Q&A with Pearl’s Restaurant Group’s Operations Director Steve Griffin and Executive Chef & Mixologist Scott Snow
By Nicole Tobin
Nicole: Why travel to Kentucky to pick out a barrel of whiskey for Pearl’s restaurants?
Steve: There are 7.6-million barrels of bourbon in Kentucky, just waiting to be drank. That’s 1.7 barrels per person in the state of Kentucky.
Scott: We wanted to do a select barrel for The Bourbon Bar at Trapper’s, Pearl’s Oyster Bar and Pearl’s Crabtown.
Nicole: How did you decide on a distillery when there is so many great ones?Scott: Woodford Reserve is PRG’S owner Paul Seikel’s favorite.
Nicole: Take me through the process of picking out a barrel of bourbon.
Scott: They started us off with six barrels, and from there, we eliminated two of the barrels. Then we made six two-barrel combinations from a total of four barrels. We sampled each of them and picked out our favorite to arrive at our own unique blend of Trapper’s Bourbon Bar’s Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select.
Nicole: How would you describe the flavor profile?
Steve: It is going to be smooth with a sweet aftertaste, but also dry with a hint of fruit and floral.
Nicole: How many bottles of bourbon do you get per barrel?
Scott: 180 bottles and you can only get it at Pearl’s Restaurant Group restaurants.
Steve: A regular Woodford that you buy at a liquor store is a batch of 150 barrels, so the flavor profile is always the same, where as our bourbon is a mix of only two barrels.
Scott: To be a bourbon, it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.
Steve: You could have up to 47 different trees in one barrel and those trees can come from all over the United States. But it is the temperatures change – from hot to cold, hot to cold – that is the key to the whole deal. The fluctuation in the temperature is what creates the different flavor profiles.
Every one of the barrels we tasted were completely different. It was really weird. The Master Distiller, Chris Morris – his palate was so in tune – I said this tastes like chocolate, and he says, yes, it tastes like chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies. He was spot on, it was unbelievable.
Scott: It was fun! It was a learning experience, for sure.