Northern Italy Bourbon & Four Roses
After two weeks in N Italy (Rome, Siena, Florence, Venice and a week tooling around Tuscany), here's my take on bourbon in N. Italy.
First. Jack Daniels is everywhere in every little Gelateria, bar, and pizzareria. I'm not sure I found a single place in Italy that didn't have Jack Daniels. Whoever is the distributor is a genius.
Often they had one other "American Whiskey" (nobody used the term bourbon). Usually it was Four Roses. I had Four Roses once and decided that they had just refilled the FR bottle with Jack Daniels and charged more. But since it was everywhere, I tried it some more. Finally, I decided that I didn't care for Four Roses very much, despite what I thought were some glowing reviews on this forum. I thought it had an oily/terpentine aspect to the taste which is also a critique I make of JD. Anyway, the only other American Whiskey I saw was JD single barrel, which I enjoy so that was nice.
Ironically, I noticed that even the lowliest small village bars had a nice selection of single malt scotch - thinks like Ardberg, Lagavullin 16, Macallan were all common in the little bars. Italy has a lot of small bars that serve pizza, gelato, liquor, wine. Imagine five times as many Starbucks as we have each with the addition of gelato and liquor/wine/beer.
Of course all of these places had a wide selection of Grappa - a kind of distilled wine. Usually they listed on the bottle the exact wine it was made from. The typical italian seemed to have a small glass of this during siesta. I avoided it altogether.
Incidentally, all wine there was cheap and good and I sampled both cheap and expensive. The whites are never talked about but were great. Italian reds were pretty much as everyone says - fantastic at all price levels.
Italians start drinking at lunch. They all like Americans. I never had a bad meal. I had many memorable meals. Somehow with all that drinking, but on the Mediterranean diet, I lost half a pound - go figure. So I highly reccommend N. Italy for all you vacationers. My fav is Tuscany and Chianti region - Castles, ristorantes, osterias, bars, pizzarias. What's not to like.