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About Jason

My name is Jason Pyle and I’m an American Whiskey enthusiast. I started Sour Mash Manifesto over two years ago in a effort to help educate people on one of America’s greatest National treasures. Today I contribute to online publications such as “World Whiskey Review” and have been featured in a World Whiskey publication titled, “1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die” by Dominic Roskrow. Whiskey is a topic I have an immense passion for, spending a great deal of my free time nosing, tasting, reading, and learning as much as I can.

I live in the beautiful town of Franklin, TN, and spend my daylight hours as the Chief Operating Officer for a National Information Technology and Healthcare Professional Services firm, Latitude36. I have a gorgeous wife and three special little daughters that keep me busy at home.

How did I first get into whiskey? Well, I was exposed (not consumption mind you!) to Bourbon at a young age. My earliest memories include my grandmother, Marjorie Thomas – I called her “Mamaw”. She was an old-school country girl that grew up in the hills of East Tennessee. I think even she’d admit her palate was less discerning, but she enjoyed a “nip” (as she called it) every now and again. I remember very fondly spending weekends with her and Papaw, and watching her tote around a red “Solo” cup of Bourbon and 7-up or Ginger Ale.

I suppose it’s also not surprising that she had other “uses” for whiskey. For example, Mamaw’s cough syrup was the best tasting “medicine” on the planet. She missed an opportunity to mass market the stuff in a day and age where cough syrup all tastes like fake and sickly sweet cherry syrup. It’s a simple recipe consisting of a couple teaspoons of bourbon, a teaspoon of honey, and a squeeze of lemon. Mmmmm, I’m feelin’ sick just thinking about it. To this day when I have a cough I whip up a batch of Mamaw’s homemade ‘tussin.

Many many years ago a very good friend of mine urged me to try some Bourbon’s that he really enjoyed. A Friday night liquor store run opened me up to the world of American Whiskey, and I’ve been hooked since.

Today, my mamaw’s in heaven sippin’ a couple “fingers” of whiskey with my papaw. Hopefully I’ll do her proud with my own little take on something we both love.

Thank you for visiting,

Jason Pyle
Sour Mash Manifesto
1738 Liberty Pike
Franklin, TN 37067
eMail: jmpyle1@gmail.com
Phone: 615-406-6026

383 Comments

  1. Jay C says:

    First, your website is very well put together and is my go to site for commentary on our great American whiskeys. I have just recently begun to collect bourbons and am the owner of Geo. T Stagg, Wm Larue Weller, Col Taylor Tornado, Four Roses 2012 Limited, Jeffersons Presidential Reserve 18 yr, Willett Family Reserve 21 yr, Booker’s Small Batch, Noah’s Mill and a Black Maple Hill 16 yr. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2012′s Parkers Heritage Collection and a Pappy 15 yr. I know last year’s PHC was cognac finished and have heard that this year’s will be different. Do you have any advanced G2 on this?

    Also, I have found that when I pour from each of my bottles that 10-15 minutes of airtime has benefitted them all, however, being the impatient person I am, I was wondering if you’ve ever tried pouring through a wine aerator like a Vinturi or something similar to expedite the wait before drinking.

  2. Alec says:

    hey,

    you still planing to review cedar ridge?

    alec

  3. Stephen says:

    Hello jason,
    I just found your site and want to congratulate you on a job well done!
    I also live in Franklin and am curious as to where you buy your bourbon locally?
    Thanks.
    Steve

  4. Dawn says:

    Jason, We here in Ventura County (California) have been enjoying your Manifesto enormously. Thank you for spending your time this way. Your notes are helping us find a happy path along the Bourbon shelves.

    Now, we were hoping you could help us find a good recipe for the Manhattan cocktail, if you’ve found or developed one already, one that you enjoy yourself. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  5. Nelson says:

    Hi Jason,

    Are we going to get a Van Winkle “13yr” Rye review any time soon?

  6. Nelson, that’s a tough one to come by, so probably not any time soon. Were you able to snag some?

  7. Dawn – I am working on some cocktail posts that I hope to have ready soon. Stay tuned!!!

  8. Stephen, thanks for visiting. I’d look at Brinkmann’s, Grapevine, Red Dog, and Cool Springs Wine and Spirits. Brinkmann’s is probably my favorite.

  9. Alec, the Cedar Ridge review is complete – posting it soon!

  10. John c says:

    Excellent site, Jason. All this info is very helpful. Can you recommend some good beginner books about whiskey. Thanks

  11. Nelson says:

    Haven’t been able to track one down yet this year (Van Winkle 13 Rye). It’s like finding a UFO or Unicorn!

