Julian Van Winkle, president of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery (better known as the producer of Pappy), on Thursday afternoon led a tasting of four bourbons in his portfolio. He concluded by saying his job was done if folks remembered that bourbon doesn't have to come from Bourbon County, but reviewed a few lesser-known facts beforehand:
1. Before the current bourbon revival, Van Winkle's distillery made money by producing figurative decanters for alumni groups, duck hunters and coal miners.
2. Don't swirl whiskey before sampling, it only agitates the alcohol and disguises flavors.
3. It's not a waste to use great bourbon in an old fashioned. "The better the whiskey, the better the cocktail."
4. Trying to figure out if you like rye or wheated whiskey? Make toast. Rye is zippy; wheat is smoother on the tongue.