When considering what to drink with Thanksgiving you have an endless array of options. While it’d be great to have one drink to rule them all, realistically you’ll need to have a few different options to sate a table of hungry eaters and drinkers. Sure, the turkey could go with wines either white or red (or rosé or sparkling), but the sides and their propensity for richness and sweetness skews things a bit. Beer or cider would be welcome, but how about something different? How about bourbon? After spending a lunch with Woodford Reserve’s Master Taster Elizabeth O’Neill McCall, I can see how bourbon would be at home for Thanksgiving dinner.
This fall, Woodford Reserve celebrated their 20th Anniversary and they had their Master Taster Elizabeth O’Neill McCall in Seattle to celebrate, taste bourbon, and share the pairing potential of their bourbon. The Woodford Reserve suite we tasted included the de facto standard Distiller’s Select, Personal Selection (more on that in a moment), Master’s Collection (a bottling that changes yearly, this year's is casked in brandy barrels), Double Oaked (in barrel for another year and loaded with toasted marshmallow flavors), and Rye (a must for making a Manhattan). Needless to say, much bourbon was had. And it was all worth it.
What was interesting about this tasting with Woodford Reserve’s McCall was the versatility of their bourbon. One of the resources that Woodford Reserve shares when conducting tastings is their flavor wheel. It has five different flavor components of bourbon, and their corresponding sub-categories that show various bourbon taste characteristics. Of course, the sweet and caramel spices that bourbon are known for are prevalent and play well with things like chocolate and nuts, but my personal favorite from the tasting was a Washington apple paired with the Distiller’s Select. My mind raced towards Thanksgiving dinner, serving apple pie alongside this bourbon.
That was the thing with this tasting and conversing with McCall; how versatile bourbon can be with dinner. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, our conversation skewed to how it sits at the dinner table. That bourbon straight would be appropriate with its sweet and nutty flavors playing nice with the sweet potatoes or dressing. But how about having it as a cocktail. Mix a little apple cider and caramel simple syrup with bourbon for a drink that screams fall. Perhaps take some bourbon with a couple parts lemonade and one part pomegranate juice for a refreshing cocktail that would go well with anything that the cranberry sauce hits.
If you want to see what else is up Woodford Reserve’s sleeve, check out a few area restaurants and their Distiller's Select Personal Selection. Woodford Reserve works with local restaurants to create their one of a kind batch, after going through several barrels to become a part of the restaurant's personal repertoire. The bottles are personalized to symbolize the unique bottle for each participating bar and restaurant as well. Locally, here are the restaurants with their own Distiller’s Select Personal Selection:
- Daniel’s Broiler
- Duke's Chowder House
- John Howie Steak
- The Metropolitan Grill
- Re:public (soon to officially join the program)
- Snoqualmie Casino
Cheers to a happy Thanksgiving and may bourbon be in your glass alongside a full plate of food amongst friends and family.