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What is a good Bourbon to start with?

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@NilsG
NilsG started a discussion

I think my next step in my whisky journey should be exploring bourbon (So far I've only tasted Japanese and scotch seriously). Where should I start? Something that can sort of represent what good bourbon is al about, but at moderate price and available outside the US (I'm in Japan). Rather than a bottle that is suitable for a scotch lover, I'd prefer one that is representative of bourbon.

11 years ago

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@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

NilsG my friend I'd likely start with Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Bulleit Bourbon and Knob Creek. I figure most of those should be fairly accessible around the world and hopefully at more reasonable prices. The only expensive one over here in Australia is the Knob Creek which goes for $100 AUS. The rest of them run at around $40-60 AUS.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

I just realized as I was falling to sleep that I forgot to throw in Maker's Mark. Not a bad bourbon at the price point, I'd say roughly $40 or so AUS and it was the bourbon that caused me to fall in love with bourbon oh so many years ago.

11 years ago 0

@valuewhisky
valuewhisky replied

First of all, merry Christmas!

I agree with the Eagle Rare recommendation - it has a quintessential bourbon flavor profile. I think it's about the best in the under-$30 price range (US prices... no idea what Japan prices are like). That said, I wouldn't say it's an excellent bourbon (definitely good - just not great). Depending on prices there, I would consider Blanton's single barrel. It's very good, hits all the typical bourbon notes, and also quite pleasant and easy drinking.

11 years ago 0

@teebone673
teebone673 replied

Based on what you're looking for I highly recommend Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig 12yr. Two of the most reasonably priced, quality bourbons you can find. I'm mainly a scotch drinker, but these two bourbons are always in my cabinet.

11 years ago 0

@OCeallaigh
OCeallaigh replied

I definitely agree that Buffalo Trace, Elijah Craig and Knob Creek are great examples of an all around bourbon. I haven't tried Eagle Rare, but from what I hear, it should be right in line with the rest of these.

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

Thanks a lot guys!! This is why connosr is so great, the super helpful people! whisky noobs like myself can get instant guidance in the right direction.

It's funny, after the little research I did before I had a hunch about Buffalo Trace and Knob Creek. Don't know how readily available they are here but I'll try to get hold of them. I'll do some more reading of reviews and maybe sample if I find some at a bar before I get a bottle. But I'm really looking forward to my first neat bourbon, unlike my first single malt that more like "happened" to me, this time I'm controlling what it will be.

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

My go-to place had neither of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare or Knob Kreek. There was a lot of empty shelves in general... There was Makers Mark, Blanton's Single barrel (also gold Ed.), Bulleit Bourbon, Elaijah Craig 12. So I got something to start with anyway.

11 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@NilsG Sounds like they're missing a couple of my favorites, but at least it also seems like they have a fairly nice entry level range :D Enjoy the bourbons and let us know what you think!!

11 years ago 0

@SlowPuffs
SlowPuffs replied

@NilsG I've been quite impressed with Bulleit. The price point in Canada is quite reasonable and to my tastes, competes quite well with other bourbons that I can get my hands on.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@NilsG
NilsG replied

I will have a look at the reviews for these and make up my mind before I get a bottle or two.

11 years ago 0

@SquidgyAsh
SquidgyAsh replied

@NilsG if you don't mind sharing what were the prices running out for say Maker's Mark or Bulliet, just so I'll be able to compare the prices to what it's here in Australia. I'm quite curious. A friend of mine just got back from a trip to Japan and didn't bring me back any whisky (How dare he!? :D) Instead he spent all his alcohol allowance on port and sake hahaha.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@NilsG
NilsG replied

Here are the prices that I took note of: (¥ 1,000 = AU$ 11) Elaijah Craig: 2,180 Bulleit Bourbon: 3,980 Maker's Mark: 2,380 Blanton's sngl brl: 3,080 Blanton's sngl brl Gold ed.: 5,460 Evan Wiliams sngl brl: 3,890 Basil Hayden's 8yo: 3,980 Old Ezra 7/12yo: 2,380 / 3,480 Booker's True Barrel Bourbon: 4,780

Sometimes their pricing seem weird to me, maybe you can tell if they seem alright or not.

11 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG replied

All those prices were supposed to go on different rows, but the site clumped them together. The price is after the name.

11 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel

herro, disgustin! ^_^ i mean, nils!! if you like something along the lines of sweetness, i really like the Maker's Mark 46. This one has a lot of heat--it's 47% ABV and i find that it's quite buttery, creamy, sweet...but this heavy quality is balanced out by some raspberry notes. i'm guessing that these profiles exist as a result of them completing the final finish in french oak casks.

for something else that's different, i really like knob creek 120 proof. it's got that kick to it, and i think it has a caramel-oak influence with a little bit of spice and fire. i love it! hehehe so what are you going to get ?

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@NilsG
NilsG replied

@PissInABladder ... I mean Blinh (you started!) I haven't seen those bottles, but sounds good.

