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View Full Version : Rookie needs advice so as not to embarass himself!



PDP
09-20-2003, 12:36
Hello everyone, I am wondering if I could trouble you for some advice.

My exposure to true bourbon is extremely limited, in that I have always preferred Rye Canadian Whisky and as of late I rarely have not had at least a bottle of Crown Royal Special Reserve in my liquor cabinet. However I think its time I broaden my horizons and delve into other “real” whiskey styles. I guess my main impetus for doing so is that my new boss is an enthusiastic bourbon drinker. (I hope you’re not reading this Stan! LOL) Anyway as a junior associate I have privilege of hosting a small party which my boss will be attending and would like to know what kind of bourbon I should serve. As a recent graduate, with loads of student loans to repay, I can’t afford to spend huge amounts of money, but also do not wish to insult him with an inferior brand. I have looked at your site and researched a few posts but the sheer volume of brands has confused the heck outta me. I have been told that Maker's Mark Select Straight Bourbon, Black Label may be a good option but I hear it is fairly pricey. I would appreciate any advice you could give in finding a make that will satisfy and impress my boss as well as provide me with a good introduction to bourbon. BTW I am in central Canada.

Thank-you,
Andrew

bluesbassdad
09-20-2003, 14:58
Andrew,

Welcome aboard!

Many of the heavy-hitters hereabouts are living it up at the Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky right now, and who knows what kind of shape they'll be in when they return home and log on for the first time in a few days. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/falling.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif (Not really; we are all paragons of moderation. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif )

From posts that others in Canada have made, I wonder whether the selection available in your stores might limit your choices, thereby excluding some of the bourbons that are popular among StraightBourbonians.

Another factor to consider is whether your guests other than your boss have developed their palates for bourbon.

If I were bold enough to serve bourbon to guests whose tastes I didn't know, I'd stick with a fairly low-priced bottling, probably one with a wheat recipe. My choice would probably be Old Weller 12 year-old.

If I were serving to yuppie know-it-alls who really know nothing about bourbon, then I'd go for name recognition, not flavor. Maker's Mark (also a wheater, BTW) fills the bill there. The red-wax version is instantly recognizeable, or at least the bottle is, and besides, it's the only version readily available to me, here in California.

If I wanted to do something special for a bourbon-lover whose tastes I didn't know, I'd go for just about anything with the name "Van Winkle" (whether preceded by "Old Rip" or "Pappy" or followed by "Family Reserve") on the label. The Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year, 107 proof goes for about $25 on this side of the border; the few remaining bottles of its alter ego, Old Commonwealth, go for about $20.)

At a later date, we can speak of what is truly a "rye" whiskey, and other potential embarrassments, such as referring to Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey as "bourbon", which I've heard many a bartender do.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

ratcheer
09-20-2003, 15:45
Well, just today, I exchanged notes with "Dave in Canada", who noted his extremely limited choice of bourbons in the Canadian government stores. Of the ones he said are available, these three would be very nice:

1) Woodford Reserve
2) Knob Creek
3) Buffalo Trace

If those are also available to you, they would all be very good choices.

Tim

PDP
09-20-2003, 15:59
Thanks for the welcome and the reply. I hope the board members are having a great time at their event.

Unfortunately, I just came back from a local (government) liquor store and the Provincial buyers, in their great wisdom, have only deemed it necessary to carry three varieties of Bourbon. I guess the three isles of Canadian Whisky and the two isles of Scotch are enough for them… Thus the three makes readily accessible to me are: Wild Turkey 101 proof, Knob Creek 9 Year and regular Jim Beam formula B(?)

I will try and see if there is a specialty store selling anything else but of those brands mentioned above I assume the Knob Creek or Wild Turkey are acceptable makes?

Thanks again for the input.

Regarding the Jack as a bourbon, it is my understanding that the charcoal filtration process is one way in which the product is distinguished from a true bourbon. As for the Rye’s, from my reading, many would not consider the Canadian products true rye whiskey as they are blends of different varieties, some of which do not contain 51% rye? Moreover I get the impression that the fragrant, sugary taste of the Canadian Ryes is not considered sophisticated. Although I still do enjoy my Crown Royal Special Reserve. I have read some of the posts on this subject that consider Alberta Premium good Cdn Rye… IMHO that brand is an extremely weak example of the class. I’m trying to get a handle on all the differences LOL.

Andrew

PDP
09-20-2003, 16:01
Thanks ratcheer, our replies overlapped. I will go with the Knob Creek then.

Black85L98
09-20-2003, 18:44
Welcome Andrew!

I was not that excited about Knob Creek at first but by the time I finished the bottle I started to like it. It is 100 proof and has a bit of a kick. It or the 101 would be fine. I just got a bottle of Eagle Rare Single Barrel that is very good. The bottle is impressive too. If you can find it it would be a good choice above mid shelf without going to the $40+ group. One last recomendation is Elijah Craig. If you can find it I think it's hard to beat for the price. $13 here in MS. Good luck with your Boss. Pay attention and ask questions. You may get some valuable info. Check to see if he drinks neat, on ice, or mixed :o That way if you get to the pub first you can order for him. If he says something like "Blanton's is my favorite but you just can't get it here" You know what to get him for Christmas. After the party write down some notes... you will not remember next month if you don't. Do not get smashed... even if he does. Dump a drink or two if you need to have the appearance that you are keeping up. This is the only time you will ever hear me tell anyone to dump a drink.

ratcheer
09-20-2003, 18:48
Knob Creek should do just fine. WT101 is quite good, but it is more of a "standard" bottling. It is actually one of my favorites. But, Knob Creek is somewhat more upscale. KC is a Jim Beam product, but don't let that put you off.

