Wilderness Trail Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Proof: 100

Age: 8 years

Barrell Seagrass Rye Whiskey Finished in Martinique Rum, Madeira & Apricot Brandy Barrels

Proof: 119.12

Age: NAS

There’s no bad time to make chili. Traditionally, I save it for the cold weather, and as Spring has just arrived, I figured I’d make one last batch before the full on sweltering summer weather of Kentucky hits. I like my chili to be on the spicier side, adding extra jalapenos, cayenne, hot paprika and my girlfriend’s favorite addition, hot link sausage. For this last cook I used my Pit Boss pellet smoker, which I find exceedingly more convenient when compared to my stick burner (especially when it’s cold). The drawback for me however, is that it doesn’t compare to the smoke flavor you get using an offset. This gave me an idea for a future blog which will be to compare and contrast one chili cooked on the pellet and the other on the offset with a bourbon pairing. But for now here are my notes on this tasting.

I had a tough time deciding what I wanted to try with this recipe so I decided on Wilderness Trail. The 8 year old WT is a very oak forward whiskey reminiscent of 12 year Knob Creek. It has rich peanut butter, chocolate, spicy oak and tobacco flavors with a very viscous mouthfeel. I love these whiskey flavor profiles especially in the colder months. When pairing with my smoked chili (which is mostly a recipe of Mike Veach’s, thanks again Mike) I find the already spicier tannic notes of the WT too extreme, even for my liking. There was a nice dark cherry note I picked out but mostly just bitter spice and tobacco. So after trying this pairing and being a bit disappointed, I decided to grab a whiskey that I knew to be much sweeter and fruitier, Barrell Seagrass.

It took a few tastings with this bottle to realize actually how good it is, as it has a very unique flavor profile. It’s a fruit forward whiskey, bringing forth peaches, pears, a hint of tropical fruit and a nice cinnamon, oak finish. Opposite side of the spectrum from Wilderness Trail 8. As I was hoping, it paired very well with the chili. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, honey lemon and a sweet oak finish with lingering cinnamon. I very much enjoyed this pairing and would recommend if you like your chili pretty spicy, pair it with a sweeter, fruitier whiskey.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas please leave them in the comments below!

Photos Courtesy of Matt Kohorst