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View Full Version : Which Bourbon for a new guy?



LBTRS
01-14-2007, 21:51
Hello,

I'm new to Bourbon and drinking in general. I drink a lot of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey with diet coke and want to learn to appreciate some finer Whiskey's. Could you make some recommendations as to which is the best Bourbon to start with as I have not yet acquired a taste for it?

I have recently went through a bunch of Jim Beam white label mixed in cocktails and with water but am wanting something a bit more upscale as I learn to appreciate Bourbon.

I guess the only criteria is that I have a hard time with the strong stuff that "burns" going down. I have searched but have not found an answer to this question.

Thanks a million!

barturtle
01-14-2007, 22:46
This is a bit of a problem to figure out...while there are many upscale bourbons out there to be discovered, many of the higher echelon are higher in proof, which can tend to "burn" someone who is not used to them. And they also tend to be a bit mre pricey than many people are willing to pay.

If you are not afraid to part with a bit of money, you may like Basil Hayden, a quite nice, upscale bottling with little burn due to it's lower proof.

You may also like to stay with some of the nicer Canadians until you get more acquainted with what you describe as a burn, man of these whiskies are still quite upscale and have fine flavor...though they may be hard to find in a bar, but not quite so in a liquor store...try the Canadian Club 12yo, Crown Reserve as both these are fairly available.

I'm not sure if you intend to drink these "neat" or what but as you get more accustomed to these you should be able to extend your reach and try more intense bottlings as you gain experience.

ggilbertva
01-14-2007, 22:52
Welcome. There's no right or wrong answer, just what your taste preferences are. I'm not a CR fan and never have been. I will drink it, but as you currently prefer, with a Diet Coke. Not knowing your price range, one that I've found is an exception pour and goes down very very smooth, w/o the burn is Van Winkle Lot B 12 YO Bourbon. Another you may find to your liking is Berheim Wheated Whiskey (not a bourbon since it's not 51% corn). Another I've found that's a really nice pour for around $30 is Wathens Single Barrel. This one might be harder to find. There are others in this forum that have broader experience with some good middle shelf bourbons. If you find a bourbon "burns" too much, you can add some spring water to cut it down to your preferred proof. I used to drink my bourbon with Diet Coke....not anymore. Neat and delicious. Good hunting.

ILLfarmboy
01-15-2007, 11:11
My first instinct was to try to think of a number of 80 poofers that are universally thought of as being of a quality suitable for quaffing neat. But maybe that is the wrong approach. You say you've been drinking Beam White and water how about trying Beam Black the same way or Wild turkey 101. This way you can come to appreciate the flavors of better whiskey minus the "burn". Then gradually use less water eventually graduating to sipin' neat.

Sweetmeats
01-15-2007, 11:25
Not sure where you are located but Rite-Aid has Wild Turkey 101 on sale for 13.99 this week. A fantastic bourbon for a great price. Do what Illfarmboy said and buy it but water it down with some ice cubes.

LBTRS
01-15-2007, 11:41
Thanks for all the information guys. I do have a question though, did you guys like bourbon from the first time you drank it or did you acquire a taste for it? I have tried to drink it neat but I can say that it isn't something I really enjoy right now. Will this change as I drink more bourbon?

Thanks again,

ILLfarmboy
01-15-2007, 11:53
Thanks for all the information guys. I do have a question though, did you guys like bourbon from the first time you drank it or did you acquire a taste for it? I have tried to drink it neat but I can say that it isn't something I really enjoy right now. Will this change as I drink more bourbon?

Thanks again,

I liked it the first time I sneaked/snook? a nip. scotch however was an acquired taste. Even if bourbon is an acquired taste for you you needn't give up too soon.

T47
01-15-2007, 12:05
Speaking for myself, I did not like any spirits when I first had them in my early 20's. And that was it for me. I was a beer drinker for the next 20+ years with the exception of a fruity mixed drink here and there.
I was on a vacation at my father-in-laws and he was out of beer, so I tried a drink of Makers Mark, neat, and it was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. I don't know what changed in all those years? That drink of Makers ultimately led me here. I have tried many types of bourbon and enjoyed them all. I also have a taste for Ryes and Irish Whiskey.
I imagine if you really want to enjoy it, eventually you will. But I would say drink what tastes good to you, and drink it the way you enjoy it. I guess a "better" bourbon would make a better bourbon and coke than a lesser bottle? You have to decide that one for your self.
At anyrate, you will get all the information you could dream of about Bourbon on this site. They are great folks with a wealth of knowledge.

