A Taste of Kentucky Bourbon Made Especially For Mattison’s
Paul Mattison, owner and chef of the Mattison’s group of restaurants in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida, was approached by the Knob Creek distillery with an intriguing proposition. The folks at Knob Creek knew that the clientele that frequent the Mattison’s restaurants are bourbon lovers, so it seemed a natural fit to create a bourbon specifically for the restaurant group.
The representatives from Knob Creek brought some samples to Paul and his staff for tasting and they chose the one that they liked the best. He and his chef and managers selected the bourbon based on flavor, smoothness, character, and spice and warmth. Paul really “wanted something smooth but with enough character, spice, flavor and warmth to give it a good personality.” The bourbon he selected was chosen based on having the most character and smoothness.
I didn’t know much about bourbon until I spoke with Paul and he explained the process to me. Bourbon is aged in barrels. Once they decide they are going to release them, they then blend the barrels to be released and they add water to get it to the right proof level, then they bottle them to sell. Knob Creek sold Paul the entire single barrel as is, so it was not watered down or blended with any other barrels in the distillery. It was bottled at full cast strength which is 120 proof which is 60% alcohol rather than 100 proof/50% alcohol. It came off of the 5th floor of the distillery which is not of any significance other than the top floor is the warmest floor because heat rises and some of it may have evaporated more than the ones on the bottom floors, but it may also have contributed to making it more intense and richer in flavor.
The bourbon won’t be sold as retail but will be featured prominently in all three Mattison’s locations as well as at Van Wezel for pre-show dining. When the initial supply from this barrel is used, Paul plans on getting another barrel. The bottles from this inaugural release come from barrel #7082 as displayed on the special label custom made on each bottle.
A special menu is in the works at all three restaurants that will feature the bourbon. A special Bourbon tasting dinner with other bourbons in the Knob Creek Portfolio is also being planned, perhaps in June. And, as Kentucky Derby Day approaches, Mattison’s will of course feature its Mint Juleps at their Kentucky Derby party.
Photo by Jack Elka Photography.