Article by Devin McKay, Wine Room Expert at Willow Park Wines & Spirits
If you were to ask someone what they’re usually drinking during the Calgary Stampede, they will most likely come up with a list of cold beers, coolers, and ready-to-drink cocktails in a can or bottle as their drink of choice. For those of us who take in and celebrate the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, we know that it’s not usually a week where fancy wines and signature cocktails reign, but instead where cold and fast service are the name of the game. However, if you find yourself with the opportunity to tip your hat back and really put your boots up, here are a few products worth slowing down and sipping on while the rest of the city is in full gear.
While the weather usually dictates my drink of choice, The Show Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the few exceptions. With famed winemaker Joel Gott overseeing its production, The Show is sourced from some of the most sought after vineyards in California. This unapologetic bold red arrives in the glass with bursting notes of jam preserves, cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants, and tobacco, with toasty vanilla and spicy oak rounding out its finish. The versatility of this wine always impresses me for not only the delicious wine in the glass but also the great value it offers to your wallet.
After watching the movie Lawless and watching Shia Labeouf and Tom Hardy make moonshine, I thought to myself, “I could do that, how hard could it be?” Sadly, whether it was a fleeting moment of a grandiose delusion, or sheer laziness that kicked in, I haven’t tried yet. But, it did get me thinking – while moonshine is technically illegal and hardly ideal, was there a product out there that could quench my curiosity and thirst in one go? Lo and behold, a new product to our market called Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine fits the bill! Arriving from the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, this 100% corn based spirit has a recipe that has been passed down through generations of Appalachian families. While it doesn’t pack quite the punch as the old moonshines did (only 20% ABV), it allows other flavors to present themselves. The Tennessee Moonshine comes in a few different flavors, and my personal favorite is the Lemon Drop Moonshine. Poured over ice, it acts as a favorable substitute to lemonade – you could even mix it with iced tea for another great cocktail idea.
Cowboys, chuckwagons, and whiskey – what would stampede be without them? While we all come together each year in high western fashion, this is not a contemporary congregation. The High West Rendezvous Rye from High West Distillery in Park City Utah embodies the same spirit and celebration the Calgary Stampede encompasses. The High West Rendezvous Rye is a celebration and commemoration of the first recorded “Whiskey Fest” in 1825, where mountain men and prairie boys would annually gather to exchange pelts and cattle for whiskey and other goods. This blend of straight rye whiskey, 16 year old and 6 year old respectively, is an honest whiskey that has no chill filtering, no added caramel color, and a respectable ABV (46%) that makes it go down smooth. Being Utah’s first distillery in 1870, you can safely assume the guys at High West know what they’re doing. Whether you like it neat or on the rocks, this product is a must for rye lovers.
When I think of bourbon, I immediately think: Kentucky, Kentucky Derby, and Mint Julep. While there are some people out there that can afford the famed one thousand dollar Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby, that drink is unfortunately a little steep for most – so, it forces me to look for bourbons that will allow everyone to enjoy one. The bourbon that is my go-to of choice at the moment is the Blanton’s Single Barrel Gold Edition, which was created for the discerning connoisseurs of the bourbon world. It has been made to honor the bourbon pioneer Col. Albert B. Blanton, who spent a lifetime preserving and enhancing the tradition and heritage of this fine spirit. When enjoyed in the glass, this exceptional bourbon brings forth a rich palate of dark fudge, citrus, oak and cream, with the spiciness of white pepper structured throughout. This summer, you don’t have to be in Kentucky to drink a fine bourbon around the track. Whether straight up or in a Mint Julep, this bourbon will not disappoint.