View Full Version : Bourbon Newbie Question
Newbie here who has decided, as I approach middle age, that I'm tired of the bloat of beer and have taken a liking to whisky, especially bourbon. Living in Virginia, my current bourbon of choice is Virginia Gentleman 90 proof. I'm thinking of trying a more premium blend - any suggestions for a brand, given that VG 90 appeals to me? Makers Mark seems to have consistently high ratings, so am considering trying that...
Welcome. My regular pour was VG 90 too. My tastes started out in one direction and as time went on have gone down a different path (expanded). Some of the pours mentioned here in threads are going to seem not that great if you try them right away. But, if you go back to them later on you may find them to your liking.
My tastes went almost immediately to rye heavy bourbons, along with some others. What I'll give you though is the short list of what tasted good to me at the very first and were easy to enjoy (also available).
Weller Antique 107
Eagle Rare Single Barrel 90 proof
Sazerac 18 year old (pricey, good and unfortunately not that available)
Evan Williams Single Barrel (any year)
I think if it would have been available, Weller 12 year old would have been good as well. Pappy 20 I think is pretty easy to get along with, but all of the younger Pappys, in my opinion take a little bit of getting used to (I didn't like them at first, I do now), even the lot B.
It's all personal taste. Buy a small variety, taste and experiment.
That's a tough call.
At a gross level it's a question of more of the same vs. branching out. Actually there is no "same", but you get the idea.
It's been at least two years since I've tasted VG90, aka "The Fox". I remember it as being very clean tasting, whatever that means, with pleasant, not intense, flavors on the palete and a short but pleasant finish. A bourbon that I might describe in those same words is Maker's Mark -- although it is priced in the same vicinity as The Fox, maybe a bit less. The interesting thing about MM in this context is that it's made with wheat in place of the rye that is used in most bourbons.
Being something of a Wild Turkey fan I might focus on your words "more premium" and suggest Kentucky Spirit. (Oh, BTW, the word "blend" is probably not what you meant. As normally used that word denotes a mixture of whiskey and neutral grain spirits -- whiskey-flavored alcohol, in other words.)
The readily available premium bourbon that I happen to like best of all is Rock Hill Farms.
I can't predict, based on your liking for VG90, whether you will like either of them. I happen to like all three, but that's just me.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed is also a wonderful pour, and I'd second the recommendations on the Weller Antique, Eagle Rare, and the Sazerac 18 (the latter is rye, and oh, it's good stuff).
I'm not sure what all's available in Virginia, but Buffalo Trace is excellent as well; think of it as VG90 cranked up a bit (even though both are 90 proof).
These are all very helpful ideas - I appreciate you guys taking the time to educate a newbie. A further question comes to mind - Is VG 90 considered a wheater or a rye heavy bourbon? Expanding may mean trying the other variety for me.
To answer your question, I'll tell you I can't answer your question. Virginia Gentleman is kind of it's own animal. One of the differences is the number of times it's distilled. It actually starts its life at Buffalo Trace, then is trucked to Virginia.
Just because it started out at Buffalo Trace, definitely does not mean it resembles those products and it doesn't.
I stand by my first post as far as advise.
To answer the question more specifically, I believe VG's mashbill is a standard rye-flavored bourbon.
I'm not sure the triple distillation accounts for the difference as much as the different aging environment and different aging practices. VG's warehouses are small and the barrels are stored on end, on pallets, rather than on their side in racks.
Also, the character of any whiskey is a function of the barrel selection process. When does the master distiller decide they're ready? What combination of ages is used?
Joe Dangler, who runs the operation there, is a real whiskey man who knows what's he's doing. VG 90, especially, reflects his particular vision of how a good whiskey should taste.
Based on others descriptions of VG, I would suggest Maker's Mark also. It's a good pour and one I always have in my cabinet.
Every recommendation I've read seems good to me, but I'd also recommend some of the Black Maple Hill offerings, I have never been disappointed with any of them. As well as Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year Lot B (there is no lot a, c, etc) I really enjoy and feel that they are pretty user friendly, but with all things bourbon, ymmv. Good luck.
Another very good rye heavy bourbon is AH Hirsch 16, it's excellent. An some cheaper alternatives which are still rye heavy are Evan Williams 1783 and Old Grand Dad 114.
H i Vamtnlion,
You have gotten a lot of good suggestions, some more expensive than others. Two I don't recall seeing that are more moderate in price are Wild Turkey 101 and Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond.
Have you tried anything new yet?
Hello from another middle-aged Virginia newbie!
Definitely try Eagle Rare 10 year. Ditto Wild Turkey 101, maybe even Russels Reserve. Something a little different, but I think you will love (I know I do!) is Elmer T Lee. Not every Va ABC store has it though, just the larger ones around my neck of the woods. Welcome and happy sampling!
Unfortunately, The Antique Bourbons you mentioned are pretty much non-existent in VA...with the exception of GTS. I live in VA and have a difficult time getting some of the better premium bourbons. VA being a controlled state leaves us with a limited supply.
I'am new here too.
Like you I have returned to Bourbon around middle age. I think with age you learn how to appreciate things better. You might try Old Forester 100.
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