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December 18, 2009

RoCK sips a little bourbon


Guest poster Robert of Cross Keys leads a most interesting life. I wonder what he does for his real job? Here's RoCK's Free Market Friday. EL

Last week I was at the Chapeze House in Bardstown, Ky. for a bourbon tasting and dinner at the Hospitality, Kentucky Style show with Colonel Michael Masters, the host of Kentucky and also a distant cousin of mine via the Boone line.

When you have some Boone blood in you, you are probably related to most everyone from Kentucky – somewhere John McIntyre just winced at the prospect that we might be kin. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t go as planned. The bourbon bottle let me down. ...

I arrived at Chapeze House with a few of my friends, and we were greeted by the Colonel.   The Colonel is a real character.  His physique, speech and mannerisms remind me of Sam the Snowman, the Burl Ives-voiced character from "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  Instead of silly reindeer games, however, the Colonel has all these great stories about bourbon and the people associated with it, like Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey and the late Booker Noe of Jim Beam.  

The first thing on the agenda was a premium bourbon tasting.  The Colonel has an unbelievable collection of bourbons, almost 100 – some dating back the War of Northern Aggression – most of which you’ll never see in liquor stores.  He brought out a nice selection for all of us to try. I tried a few.  Everything was good. I then proceeded to fall asleep … for the rest of the evening.
That incident is proof that I am no longer who I used to be.  There was a time when I could throw down with the best of them.  I went to an all-male college in the South, where being able to hold your bourbon was practically a requirement for graduation.  Now, those days are gone. I feel like Willie Mays falling down in the outfield as I try to play a game whose time has passed me by.
My early slumber took me away from the dinner table; however, my friends were able to enjoy it. The Colonel was serving up huge pork chops doused with a splash of bourbon and grilled in his backyard.  Sides were a homemade red-skinned potato salad, tangy cole slaw and slow cooked green beans with some snappy vinegar.  Of course, there was also homemade black skillet cornbread. For dessert, ice cream and cream puffs were drenched in bourbon chocolate sauce.
Fortunately, a doggie bag was made up for me. I was able to try everything except the ice cream the next day.   It was still really good, but I’m going to have to make it down to Kentucky again to really experience what I missed out on.  

And just to be safe, next time the bourbon sampling will come after dinner. 

(Photo courtesy of Colonel Michael Masters) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 2:27 PM | | Comments (36)


wow! this sounds strangely familiar. did there happen to be a strange fellow with a mustache, bad manners and kazakhstani accent in attendance?

War of Northern Aggression? Are we talking about the Korean War?

You poor dear. That is not the right kind of thing to sleep through. Obviously, your day job is taking way too much out of you, and has to go.

Tis a shame you nodded off early. Still, that sounded like a great evening. I'd love to try those bourbons.

Surely you jest.

Robert, unlikely as the prospect is, I would be delighted to claim kin with you.

No, Rob, she's not jesting, and stop calling her Shirley!

I don't know if it is still true, but at one point no two bourbon distilleries used the same town as their point of origin. The Bardstown plant eventually was the home of Kentucky Gentleman bourbon. Prior to WWII, my father was the visiting general manager of the facility which was owned by National Distillers. I can not remember the brand name for the bourbon produced there then.

As for the War of Northern Aggression, my friends in Louisiana and Virginia still call it "The Recent Unpleasantness."

In the middle of the night I awoke thinking, "Tom Moore," the name of the distillery [and its product] in Bardstown KY. Another vistory over KRAFT disease.

I've experienced a bourbon tasting with the Colonel in the past, and I made it through the entire tasting, so I'm not sure what happened this last time. Sometimes you beat the bourbon, and sometimes the beats you.

As for the War of Northern Aggression, my friends in Louisiana and Virginia still call it "The Recent Unpleasantness."

I had friends who considered Virginia part of the north. In fact, they considered anything north of I 10 to be the north.

Thank you for the interesting post, RoCK. But allow me to ask, what's your favorite bourbon? I saw in the picture several I like and Knob Creek, which I REALLY don't.
I always called it the war between the states, but I don't spend too much time worring about the barbarians north of the Mason-Dixon Line or south of the Potomac.

My only surviving Tennessee aunt - she's 95, now - calls it The War of Northern Agreesion. That is follwed shortly thereafter by Yankee Dogs

I shouldn't start this, but it was not the North that tried to break up the country or that fired the first shots.

War of Southern Rebellion would be more accurate. Civil War is about as neutral as I'm willing to go.

I can understand trying to cover over what happened (a bunch of states tried to quit, so they could continue enslaving blacks, then they got their butts kicked), but, dang, that was generations ago. Identifying with that particular loathsome chapter of our history going on 150 years later is just pathological, and holds the entire country back from healing and dealing with institutionalized racism.

and holds the entire country back from healing and dealing with institutionalized racism.

Not to mention all the unicorns crying rainbow tears.

The Confederate flag is the soy cheese of symbols.

Coming in second place gets you a silver medal in the Olympics. Not so much in a civil war.

Did we forget to tell Texas that the Civil War is over?

Everything's bigger in Texas – even the racism.

Every time a poor person is executed a fajita gets its wings.

Can't we just get back to bourbon?

My mother's family was apparently Secesh. That would explain the presence on the family shelves of The Davis Memorial Volume; or Our Dead President, Jefferson Davis, and the World's Tribute to His Memory by J. Wm. Jones, D.D., and the original deed to the farm, which lists the number of slaves attached to the property. But I hardly regret the Confederacy's defeat.

