Knob Creek recently hosted a masterclass, four course meal and one-on-one cocktail making class for a number of influential food bloggers in Vancouver and I was lucky enough to get an invite to this wonderful event. Hosted at Dixies BBQ this Praxis PR x Beam Suntory sponsored event was an intimate look at the brand portfolio as well as the incredibly prepared and paired nourishments.
We were welcomed with a number of passed canapes and a wonderful welcome cocktail. The “Smoked Peach Belini” created by bartender and Dixies’ co-owner Shoel Davidson was made with Knob Creek 9 Year Old, peach puree, chocolate bitters, Prosecco and alderwood smoke. I enjoyed the cocktail but definitely enjoyed watching Shoel smoking the cocktail even more. The handheld smoke machines infuse an incredible amount of flavour (and showmanship) into a cocktail.
THE WHISKEY TASTING
The second part of the evening included a seminar and tasting conducted by Matt Jones, Brand Ambassador for Beam Suntory. Each of the bourbons selected for this tasting have a unique story and selling point behind them. The cheat sheet of interesting elements for each of the four featured bourbons are as follows:
1. Basil Hayden: The lightest bourbon in Jim Beam’s portfolio, Basil Hayden is affectionately known as Matt Jones’ “breakfast whiskey.” Smooth, light bodied with hints of spice, tea and peppermint.
2. Jim Beam Black: Triple aged which means that it’s been aged 6 years, three times the aging requirements of a straight bourbon which gives it a full-bodied smooth flavour. Think soft caramel and warm oak notes.
3. Devil’s Cut: Typically when bourbon barrels are emptied and bottled, there is a certain percentage left in the barrel that’s trapped deep inside the wood. Jim Beam claims to have made history by using a proprietary process to extract this whiskey, blend it and turn it into “Devil’s Cut” of which the name is inspired by the Angel’s Share (the amount of whisky that evaporates from the barrel each year due to natural causes).
4. Knob Creek 9 Year: Aged 9 years and bottled at 50% ABV Knob Creek this small batch whisky is made in a pre-prohibition style. Full bodied, bold, savoury-sweet and spicy. A mature whiskey for those with a mature palate!
*For more specific tasting notes, see the bottom of this article!
The highlight of the evening was definitely the cocktail making component of the evening. Guided by Matt, we were able to choose everything about our cocktail from the name to ingredients to glassware to garnish. Matt assisted us with ratios, techniques and recommendations and the rest was all us. There were a variety of creative cocktails from the “East Side Crawl” to “It’s Beam a Long Day” and while I love modern takes on classic cocktails, I decided to do something fun and silly for my cocktail.
Entitled “Matty Jones’ Locker”, I wanted to create a deep-sea looking drink that paired well with a salt rim. As a take on a spicy margarita I used Knob Creek 9 Year, lime juice, blue curacao, ginger simple syrup, Hellfire bitters and egg whites.
As we each had an opportunity to get behind the wood and make our cocktails with Matt, we were simultaneously spoiled by a four course dinner. The first course started with ricotta stuffed tempura coated squash blossoms, strawberry habanero jam, tomato and basil. This was followed by purple cauliflower “risotto”, seared scallop, chanterelles, sea asparagus and sorrel. The highlight of the meal was the grilled kobe beef, mixed beets, purple fingerlings, arugula and smoked bone marrow jus followed by an incredibly paired peach tart tatin, seared foie gras, pickled concorde grapes and orange creme fraiche.
THE WRAP UP
All-in-all the event was an incredible experience and to add a cherry on top, it was Matt Jones’ birthday! Now if you’re looking to try a new bourbon, check out the tasting notes of the four featured this evening below and be sure to check out Dixies BBQ for unbelievable Texas-style barbeque. While the food is gourmet, the venue is anything but pretentious. There is definitely something for everyone there from Japanese whisky to under-$5 lagers to pulled pork + fried chicken platters.
Basil Hayden: Aromas of honey, vanilla and apricot fuse with toasty oak, black walnut and spice. The flavour is rich and bold on the palate and is completed in a smooth, long finish.
Jim Beam Black: Deep copper (amber) colour. Bold aromas of toffee, nuts and spice. Dried stone fruits follow through on a smooth, supple entry. Full bodied with rich brown spice notes and hints of marmalade.
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut: Bold aromas of honey, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and brown sugar are fused with toasty oak, dried fruit and dark chocolate. The flavour is rich and creamy with flares of brown spices and hints of butterscotch.
Knob Creek 9 Year: Rich flavours of vanilla, chocolate and caramel. A wonderful, creamy mouth-feel. The perfect after dinner choice, served over ice or in your favourite coffee.
Have you tried the Jim Beam line of products? Which one is your favourite? Have any great cocktail recipes or ideas? Let me know below!