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Redbones' May spirits tasting: bourbon! And a Q&A with Tony Iamunno, Downtown Wine and Spirits

Tony Iamunno, educating the crowd at Redbones' first bourbon tasting last year.
Tony Iamunno, educating the crowd at Redbones' first bourbon tasting last year.

The latest in a series of spirits tastings at Redbones will take place tomorrow, May 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. For $12.00, you’ll get 1/2 ounce pours of seven bourbons and one whiskey, most from Kentucky but two from New York and one from out West:
• Bulleit Bourbon
• Blanton's Bourbon
• Tutthilltown Hudson 4 Grain (NY)
• Tutthilltown Baby Bourbon (NY)
• Black Maple Hill Bourbon
• Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon
• Eagle Rare Bourbon
• Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey (CO – obviously!!)

These tastings, which have become very popular, are first come, first served, and seating is limited – so get there early!

Tony Iamunno, spirits manager at Downtown Wine and Spirits, just down the street, is the host and will share his expert knowledge. Bourbon – “America’s Official Spirit,” so named by Congress in 1964 – is a particular favorite. Tony will talk about the drink’s 200 plus year history, production, ingredients, and flavor subtleties.

Here’s a short Q&A with Tony.

Q: Why a bourbon tasting?

We started these spirits tastings a year ago, when Redbones was focusing its spirits expansion on U.S. bourbons. This is our third bourbon tasting.

Q: How would you describe the range of bourbon tastes?

There’s a standard profile, but a lot of variety – sweet, spicy, smoky – depending on the grains and the barrel.

Q: What’s the best way to drink bourbon?

Room temperature, neat, maybe with one ice cube. A little water can open the nose, kill the alcohol burn.

Q: How many U.S. bourbons are there?

We carry almost 100, and there are more than that. Some are regional and don’t make it out of the region. There are nine distilleries in Kentucky that produce most of the bourbon.

Q: Are any made locally?

There’s a bourbon made in Nantucket and a corn whiskey out of Great Barrington; we tasted those earlier.

Q: How do you run the tastings?

I tell the audience about the special flavors they should be aware of, and there’s a lot of water in between. We also go at a slow pace. (NOTE: There are free appetizers.)

Q: So how did you get into all this and become known as the local expert?

I drank a lot of whiskey when I was younger, like a lot of kids do. When I started at Downtown Wine and Spirits four and a half years ago, the manager was really into bourbon, so I learned a lot from him. A year later, they put me in charge of the spirits department because I had developed a taste, a passion for it. It’s fascinating, all rooted in the alchemists of the Middle Ages, a crazy and vivid age.



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