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A Unique Spirit at Mountain Shadows

Custom-blended bourbon captures the flavors of the desert.

By Shoshana Leon

There are many things that make Paradise Valley’s Mountain Shadows resort a special place. In addition to beautiful views and extraordinary cuisine, the property offers a custom bourbon that cannot be found anywhere else.

Introduced earlier this year, 3 Man Blend was created by Mountain Shadows’ Executive Chef Charles Wiley, the resort’s Food and Beverage Manager Jim Gallen, and Bill Nassikas, president and chief operating officer of Westroc Hospitality, which owns Mountain Shadows, Sanctuary Resort and Hotel Valley Ho.

“We wanted to share our love of bourbon with our guests and thought there was no better way to do so than by creating our own blend that represents the flavor and style of Mountain Shadows,” says Gallen.

Bourbon is an American version of Scotch, which is made in Scotland from malted barley. To be labeled bourbon, as opposed to whiskey, the spirit must contain at least 51% corn and be aged in charred, oak containers. The majority of bourbon is produced in Kentucky, which has more than 70 distilleries.

How does one go about creating a custom bourbon? The Mountain Shadows team visited the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky.

“Overall, the process is relatively simple,” explains Gallen. “Maker’s Mark has 10 different oak stave (wood planks) treatments that you taste, then you mix those different oak treatments and create your own style. The blending and oak-stave selection process takes a couple of hours. They then age a barrel of the selected staves for an additional six months. After that, your custom blend is ready to sip.”

The 3 Man Blend offers a distinctive flavor profile. “It has a wonderful rich flavor highlighted with warm notes of vanilla and cinnamon, as well as a beautiful balance of flavor and heat,” says Gallen.

Executive Chef Charles Wiley, F&B Manager Jim Gallen and president and COO of Westroc Hospitality Bill Nassikas with their custom-blended bourbon, available at Mountain Shadows.

Chef Wiley has recommendations for dishes at the resort’s Hearth ’61 restaurant that pair well with the 3 Man Blend. “We all agreed that our bourbon should have a little edge to it, not severe but not insignificant either,” he says. “Our Tuesday Roast of the Day Beeler’s Farm pork chop is a match made in heaven. A close second is our Niman Ranch beef ribeye, charred medium rare. Too much spice is not bourbon’s best friend.”

The 3 Man Blend at Mountain Shadows came about after a visit to the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky.
Hearth ’61, the restaurant at Mountain Shadows.

Many people enjoy drinking bourbon straight but it also works extremely well in cocktails. In addition to traditional favorites such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, Mountain Shadows offers the Orange You Starberry cocktail crafted with the 3 Man Blend, homemade strawberry syrup, fresh lemon juice and Cointreau.

3 Man Blend can be purchased by the bottle at PV Mercantile at Mountain Shadows. Gallen has a few recommendations for making cocktails at home using the 3 Man Blend.

  • Bourbon Cilantro Julep: In a cocktail shaker, add a sprig of fresh cilantro, one teaspoon of simple syrup and half an ounce of ginger liqueur (such as Domaine De Canton). Muddle gently, and then add two ounces of bourbon and fill with ice. Shake well and strain the mix into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and a piece of candied ginger.
  • Bourbon Basil Smash: Start with 10 Thai or regular basil leaves, one and a half ounces of bourbon, three fourths of an ounce of fresh lemon juice, half an ounce of simple syrup, and one quarter of an ounce lemon-lime simple syrup. Muddle basil leaves and combine all ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with fresh basil leaf.

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