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Bourbon Tasting at State Fare

Bourbon Tasting at State Fare

A Catonsville Experience

It’s truly a unique experience to walk into a restaurant and feel completely at home. For those of you who live in Catonsville, Maryland, perhaps you’ve had a similar experience when walking into State Fare. The warm atmosphere, friendly greetings, and this feeling hits me like coming back to a place I’ve long missed.

State Fare presents itself to my friend Tim and me as we walk in and head toward the bar on a Saturday afternoon. We grab two seats at the end of the bar, which were only one of two seats open together for this fairly busy lunch crowd. I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay too much attention to the dining area, as I was captivated by the massive bar. I was extremely excited to sample some of the many bourbons and whiskeys offered, and that experience could’ve been diluted if the service was off – but it was not.

The bartenders assisting us on our adventure were bright, cheerful, and completely willing to go the extra mile as we were uncertain on what bourbons to try. Tim and I looked over the menu, which didn’t include a few dozen more that had come in previously the same day. When I say this bar is heaven, it’s a multi-tiered wonder similar to The Walters Art Museum, where there seems to be endless levels and attractions. “The back bar display is a true brown liquors paradise,” mentions Tim, as our gracious server slides a rolling ladder over to pull down a few different options for us to look at.

Rating State Fare

As I get ready to share our experiences and ratings with the bourbons and whiskeys we sampled, I have to commend the staff of State Fare for giving us wonderful service. It was so easy to get lost in the moment, where we both agreed, “I could do this every Saturday.”

Tim and I rated each of our tastings on a 4-star scale. We also highlighted flavors, heat, or odors that helped us to ultimately decide which was our favorite for the day. To assist in what these flavor characteristics might mean to you, let’s take a look at what we generally drink, so you can possibly pinpoint what you might like to order the next time you stop at State Fare or your local bar.

Reviewing the Reviewers' Palate

Tim’s Usual Drink Suspects

Favorites: Jameson Irish Whiskey (neat), Bourbon, Manhattan
Beer Choices: Yuengling, Smithwick’s, Negra Modelo
Dislikes: Brandy, Coors Light

Travis’ Standard Cheers

Favorites: Bourbon (on ice), Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc
Beer Choices: National Bohemian (Natty Boh), Miller Lite, Dos Equis Lager Especial
Dislikes: Gin

The Tasting: Scores & Notes

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

80 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Light smelling, extremely smooth finish, caramel color, refreshing, clean
Rating: 3.75 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: No burn, smooth without ice, not overbearing odor/flavor, spice when left on tongue, easy to drink straight
Rating: 4 Stars

Basil Hayden's Two by Two Rye

80 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Light vanilla scent, hint of smokiness, smooth finish, not really tasting rye, exceptional
Rating: 4 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: More bite going down (than Basil Hayden’s Bourbon), smooth, hint of vanilla odor, subtle spice when left on the tongue, smoky flavor
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Booker's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

126.7 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Dark caramel color, slight oak smell, initial bite, little heat, lingers on the palate, no alcohol taste like you would get from a moonshine that is high in alcohol
Rating: 3.5 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Definitive burn, lingers (burn on the back of the throat), smoky and slightly sweet odor, slight spice when left on the tongue, more spice after taste, char and semi-sweet flavor
Rating: 3 Stars

Breckenridge Dark Arts: Whiskey Distilled from Malt Mash

92 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Smoothest whiskey ever tasted, vanilla and caramel flavor that stays with you in a good way
Rating: 4 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Sweet odor (vanilla and caramel), slight burn going down, oaky flavor, flavor is the in-between of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey
Rating: 3 Stars

Filibuster Straight Rye Whiskey

90 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Usually not a rye drinker, but this is the cleanest, smoothest rye I’ve ever tasted; those that stay clear of rye, this is one you should definitely try; slight sweet after taste that lingers on the palate
Rating: 3 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Sweeter odor, mild oaky flavor, little to no burn going down, lingers with mild heat
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

94 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Definitely smell the hints of oak, little heavy on after taste, extremely smooth
Rating: 4 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Non-overbearing and semi-sweet odor, flavorful spice, smooth, mild heat going down, hint of oaky notes, mild heat when left on the tongue
Rating: 4 Stars

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

131.4 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Slight burn and heat, settles nicely, clean; no alcohol taste with it being so high in proof, definitely get the barrel taste, not over powering though
Rating: 3.25 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Non-overbearing odor, slightly sweet and smoky, heat when drinking, slight burn lingers, spice on the tongue, flavor lingers
Rating: 3 Stars

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

90 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Excellent smell, caramel, bite in the middle, finishes nice
Rating: 2.75 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Great odor, sweet, smooth finish, mildly sweet and bitter, slightest burn going down
Rating: 3 Stars

Widow Jane 10 Year Bourbon Whiskey

91 Proof

TIM’S SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Smoky but not powerful, hint of caramel
Rating: 3 Stars

TRAVIS’ SCORE CARD:
Tasting: Semi-sweet to sweet odor, smooth on the tongue, mild burn going down, lingers slightly, mild bitter finish
Rating: 2.75 Stars

Our Top Picks

TIM’S “TOP GUN”

Basil Hayden’s Two by Two Rye

TRAVIS’ “EMPIRE RECORDS”

Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

More Bourbon at State Fare

It’s safe to say that Tim and I thoroughly enjoyed our bourbon tasting experience at State Fare. If our usual beverage choices aren’t what you normally drink, we plan on providing a broader flavor profile in the future. That’s right – this was a super fun test run. The goal of this and future tastings is to provide a background of the person doing the tasting, so you can say, “I drink that too. I’ll want to try what he likes!”

So, make sure to stick around and follow the Winey Parent for a future tasting at State Fare. The experience at this place was so great, we’re definitely coming back to this location for a larger group tasting.

Special Thanks

I want to thank Evan Brown, owner of State Fare, for stopping by during our visit, offering recommendations, and sharing his hopes for this stunning bourbon bar. With the aspiration of making State Fare a staple for having an incredible bourbon and whiskey experience, they are leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

I also want to thank my co-pilot, Tim, on this outstanding bourbon adventure. As we mentioned before, I could go to State Fare and do it all again each and every Saturday. The atmosphere was energetic without being chaotic. The staff was courteous and there always seemed to be a smile in place. Oh, and as someone who’s gotten uncomfortable in bar chairs before, I never readjusted once. State Fare, for me, is the total package. And I can’t wait to go back.

Whatever your drink of choice, please drink responsibly.

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