Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Knob Creek Bourbon Night

Earlier this month, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Knob Creek Bourbon Night. We both enjoy a delicious cocktail, but neither of us are connoisseurs of whisky, so we jumped at the chance to go and learn (and, of course, enjoy some drinks and food!).

The night began with a welcome cocktail, Black on Both Sides.  Made with Jim Beam Black, blackberry juice, lemon and black pepper, it was a refreshingly delicious beginning.  Thank you to Andrea of I'm Mad Hungry for enhancing my picture!

While we sipped our cocktails, canapes were passed. The Mule is one of my favourite restaurants, and their food was the perfect accompaniment to our drinks.  We started with oysters garnished with low country mignonette and cornbread topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Mr. HitH found the oysters to be luscious, and I adored the cornbread with strawberries, to the point that the next time that I make strawberry shortcake, I'm going to leave out my grandma's bicuits (sorry, Grams) and make cornbread instead!

The Mule loves me.  I know this because while everyone else was enjoying house country ham with red eye gravy, they sent me out this delicious sweet potato bite.  It. was. awesome.

We then moved onto the educational portion of the night. Matt Jones is the official whisky ambassador for BeamSuntory in Canada. He is also an amazing teacher, and he knows the story of whisky, and specifically Jim Beam and Knob Creek whisky, cold. You may wonder, from the picture, if he is an angel, sent to earth to provide us with delicious, delicious booze. That is a possibility and as the night proceeded, seemed more likely. He also taught us the origin of the word 'cocktail'.


Tutored tastings were next.  We had four different styles of bourbon to try.

We started with Jim Beam Black. It was a gorgeous amber colour, and very smooth.  I'm not a straight alcohol kinda drinker, but I could see sipping this. It also had hints of sweetness, and had a bit of caramel flavour to it.  Next, we moved onto Basil Hayden's. This wasn't a bourbon I was familiar with before the event, but we were taught that the addition of rye into the corn mash during fermentation makes for a unique drink. Darker in colour than our first sip, it definitely had a bite of pepper as you sipped.

Our last half of the tastings started with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon. This was a strong alcohol - too strong for me to enjoy sipping. With that said, I could really taste the vanilla coming through, and it made it the perfect choice for the cocktail I was to craft later!  We finished sipping by sampling the Knob Hill Creek Single Barrel Reserve.  This was a serious bourbon.  It's 120 proof, and it hits you with the alcohol. The colour was deep amber and gorgeous. The predominant flavour for me was the smokiness. I can only imagine the amazing cocktails you could make with this. Old Fashioneds, anyone?

Then, onto dinner!  We started off with watermelon and peach salad with spiced pumpkin seeds and chow chow,  with shrimp on the side.  Fried quail was the main, and was perfectly cooked. Creamed corn was a delight - perfectly smooth and delicious.  We finished with a Rudy's Banana Pepita Paleta.

As we ate, we sipped this Be Healthy cocktail, made with Knob Creek 9 year old, orange flavoured liqueur, honey-ginger syrup, and lime juice.  On paper, it didn't really appeal, but when tasted, it was outstanding.  I want to sit on the dock at my cottage and sip this on a cool September night.  Please note, I don't own a cottage. If anyone wants to buy me one, or allow me to use their dock to drink this, please let me know.

The end of the evening was a mixology session.  We got to design our own cocktails, and then Matt Jones helped us to make them.  Mr. HitH and I have a remarkably healthy relationship, in which there is no competition and we support each other to be our best.  Also, that is a filthy lie.  This was a flat out competition for who could make the best cocktail.

My drink, called 'Sweeten Your Cherry' started with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon, It was sweetened with vanilla-infused simple syrup, accented with maraschino liquor and garnished with basil.  It was outstanding.  Whisky chef Matt Jones didn't want to hurt Mr. HitH feelings, but I could see in his eyes that my drink was the better of the two.

Mr. HitH's cocktail was called 'The Don Draper', and was also made with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon, with orange bitters, maraschino liquor and garnished with an orange peel.  It was everything you would expect - brash, strong and very Mad Men-esque.

And that wrapped up our evening.  Thank you so much to Knob Creek and Jim Beam for having us out, and Matt Jones for educating us.  It was a night to remember!


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