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c2walker
12-07-2011, 18:55
I'm a bourbon novice and I need your help. I recently did a semi-blind tasting of whiskies around my house....I learned that Canadian whisky is not my thing (Forty Creek stood out in a bad way), but I do like bourbon and rye. Of the bourbons included, Virgin 101, surprisingly, ended up being my favorite, followed by Woodford Reserve, Russell's Reserve, and Bernheim (I know, not a true bourbon). Evidently wheat is not my favorite whiskey ingredient because I've never really been impressed by Maker's either. Other bourbons that I've found underwhelming in the past include Knob Creek and Bulleit. Also, I've only tried PVW 20 once, but I wasn't blown away. On the flip side I did like Blanton's when I tried it at a bar a few days back.

Now, my palate is far from refined, but I'm hoping my likes and dislikes will provide you bourbon experts with enough information to help me decide which bourbons I should try next. I wish I could sample them all, but alas, I'm too poor. Do you have any recommendations?

timd
12-07-2011, 19:21
Sounds like you enjoy higer-rye bourbon.

However, I'm surprised you didn't like Bulleit - perhaps you don't like *that much* rye in your bourbon?

That said, Four Roses Single Barrels are a great bourbon - and reasonably priced for what they are (much cheaper than Blanton's, usually), but they make the Bulleit bourbon - so you may want to leave them off your early lists of things to try... but I think it's worth revisiting!

For good, mid-shelf offerings look into trying:
Wild Turkey 101
Buffalo Trace
Evan Williams Single Barrel
Jim Beam Black
Four Roses Small Batch

Those would be good next stops, all well under $30 (some may be under $20). Between them, their mashbills cover about 60%+ of the bourbon brands on the market... You can get a nose for the distilleries, the mashbills, etc. with just those five bottles.

Personally, I'm a huge Four Roses fan - I love that heavy rye mash bill (but I actually typically prefer Rye to Bourbon). None of these are wheated.

T47
12-07-2011, 20:10
Let folks know where you are from and they will be better able to steer you to whats available in your area.
I have to second the WT 101, always a nice pour in my book. I would reccomend Elijah Craig 12 and Old Grand Dad BIB as well.
Enjoy the exploration!

:toast:

c2walker
12-07-2011, 21:26
I'm in North Carolina. The selection isn't great in the state-run liquor stores, but I've seen everything mentioned so far. I travel out of a state quite a bit as well so I can generally get my hands on just about everything sooner or later.

I didn't dislike Bulleit...I just wasn't blown away. Also, I was just getting into bourbon when I picked up a bottle. I may have to give it a second chance.

Thanks for the recommendations so far! Keep 'em comin'!

trumpstylz
12-08-2011, 03:24
If you are new to this, I would definitely recommend you staying with the low to medium priced bottles until you really develop a palate.

Evan Williams black label wouldn't be a bad one to go with- its only a medium rye or so, but you can pick it up for around 20$ a handle (plus you can mix it and not feel bad about it).

But in the slightly higher price range, i agree with the other posters. Wild turkey and old grand dad wouldnt be bad either. Also- maybe some old forester.

And just because you didn't like makers mark, it doesn't mean you don't like wheaters, nor that you dislike the distillery. Makers mark underwhelms more people than not around here. You might give makers 46 or Old weller antique a try (I promise that one will not underwhelm you).

I also recommend you give an Old Fashioned a try if you're yet to try one.

Young Blacksmith
12-08-2011, 05:43
Picking up a small bottle of Buffalo Trace, Evan Williams Black, Wild Turkey 101, and Old Weller Antique would be my suggestions, and see how you feel about them.

You'll probably like the WT as you like RR, EW may be a bit sweet for you.

That's what I did when I started out, and it showed the qualities of a few different distilleries and their basic products. You can expand from there.

I still stock them all but BT!

Halifax
12-08-2011, 06:57
If you enjoyed the Blanton's... Then I would suggest trying other BT products such as Elmer T. Lee, Eagle Rare 10/SB and, of course, Buffalo Trace. NC ABC delisted ETL, but there are a few stores around that still have inventory on the shelves.

bourbon-n00b
12-08-2011, 08:14
A couple not yet mentioned: Old Grand-Dad 114, Very Old Barton 100 and Wild Turkey Rye.

angler82
12-08-2011, 08:30
Great recommendations so far. I agree that you should start with the low to mid priced stuff and work your way up.

My recs:
Old Grand Dad 100 or 114
Buffalo Trace
Basil Hayden (believe this is the same mashbill as OGD but older)
Elijah Craig 12
Four Roses Small Batch

c2walker
12-08-2011, 10:18
I took some of your recommendations and tried Wild Turkey 101 and Rare Breed since the ABC stores sold 50ml "bottles". Both were excellent. I also tried Gentleman Jack (again, I know not a bourbon) and, I never would have said this in my early-20's, thought it was a little too smooth and mellow....maybe even a bit bland in comparison to the others. I liked the higher proof and sweet & tangy nature of the Wild Turkey brands I tried.

Old Grand Dad is one that's been recommended by a lot of people, but, unfortunately, they only sell the lowest proof version in NC. I'll snatch up the 100 proofer when I'm out of state over the holidays.

StraightNoChaser
12-08-2011, 11:32
I don't think there is anything "mind-blowing" about Bulleit but it is easily my favorite <$25 every day pour. Nothing complicated about it, just a spicy and flavorful, easy-drinking bourbon.

bgageus
12-08-2011, 12:09
Your likes vary through distillerys which is good. I would recommend a walk through of some distillerys that produce relatives of your favorites. There is a whiskey tree on here somewhere that I find helpful to me when selecting bourbon that I want to try.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15005&referrerid=6987

cowdery
12-08-2011, 12:12
Virgin is a Heaven Hill product and Heaven Hill is generally very well represented at retail in North Carolina. Evan Williams is their leading brand. The black label is good, the single barrel vintage is even better. Elijah Craig is also Heaven Hill. North Carolina also gets some of their cats and dogs, which are usually good values. Look for Henry McKenna, J.T.S. Brown, Fighting Cock, J.W. Dant, Echo Spring, Mattingly & Moore, T.W. Samuels, Kentucky Deluxe, Kentucky Supreme, and the Heaven Hill brand itself. Some of these are bottled in bond. Enjoy!

Brisko
12-08-2011, 12:43
I have a question about the "cats and dogs."

Is there any barrel selection going into these brands, to match a particular profile, or is are they all basically the same?

trumpstylz
12-08-2011, 20:41
I took some of your recommendations and tried Wild Turkey 101 and Rare Breed since the ABC stores sold 50ml "bottles". Both were excellent. I also tried Gentleman Jack (again, I know not a bourbon) and, I never would have said this in my early-20's, thought it was a little too smooth and mellow....maybe even a bit bland in comparison to the others. I liked the higher proof and sweet & tangy nature of the Wild Turkey brands I tried.

Old Grand Dad is one that's been recommended by a lot of people, but, unfortunately, they only sell the lowest proof version in NC. I'll snatch up the 100 proofer when I'm out of state over the holidays.

Go with the low proof then- i checked and i think its 86. Youre new, so it will be fine and you will get the jist of it.

cowdery
12-10-2011, 12:44
I have a question about the "cats and dogs."

Is there any barrel selection going into these brands, to match a particular profile, or is are they all basically the same?

Even in the case of cats and dogs, I believe they strive to match the brand profile. The cats and dogs survive because they have a core of drinkers who drink that brand exclusively and who are liable to notice if anything changes.