Bourbon Review: Woodford Reserve versus George T. Stagg versus A.H. Hirsch

sunny_bourbon_connaisseur_resize.JPGMany people buy wine or champagne to celebrate (including me). My Kentucky husband buys bourbon. There was a ton of hype for the A.H. Hirsch, so he splurged and purchased it. We decided to save it a few months and sip it to celebrate our new back porch and little Ainsley’s arrival.  We did just that a couple of weeks ago.

While preparing the tasting tray, Sunny decided that surely there was food involved- so she hopped on the tray and parked herself until we moved her!

Instead of just sipping, we decided to compare it to our favorite premium bourbon, George T. Stagg uncut, and to our favorite lower-cost bourbon, Woodford Reserve. We expected the Stagg and Hirsch to be much stronger in flavor but wanted to use the Woodford as a “control.”

All of them were a standard one ounce over ice, with one ounce of Ty Nant still water to dilute. I wanted to use a little more water on the uncut Stagg, but I was overruled. We started with the Woodford (I hadn’t had bourbon of any kind in ten months, so I started slowly!). As always, it was smooth and clean, with a mild carmelized woodsiness that is perfectly sippable. Next, the Stagg.

It was toward the end of the bottle, and the Stagg had some carbon that made it into the glass, so the color was off. The aroma was thick and bursting with cherries. I tasted it- BLEH!  It was definitely too strong.  I swished some Pellegrino in the hopes of saving my palate from destruction.  I haven’t had a stiff drink since before I was pregnant so I thought I might be losing my affection for bourbon.  Oh no!

Finally, we tried the Hirsch.  We sipped, swirled, sipped again.  We cautiously looked at each other.  My thought was…”that’s it?!?”  We were both thinking the same thing.

The Hirsch was smooth, with a saltwater-limestone finish.  Carlton identified a walnut flavor which I liked and he didn’t.  It had little carmel or cherry character and tasted more like a salty (not peaty) scotch than a bourbon.  We were nonplussed.  I compared it to the Woodford directly.  Woodford had more complex flavors than Hirsch but the same smoothness.

The result?  We’ll save our precious income and buy 3 or 4 bottles of Woodford instead.  Even a bottle of Stagg is more economical than Hirsch and, once we’d cut it with the right amount of water, was delicious with its pipe-tobacco overtones.

Oktoberfest Update

I think karma is trying to tell me not to have a party. I made a Nut Brown last week; a kit I’ve made before. When I tasted it, it seemed overly hoppy. Did I add the aroma hops too soon? It was pre-hopped malt, so it couldn’t be from over-extracting the hops. Then I realized I added almost a gallon too much water. SO stupid. Original specific gravity: 1.035 (should have been at least 1.044 if not overdiluted).

I was going to rack it while the Red Amber brewed today, but when I checked on it, the krausen had bubbled out of the airlock and the airlock barely had any liquid as a barrier. So I will rack it tomorrow and find out if it’s contaminated.

The Red Amber was also a pre-hopped kit. I made it without overdiluting (duh) and it went into the primary with no problem. SG = 1.045, well within range for this ale. I had Carlton taste it and…


What’s the deal? I didn’t even add aroma hops until the stove was off, not even for the last three minutes of the boil (as is standard). Maybe it will mellow. Who knows. But as of now, I have two very bitter beers. I was trying to brew crowd-pleaser beers. *sigh*

Besides all of this, I can’t even drink beer right now. It’s not on the SCWOB diet (thanks, Mymsie 🙂 ), so I’m sure I won’t have Oktoberfest until I can at least enjoy the brews. Novemberfest?

If there’s anything to enjoy. GRR!

Rainy Days and Mondays Never Get Me Down…32 to Go!

Unrelated to the rest of the post: I love this weather. It’s dark, dreary and drizzly. The occasional thunderstorm is fun to watch too. My living room has a big window and Ainsley and I sit by it to read books and watch storms blow toward us.

