My friend Jonathan White is an alchemist. His own cows produce otherworldly cheeses and his wood fired stove in the barn turns out crusty natural grain breads. One of my favorite varieties of his expressive bread is made with soft, caramelized garlic and duck fat. This is a most sensual of textures together. The soft garlic is melted into a background of fire-roasted natural whole grain bread, then soaked with a dosage of duck fat. You cannot expect to eat any more delicious food anywhere in the world. In my opinion there are flavors we crave and this one is up there with any of our favorites. Dip it into olive oil and this represents my accompaniment for tasting bourbon.
In my right hand I have a portion of organic, small producer olive oil from Chile. It is peppery on the nose with a lingering finish that tastes salty and then, in a flash, turns sharply mineral. I’ve sprinkled a bit of French fleur de sel over the olive oil, along with a couple turns of freshly cracked pepper.
Dipping the burning-hot-from-my-toaster-oven duck fat bread into the olive oil gives off a little sizzle and a soft whimper from the bread. The air pockets in the bread release their tension and relax against the liquid olive oil. There is magic in the air from the aroma.
Booker’s Bourbon is uncut, unfiltered and bottled straight from the barrel, hand selected by Booker Noe himself. This bourbon is aged a minimum of six to eight years. My bottle reads seven years, one month. Batch number CO5-A-12. 65% alcohol by volume and 130 proof.
It stings the tongue all at once, then melts away like a portion of maple syrup on the tongue. It coats your tongue in a wet wool blanket of fire, then dissipates very quickly leaving a sweetness that belies the heat that just singed your palate. I recommend a splash or two (be it a drop or a splash) of cool spring water over the top. Sure you can mix it with your finger as my friend Gaz Regan does with his finger. If you are in a bar, I don’t recommend doing this in front of the customers; at your home, go right ahead. The high alcohol content will more than sterilize your finger.
There is great balance in this bourbon. The sweet finish balances the fire on your tongue and across your palate. There is nothing that is going to make this slurp any easier except water. And by this I mean that the sweetness of this bourbon is frighteningly easy to drink. If it should happen to you that you drink too much, please don’t be alarmed if the warmth that you feel inside your chest is the brooding 130 proof alcohol. It certainly isn’t the water!
The predominate flavor of Booker’s, in my opinion, is maple syrup swirled around a chunk of wood that has been soaked in a portion of freshly cut and charred American oak. There is a bit of clarity at work here. The toasted oak is sweet while set against the caramelized flavors of the grains aged ever so patiently and peacefully in the hot rick houses where the bourbon rests until it is deemed time to taste the magic within. Now a scant few minutes after struggling to swallow this magnificent beast of bourbon… I feel a certain clarity and a sublime sense of peace. Raw honey reveals itself and a coating of thick cut orange marmalade moves down my throat like a slow lava flow. You should get a bottle and see for yourself. This bourbon is a purely outrageous complement to the duck fat and caramelized garlic bread, dipped liberally into a bowl with olive oil and fleur de sel.
I’m lucky to experience this combination of flavors from my alchemist friend, Jonathan White.
Food and good bourbon go hand and hand. One tastes good with some things, others with other kinds of foods. Fine bourbon works well with bread and olive oil because grain meets grain. One is bread, the other liquid bread.
I like it that way.
- Find yourself a bottle of Booker’s Bourbon
- Get a bunch of mint
- Slap one hand against the other with some mint in the opposite hand, do it hard!
- Add one large ice cube to your favorite glass with a sprig of the slapped mint inside. (I make my ice with water filtered through a Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher)
- Pour the bourbon over the slapped mint and the large cube ice
- Sip carefully… if you need some more water, add it. And please use a glass that you connect with. This is the most important thing.
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