View Full Version : Hi. Introducing myself. Tell me what to buy!

V Smoothe
07-01-2007, 14:27
I've been reading these forums for a few months now, so I figured I might as well introduce myself.

I've been a bourbon drinker for around 7 years now. Started out drinking Maker's Mark, moved to Jim Beam White for a while, now I take Old Granddad BIB as my standard drink at the bar. Got serious about trying pricier stuff about 4 years ago, but I have limited funds, so I don't buy it all that often.

At home, I drink a lot of the Granddad as well. That is pretty much my everyday drink. Also on the shelf right now are:

Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12yo
1792 Ridgemont Reserve (unopened, never tried it)
Eagle Rare 17yo Fall 06
Eagle Rare 10yo Single Barrel
William Larue Weller 05 bottling (also unopened and never tried)
George T. Stagg (not sure which year, it is 131.8 proof - I love this one, sad it's almost gone)
Rock Hill Farms (really don't like this one at all)
Black Maple Hill 16 yo
Van Winkle 12 yo "Lot B" (also almost gone, very sad about that one)
a nearly empty A.H. Hirsch 16yo (sob!)
Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve
Knob Creek
Jim Beam Black
Old Granddad 114
Old Weller 7yo 107 (like this a lot, esp. for the price)

I've really enjoyed reading the discussion here, and they've made me acutely aware of just how little I know about bourbon. I want to start working on my tasting skills (i.e. move beyond "I really like this, that not as much" into being able to identify more specific flavors within a particular bourbon). I also want to start sampling more bourbons.

I'll be doing my summer bourbon shopping sometime in July. I'll have around $200 to spend. I'd love some advice as to what to purchase. I'd really like to replace my Hirsch, which is one of my favorites that I've ever tasted, but at $100/bottle, I'm not sure that is a wise way to spend my money. I'm also thinking about maybe trying some rye. I have a bottle of Old Potrero rye that I got as a gift and have never opened, and a half drunk bottle of Old Overholt, which I don't like all that much. So I'm open to suggestions for that was well. Any tips are appreciated.

07-01-2007, 14:41
Hi V Smoothe and welcome to the board!

I'd spend that $200 on the products of two distillers that aren't on your shelf - Wild Turkey and Brown-Forman. Definitely spring for the pricey Kentucky Spirit - it's worth the price. Russell's Reserve 101 if you can find it, otherwise a Rare Breed (same proof as the Weller 107 you love), and a Wild Turkey Rye. That's about a hundred bucks. Then an Old Forester 100 proof and a Woodford Reserve. The OF Birthday Bourbon is OK, but the regular BIB saves you enough for another bottle. Replace that Lot B!

- Kurt

V Smoothe
07-01-2007, 14:54
With respect to Wild Turkey - I have tried Wild Turkey 101 several times (I believe this is the only of their products I have ever sampled) and I hate it. I haven't bought any Turkey bourbons for this reason. I don't know if I can explain my problem with it in a useful way, but basically it tastes like mold to me. I probably sample it at a bar once or twice a year, but I always have the same problem with it no matter where I am, so I know it isn't an issue of one bad bottle. So, knowing that, would you still recommend the Russell's Reserve, Rare Breed, or Kentucky Spirit? Are they different enough that I wouldn't have the same problem? I go to a bar sometimes that has Rare Breed, so I can sample that one before purchasing, but I don't know about the other two.

I have had Woodford Reserve in the past. Liked it, didn't love it, but I definitely wouldn't be averse to getting another bottle. I have never tried any Old Forester, so I'll definitely pick some of that up.

I would really like to replace my Lot B. It's kind of depressing to think that if I just replaced the two products I adore but am almost out of, that would eat up most of my budget. Sigh. Maybe I could manage $250.

07-01-2007, 15:17
Rock Hill Farms (really don't like this one at all)

If you don't like that one, you probably don't need any advice from me. RHF is my top favorite! :bigeyes:


07-01-2007, 15:18

It's really tough to answer your question. (I received that same response in various forms when I joined this list a few years ago.)

Here's why. The fact that two bourbon-drinkers agree on one bottling does not ensure they will agree about another.

You like OGD BIB well enough to drink it regularly. So do I. I think it may be the best buy among bourbons.

You like G.T. Stagg. I'm impressed by it, but it's not a favorite.

You don't care for RHF. It's never been out of my top five since the first time I tasted it. (I don't care for its highly regarded stablemate, Blanton's, and yet many here like both bottlings.)

With VW 12 y/o "Lot B" we are in total agreement.

You lament emptying the Hirsch 16 y/o. I was so unimpressed, at least with the latest bottling, the so-called "gold foil", that I sold a half-dozen bottles to a fellow board member at my original cost. OTOH, if your bottle had the gold wax seal, then we agree. (I've never had the good fortune to taste the first bottling, which bore a blue wax seal.)

I've not tried the Old Weller 7 y/o 107 proof. However, I've tried the 12 y/o and the much pricier Proprietor's Reserve. Each was pleasant enough, but neither make my "keep on hand at all times" list.

In light of the above the only recommendations I might make would be intended not to identify your future, sure-fire favorites but to round out your experience a bit. For example, I see no Wild Turkey bottlings on your list. I suggest you try Rare Breed. It departs somewhat from the WT signature taste profile, but it's my current favorite. OTOH if you are lucky enough to find a bottle of the 12 y/o, I suggest you buy it, instead; there can't be too many bottles left on the shelves. I think it's similar to, but richer than, Kentucky Spirit.

