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View Full Version : Best bourbon for someone who likes Irish Whiskey?



wrbriggs
09-23-2004, 16:50
I've got a friend who loves to drink Irish Whiskey neat (his "daily pour" of choice is Powers Irish Whisky, a bit too bland for me). He greatly enjoys bourbon when mixed 3/4 bourbon to 1/4 coke, but claims he cannot drink it neat or on the rocks. I got him to try my favorite everyday bourbon, Elijah Craig, and that was a no-go... so was Maker's Mark, which I've always been told is a good "introductory" bourbon.

So - my friend DOES like whisky, but hasn't yet found a bourbon he can drink neat - am I doomed to years of arguing with him over which whiskey is better, or are there other bourbons I should be recommending to him?

Thanks!

-Will

TrueBarrel
09-23-2004, 17:06
EC, esp. 12, is fairly distinctive and many who like bourbon don't prefer it; as to Maker's Mark, some don't prefer wheaters. For a Heaven Hill product other than EC, why not have him try Evan Williams single-barrel. From Beam, why don't you have him try Knob Creek or Jim Beam Black, and from WT maybe Russell's Reserve, Spirit or Rare Breed. Or maybe one of the VW products for a different perspective on wheaters. Or from Buffalo Trace, Buffalo Trace or Eagle Rare 10. If he doesn't like any of those, maybe he just doesn't like bourbon?

TNbourbon
09-23-2004, 17:59
Yeah, even before reading the previous post, Evan Williams Single Barrel jumped to my mind. Lighter like a scotch or Irish whisk(e)y, but still distinctively bourbon from the corn and rye. JB Black is a personal favorite. Luckily, both of these are fairly inexpensive (under $25).

angelshare
09-23-2004, 18:09
If he likes Irish whiskey, I would have thought Maker's Mark would have been a reasonable choice...light, not really that challenging, as Chuck would probably say, and "smooth."

The EC 12 should have provided a contrast - older, with rye flavor. Sounds like that didn't go over.

This might sound crazy, but what about "plain old" Jim Beam white? It's young, it's light, it's not harsh. It may provide a good transition. As Chuck points out in his book (I'm paraphrasing here), it's high volume/low priced, but very respectable.

Keep working at it. You owe it to your friend! I'm biased, but I think if you don't like bourbon, you just haven't tried the right one. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

voigtman
09-23-2004, 18:19
Personally, I'd try Elijah Craig 18: it is almost like a brandy or cognac in terms of smoothness. My favorite Irish whiskey is Redbreast 12, the only one I bunker, which has no bourbon counterpart, period. But the EC 18, and Hirsch 16 for that matter, strike me as being breath-takingly smooth and mellow, and Irish whiskey is nothing if not top of the scale smooth! Just my 2 cents and good luck with your noble mission! Cheers, Ed

OneCubeOnly
09-23-2004, 19:37
Two bourbons came to mind here--and both are BT single-barrel products: the first being Eagle Rare SB 10yo. To me, it's one of the most approachable bourbons, particularly to a beginner. No harshness, lots of subtle flavor, and a lot to explore if you dig deep enough.

The second one I thought of was Blanton's. Expensive, but to me it's the quintessential "smooth" bourbon. It's been said before, "if you don't like Blanton's you don't like bourbon." While I might not go QUITE that far, I believe it's about as balanced and drinkable as bourbon gets.

Hedmans Brorsa
09-24-2004, 02:57
Honestly, I think the difference between Bourbon and Irish are enormous, to put it mildly. Just finished perusing my Bourbon collection and Im still stuck for an answer. I guess I would have to go for Evan Williams SB, as well, even though that would be a more correct answer to the question : "Best bourbon for someone who likes Scotch?"

Bamber
09-24-2004, 05:06
I would also reccommend Evan Williams single barrel. Problem is, Bourbon has lots of robust flavour - that's why I love it .

I presume he's drunk Jack Daniel's. Certainly popular, if nothing like Irish whisky.

Cheers,

B.

