It had been one of the THOSE days. It began in traffic on my way to The Day Job™ – there was no accident, but for some reason, I ended up behind every overly large, multi-trailered semi truck. No fun. And despite swearing at the cement truck driver ahead of me after he cut me off (A HUGE CEMENT TRUCK CUT. ME. OFF!!), I finally came to the conclusion that he probably didn’t hear me and, because of the width of the vehicle, probably didn’t see my digital emphasis, either. And, on top of that, the weather is supposed to be in the one hundred teens range. No Bueno.

I wish I could wear a hat while at work. My hair looked like a pair of raccoons had had a “to the death” battle in it. After I applied approximately a pound and a half of product, the hair looked less heinous. Mostly.

The rest of the day had been pretty much the same.  I finally decided that instead of opening up a bottle of wine, I’d just relax with a glass of Bourbon and a nice Padron Maduro cigar.

I had made clear ice and decided to use it in one of my ultra-thin, gorgeous whiskey glasses. Which I promptly dropped on the granite countertop and watched glass shatter EVERYWHERE.  I was standing barefoot in the kitchen (I rarely wear shoes in Casa Wineaux, especially since I have light tile in the kitchen and baths and a white rug – what was I thinking – in the living room), and was afraid to move.  After tip-toeing prayerfully across the kitchen floor, I swept, wiped with rags, and finally vacuumed all particles of glass on the floor, only to discover that it had also shattered on the countertop. No winning.

Buffalo Trace and Padron

Buffalo Trace and Padron

I finally got everything sorted and poured a glass of Buffalo Trace Bourbon over my clear ice and lit a Padron Maduro cigar. Ah.

I love Bourbon. While single-malt Scotch is nearly equal (especially the peaty ones such as Lagavulin, Woodford, or Laphroaig), the siren song of Bourbon gets me. Its notes of toffee, caramel, nutmeg, and vanilla enchant me every time.

Plus it’s America’s Whiskey (with an “e”), and that makes it special. ‘Murica!

Most Bourbon aficionados drink it neat. I, on the other hand, prefer it over clear ice.

Why?

Bourbon - no ice vs clear ice

Bourbon – no ice vs clear ice

The orange peel was far more apparent on ice than when poured neat when the toffee and caramel notes prevailed.

Neat Bourbon is intense, and its aromas can do quite a job on your nose hairs. The flavors are defined and powerful. When a few drops of pure water or clear ice is added, the esters are released. Esters are the aromatic qualities that the addition of H²O softens and lifts. Water disperses the natural oils and makes the aromas of caramel, molasses, baking spice, and orange peel more available to enjoy. I’m prepared for true Bourbon aficionados to yell at me, but that’s okay. I like what I like. Bourbon – neat (rarely) or with clear ice. Just enough to enjoy, savor, and take the edge off of a bad day.

Why a cigar?

Cigars and Kentucky Bourbon are as tight a pairing as peas and carrots or Forrest and Jenny. It’s southern, it’s traditional, and because of the toffee, caramel, and vanilla notes of the Bourbon, it’s ideal.

I had the “bottom-of-the-line” Padrón Maduro handmade which was incredibly fragrant upon opening and filled with earthy, coffee, and cocoa flavors when smoking. The Merlot of cigars!

Bourbon Cigar Hobnail Ashtray

Bourbon Cigar Hobnail Ashtray

In the photos, you’ll see my Padron resting in my Art Nouveau Blue Opalescence Hobnail Ashtray. Although this is a collectible piece, I feel that it is ideal for displaying the feminine nature of the smoker (that would be me).  After all, I am a lady. I’ll meet you behind the toolshed if you say otherwise.

As I expected, the Buffalo Trace Bourbon poured over a cube of clear ice had notes of orange peel, toffee, nutmeg, caramel, and vanilla. The orange peel was far more apparent on ice than when poured neat when the toffee and caramel notes prevailed.

It’s important to note that “toffee” and “caramel” do not necessarily denote sweet notes, but, rather, indications of what tones you may mark when tasting.  It’s all good.

While I’ve had such fantastic Bourbons as Four Roses, Blanton, Old Weller, and Van Winkle’s, they might as well been rotgut if I hadn’t taken the time to learn about the whiskey.  I read books that taught me about Bourbon and the things I was seeing, smelling, and tasting in the spirit. These books include Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage, and Proof: The Science of Booze (okay…so it’s not completely about Bourbon). Next up is Bourbon Curious, a book that’s finally obtainable on Audible. I just got the notice that it’s available, and I’m all over it.

Coming up soon! The last chapter (or two) of Honeymooning in South Africa, two different Paso Robles travel stories, one of our non-Somms in our tasting group is now a Somm(!!!!!) and she’ll share her adventures, my first NSFW* posting, and more! And, if I can fit it in, the science of clear ice. We have lots of stuff ahead, so be sure to stay tuned!

Bourbon Books!


*Not Safe for Work