Chicken Cock! Made You Look!

Chicken Cock! Made You Look!

Local Palate and Breakthru Beverage Host Whiskey After Dark in Charleston, with Portion of Proceeds Going to Lowcountry Food Bank.


No, this isn’t just me being crass, Chicken Cock is actually the name of a tasty brown liquor called bourbon – Chicken Cock Bourbon Heritage Reserve, to be exact.


One that Charleston and other Southerners take very seriously. If I’ve learned anything during my time in the South, it’s that Southerners love their B’s – Brown booze, BBQ, Bacon and beards.

From the Charleston Brown Water Society, who call themselves ‘the finest group of whiskey drinkers this side of the Appalachians’, to the Bacon & Bourbon Festival and more, Charlestonians can’t get enough. I wondered if it was a prerequisite to work in the whiskey business that you must have a beard, mustache and look like you just stepped off the backwoods cabin porch in the hills of Kentucky? Not that I mind a good beard, but again, it’s something they take very seriously here in the South.

Image by Michelle Van Jura


Maybe everyone is getting a jump on Movember (shout out to my friend Mark Hedstrom and the Movember team, a worthy cause to be sure). But, I digress…I have definitely found a love for the brown booze, though I’m still a novice when it comes to fully understanding the differences, recognizing the myriad of flavors I’m tasting and understanding how to express that. I understand it’s largely to do with geographical differences and corn versus barley, but I’m still understanding how the distilling processes change the flavors, and it’s all rather fascinating.

My favorite part of the evening was not necessarily seeing the tried and true players like Johnnie Walker, Macallan, Bulleit and my personal favorite, Woodford Reserve. I know about these, the processes and the tastes that I’ve come to enjoy and grow an affinity for, but I really enjoyed the spirited newcomers with their intriguing names and interesting processes.


Image by Michelle Van Jura


Yes, one of my favorites was Chicken Cock (it comes from the same company that does Dixie Vodka – Thanks Sarah Marie Martin and Bear Barrow, for the education in the distilling process). There was also Monkey Shoulder (William Grant and Sons), which I found to be one of my new favorites, it was smooth, with subtle hints of caramel and a flavor of smoked oak on the back end for a little spicy finish.

I also enjoyed HillBilly, Defiant and Copper Horse serving the lone hot Vodka, in the sea of brown booze that was amazing in bloody marys! I can’t forget my favorite flavored fellows (yes, I know sophisticated bourbon drinkers are cringing as they read this) but I love Ballotin, mint chocolate bourbon – there, I said it.


Sarah Martin and Bear Barrow at Chicken Cock table. — Image by Michelle Van Jura


I would also be remiss to not mention hot Charleston up-start, Gentry Bourbon, founded by Bravo’s Southern Charm regular, John David Madison (JD to his friends), it’s a light and smooth version, with subtle hints of vanilla, which make sipping it a pretty pleasing experience. I would definitely recommend it to someone who’s just testing their bourbon palate and trying to find a new appreciation.


Copper Horse Hot Vodka. — Image by Michelle Van Jura


In the few years that I’ve been spending time here in Charleston, I’ve come to realize we stay just as busy as some of the biggest cities in which I’ve lived. Though the events aren’t yet as varied (we’re still developing our cultural mix), a lot of the events focus on booze and food, often with a little music thrown in. I have spent a range of money (though my ticket was complimentary for this event) on different events and usually they’re all reasonably priced. I found this event to be a great value. Tastings from a robust lineup of bourbon companies, sliders, BBQ, all the fixins and music by the Bluestone Ramblers.


Image by Michelle Van Jura


It was a well-organized and interesting mix of young, old, hipster, well-honed bourbon drinkers and novices. For the most part the brand ambassadors did a great job of explaining their liquors and the process they use, so I found it extremely interesting, there were a few who fell short…YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Clearly, those slackers were banking on the fact that people would just get drunk and not ask too many questions.

It’s nice that some of the proceeds will benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank, which is another thing Charleston does very well. Rarely is there an event that doesn’t offer up some of the proceeds to this amazing community and the organizations trying to make it an even better place to live.

At the end of the day, it was a fun event that really was educational for me and anyone trying to better understand the mystical world of bourbon, whiskey and scotch. It’s like being part of a super elite club, but I refuse to grow a beard!

* Local Palate and Breakthru Beverage Host Whiskey After Dark in Charleston, with Portion of Proceeds Going to Lowcountry Food Bank.