View Full Version : What's the Bourbon that got you into Bourbon?
As I sit here and review the posts and have just finished having a drink of my new favorite bourbon, EW 23 (I will be posting something about this soon just have to think about it a little and taste test some more), I began to think about what drink got me into liking bourbon and getting more interested in it. For me, my first bourbon was Makers Mark. I still enjoy it today, although I enjoy others more especially since I've grown to appreciate the intricacies of bourbon since then. But the Makers Mark was the bourbon that hooked me on the adventure and now quest to find the hard to find bourbons we all talk about. So, I ask you to think about this and share what the bourbon was that got you hooked and let us know http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif
Knob Creek. Strangely, I haven't liked any glass of it since the first nearly as much, but I still enjoy it. It got me started trying minis of everything I could find, and it wasn't too long before I found this place. Now, the collection keeps growing, and KC isn't even in the top half of my list... but without it I may not have tried anythign else at all.
For me it was Jim Beam White. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif
My first adventure into premium bourbons was with Maker's Mark (I imagine you'll hear many similar stories!) Needless to say, it was all uphill from there! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Weller Centenniel was the one that really turned me on to bourbon.
I didn't so much catch the bourbon bug from tasting, but conscious choice. I began working part-time in a liquor store about 18 months ago, and brought home several half-pints one evening (Old Charter 8 and 10, Old Forester, Evan Williams green and black, et al) and tasted them over the course of a few evenings, just to be able to converse with customers a bit more knowledgably. I guess W.L. Weller's Special Reserve 7yo was the first one that really caught my attention -- and it still remains one of my favorite flavor-to-value drinks. There is still a bunch of the harder-to-find bourbons -- though the selection here in Tennessee is better than many places, according to what I read here -- I haven't tried yet, but will eventually. It's not a bad hobby, I've discovered.
I would have to say that the first truly delicious bourbon I ever had was Wild Turkey 8-year old 101 proof, back in about 1968. A year or so later, I encountered Very Old Fitzgerald from Stitzel-Weller. A little later than that (say, 1970-1973), I often enjoyed Old Forester, Ancient Ancient Age 10-year old, and Henry McKenna.
So, I've been enjoying a wide variety of good (and sometimes not so good) bourbon for about 35 years. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif
I consider it to be one of my hobbies, too. And you're right, its not a bad hobby, at all.
To the point, what really made me go out and look for premium bottlings, Makers Mark. And it has been nothing but fun ever since!
It was Knob Creek for me, too. (Jim Beam white from my
youth doesn't count).
A few years ago, I tried KC on a whim. I was a long-time
Scotch drinker -- a bit bored with the current crop of
malts, and annoyed with the ever increasing prices, I
bought a bottle. It was something new, and the store was
Glad I bought it.
Jim Beam White in my youth also....then a long Scotch hiatus...with Old Forester bringing me back to bourbon and Woodford Reserve opening the window to the world of premiums.....last night I had Weller Centennial which I really like...Stagg, Van Winkle Rye, Hirsch16, EWSB's, AAA10yr,ER17,Rare Breed,Bookers,ETL,Blanton's, etc, etc...Saz is a great rye...so many great choices it would be very difficult to pick a favorite...
Woodford Reserve is the first bourbon that really caught my attention.
I drank that for a couple years, then i found this site. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/ooo.gif I've been on a joy ride since that day http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
Maker's Mark. Then Blantons. And then all was lost.
Blanton's. My initial bottle of Maker's Mark only made it into cherry coke and Boilermakers, so it really doesnt count.
Bellows Club Buorbon , was the first , but it was a list of WT 101 8yr, Weller Centenial , Ezra Brooks 101 7 yr, Evan Williams 101 7yr , that got me deep in to enjoying a good pour .... Now it is Van Winlke 107 10 yr that has me full loyality,,, but I will go after the special pours , ..Stagg , and have a list of the common pours to try , Knob Creek ,Bookers , Bakers.. etc. etc. . I find that I like the higher proofs , and for the most part drink them straight if on the rare chance I get one that I do not like .... it get used as a mixer ,,,, I have yet to find a high proof bourbon that cann't be used as a mixer and made drinkable ,,,, on the other hand some of the lower shelf lower proofs I use to try ,,, http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif I some time wonder if it will harm the sink and drains .... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I have to repeat the Knob Creek refrain.....it caught my attention as different and good! It got me off the Makers Mark/JD standards. But as many others have said, it doesn't get my attention anymore. I believe its a combination of my taste preferences have changed AND the KC flavor profile has also evolved.