OneCubeOnly
09-24-2004, 05:28
What's interesting is the guy drinks Powers Gold, which isn't exactly what I'd consider one of the "smooth", easy-drinking Irishes. Powers to me has a lot of the antiseptic/menthol potstilled malt type taste. There really isn't a bourbon that's going to reproduce that.

However, nowhere in the original question did it ask for an Irish-like bourbon--it was which ones are drinkable straight. I understood that to mean: which bourbons are easily tolerated by a bourbon novice?

I'd look for low-proof low-intensity mild-finish type bourbons, or if you're going to the "good stuff", look for easy-drinking ones (like my previous suggestions).

Hedmans Brorsa
09-24-2004, 09:07
However, nowhere in the original question did it ask for an Irish-like bourbon--it was which ones are drinkable straight. I understood that to mean: which bourbons are easily tolerated by a bourbon novice



What about Four Roses, then? Im always unsure about what bottlings are available in the US, though.



What's interesting is the guy drinks Powers Gold, which isn't exactly what I'd consider one of the "smooth", easy-drinking Irishes



Yes, I agree totally. There is nothing ingratiating about this whiskey. Irish whiskey is often stereotyped as light or bland but there are some noteworthy ecxeptions.

OneCubeOnly
09-24-2004, 10:08
What about Four Roses, then? Im always unsure about what bottlings are available in the US, though.



The 80 proof Yellow Label would be an excellent choice, as it's pretty mild. (Too mild for my tastes). I've only been able to find it in Kentucky though. Another possibility would be Basil Hayden (which people on SB.com have nicknamed "brown vodka").

Gillman
09-24-2004, 10:44
Gary, if we view the question in this light I would recommend Jim Beam Black Label.

But your comments about Powers (and this applies to Jameson to a degree) are suggestive to me of a link to a certain type of straight whiskey. The menthol hit of Irish pot still is evident strongly in Powers and to a degree in Jameson's regular label (not to mention the 12 year old and other older extensions). This finds an analogue, to my mind, in those straight whiskeys that offer a menthol flavour. Heaven Hill's do, e.g., as Bamber noted for EWSB '94. So does Bulleit and Four Roses Single Barrel. Bulleit in particular would please, I think, someone who likes the tang of Irish pot still. What accounts for that minty/menthol taste in both whiskies? I think it is the rye in the bourbons and the unmalted barley in the Irish pot still. I cannot recall now where I read this, but a distiller wrote that unmalted barley provides flavours similar to that of rye whiskey. This is, I think, that wintergreen taste Chuck noted in his book in older whiskies (reflecting a higher rye mashbill than is generally used today) - this provides a link in my view to Ireland (whence after all many 1700's-era American distillers came). Hirsch 16 year old (i.e., 1974 Michter's whose origins stretch to Revolutionary times) has a hint of that menthol too.

Gary

tlsmothers
09-24-2004, 21:19
I'd say the Four Roses, too, but that's just not practical cuz you can't find it up here. I've started some customers off with Corner Creek and that transition seems to work for many folks. Very Old Barton is also quite easy going, if you can find it.

cowdery
09-24-2004, 21:31
I have found three bourbons that make a good transition from scotch and probably would work with irish as well. They are Blanton's, Basil Hayden's and Corner Creek. Since Blanton's and Basil Hayden's are a bit pricey, I second LeNell's recommendation of Corner Creek. Something else to consider is George Dickel No. 12.

Gillman
09-24-2004, 21:39
I agree but at the same time would add my assent to those who find Power's (speaking just of that example of Irish whiskey for a moment) a rich, well-flavored drink, not quite a dry one either. It is said to be about 80% pot still (the rest grain whiskey) and it shows. It is a fine value, too (approx. $17.00 U.S., a bargain). Basil Hayden is similar in its balance of oak, sweetness (there is some) and minty tang. Yeah, the "Buzz" is probably the closest in palate, the more I think of it. It is probably the driest of the bourbons made today but I think at one time there were many more examples of dryish bourbons than we now see.

wadewood
09-24-2004, 23:50
I second LeNell's recommendation of Corner Creek.