Finally did little tasting last night. Got me me some maker's mark and eagle rare, both very nice. MM tastes Christmas to me, Swedish Christmas rice-porridge. The ER was more my taste, had more of a bite to it, but a little short in the finish, but I had been smoking (not a smoker, but sometimes do) so I might have been missing out on something). I was gonna finish with a Elijah Craig but the damn bar closed 11:30 and didn't take anymore orders. But I started talking to the bartender about an interesting private bottling of single cask Yamazaki they had; cask strength, 13y aged in puncheon cask. And the bartender ended up pouring me a small dram on the house...it was mouthgazm, so the night ended well after all.

As for the bourbon, I think I'll get the Elijah Craig I never tasted.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@GotOak91
GotOak91 replied

@NilsG I second Elijah Craig rated one of the best in the 10-12 year range bourbon-wise. Full of flavor and great priced at $23 (USD) its my favorite bourbon so-far.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@cpstecroix
cpstecroix replied

@BlissInABarrel I don't think MM is barrelled in anything other than toasted new American oak. Still a nice wheated bourbon though.

11 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@NilsG, yes, it may be a tall order, but get your Kentucky friends to bring you some Ancient Ancient Age 10 year old bourbon. It is sold only in Kentucky, which is highly inconvenient for the rest of us outside of Kentucky. However, within Kentucky it is very inexpensive. Probably about half of the bourbon lovers in Kentucky drink that as their regular everyday bourbon. It's also the one that Jim Murray chose for that purpose while he lived in Kentucky. I am only 500 miles away from Kentucky, but I get mine from friends of friends traveling there too. Classic easy-drinking bourbon, and it really disappears at a party.

11 years ago 3Who liked this?

@BlissInABarrel

dammit, victor! now you've gotten me jealous! how do you have an entire air force of whisky enthusiasts sending you rare, exclusive stuff? unbelievable!!

nils g-unit, i want to send you South Shot, a bourbon that only costs $10 and is only found in my liquor store. some people think it's dodgy because it has an eagle hovering over a barrel and it only costs ten bucks. plus, they've never heard of that brand. i think people should keep an open mind about it and take some chances since there's only a few distilleries in the USA and lots of people buy some juices from certain distilleries and slap their own label on it. exhibit a: bulliet bourbon comes from the four roses distillery. they don't have a distillery. now, i'm not talking smack on bulliet because i like that there's a lot of different types of whiskies for everyone. i like this particular one because it appears to have a higher ratio content of rye in their mashbill in comparison to other bourbons i've tried. i guess i like the speeecy spicy a lot. what can i say? i was born and raised to eat hot sauce! ^_^

another one that i think is yummy is called Booker Noe. that mo'fo' will probably grab you by the (pardon my french) testeeeclays but the heat is nice! fun stuff.

also, don't ever be seduced by the comment "small batch" bourbon. there's no legal rule or definition in the US that defines what small batch reallly means. people get caught up in the whole glory of small batch, thinking that it's made in smaller quantities, which equates to a more "artisanal" love and care kind of craft. well, i say FAK U, marketing companies!! cuz small batch doesn't mean jack squat. it all comes down to taste, right??

one master distiller from kentucky said, "well, if i dump a lot of the bourbon from the cask and keep a little bit of it then isn't that considered small batch?"

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@BlissInABarrel, yes, "small batch" applied to bourbon has no legal or precise meaning. What it does seem to me to mean, coming from those who are marketing it, is THEIR CLAIM that it is, 'middle shelf or better' in quality. THEY would, of course, hope that their products are seen as 'top shelf' Usually 'small batch' does mean that the casks selected are better than for the mass products, perhaps top third of the barrels available for selection.

I notice that some of the smaller younger distilleries will call their products "small batch" even when they have no "large batch" product for comparison. I am skeptical of these quasi-high-quality allusions from the small makers before I have sampled their products. The economic pressure on small producers to garner income from selling very young spirits is intense, especially in the US, where it is legal to call it "whiskey" without multiple years in the wood. The US small distillers have been scurrying all over the place trying to figure out how to have a spirit aged no more than 6 months for which large numbers of people will pay $ 40 per bottle. Bartenders are largely keeping some of the younger whiskeys on the map. Time will tell how the public taste settles out with respect to acceptance of very young products.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Wills
Wills replied

@BlissInABarrel Always nice to read your posts, mostly gets me laughing :)

@Victor "The economic pressure on small producers to garner income from selling very young spirits is intense, especially in the US, where it is legal to call it "whiskey" without multiple years in the wood."

Don't understand this. In my opinion the financial pressure for scotch-makers should be even higher. They have to take so much money in their hands and earn the first money at least after 3 years.

11 years ago 2Who liked this?