If you read my last post, you know that my diet has become a big struggle for me. Ainsley is still having an allergic reaction to something I eat, including potential minor bleeding. So I had to go on a totally bland diet of:

  • brown rice
  • chicken
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • water

That’s it. That’s all I can consume until we figure out her issue. It seems easier to just give up and feed her formula, but formula has its own issues. It can make her digestion problems worse. It can exacerbate the bleeding. The medical professionals with whom I’m consulting all say she’s better off nursing than switching to formula, so I’m staying the course. Meanwhile, I still think chicken is gross. If you don’t care about humane slaughter, then surely you care that current slaughter techniques may increase pathogenic contamination. Reading articles like this just makes it worse; now we’re studying them to see how much blood makes them look better in the grocery?

Boo!However, there is no alternate source of protein for me. She may have a soy allergy, a wheat allergy, or who knows what. I can’t have wine, dessert, oatmeal. Zip. It’s annoying. I don’t feel like cooking anything for Carlton because I hate looking at stuff I can’t eat or even taste. But totally 100% worth every bland bite (see photo at right!).

Oh, and shame on me- almost no walking. But I’m still dropping pounds. I would like to be not just thin, but also be fit, so hopefully my c-section recovery book will arrive soon.

37 to Go

I guess all of this watching my diet for the sake of the kid is working! I have only lost three pounds, but my pants already fit better. I think it is because I’m finally recovering from the surgery and I can suck in my stomach and have relatively good posture again.

On the down side, I have not been walking enough. I have been too tired to be motivated. I plan to reverse that pattern tonight!

News Flash!

For those who have noted my recent lack of posting/emailing them/calling, I regret to inform you that I have learned a new lesson the hard way.


Being a parent is hard! I won’t bore you with the whining that any parent can tell you (so tired, no time for anything else). The last few days have been the hardest- I’m second-guessing myself at every turn. Some sources say to feed her 8-12 times daily; others say as few as six. Some say to let her cry; others say never. Pacifier? No pacifier? Will this blanket accidentally smother her? Are the carseat straps tight enough but without hurting her? It’s an information overload and everything I do is considered right by at least one source…and dead wrong by at least one more. But the big issue is that Ainsley’s allergic to something I’m eating and I have to slowly eliminate everything to figure out the cause. First was dairy; I’d been limiting my dairy intake from the day of her birth, so it was just one more step to completely stop (goodbye, delicious butter and cream, I shall miss you). Now it’s soy, too, and if that doesn’t work, all citrus.

Dairy had been a major protein source throughout my pregnancy; losing soy meant losing my new main protein source. I was depressed. I’d been so proud of my healthful low-to-no meat diet, and I simply couldn’t be sure Ainsley had enough of the right nutrients with no dairy or soy. I called a friend who’s been vegetarian for 19 years and vegan for five. I begged for advice on what to eat. He gave me some great ideas, but also helped me feel comfortable with the fact I might have to just eat some meat and get over myself already.

img_0082_resize.JPGSeriously, I am fine with eating some meat if it means that we can fix this food allergy problem and if it means Ainsley and I have enough protein. I was just so proud of my dietary changes and it felt like backsliding at first. Being a total vegetarian is not something I thought I’d ever accomplish, but I was proud of how far I’d come, from meat-centric fatty dinners to healthful fruits, grains, and vegetables at the core of most meals. But nothing trumps doing the right thing for Ainsley so I will have a little animal protein more often. I was only eating fish, but I can’t eat too much due to mercury, …it’s all tiring and easy to overthink.

Well, you see the point. Oh, and enjoy the latest baby picture.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest directed by Gore Verbinski

Cover ArtIMDb link

I wanted to love this movie. I really did! But I found myself groaning more than I found myself laughing.

The first movie was surprisingly fun to watch so I had equal hopes for this one. I had company at my house for the evening and was ready to enjoy an action film that was witty and had fun fantasy wardrobe stuff. “Swashbuckle” is fun to say, too, and I planned to sprinkle this review liberally with the term.


The costumes did not disappoint, and the actors’ performances didn’t either. But the movie did. The script was tight and the wit was intact; however, the writers of the action sequences threw in every possible cliche’ they could. I often talk about “suspension of disbelief” and the amount of it required to watch a film. Obviously a movie with an undead octopus-faced character requires it. However, action sequences should be cleverly choreographed and demand that the characters have superhero-like grace and ingenuity. I do not need to see two characters on a runaway mill wheel and think “surely that wheel would have already hit a tree.” The sequence was so long that I thought that thought over and over. It totally ruined my immersion.