{I just now read your later post regarding Wild Turkey. I think I know what you mean when you say "mold"; it's probably the same thing others mean when they speak of "leather". In that case I'll withdraw the suggestion re: the 12 y/o. It's too pricey to risk buying a bottle, and I doubt that you'll ever see it in a bar. However, Rare Breed has more honey or floral notes than the rest of the line-up. You may like it.)

Another bottling worth trying is Buffalo Trace, if it's available in your area. Fortunately for you it has more in common with stable mates ER SB 10 y/o and G.T.S. than with RHF. It may be a bit too sweet for some tastes; I always enjoy my first drink more than the second.

Speaking of love-it-or-hate-it bourbons, at some point you must try Elijah Craig 12 y/o. It has a distinctive flavor that some liken to eucalyptus, camphor, mint, Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup or some other, equally bizarre reference point. Some love it; some hate it; some insist that it's different now than a year ago.

You've no doubt discovered that there are few ryes available. Two that you did not mention are the ones I find most enjoyable. IMO Wild Turkey rye is superior to Jim Beam and Old Overholt by a wide enough margin to justify its slightly higher cost.

The whiskey that I once rated the best I'd ever tasted is Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. It's availability is spotty, and I can't quite keep up with its provenance as supplies distilled long ago steadily dwindle. I think we're still a few years away from seeing a bottling produced by Buffalo Trace. No matter. If it has the Van Winkle name on it, you owe it to yourself to try it.

Another rye that I've enjoyed, even though I haven't really gotten to know it, is Rittenhouse. It's not sold in my state, and many others, but someone was kind enough to send me a bottle. My first impression is that it's probably a better buy than the Wild Turkey rye.

There you have it. It takes guts to dispense this sort of advice. The only advice I'm sure of is to try as many bourbons as you can, whenever you can. Only you know what you like, and even that is subject to change as your experience accumulates.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

07-01-2007, 15:25
All the Turkeys bear a family resemblance, so I can't say springing the big bucks for the Kentucky Spirit is really that good an idea. You just may not like it. But it sure is marvelous whiskey, I think! At least if you try the Spirit, you've tried WT at it's best, and at the same classic proof as the regular WT.

You know I've never had the new 90 proof Russell's Reserve and I'm sure you can find some of that in a bar somewhere. Maybe the lower proof will alter the taste enough to make a difference for you. I know, for example, that I like regular Beam Black but don't like Bakers as much because of the proof difference.

07-03-2007, 22:09
I will add that if you find a Wild Turkey 12 year to buy and try it. If you still are having the same problem then from then on, steer clear of WT.

Actually "Steer Clear" isn't really what I meant to say, some time away from the brand and a revisit in the future would be a better way to do it.

There are a few things to try on the cheaper side, Old Charter and JW Dant come to mind. Also Evan Williams Single Barrel was in the low 20s the last time I looked but it seems all of them are creeping up in price.

Welcome to the board.

07-04-2007, 05:44
As a long time Turkey drinker I can assure you the basic 101 isn't quite what it was when I started drinking it with some regularity; around 1990. At that time I think it carried an age statement of 8 years or perhaps it was the transitional 'old no. 8'. I don't remember.

In any case, you might find you gain an appreciation for that Wild Turkey taste if you first approach it by way of some of their better bottlings. If you can find WT RR 101 give it a try. At around 25 dollars it's a lot cheaper than RB or KS.

Buffalo Trace is a very good mid-shelf pour. If you like both Stagg and Eagle Rare you should taste the family resemblance; but with a certain singularity all its own.

07-04-2007, 06:41
As far as rye is concerned, even though you say you don't like the Old Overholt, I wouldn't let that stop me from trying others. The last bottle of OO I had open was so horrible, I stopped buying it. However I have had no such problems with any other bottlings. Widely available are Wild Turkey rye and Sazerac. The Old Potrero is not like any other rye on the planet, and not something to use to say you like/dislike rye whiskey...but I do like it well enough, but many others don't.

I don't see many Heaven Hill bottlings there (only the Old Fitz) you may wish to try some of their bottlings, I recommend Evan Williams Single Barrel (1996 or earlier if you can find it).

And, since you're in Oakland, you may wish to join up with the rest of the SF-area gang and contact Rughi about joining in for the study groups he hosts. A great way to meet fellow bourbon fiends and share some favorites.

07-04-2007, 08:58
And, since you're in Oakland, you may wish to join up with the rest of the SF-area gang and contact Rughi about joining in for the study groups he hosts. A great way to meet fellow bourbon fiends and share some favorites.

Such as this coming Friday the 13th.
PM me for RSVP if you're interested.


07-09-2007, 15:21
With respect to Wild Turkey - I have tried Wild Turkey 101 several times (I believe this is the only of their products I have ever sampled) and I hate it.

V Smoothe, I hear what you're saying. I purchased Wild Turkey Tribute (it marks the 50 years Master Distiller Mr. Russell has been with the company) and I did not like it at all. I know for a fact I like wheaters, but I also like Knob Creek which is, like WT, a rye bourbon.

Anyway, I paid $75 and it's just an average bourbon to me.