:toast:

LBTRS
01-15-2007, 13:08
Speaking for myself, I did not like any spirits when I first had them in my early 20's. And that was it for me. I was a beer drinker for the next 20+ years with the exception of a fruity mixed drink here and there.


That's my problem, I'm 40 years old and tired of ordering/asking for a fruity mixed drink every time I get a drink. I am wanting my drink palate to catch up to my age. I will continue to try new bourbons and learn from this site.

Thanks again!

T47
01-15-2007, 14:56
Well it won me over, so I would say try some Makers. It's got nice flavor and is pretty smooth. My other favorite in the smooth category would be W.L. Weller 12, a great value and excellent flavor. One of the good things about Makers is that if you do like it, most restaurants stock it.

You should try some Irish Whiskey some time as well. I find it all very smooth and flavorful.

Next thing you know, thanks to many of the good folks here, you will have to build a bar, or at the very least shelves to stock your enjoyment.

cowdery
01-15-2007, 15:09
The best way to drink whiskey (any whiskey) if you initially find it too strong straight is simply to dilute it with water. Room temp water is best if you really want to enjoy the taste of the spirit. You might want to start with Crown, which certainly is one of the best whiskies of its type, since you already have experience with it. As for bourbons, one of the easiest to drink is Maker's Mark, a wheated bourbon. Wheated bourbons in general go down more easily than rye-recipe bourbons. Other wheaters are Old Fitzgerald and W. L. Weller. Bernheim is a good suggestion for the same reason.

Another approach is to drink the whiskey undiluted, but take very small sips. Let the whiskey linger on your tongue before swallowing it, then chase it with some water.

I don't think most people like straight spirits on first blush, but work up to them. You cannot drink them like you drink beer, wine or non-alcohol beverages, and that's the mistake most people make. Taking small sips and really experiencing every drop is the way to go.

CrispyCritter
01-15-2007, 20:36
That's my problem, I'm 40 years old and tired of ordering/asking for a fruity mixed drink every time I get a drink.

Van Winkle Lot B would be an excellent choice - or, for less money, Weller 12yo, or Elmer T. Lee.

Ice or water (use high quality water!) can be handy, either to knock down the burn, or a few drops to release flavors.

As for mixed drinks, why not try mixing a classic cocktail like a Manhattan (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3117)? You can change the proportions of ingredients, not to mention different brands of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, and get a wide range of tastes.

LBTRS
01-15-2007, 21:30
Great information guys...due to the limited availability of Bourbon in the local liquor store I placed an order with Binny's for some Bourbons to try. Unfortunately it appears, after just looking at the straightbourbon.com database, that all the Bourbons I purchased are from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. I didn't realize this and thought I was getting different distilleries to try. Oh well, I guess that's more of a reason to try some more. Here is what I have coming:

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yo
Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B 12yo
Buffalo Trace
Eagle Rare 10yo
Blanton's

What I already have:

Makers Mark
Jim Beam White Label
Woodford Reserve

So far the Woodford Reserve has been my favorite out of the three I have. At this point a tiny bit of water allows me to enjoy the bourbon more. I appreciate all the help so far.

wskybnt
01-15-2007, 21:41
You got some good advice here:

Elmer T. Lee
Van Winkle Lot B
Makers Mark
Basil Hayden

Others that you may like at first are

Buffalo Trace
Eagle Rare 10yr SB
Old Charter 12
Evan Williams SB
EC 12

There are others but they are getting up there in price

Pappy 20
BMH (any yr)
Four Roses SB
ect.....

It goes on and on, but these are all great starts.

Special Reserve
01-16-2007, 15:11
LBTRS

You should most happy with your selection, or at least I would be very happy with your selection. If any disappoint you I will gladly help with their disposal.

Welcome.

Will

LBTRS
01-18-2007, 15:21
Ok, this is getting out of hand and I need to slow down. I could not wait for my bottles to arrive from Binny's so I stopped by the liquor store and picked up the recommended Basil Hayden's and some EC 12. I really enjoy the Basil Hayden's neat and it has a mild flavor, the EC 12 requires a splash of water, however, I enjoy the flavor more than the Basil Hayden's.

I'm looking forward to the rest getting here so I can taste them all but so far the EC 12 is an outstanding value for a good tasting Bourbon.

Thanks again for all the help so far.

Edited to add: after some more sampling I have also determined that the EC 12 has a much better smell in the glass. The Basil Hayden's almost has a medicinal/rubbing alcohol smell. Out of the five I have tried so far, MM, JB White, Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden's & EC 12 I like the EC12 the best.