American Whiskey Interview Issue Seven Phoebe Calver

Island life – Freddie Johnson

We send one of whiskey’s great and good off to our island, what will they take?

Freddie Johnson is a name well known and loved across Kentucky and further afield. It could be said that Freddie has earned somewhat of a celebrity status over his time as a tour guide and third generation employee at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

“I have often had amazing conversations with visitors after tours who share personal moments that were created when they sat down with friends and or family sipping on a good glass of Bourbon,” explains Freddie. “What becomes obvious is, it’s not just about the whiskey, the liquid is the perfect conduit, providing other individuals with the opportunity to spend time with those you truly enjoy being around.”

Now it’s time to find out about the treasures that Freddie would take to live out his days on our island.

Whiskey #1
George T. Stagg
Barrel Proof Antique Collection

The taste profile of this Bourbon was determined by Elmer T. Lee, Ronnie Eddins Leonard Riddle, Jimmy Johnson (Dad) and eight others sitting around a table in the Master Distiller’s Room. At 15-years-old this Bourbon captures everything significant to me about Buffalo Trace Distillery, from my childhood days playing around here with Dad and Grandad, to the rebirth of a distillery that continues to build on those values established so many years ago.

Uncut, unfiltered, bold, spicy with flavors of cinnamon, citrus and layers of chocolate covered cherries closing on a nutty oak finish.

Whiskey #2
William Larue Weller
Uncut, Unfiltered 12 Years Old

This whiskey is so soft and inviting to the nose. Its floral notes are enhanced by the heat of the higher proof. Sweet, providing a totally encompassing mouthfeel that lingers. Fruity sweet with so much going on. A few drops of water held in the mouth prior to the next sip uncomplicates those flavors and a candy like peanut brittle finish awaits.

Whiskey #3
Eagle Rare 10 Years Small Batch

My unsung hero. This takes me to a very comfortable place and is a favorite go to whiskey for sipping. It provides a nice balance of time and craft aging coming together without a lot of heat. Excellent mouthfeel with lingering caramel toffee notes there on the finish.

Whiskey #4
E. H. Taylor Four Grain

What do we have here? An excellent balance of flavors from my two favorite Bourbon mashbills. Bottled at a little higher proof, but released at a younger age. Thus allowing the grain flavors to remain key players in

the taste profile. Apples and cherries and pears oh my! Finished in a spicy caramel chocolate wrapper.

Whiskey #5
Thomas Handy
Straight Rye Barrel Proof 6 Years Old

What a sleeper of a surprise to taste this one. It has the soft slightly sweet nose of the corn, but when it strikes the palate, hold onto your taste buds. The spiciness of the rye comes shining through. Then all of a sudden the floral notes of dried fruits mixed with cloves and cinnamon begin to emerge, followed by the warmth the higher proof creates at the back of the mouth while descending. Truly a favorite as temperatures begin to drop outside with a good cigar.

A luxury item

It would be a waterproof tablet with an extended life battery. Why? To be able to document my life’s journey for whoever it is that ends up finding me… I’d like to spend some time on the island sharing those memories that were life-changing. 

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