Bourbon and the Mothers
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
And now a tribute to Mother's Day, the other great occasion on which
civilized folk turn to the genteel pleasure of the mint
julep. The first great occasion, also this month, is the Kentucky
My friend Pete, who knows everything there is to know about Bourbon,
says Kentucky is the home of beautiful horses and fast women!
This year, Louisville's Churchill Downs celebrates its 130th anniversary
running of the Derby. More than 150,000 devotees will turn out on the
first Saturday in May to witness one of the world's most historic horse
races. Millions of others throw Derby parties at home. Obligatory
is the Bourbon-based mint julep.
The mint julep? Yes, and traditionally from a silver cup: After every
Kentucky Derby, the winning owner toasts his horse with a julep from a
sterling silver cup. The winner's name and the year of the win are engraved
on the cup and it is added to the permanent collection of the Churchill
Like the Derby, Bourbon has a wide and varied history. In a way, it's
the history of the United States, its cast of characters encompassing
the country's founding fathers, presidents, saints, sinners, tycoons,
temptresses, heroes, villains, patricians and even the occasional preacher.
Intriguingly, Bourbon the American whiskey and unquestionably
one of the world's great whiskies, bowing to neither Scotch nor Irish
started life as an act of defiance, a revolt against the Molasses
Act of 1733 that rendered rum consumption "ruinously expensive"
to the colonists. Corn was abundant and cheap, and corn liquor evolved
Bourbon's incomparable taste of caramel and vanilla springs from the
use of charred new American oak barrels during the ageing process. One
of the whiskey's proudest achievements has been the creation of popular
ultra-premium Bourbons. A fine example is Knob Creek Bourbon (Small Batch
Bourbon), aged for nine years in charred American white oak barrels. It
proffers a powerfully sweet nose hinting at rich grain and dark berry
flavors. It's fruity and well-balanced, with some oak-vanilla notes and
a touch of caramelized sugar. The finish is long and surprisingly spicy.
Now, in this space, from our side of the border, I'd like to offer a
toast to Frederick Booker Noe II, Master Distiller emeritus of Jim Beam
Brands Co. and grandson of the legendary Jim Beam. "Booker"
died in February of this year at his home in Bardstown, Kentucky. The
sixth generation Beam involved in the making of Jim Beam Bourbon, he was
74 years old.
So here's to Booker. And here's to Mom. And here's to my introduction
to a delicious mint julep recipe by a wonderful Kentucky gentleman, Ova
Haney, the late Master Distiller of Four Roses Distillery. I can only
hope that up there somewhere, Booker is a-settin' in his rocking chair,
nodding to Ova's tall fish tales, and the two o' them are sipping juleps
in frosty sterling cups, their Bourbon rich and mouth-filling, the mint
pungent and refreshing, the color of Heaven morphing into a purple-streaked
Ova Haney's Mint Julep
Syrup (may be made a week in advance and kept covered and refrigerated
- Fill a 4 quart pot with fresh mint leaves
- Add 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil.
- Slowly add 1 lb. confectioner's (icing) sugar.
- Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to ½ pint (200
- Remove from heat. Squeeze the mint leaves into the remaining liquid
- Filter the mint flavoured simple syrup through a cheesecloth or fine
- Add 1 tsp. of mint-flavoured syrup to your silver julep cup or tall
- Insert a straw.
- Fill the cup up with finely crushed ice, tightly packed.
- Add 2½ oz Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon (or Four Roses
- Let stand a moment and repack with crushed ice.
- Dust the top of the ice with a little powdered sugar.
- Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
For more information, you can contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org.