View Full Version : What makes (or always has made) Bourbon such a unique drink to you?

10-05-2006, 20:38
Compared to other liquors you also admire and are a regular drinker of, what (seriously or humorously) makes Bourbon such a great, unique alcohol to you (whether drunk on it's own, or mixed with something else).

If this has been discussed here before, please give links to any still working threads if possible.

10-05-2006, 20:46
If this has been discussed here before, please give links to any still working threads if possible.

Page down. The website has already done it for you. There may be others, but I recall those threads covering basically the territory you are asking about.

10-05-2006, 20:49
I don't drink anything else regularly. I drink red wine on the occasion, but as a rule it's bourbon or nothing....sometimes mixed, sometimes straight, depending on what bourbon I'm drinking. I just love the stuff, now just to drink but also as a hobby. (Collecting)
When I first started drinking bourbon, it was Jim Beam white, now I can't stand the stuff!

10-06-2006, 06:17
History. Good old American history.

Same thing that makes the American Pit Bull Terrier the greatest dog in the world.

And stone ground hickory cane cornmeal an essential part of the well stocked pantry.


10-06-2006, 09:09
I drink bourbon because it's 100% American :usflag: (and I also like it). I do not drink Scotch. Any Scotch. My music of choice is Bluegrass, also 100% American :usflag: . I drink red wines at times but also prefer them to be American :usflag: . What can I say? I'm proud to be an American.
Joe :usflag:

10-06-2006, 20:14
I tried bourbon and fell in love. At that point I figured that it was hopeless, I am as American as it gets. I AM the sterotype for a redneck. I have a basset hound, am in the military, drink bourbon, listen to bluegrass, grew up on a farm, the list goes on and on...

From my early teens I tried to break away from my heritage and get far away from what my parents are, but as time goes on (I am young in comparison to most here) I find myself embracing more and more my roots. I love being country, and enjoy everything about it. Bourbon and all.

10-06-2006, 20:52
For me itís simply the taste, I like it far better than anything else that Iíve tried. Itís also the only liquor that I havenít gotten sick of.

10-07-2006, 09:54
1) Extreme wood notes in the whiskey compared to other whiskies such as Scotch or Cdn. More beligerent flavours also, but with pretty impressive variation.

2) No additives. Scotch and Irish usually use E150 or liquid caramel to ensure consistent color in the whisk(e)y, and in my experiance this influances the taste of the whisky. Cdn whisky can add 9.09% of anything in their bottles - I don't think at this level it should be allowed to be bottled as whisky. American straight whiskey cannot have any additives, so I know I'm not getting something doctored up - even the value products on the bottom shelf like JB white are "authentic".

I really wish we had more bourbon choices up here in Toronto...

Pappy's Friend
10-07-2006, 20:25
I got hooked on bourbon last year when I made my first trip to Louisville on business. I tried the VW 20-year at Maker's Mark Tavern in downtown Louisville, and was hopelessly hooked. This started my journey of tasting different bourbons, and giving up on vodka!

Prior to starting my bourbon journey, I was into vodka and tequila. I still will imbibe in them when I can't find any good bourbon, but I find myself returning to this wonderful elixir.

I find bourbons quite expressive. I particularly like the caramel tones, and I love the nose. I am partial to wheated bourbons, but will drink any. Each bourbon is quite distinctive.

I also find that after my first visit to a barrel warehouse, I found myself enticed by the odor - ah, the angel's share!

It's truly a lovely drink.

10-09-2006, 12:12
Quite simply, it's the taste for me. I thoroughly enjoy the interplay of caramel, toffee, and oak in various proportions.


10-09-2006, 14:20
My parents drank bourbon...cheap bourbon, but bourbon nonetheless. When I started to drink (after reaching the legal drinking age, of course) I mostly drank beer and "wine" (e.g., Boone's Farm) and, like most young people, was pretty indifferent to anything but the alcohol effect. When I got a little older, I started to do some mixed drinks (e.g., 7 and 7). Someone advised me that straight liquor hangovers weren't as bad as mixed drink hangovers, so I started to drink scotch...mostly cheap scotch but I was also an early adopter of single malts.

Then I moved to Louisville, Kentucky. I was still drinking scotch and beer mostly, but many people around me were drinking bourbon. There seemed to be quite a lot of it about and lots of different kinds. A colleague turned me on to Old Fitzgerald. He was a former Stitzel-Weller employee who told me how it was an open secret in the industry that Maker's Mark was using the Old Fitzgerald recipe, freely given to Bill Samuels Senior by Pappy Van Winkle. The first bottle I bought was accidentally broken in my car, a scent I lived with for some time. Another colleague told me that Glenmore was so overstocked with whiskey that it was bottling 10-year-old bourbon in its inexpensive Kentucky Tavern brand. I also discovered Very Old Barton during this period.

The final changeover came when I switched the cheap scotch brand I was drinking and the new brand gave me headaches. That was it for me and cheap scotch.

