The Whiskey Files: Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon
Original Source: HS Bourbon Club November 2014
By: James Isaacs
Welcome back one and all for another exciting edition of the Healthy Spirits Bourbon of the Month Club! This month we decided to switch it up a bit and feature (get this) an actual bourbon, brought to us by a company straight out of Sonoma, CA. 35 Maple Street, a spirit focused subsidiary of The Other Guys wine company, has developed quite an impressive and varied portfolio throughout its relatively short history. Perhaps our customers will be most familiar with their Canadian sourced Masterson’s Whiskey line, but they’ve also dabbled in other spirits such as rum and gin. With Bib & Tucker, their latest release and the subject of this month’s club, 35 Maple Street has decided to throw their proverbial hat into the bourbon ring, and the results are nothing short of spectacular, both in quality and presentation.
Bib and tucker refers to your Sunday best, and this bourbon is certainly dressed to the T in what is unquestionably the finest bottle I’ve had the pleasure of laying eyes on. When entertaining your friends, Bulliet will do; when the boss is over for dinner though, make sure you’ve got this bottle of Bib & Tucker displayed prominently for all to see (you’ll be a shoe-in for that promotion, no matter how dry the roast turns out).
The fine folks at 35 Maple Street were kind enough to get me in touch with August Sebastiani, president of The Other Guys and all around savvy fellow. He was more than happy to tell us about this exciting new release, as well as some possible plans for the future. I’ll let August take it from here…
Interview with August Sebastiani
Perhaps we could start with a little bit about your story. How did you get your start in the spirits industry?
Many are surprised to learn that family has a long history in various spirits. Going back far enough, you’ll find brandies, armagnac, grappa, even imported beer in the Sebastiani Family Tree! I think it’s just my inherited entrepreneurial spirit; trying new things, different markets, pursuing different passions… It’s been a fun challenge to complement our wine portfolio, but also to differentiate our business from the many other wine companies and brands that are out there.
This isn’t your first foray in the whiskey game; 35 Maple also sources whiskey from Canada for their Masterson’s releases. Why the move towards Bourbon?
The move towards bourbon strictly stems from a patriotic interest in adding a domestic whiskey to our portfolio. As “America’s Native Spirit”, we thought it only appropriate to forge into the bourbon space. Also, I selfishly prefer the savory flavors and caramel and molasses notes typical of bourbon and have been eager to dive into it for some time.
You’ve stated that the bourbon was sourced from a distillery in Tennessee. What was that selection process like? Did you sample through bourbons from other distilleries as well?
As with our wine portfolio, we are negociants — We take many different routes to bottle. Our gins are made to our specs from the ground up, for instance. In this case however, we had been looking at a number of potential bourbons and ultimately found this stock of barrels. Once we learned that it was available, we signed on for a longterm supply as soon as we could. It will unfortunately take time for some of the futures to mature to the 6-year mark that we’ve set for the Bib & Tucker brand, but believe that it will certainly be worth the wait.
Are you continuing to seek out quality whiskies? Any fun whiskies you might be sitting on or plan to release in the future?
We have discussed a few options and will likely be pursuing them. Specifically, we’ve been exploring the prospect of a white whiskey. Current considerations is a white rye… Stay tuned!!
You have a strong wine background, and whiskies finished in wine barrels are all the rage right now. Are you currently experimenting with anything like that?
Absolutely, we have been looking a number of options, here. Specifically, as we look to bolster our future production and get more involved in the production bill of our various products, we will look to it more and more. Barrel aging extends beyond whiskey, however… We’re currently considering at barrel-aging gin, vodka, mezcal, even more!!
The Other Guys Wine Line-Up
Can you give us some details about the Bib & Tucker release?
In late September we released a limited number of 6-packs within select markets, including San Francisco. We focus on partnering with retailers that truly understand and embrace the essence of our craft spirits. The launch of this brand has been very successful and we expect the demand to remain strong through the holidays and well into 2015.
Bib & Tucker comes packaged in a gorgeous bottle. What was the process like in developing such a cool looking bottle?
