Meet our Bourbon Expert

chris bourbon expert

Meet Chris Esteve, Tableau’s current General Manager and the former Assistant GM of Bourbon House. He’s a Bourbon Master Taster and one of Dickie Brennan and Company’s Bourbon Experts. Below he shares a few tidbits on America’s native spirit.

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN BOURBON?

Working at Bourbon House was the catalyst for my interest in bourbon. Having so much information available and such a wide variety of bourbons in-house made it easy for me to learn about “America’s Native Spirit.” Also, having the opportunity to meet several Master Distillers and hear their stories has boosted my interest.

FAVORITE BOURBON TO DRINK AT HOME?

I seem to always have a bottle of Jefferson’s Chef Collaboration at home. I am not into rye whiskeys usually, but this variation is a perfect blend of sweet and spicy. I’ve become a huge fan.

BEST BOURBON YOU’VE EVER HAD?

I’ve been lucky to try some pretty rare and sought after bourbons, but my favorite is Eagle Rare 17yr. It’s a well made, straight forward whiskey. It’s not too oaky, considering that it spends so much time in a barrel, and has a great overall flavor. I only wish we could get more than one bottle a year at Bourbon House!

HIGHLY UNDERRATED BOURBON?

An underrated bourbon that immediately comes to mind is Sam Houston. I was introduced to it when it was chosen as a Bourbon of the Month at Bourbon House (New Orleans Bourbon Society members get a free pour of the Bourbon of the Month). It is pretty far off the radar but is a delicious whiskey and can be found locally for a very reasonable price.

WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR WHEN TASTING BOURBON?

Tasting bourbon is very similar to tasting wine. As with any wine color, aromas, and distinct flavors are all very important characteristics of any bourbon. Having the ability to taste a wide range of bourbons would improve any whiskey drinker’s ability to pick out flavors like caramel, honey, tobacco, or vanilla.

FAVORITE BOURBON AND FOOD PAIRING?

A sweet bourbon like Angel’s Envy or Woodford Reserve and some smoky BBQ!

FROZEN MILK PUNCH OR ON THE ROCKS?

Frozen! It gets hot in New Orleans and a frozen bourbon milk punch (tastes like an adult milk shake) is an awesome way to cool down.

TRIVIA: WHY IS NEW ORLEANS SIGNIFICANT TO BOURBON HISTORY?

It has been said that while transporting the “clear” whiskey from Kentucky to NOLA in the early days of bourbon, the charred barrels that the liquid was stored in imparted the whiskey with a very distinct color, changed the flavor, and made it much easier to drink. The whiskey makers had no idea that this would happen, but after some time had passed, the public began to demand the “red” liquor from the distillers. The story goes, it was an accident that the basis of bourbon and its aging process as we now know it, began on a trip down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.