    Currently nursing half a bottle that was opened over a year ago. Jason, do you want me to grab a bottle for you if I see one?

  12. Storcke says:

    Hi Jason. Just wondering if you’ve learned anything about the new George Dickel Rye. I know it’s the LDI 95% rye juice (and I really like Bulleit 95 Rye). And I love GD12. I’m hoping somehow Dickel turns this into the best of both worlds.

  13. Storcke – sadly I’m guessing this is going to taste an awful lot like the Bulleit Rye. Not “sadly” as in it’s not good – I really enjoyed the Bulleit, I’d just rather see this a full fledged GD product vs. MGP (formerly LDI) juice. But I am looking forward to trying it.

  14. Pat says:

    Jason, I have only recently become interested in bourbon and other whiskeys in the last several months. So far I have tried about 10 or 12 different varieties. I find your reviews very helpful in that some of your reviews parallel my taste experience, although only with the final score as I couldn’t begin to identify all those different flavors you mention in your reviews. I just went on the bourbon trail in October. I am wondering why since you have reviewed the high end of Four Roses, you haven’t done their regular small batch? I have tasted it at the distillery and have purchased a bottle, although I haven’t opened it yet. Good timing on the Jefferson’s review, my wife just bought me a bottle for Christmas. I am feeling better about a 98.00 bottle of bourbon after reading your review. Thank you for your effort on this site, I find it very helpful when staring at all those choices in the whiskey aisle.

  15. Tubeless Timbo says:

    Jason,

    Great website! Is it true that the 18 year Black Maple Hill isn’t produced anymore? I had it once and really enjoyed it and can’t seem to find it. I’ve been told it isn’t made anymore and wanted to hear your thoughts.

    ~Tubeless

  16. Tubeless – I certainly haven’t seen it around for a long long time, so I can’t imagine they are having much luck locating the stocks to supply that bourbon. Black Maple Hill is a “sourced” product, meaning they locate whiskey from other distillers in order to bottle their stuff. That’s tough to come by these days because of the popularity of whiskey. Distilleries just don’t have the stocks they can sell.

  17. Thanks for the comment Pat. Glad I can be of help – that’s my goal. Appreciate your visiting the site!

  18. Brandon says:

    Jason, I don’t know anything about bourbon really, so I am in the need of some assistance. I know every person has their own individual palate, but I’m seeking a recommendation for a good bottle of bourbon for a gift for my girlfriend’s father. Last Christmas I got him a bottle of Woodford Reserve. He likes trying new things, so I’d like to switch it up. I’m looking in the area of $60-$65 being my limit. I hope some day that I can develop a liking for bourbon, but until then I’m in need of help. Thanks!

  19. Nelson says:

    Jason,
    Perhaps you could write a post (or simply respond to this comment) on balancing your passion for whiskey with a maintaining budget. I noticed your most recent review is of a $400 bottle!

    As your website has gained traction, are people/distilleries sending you free samples or are you still going out and buying your own bottles. I know reviewers who do it professionally like John Hansell probably aren’t spending their own money on what they review.

    Thanks,
    N

  20. Nelson,

    Great question. I do address some of this in my site mission and rating system pages, but on this comment thread is as good of a place as any to discuss.

    Here’s the thing about whiskey blogging and it’s a common misconception. Few whiskey bloggers get samples from distilleries. It just doesn’t happen that frequently. Well let me rephrase – it doesn’t happen frequently that I am aware of. I buy 90+% of what I review. That’s a guesstimate but a damn close one. The reason is simple – Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and Pappy Van Winkle 15, etc. etc. don’t need me to review their whiskeys. They just don’t. They are rare, well talked about, and they sell. And mainstay American whiskeys in the market place don’t see enough of a surge to have their marketing people send whiskeys out to bloggers.

    With 35,000 visitors a month, 55K hits a month, a 140K page views per month, I would be better off advertising and using that money to fund the purchase of whiskeys for review if this were about money or whiskey samples. But it’s just not about money and samples.

    As for the samples that I do receive – they are typically new releases, the small, craft distillery products, and some odds and ends. I would say 80% of the whiskey samples I receive don’t ever make it to this site. Many times it’s simply not very good and I have a lot of other whiskeys I’d rather be talking about. Example: In limited time, should I review a small product release that’s available only in the state of GA that really isn’t that good or talk about a whiskey that I really enjoyed that’s widely available and a great value? The decision is easy.