Which, I guess, is a long way to go without actually answering the question. I do like the flavor and aroma of bourbon, but I'm probably even more enamoured by the culture and heritage of it.

10-09-2006, 20:41
Well, let's see: I love the flavor (and its differences among brands), its natural character (no E150, ever, and the only way you'd get fruit juice, sherry, etc. is if you mix it into a cocktail), and it's distinctly :usflag: American. Also, in price it ranges from a good value to an exceptional deal. Of course, that isn't necessarily true if you're outside North America.

That doesn't stop me from enjoying Scotch or Irish, though.

10-10-2006, 07:55
Bourbon makes me feel happy, patriotic, & nostalgic. I think of the Colonials & founders of the US and how they had a clean slate and were SO exuberant about founding a nation. I'm ashamed of some of the things that have happened in America's short history but I try to live in a way that preserves her original spirit. Sometimes it seems as if America just keeps slipping further in to crapola but I try to stay positive. Bourbon helps!

10-10-2006, 09:31
I like it for its fine flavor and value.


10-10-2006, 18:44
Gary every time I think I couldn't like you any more than I do already, you go and surprise me yet again! Well said!

For me, it was a transition from Irish to Bourbon. Bourbon won hands down. Flavor, history and value.

10-10-2006, 19:18
Why shucks. :) I like the history too, but every spirit has a history, some more creditable than others but then too with spirits that's relative! The history of rum for example is replete with unsavoury associations with slavery, piracy, smuggling. Malt whisky has its origins in small croft distilleries and often illicit operations. Gin's early associations, at least in the Anglo-American world, are with poverty, squalor, despair or at least the disfavored in society. All these drinks later acquired an aura of respectability and even class, as drinking customs changed and drink became viewed in a different light by many (think of the image of the martini).

Bourbon of all these drinks has the most honorable history, I would say. Bourbon is not some intermittent, makeshift emanation like moonshine. It requires capital, foresight and technology for its reliable and consistent production. So on the history side, bourbon ranks on top I'd say in terms of its gentility and overall image even in the early days. But the history of the other drinks is no less interesting even though different. What the other drinks don't share is the fine savour and excellent value of bourbon (and rye whiskey). Rum runs second to bourbon in this regard, particularly in the taste and value departments.


10-10-2006, 20:22
:cool: A one sentence response. I thought somebody had hacked in and was pretending to be you. Your second response, NOW THAT' S MORE LIKE IT!:bowdown:

10-11-2006, 01:41
Pure Americana. To me bourbon embodies so much of what is good about America, bold, spirited, unapologetic, somewhat rebelious, and unmistably individual.

10-11-2006, 04:28
I find it hard to limit to one sentence. :) Sometimes I put in a post intending to expand it when I have more time. But what I said before the edit does express the core of how I feel: taste and value are the keys.


10-11-2006, 17:40
When I came of drinking age my grand dad (now 90 years old) informed me that I should be drinking 3 ounces of bourbon per day. Many years ago his doctor gave him the "prescription" of 3 ounces per day (for heart problems of all things), and my grand dad claims this is one of the reasons for his long life. He now says to me, "Well, I figured if 3 ounces was good, 6 ounces was even better!" I recently had the pleasure of sipping some WT 101 with him while we discussed the many benefits of bourbon.

I've always found that story amusing, and I guess that's just one reason of many bourbon is special to me.


10-13-2006, 13:34
As a very young boy growing up in the deep south watching my grandfather and uncles sitting around a crisp fall afternoon talking shop (all were cops)drinking jim beam or evan williams. I guess it's in my blood.

10-21-2006, 08:34
My grandfather usually had a drink each day -a similar idea to an earlier post about a prescription for good health.

My real fascination with bourbon started when I stumbled upon this forum while researching bourbons to buy as christmas gifts for some friends. I just wanted info on what was good or simply should avoid.

That original search has lead me to a fantastic distraction from my responsibilities!

10-21-2006, 11:44
The flavour and the aroma first...Especially the caramel, vanilla and oaky notes...The colour comes then...History and tradition are also the aspects that first started my interest in bourbon. I enjoy drinking bourbon, looking at the beautiful colour, examining the bottles and learning about bourbon.

06-17-2007, 10:49
I think Bourbon, Scotch, Rum, Brandy, and 100% Agave Tequila have a lot going for them because of the craftsmanship aspect. There is a good amount of manpower, artistry, and black magic involved in making these spirits. I like them all, but what makes Bourbon my favorite?

