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Our September cocktail kit features Ezra Brooks Whiskey. We spoke with John Rempe, Director of Research and Development at Luxco to learn more about this legendary brand and how best to enjoy it.

Can you tell us about your background and what first attracted you to the spirits space?

My background is in biology and food science. I first worked in R&D in soft drinks and fruit juices before getting the opportunity to work at Luxco with spirits, where I have been for almost 20 years.

How did you come into your current role at Luxco and can you tell us more about your role there?

I started in the lab in 1998, and quickly took over R&D. I have been in that role ever since, creating a variety of products in all of our portfolio.

We’re excited to be including Ezra Brooks whiskey in our kits this month. What sets it apart from other whiskeys?

Ezra Brooks is an exceptionally smooth and drinkable rye whiskey. The mash bill is 51% rye (which is the lowest amount to be able to be called a Rye Whiskey) so it still has 45% corn, which brings a sweetness that really balances out the spiciness of the rye very nicely.

What is one thing you wish people knew about Ezra Brooks whiskey? Are there any misconceptions about whiskey in general you’d want to point out?

I would say that the main misconception is that it is just something to shoot. Whiskey is a very complex drink that can really be appreciated for the all the different flavors that make up its profile, it has many layers.

Can you offer any tips to our readers when it comes to tasting a whiskey?

When tasting a whiskey, always make sure you are using clean glassware, and the glass needs to be bulb shaped to hold in the aromas. I suggest either a brandy snifter or a Glencairn glass. Smell the whiskey first, keeping your mouth slightly open. Note the different components of the aroma. Then taste the whiskey, just a little bit and swish it around letting the whiskey coat the entire tongue and also have time to interact with the saliva. This will give the best tasting experience.

What are the markers of a great whiskey?

A great whiskey is a balanced whiskey. Be it a bourbon, a rye or a wheat. There must be balance between all the different flavor components.

Finally, what’s your favorite way to drink Ezra Brooks?

I like it neat, or during the hot summer months I like to put one ice cube in it to really open up the whiskey. The one thing that goes great with bourbon is a medium rare steak. The flavors are a perfect pairing.