    Now, as for this particular release – I think what you might want to know is why review a $400.00 bottle that few will actually be able to get their hands on? First, in full disclosure it was provided to me by St. George. However the previous review, garnering a 9.2 rating, was purchased by me (and the subsequent Lot 11 that I did not review as well). Some might feel the reason it was reviewed was because it was sent to me, but that’s simply no the case. In my opinion St. George is legitimately one of the best craft distilleries in the country. I reviewed this 30th anniversary bottle to point to the fact that there is a distillery making terrific (Epic even) Single Malt Whiskey in the USA. And what’s more, if you cannot get a hold of their $400.00 anniversary edition, they make a far more affordable ($60 or so) single malt that darn close in quality. I would probably not spend $400.00 on any whiskey, but I’d scarf up a bottle of two of their regular single malt without a second thought. Heck it’s essentially this same bottle only not finished in a pear brandy barrel.

    The bottom line is that it’s news worthy and important to me that people know about great single malt being produced here.

    Last year I had a reader that visited the site frequently for a long period of time. They read and commented frequently. I made it known that a specific whiskey (can’t remember which one) was provided by the distillery. He was absolutely appalled. He wrote a number of comments, sent me private emails, you name it, calling me biased and telling me I lost a reader forever, etc. I spent a couple of days miffed at the guy and wondering how in the world I could prevent such a reaction. Then it hit me – I can’t prevent it. Two things are ultimately going to take place on this website – 1) Readers will spend time reading and getting to know me and my style and then trust is established, or 2) Readers will disagree with me and trust will not be built. I can only do what I do and hope #1 happens and then work hard to maintain it. It’s impossible for me to do anything other than that. But I will continue to buy whiskey and review it as well as review sent samples that I truly believe are worth of talking about.

    Finally, my stance on budget is I everyone’s is different so I don’t want to assume one way or another. I am a value focused whiskey consumer, but that means something different to everyone so I choose to cover a wide range as a result.

    Nelson, you asked a great question, and I covered a bunch of ground. Some of what I covered you may not have even been interested in knowing, but hopefully it is at least beneficial in understanding my philosophy on something I take very seriously.

    Cheers,
    -Jason

  21. Ed Tillman says:

    I’ve recently begun to develop a palate for bourbon and rye, and have researched numerous whiskey websites. SMM is far and away my favorite. It’s well organized, provides great info, and is easy to navigate. I use it right in the store on my iPhone to help determine which new (to me) whiskeys to try. Jason, thanks for putting together such a great website.

    Ed in Roseville, MN (a suburb of St. Paul)

  22. Charlie Baker says:

    Jason, I really appreciate your website. You do an excellent job of dividing up your reviews between high end and low end bourbons, so there’s something for everyone here. The language you use to describe the taste of the bourbons is clear and easily understandable. This means a lot to me, because I can barely decipher most wine reviews, as they use “inside baseball” terminology that simply doesn’t communicate to me. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement, “Readers will spend time reading and getting to know me and my style and then trust is established.” You’ve won my trust, and you haven’t steered me wrong thus far!
    –Charlie in Washington DC

  23. Jim Youngson says:

    Jason, GREAT website. You’re exacting standards and articulations of each bourbon are fantastic. You really have a gift. Thanks for doing this. Tonight, I was at a CA BevMo looking at the Elijah Craig 12 and realized I needed to check with you before buying. Now, I’m confident…so thank you for doing this.

    And BTW, have you heard any news on the next batch of Pappy’s coming out? I’ve had the 20 and, well…I’ve had nothing better.

  24. Jim, thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comments also. I appreciate it. Pappy is indeed out as we speak – contact your local shops immediately.

  25. Bart says:

    Hi Jason,
    Just wondering if you’ve heard of, or tried the Texas Bourbon “Garrison Brothers”? If so, what are your thoughts?
    best

  26. Nelson says:

    Hello again Jason!

    Just wondering why there’s been a recent lack of video reviews. Have you switched exclusively to written reviews as I’m sure they are less time intensive?

  27. Jim Listerman says:

    Please consider dropping link to “Bourbon Buzz”.

    Zero updates and/or reviews since early May 2012.

    Bourbon Buzz apparently abandoned !

    Jim Listerman
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    ***Tennessee happy with UT grabbing UC Coach ? **

  28. Jim – thanks for letting me know. Haven’t pruned in a while.

    As for the coach – being an ignorant Vol fan I wanted a bigger “name”, but I think we have a proven winner in bUTch Jones. I’m hoping for the best.

