Beyond Beam Black...
Newbie to bourbon and to this forum. A little background: Been strictly a beer drinker all my life, with the occasional Jack n Coke and the like thrown in. Not to long ago I started drinking Beam White on the rocks and then neat and thought, "wow, bourbon already tastes sweet without adding carbonated sugar". Recently bought a bottle of Beam Black and I really like it. Now I'm interested in bourbon and I found this site. My question is: Whats my next bottle? Where do I go from here? Recomendations?
I think a good way to go is to hit the mid point of each distilling house and work your way up and down thru each portfolio. Having said that, certainly there'd be nothing wrong with going to Knob Creek and the rest of the small batch collection, but that's just one distillery. Buffalo Trace, from them, you'll have your work cut out going thru all their brands. 5 single barrels, Weller, Old Charter, Ancient Age, Eagle Rare. Heaven Hill will get you Elijah Craig 12, Evan Williams regular and Single Barrel. Barton will be harder to find in New York, Ridgemont Reserve may be there, Not sure I'd be in a real hurry for it, nothing wrong, but the following is not universal. Try a Wild Turkey product, the 101 is fine.
A large contingent of SB.com notables will be at the Sampler in Bardstown tonite, all the major distilleries will be pouring their best, an inexpensive way to try them all without purchasing a whole bottle of something that you may not like.
Welcome to StraightBourbon.com
I'd echo the last post and add this suggestion: A good way to explore good bourbons is to find a local bar that has a broad, higher-end selection. (I've found expensive steak houses are often a good bet.) It can be a little spendy but allows you to sample a variety without buying a full bottle that you might not like.
what jburlowski said. If you just want a bottle from your local store try Woodford Reserve.
you might want to try some wild turkey. Its damn good stuff. My next bottle will be Evan Williams or Elijah Craig though. I tend to like to save money. The higher end stuff does not impress me so much.
I also like Very Old Barton 6 Year Old. If you can get it where you live, its a good deal. If not, then too bad.
Right now I am drinking Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year Old and its not as good as Wild Turkey in my opinion.
Another good way to explore a lot of different brands in a short time is to buy minis. I've advocated this in a few other threads and it seems like the cheapest way to sample a lot of bourbons. You can't get everything this way, but there are a lot available from lowest of the lower shelf to some upper-mid brands.
I would add that if you don't like a particular bourbon, try to revisit it later. In my experience, tastes change with what you eat or health (and sometimes with mood).
Try a Wheated Bourbon
One of the popular styles of bourbon is a "wheated" bourbon. This is a whiskey that uses some wheat in it's mashbill. I'm not an expert, but I do not believe the Beam products are wheated.
The most popular wheated bourbon is probably Makers Mark. I would make this my next purchase. It will give you an example of the style and it's a very good product as well. Another benefit is that MM is well known across the land and if you get into a bourbon discussion with average folk they will likely bring up Makers. It's good to have at least tried it. It's available at most bars/restaurants, so give it a shot.
After the Makers you may decide you prefer the non-wheated variety and then I would send you to the fine folks at Wild Turkey.
A search on "list wheaters" will reveal many posts that may be of interest to you. Perhaps you will find this thread enlightening.
I am unaware of any bottling from Jim Beam that has wheat in the mashbill.
I agree with your comments about Maker's Mark. It may not be the best of its type, but it's a good one to start with, just as you say.
Maker's Mark is good, but it ain't cheap. If you want to try a wheated bourbon to see if you like them, there are other decent wheaters that will require less of an investment. Two that leap to mind initially are W. L. Weller Special Reserve and Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond. Lots of places seem to have smaller bottles of Old Fitz BIB (200ml, 375ml) which may be an even more cost-effective option. However, Maker's Mark is much more prevalent in bars and restaurants.
In the Beam family, you might next try some Baker's. You can find it in many bars.
I might also recommend Evan Williams Single Barrel, if you're looking for something sweet and easy to drink. You should be able to find a bottle of it for twenty bucks, as opposed to thirty or more for the Baker's.