CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 141

What blends are you most proud of, thus far in your career? Although the Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend bourbon was not an original Mag- nus product from the late 19th and early 20th century, the creation of that whiskey certainly stands out as one of the great highlights of my career. One warm spring evening, I was smoking my pipe on my deck at home in Berk- ley. I tried pairing it with my favorite bourbons and vintage Armagnacs, but nothing was doing it for me. Since I originally come from the brandy world, where cigar blend cognacs are fairly common, it occurred to me to create bourbon specifically blended to pair with tobacco. I was so inspired in that moment that I ran back in the house and started creating various prototypes. I always put special care and time into making that bourbon as good as I can possibly make it, so it is very dear to my heart. All the spirits I’ve created that I’m most proud of have come about in a very intuitive, inspired-in-the-moment fashion. I created the initial prototype of Iron Root Republic’s Icarus whiskey at my dining room table one autumn evening when the distillery owners and I were playing around with new prod- ucts. J. Henry & Sons Bellefontaine Reserve bourbon also was an inspired creation, as was the blend for Wyoming Whiskey’s Outryder. Were you intimidated by joining this industry? No, not really. Most everything I’ve ever done or been interested in has been male-dominated, from my brief stint as a percussion major in college to my interests in maritime history. That never kept me from pursuing what I want in life. Most of the men I’ve worked with in this industry have been wonder- ful. What senses, other than smell, should you pay attention to when tasting spirits? Nosing and tasting spirits really engages all of the senses, even touch. When I train distillers or blenders to analyze spirits and pick out potential defects, I have them become aware of the trigeminal nerve. It is a cluster of nerves in the face that perceives pain. So, if you smell sulfur or a bacterial contamina- tion in a distilled spirit, your eyes may water, you may get a painful or prickly sensation in your face, or your ears might hurt. In this way, you learn to sense by how your body reacts to these defects, not just by what you smell. Can someone improve their “nose?” One of the most important things you can do is become conscious of smells that you encounter every day, throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning, what kind of aromas do you first encounter? Is it the smell of fresh- ly brewed coffee, or perhaps someone mowing their lawn? If you are in a city versus the country, what kind of aromas do you observe? Wherever you are and whatever you happen to be doing during the day, start to become aware © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.