Dave suggested recently adding some Stagg to Buffalo Trace to fashion a 100 proof version. This is a completely logical approach and one I am sure distilleries have followed in similar circumstances. Dave's suggestion is particularly apt because the older whiskey would add depth and power to the Trace but the latter would still dominate in character.

There is no possibility of a clash of flavours, the whiskeys come from the same company. Even if the companies were different that would not necessarily matter. Here is a simple blend I made recently which was particularly good. I was at the KBF's Spirit Garden. I had in one hand Kentucky Gentleman's Bourbon: a blend and in the other, Bulleit. I combined them 2:1, respectively. This meant the GNS of the KG dropped to about 33%. The combined flavours were very good and the drink had a soft mouthfeel, almost velvet-like. The small quantity of GNS served to lift and soften the heady components of KG's bourbon element and the Bulleit. The extra rye in the Bulleit off-set the paucity of rye in the KG. The net rye became, that is, "just right". The proof in the Bulleit dropped of course (I didn't check but assume the KG (blend version) is 80 proof) but the resultant proof of 83 or so is just perfect for neat sipping. You can do this at home with vodka and two bourbons, e.g., 1 part OGD 114, one part Maker's or Weller or Fitz 12 year old to tampen down that rye surge, 1 part any good velvety vodka. Reduce the vodka to 20% if you think 33% is too much. Or 15%. The permutations and combinations are endless.

This method makes a drink that is often better than many bourbons on their own. The high proof leathery bourbons included (disproportionately but it was by chance) at the tasting at Bettye Jo's are in my view almost undrinkable straight. Creating a drinkable vatting or blend, whether or not GNS or corn or other non-bourbon is used, is something which is the goal of every distillery for part of its line up. Four Roses Bourbon is stylish evidence of almost perfect blending, it was one of the best bourbons at the Gala's bar the other night in my view. You can do it at home, in other words. It won't taste exactly like Four Roses but it may be as good on its own terms.

Another way to look at this is, I am trying to get to an 80 or 86 proof 1970's Old Taylor palate or what I anticipate will be the palate of the late 70's Old Yellowstone Mellow Mash Roger gave me or Doug's early 80's Seagram McKenna. Since I can't buy that in the market today I have to build the equivalent myself.

This is not to say those big bruisers don't have their place but to a greater or lesser degree for most mortals this will mean cutting them with water or a soft drink. At the Gala bar I drank a Fighting Cock and Coke and thought it was one of the best drinks of the night but I don't think I could drink that bourbon straight.

Gary