Eleven Madison Park’s Winter House in Aspen, which popped up last month at Chefs Club at the St. Regis, is a whole new world. Specifically, the courtyard’s yurt village, fringed with evergreens surrounding a smattering of safari tents, each themed around an altitudinous location elsewhere and with seating for as many as 10 guests.
Quickly, the structures have become top spots to sip après-ski bevvies, including hot apple cider spiked with Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. In fact, the yurt designed for St. Moritz—the birthplace of snow polo, which came through Rio Grande Park a few weeks ago as the sport’s only event in North America—is dedicated to this particular spirit. (EMP co-owners Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm found themselves dining next to a table of snow polo players in St. Moritz this summer, kicking off the idea for collaboration—how’s that for an Aspen story?)
Looks are deceiving, though: While the bourbon cider is comprised of just two ingredients plus a cinnamon-stick swizzle, the liquor is liquid history. Just a baby, having launched officially in 2015, Blade and Bow incorporates some of the last remaining bourbon distilled at the iconic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville before it shut down in 1992.
“Opened on Derby Day in 1935, (Stitzel-Weller) was the first new-construction distillery post-Prohibition,” says Diageo Reserve national educator Doug Kragel, who reps Blade and Bow alongside Bulleit and George Dickel, among others. In releasing Blade and Bow, the group had a choice: “We either package up the rare bourbon and it’s one and done or we find a way to build on the heritage of this iconic facility and create (a spirit) that will evolve into something of its own for the future.”
Each annual bottling of Blade and Bow is made using a tiered fractional blending system (called solera, common in the sherry industry), which combines the rare older whiskey into younger, creating complexity.
“We started with a range no younger than 7-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon at the top of our system, and up to 21-year-old, at that time, pre-1992 bourbon,” Kragel explains. “Every year it compounds on itself and gets more and more complex.”
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Cheers to drinking a bit of history for a limited time only: EMP Winter House is outta here at the end of ski season.
Named after the two parts of a skeleton key, the blade shaft and the ornate bow-shaped handle, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey pays tribute to the five keys that once hung on the door of the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Each key represented one requirement of the bourbon craft: grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation and aging.
Served at EMP Winter House and the Blade and Bow branded yurt bar through April:
1¼ ounces Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2 ounces hot apple cider
In a mug, combine bourbon and cider. Garnish with cinnamon stick.