I thought you might find interesting that the OutdoorBound.com folks now do a Bourbon & Chocolate Tasting as part of their urban adventure series in New York. http://www.outdoorbound.com/index.ph...olate_tasting/

I met the organizers a few months back and now lead the bourbon portion of the adventure. Given that I have only an hour and only 4 bourbons, I decided upon the following bourbons, tasted in this order:

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel
Russell's Reserve
Van Winkle Lot "B"
Vintage 17

I begin with the high corn, rye recipe ETLee. It is almost always received well by non-bourbon drinkers. I explain the bourbon regulations and the variations possible. Then I move to the Russell's Reserve, which is identical in proof and of similar age, but nearly double the amount of rye in the recipe. I work the group, asking them to identify differences between these bourbons of similar age and proof, but with notably different percentages of rye in the mashbill.

I then switch gears to a fine wheater -- Lot "B". It, too, is a 90 proofer (90.4) and of similar age (12 years). This affords the group the opportunity to notice differences between rye recipe and wheat recipe bourbons. By this time there are already rye recipe fans as well as champions of wheaters.

I close with Vintage 17, my favorite of the KBD Vintage series. Unlike the bourbons before, I don't reveal whether it is a rye recipe or wheat recipe bourbon, but push these urban adventurers to reflect on the three bourbons they have already tasted to refine their abilities with this bourbon. This also gives me the opportunity to speak about the effects of barrel aging, as the additional 5 years in the oak are clearly evident in this bourbon. Vintage 17 is a complex bourbon and provides fine grist for the conversation mill.

The organizers keep asking me back to guest host this event, so I think this program makes some sense as a way to educate bourbon neophytes.

By the way, many attendees nail Vintage 17 on the head after my guidance regarding the first three!