Wine Enthusiast Spirits Editor: ‘My go-to is Basil Hayden bourbon’


February 22, 2013

Kara Newman, Wine Enthusiast spirits editor, writes about food, wine and spirits. She writes for many of the same people I do; and after I snagged a copy of her latest book, The Secret Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets, I knew I just had to feature her in Fred’s Friends and talk some whiskey.

 We walk many of the same circles. When it comes to Kentucky, what do you like about my state? 

Kara Newman, Photo by Daryl-Ann Saunders.
Kara Newman, Photo by Daryl-Ann Saunders.

There’s so much to like!  The distilleries, of course, and the bourbon they make. The horses and the countryside. The grande dame hotels, like the Seelbach, and the dark, historic bars inside.

 And of course, there’s the bourbon. You’re a spirits veteran. How has the consumer bourbon market changed since you started covering spirits?

Am I a veteran? So many people have been doing this for much longer than I have. But one thing that has certainly changed is the appetite for smaller artisan bourbons. It seems like every state has its own beloved small-batch whiskey makers, like Balcones in Texas or Tuthilltown here in NY.

Do you think bourbon will ever slow down? 

I suppose there must be a saturation point eventually, but I hope we don’t reach it for a good long time.

What do you think about flavored whiskey?

I admit to having a sweet tooth, even though it’s uncool. So I think flavored whiskey is fun and approachable, and I’ve liked many of them, like Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, a Canadian whiskey that has a sizzle like those round red fireball candies. But for every good flavored whiskey, there are ten mediocre variations, so it has a bad rap.

What’s your go-to whiskey?

My go-to is Basil Hayden bourbon, preferably with ginger and a squeeze of lime. I had that on a trip to Louisville a couple of years back, and it stuck. I love the aromatics. But I reserve the right to change my mind. In a bar, my go-to whiskey is often “What’s in that bottle? The one over there, in the back? I’ve never seen that one before…”