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View Full Version : How do I drink "undrinkable" whiskey?



wrbriggs
11-16-2004, 16:01
Well, I feel really guilty... I recently received a bottle of Very Special Old Fitzgerald as a gift from my wife, because she knows I like hard-to-find bourbons. I just cracked it open and am halfway through my first pour, and I have to say that I can't taste anything except for a very astringent alcohol burn. This whiskey is neither smooth nor flavourful, so I'm not quite sure what I should do with it. I guess I can try to let the bottle grow on me, but this is without a doubt the worst bourbon I've ever tasted (although my experience is somewhat limited). Both the Weller Special Reserve and the Eagle Rare 10yr that she got for me, while much less expensive, are (in my humble opinion) better than the VSOF.

Does anyone have any tips on how I might be able to choke this down? I don't want to hurt my wife's feelings. Should I mix with coke? With ginger ale? I don't usually like to mix when there are so many fine bourbons that are sippable.

Thanks,
Will

bobbyc
11-16-2004, 16:04
Let it air out in the glass for a while and see if that helps.

greenbob
11-16-2004, 16:44
In these situations I add one teaspoon of water to a drink of whiskey. By "drink of whiskey" I mean 40-45 ml of whiskey.

Gillman
11-16-2004, 17:11
I agree. Also, swirling the spirit continually for some minutes (another form of aeration), often works wonders.

Otherwise, buy any regular rye whiskey out there and mix 3:1 bourbon to rye.

You will have an instant classic.

Gary

camduncan
11-16-2004, 18:41
Serve it to 'friends' who pop over for a drop or two..

And, (as are my favourite options..) marinate steak in it, or drown it in coke http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

wrbriggs
11-16-2004, 18:58
marinate steak in it


Hmm, not a bad idea. My wife is a chef, and has carefully trained me to not use anything in cooking that I wouldn't drink straight (usually in reference to wine, but she seems to apply it to all spirits that can be used in the kitchen).

pepcycle
11-16-2004, 19:52
Don't struggle with it.
Seal firmly and forward to the Brisket Plug Institute for Retired and Lame Whiskey. (BPIFRLW for short)
We treat every whiskey with respect and care for it until its time has come.
At that time, we thoroughly filter through glomerular tissue and deposit for recycling back into the water table.
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/stickpoke.gif

wrbriggs
11-17-2004, 13:41
Well, the only rye whiskey available here is Jim Beam rye. I've heard bad things. Is it still worth getting to try and mix with the VSOF?

Gillman
11-17-2004, 14:01
People have different feelings about Jim Beam Rye. Personally I am not a fan. (It needs more age, in my view). I think the best thing to do with a bottle of indifferent bourbon is to use it for mixed drinks. Most mixed drinks taste good with any whiskey, especially Manhattans and bourbon and coke.

Gary

ej178
11-17-2004, 16:59
I gotta admit, I bought a bottle of Rebel Yell the other day after reading it was the daily pour for several people on this site. I did not even make it through 1/2 a glass. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif

Fortunatley my wife likes bourbon and 7-Up

camduncan
11-17-2004, 18:05
I guess it all comes down to personal taste... Most here love Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but I just can't seem to develop a taste for it, no matter what I do to it.
As for the Jim Beam Rye...it's one of my favourite whiskeys neat..

pete_d
11-17-2004, 20:14
Seems the opposite of my experience.

Re: the Rare Breed, do you attempt it neat, or try it with ice. I've found (along w/ EC12) that they taste FAR better with crushed ice.

If you're not a fan of RB and you haven't already, try the WT8yo 101 proof. It's more of the traditional WT taste that "goes to 11!"

BTW, Have you tested the BT yet? Is it as good as they say?

squire
11-17-2004, 20:20
Evening wr,

Well its sorta like living out in the country and dating the girl on the next farm. Prehaps not your first choice but she is available.

