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Kentucky Derby question: Is Mint Julep too sweet?

Julep       Wine consultant Barry Alberts suggests that I start a regular “Wine Question of the Week” feature – posing trenchant questions and asking readers to comment. It’s a good way to get wine discussions going, he says.

       Good idea, Barry. Here goes.

       But, see, I’m violating the rules with the first question, because it’s not about wine. It’s about liquor.

     The question: With the 134th Kentucky Derby coming up Sat., May 3, can it be argued that its official drink, the Mint Julep, is the worst mixed drink in history?

       Could any other drink be as cloyingly sweet? The official Kentucky Derby Mint Julep recipe calls for equal parts of sugar and water, for gosh sakes -- then adds mint and Early Times Kentucky Whisky, a form of bourbon, the sweetest liquor on the planet.

     And Early Times claims to sell 120,000 of them over the two days of the Derby and Kentucky Oaks race. By race’s end, the crowds must be dropping like flies from “sugar crash.”

       Well, now the people who make Wild Turkey are entering the fray, arguing that their bourbon is better for mint juleps because it’s 101 proof, meaning 50.5 percent alcohol, compared to 80 proof/40 percent alcohol for the other stuff.

       So what do you think, race/wine/julep fans? Are there any defenders of the traditional julep out there? Any votes for a different recipe?

       Click on the “comments” icon below to reply.


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Kevin Jones


Being from Louisville (pronounced "loo-uhh-vull"), I feel confident in saying that during the races, the Mint Julup is not too sweet.

I'm not sure if this is due to the heat from the sun which improves the appeal of any cool drink or lack of adherence to the official recipe. It is common for us locals to comment on the varying quality of the drink throughout the day. After a while of watching the horses though, I don't think anyone cares...

The sugar crash is real.. or at least some type of crash. Sipping cocktails while doing a roller coaster ride of adrenaline due to the races, does take it's toll at the end of the day. There is ususally a calm period in the day before some of us re-engergize to celebrate the crazy two weeks prior to the event.

Of course, what I do know.. I'm a wine guy.

Kevin Jones

Suzanne L.

Dumb question. Is a mojito the same thing as a mint julep, just made with rum?

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