  29. Nelson – Video’s are on the way. Honestly it’s just my time. Videos are my passion – much better at them than I am writing them out. However it’s tough to get it all done and uploaded and I’ve got a backlog of whiskey reviews in the queue. Working hard this month to catch up so I can get back to it. Thanks for asking.

  30. Josh says:

    When it comes to bourbon I am all about the mouth feel. All of Pappy Van Winkle’s are so velvety, long, and smooth. Are there any others out there that you feel stand up to Pappy’s mouth feel?
    Thanks for all you do. It’s a great thing you have created here.

  31. James says:

    This is a fantastic blog, I really appreciate the work you’ve put into this. I recently got to taste the Pappy Van Winkle 15 and it did not disappoint – probably the best thing I have ever had to drink. I would love it if you had a way to sort your reviews by ranking. I can find 8′s and 9 ups by searching “9.” etc. But I think it would be a useful tool if you had this feature, just a suggestion

  32. Jason says:

    I have enjoyed the site as my taste for bourbon has begun to grow. Tastings here in Indianapolis have allowed me the chance to more broadly try various types of whiskey (US and abroad) and really experience the difference in bourbon vs. rye vs. oat vs. wheat whiskeys. Now as I buy more and get gifts over the holiday it is helpful to read the commentary on your site and get another perspective. This will help guide my future purchases as well.

    Thanks for the time spent on this!

  33. Preston says:

    Jason, found your site a few weeks ago and really enjoy it. I came across a 23 pvw at my local store and my jaw dropped. My first. Had a question on bottling code. My states C11371. I know this means something put was wondering if you have the “Rosetta stone” to deciphering this.

  34. Doc says:

    Will you be reviewing Smooth Ambler 14 year?

  35. Frank Carlton says:

    Jason: I have some pints of Old Taylor bottled in 1934, made in 1918. The original corks and metal tops are in place. There is some ullage. How would you go about selling it?

  36. Andrew says:

    Jason, love your website and your reviews. I have been a very loyal Pappy customer for over 10 years. I traded emails with a Van Winkle family member to let them know I can no longer, in Texas purchase their products…not much in a response. I am looking for something to take the place of Pappy 20 yr old. I have not found anything that comes close. Can you point me to a substitute. I am ok with any dollar amount under $120 a bottle. I am partial to wheat based bourbon….look forward to your reply.

  37. Andrew – there really isn’t much of a replacement. My first suggestion that’s close would be Jeffersons 18 Year. It’s much more widely available. I would start there. Cheers!

  38. Frank I am a bad one to ask about whiskey value or selling it. Ebay woulld be your best bet.

  39. Doc, not sure that I’ll get to that one, but we’ll see. I do have some.

  40. Alex says:

    Hi Jason. First off, always enjoyed your reviews and this website. Thank you for the vast library of knowledge you’ve imparted to myself and other whisk(e)y appreciators! I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask, but I can’t really think of any better place… Given your relative proximity to many of the great bourbon and Tennessee whiskey distilleries, I was hoping you could tell me something about the agricultural aspects of their products. I was recently researching the differences in corn varietals (out of my own interest), and while doing so I realized the obvious connection here to bourbon. Two questions: First, do you know what variety of corn (maize) is used by most bourbon distillers, and second, do any of the distilleries grow their own crops for their end product (if so, is it ever grown organically?). In regard to the first question, I found a book from 1911 which states “Roughly speaking, the average composition of mash for a bourbon whisky is Indian corn 65 percent, rye 20 percent, and malt 15 percent.” This came as a surprise to me, as I always imagined normal, domestic corn (Maize Linnaeus) as the primary constituent, but according to this, it is the much less common and often multi-colored Indian (flint) corn. Do you know if this is still accurate? I’m asking purely for my own curiosity! Thank you.

  41. Alex – tremendous idea my man. I will see what I can do to help shed some light on this, but you are right. For 2013, I have to get below the surface a lot more.

  42. Doc says:

    Alex – Isn’t Journeyman Distillery bottling an organic whiskey?

  43. Tim Coveney says:

    Just found your website, after searching for a while looking for a good place to find information about quality bourbons. So far yours is the best site I have found! Very nice… You should consider putting a PayPal link on your web site in case some people would like to send a few bucks to help you support this effort.

