Notes From Your Spiritual Advisor - Warren Delray

From the Father of Modern Bourbon to Castle & Key

Our Warren Team getting a sneak peak and private tour at Castle & Key!

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!




A Warren Visit From Mr. Bottled-In-Bond!

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!”

Thank you, Bernie! Keep on Bottle in Bonding!




September is National Bourbon Heritage Month!!

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!




Back again in the Blue Grass State!

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!

Stay tuned for details!!



The New Angel’s Envy Barrel Pick: A True Team Effort!

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!

Lots to share! See you all soon!




It’s All About The Food!!

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!!



And even more Damn Good Honey Barrels!?! Wait, what’s a “honey” barrel?

Someone asked me recently what a honey barrel was. And continued that if the barrel had “honey” in it then wouldn’t that disqualify it as a true bourbon?

To set the record straight: it’s true, bourbon cannot have honey in it! Nothing but water, the grain and yeast. But that’s not what we’re talking about when we use the term “honey” when describing a barrel pick! Lol.

A honey pick is a barrel of whiskey that exudes such exceptional character, depth and richness that it dwarfs the profile of neighboring, peer barrels. Something about its location in the rickhouse, the wood itself or any number of external factors has somehow caused an individual barrel to take on deeper flavor and develop characteristics far beyond most others.

But that’s the beauty of a “barrel pick” and not allowing that most exceptional of barrels to get blended in with the rest and grabbing it for our own selfish, thirsty and bourbon loving desire!

In the last 9 months our company has uncovered and purchased at least four (arguably more!) honey barrels! Our 1792 Barton Bottled-In-Bond, the Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel, the Four Roses OESV and now most recently; the John J. Bowman Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon from Virginia! (Picked by our talented AGM Wayne, Brian, Jeff and our Bourbon Savvy Bev Director JP!) The latter we hope to have in the house by August!) The other three are being hyper ingested at quaff rate!!

This week our team is heading back to Kentucky to select a barrel with none other than world famous Master Distiller Eddie Russell himself at the Wild Turkey Distillery!!

We’re confident that our superstar bartender and manager, Anne, Jeff, Brian and the team will be like busy bees (see what I did there?!) and keep us on this super sweet, honey barrel roll!!

Greed is good! Go get it!!!




Grab your seat at the Warren Tasting Bar!

A display of over $1 million in spirits at Warren American Whisky Kitchen. Warren boasts a spirit list of about 1,000 bottles.

I’m using this week’s blog to invite all friends of Warren to join me at the Library VIP tasting bar! There’s no fee, you can order what you like (Full food and drink menu is available!) and best of all; you can try any one of our over 1000 whiskies! Let me help introduce you to your next, new favorites!!

This week:

Tonight: 4 seats available at 6pm
Thursday: All seats at both 6 & 8:15pm are available.
Friday: 4 seats are available at 8:15pm. (Weekend prime time!)
Saturday: 2 seats available at 6pm. (With Jason Fisher)
Sunday: All seats are available. (With Jason Fisher)

If you’ve never sat at the VIP bar get ready for a fun and informative exeriece!
We do two seatings every night at 6 & 8:15pm. There is no minimum and there are no rules either!! Lol.

Feel free to text me direct to lock up your seats: Fitz @ 561-777-4848.



Back from Kentucky and now on to Virginia!

Brian, Jeff and I along with two of our esteemed WCC members (Wendi and Tom!) recently returned to Kentucky where we were able to secure yet another beautiful barrel of bourbon for our Warren faithful at Limestone Branch Distillery, makers of Yellowstone! What a unique, beautiful and intimate facility! (Their tour guide, Steve Fontaye, is hysterical, knowledgeable and worth the price of admission all by himself! Lol).

While we were in Kentucky we were also fortunate enough to sit with Corky Taylor, CEO and founder of Peerless Distillery! It turns out Corky has South Florida roots and lives part of the year near Naples, home of our next restaurant! Looks like we’ll be seeing this most gracious and talented new friend often at our new place!

Corky was kind enough to share some of his special Kentucky only 6 year straight rye! Wow. Some of the best we’ve ever tasted!

Before we left we were fortunate enough to be invited to lunch by none other than Drew Kulsveen, Master Distiller at Willet! After an amazing meal Drew took us around the distillery to show us some of the latest upgrades and improvements at the site! Looks like Willet is building and investing in a bold and very bright future!

Next up? Wayne, JP, Brian and Jeff are off to Virginia to taste and select a barrel from John J. Bowman! If you’ve never tried any of the Bowmans, you need to find some quick! We all agree they are some of the absolute best whiskies being made outside of Kentucky. Or anywhere!!

The Bowman barrel will be the only private barrel pick in the entire of state of Florida! Can’t wait to get a hold of that special juice! Pick well, boys!

I’m headed off to Atlanta to DJ my niece’s wedding but I’ll be back next week to host you at the Warren Bar and update everyone on the latest happenings including our 1 Year Anniversary celebration plans!

Yes, June 4 marks one year since we opened! What a wild, awesome, incredible and fun ride these past twelve months have been. Thank you to all our WCC members and loyal guests for making Warren the best damn restaurant in Delray!!




Fantastic Finishes!

It could be a cognac cask, sherry butt, an old wine barrel, a rum cask or even an old stout barrel! But the hot trend today is definitely “resting” a “finished” spirit in secondary wood to round it out, deepen the flavors and create something exceptional!

Angel’s Envy was on the front end of this trend when they came out of the gate in 2007 with their first releases of bourbon and rye! Port barrels and Caribbean Rum casks were used respectively and caused a bit of a stir initially.

Bourbon purists, citing the Bourbon Act passed by the United States Congress in 1964, seemed to mandate that only new, flame charred American Oak could be used and nothing else! By then placing it afterwards in a second port barrel, they argued, the Angel’s Envy was then disqualified as a true bourbon!

Well cooler heads prevailed and a compromise was reached! The agreement? As long as the secondary barrel (or finishing wood) was clearly stated on the front of the bottle then it would be accepted!

And now? All the cool kids are doing it!!

Look at just about every distillery and they will offer a whiskey with a secondary finish. Some notables? Bardstown Bourbon in Ferrand Cognac casks, Lagavulin Islay Scotch rested in old Guiness barrels or simply a Woodford Double Oaked where the original Woodford Reserve is rested in a second, radiant heated or toasted oak barrel.

The results have been largely amazing and created a whole new line of exceptional spirits for whiskey lovers to enjoy. At Warren, you will literally find dozens and dozens of great secondary finished whiskies.

Book at seat at the Warren Tasting Bar anytime and I’ll tell you (and taste you) all about them!



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