Also, the movie “ended” about four times. Each time was a big, dramatic, loud action sequence with all the overtures of a denouement, but then the film just wouldn’t end. It left me begging for the real ending instead of enjoying any more of the movie.

Verdict: watchable, yes. But not as swashbucklingly swashbuckle-y as I’d hoped.

[rate 2.5]

Public Health Junk Science: Bill HR 1038

In the interest of disclosure, I work for a pharmaceutical company.  However, this post is purely my opinion and not that of my company.

I heard about this bill and I was intrigued.

View the bill here.

I am all for bringing medicines to market as quickly as possible, especially lifesaving drugs.  However, this bill is dangerous.  In one section, it states that rather than having to prove equivalence through clinical trials, medicines can be considered equivalent and marketable if

Two protein biological products with differences in structure between them solely due to post-translational events, infidelity of translation or transcription, or minor differences in amino acid sequence.

The part that worries me is “minor differences in amino acid sequence.”  What is “minor?”  Just a few changes is the difference between insulins for different species, or in the bioavailability of the insulin in the body.  What makes this even more complicated is that just a different ethnicity can affect the uptake of insulin by the body.

The difference of even one amino acid can be the difference between a lifesaving insulin and a degradant that must be limited.  Using language as generic as “minor difference” could lead to a product being marketed as “equivalent” with little or no safety testing.  My test for what is right is: would I give this medicine to my mother or another loved one?  In this case, I would not feel like there was enough clinical data and I would not give it to someone I loved.

Surely there is a better way to bring medicines to the market quickly.

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Wet Doggie!You can make fun of the shoes on my dog, but all this walking without shoes made her filthy. So it was bathtime for Sunny. Look at that poor drowned rat!! Bathing her reminds me of one of the many reasons I like small dogs: I can bathe her in the kitchen sink. She’s always been very easy to bathe, but now that she’s older, she fusses when I touch her joints, worried about pain. I have to reassure her and be very gentle.

I drove to my sister’s house for the day. It was “No Refusal Friday” on a local radio station, and they played Patience, from the beginning note to the end, uninterrupted by annoying DJs. It was beautiful. I whistled and sang the entire thing. What a throwback to being a teenager. My brother and I would be in the Pumpkin with the custom speakers cranked and the Warp Drive enacted, he strumming his air guitar and both of us belting the lyrics and concocting lip-syncing scenarios for the high school talent show. Were we on our way home from school, using the super-secret right lane and blasting past everyone to the stop sign? Were we on the way home from church after going to Sap’s and buying a make-your-own dozen, wolfing down all 12 before even finishing the two-mile drive home? Those simple moments were the best. The windows were down, the car was worth a couple hundred bucks, and the $20 allowance made me feel rich. At those times, I was truly in the moment. Nothing mattered except the next lyric and it felt like total freedom. As I heard the song today, I remembered those fantastic times. I sat in my sister’s driveway until the song was finished. Ah, memories.

Lastly, is my blog becoming more and more blathery? I think that being home so much has made my posts a little banal. I don’t care. On most days, the internet is my connection to the outside world. But honestly, it doesn’t seem like I’m adding anything of value. I read other people’s blogs, and at least they’re funny or original! It just reminds me that I’m unique. Just like everyone else.

OK, not lastly. 🙂 So, why do people blog? I know many people who do; I read even more. Why do we fling so much personal information out into the public eye? I would say that it’s an extrovert-style thing to do, but I know many introverts who blog. A quick scan of Google revealed this article and other interesting opinions on why we do it.  But more interesting than the articles was, ironically, a blogger’s blog linking to five other blog posts about blogging.

I guess I blog because I like to write and it’s an interactive way to stretch my literary legs. I write recipes and movie reviews and hope someone somewhere finds them useful. I like the idea that I can Google for an idea and connect with a random blogger and feel a sense of global community. Isn’t that unique?

Just like everyone else.