Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm a Woman and I Love Bourbon: Buffalo Trace

As it has been well established in this blog, Mama loves her bourbon. Mama loves her bourbon and only takes it neat or with a little ice. Don't mix my bourbon with any of your damn crap. Sure, I love me a Manhattan. And come this time of year, I do love the julep. But for the most part, give me the bottle and maybe a few cubes, and I'm happy. But I'll come back to that.

This past week, Roommate and I ventured to Lexington for a couple days to hit Keeneland. I do so love Churchill Downs, but Keeneland is so beautiful, especially this time of year, especially on a really gorgeous spring day (which it was not... we spent the whole race day inside).

We eschewed the highway both ways, so on the way to Lex, we just squeaked into the final tour at Buffalo Trace Distilleries in Frankfort (don't freak out when you go to their website, the buffalo on the home page snorts at you-- LOUDLY!). Big Mama Lou and I had hit many of the big distilleries a few years back-- Jim Beam, Maker's, Heaven Hill, etc-- but Buffalo Trace had been off my radar. Until, that is, I got an email from their marketing department announcing their "Blogging for the Buffalo" program.

So, I thought I'd check them out. Again, more on that email later. I want to get to the really really good stuff first.

As I said, I've hit the bigger distilleries, for the most part, but our tour of Buffalo Trace taught me more about bourbon than all those other tours combined. Our tour guide... I think her name was Becky... was lovely and patient and so well-versed in both the history of the distillery and bourbon in general-- it was fantastic.

As with most tours, it ended in a tasting room where we got to sample two wee shots of several offerings. Roommate and I shared our shots. He got the Rain vodka (which is made from 100% organic corn and has been winning vodka competitions worldwide) and something called White Dog Mash #1 (which is a 125-proof distillate which Becky cautioned us not to "sip"). I'm not a big vodka drinker, but I swear the Rain vodka was simply fantastic. There are several different flavors to choose from-- very exotic stuff like Lavender Lemon-- but the plain vodka was so good I would be happy drinking it straight. The White Dog? Wooo boy. Becky was right. First of all, it tastes very strongly of corn. Secondly, it feels like it's stripping stuff off your esophagus going down. And that's not always a bad thing. Roommate liked it so much that when it came time for us to both to choose a bottle to buy (we limited ourselves to one each), he bought it. And it fairly did me in later that night at the hotel.

I chose the two bourbon offerings: the standard Buffalo Trace and the Eagle Rare. If I'd had either before, I didn't remember it. But honestly, I really enjoyed the slightly cheaper Buffalo Trace more than I did the more expensive Eagle Rare. But what I bought I didn't taste til I brought it back to the hotel later that night: the bourbon creme, which is only available currently at the distillery. And damn if I didn't wish I'd bought more. If you like any sort of creme drink (I'm thinking Bailey's), but prefer a stronger liquor bite, this is your drink. Becky showcased the creme with a mixer of Dr McGillicuddy's Root Beer, so we also bought a 6-pack of that, but we haven't tried that concoction. I sure hope Buffalo Trace opens up the distribution of the bourbon creme sometime soon, or I'll have to head back to Frankfort.

And on our way home, we stopped at the Liquor Barn on Shelbyville Road to pick up some wine, and I bought a bottle of Buffalo Trace. Glad to have it. Darned good stuff.

Overall, I had an awesome time at the distillery and couldn't recommend it strongly enough. Go go go! And I discovered a few beverages that I just love. Not to mention the fact that I learned that Buffalo Trace is owned by Sazerac, the quintessentially New Orleans old-timey drink company. Love it. I do.

So why am I so "meh."

Back to the email. If my blog drives the most unique viewers to Buffalo Trace's new Saloon site, I could win a party for all my zillions of visitors.

According to the email: "We will show up in your town with plenty of bourbon and throw you & your blog the ultimate Buffalo Trace party on your home turf. The party can be at a bar, your offices, your home, even your back yard. Your [sic] gonna want to win this, the party will be EPIC!" Spelling error forgiven, who wouldn't want that? Sure, I don't have a buffalo in the dust bowl's chance of winning, what with my thirty or so loyal readers. But I started to fantasize. It was just about this time last year I threw a party at Casa Lou and opened it up to blog readers. Celebrating my Cancerversary-- I plan to throw another one again. Wouldn't it be nice if Buffalo Trace picked up the booze tab? And what do y'all get out of it? A chance to win a Derby package. Good for you, good for Mama. It's all good.

But today I visited the Buffalo Trace Saloon. And it bummed me out. I'm loving this company, loving their beverages, loving their facility... but... well, you'll see. And I am fully prepared to field all kinds of eyerolls at my issues with this....

At the entryway to the "saloon" you're met with a blond more scantily clad than a Hooters chick. And once you enter the "saloon" one of your options is "Bourbunnies." I'm not linking to that. Find it yourself. But it's basically ten pages of women-- some professionally photographed, some not-- in either lingerie or bikinis-- and their Playboy-style profiles. Stats, favorite place to drink Buffalo Trace, best/worst pick-up line.


So back to the start... Mama loves her bourbon. She drinks it the way it should be-- neat or on ice. That doesn't mean she "drinks it like a man." It means she knows good bourbon and how to drink it. And one of the reasons I love living in Louisville is that when I order bourbon on the rocks, bartenders don't give me that "whoa, but you're a chick" look. I can't count the number of times I've ordered bourbon on the rocks in New England/the Northeast and have had the bartender say, "Wow, really? You're hardcore." Or some variation on that.

I hate that Buffalo Trace is perpetuating the idea that bourbon is a MAN'S drink.

I am A-OK with companies using sex to sell stuff. It's one of the primal human urges. Link your stuff with a primal human urge, it will sell. But I do have a problem with companies "gendering" stuff. (I know, eyerolls from many of you. It's okay. You can disagree with me.) And clearly, Buffalo Trace's Saloon is saying that their bourbon is a man's drink. That stinks. And it bums me out. Sure all those cuties drink Buffalo Trace... but they're not in their skivvies for me, right?

So I won't be pushing for that party... I was never a contender anyway. I wouldn't turn it down, duh. It's free bourbon. Free bourbon that I have come to like quite a bit.

Has there ever been a bourbon that has marketed to women? Fill me in, I'd love to know.

1 comment:

jackbishop said...

Heads-up: your first link to www.buffalotracesaloon.com is broken; I don't know how or why blogger does it, but it's tacked the domain name on the end of a blogger.com URI, which doesn't seem to work properly (at least not on Firefox with NoScript)