This was our first foray into proprietary glass, actually, and it was quite a process. Lots of back-and-forth with glass companies all around the world and finally settling on the bottle you now see, then learning that the glass company only runs amber glass once or twice a year and then scrambling to hit the deadline to make sure that we hit their deadline. But we find it important to let our packaging designers own their domain. The last thing I want to do is to stifle their creative process and we’ve been fortunate to receive considerable acclaim for our packaging across our entire portfolio.
BIB & TUCKER SMALL BATCH BOURBON WHISKEY
Mashbill: 70% Corn, 26% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Alcohol: 46% (92 Proof)
Age Statement: 6 Years
Barrel Char: Level 1 (Lightest)
Distillation Site: A Top Secret Tennessee Distillery
Bib & Tucker pours a light copper color, teetering close to dark gold, which is about what one would expect considering the age and the proof. A couple swirls produce a nice bit of lacing on my Glencairn glass. On the nose I find an explosion of nuttiness, salted cashews, chocolate covered peanuts, as well as a hint of vanilla, leather, and some citrus. The taste follows the nose, coating the palate with a nutty richness, accompanied by some dark chocolate notes popping up occasionally. I didn’t get much rye spice from the aroma, but it certainly shows up in the flavor, which adds a nice level of complexity. The finish is surprisingly lengthy for a 92 proof whiskey, with lingering notes of roasted chestnuts and molasses.
The holiday season goes hand in hand with cold and flu season, and your humble narrator fell victim to the latter fairly early in the game, despite some extraordinary efforts. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a hypochondriac or anything, but pocket hand sanitizer is on my person at all times. Alas, I succumbed to a moment of weakness when a sampler platter of Cellarmaker beers presented itself before a fellow co-worker and myself. Apparently alcohol does not kill cold germs. Needless to say I woke up the next morning not with the familiar head pains of a hangover, but with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose, and with less than a week before Bourbon Club was due! Thankfully, our friendly 35 Maple Street rep reminded me of this cure all cocktail. Okay, so maybe the vitamin C supplements and regular bed rest were the main contributors to my speedy recovery, but having one of these before calling it a night probably didn’t hurt. Without further ado, a present to you…
The Hot Toddy
What you’ll need:
2oz Bib & Tucker Bourbon
1 Bag o’ Tea
Hot Water (will vary depending on mug size)
*Vikings Mug Optional
At first I was worried that I’d have to settle for a poor man’s version of this beloved classic, as I’ve got a 2 cup of strong black coffee a day habit, which leaves little to no time for tea. However, my roommate being Irish means there are no shortages of tea bags, honey bears, or Kerry Gold butter in our house (that last one is certainly optional, but not recommended for this drink). Pretty simple process in assembling the Hot Toddy: squeeze some honey and lemon juice into a mug, add the bourbon, toss in the tea bag, and lastly pour on the hot water. Let the tea bag steep for a few minutes, allowing the water to cool off a bit. When it reaches the desired temp, have at it!
Also Worth Checking Out…
Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon
If you’re looking for another striking bottle to add to your bourbon collection, look no further than the award winning Willett Pot Still Reserve, which comes packaged in a bottle shaped like an actual pot still. Add in the fact that it’s the only readily available bourbon (at the moment) with Willett in the name, this single barrel release is more than just a fancy bottle, and a worthwhile addition to any whiskey collection.
For lack of a better word, I found Bib & Tucker to be a “nut-bomb.” If you enjoyed that rich nutty flavor, I’d recommend anything from the Beam distillery’s low rye bourbon mash bill. I chose to spotlight the oft-overlooked Baker’s here because it has a similar age statement and price point to the B&T, but a higher proof (107).
Mosswood Apple Brandy Barrel (First Release)
This one might take a bit of effort and/or luck. You might recall Mosswood from last month’s write-up; these fine folks out in Berkeley source light whiskey from Indiana and do “additional cask enhancement” (in their own words), utilizing some funky barrels. With their first release however, they sourced six year old bourbon from Tennessee that I recall having a strong nutty flavor (sound familiar), in addition to the flavors derived from the apple brandy barrel it was finished in.
That’s all for this month’s edition of Bourbon Club. As always, we welcome any comments and suggestions. We hope you enjoy, cheers!
James Isaacs / Clement Store Manager