Evan Williams 7yr
I suppose this would be the first bourbon I had. . . back in high school http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif, but Blantons is till the one that sent me on my way to being an enthusiast.
The progression is Beam's Choice in college (it's what my Dad had), then Old Grand Dad, then trying to move up market with Maker's Mark, then more flavor from Knob Creek, then the Regans book (Old Rip Van Winkle, oh my gosh!), then SB.com and Whoa, Nellie!
An unknown bourbon at a friend's house some 10 years ago led me to buy my first bottle, likely JB white. Wild Turkey (4yr, 80 proof) was next, and although likeable, it still did not steal away my preference for single malts (ouch, did I say that?)
It was finally Old Rip Van Winkle that won my heart 6 years ago. It pushed me over the edge and I'm afraid I'm now fully converted. And while I flirt with many other brands (with a return occasionally to scottish malts), the Van Winkle lineup still owns most of my affection.
After the occassional pours of Jim Beam White, I became slightly more interested in Bourbon after having visited the Labrot & Graham folks and buying a bottle of Woodford Reserve.
What did it for me was last years WhiskyFest, where I tasted a number of Julian Van Winkle's products. Although it was late in the evening, and I'd had plenty of fine Single Malt Scotch, the Van Winkle line-up made me pay attention to Bourbon in a big way. I've been a convert since then! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Maker's Mark. I think it was the distillery tour several years ago that got me wanting to explore bourbon. Of course I went right out and bought a bottle of Maker's, but soon to follow was WT80, then 101, then Woodford Reserve, then Evan Wiliams Single Barrel, then... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif
I was working at this little bar and grill and the owner asked me if i would like to participate in a bourbon tasting his alcohol rep was setting up.I was kind of known for my taste of good booze. It turned out to be a Small Batch Bourbon setup,KC,Basil,Baker'sand the big dog Booker's. She took us through the entire drinking process(t and gave us a brief history lesson.I have to say it really piqued my bourbon intrest. I started trying different bourbons and found the ones I really liked and the ones I merely tolerate. Luckily I was able to go to many different tastings and even " The Great Whisk(e)y Debate".I got Fred Noe to sign a bottle of Booker's. I was a happy camper.All in all my bourbon quest has been a fantastic experience. I enjoy sharing a glass with a fellow bourbon fan and even making new ones.
It was a bottle of Jim Beam Bonded that I picked up Duty Free in Fiji.
A month or so later, I picked up a bottle of Woodford Reserve.
That was a year or so ago, and the journey since then trying different bourbons has been a real treat http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif
I'm not sure how I missed this post back when it was created, but no matter.
Jim Beam white label. I can't stand the stuff now, but it's what our parents all had in their liquor cabinets. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
For me it was David Nicholson 1843. I was a 7 and 7 drinker my freshman year in college and a fraternity brother with a bit of enlightenment shared a fifth with me when I couldn't find anyone to go to the liquor store for a football game one brisk saturday afternoon. I haven't wasted a dime on Seagrams 7 since. That was 1978. The first straight bourbon was WT101 and we didn't know that letting it touch your tastebuds was as enjoyable as I find it now. Oh the foolishness of youth.
JD got us into American whiskey.
WT + JB ( a tie ) got us into bourbon.
The JB small batches led to our moment of bourbon clarity.
Without doubt it was Maker's Mark!!
This fine drink rescued me from Jack and Jim Beam white - which as a young man in England was pretty much all you got.
Still love the stuff and it is in my opinion a very "user friendly" intro to decent Bourbon for a newbie.
I remember intoducing a very experienced cocktail barman to Bourbon. (his drink was rum by the way.) Maker's was the standout for him mainly for the sheer drinkability of it. Wild Turkey 101 scared him rigid and he couldn't even finish his shot.
I remember that Wild Turkey 101 was way too much for me as a young man as well. Too much rye and a high proof for a "beginner" - love the stuff now as I do the higher proof Bourbons such as Booker's and Stagg.