About a decade ago my neice's new husband called me for a minor legal document. Told him I didn't charge family but would require he come by the office after 5:00 on Thursday to pick it up and serve as bartender for a tasting I was hosting. When he showed up he saw a bunch of middle-aged guys sitting around the table in my office kitchen with a line of parallel expression bottles. His eyes bugged a bit and he said, "Those look like top of the line stuff". Told him to have a seat and what would he like. He said, "I drink Jim Beam". Asked if he liked the white label and the question seemed to puzzle him so I asked if he'd tried the yellow label Rye version. He hadn't so I located a bottle and bartended for him. "How do you like it"?. "Do you have some coke"? No, would ginger ale do? "Yes".

Ten years later I am reliably informed he entertains his guests with the "Yellow Label Jim Beam Rye", telling them, "This is my favorite and I know ya'll will like it. Our family lawyer turned me onto it".

So go ahead and give it a try. There are better Ryes but Beam is consistant and the cost is less than a meal for two at a fast food joint.

Regards,
Squire

camduncan
11-17-2004, 22:01
Re: the Rare Breed, do you attempt it neat, or try it with ice. I've found (along w/ EC12) that they taste FAR better with crushed ice.

If you're not a fan of RB and you haven't already, try the WT8yo 101 proof. It's more of the traditional WT taste that "goes to 11!"

BTW, Have you tested the BT yet? Is it as good as they say?



I've tried the RB with ice, water, coke and neat. I don't dislike it, but it just doesn't grab me either... As for the EC12, It is something I really like http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif
(sidenote - I've been informed by the HH NZ distributors that we should start seeing EC 18yo in Australia soon http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif)

I cracked the BT last week. It was a damm fine drop! I tried it and the Blantons Original.. Both neat. The BT was a much smoother sweeter drink. I'm in the process of trying them whilst checking out reviews in the tasting forum and trying to pick the different charactaristics..

greenbob
11-17-2004, 22:13
Okay, I've got a new idea. I started coming down with a sore throat yesterday, and tonight I'm getting stuffed up. So I'm wondering what I'm going to have tonight. And it occurs to me that since I'm losing my ability to taste maybe I'll have some Charles Dickel or the new horrible Johnny Walker Red that I talked about in another thread. So maybe we should save the bad stuff for when we're sick and can't taste.

squire
11-17-2004, 22:26
Evening Cameron,

Fortunately I'm within range of procuring any of the Bourbon expressions but if I was limited to just the one while exiled on an island the EC 12 would suit me just fine.

Regards,
Squire

squire
11-17-2004, 22:34
greenbob I feel your pain. May I suggest a rum or vodka of any brand with any mixer and save your taste buds for when you recover.

Regards,
Squire

greenbob
11-17-2004, 22:50
Thank you Squire. But all I've got here is bourbon and scotch (and of course Tennessee Whisky).

wrbriggs
11-18-2004, 18:26
Just an update. I've tried two pours of this bourbon tonight, one I drank neat, but I let it sit for about 20 minutes and "air out" first, and then swirled it while drinking. I detected a few hints of green corn, but this was still pretty foul. I'm not very good at tasting notes, so I really have no clue what the taste that I don't like is.

The second time I drank this, I tried it diluted 1:1 with bottled water. This cut back the taste I didn't like, but didn't really "open it up" like I've experienced with other whiskies (Rare Breed or Eagle Rare 101).

I was hoping that after soldiering through two pours I might have a greater understanding as to why some members of this forum hold the VSOF in high regard (although I think I've seen some comments indicating that there are others here who feel as I do). I just don't get it, I guess. I don't understand how this can be part of the same Heritage Collection as the Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve, a whiskey that I cannot say enough good things about.

Oh well. As I've seen other folks here say, it's "horses for courses". There are plenty of other bourbons I love, and even more just waiting to be tried.

squire
11-18-2004, 19:22
wr I beg to differ. I think you actually did "get it". Our body chemistry is as unique as our fingerprints and what works well for you, me, or someone else is a matter of choice based on our subjective tastes. If a guy shows up at one of my tastings loudly proclaiming that "Old Washtub" is the best thing on the planet I will politely accept that as his choice. Even if I know the stuff is only six months old and gets its flavor from being filtered through sweat socks.

