Unless you’ve got a trained palate and years of whiskey drinking experience under your belt, you might be a little bit confused by the tasting notes for Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon. 2019 Bourbon Brawl Finalist Hugo Osorio describes the experience of drinking Garrison Brothers as somewhat ever-evolving.

“I was just starting to get a feel of the whole bartending gig, and I remember [Garrison Brothers] being one of those bourbons that, you know, it’s very different every time you get to try it. So, I don’t like consistency. I like to just kind of get, you know, a different feel every time. And that’s the first time I tried it and it was amazing, man. Yeah, one of my favorite bourbons,” said Osorio.

Because bourbon has a very layered flavor profile, many drinkers will find that they notice different flavor notes every time they drink it. Particularly if you’re having it in a cocktail, the other ingredients in your drink will highlight certain flavors while masking others. For example, during the Dallas semi-finals, Osorio made a drink called “D’Cliff” that brought out some of the lighter flavors in Garrison Brothers that are often masked in other cocktails.

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“It’s a hybrid in between a perfect Manhattan and espresso martini, meaning that instead of the sweet vermouth, I used two different Amaros with the Garrison Brothers. Amaro Lucano, which is a very herbal, about three different herbs in that Amaro. It kind of balances out some of that heavier stuff from the Amaro Nonino. But it’s topped off with a coffee whipped cream that I made from scratch, so it balances everything out.”

Judges loved the way the two Amaros emphasized the more herbal, earthy notes of verbena and honeysuckle that are frequently buried in other classic whiskey cocktails. Rather than being intimidated by the subtler flavor notes that can be harder to identify on the first sip, we encourage future competitors to play around as they develop their recipes for the 2020 Brawls. The addition of just one ingredient can make all the difference when you’re trying to bring different tastes to the surface.