View Full Version : new bourbon experimenter
I have been mostly a beerknurd and love tasting different brands. However, I want to expand my horizons and drink bourbon. My experience with bourbon has been with bourbon and coke, usually half and half. I get the feeling from reading this board that bourbon and coke is an amateur way to drink. In the past week I have tried to taste on the rocks two different bourbons (Wild Turkey 101, and Rebel Yell.) I can say that I have not developed a taste for bourbon on the rocks yet, I even tried to cut it with water but have not gotten to the point where I can enjoy it. I have been changing my bourbon to coke mix to build up to an on the rocks tasting by making my bourbon to coke ratio 2/3 or 3/4 bourbon and coke to fill. I would like to note that of the two bourbons I have tasted on the rocks I do like the spice from the turkey aftertaste (this is of course after getting over the initial overpowering taste causing a severe shriveled face.) I would like some advice from experienced bourbon drinkers as well as comments on bourbon with coke or other mixers as I experiment with a truly AMERICAN tradition, bourbon.
Welcome to Straightbourbon.com, you've found the right place! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
Now, there is no shame in drinking bourbon and coke. There is no shame in drinking bourbon any way you like it, but I detect a desire in you to try it in new and interesting ways. I started years ago drinking "bourbon sours." The sweetnes balances out the "harshness" of the bourbon, while still allowing more bourbon flavor to come through than mixing with cola IMHO. Also, take a look around here for some recipes for mixed drinks such as the Manhattan and the Old Fashoned, which are made with mostly bourbon, but also with other ingredients that might make bourbon a little more palatable to you. As far as drinking bourbon neat, try Wild Turkey 80 proof or Four Roses Yellow label, also 80 proof. These lesser proof bourbons may prove to be easier to drink neat or on the rocks. Hope that helps and welcome home to bourbon! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
I would recommend sipping some Ancient Age 4 YO bourbon. It is very affordable, very available, and very pleasant to drink. It is 80 proof, yet has a nice vanilla flavor to it. It tastes better than it's age would let on.
I always keep some on hand for bourbon novices.
Start out slow, then move up to the higher proof bourbons.
(this is of course after getting over the initial overpowering taste causing a severe shriveled face.)
By taking very small sips, you can reduce this problem. You should be able to get twenty sips or more out of an ounce of bourbon. This gives you time to enjoy and think about the bourbon, too.
Similar to Jeff, I started off with bourbon in whiskey sours and still enjoy the hell out of 'em. You might try mixing with ginger ale, too, or even soda water. You can't beat a good ole mint julep either. Experiment away and don't be ashamed of what you like.
Another great, inexpensive low proof bourbon you might try is Very Old Barton's 80 proof.
If you would like to get to know bourbon but the taste is just too strong for you, the best solution is the easiest and cheapest: room temperature water. It should be good water, but doesn't have to be anything fancy. Tap water is fine in most cases. Add equal amounts water and whiskey and adjust from there, more if the whiskey is more than 100 proof. If you use tap water, put it in a pitcher first and let it sit for an hour or so if that's not inconvenient. Mainly don't add water directly from the tap. Measure both your whiskey portion and your water portion, at least roughly, so you can repeat the mix you like when you find it. If you don't like the taste of a whiskey at that dilution, then you just don't like that particular whiskey. Try a couple of others and if you don't like any, then you don't like the taste of whiskey. Drinking whiskey with sweet mixers is fine if you like that sort of thing, but you can't really taste the bourbon, not to the point of being able to distinguish one from another, let alone appreciate their nuances. You don't have to taste whiskey that way. Enjoying whiskey in a cocktail is fine, but if you want to get to know the whiskey as an individual, then room temperature water is the way to go. Whiskey and water, no ice, is the best way to start drinking whiskey. (Goes for scotch too.) American whiskey by and large is the most flavorful of the straight spirits, so it is easy to taste it almost fully at 1:1 dilution. Try that and report back, soldier.
Try that and report back, soldier.
Spoken like a true Colonel! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
I really enjoy RY and WT101 on the rocks. However, I use crushed ice, which makes a world of difference over large cubes. RY takes on a lovely maple flavor on rocks IMO.
That was a great post. I like to drink my whiskey neat a majority of the time. Sometimes I might add a little water. Another thing that I like to do is take a sip of water after finishing a sip of whiskey. This seems to open up the palatte to different flavors. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
Another thing that I like to do is take a sip of water after finishing a sip of whiskey.
Excellent point and a very good strategy. It also tends to keep your palate fresh.
In bars, I usually order my bourbon neat with water back.
I agree that drinking bourbon neat or with a splash of water often invites disaster for newcomers. I also recommend that people try whiskey sours or other light cocktails. While I think Coke kills the taste of fine bourbon, I believe that using ginger ale is a very refreshing way of being introduced to the category. My wife is not a bourbon drinker, but she does enjoy Buffalo Trace and ginger ale.
Well, I bought one small bottle of Maker's Mark since posting this thread. I am pleased to say that I can drink this bourbon on the rocks. I will say that I have not fully developed a taste of bourbon to notice subtle differences but I can enjoy this as a "training" bourbon so to speak. I know there were a few suggestions to drink bourbon neat, but, me coming from a beer background I do like my alcohol cold. As my taste buds adjust to maker's I will venture out to others. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for the advice colonel!
Neat is a great way to get the full tastes of most Bourbons. When I drink 100+ proof I do like to drop in one large ice cube. This adds a little acoustic thrill when the bourbon makes the cube "cracking" sound.
Ah, two fingers of Knob Creek and one large cube in my favorite short tumbler. I can almost taste it now. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
Besides the hint of mint in a julip, a julip is a good way of "tasting" bourbon, if you don't like it straight. I think the small amount of sugar helps get acquainted with bourbon, until you can take the bourbon straight, which I happen to prefer. The small amount of sugar makes bourbon sweet, without changing the flavor (taste) too much.
Also, you want to make sure you have a good bourbon, if you want to start enjoying the bourbon neat (straight) or with a few drops of water and/or ice. A cheap bourbon may be just too woody or medicinal to really get use to the flavor that makes bourbon bourbon. Soon, you will know the difference. That's not to say that you wouldn't enjoy the differences among the variety of bourbons. Just acquire the bourbon taste, first, then enjoy the variety later. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif
Have you ever tried bourbon and Perrier? It adds a nice refreshing quality to the boubon without altering the flavor too drastically. Great on a summer afternoon.
Almost any spirit is good with Perrier. Bourbon, scotch, rum, gin, brandy, etc.
Along those same lines, you might try an "old fashioned", which is basically straight bourbon with bitters and sugar--enough camoflauge to take the harshness away, but still plenty of bourbon flavor for the novice. I'd go easy on the fruit garnishes though.
Manhattans are another option--bourbon (or rye) + bitters + sweet vermouth.
Both of those present the bourbon flavor but cut away the harsh edges.
Wow, did you nail this one!! About &^$# years ago when I first tried bourbon, I thought I would do the intelligent thing and not spend too much money on one of those top shelf whiskies, so I bought one off the bottom shelf. As a result, I was convinced that bourbon was the most god-aweful, evil, vile product ever made (I still remember the brand!). After several years, I was introduced to a quality brand and wondered just why I had been avoiding this stuff!
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