Just signed up, but I've been reading threads for a while. The following is way too much about myself...
I'm originally from Kentucky, born and educated there. At one time or the other, visited or lived all over the state. Speaking of educated, a thanks to one of my uncles who let me have as much WT 101 as I wanted back when I was eight years old Twas always a favorite in college, especially when it went on sale during thanksgiving... made a happy change from JB white (yuck!). Toured WT distillery many a time, so in love with the brand back then. Wedding came along, and way back at the turn of the 90s, we knew what was good.... drank way too much WT 12 at my bachelor party.
Lived in north England a few years during the mid- 90's, and learned a bit. Spent every Friday night with tutors trying out a couple or three new single malts. Was able to teach them you can drink some bourbon neat, without coke (remember, this is mid-90s!), by introducing them to Blanton's brought over in the carry-on. Memorable comment... "like a fine Spanish cognac." Wife wrote to the address on the little label, saying "can't find anywhere in GB, want to purchase a case!". Note came back, "can't sell because we aren't retail distributor". Week later, twelve bottles of Blantons arrived, no return addy, duty paid and no payment due. Endless unbelievable stories about whisky in England (when in Roma, spell like they do), but none quite as spectacular as that.
Moved back to the States, Long Island NY, spoke the gospel about Blantons, but mostly a low-caliber bourbon time. Back then, mostly drinking single malts and (having visited the ONLY Irish distillery) Black Bush when I wanted something light.
The beginning of the new millenium, I settled in Northwest Alabama. *sigh* State ABC stores are determined to deny me what I most want. But weep not for me, I visit Kentucky about three to six times a year, and so I just stock up my needs then. (Me dad asks: do you know every whiskey stop in KY? Me: Only the ones along my routes, BG, L'ville, Lex, Newp-Cov) During the first half of the "tens", I mostly purchased single malts, but since all my favorites have gone from $55 to more than $80, I've switched back to bourbon and rye. It is all good!
A quick remark on a long story detailing the best bourbon I ever did taste. A friend of my brother's, Chris, (he's my friend too, but my brother and he met when they eight, so he has prior claim) purchased two of the barrels that produced the 2005 PVW 23 yr old. I can tell you the markings on the barrel, because I studied one before he made it the centerpiece of a bonfire. Anyways, Chris did a... I forget the name... where he put in 5 gals of water, then EVERY DAY rolled the barrels out to the cold region (outside during winter), then each night rolled them into the hot region (his barn)...at the end of three months, ended up with five gallons of bourbon. Have to do some serious cheesecloth filtering, of course, but all tested drinkable. I had an entire bottle of that stuff (in the PVW bottles kindly exchanged for a sample), excepting that portion Chris insisted on drinking with me, and it was THAT GOOD.
Endless unbelievable stories about whiskey in the States, but none quite as spectacular as that.
Bottom line, stories are better than could've beens. Take after my father, who drank a Gold-dipped MM signed by the owner, just because said owner and my great-uncle happened to be in the same uni, the same frat, together. One night, you know, my dad, you know, wanted to drink some whisky and, you know, what happened to be on the shelf? This explains why I foolishly no longer have that Port Ellen cask strength from the '70s.
Anyways, so I've tasted some whiskey, and I like 'em. I'm on a bourbon uptick, since the cost of single malts have sky'd over the past couple years. During the recent holidays, me dad and me took on Rock Hill Farms (my first one), Van Winkle Reserve Lot B (my third), Pappy 15, and the Van Winkle 13 yr Rye (quite spicey!), finishing off each evening with OC10 over ice.
But really, so much to learn from all here. My tasting notes would be dreadful, compared to what I read. All I know is if I like it or not.
I will try to spark a little discussion, though. First thing I do when I walk in a bar is evaluate their whiskey selection. Whisk(e)y bars, where have you found 'em? Where are the good ones? Was in Chicago most recently, and the bars I saw offered most poor choices. I spent some time in the Galt House (Louisville) bourbon bar this fall, and was quite happy. It has been a while, but if I was stuck in Edinburgh Scotland, I'd become a regular at the Bow Bar. And I remember a good whisky bar in Haworth England, but the name fails me. But Haworth is so small, if you are stuck there, how long can it take to find?