Guest post: The Bourbon Boom & Artisanal Cheese Waves Hit San Diego

Check out my first guest post, by Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario. You never know what can come of a chance meeting – read on to find out!

I wanted to report in on The San Diego Spirits Festival where each day I presented my All-Wisconsin/All-Sartori Artisanal Cheese and Fine Bourbon Pairing Adventure Seminars.   The festival was huge and held on a roofed pier which went out into the bay with seagulls flying and waves splashing.   I believe over 6,000 people joined in the fun this weekend.   The 7th Annual San Diego Spirits Festival is now the largest Cocktail & Culinary Spirits Festival in Southern California.   Most of the guests at the festival were there to learn and improve their knowledge about spirits, along with pairing culinary products and cooking.   No one in any of my seminars had ever tried pairing cheese with spirits and now they will.   I made each person my Cheese Scroll with information on each Sartori cheese, the cheesemaker and the Bourbon.   The Cheese Impresario- Teaching Sartori Cheese & Bourbon

Part of the pleasure of The San Diego Spirit Festival is the people you meet.   I saw a group of interesting women checking out the different spirits and they had tee shirts on with a cool logo – The guide to craft spirits.  RAD!   I went over to them and we got talking about Jeanne Runkle’s passion for craft spirits and the people who take such pride in what they produce.   I felt like I was meeting a kindred spirit because I changed my life to follow my passion for artisanal cheese and the talented family cheesemakers.   I quit my advertising career and re-invented myself as Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario.   I launched with the Oscars and I am now a nationally known cheese expert, cheese educator, cheese writer and cheese entertainer.  Jeanne founded to educate people on the growing world of craft spirits.  It is my pleasure to know Jeanne and it will be my happiness to watch her as she grows and prospers.

I paired four different Reserve artisanal cheeses from fourth generation Wisconsin cheesmaking family, Sartori with two different flavor expressions of fine Bourbon.    The Bourbon I paired the cheeses with was Woodford Reserve.   This Kentucky masterpiece is made in two deep flavors; Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select and the very different in taste, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.   It was a blast to teach my students about how different each cheese is with a differently made fine Bourbon.  My seminar students were blown away by how exciting the flavors were and will bring this concept into their homes to share with their friends and family.  While I’m traveling around the country, I see that people are craving information on what cheese will be delicious paired with which beverage and it my honor to give them this information.Espresso BellaVitanoAs we become more interested in where our food and drink comes from and who made it, the opportunity to thrill your guests with something delicious and easy to present is…artisanal cheeses paired with a selection of Bourbons.  I’ll share one of the pairings from The San Diego Spirits Festival.   Sartori Reserve’s Espresso BellaVitano was created by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, Mike Matucheski.   He invented a true American Original cow’s milk cheese that’s winning awards all over the planet.  BellaVitano is not a Cheddar and not a Parmesan but something in this range but very unique.  Sartori has developed many flavors of BellaVitano like Chai Tea, Raspberry, Merlot and the Espresso BellaVitano I used in my seminars that’s hand-rubbed with ground espresso beans.   What an exciting pairing this cheese was the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon with its rich, cinnamon, coca, caramel and even chocolate notes with the richness of the Espresso BellaVitano was my students’ favorite pairing.    

San Diego’s Mayor also proclaimed Saturday San Diego Spirits Day; it was quite exciting seeing this happen. I can’t wait for next year’s San Diego Spirits Festival and am planning what I’ll be doing with pairing artisanal cheeses with fine spirits.

I have a series on the Internet, CHEESE RULES with host Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario where I showcased my award-winning grilled cheese sandwich made with Sartori’s Dolcina Gorgonzola and a layer of peanut brittle for that sweet/savory combination.   NFL and Super Bowl star, Shaun Phillips and I made this sandwich together and paired it with a Bourbon Manhattan Cocktail.  Fabulous!   Google my series and you’ll find it easily for additional ideas about entertaining with cheese.


Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario

The Cheese Impresario Spirits--- high res

About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.

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