This time of year we’re all trying to be in “good spirits” and perhaps the best way to do that is drinking plenty of “good spirits!” Lol.
It also means lots of presents and our next holiday treat to arrive this Friday is our newest barrel from Bowman Distillery in Virginia!
When we first tasted this barrel we knew we were on to something exceptional and real special and now the bottles are on their way!!
We expect to have several cases of these very special “honey” bottles by the weekend and can’t wait to share a taste with you!! , We’ve been good and hoping that Santa also brings new bottles of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Weller Antique 107, Stagg and a very unique creation from Maker’s Mark that we blended ourselves!
Last Wednesday, November 2, we celebrated the birthday of the man whose passion for life’s best inspired our restaurant; the late Warren John!
Warren is not only our namesake but the Uncle to Jeff and Jared John and taught both so much about fine wine, great spirits and fine dining! It’s because of this inspiration that the boys thought it was fitting to name our establishment after him!
The turnout for Warren’s birthday celebration was tremendous and the energy all around would be something we’re sure Uncle Warren, who passed away too soon eight years ago, would be happy and proud about!
Amongst the celebration in the packed house was entertainers on stilts, a live DJ, magician and several other entertainers roaming the room. There truly was something happening all night and our friends and guests were all in tremendous spirits.
Happy birthday again, Uncle Warren!
It truly was an amazing and special night and thanks for the continued inspiration!!
In early 2009, I sold my business in Delray and moved to Kansas City, Missouri to be closer to family. My first job there was with a prominent restaurant and nightclub developer called ECI. They had just recently partnered with Maker’s Mark Distillery to open 3 bourbon themed steak houses in KC, Louisville and Indianapolis.
I got the job as bar manager in the downtown KC Live venue!!
That’s great but my bourbon and overall whiskey knowledge needed a serious upgrade. The day after I was hired I went to a place called “Half Priced Books” and bought every book on whiskey they had! I went through our menu of over 200 whiskies and attempted to learn about each one. And so my studies and work as a student of brown whiskey began!
Over the last 13 years I have been to Kentucky multiple times, taught whiskey classes at multiple restaurants and most recently was given the opportunity to curate the nearly 1000 whiskies at Warren American Whiskey Kitchen! It’s been a fun and rewarding whiskey ride to get here!
Yesterday at Warren, members of our Damn Good Hospitality team were able to meet with Maker’s amazing brand ambassador, Deniro, and create our very own barrel blend using five different cask strength expressions. Each barrel sample had been flavored with different types of wood staves for their own unique flavor profile. Creating a blend from these 5 (we only wound using 4!) was a blast! Our team (including Brian, Jeff and Whiskey Bob) made three different blends and the middle one, created by our beverage director, JP, and yours truly was selected as the one we’re going with!
The 53 gallon barrel of this blend will yield us appoximately 200 bottles of this unique whisky and be available to our members and guests around late January! It combines the toasted French spice barrel (60%), the MM traditional 46 (20%), the seared French Cuvee barrel (10%) and a barrel simply known as P2. (10%). The result is a full-bodied blend that comes at you rich and deep with notes of orange zest, caramel, dried fruits, baking spice, clove, creme brule, brown sugar and of course, plenty of vanilla.
From the nose to the finish this special barrel will deliver. It really has everything: a vibrant, rich, floral nose, a viscous and complex mouth feel and a long lasting, delicious finish that lingers on.
Having started my whisky journey and career with Maker’s Mark makes this opportunity to create our own blend of their legendary bourbon even more rewarding and special. I’ve finally come full circle with this brand!
And I can’t wait to break these new bottles out to kick off 2023!!!
Colonel Edmond Hayes Taylor (he was not actually a colonel btw) is often awarded the above title for his many contributions to the bourbon industry and of course, being the champion of the still relevant “Bottled-In-Bond Act” of 1897. That bit of legislation was truly the first and still most effective at beginning to clean up what was then the Wild West of whiskey.
But one of the coolest things I’ve discovered about “the Colonel” is the Old Taylor he distillery he built after selling the O.F.C distillery he opened to the one and only George T. Stagg. (Stagg renamed the distillery after himself. You might know it now by it’s current name: The Buffalo Trace Distillery!!)
