UPDATED: Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon

Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon I received a very special little present yesterday. The newest in the line of small batch bourbon’s from Jim Beam. I am a big fan of Basil Hayden’s and this bottle at least matches that. It was even signed by the Fred Noe, 7th Generation distiller of these fine Kentucky bourbons.

This latest small batch has port added to the spirit. The small batch website hasn’t been updated to talk about this new release, so I’m not sure as to how much port has been added, but the spirit still carries 40% ABV so I’m guessing not much. If you’ve tried the port finished Glenmorangie, which is single malt finished in a port cask, the addition of liquid port is noticeable in the Jim Beam product, but it works very well.

I’ve just been contacted by the Jim Beam team here in Sydney. This little beauty has been developed out of this market, which is why it doesn’t make an appearance on the website. Hopefully that means that it will only be sold down here, adding to the modest haul of great products that are exclusive to, rather than excluded from, this market.

Anyone who has tried a Ruby Manhattan before will know that port deepens the cakey, sugary, fruity flavours in a good bourbon. This bottle from Jim Beam certainly delivers on that front with a complex, rich, almost Christmassy flavour to the spirit.

The bottle is the same as the one used for the Knob Creek, and the wax seal feels very plasticy. Unwrapping it uncovers what looks like a piece of duct tape and I ended up cutting of the bottom part of the wax, as it just seem to get in the way.

You’ll forget about all of that as soon as you smell the product though, so let’s not get too hung up on the little things.

It makes an excellent Old Fashioned with Peychaud’s bitters and a truly wonderful Manhattan with an amazing colour and one of the richest spicy finishes I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. It’s very well distilled, and the port makes it incredibly smooth.

At $46.99, this is the bargain of the Small Batch range. You can pick it up online here as well. Shipping Australia wide. This would be the perfect little glass to be leaving out for Santa this Christmas Eve, just don’t be surprised if the bottle is gone by morning.


Maker’s Mark Bourbon

large_6320_Makers Mark Burbon WhiskyMade in tiny batches of around 19 barrels at a time in Loretto Kentucky, Maker’s Mark is some pretty great Bourbon.

Although the website recipe for an Old Fashioned cocktail calls for the use of soda, which would be such a waste, this is a premium spirit designed from its inception to be special. The labels on the bottle are turned out on a couple of hundred year old rotary press. The bottle is expensively and uniquely sealed with the trademark red wax that drips iconically from the neck of the bottle. It is remarkably smooth, but so are most in this category.

I like the full taste, I feel like I can pick out pieces of the ingredients and the love that went into making it. Legend has it that when the original distiller, Bill Samuels, was coming up with the recipe he baked loaves of bread with different ratios of barley and red winter wheat and chose the best tasting loaf as the basis of the original recipe.

The good folks at Annandale Cellars flog it here in Sydney and online. If you’re quick, the Liquorland at Bondi Junction was selling bottles for $49.95 over the weekend, and in case you didn’t realise, that’s not a bad deal.

I’d suggest having some of this spirit mixed into an Old Fashioned. without soda as it wasn’t invented when this drink was.

Maker’s Mark are smart about the way they use people with passion for their product. They’re leading the industry with their ambassador program. Most brands use ambassadors, talented bartenders to get out on the road and into the bars, training staff and consumers and telling the story of the brand. The Mark has taken this one step further asking anyone who tells the Maker’s story to register online, offering a bottle from their very own named barrel as an incentive and opening a great channel for news and special product offers to those that care a little more than most.

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The Old Fashioned

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On May 13, 1806, The Balance and Colombia Repository printed the first known definition of the word “cocktail”

`Cocktail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling`

This somewhat unsavoury sounding mix is what we today call the Old Fashioned. 

Like almost all things alcohol related, there are disputes as to who coined the name instead of it just remaining ‘Cocktail,’ the members of the Pendennis Club claimed for some time in their blustery Colonel Sanders way that the name belonged to a Bourbon Cocktail made in the club. David Wondrich, who looks not dissimilar to a member of the Pendennis Club, discounted this theory by uncovering a wealth of examples of the use of the word prior to the Club’s foundation in 1880.

But I digress.

The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Take a sugar cube* and douse it in three or four belts from a bottle of Angostura Bitters, slide this into the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass. I use at least 60 of good quality Bourbon in my version, Maker’s Mark would be a fine choice. Add a little of the Bourbon, with a couple of pieces of ice and start stirring. Keep adding a little more Bourbon, a little more ice and perhaps around 15 mls water. 

The result is an amazingly balanced, rich and seductive elixir. 

*I prefer to use a cube of sugar as the time it takes to get it to dissolve is around the same time it take to mellow this drink to a superior level.


This cocktail is amazingly adaptable, you can change out the spirit for a Rye Whiskey, Brandy, Cognac or Rum.

At Toko on Crown St they do a Old Fashioned with Junipero Gin and there is a fashionable trend for Tequila Old Fashioneds around the world right now.

Once you’ve tried a variety of spirits, perhaps making a move on to changing out the bitters. Peychaud’s, Fee Brothers Peach or Orange Bitters, even Aperol or Campari. I’ll post an article later in the week about the process of homemaking bitters as well, to really change things up.

This really is a drink for the ages, we’ll be putting this up against the Trans-Galactic GargleBlaster when we make it to the restaurant at the end of time.

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Bar, Cocktail, Restaurant, Wine

Cafe Sydney


Can’t really be too positive about this place. The food was exceptional – small but oh so sweet Sydney rock oysters, perfectly cooked spicy smoky venison, and a lovely little fig and pear tart for dessert. Washed down with Torbreck ‘Struie’ Shiraz. Simply Divine.

On the cocktail front, I had a delightfully smooth Matusalem Gran Reserva Old Fashioned. 

The view caps off this epic venue, which does the simple things flawlessly.

Customs House, 5th Floor, 31 Alfred St, Circular Quay, Sydney.

(02) 9251 8683

Google Map.

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