I love talking to other bourbon lovers because I never know what I’m going to learn from them. I recently met Jeff Ames, owner of Bluegrass Barrels. After we talked about bourbon for a while he started telling me about these barrels he sells. They come in 1, 2, and 3 liter sizes with either steel or black bands, complete with a stand, a bung, and a spigot.
At first I thought this might be a great way to age your own white dog and turn it into a special bourbon. But it turns out these barrels are made from old bourbon barrels. They are deconstructed, sanded down, turned into a mini-barrel, and re-charred with a medium char. For this reason they cannot be called bourbon barrels since, by law, bourbon has to be aged in charred new oak barrels. In fact, Jeff tried to age some white dog in one for nine months once and he said it looked like bourbon but it didn’t quite taste like it.
But there are plenty of other uses for these barrels, namely secondary aging to make a lesser bourbon more palatable. (Since the barrels are thinner, the angel’s share is greater.) Jeff also recommends mixing flavored spirits in the barrels- his official March Madness Recipe calls for a 2 liter barrel, a fifth of Wild Turkey American Honey, a fifth of Wild Turkey Spiced, and fill the rest of the way with Wild Turkey 101. Let it sit in the barrel for two weeks and then bottle it.
This would be a perfect recipe for one of his new NCAA logo barrels, currently available in UofL, UK, or WKU. These NCAA barrels have been available for less than a year, and once his year is up he can apply for the use of more team logos. (But we all know UofL and UK are all you really need.) The NCAA barrels are currently available in three brick-and-mortar stores in Louisville: Dandelion, Hallmark, and The Kentucky Derby Museum gift shop. All the barrels are available on his website and can be personalized.
Jeff says his biggest business comes from groomsmen gifts and Christmas, but with these new NCAA barrels March Madness is looking like perfect reason to gift the sports lover in your life.
Photos Courtesy of bluegrassbarrels.com