Derby Day is right around the corner. Maybe you won’t be off to the races but you can still get in the spirit of things (pun intended) with some mint julep cocktails made with Oregon Bourbon.
Many people think that bourbon has to come from Kentucky but that is not true. We encourage you to try some Oregon bourbon or look for locally made bourbon in your neck of the woods.
Jade visited the set of Portland Today to taste Oregon bourbon, mix up some mint juleps, and show off her hat. Read on for more details on Oregon bourbon and the mint julep recipe.
What Makes Bourbon, Bourbon
Lots of people think bourbon comes only from Kentucky, but this whisky can be made anywhere in the US- even Oregon! Here’s what makes bourbon, bourbon:
- At least 51% corn – that’s why it is rich and kind of sweet
- Aged at least 2 years in new charred oak barrels – that is why it tastes of vanilla, spice, coconut and caramel and where bourbon gets its amber color
3 Oregon Bourbons to Try
Eastside Distilling Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon – Portland – $29.95
Update: I have since learned that Burnside Blended Bourbon is not made entirely in Oregon as the other bourbons listed in this segment. See correction.
When people learned we were taste testing Oregon bourbons we started hearing “Burnside” from all sides. Even the guy I called to take care of my fruit trees texted me out of the blue that he recommends Burnside Bourbon. We had already selected Burnside Blended Oregon Oaked Bourbon, but it was nice to know we were on the right track! Made in Portland, even using Oregon Oak for aging, catch the caramel and butterscotch notes. And a super deal on that price.
Where to find:
- Bars, restaurants, liquor stores across the country
- Taste all of their spirits at their tasting room Southeast Distillery Row, 1512 SE 7th Ave, Portland
New Deal Distillery Distiller’s Reserve Bourbon – Portland – $39.95
Made right in Portland’s SE Industrial District, this bourbon is smooth and rich. Make into a cocktail or in all honesty I’d just sip this one. And do you know how hard it is to find a bourbon fine enough for sipping in this price range? Vanilla, pipe tobacco, caramel, raisin, and molasses. Everything is done in-house with local ingredients and Bull Run water.
Where to find
- Oregon liquor stores
- Select farmer’s markets, cocktail lounges, events
- In their tasting room at 900 SE Salmon, Portland. You can also taste their run, liqueurs, gin, vodka, etc.
Oregon Spirit Distillers- Straight American Bourbon Whiskey – Bend – $45
2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold AND Best of Class
2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Best Craft Distilled Whiskey
Super local, using local grains and Cascade Mountain water, and crafting from grinding the grain through to the first sip. This is a four grain bourbon (corn, rye, wheat, malted barley) aged 4 years in new American white oak barrels. Taste the sweet Oregon corn and then finish with a spicy cinnamon from the rye.
Where to find:
- Oregon liquor stores
- Some products shipped to 24 states!
- Lucky Oregonians can taste everything (including gin and killer absinthe) and get tours and mini cocktails – 740 NE 1st Street, Bend
Mint Juleps & Kentucky Derby – Fun Facts
- The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875.
- The grandson of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) started the Kentucky Derby. His name was Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark
- The mint julep became the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby in 1938.
- Mint juleps are served over shaved or crushed ice in sterling cups that will be nice and frosty on a warm Kentucky day.
- Approximately 120,000 mint juleps are served at the Kentucky Derby.
- That’s 10,000 bottles of bourbon 60,000 tons of ice, 1,000 pounds of mint.
- Virginia farmers once drank mint juleps in the morning to give a coffee like jolt to their day and a restorative elixir to their constitutions.
- 10 mint leaves, a few loose and one pretty sprig
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 2.5 oz bourbon
- crushed or shaved ice
- Place 4-5 mint leaves in the bottom of a mint julep cup. Silver is traditional but rocks glass will work in a pinch
- Muddle the leaves to release oils, not to pulverize. If you don't have a muddler use a spoon.
- Add ½ oz simple syrup
- Add shaved ice
- Pour 2.5 oz bourbon over ice
- Give a stir until cup is frosty, garnish with pretty mint sprig and a straw
- Hold glass by top or bottom to retain frosty exterior
John Homer says
FYI: If you look at the label, Burnside Bourbon is not made in Oregon. It’s a blend of sourced whiskeys from elsewhere. As I understand it, they age the product here in Portland, but it is NOT distilled here.
Thanks for the comment John. When I was tasting bourbons I asked if they were made in Oregon before I included them in the segment. I have sent your question to my contact at Eastside and asked for some clarification. Perhaps there was confusion on my end or their’s. I’ll share when I hear a response. They are at least an Oregon company and use Oregon oak which is still pretty cool and helps spread the word about Oregon made spirits. We’ll see what else we can learn. Have you tried the Burnside or the other two bourbons in the article?