Monday, August 15, 2016

On Bourbon Whiskey

A casual reader (one Glen Filthie of Filthie's Thunderbox) asked for my opinion on bourbon whiskey, which I am always glad to give.  Those of you who are teetotalers or who are on the wagon may skip the rest of this post.  The rest of you can sit back and relax whilst I pontificate on the wonders of bourbon whiskey.

I like Scotch well enough, but I don't drink it often. The thing about Scotch (and you know this, being a Scotch drinker) is that taste in Scotch is highly individual. When I do drink Scotch, I like to drink Glenfiddich or Glenlivet. For blends I enjoy Chivas Regal or Dewar's. I'll drink Cutty Sark if someone else is buying. Okay, there isn't much I won't drink if someone else is buying, except beer. I'm allergic to beer and can't drink it at all. I also like Laphroaig, which most people won't touch and which is rumored to take the chrome off a trailer hitch, but I only drink it in small quantities three or four times a year.

The same thing is true of bourbon. Taste is an individual preference and your mileage is going to vary.  What I enjoy in bourbon is going to be decried as heresy by other professional drunks. That said, here we go, down to Bourbon, Ketucky for the real deal.

By definition, Bourbon must be distilled in Bourbon, Kentucky. All other is bourbon in name only.

I've been on a Woodford kick for a while, and Mike got me a bottle of Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select as a housewarming gift. This is seriously good bourbon and will reside on the top shelf. There's also regular old Woodford Reserve, which is a solid, enjoyable bourbon.

A few good, very drinkable bourbons are Jim Beam, Old Grand-Dad, and Old Overholt. Try Old Grand Dad, and if you like it you'll probably like Old Overholt. Ancient Age falls into this category, but for some reason I don't drink it often. It's good bourbon, and I'd recommend it to anyone, it's just that I, personally, don't drink it often. Maybe I ought to pick up a bottle today.

I've had both Knob Creek Bourbon and Maker's Mark, and I'll drink them if someone else is buying. They're good, but for my taste they're a bit on the pricey side for the value received. Again, this is my own personal preference.

Moving along to the top shelf bourbon, I've had Eagle Rare and found it to be smooth with a delicious after taste.  Likewise with 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, although I think the Eagle is just a little better.

My own private reserve, and the best bourbon I've ever had in the last 10 years, is Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey. This stuff is so smooth, so delicious, that I'll go dry before I'd drink it casually. This is triple delicious bourbon, and it's downright expensive - but worth it.

The best bourbon is supposed to be Old Rip Van Winkle or Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve (if you can find any). I've never had it, but if you ever get around to buying a bottle, let me know if it's any good.  I suspect it may be over-rated.

You'll probably want a short list. Go down to the watering hole and get a shot of each of these, straight up, room temperature, with water back. No ice in the water. Wait 15 minutes between brands, so as to clear your delicate Scotch loving palate between brands.
  • Maker's Mark
  • Old Grand Dad
  • Knob Creek
  • Woodford Reserve
Pick the one or two you like best, then try a few more (possibly the next day, as you'll want to be sober for this - no offense intended, but I don't know your capacity).
  • Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select
  • Eagle Rare
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon
Again, pick one. You now have preferences in watering hole, everyday bourbon, and top shelf bourbon.

Let me know how it turns out.

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