Last Saturday I headed to 5 Star (1424 W. Chicago) in West Town to attend one of their monthly Whiskey University sessions. Chicago’s own Whiskey Professor, Steve Cole (yes, that’s his official title, I even checked his business card), who works on behalf of Beam Global Spirits, chatted with a hefty group of dedicated bourbon drinkers.
Cole unveiled the rich history and heritage of bourbon through a fun but informative, in-depth tasting of Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Baker’s and Booker’s bourbons, all from the Beam family.
Professor Cole channeled the great Greek thinkers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. I knew they were smiling down on Cole, their proud eyes locked in on the teacher, as he taught and expanded the minds of his meager students with bourbon basics.
It was beautiful.
It was enlightening.
It must have been divine intervention.
All bourbons are whiskies, but not all whiskies can be bourbons. Whiskey is the umbrella and falling under the umbrella are several varieties: Scotch (whiskey made in Scotland), Irish Whiskey (can you guess where that’s made?), Tennessee Whiskey (think Jack Daniels) and Bourbon.
Technically, bourbon can be produced anywhere in the U.S. It doesn’t have to come from Kentucky. That’s a myth. But, only bourbon made from Kentucky can label itself as such. The limestone from that great Southern state produces a fine, unfiltered water that makes bourbon production in Kentucky unlike any other region in the U.S.
We sampled the bourbons according to alcohol proof - lowest (Basil Hayden’s) to highest (Booker’s). This girls favorite? Booker’s was the winner. Sure, it had the highest alcohol proof, but what did it for me was the syrupy texture, the spicy notes that hit mid-palate and the slow, warm sensation that I got as it went down my throat and warmed my soul.
Mmmm, it’s the Drink of the Gods.