Bowtie Barbecue: Savannah’s Whiskey Bar

Let’s take a minute to talk about something important: Whiskey. As evidenced by the 120+ bottles on our back bar, Whiskey is a pretty big deal in our restaurant. We like to think of ourselves as the premiere whiskey destination in Savannah. We drink it (neat, on the rock, flights, cocktail’d, etc.). We cook with it (Bourbon Date Nut Cakes, Apple Bourbon Cobbler). It complements a plate of smoked brisket like nothing else. Maybe put a dab behind the ear. Whichever way you enjoy it, remember to enjoy it safely. We’ve included some great information below on ordering and experiencing our collection.

How to Order Your Whiskey

Old Rum Cask Finish Jefferson's Reserve

Old Rum Cask Finish Jefferson’s Reserve

So. We’ve got some whiskey. But where to start? How to start? Here are some bits of advice when it comes to exploring our wall of whiskey:

  1. Don’t feel intimidated! You don’t have to try it all tonight. Heck. Please don’t! That’d be dangerous. And expensive…
  2. If you’re a beginner, start simple. Our House Bourbon Whiskey is Four Roses Yellow Label. A fantastic way to begin your Whiskey Adventure! Some others that are just as great are Old Forester 86, Maker’s Mark, and Jim Beam. If you’re a little more advanced, try a Rye Whiskey, like High West Double Rye or 13th Colony Rye.
  3. Try it on the rocks (we’ve got some big cubes so they don’t dilute too much!). Or try a splash of water. This can help cut some of the “heat” or alcohol burn. The splash of water also helps to open up the whiskey, so you can unlock new aromas. Score! You’ll also find out whether or not the whiskey was chill filtered.
  4. Rocks not your style? Try it neat! That is, just an ounce and a half in one of our whiskey glasses. They’re designed to help collected the aromas and bring them straight to you! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to sniff right up close. Let the whiskey breathe! Swirl and waft with your hand a bit in an upward motion towards your nose. You’ll look silly, but it’s totally worth it.
  5. First sip. Keep it simple and small. You want to just get a little bit so it opens up in your mouth, getting it acclimated to the intensity. Some burn…but doesn’t it feel good?
  6. Second Sip. Get a little more. Now your palate is ready for something special! You’ll feel that burn, but you’ll also start to get some delicious flavors, like vanilla, brown sugar, honey, sweet tea, and some baking spices.
  7. Relax, sit, and enjoy! Don’t shoot it down (unless you really want to). Make friends with your whiskey. Learn it’s nuances. The more you sit with it, the more it changes!
  8. Come back tomorrow and try something new. Our list will be ever changing (and growing!). Try something a little more intense like a Blanton’s, Bookers, Or Jefferson’s Ocean Cask Voyage Seven, all of which are barrel proof and come with quite a kick!

Glossary of Whisk(e)y Terms

Whiskey Flight

Tasting flights are a great way to learn about whiskey

Alcohol by Volume: The amount of ethanol (C2H5OH, beverage alcohol) present in a unit of fermented liquid. This is represented by both a percentage (e.g. 50%) and a proof (e.g. 100) which is double the percent present. Therefore, if you have a cup of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey, and the Alcohol by Volume is 50%, that means that 50% of that cup is ethanol!

Barrel Proof (Cask Strength): The alcohol by volume that is present immediately after a barrel of whiskey has been emptied. While the whiskey ages in the barrel, the temperatures cause the oak staves to expand and contract, pulling in and pushing out the whiskey. This is one way whiskey gets its beauty. Sadly, some of it evaporates too (we call that the “Angel’s Share.”). You can imagine that the longer a whiskey ages, the more of it is going to evaporate, leaving a higher concentration of alcohol behind. Cask Strength can fall anywhere, but is typically between 110 proof (57.5% alcohol by volume) and 130 proof (65% alcohol by volume). It can get even higher though!

Bourbon Whiskey: A distilled spirit that must be made in the United States, consist of at least 51% corn, rest in new, charred oak barrels, be distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), entered into the barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume), and be bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume). Expect more sweetness from the high amount of corn in the mash bill along with a fuller body.

Bottled in Bond or Bonded: Created for quality control purposes with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, Bottled-in-Bond refers to a strict set of standards many bourbon whiskeys had to go through which included being distilled in America, aging for at least four years in new charred oak barrels in a federally bonded warehouse, bottled at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume), be from one distillation season (and one distiller), and say which distillery it was distilled and bottled.