We are fortunate in that so many expressions are avaliable for our enjoyment. Cycling through them to find favorites is the fun of the journey.

Regards,
Squire

TNbourbon
11-18-2004, 20:41
Don't worry about it. I have the same reaction to Elijah Craig 12yo, which many here adore, while I'm in a smallish minority that just can't choke it down. It happens. Every bourbon you see in the bottle shop is somebody's favorite. Each doesn't have to be yours.

bobbyc
11-18-2004, 20:41
some members of this forum hold the VSOF in high regard



Very Special Old Fitz gets mixed reviews. There is a Very Very Old Fitz that was a Stitzel-Weller product from the '50s and '60s that you will see often referred to as maybe the best single Bourbon example produced so far.

Check this thread (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Number=37102&page=0&view=col lapsed&sb=5&o=93&vc=1) for a discussion of the different Old Fitzgeralds.

RedVette
11-18-2004, 21:23
I am so far unable to locate a bottle of "Old Washtub", do you have any suggestions as to where I might find a bottle?

wrbriggs
11-19-2004, 03:59
Send me a check or money order for $49.95, and I will make you some Old Washtub, filtered through only the finest of gym socks.

jeff
11-19-2004, 06:19
I tried VSOF for the first time at the EWSB '95 preview. I had it on ice and I thought it was pretty good. It was a little thin but otherwise a decent bourbon.

Ken Weber
11-22-2004, 10:36
I have to agree with you here. You need to realize that while Buffalo Trace is 9 - 11 years old, the Blanton's is only about 7 - 8 years old. I truly believe the extra couple of years in the wood sets BT apart. I say this knowing full well that Blanton's sells for twice the price of BT!

Ken

Ken Weber
11-22-2004, 10:42
Guys, I am going to tread very carefully around this one. We have been making Old Charter for several years now (our master distiller, Gary Gayheart, was making Charter 30 years ago). Some of the great old brands have been purchased from the original owners and are now being produced at other distilleries. This is not to say they are better or worse, just that they are different.

Distillation techniques differ from distillery to distillery. Yeast strains vary and aging warehouse conditions are different. If we were to make Jack Daniel's at Buffalo Trace, the taste difference would be noticeable.

Ken

wrbriggs
11-22-2004, 11:51
We have been making Old Charter for several years now (our master distiller, Gary Gayheart, was making Charter 30 years ago)


I think you mean to say Old Fitzgerald, right? I love the Old Charter... it's the Very Special Old Fitzgerald that I just can't seem to force down.

TNbourbon
11-22-2004, 16:43
No, he means OC -- Heaven Hill now owns Old Fitzgerald. I think Ken is very (professionally, politely and quite appropriately -- I have no such compunction, being a common imbiber!) tacitly and tactfully implying that VSOF might not live up to its brand name because of its change of ownership/distiller/location. On the other hand, OC has at least the continuity of a common distiller through its changes.

wrbriggs
11-22-2004, 19:50
Ah, thanks for the interpretation. I'm a bit slow sometimes, and I'm terrible at "reading between the lines", as it were.

Almost all of my favorite bourbons seem to be coming out of Buffalo Trace (with the exception of EC12 and EWSB '94). I don't think I've tried a BT bottling that I haven't liked yet!

bobbyc
11-22-2004, 22:14
I don't think I've tried a BT bottling that I haven't liked yet!




Have you tried Eagle Rare Single Barrel? That one does it for me, in the context above.

Seriously though, I believe it replaced the Benchmark Single Barrel, I wonder if it is substantially the same or did they create a different profile.

wrbriggs
11-23-2004, 03:38
Have you tried Eagle Rare Single Barrel? That one does it for me, in the context above.


