View Full Version : Newbie... first pour

02-18-2005, 12:06
I am in the process of trying to find a spirit I enjoy. Being in Louisville and having overheard some local conversion I decided to try bourbon and came across this board.

After a couple hours of reading here over a couple of days, I decided to head to the local Liquor Barn and see what happened...

Not knowing what I like, I ended up buying 4 50ml sampler bottles. Old Forester 86 proof, Evan Williams 7 year, Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve.

I tried my first last night, Old Forester. I poured about half the bottle and cut it with 1 Tbs of water. After looking that up today I guess that this about 2 parts bourbon to 1 part water.

Initial impressions: It was a little strong but then I drink very little alcohol (don't care for beer, etc). I liked the smell pretty well but the taste, while sippable was not what I would consider good. Depending on how I drank, small sip, larger drink, placement in my mouth, different amount rising into my sinus, etc it seemed to taste a little different each time.

I guess I'll just keep at it and give each a sample and see if it gets any better. Maybe I'll try 1 to 1 water... Any further suggestions?


02-18-2005, 12:36
Try more water, but also try a very tiny sip straight. Let it stay on your tongue and pull some air in through your mouth (gently) to get all of the aroma.

02-18-2005, 12:54
Thanks for the suggestions... I'll give it a try!

02-18-2005, 14:12
Like Chuck said, maybe try some more water. One of the great things about bourbon is that it can be pretty heavily diluted and still maintain most of its flavor profile.

Keep in mind that not everyone likes every bourbon, either. You may just not like the Old Forester taste profile. You may want to try some different samples from the various distilleries. You've already got representatives from Heaven Hill (Evan Williams), Buffalo Trace (Buffalo Trace), Early Times (Old Forester), Labrot & Graham (Woodford Reserve).

Some other good bourbons that I've found act as "gateway bourbons" are:
<ul type="square"> Maker's Mark - Spendy, and not that distinguished, but very smooth and approachable.
Evan Williams Single Barrel - Light, flavorful, low enough in proof to drink neat even as a beginner.
Blanton's - Expensive, but very good. It's been said here before, and I'll say it again, that if you don't like Blanton's, you don't like bourbon. I know people who wouldn't put Blanton's in their top 5, but I've never encountered anyone who can say it's not a good bourbon.
Jim Beam Black Label - Good stuff, not too expensive, typically considered to be a very good buy.
Wild Turkey 101 or Russell's Reserve - Both great bourbons, they show off the typical Wild Turkey taste profile, which is very tasty. In my mind, Wild Turkey products seem to have a much "bigger" taste, and I think it can probably be attributed to the low distillation and barreling proofs that Jimmy Russell uses.

Also, if this is really your first experience with drinking distilled spirits without mixers, it may take a while to get used to it. After a while, your mouth gets accustomed to the "alcohol" taste, and you begin to taste all the other things that you hear people talking about.

02-18-2005, 15:15
Alcoholic drinks are, in most cases, an acquired taste. Some people never comes to terms with it (no harm there). But for those who want to persist, it may help to know what is in the drink, how it is supposed to taste. Bourbon such as you poured has a slightly smoky, sweetish vanillin taste (from the barrel aging and corn grain). It also has a kind of zesty taste which comes from the rye in the bourbon, if it has rye (most do). That rye gives the drink some complexity but at first it is an unusual taste. That may be what you found, "not good". Some bourbons don't use rye, they use wheat instead, such as Maker's Mark. Some tasters find the wheat-recipe bourbons easier to take (milder, softer) but experienced drinkers will often express a preference for rye-recipe bourbon.

Some people, I included, like bourbon in a cocktail, e.g. an Old-Fashioned or Manhattan. Here the bourbon taste is modified but it is still there, and that is another way to sample bourbon whiskey.


02-18-2005, 16:07
Thanks for the suggestions...

I was thinking about trying some cocktails with the remaining portions of the brands I liked least after tasting each. I'm also on a low-carb diet currently so this will probably need to wait a little while. Anyone tried to mix a drink with splenda?

Are all the burbons I bought rye bourbons? What are some other wheats besides Maker's Mark?

Thanks again

02-18-2005, 16:54
Are all the burbons I bought rye bourbons? What are some other wheats besides Maker's Mark?

Yes, everything you purchased is made with rye. Other than Maker's Mark, some other well-known wheated bourbons are:
<ul type="square"> Rebel Yell
Any of the Pappy or Old Rip Van Winkle bottlings (Old Rip 10 yr old, Old Rip 12 yr old, Pappy 15 yr old, Pappy 20 yr old, Pappy 23 yr old)
Any of the W.L. Weller bottlings (Special Reserve, Antique, Centennial, 12 yr old)
The Fitzgerald bottlings (Old Fitz bottled-in-bond, Very Special Old Fitz)
I'm pretty sure I'm missing some, but these are some of the main ones. In general, I find that I prefer a traditional rye bourbon, although I have recently acquired a bottle of W.L. Weller Centennial that I greatly enjoy, and the Van Winkle bottlings are also some of the finest bourbon I've ever had.

02-18-2005, 19:01
Well, bourbon and diet cola, or diet ginger ale, can be very nice.


02-21-2005, 22:00
Everyone here has given excellent advice and I agree that sometimes you have to "aquire" a taste through repitition. Straight whiskies can be very overwhelming at times and diluting them helps to a great degree. The more you get your senses used to the sensations, the easier the transition becomes in my experience.

About 20 or so years ago, a close friend who didn't care for the taste of beer wanted to be able to enjoy that beverage with the rest of us guzzlers since we made fun of his cheap wine (Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill I believe). We put him on the SIX PACK A NIGHT program for two weeks and he finally developed a taste for beer. While it worked for him, we soon couldn't keep beer in our refridgerators very long when he was around so I guess we created a monster. So it just may be a matter of repetitive tasting and you may grow to love bourbon as we do. Then again, you may not and there is no shame in that.

02-22-2005, 10:29
Hey Dane.....Beer was an acquired taste for me too. My Mom tells of the time my Grandfather set a glass of beer in front of me when I was two years old. I spit it back in his face. It was about 16 years later before I was to "acquire" a taste for it. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif


02-24-2005, 19:38
I never aquired a taste for beer either...

I tried the Evan Williams last week, cut 1 to 1 after first trying a little straight. I seemed a bit more mellow and not too bad.

Went back and compared the nose of the first two before pouring my third sample, the Woodford reserve. The nose on the Evan Williams was much richer and sweeter, while the Old Forester was dominated by alcohol.

I don't think I like the Woodford Reserve, I am currently sampling, as well as the Evan Williams. It is also cut about 1 to 1, but seems to have a bit more bite and is not as flavorful.

Next time is the the Buffalo Trace...

02-24-2005, 20:32
Next time is the the Buffalo Trace...

I think you are gonna like that one.