Chill Filtration: If you ever add water or ice to a whiskey and it stays perfectly clear, chances are, it has been chill filtered. There are fatty acids that are present in whiskey after it is made that congeal when cold. Chill filtration extracts these acids (and, sadly, a little flavor too), so that when chilled, the whiskey remains crystal clear!

Corn Whiskey: Contains at least 80% corn in the mash bill.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye

Dram: Historically, a dram was about 1/16 of an ounce. Really not that much. Now-a-days, a dram is pretty much whatever you want it to be. Here at BowTie Barbecue Co., a dram is 1.5 ounces. Cheers!

Mash Bill: The mash bill is the mix of grains used to create the liquid that will be distilled into whiskey. Hot water is added to a collection of grains whose composition is dependent upon the desired end result (Bourbon Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Corn Whiskey, etc.). For instance, Four Roses Distillery has two different mash bills they use: 75% Corn, 20% Rye, and 5% Malted Barley, and 60% Corn, 35% Rye, and 5% Malted Barley.

New, Charred Oak Barrels: It is necessary for any bourbon to be aged in new, charred oak barrels. The main type of oak used in American distilleries is Quercus alba or “White Oak.” These can be found all over the United States. The trees are cut down, turned into staves and then seasoned. After seasoning, they are assembled into their barrel form by a cooper (Cool story: Cooper’s Craft, a bourbon dedicated to the coopers of Brown-Forman, was just released this summer. Check it out!), and then charred.

There a four different levels of char commonly used by distilleries: No. 1 Char is 15 seconds of flame. No. 2 Char is 30 seconds. No. 3 Char (most common) is 35 seconds. No. 4 Char is 55 second (known as “alligator char” as it causes the inside of the barrel to resemble alligator skin).

For all the science folks out there, wood is full of several compounds: hemicellulose, lignin, tannins, and oak lactones. When the hemicellulose is exposed to heat, (around 284 degrees) it breaks down into wood sugars and is caramelized. This helps give barrel rested whiskey (and gin!) some delightful flavors (brown sugar, caramel, and coffee) as well as beautiful color. The lignin is responsible for the vanilla flavors and spices. The longer the char, the more the spices and smoke come out. Oak used for bourbon barrels is seasoned and allowed to dry out, which helps to element some of the harsh tannins that can cause off flavors. The higher the char, the less likely those tannins will appear. Finally, the oak lactones contribute the woodiness that is imparted to the whiskey while it ages. The longer the char, the less likely these flavor and aromas will be present.

So as you can see, the charring process of the barrel has a lot to do with how the whiskey matures. Every little tweak can make a big difference down the road. Some coopers are even toasting the oak staves before charring. Who knew there was so much to learn about wood?

Whistlepig 15 Year Straight Rye Whiskey

Whistlepig 15 Year Straight Rye Whiskey

Proof: The proof of a spirit is defined as the Alcohol By Volume x two. This goes back to the 16th century when alcohol was taxed on the amount of, well, alcohol in it! Its use now is mainly historical, and most countries rely entirely upon the Alcohol by Volume.

Proofing: The process of correcting the alcohol by volume in a distilled spirit by adding distilled water. Breckenridge Distillery, for instance, uses distilled snow melt to get their proof exactly where they want it!

Rye Whiskey: A whiskey which must be distilled from a mash bill containing at least 51% rye. The rye grain usually imparts a spicier and fruiter flavor, a little less body, and more of a drier finish.

Straight Bourbon Whiskey: Must meet all the same requirements of a Bourbon Whiskey as well as be aged for at least 2 years in the new charred oak barrels.

Wheated Bourbon Whiskey: Contains a higher amount of wheat in the mash bill that lends a velvetiness to the mouthfeel and a little more sweetness. Maker’s Mark and Weller 12 Year are two excellent examples.

Wheat Whiskey: A whiskey which must be distilled from a mash bill of at least 51% wheat. A higher percentage of wheat lends a softer flavor with vanilla, toffee, and honey. Bernheim Straight Kentucky Whiskey was one of the first!

Availability and specials will vary, but this sample bar menu should give you a good taste of what we have to offer. Come visit us to for a tasting and be sure to follow us on Instagram for specials.

Download a Sample Bar Menu (PDF)