If you want to get sentimental, get sentimental about Joshua L. Chamberlain, whose troops may have saved the Union at Little Round Top, and who, as Lee's defeated veterans gave up their arms at Appomattox Court House, gave the order for the Union troops to give the formal salute. Or about General Joseph Johnston, who insisted on attending the wintry funeral of his great antagonist, William Tecumseh Sherman, "because he would have done the same for me," and died shortly afterward as a consequence of the exposure.

We have a common history, and boubon does not take sides.

We have a common history, and boubon does not take sides.

Too much bourbon always sides against me. A little bourbon goes a long way.

... bou[r]bon does not take sides.

I think Rebel Yell might.

Years ago, I had to do original research in old volumes of the Congressional Record. During the 1880s, many (if not most) bills introduced in Congress were private bills for the relief of an individual (generally to award a pension to a war veteran). The term "the late rebellion" was invariably used to refer to the Civil War back then. If I recall correctly, only Union soldiers were eligible for pensions -- Confederate veterans, as members of rebelling states' militias, had to look to their own states for relief.

Only dead Union soldiers were given proper burials as well. For many years the dead confederate soldiers lay in mass graves in Gettysburg, until The Daughters of the Confederacy raised enough funds to give them proper burials as well.

Lissa, there were more issues than slavery at the time of the Civil War. State's rights being big amongst them and still a heralding call to many in this country. General Lee, himself, was oppossed to slavery. As were many of the officers fighting on the southern side of the conflict.

It is only in this present age, that the confederate flag has been made to represent racist hate organizations. BTW, the stars and bars was not the flag that was in predominant usage during the war, but rather the "Bonnie Blue".

Well put Joyce!
I remember you saying a good while back that you had an interest in the history of the Civil War.

The stars-n-bars was the Confederate battle flag; in addition to the Bonnie Blue the CSA used several other flags at different times.

States rights is a red herring. Economics was the cause of the Civil War not constitutional philosophy. I blame the English.

Speaking of the South and waging war, I just returned from Isle of Wight, VA, and I am pleased to report that I survived a three day attack from country hams. My liver may have lost the battle of Bardstown, but my kidneys came back to win the siege of Smithfield.

As for the bourbons I like, I enjoy Basil Hayden and Elmer T Lee.

Joyce, Lee was a slave owner, and thought that, while slavery was bad, blacks were not capable of better than being slaves.

States rights was yet another code phrase for slavery.

I can remember when States Rights was code for Ain't votin'

I doubt that 5% of people who use the term "states' rights" even know what it really means, since almost no American has ever read the Constitution thoroughly. It's a very accessible document.

the state's rights issue actually goes back to Jefferson and Madison's times if you want to really discuss state's rights. Perhaps the boiling point was the slavery issue but the state's rights issue is real and in fact, exists today.

But, yes, Owl, I think as with most discontent, economics was the star of the day.

yes, Fl Rob, I am in fact, an amateur Civil War buff. I think it's because of growing up in this neither northern nor southern city of ours, and being so close to much of the scenery of the times (Union Mills, Gettysburg, Antietam, etc.)

States' rights was a huge issue when the Constitution was being written. I'm sure it's all over the Federalist Papers. It's pretty conveniently ignored too. States rights regarding slavery has to assume that they are property, not people.

Consider the interstate highway system, a clear encroachment on states' sovereignty. The text is pretty simple but interpretations have been very complicated throughout history:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

I was/am still too an amateur Civil War buff. I've been to those places and more, there is lots to see in MD/PA/VA.

States rights at the time had to do more with the industrial northern states passing legislation that favored them over the agricultural south. Or something like that.

In the years before the Civil War, "states' rights" simply meant "slavery." Neither Bloody Kansas nor the Missouri Compromise were about whether or not a state could enact stricter hot dog purity laws than the Feds or the regulation of interstate trade.

I'm glad to hear it is so simple, Owlie. I'm sure the Supreme Court will just go home now, since they are useless.

Lissa, I didn't mean to say it was simple, just that it sure looks like it should be. One amazing thing about the Constitution is that the language is so clear 200+ years later.


I had a tall pour of Basil Hayden recently and was blown away. Probably the best bourbon (or, really, any whiskey) I've ever had. So smooth and perfect flavor notes.

However, I've had a hard time finding it for sale anywhere. Do you have any leads on where it might be available locally?

doesn't the wine source carry basil hayden? i know they have the whole range of van winkle family bourbons. those are my fav.

Beav, I've seen Basil Hayden lots of different places. Of course, I can't think of one specific place now. It's part of the Jim Beam small batch collection that I think includes Booker's, Baker's, and Knob Creek. I had some Knob Creek last night at Chiapperelli's bar. It's very good too.

Basil Hayden is also name-checked in the awesome Fountains of Wayne song "Red Dragon Tattoo".

Wells Liquors has it in stock (42.99)

Basil Hayden's is at the liquor store next to the Fresh Market at Quarry Lake on Greenspring.

RoCK, Thank you, I'll try both of those bourbons (purely in the interests of research...)
PCB Rob The Stars and Bars refered to the CSA national flag, 11 stars in a circlewith 2 red and 1 white bars, though the battle flag is mistakenly ID'd that way.
Lissa States Rights wasn't a code name for anything, and there was plenty of blame for both sides. Stop hating.
Have a bourbon.

OMG I almost always carry a pocket sized edition of the US Constitution in my jacket. People should READ IT! It's also fun to be able to correct someone who insists something is in the document that isn't (sorry, minor in History, very few chances to show off).

Voodoo Pork Good call on the Rebel Yell!

It's amazing how ignorant reporters and commenters are. More than once I heard prominent pundits and reporters ask questions like could Hilary be Bill's VP and vice versa. Basic knowledge of the Constitution would give you the answer. Duh.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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