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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

Southern Charm in a Straight Bourbon

Eagle Rare 10-Year-Old Single-Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Thomas Matthews
Posted: August 19, 2011

Every summer, I vacation on Edisto Island in South Carolina. The city of Charleston is our portal to this paradise, and I take advantage of its proximity for a civilized meal or two before or after heading to the beach. This year, my best Charleston meal was at a relatively new restaurant called Husk.

Chef Sean Brock, who has established his older restaurant, McCrady’s, as one of Charleston’s best, opened Husk with chef de cuisine Travis Grimes, a native of the amazing coastal environment called the Lowcountry. Their menu is a meditation on local ingredients, traditional dishes and Lowcountry creativity. The results are simply delicious.

The beverage program is just as distinctive, though not so narrow in focus. The wine list, for example, is divided not by region or varietal, but by the soil type (slate, limestone, volcanic). Our friendly, knowledgeable sommelier, Adam Brunelle, matched a bright, minerally Kerner 2009 from Valle Isarco in Alto Adige (primary rock; $59 on the list) with an amazing stew of local clams and mushrooms. Who knew Northern Italy and South Carolina had so much to say to each other?

But the true strength in Husk’s list is in Bourbon. More than 50 different bottlings of this quintessential Southern spirit are offered, along with many inventive and traditional Bourbon-based cocktails, and each of the down-home desserts is paired with a different Bourbon.

I began my meal with a Manhattan made with Bourbon and paired with a plate of thin-sliced “Surryano” ham, a variation on Spanish Serrano made by Edwards, the great country ham producer in Surry, Va. And I finished it with peach cobbler matched with the 90-proof Eagle Rare 10-Year-Old ($10 a glass), made by the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Ky. Both pairings were rich in flavor and deeply evocative of the place and its history. I can’t wait to return.

Husk Restaurant
76 Queen St., Charleston, S.C. 29401
Telephone: (843) 577-2500
Website: www.huskrestaurant.com
Open: Lunch (or brunch) and dinner, daily

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