Bourbons of Columbus: Watershed and OYO

That's right. Sometime while no one was looking (last fall actually), Columbus became a hotbed of modern bourbon. Two local distilleries - Watershed and Middle West - stuck their cowboy hats into the bourbon game and put Ohio's first ever bourbons on a liquor store shelf near you. If you're reading this in Ohio.  

Watershed Bourbon 

Released just before Oyo last fall, this bourbon comes ina  sleek stylish modern bottle that matches the other spirits made by Watershed, which include gin and vodka. There's no question Watershed has a little work to do smoothing out the bitterness, but their first pass at a bourbon isn't too bad and I enjoyed a bottle over a few days in Columbus in Club 302 on the third floor of the Crown Plaza. Check out Watershed Distillery's other fine bottled beverages. 


OYO Michelone Reserve by Middle West Spirits

To answer your first question, it's prnounced O.Y.O. like Ohio. Much like it's name suggests, the stuff is pretty middle of the road - not a top notch bourbon, but not a mouth-breathing one either. According to their site, this "small-batch whiskey pairs the finest Kentucky straight bourbon with our award-winning OYO Whiskey to create a smooth, smoky, and softly sweet wheated bourbon that proudly bears the name of the grandfather who inspired it all. The Michelone Reserve is a flavor-forward blend of sweet yellow corn, soft red winter wheat, dark pumpernickel rye, and two-row barley." Who can argue with that? I definitely tasted the pumpernickel, which gives it a unique flavor profile for a bourbon. There's some bite and it's a tad bitter, but overall this local product goes down smooth once combined with a few melted cubes and it definitely earns some points for the bottle design. I love their black matte design with silver half summer, half winter tree logo. This bottle was provided by bartender Jordan at Betty's Fine Food and Spirits, elegantly shot in their men's restroom. 



Going Mano y Mano with Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

Never carry a bottle of Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey into a knife fight. Instead of debating between ice pick grip or fencer’s grip, you’ll instinctively guzzle a long sip of rye and your mind will affectionately wander to the notes of pine needles, fresh lemon zest and sweet honey playing Mozart in your mouth. As you absentmindedly contemplate the combination of burnt sugar, vanilla and virgin sin sparring down your throat, your worldly body will end up being stabbed into a coma before the fine rye reaches your bloated belly. And everyone knows a rye is less pleasing on the palate when comatose.

On the other hand, always bring a bottle of Bulleit 95 to a gunfight. The second your opponent’s good eye rests on the glistening bottle in your sweaty palms, he’ll gently return his pistol to its holster and forfeit the contest, applauding your liquor-soaked wisdom and unforgiving taste. That’s when you first empty your own chamber into his gullible gut and then empty the bottle into yours.

As you can see, Bulleit 95 is a rye loaded with flavorful contradictions. It’s hard but soft, evil but well-intentioned, great tasting but less filling. It slices through your windpipe like a hot knife through hard butter and exits your forever-changed soul like a tornado gently caressing the American heartland. It dulls the senses more effectively than a bottle of sleeping pills and opens the mind more appropriately than a hallucinogenic mushroom. Each sip takes you one step closer to the bright light, one night closer to celebrating Dias de la Muertos in your veins, one confession closer to being forgiven for all your sins, no matter how many of them you made back in college.

The 95 in the name comes from the extremely high percentage of the rye grain that makes up the mash. It’s one of the highest ryes available, which is another reason it tastes like heaven and hell on earth. The golden copper color shimmers like the pearly gates of St. Peter and glistens like the River Styx. The peppery, otherworldly finish makes for an incredible sipper straight or on the rocks, to be enjoyed with your best friends of today or your loved ones of yesteryear. But unlike Jesus Christ, this rye isn’t a one trick pony. It makes for an excellent mixer in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or any other rye-based cocktail that JC would proudly over-serve at one of his raging dinner parties.

Keep a bottle around the house. It looks good sloshing around the glass in your hand and hidden next to the shotgun under your bed. 

Whiskey ranking: Sure Shot

Here’s a recipe. Don’t be gun shy. 

Sure Shot Manhattan

1 Maraschino Cherry
3/4 oz Bulleit Rye
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Dash of Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters:

In a shaker, combine Bulleit Rye, Dry Vermouth, and Sweet Vermouth. Shake and pour over an ice-filled mixing glass. Add dash of bitters and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.



Mourning Whitney Houston with A.H. Hirsch Reserve Bourbon


The perfect bourbon to drink on any day that Whitney Houston dies. That’s when A. H. Hirsch Reserve Bourbon first passed through my star-crossed lips. But while some may shed a tear for Whitney, there’s nothing sad about this smooth 16-year-old sour mash diva. It’s a copper-toned masterpiece that knows how to massage every last taste bud on your tongue leaving them begging for more.

The color is a rich, glowing copper like Whitney on the cover of My Love is Your Love. Unlike Whitney, this sexy diva offers aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and common sense. The taste is fresh and alive... also unlike Whitney.

But, like any good diva, A. H. Hirsch Reserve has skeletons in her closet. It’s made in previously used barrels instead of the new, charred barrels that are required for a whiskey to be a bourbon. So technically it's a whiskey. But make no mistake. Identity crisis aside, A. H. Hirsch Reserve is crafted with passion, skill and the slow, work intensive pot-still tradition. One sip and you’ll be able to tell that something special is about to happen deep down inside you.

Pour a glass and belt out a tribute song to yourself for making the wise choice to add a bottle of A. H. Hirsch Reserve to your Greatest Hits collection. Share one with your bodyguard or anybody else who’d be willing to take a bullet for you. It’s what Whitney would have wanted.


Whiskey ranking: Mega Diva


Recipe for Hirsch Smoker 

1. Remove bottle of A. H. Hirsch Reserve from your overcoat.

2. Whack gun-wielding attacker over his/her head.

3. Take gun from splayed out, motionless attacker.

4. Carefully pour A. H. Hirsch Reserve into gun barrel.

5. Touch the gun to your quivering lips and tip back. Enjoy.


Learn more about A. H. Hirsch Reserve.





Coming soon:



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