The Old Taylor Distillery was like nothing else operating at the time. Not only were the grounds meticulously maintained but there was actually a castle, a sunken garden and a classical springhouse. Most significantly, the grounds were open to the public and Colonel Taylor reveled in showing off his new place as well as welcoming the public to watch how whiskey was made!
This was highly unusual during this period in American whiskey history. It truly was the original modern distillery tour; something we all take for granted now!! Sadly, after Prohibition, the property changed hands several times and fell into ruin.
In 2012, a whiskey loving entrepreneur named Will Arvin had the idea to renovate and recreate this historic place. Along with his partner, Wes Murray, the two set out to replicate and pay homage to the original distillery and have now created a magical place that has become the envy of all distillery tours!
Our team was there recently and were asked in for a tour even though the distillery was closed that day. (Thanks Whiskey Bob Howell!)
And the most exciting thing? C & K just released their first whiskey this Summer: Small Batch Bourbon and their Restoration Rye. While young (4 and 3.5 years respectively) are incredible for their age and have already become two of my favorite releases of 2022. (If their young juice is this good, I can’t wait to try their 6, 8 and 10 year whiskey!)
Come by Warren and I’ll tell you more about this amazing facility and incredible juice!
Mention this Blog and I might even offer you a free taste!
People often ask me if brown spirits were so dead for so long then what happened to bring them to the point where they are now? (and that point is probably their peak of popularity all-time!)
There is no one simple answer to that but more likely a confluence of pop culture connections and more important: people whose passion have pushed brown spirits back to the forefront this past decade plus.
Bernie Lubbers is one of those people.
As the International Brand Ambassador for Heaven Hill Distillery, Bernie has almost single handedly revived the bottled-in-bond category. A quick refresher: bottled-in-bond was an act by our federal government in 1897 to finally offer some regulation to what was then the wild West of whiskey.
At the time, Colonel E.H. Taylor, often called the father of modern bourbon, called on his friends in the federal government (he was related to Presidents Zach Taylor and James Madison) to come in and offer regulation to any distilleries willing to subject themselves to inspection and a higher standard. The colonel had grown weary of moonshining competitors who were literally making people sick with their substandard, often dangerous whiskey filled with all kinds of filler (read; crap).
The Act was an immediate success as people knew these new offerings labeled “Bottled-In-Bond” were of higher quality, but more important, safe to drink! They keep feel safe knowing they would not get sick. Or die!
While Buffalo Trace and their E.H. Taylor line are often considered the elite B-I-B, it is actually Heaven Hill Distillery that has embraced it the most and offer the most different labels featuring this designation.
Bernie Lubbers is the main reason for that.
Bernie has toured the country (and the world) as the champion of B-I-B and has actually written a book (Google his name and you will find a link to Amazon for purchase) about why it still so important today. The simple answer to that: with the proliferation of new distilleries everywhere, any one of these that subjects their product to the B-I-B regulation has demonstrated the willingness to put out a safe, superior product!
We were fortunate enough to have Bernie in for a Warren staff training recently and I was able to sit and pick his brain for about an hour beforehand. Trust me, his passion for brown spirits is never waning and according to leady industry expert Fred Minnick: “Bernie Lubbers has almost singlehandedly kept the B-I-B relevant and thriving!”
Bourbon holds a special place in American history. It truly is our national spirit.
Dating back to the days of Elijah Craig and even before, it truly has been intertwined in our culture, people and heritage.
Even the United States Congress passed a law in 1964 called the Bourbon Act that emphatically state bourbon is one of America’s greatest gifts to the world! Not only that, to be officially declared a bourbon, there are more mandates and rules than just about any brown spirit on the planet! (Take that, Scotland!)
Every September we celebrate this beautiful beverage and there is probably no better place to do so in the Southeastern United States than right here in Delray Beach, Florida at Warren. American. Whiskey. Kitchen!!
