In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we celebrate Diane Corcoran, Beverage Director of Bub City (Chicago and Rosemont) where she houses over 225 expressions of whiskey and leads regular whiskey tasting classes for groups of 5-100. From bringing in hand-selected, limited-release single barrels exclusive to Lettuce Entertain You to offering house-infused whiskey shots (like honey and coffee flavors), Diane is at the top of her game with recommendations for the novice and seasoned whiskey drinkers.
Bub City is synonymous with three things: BBQ, live country music and whiskey. With one of the largest and most unique American whiskey programs in the Windy City, it can be a daunting task navigating through Bub’s robust selection. Thankfully, Diane gives us glimpse into whiskey 101 to help you along the way. Not typically a whiskey drinker? Diane walks us through what she recommends you try and how you can become a whiskey expert.
But first, a word about whiskey
Bourbon vs. Whiskey
Bourbon is a style of American whiskey, but whiskey isn’t always classified as a bourbon. Whiskey can be made anywhere in the world with guidelines set forth by the respective country. Bourbon is truly an American spirit (declared in 1964) with a highly specific set of guidelines distillers must adhere to, and is made with a minimum of 51% corn giving it a slightly sweeter flavor profile.
Use Your Nose
Everyone has a unique palate that causes them to experience whiskey differently, and what you smell and taste the first time you sip may change and evolve as you continue enjoying your glass. Give your whiskey a whirl and take a moment to smell it – so much of the flavor comes from the aroma! Go back and forth between smelling and tasting and let the nuances of the whiskey develop.
Select Bub City Single Barrels
Whistle Pig “River Rose” | Maker’s Mark “LEYE” Private Select
Four Roses | Old Forester
Elijah Craig | Eagle Rare | Few Rye
Knob Creek 2018 Windy City Smokeout Barrel – coming soon!
Choose Your Whiskey Flight
Select three whiskeys from one of these classes – Coach, Business or First – or choose to “upgrade” by mixing-and-matching from Coach an Business. Check out the full whiskey menu.
Barrel Select Ol’ Fashioned
Featuring Whistle Pig “River Rose” with barrel-aged Vermont maple syrup and bitters
Housemade Whiskey Shots
Honey Whiskey | Cinnamon Whiskey | Coffee Whiskey
What Diane Recommends…
Whether you’re put off by the bite of whiskey or always are reaching for a peaty scotch, Diane has a drink for everyone. Here, she breaks it down based on what kind of booze you typically enjoy:
Light, easy-drinking cocktail
If you’re a newcomer to the brown spirit or just are looking for something light and refreshing, the Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade is a gateway drink to whiskey. Featuring Elijah Craig small batch and a touch of strawberry and fresh basil, this drink is served tall and is perfect to start off the night! Make the Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade at home.
Love the crispness of a light brew? (Coors Light and Bud Light drinkers, we’re lookin’ at you!) Look for whiskeys that are a little more mellow and sweet, like a bourbon or wheated bourbon. Even a Tennessee whiskey will be great for someone looking for that flavor profile. Prefer an IPA, stout or heavier beer? Diane recommends reaching for a rye whiskey or barrel-proof whiskey that are full in body and flavor.
Love a glass of wine with lots of fruit and spice? Look for whiskeys that have been finished in special barrels – some distilleries use port, sherry, madeira or wine barrels – which impart those flavors into the bourbon and rye.
For the Islay lovers
Devout to the smokiness of peat? There are a few distilleries in the US that produce single-malt whiskey, which would please any scotch lover. As with most single-malts, terroir impacts the flavor profile.
Learn more with friends!
With a wealth of knowledge on this prized brown spirit, Diane leads regular whiskey tasting and education classes for groups of any size. Tailored specifically to taste and experience preferences, she will guide you through a comprehensive and immersive whiskey experience. Book a custom whiskey tasting with Diane here!
Strawberry Basil Bourbon Lemonade Recipe
3-4 fresh basil leaves
2 strawberries, sliced
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Bourbon (preferably Elijah Craig Small Batch or Buffalo Trace)
1. Combine all ingredients in a shaking tin; muddle lightly to crush the strawberries and express the basil.
2. Add bourbon and fill with ice.
3. Shake for 8-10 seconds.
4. Double strain over fresh crushed ice.
5. Garnish with fresh basil and lemon wheel.