    Thanks

  44. Christopher Gibbs says:

    Great website. I’ve been looking for a good (i.e. reliable) website to stoke my bourbon fantasies. Or, anyway, reviews that agree with my evaluations of the various bourbons. I’ve tried a lot of the top end bourbons, and, good as they are (esp. Elijah Craig), they seem very expensive. Especially when you can get Evan Williams black label at a reasonable price and a fabulous taste. I have a lot more bourbons to taste, but I find myself coming back to Evan Williams black label.

  45. Connor says:

    very interested to hear your thoughts on the ’03 EWSB. also. goes without saying but your reviews are always 100% spot on and a perfect indicator of what i’m looking to buy. cheers.

  46. GQuiz says:

    Jason, what have you heard about Tom Moore Bottled in Bond? Just has some Old Fitz BiB. Saw the Tom Moore on the shelf. Seems like all the BiB’s have been spot on. You started this with the Rittenhouse Rye and OGD. Curious what you think…

  47. Josh says:

    Jason,
    Curious to hear your thoughts on Rownan’s Creek small batch bourbon out of Bardstown, KY? Just tried it for the first time and fell in love. Where does it stand up in your opinion?

  48. McCoy says:

    This is a wonderful website. Maybe owing to your position with an IT company, but I find the website clean, easy to navigate, and highly informational. I am amazed at the lack of websites devoted to mid-range premium bourbons that you can actually find on the store shelves. Most sites are difficult to navigate, poorly laid out, and/or review expensive or very limited run bourbons. It’s mildly interesting to read about such and such awesome limited edition single barrel, special family release, 20+ year old, bourbon, but if it’s $200 dollars a bottle or just insanely difficult to track down it isn’t very useful information. I recommend your site to any like minded bourbon enthusiasts I come across and appreciate the time and effort you put in, without draping your site in advertisements and so forth. If one questions the ethics of your ratings they should need only think about that you do this for free to realize your ratings are accurate, fair, and not overly critical. There is a trust you develop with your reader and I think if people try some of these bourbons on their own and then look at your ratings they’ll see the accuracy.

    I also find your site fits my palate. I tried Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig 12 year on my own without reading a single review from any source. I called a good friend of mine and told him to stop searching for crazy high end products that they were two of the best I’ve ever had and an amazing bargain. Having gotten into bourbon drinking just recently after years of drinking gin and scotch (mixed in tonic and cola respectively no less) he was quite dubious about my ability to judge bourbon neat. He raved on and on about makers mark, basil hayden, blanton. At the time I had only had mm and with all do respect to the product I told him BT and EC was far superior for a marginal increase in cost. So he bought a bottle of each and tried them. He was astounded as well at the quality for the price. Certainly ppv it is not, but for $28 dollars a bottle it’s amazing. After that experience we delved deeper into the internets and found your site. One of my favorite pastimes now is to buy a new bottle of bourbon and taste it on my own, arrive at my own conclusions, and then jump on your site and see how you’ve rated it.

    I’m an Indiana native but a 10 year resident of Louisville, KY so I feel blessed to live in the heart of bourbon country. You may be familiar with another fairly famous KY product. Fark.com What I find interesting is his constant willingness to plan get togethers that anybody that is in the area can attend, wherever he happens to be on the planet at that time. You should consider a tailgate tent, meet and greet, at one years KY derby. It would be a great way for like minded enthusiasts to meet each other and share great bourbon stories in person.

    And for anybody that doesn’t appreciate the time and effort it takes to produce great bourbon pick up a bottle of Buffalo Trace White Dog for them to taste. Bless the gods that somebody figured out aging that stuff in charred oak barrels is magic.

  49. McCoy – I really appreciate the thoughts and your commenting. Thanks also for visiting. I intend for the site to have a little something for everyone. I’ve got a lot to do to make it better but I appreciate that you enjoy it. Cheers!

  50. John says:

    Jason,
    I really enjoy your website and find your reviews to be a helpful guide. While your obvious focus on American spirits is rightfully bourbon, I do appreciate when you stray into other American spirits such as straight rye, straight wheat and American malt whiskeys. However, one American spirit of note that you have neglected to a large extent is straight corn whiskey. I know that in modern times, there are not a lot of straight corn whiskeys out there, but I think that it is an important part of the history of American whiskey, and of the evolution of bourbon in particular. Heaven Hill makes what I think is an excellent example of straight corn whiskey called Mellow Corn. I picked up a 750ml bottle out of curiosity ($9.29!) and now feel I have a much better understanding as to why George Dickel has such a unique flavor and color profile amongst bourbons. Might we get a review or two of this important part of American whiskey heritage?

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