To sum up I think that Maker's has the perfect balance of proof, price and drinkability to encouage people to move up the Bourbon scale. Something like WT 101 in my opinion could scare off a potential fellow Bourbonian! Something we should to try and avoid at all costs.
I think if I go back about 15 years - One weekend my Flatmate and I had had a very BAD night with an 1125ml bottle of Bundaberg Rum mixed with Coke http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/puke.gif
A week or so later, some mates where trying to get me to drink with them at the bar of our Surf Life Saving Club and I just couldn't stomach the rum and coke. Someone offered me a Jim Beam White and coke and the rest is history - I've never touched Rum since.
(It's funny how after one bad night on rum I can't stand the stuff, but I've had several bad nights on bourbon, and can always go back http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif)
It's funny how after one bad night on rum I can't stand the stuff, but I've had several bad nights on bourbon, and can always go back http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif)
I haven't had a bad night on bourbon for years, but I will say that I've had several in my lifetime. Similarly, though, one bad vodka night soured me on vodka forever. Must be the soothing flavor of oak that allows us to forgive. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
To answer the original question, and if one discounts (non-bourbon, of course) Jack Daniels, I'd say it was Old Fitzgerald when made by Stitzel-Weller. I liked the 80 proof version or maybe the 86. I haven't had it for years and don't know if it still tastes as good as I recall (caramel corn, warm peanut brittle). After a period with that I developed a taste for the rye recipe bourbons, and then the ryes period, but that Old Fitz was a good bridge. Since then I've had some well-aged wheaters which have a concentrated, butterscotch-like taste, but that medium-age Fitz is one I recall with fondness and it was unbeatable on its terms. In those years (in my late 20's early 30's), I enjoyed beer and Fitz went well with that. Say, Matt's Premium from FX Matt's in Utica (from the "beer ball" especially - here I am aging myself) and a Fitz to chase, that went well at summer parties in those years. I still like the boilermaker today, but just one. These days, 'less is more'. (Usually!).
P.S. A second bourbon I enjoyed at the outset was Old Yellowstone, then a rich, fruity style of bourbon, very good.
When I drank boilermakers I really didn't care about the brand or type of whiskey. Those were tough nights.
But I do remember sippin on some Old Fitz years ago and back in the 60's I bought my first premium bourbon, Wild Turkey.
I have it on good authority that Muddy Waters was an Old Fitzgerald man.
I started to drink bourbon after I moved to Kentucky. Before that I mostly drank scotch. We're talking 26 years ago, so it's hard to remember. A friend tipped me off that Kentucky Tavern was bottling 10 year old whiskey as standard KT because of the glut, so I drank that for a while. Another friend who had worked at Stitzel-Weller steered me in the direction of Old Fitzgerald, and I think I discovered Very Old Barton on my own. Those were some of my early favorites. KT, of course, isn't what it was then, but Old Fitz and VOB still are, and are still personal faves.
My parents always drank Mattingly & Moore. At least I don't remember them drinking anything else.
Not counting JB White in my misguided youth. When in my late twenties an older Englishman turned me onto Old Grand Dad. We would play golf on chilly late fall days. When we were finished playing he would pull out a flask and share his magic potion. I was somewhat surprised that he was not as scotch drinker. He shared with me that Americans didn't know what a good thing we had right under our noses - Kentucky Straight Bourbon. He died about 10-12 years ago in his 90s. At his funeral we toasted his memory with a bottle of OGD 114 and many happy memories.
When my grandmother died when I was embarking on my freshman year of college in 1979, my dad and uncle brought out an uncorked bottle of our family's Pogue's "Old Time" bottled in bond in 1919. I can only describe it as like drinking a mix of dirt and rubbing alcohol; strong yet musty. Very interesting. I didn't care much for bourbon at that point. Then over Christmas break that same year my dad had a bottle of Rebel Yell. Going to school outside of Kentucky made Rebel Yell much like the Coors craze of the early 80s. You couldn't get Rebel Yell north of the Mason-Dixon so every chance we got we picked up bottles of it. Rebel Yell developed my pallet for Bourbon.
In college, one of my buddies turned me on to the virtues of Wild Turkey 101. He'd always say that all he needed for a good evening was Wild Turkey, a glass and a bag of clear ice. I've been partial to WT101 ever since, but have recently expanded my horizons to trying many others (and to drinking it neat).
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