Next time you have a thirst for bourbon at the 106 Jefferson hotel in Huntsville, ask for the house pick.
Called Batch 106, it’s actually a blend of two batches, one that had been aging in oak barrels for six years, and the other for seven years. This is the first barrel selection for 106 Jefferson, which opened in 2021.
“It is very versatile,” says Jeremy Sadler, the hotel’s general manager. “Our goal was to get something that was very smooth to drink, a little bit of bite on the back end, but something that both males and females could enjoy. Something that you could sip in an Old Fashioned, or serve neat or on the rocks – whatever your preference is.”
Straight pours of the whiskey are $14. It will be the base liquor in the house Old Fashioned ($15), which is garnished with a bourbon-soaked cherry. Other cocktails featuring Batch 106 will roll out with the winter drinks menu, Sadler says.
Bottles also can be purchased ($67.16 for 750 ml) at the three locations of Vices Beverages in Huntsville and Madison.
Many bourbon distilleries in Kentucky sell special selections to bars, liquor stores and aficionado clubs. The buyer goes to the distillery and selects the barrel for their special bottling.
Sandler and Jillian Cooper, the hotel’s director of food and beverage, traveled to Versailles, Kentucky, in early June to make their pick at the historic distillery that makes Woodford Reserve, a premium blended small-batch bourbon. The distillery pulled a half-dozen barrels for Sandler and Cooper to sample.
They taste straight from the barrel, making notes on the flavors and other characteristics before narrowing their choices. Then they blend different combinations to settle on their finalist.
“There’s quite a bit of sampling involved and quite a bit of narrowing down,” Sadler says. “Ultimately you to go a finished product with a flavor profile that you want.”
Sadler and Cooper settled on a whiskey that had been barreled on August 18, 2016, which was 138.2 proof (69.1 percent), and one put up since February 9, 2017, which was 128.2 proof (64.1 percent alcohol).
“If you know anything about alcohol, that is beyond strong,” Sadler says. Once blended, the whiskey was diluted to a more standard strength of 90.4 proof (45.2 percent). The yield was 90 bottles.
Sadler said he would like to make barrel picks an annual event for 106 Jefferson. He is encouraged by the feedback the bartenders are getting since it became available in early October. But with Batch 106 the new kid among more than 50 bourbons at the hotel’s bars, awareness is only starting to build, Sadler says.
The proof is in the glass.
“We think we picked a great bourbon,” Sadler says. “We’re very much an experience-driven property, always trying to create something our guests would enjoy – a one-of-a-kind place or experience. This is something unique.”