@BlissInABarrel

@Wills hehhehee thanks! Oh yeh I saw your thread about music and you chose funk and electronic! So good! I've been looping rainy day remix album all week

Victor, I haven't slept much but your comment deserves a standing ovation. My goodness! So smart :) I'm knighting you and calling you sir connosr from now on

Lingonberry juice (that's for Nils...ah I'm an ignorant Vietnamese and think all swedes drink that as their base for water ) sorry to go off on a tangent. Okee well, so good to hear from you guys! I haven't slept much because I get to essssssited to hear what you guys say. (Oops I'm getting borderline creepy)!

11 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@Wills, the Scottish distillers don't have a choice, legally. They have to age their product for 3 yrs minimum to call it 'whisky'. And there apparently is not a big UK market for New Make, not yet, at least. In the US, they can wait and age their product for years before releasing it as 'whiskey', or they can sell it new or 2 or 3 months in wood and also legally call it "whiskey". Many small US producers are betting that people will buy their product unaged or barely aged, and are charging more for it than the amounts commanded by big-volume aged products from established brands. Eg Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye, aged for a few months, would locally cost me double ($ 44) what a bottle of 7 yo Old Weller Antique ($ 21) or 8 yo Jim Beam Black ($ 21) costs. Or about the same as a bottle of Booker's on a good sale. For the same money which will it be: Booker's or the young newcomer?

11 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills replied

@Victor So they are trying to establish overpriced very young whiskey. Just don't get the point why pple should buy this. And I don't understand what this has to do with the 'small batch' label. Bookers is aged 7 years and it's a small batch too.

Greetings

11 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@Wills, the young distillers are trying to survive financially. By my standards and yours their products are quite expensive. Many of the young distilleries promote the "drink local" movement of calling upon geographical locals to support their businesses. They have often been more successful at this than I would have thought. A lot of the public is as interested in the personal/communal/local touch as they are of good value for money from a large more far-off company. Local distilleries are becoming pillars of community-building, as the local bars and saloons here were 100 years ago, ie before the US Prohibition.

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlissInABarrel

@Victor this is such an interesting topic. as more and more bars are spreading, at least in southern california, i find that bars are looking for micro distillers. i have heard that corsair, for example has been using top notch products such as madagascar vanilla, quinoa , etc..all sorts of high end ingredients to make their whiskies and, as a result, some bottles may run up to the $40 range, even though they are being released at a young age.

i think it's interesting to see that companies like corsair are getting creative with their products, using different ingredients to tweak the whisky palate. they have a whiskey called resputin, which is essentially like an imperial stout infused with hops. prichard's from tennessee is using the old civil war method (or pre civil war?? can't remember for the moment) of making their products, where they're using white corn instead of yellow corn. they're not going through the maple char filtration. they've gone as far is infusing one of their lines with cocoa nibs? is that bad? is that great?

i'm forced to take a step back with an open mind and i find myself looking at it from a different angle. i feel as though i am a young person in the mid century looking at cubism for the first time and asking myself, "is this good? is this bad? or is it different?" etc. lots of questions come to my mind, but it is forcing me to change my impression of american whiskies in the sense that i'm caught off guard by their quirky experimentations. some say mcewan from bruichladdich is a crazy mad scientist, but i like that he gets creative. i like that i get to try something new and i'm capturing different flavors on my tongue--i cannot predict how the flavor will shift and change, and that keeps me on my toes. so sure, a 2 month old whisky in the $30 range? that sounds pretty damn high! but then again, we are willing to drop $150 bucks for a pappy van winkle. but then again, the novel experience of seeing where we are going with american spirits is exciting.

in short, i like my traditional style whiskies and bourbons. i stand by knob creek 100%, but i also think there's something to be said about these up and coming distilleries. they have something to say, too, so let's let them play. I want everyone to win here! :D hand me that 5 dollar whisky! i'll never turn any whisky down! but you bet..you bet your bottom dollar i will hug and nestle that highland park 40 year. so good. :D

11 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Wills
Wills replied

Thx to both of you. Indeed a very interesting topic as I am not from the US and getting a little insight from you 'insiders' is great. Didn't know they were putting vanilla and other stuff in the whiskey. They can't do this for Scotch to be called Scotch. But yeah, maybe it tastes great. I'll try to keep a open mind!

11 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel

@Wills yeah. i always thought bourbon had the standard rye, corn and grain mash bill, but there's larceny pulling a different trick with eliminating rye and putting in wheat. i tried a bourbon that had the mashbill of corn, rye and malted barley recently. intriguing !!

11 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel

@Wills oh, yeah, i've seen some reactions in the crowd saying, "yeah, it's good. but it's different. i can't rap my mind around it." they're kinda caught off guard, too, by these new creations. sometimes i wonder when i try something and i don't like it ...its it because it's new and that i'm not used to it or if it just doesn't taste good. it's one of those things where i think i will have to ponder, sit on it, and wait a few months before i go, "yeah . i think i get where you're going with this! you're pulling a thomas pynchon on me and that that's okay. i like that" so...we shall see.

victor, have you tried any whiskeys that you thought were good, even though they were only 2 months old??

11 years ago 0