Son House: Father of the Delta Blues

Son House: Father of the Delta Blues
"You can sing the blues in church if you use the words right."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

For the Literate Bourbon Lover...

The Ballad of Whiskey Straight

Let dreamers whine
Of the pleasures of wine
For lovers of soft delight
But this is the song
Of a tipple that's strong
For men who must toil and fight.
Now the drink of luck
For the man full of pluck
Is easy to nominate
It's the good old whiskey of old Kentuck
And you always drink it straight...

---19th-century Kentucky poem

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Black Keys and Pure Kentucky XO: Clubhouse Magic Potion

My once-stuffy nose cleared from the sweet honey-pine vapor still emanating from my empty glass, I reach across the maple table for the bourbon bottle the Monkeyman and I just popped. On the Black Beauty (The Clubhouse's vintage Sansui G-871DB), Dan Auerbach is killing the guitar and belting out a deliciously distorted lyric: I don't want to go to Hell, but if I do, it'll be because of you. As I replenish our glasses, I wonder whether Dan is singing about a woman, women, or whiskey. Or if it matters. I nod my head to Patrick Carney's driving drum beat and smile as I raise the glass to my mouth.

On November 16th, Monkeyman and I piled into my new Scion XB- the toaster- and headed south. Our destination: my home town, Covington, Kentucky, and the refurbished Madison Theater downtown. Once over the river, we pounded back a couple of four-ways at Skyline before making a pit-stop at my favorite hole-in-the-wall liquor store across from the muffler stop under the Brent Spence Bridge. There we picked up a few choice casks of bourbon to replenish the Clubhouse stock. Among the bourbons we bought was Pure Kentucky XO, a high-powered small-batch that we hadn't tried. So it was with this magic potion crated in the back that we jammed out to the Black Keys' Magic Potion as we made our way to The Madison for our fist live encounter with the heavy-rockin blueshounds from Akron. They were touring in support of their most recent release, Magic Potion, their best, most well-rounded effort to date. Purists will no doubt be critical of the fact that this release is a bit more polished than the early grunge they churned out, but in my opinion, it's a step forward. I'm high on their earlier stuff- Rubber Factory in particular- but Magic Potion rocks from the onset as the boys channel Hendrix and Page in a serious way. Anyway, the show did not disappoint as they absolutely thrilled the crowd. It's stunning how two guys can churn out such an incredible, dynamic sound. As it would turn out, however, the Monkeyman and I had to wait nearly a week before indulging in the Pure Kentucky as we had in the Keys...

Dry, spicy and intense when it first hits the tongue, this extra-old small-batch bourbon turns surprisingly more sweet the longer you hold it in your mouth. Be patient and you will be rewarded with flavor cycles of mint and resin-leather. This high-powered sweetie's cotton-candy finish makes swallowing it the best part of all. Want to do it up right? Crank The Keys while you sip...

Artist: The Black Keys
Album: Magic Potion
Recommended tune: Strange Desire

Bourbon: Pure Kentucky XO Ten-Year
Batch: #66-39
Proof: 107

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Perfect Holiday Digestif

Looking for an after-dinner treat? Serve your guests a warm snifter of Evan Williams Master Distiller's Select and a generous square of Ritter Sport dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Perfect for a cold winter night!
{ed note: spin your copy of The Wood Brothers' Chocolate on My Tongue to further enhance the tasting experience!}

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Healing Time

Need a little something to pair with that Kentucky Spirit? Go staight down to your neighborhood music shop and pick up a copy of Ronnie Earl’s Healing Time. This all-instrumental album from the East Coast guitar phenom, his first on the Telarc label, is a fit companion to a glass of strong bourbon. With the first few licks from Hammond B3-master Jimmy McGriff on the opening cut, you’ll know you’re being taken to church. And Churchin’ does not disappoint. Other favorites are the throwbacks Catfish Blues and Lunch at R&M’s. Jazz-heads will find Ronnie’s genre-bending cover of Grant Green’s Idle Moments intriguing. Ok, this isn’t the straight-ahead blues of Ronnie’s past, but it’s sweet and mellow and carries a punch—just like the bourbon you’ll be enjoying while you listen.

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Friday, December 8, 2006

Stocking Stuffer Suggestion

Take it from Big Bubba: if you have $40 in your pocket and need to buy a bottle of bourbon for the holidays, avoid the trendy high-end brands that more and more these days clutter the top-end shelves. My recommendation: ignore the glitz, opt for tradition, and invest in a bottle of Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel. Now that’s the shit.

Monkeyman and I popped our first bottle of this stuff in early spring and were absolutely bowled over. Even Mr. Stretch, who typically shies away from the high-powered juice (KY Spirit is 101 proof) conceded that it was some smooth, easy-drinkin, sweet-ass liquor. It’s more than that, though. KY Spirit is indecently sweet upon hitting the tongue and the flavor of roasted caramel deepens millisecond by millisecond as it rolls to the back of the throat. Upon swallowing, the entire nasal cavity is permeated with tones of honey and fruit. The depth of character of this whiskey seemed at the time unparalleled. Wow, we thought, the boys at Wild Turkey have outdone themselves here.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: That first bottle was from Barrel 20, Warehouse E, Rick #25. We have since tried other examples of Kentucky Spirit and, while feeling like the product easily justified the price tag, we have yet to be as enamored with another bottle as we were with the first. But that’s what they say, isn’t it? There’s no time like the first time.

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