The explosion of bourbon popularity has led to many things: one one hand, there is a massive array of new, innovative and exciting brands and makers growing larger by the day. On the other hand, many products are harder and harder to find.
Another one of the advantages is the number of bourbon, or whiskey, themed bars popping up. Here in Detroit, where the bourbon does not flow as freely as in Kentucky, this can mean a connoisseur (or at least a well read poseur) has a possibility of trying a spirit that would otherwise remain unavailable to them.
Last week, my fellow musician/bourbon-loving friend Jeremy Porter mentioned a bar that had opened in my neck of the woods and had a particularly noteworthy collection of whiskeys: The Butter Run Saloon is St. Clair Shores, Michigan. A quick look at the website caught me off guard – 84 different bourbons. An amazing selection, even more surprising that it happened to be in the relatively sleepy burb I grew up in.
Partially, my surprise was in my notion of what kind of bar would host such an elaborate selection – at least here in Detroit. I shuddered while images of skinny-jeaned, ironic t-shirted hipsters gleefully threw down this week’s leftover vintage bicycle money on glasses of Pappy Van Winkle while discussing the day’s English Premier League scores and the latest London Grammar release. This was not the case, in fact, it was almost the polar opposite.
The bar is a quiet, working class pub style restaurant/bar, that just also happens to have an amazing selection of bourbons (as well as over 100 scotches). It serves good burgers, good onion rings, and Angels Envy Cask Strength (?!?).
Since there were a good number of drinks on this list I have not had the ability to hunt down for myself, I decided to try one that has been on my list for some time. A big fan of the Eagle Rare 10 year, it seemed a good idea to try the Eagle Rare 17 Year-Old. I was not disappointed.
I love Eagle Rare – partially because I love the variations that I have gotten from this straight bourbon, but have not been able to get my hands on a bottle of the 17 Year, hard as I have tried (and I have tried, believe me). With a glass in my hand, it was everything I love about the 10 year, but even more.
My take: The nose of this glass was deep, and incredibly complex and varied. At first, I could make out fruits and a bit of spiciness. Baking apples and cinnamon, raisins and orange peel. A charming array that slowly, as the glass opened, turned into warm leather and oak.
The first sip surprised me – it had a silkiness to it, and the smoky oak taste, but it wasn’t harsh at all. Rather, it was gentle despite the tannin, and not bitter at all. Raisins and almond were there before a soft leather presented itself upon the long finish.
To me. this was a magnificent drink. Full of character and flavor, but not too harsh or biting. Smooth, but not weak. A top five, to be sure!
Dan’s Rating: 9.3