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Wednesday, August 17, 2022


The Date and Time:  August 16, 2022  3:30PM - 8PM
The Event: Travel South USA Media Event
The Venue: Malaparte TIFF
The Target Audience: travel writers and spirits writers
The Availability/Catalogue: we had three bourbons set before us as a tasting (see below), led by a very capable Mike McLean of MixxIT Canada By Beam Suntory. This was the major presentation from Kentucky, and, of course, the main reason for my attending.
The Quote/Background: The Travel South USA states represented in Canada included Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. There was also a rep from New Orleans and one from Atlanta. It was a trade fam tour to entice travel writers to explore the American south. There were many regional foods to be sampled (see below) and many cocktails to be tasted. The best appeared to be the Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail of Jim Beam Bourbon 1.5 oz, lime juice [no sugar] 1 oz., and topped up over ice with Gosling's no-al ginger beer. Dynamite. Hors d'oeuvre were passed while the reps were available for short talks with the travel writers. And then it was on to the bourbon tasting and thence to the BBQ buffet dinner.

The Bourbons:

**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Maker's Mark Kentucky Bourbon $45.45 LCBO +103747, 45ABV – very smooth, 70% corn and 30% red winter wheat. One of my personal faves.

***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Basil Hayden Kentucky Bourbon $55.95 (on sale at LCBO at $50.95 until Sept 12) LCBO +326025, 40% ABV – 63% corn and 37% rye, and thereby introduces savoury herby rye notes finishing with some grassiness.
-Jim Beam White Label Bourbon $30.95 (on sale at LCBO at $29.20 until Sept 12) LCBO +21378, 40% ABV – 77% corn

The Food: Oliver and Bonacini did the catering, beginning with the multiple hors d'oeuvre platters: tuna salad on a lettuce leaf; BBQ short rib on polenta; shrimp and hot sausage; lightly battered fried okra; fried chicken drumettes; and cheddar cheese tarts with carmelized onions and piped goat cheese cream. Each came on a bed of a different sauce: these 5 BBQ sauces are available online (Carolina Gold Classic   - South Carolina, Rendezvous Mild Barbecue Sauce  - Memphis, Alabama White BBQ Sauce – Alabama, Sam Jones Vinegar Sauce – North Carolina, Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ Original – Kansas City). These sauces were also put out for the buffet, and were easily available for mixing and matching and savouring. So the major food of the evening was a small buffet of fried chicken and corn bread waffle with scallions, short ribs and grits with collard greens, and smoked brisket and potato bun slider with macaroni. To top it off, there was a variety at the dessert table: southern pies (key lime, coconut cream, blueberry) and peach cobbler.
The Downside: music was too loud, and interfered with Mike's bourbon tasting.
The Upside: A chance to do wide tasting and nibbling around a variety of southern cuisine dishes.
The Contact Person: or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 93.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

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