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Thread: 80 PROOF...why?

  1. #1
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    Question 80 PROOF...why?

    two basic questions (and both might be oxymoronic!):

    1. What is the highest grade/most interesting (challenging?) 80 proof whiskey out there...bourbon or not?

    2. Are 80 proofers really only good for cocktails?

    smaller questions seem to ooze from these two...why 80 proof? is it for simply marketing reasons? is there any 'artful' reason for making it 80...?

    90 proof is really as low as i like to go...below that and it seems to LACK alot of things. yes, smooth, but no bite, no substance.

    someone the other day mentioned the newer expression of McAfee's Benchmark being a surprising 80.

    being a WT fan, i've still never had the 80 version.

    again, i can only wonder if it's marketing or true whiskey art for a distillery to consider making anything below 90 proof...JB Black...why 86?

    etc etc....
    HUP!

  2. #2
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    $$$ Profit? Less whiskey and more water...

    I personally enjoy my bourbons closer to 100 proof.

  3. #3
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by polyamnesia View Post
    two basic questions (and both might be oxymoronic!):

    1. What is the highest grade/most interesting (challenging?) 80 proof whiskey out there...bourbon or not?
    I don't think they are challenging but WT 80 is the most flavorsome 80 proof bourbon I have had, I still find it lacking and at 80 proof Redbreast is very flavorsome, and my favorite Irish. I found Templeton Rye to have quite a bit of flavor for an 80 proofer. But I still found it a bit "watery" and too darn expensive for an 80 proof rye.



    Quote Originally Posted by polyamnesia View Post
    ..... Are 80 proofers really only good for cocktails?
    ....

    To be honest, I think using an 80 proofer for a cocktail is almost as much a handicap as using it as a neat sipper. At least for cocktails served on the rocks. Straight up isn't as much a problem. But my whiskey cocktails are limited to Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. WT 80 makes a good Manhattan, if you don't have the 101. The bottle of Templeton Rye I had was mostly consumed in Old Fashioneds. The handicap there was mitigated against by dissolving the sugar and bitters directly in the whiskey (foregoing the addition of the teaspoon of water normaly used to disolve the sugar) and sometimes chilling the drink and then removing the Ice (straight up).

    I must admit on the other extreme I don't care to use over-proof whiskeys for cocktails especially if they are served straight up. The lone exception that proves the rule is Weller Antique in an Old Fashioned served on the rocks. For instance I could never appreciate a Stagg-hattan. Too high an alcohol content at too low a temp and all I can taste is ethanol.

  4. #4
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    Seems I never buy anything under 90 proof anymore. Why drag water home? I already have water here.
    "Finish your bourbon. There are sober children in India." -- Your Mom

  5. #5
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    Regulations state that to be bourbon it must be at least 80 proof. It is my guess people hit the lowest end in order to maximize profits.
    Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better.

  6. #6
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    I never buy 80 proof hooch if I can help it. However, anything over 101 proof I tend to avoid as well. The sweet spot - with enough "substance" from the alcohol but not too much that it dominates the flavor profile - what's the word, drinkability? - seems to be about 86- 93 for me, although I'll always get the BIB proof if I can when it comes to bourbon. I do not think Scotch tastes best at higher proofs, but bourbon can and does. Wild Turkey RR101 IS bourbon, as far as I'm concerned. It's not necessarily the best bourbon, but it's the standard against which all others are judged.

    As for the question of what's the best 80 proof hooch, I've never tried the 80 proof WT either. But I certainly enjoy I.W.Harper 15 yo, from the old Bourbon Heritage Collection. I'm not aware of any comparably aged bourbon that was bottled at such a low proof. I've always wondered why. But it's very good, flavorful stuff. I was fortunate to be able to bunker a few bottles of "Old" Harper a year or so ago - and I was as happy as Terry the tiger! - so it remains a regular pour at the Casa de Jazz. Cool bottle, too, with these weird gold swirls.
    Last edited by Jazzhead; 12-13-2008 at 11:10. Reason: GO

  7. #7
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    I try to never buy anything under 90-proof either. My major exception is Old Grand Dad 86 because it is very inexpensive and therefore good for mixed drinks and cooking. I always prefer 100-proof and higher. Two of my often repeated buys are OGD 114 and WT Rare Breed.

    I think the reason so many bottlings are 80-proof is because, by law, that is the lowest something can be and still be labeled "whiskey" (in the US).

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  8. #8
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    Rare Breed is the premium turkey that I find I drink the least, because the alcohol's just a bit too high for me. The balance between heft and flavor has shifted, and not to the good. Turkey is best, IMO, at 101. My one purchase of OGD 114 took a LOONG time to finish. I always take my whiskey straight, and 114 is way over the line between good heft and throaty burn.

  9. #9
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    yep, sounds like what i figured...there is no 'art' in 80 proof...

    and bottlings like the recent BOTM, Old Taylor, was 'good' to me only because it wasn't...well...'bad'...i was expecting the nastiness of the white label Heaven Hill...

    i assume most (all?) BOTTOM shelf bourbons to be 80 proof...

    but yes, with regards to irish and scottish expressions, 80 is good. i would like to try a higher proof irish whiskey. that'll be a new experience.

    i will have to try the redbreast.
    HUP!

  10. #10
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    Re: 80 PROOF...why?

    The best 80 proof bourbon today in the market is Four Roses IMO.

    I'd buy it at 100 proof if this particular iteration (i.e., that mingling of 10 bourbons done in-house) came in that form but it doesn't.

    I like the flavor, so I'll take it at 80.

    With, say, WT, the 101 all-round seems a better buy (price apart) than the 80 because it seems an older and deeper-tasting whiskey.

    In terms of whiskeys that seem too strong in alcohol, I'd just add water. That is what the distilleries do to, say, bring the Four Roses I mentioned to 80. There is nothing special or unique about the 114 proof of OG, in my opinion, it is just 114 proof, there is no reason it cannot be enjoyed at a lower proof.

    Gary

 

 

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