Actually, I really enjoyed ERSB, perhaps even more than the standard Eagle Rare 10yr. It's also one of the few bourbons that my wife will drink, which is nice. They've just started stocking it on the shelves of some local state liquor outlets; prior to that, it was special-order only. It seems like a pretty good introductory bourbon, I may even give it as a X-mas gift to people I know who like whiskey.

TNbourbon
11-23-2004, 14:57
Have you tried Eagle Rare Single Barrel? That one does it for me, in the context above.


Actually, I really enjoyed ERSB, perhaps even more than the standard Eagle Rare 10yr. It's also one of the few bourbons that my wife will drink, which is nice. They've just started stocking it on the shelves of some local state liquor outlets; prior to that, it was special-order only. It seems like a pretty good introductory bourbon, I may even give it as a X-mas gift to people I know who like whiskey.



This is an example of some of the earlier discussion in this thread -- everybody has different tastes. I, too, disagree with Bobby about ERSB, but I agree with his astute selections many more times, including his love for Stagg, which I think is the best bourbon I've ever had.

bobbyc
11-23-2004, 15:19
I don't care much for AAA either, I actually like a regular bottling, say 90 or 100 proof of Ancient Age better. Then you don't like EC12, an easy favorite for me. As you say personal preference. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

HHBOURBONMAN
11-30-2004, 20:21
Having been away for the holidays, I have missed a bit of this discussion. Might be a dead thread, but I feel a bit compelled to weigh in here...Let's be a bit more even handed here, gents, and perhaps put ourselves in the real rough and tumble world of spirits. Some of the brands that are being talked about here are brands that were divested by Diageo in 1999 to three different companies. You are dealing with a three tier distribution system in which it sometimes takes a long time for a bottle to get through the pipeline. Therefore, the provenance of some of these bottlings will vary widely. I think it's a bit disingenuous to talk in sweeping generalities about continuity with ex-Diageo brands that are, in reality, coming from several different sources.

Look, the fact of the matter is with limited production Bourbons such as these, if you don't like a bottle, I suggest you go somewhere else to purchase another bottle or wait awhile. We don't dump barrels for these whiskeys but a few times a year, so there will certainly be variation from one "small batch" to the next...

wrbriggs
12-22-2004, 20:05
Having been away for the holidays, I have missed a bit of this discussion. Might be a dead thread, but I feel a bit compelled to weigh in here...Let's be a bit more even handed here, gents, and perhaps put ourselves in the real rough and tumble world of spirits. Some of the brands that are being talked about here are brands that were divested by Diageo in 1999 to three different companies. You are dealing with a three tier distribution system in which it sometimes takes a long time for a bottle to get through the pipeline. Therefore, the provenance of some of these bottlings will vary widely. I think it's a bit disingenuous to talk in sweeping generalities about continuity with ex-Diageo brands that are, in reality, coming from several different sources.

Look, the fact of the matter is with limited production Bourbons such as these, if you don't like a bottle, I suggest you go somewhere else to purchase another bottle or wait awhile. We don't dump barrels for these whiskeys but a few times a year, so there will certainly be variation from one "small batch" to the next...


I can definitely appreciate that there will be some variability between batches. However, at almost $30 per bottle, it's not something I'd really want to take a gamble on a second time, when I can get EWSB, EC12, Elmert T. Lee or Bulleit for closer to $20. I'm hoping that the bottle will grow on me, and I'm still soldiering through it. It took me almost 3/4 of a bottle of Woodford Reserve for me to go from disliking it to greatly enjoying it, maybe the same thing will happen here. I usually greatly enjoy Heaven Hill bourbon, all the way from Evan Williams black label to EC18.

I'm still a bit split on wheaters, so maybe that's the problem. I find Maker's Mark ok, but nothing special. I have developed a definite fondness for Weller Special Reserve, but it's taken me 1/2 a bottle to do so. I found it a bit harsh initially, but now I really enjoy it, and identify the "harshness" as more of an oak flavor. Hard to beat it for $13.

I will keep trying! I really do want to like VSOF, so I'll keep working through the bottle.