Of our over 1000 whiskies almost 600 are bourbons! There is a reason for that; bourbon is without a doubt the hottest brown spirit on the planet. It has never been more popular around the globe than at any time in it’s 250+ year history and distilleries are popping up in every state creating new and exciting expressions!
If you’re brand new to bourbon or already a huge bourbon fan, there is no better place to explore and experience our country’s national beverage than right here at our beautiful restaurant.
Come to Warren and let our knowledgeable staff help introduce you to the most delicious and amazing selection of bourbon and hopefully you’ll walk out happy with some new favorites and appreciation of this amazing spirit!
Our Damn Good team of whiskey tasters returned to Kentucky this week to visit the most talked about, awarded and celebrated distillery on the planet: Buffalo Trace in Frankfort!
Several of our WCC members accompanied Jeff and Brian on this most recent trip and were treated to a tour followed by an extensive tasting of multiple, much sought after barrels.
The Buffalo Trace distillery is owned by the Sazerac Corporation and our partners at Damn Good Hospitality (Warren’s parent company) have cultivated an amazing relationship spanning over a decade with both Sazerac and the good people at BT who make the world’s best bourbon!
It’s because of this strong relationship we are able to purchase entire barrels of some of the most sought-after whiskey on the planet: Blanton’s, Colonel EH Taylor, Stagg, Jr., and my personal favorite, The Weller Antique 107!!
While other restaurants often struggle to secure a bottle or two of some of these hard-to-find labels, Damn Good Hospitality keeps making the trip to Kentucky to taste through, select and purchase entire barrels!! (Each 53 gallon barrel will yield us around 200 bottles of our very own!).
We’re very fortunate to have such great relationships in Kentucky and look forward to our next trip back in the Fall for even more great picks! It’s at the heart of what we do; bringing back the best bourbon for our guests!
The latest and greatest Damn Good Hospitality barrel pick has arrived and it might be the most unique yet!
Angel’s Envy sent us an actual kit where we received samples from three of their best barrels. Our mission as a team was to then cut them down (we would have loved to just buy the cask strength on all three of them! Lol) with a water dropper kit included with the samples, taste, and then make a decision as a team as to the most delicious end product!
The winner!?! An Angel’s Envy barrel pick that comes to us and you at a neat 110 proof! I think their straight bourbon is delicious but at 86 proof can sometimes leave a little bit to be desired. Sometimes. Depends on the mood.
I think at 110 we found the absolute perfect “sweet spot” and this bottle gives you all the Angel’s Envy caramel, vanilla and spice except with a lot more robustness and full flavor. I think even our guests and bourbon lovers who don’t care much for AE are going to change their tune when they taste this one!
The bottles are in and so are we! Can’t wait to share this latest pick with all of our bourbon loving friends! It is near perfection!
Also, these just in: St. Augustine Port Finished Straight Bourbon, Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon and their new Restoration Rye!
I worked at a restaurant in Delray called 32east and many considered it the finest cuisine in South Florida. Our Chef, Nick Morfogen, was nominated multiple times for the James Beard award, changed the menu daily and it was probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever worked or eaten in. (That includes my nearly 10 years in Manhattan!). In short, I’m spoiled!!
While the whiskey at Warren, over 1000 different bottles and most in the state of Florida, obviously drew much of the attention when we opened, we quickly learned that our kitchen was more than up to the task of creating a meu that was up to the task of complementing the daunting brown spirits collection!
Simply put, the food our kitchen has produced has been nothing short of amazing. The response from our guests has been incredible and I can’t say enough about what an amazing and consistent job our kitchen has done. This is especially impressive when you consider we opened while still under the veil of Covid and staffing was extremely difficult, to say the least!
I wanted to use this week’s Blog to recognize our opening Chef, Jen Knox, and the job she and Chef Lou did to get us open! Superwoman! Chef Nicole deserves a nod for coming in during a difficult time and keeping things humming. Cheers to two very talented and dedicated artists!
The transition from Chef Jen to the very talented Chef Richie has been near seamless and Richie has been pushing the envelope even further with some incredibly thought-out dishes! Andrew and Matt have solidified the team and our kitchen continues to rumble through the Summer.
Excited to see what comes next! Cheers to our BOH!!