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Bourbon and Bowties: Learn about pairings at LongviewWOW fundraiser

By Glenn Evans
Jan. 27, 2016 at midnight

A selection of some of the bourbons that will be available for sampling at the Bourbon and Bow Ties fundraiser. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

WHITEHOUSE — White wine with fish, red with beef — that's easy enough. But which is the right bourbon to pair with peppered candy bacon strips?

"Obviously, being aged in a charred barrel, most bourbon has that smoky flavor," Shawn Wilson said recently, sitting in a back-yard office where he and his wife, Allie, run a start-up business that will help a downtown Longview children's science museum on Feb. 6. "The way bacon is cured, it has that smoky (flavor). It matches well, and the bacon helps bring out more of that smokiness in the bourbon."

Since November 2014, the Whitehouse couple has been bringing their campy-named business, Pour Me, to events across the region.

Pour Me will arrive at The Landing Event Center, near East Texas Regional Airport, with a 16-foot bourbon bar stocked with 35 of the American whiskeys for Bourbon and Bowties, an annual fundraiser that benefits Longview World of Wonders.

"All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon," the husband and longtime area firefighter said. "What we do is pair it with a lot of out-of-the-box garnishes."

Supporters of the children's museum will be greeted at the event by a Bourbon Trail on oilfield spools and a total of six bars offering the range of spirits, wine and beer. Garrison Brothers is bringing its own complement of bourbons distilled in the Texas Hill Country.

The Wilsons recently visited a distillery in Montana where the Texas bourbon was making a splash.

"And they were talking about Garrison Brothers," Shawn Wilson said. "It does win a lot."

Bourbon 101 will be ongoing at the Pour Me panel, where the Professors Wilson will stir up surprise taste combos for bold palates. The couple were discovered at another fundraiser where Bourbon and Bowties organizer Cole Tomberlain must have thought they'd created a catering business just for his event.

"He wanted it to be kind of an educational experience for people," Allie Wilson said of Tomberlain.

It should be.

"We find that oranges go phenomenally well with bourbon," she said. "That citrus, it opens the bourbon up nicely. ... E.H. Taylor tends to be a more spiced bourbon, with a smoky undertone. Say, you're doing a pork tenderloin on chipotle glaze — the spiciness of the E.H. Taylor kind of lends itself. It has a lot of cherry undertone to it, so it's really good with, like, cherry glazed pork or a chutney."

Bone-in pork chops with chutney?

"That would go well with the Booker's," the wife said.

Bourbons from the mid-range to top-drawer will star at the Pour Me panel. Shawn Wilson was hoping earlier this month to bring some Pappy Van Winkle.

"It's the elite, hard-to-get bourbon," he said. "Some of the bottles go for thousands and thousands of dollars."

The couple has learned to discern the bourbon drinkers in their crowd.

"At the last one, we had probably 200 people, but less than seven or eight of them were true bourbon drinkers, that knew a lot about it," said Allie Wilson, a 10-year wedding planner originally from Louisiana.

She said East Texas appears ripe for a taste that's trending — and the time is right for East Texans to learn about the American spirit.

"We had one guy at the last event say, 'Can I put Dr Pepper in it?' " she said. "I said, 'You can. I won't.' ... There was kind of a void in the market in East Texas. So, we just started."

And they come prepared.

"We'll be bringing a lot of bacon," she said, her husband quick to add: "And who doesn't like bacon?"

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