I have to disagree on the Corner Creek. To each their own, but this tasted like cut grass (or weeds) to me. Maybe that is what Irish whiskey is supposed to taste like.

squire
09-25-2004, 15:56
Afternoon wrbriggs,

Powers is a house favorite and one of the few whiskies I buy by the case. Don't drink much of it myself, rather use it as an entertainment pour for my Scotch drinking guests. I have inadverently created a small market for Powers in our area as the local stores are now stocking the brand due to a demand I apparently created. In an effort to further guide my friends away from single-malt-mindset I have also been introducing Bourbon but with less success.

My friends who like Powers also will drink Buffalo Trace while politely decling my other Bourbon offerings. Don't know if there is any tasting/sensory connection between the two brands but that has been my experience.

Others I buy by the case are 100 proof Barton, 100 proof Forester and Elijah Craig.

Regards,
Squire

voigtman
09-25-2004, 18:45
Found this at Malt Advocate: http://www.whiskeypages.com/malt/html/ir_do.html
Very nice writing indeed. After reading the posts in this thread, I'm inclined to go with Blanton's. It is amazingly smooth and that is what Irish whiskey does in spades. As OCO says, if someone doesn't like Blanton's, they just don't like bourbon. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif

Hedmans Brorsa
09-27-2004, 04:27
this tasted like cut grass (or weeds) to me. Maybe that is what Irish whiskey is supposed to taste like.



Cut grass feels more like Scotch to me but weeds maybe? The Irish pot still character, as experienced by me has a rather earthy and herbal-like character, even mushroomey (is this the correct spelling?). I dont know, maybe Gillman was on the right track in that we should serve him a rye instead? WT, anyone?

wrbriggs
09-27-2004, 05:57
Thanks for all the replies everyone! Blanton's is special order only in VT, but I was at a local liquor store this past weekend and found a bottle of Blanton's in with the scotch... and they had it priced $10 lower than the "official" special order price. Needless to say, I picked it up... haven't tried it yet, as I've been enjoying a bottle of EWSB '94 (just arrived in VT, only one of our state liquor stores is carrying it).

I already own a bottle of Basil Hayden's that I'm not too fond of, but next time my buddy is over I'll give him a pour of BH and a pour of Blanton's... I'll report the results back! Unfortunately most of the other recommended brands are not available here (Corner Creek, Buffalo Trace, etc.).

Thanks again!

-Will

wrbriggs
12-06-2004, 19:34
Gary, if we view the question in this light I would recommend Jim Beam Black Label.

But your comments about Powers (and this applies to Jameson to a degree) are suggestive to me of a link to a certain type of straight whiskey. The menthol hit of Irish pot still is evident strongly in Powers and to a degree in Jameson's regular label (not to mention the 12 year old and other older extensions). This finds an analogue, to my mind, in those straight whiskeys that offer a menthol flavour. Heaven Hill's do, e.g., as Bamber noted for EWSB '94. So does Bulleit and Four Roses Single Barrel. Bulleit in particular would please, I think, someone who likes the tang of Irish pot still. What accounts for that minty/menthol taste in both whiskies? I think it is the rye in the bourbons and the unmalted barley in the Irish pot still. I cannot recall now where I read this, but a distiller wrote that unmalted barley provides flavours similar to that of rye whiskey. This is, I think, that wintergreen taste Chuck noted in his book in older whiskies (reflecting a higher rye mashbill than is generally used today) - this provides a link in my view to Ireland (whence after all many 1700's-era American distillers came). Hirsch 16 year old (i.e., 1974 Michter's whose origins stretch to Revolutionary times) has a hint of that menthol too.

Gary



Not trying to bring this back from the dead, but figured I'd give an update... my friend's wife picked him up a bottle of Bulleit a couple weeks ago, and he took to it like a fish to water. He still mixed it with ginger ale at first, but he just told me today that he did all his drinking over the weekend neat. He also said that his 2nd bottle of Elijah Craig 12 is growing on him, and he really likes it.

Wanna hear something amusing, though? The reason he stuck with bourbon instead of continuing to drink Powers is because he likes the color better... now he's hooked on the taste too! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Gillman
12-06-2004, 20:05
That's a funny story. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

camduncan
12-06-2004, 21:04
Yep, very funny, but I like it http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif