling Company in 1936 and still in the care of a Willett family branch, Willett Pot Still Reserve is a single barrel bottling of exceptional character, alongside other Kentucky Bourbon Distillers’ offerings such as Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, and Family Reserve Bourbon and Rye.

Featuring a mash bill of corn, rye, and barley, Willett Pot Still Reserve exhibits wonderful citrus and spice notes on the nose, including orange peel, banana, jasmine blossoms, and ginger, which gives way to a medium-bodied palate at 94 proof, with flavors of honey, caramel, black tea, and toasty cocoa and charcoal notes. The finish is medium length, and this is where the rye in the mash bill stands out, with herbal and green tea flavors, and a tinge of pepper and freshly fallen nut husks. Adding a dram of water brings out toffee and buttery pecan flavors as well.

Delicious neat, with a rock or two, or in your favorite bourbon cocktail, we invite you to try this bourbon by one of Kentucky’s finest houses. As always, receive a complimentary pour any time you visit for a meal simply by presenting your Big Jones Bourbon Society Passport. If you don’t have a passport, please ask your server or bartender on your next visit; it’s free to join the Big Jones Bourbon Society.


November’s Whiskey of the Month: Maker’s Mark

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Maker's Mark

Our Whiskey of the Month for November is Maker’s Mark.  It’s hard to believe we haven’t featured Maker’s Mark until now, because it was our (Paul’s and Mark’s) go-to house whiskey for a long time! This was also our favorite bourbon to make a Manhattan with for a very long time. Just some Maker’s, a bit of sweet vermouth, mix over ice, add a couple nice Luxardo Maraschino cherries, and you’re good to go.

We know you like it too — it’s one of the most popular entries on our Bourbon Society sign-up cards for “Favorite Bourbon/Whiskey”. (Bulleit and Four Roses have been very popular recently, too.)

Maker’s Mark is made from corn (of course), barley, red winter wheat — and no rye. It’s the winter wheat that gives this classic its flavor. I always think of it as being a sweet bourbon.

Maker’s Mark is on the Bourbon Society passport, so come in for your complimentary taste, and get a stamp in your passport! It’ll warm you up on a cold early-winter evening.