Tim

OneCubeOnly
09-20-2003, 18:54
the three makes readily accessible to me are: Wild Turkey 101 proof, Knob Creek 9 Year and regular Jim Beam formula B(?)



Sheesh! Well, if I had to pick from just those, I'd be picking the one I DISLIKE the least. My choice would be Knob Creek...but don't expect to impress a real bourbon lover with it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

Actually, KC has a pretty good fanbase here at SB.com, so as always, YMMV. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

robbyvirus
09-21-2003, 00:51
Yeah, those are slim pickings, but Knob Creek would get my vote too.

kitzg
09-21-2003, 08:17
Hi, I just returned from a day at the Bourbon Festival and wanted to add a comment. And "HI" to the rest of you who did not make it down this year!

While some on this board will hold out for the $50 bottle I agree that Knob Creek is a very good choice. We have several superpremium bourbons in in the house and we often select "plain old" Knob Creek.

If you've heard of Booker Noe, the former spokesperson for Jim Beam and grandson of Jim Beam, he told me once that after the bourbon that bears his name, "Booker's," then Knob Creek would be his next choice. Mine, too, among the Jim Beam brands.

BUT... you say they have a "Jim Beam B..." something. If that's Jim Beam black label (it will say "Black") that is a very respectable choice. It was rated highly by the Beverage tasting Institute (score of 93 out of 100) and among the Beam Brands it would be my next choice.

I'm funny though. I'm really interested in the good bourbons for about $20 - $25 USD available in Ky vs. the superpremiums because those are so much more affordable. And often not THAT much different than those that go for twice the price or more.

Oh... and did you mention Makers Mark? DO NOT waste your money on any bottling of Makers other than the plain old red wax. They are all exactly the same bourbon. But if you ever get down here and find Weller 12 yr. I feel strongly that it is superior to Makers (more aged, etc.) for less money.

OneCubeOnly
09-21-2003, 08:40
If you've heard of Booker Noe, the former spokesperson for Jim Beam and grandson of Jim Beam, he told me once that after the bourbon that bears his name, "Booker's," then Knob Creek would be his next choice.



That really surprises me! In one of my bourbon tastings some friends and I did the whole Jim Beam premium line, and KC came in last in everybody's vote. The overall results were:

1. Booker's
2. Baker's
3. Basil Hayden
4. Knob Creek

Of course, none of us are master distillers...but I wonder why Booker Noe loves KC so much!?

kitzg
09-21-2003, 08:47
I think it is the other choices. Basil Hayden at 80 proof is a bit weak (Mike Veach always calls it brown vodka). Maybe you had a less than average bottle of Knob Creek. All I can say is that while we love a lot of bourbon my wife, Jo, always wants to have KC on hand (and we don't right now, but I bought her a 1.75 L of another she wanted last night).

PDP
09-21-2003, 10:52
BUT... you say they have a "Jim Beam B..." something. If that's Jim Beam black label (it will say "Black") that is a very respectable choice. It was rated highly by the Beverage tasting Institute (score of 93 out of 100) and among the Beam Brands it would be my next choice.




Thanks everyone for the advice.

Kitzg, sorry for the confusion, but the JB is white Label.

I have translated the prices of these three brands in US dollars so you can all get an idea of the prices around these parts (Saskatchewan, Canada):

Jim Beam white label = $20 USD
Wild Turkey 101 = $25 USD
Knob Creek = $30 USD

I'm interested to see if I can distinguish between the three makes and may eventually pick up all three bottles and see if my rookie pallet can tell what's what's.

I think I'll go with the Knob Creek for now although it seems more expensive than you can get it for across the broder... ahh the joys of government tariffs.

kitzg
09-21-2003, 11:09
Knob Creek (750 ML) will range from $20 - 30 here. And I think it is your best top shelf choice from the three. You should find differences in the three. I recommend you taste them as follows. Place each in a shot glass and taste them each straight. Use water between to cleanse. Pour each into a glass and add just a bit of water 1:10 ratio or 1:5 (water:bourbon). Water will release different flavors. Finally, pour each over a little ice. I use a small bit of crushed ice but opinions vary. Chilling bourbon again gives you some releases and dilutes it just a bit. Here you should taste difference in vanilla or caramel from the barrel.

Enjoy.

-- Greg

bobbyc
09-21-2003, 13:37
1. Booker's
2. Baker's
3. Basil Hayden
4. Knob Creek




Another thing here is the Booker's and Knob Creek share the same pedigree. Basil Hayden is Old Granddad Mashbill and Baker's is also different.

ratcheer
09-21-2003, 15:36
Don't feel too bad. Knob Creek 750 ml goes for $32 US here in Alabama (we are also stuck with state liquor stores). And I enjoy it at that price.

Tim

MurphyDawg
09-21-2003, 16:02
Nah, PDP, I say Wild Turkey 101 all the way. Save a few bucks, and get the better bourbon.



TomC

Black85L98
09-21-2003, 21:03
Can you get the small airline bottles at you spirit store? May be a way for you to try a few without giving up the buck for a bottle it will take a year to finish if you do not like it.

Just a thought.

PDP
09-21-2003, 23:01
Can you get the small airline bottles at you spirit store? May be a way for you to try a few without giving up the buck for a bottle it will take a year to finish if you do not like it.

Just a thought.



Thats a good idea. I will check, but given the limited number of brands available to me I kinda doubt that they will have them... That would be excellent if they did.

So WT101 versus Knob Creek... hmmmmm