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SIP&SHARE Collective: Bourbon Bingo

Coming into the latest Sip&Share event hosted by Reece of @reecsesims I was excited. (This is the monthly whisky gathering where attendees taste and check their perceptions on whisky in a casual setting.) I am competitive so hearing there would be a prize and winning element to our bourbon tasting, I was intrigued.

In celebration of International bourbon day (June 14th, 2022), we were playing Bourbon Bingo. The first and hence forth the original. The rules: you work your way through 8 different bourbon samples. The goal is to identify them by make/brand, utilizing the clues provided by our Whisky Muse & instructor: Reece. Each sip corresponds to a number, and the goal to guess correctly five in a row right for “bingo” on your play card.

But first the warm up. Held at Blaze Gourmet Burgers, the open space of this bistro provided the ideal, intimate setting. Guests were greeted with food and drink tickets at the door, to be redeemed at the bar/back/register.

Each attendee had their choice of signature burger for dinner. They made the perfect start to our night, providing empty stomachs the base necessary to finish all our bourbon pours to come. I was able to try both their bacon & brie burger and the mushroom lovers burger through the power of sharing. The former had Brie, Caramelized Onion, Smoked Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Grainy Dijon Mustard, and the Blaze Secret Sauce. You don’t get much brie, but the bacon and onions were plenty to make this juicy burger pop.

Whereas the Mushroom Lovers burger delivered on its name and description with Swiss Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms, Banana Peppers, Jalapeños, Crispy Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato; and more of that creamy and tangy Blaze Secret Sauce. The heat from the peppers and jalapeno were great at offsetting the salty bacon and highlighting the contrast of earthy mushrooms.

I will have to come back to try more of their burgers and maybe some sides to get a better assessment of their offerings. I saw other guests order curly fries and in writing this post learned they also make onion rings and deep-fried pickle spears.

As for drinks, our welcome beverage featured the only banana flavour whisky on the market: Howler Head Banana Bourbon. A whisky introduced to us at the previous bourbon Sip&Share session. Having attended said session, I figured our whisky crew had an advantage, assuming the same whiskies we tasted and discovered then would be here today. Instead, we had all new players, minus the familiar Widow Jane. And the theme: non-Kentucky bourbon bingo.

When it came time for our main event, we got a refresher/crash course in bourbon. What does a spirit need to be classified as a bourbon? It needs to be prepared with a 51% corn in mash bill (basically its ingredient listing), distilled to over 160 proof, and aged in brand new charred oak. And most importantly it needs to be made within the United States of America. 95% of bourbon is made within Kentucky, except the 8 we were trying today.

We were given tasting notes on each bourbon and taught what to look for. Like the more corn in the mash bill, the sweeter the bourbon is. Adding rye creates a bourbon that has more baking spice notes like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg; thus making it less sweet. And if you have wheat instead of rye, the bourbon goes back to sweet and less spicy, finished with brown butter notes.

In no particulate order, other than the way it was arranged yesterday; we were given the following tasters and fillies.

BRBN is not actually bourbon, because it comes from Okanagan Spirits, in Canada (not the US), and is not aged in brand new oak. At 100% corn its tasting notes were described as in movie theatre buttery popcorn, freshly mowed lawn, or kid’s cereal. Reece’s hint was that this is should be the lightest one.

Boulder was bottled in Boulder Colorado. It was described as a single malt meets bourbon with fruit notes like mango and papaya, earning it a sweet tropical spice.

American Rockies and Wyoming Whisky comes out of the same distillery and are harder to differentiate between one another. The former was said to be more peppery with notes of an oatmeal raisin cookie, thanks to it being cast at a different level of char. Whereas the latter had more wheat and corn leaving it with more floral notes with hints of vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon toffee.

Yellow Rose is based out of Houston, Texas. The goal was to do something that is non-conventional. At 100% corn, this was given its own category of corn whisky, without the need to be aged in brand new oak. Naturally, it is sweeter, although at the same time has a higher alcohol percentage meaning more kick back and a tingle on the tongue.

Heaven’s Door is a Tennesse Whisky that follows the same requirements as bourbon, but also includes the “Lincoln Country Process”. The “Lincoln Country Process” uses sugar maple trees to char their bourbon, resulting in plenty of spicy bold notes reminiscent of dried fruit. The tasting notes for this was described as maple, pumpernickel, baking spices, and white peppercorn. We were told that Heaven’s Door should be the spiciest out of our bourbon line up for tonight.

And our last two bourbons were from New York. Window Jane is a bourbon that matures faster thanks to its interaction with wood. And Hudson Whisky was sweet and light, high in corn with the notable flavour of cracker jacks and corn bread.

For Bourbon Bingo, the trick is committing to one line and hoping you get 4/5 of them correct (if you utilize the “free space”). And after 45 minutes of tasting and placing your stickers, the answers were announced with the room either cheering or moaning in disbelief.

In the end, after it was said and done, I didn’t come out the grand winner, but was able to earn a prize for my efforts. I got 3/4 guesses correct and earned myself a whisky muse molecule ring, like that which Reece wears. This was the perfect keepsake and trophy to commemorate such a fun event. What a great idea and introduction to whisky. Be sure to follow her and subscribe to the Sip&Share Facebook group for more unique upcoming events.

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