Versus Scotch: Taste wise, Scotch is pretty good, but a little dull in comparison to Bourbon. Image wise Scotch is a little too snooty for me. Not to mention it is expensive! :)
Versus Rum: Taste wise, Rum is a little too sweet and slightly less complex than Bourbon. Image wise I think Rum is just as laid back as Bourbon. Overall however, there doesn't seem to be as much emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and the aging as there is compared to Bourbon.
Versus Tequila: Taste is very unique for me. I like it, but would say its not as complex as Bourbon. Image is hard to say, because it seems like Tequila is super trendy right now.
Versus Brandy: Taste wise, Bourbon just seems to have more body than Brandy. As far as image goes, if you thought Scotch was snooty, you are in for a shock with Brandy! :)

Bourbon overall is like the Goldilocks of spirits. Not as sweet as Rum, but not as dull as Scotch. It has a great complexity but doesn't have a high price. It has a great history with a fantastic man made craftsmanship type production without being pretentious. Even if Bourbon doubled in price it would still be my drink of choice. There is no other spirit that has the great combination of spice, sweetness, body, and flavor that bourbon does.

In many ways Bourbon can be compared to America itself. (At least the way America used to be) Very complex but with a cool demeanor. However, if it needs to, it can always turn the volume knob up to eleven. (GTS anyone? :cool:)

06-17-2007, 13:07
I came into bourbons having started with Scotch, and the value aspect could not be ignored. I was interested in fine spirits and an 18 year bourbon cost much less than most 18 year single malts. Also, I kept reading about the growing super-premium catergory in bourbon, and how the quality was as good as anything else out there. I just had to try it.

Now, it's all about the flavor. I still buy small amounts of other spirits for comparison, variety and educational purposes, but nothing rivals the size (and love) of my American whiskey collection (have to include the ryes here).

I live in a politically liberal town where many people say they are NOT proud to be American. Well, politicians are one thing, but bourbon makes me very glad to be living where I do.

Edit: can't believe I forgot this. No E150, as CrispyCritter said, is another huge bonus for me. There are enough liars in my life... I don't need my whiskey to be one of them :)

06-17-2007, 17:32
The taste and of course the aroma. Like the alluring aroma of a tobacco shop (tobacco can smell wonderful, so long as it isn't burning.:grin:

It is a uniquely American beverage. Its history. And the fact that if it says "bourbon" on the lable you know exactly what you are getting for your hard earned dollar.

06-23-2007, 05:42
Al row Iím not drinking any other whiskey at home than bourbon and other American straight I am an former single malt drinker and I still drink it at tasting events in our local whisky club. There for I want to compare the 2 from my personal preferences on this thread.
For me it works the way that the more bourbon I drink the better it taste. With single malt it did work that way just in the beginning but not any more after that.
Since my small town have the biggest single malt club in Sweden with over 220 members I get a lot of opportunities to taste high quality and expensive single malts. This has had the effect on me that I think many standard single malt donít have much to offer. When it comes to bourbon it works different. Now that have tasted relatively much high quality bourbon and sometimes go back to cheaper standard bottles I often find much more nice qualities and flavours in them compared to what I found when I was less experienced.
Another difference is that despite the fact that bourbon is generally heavier flavoured than single malt its still easer to drink. That has had the effect on me that the level in open bourbon bottles lowers faster then single malt bottles. That could seem like an advantage economically to malts but the lower prices on bourbon kind of evens this out.
The difference in drink-ability also have the effect on me that I hardly never get drunk if I drink malts as the mane drink a drinking evening. When it comes to bourbon I donít get drunk that often but it do occasionally happen. I would say that the occasion and mood settles if this is an advantage or disadvantage.


06-23-2007, 18:11
I was born with Bourbon runing thew me. My father worked for Segram's for 36 years at the plant on 7th street in Louisville and then the Four Roses plant in Lawrenceburg. All the kids i knew took cold medicine i had hot toddy's. It's been with in me ever since

Dramiel McHinson
06-23-2007, 22:19
As a very young boy growing up in the deep south watching my grandfather and uncles sitting around a crisp fall afternoon talking shop (all were cops)drinking jim beam or evan williams. I guess it's in my blood.

I had a similar experience. My extended family made their own whiskey and when I came along in the 50's, whiskey was a natural part of every family gathering. I was infatuated by the glitzy and charismatic whiskey adds in magazines and on TV. Every great actor threw down some whiskey and had a smoke as the movie drama unfolded. It was as much a part of American culture as anything else. Now I drink single malt and blended scotch and good ole American bourbon and whiskey. Few people outside the US get it when it comes to the bourbon or whiskey experience. It's a man's drink, it's complex, strong and flavorful. Don't get me wrong, my taste for whisk(e)y is broad and far ranging but the foundation of my passion for whiskey is rooted in good ole American sour mash. I've lived in Europe, Southwest Asia and the Orient and had myself a drink or two of their stuff and liked it but when it was time for real men to drink real spirits, I want a bottle of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. I drank bourbon with a French soldier once and he was very adept at finding ways that French spirits were better. In the end he was drunk, on his knees and crying for his mommy. I was pouring myself another glass of America's finest and cleaning my M16 for the next days work. Strong and proud it is, with a heritage like none other in the world; just like the people that make it and drink it.

06-25-2007, 01:57
I think it all boils down to the 'enjoyable burn'. Though I have had a couple pours that don't fit that description (negatively or positively), the enjoyable burn is what hooked me.