Aloha Straightbourbon folks...I've been a lurker for about 3 months here, and I finally decided sign up. I'm 35 years old and I was born and raised here in Hawaii. My handle, Waiahi (Wy-aw-hee), is the literal Hawaiian translation for "Firewater."
I became a whisky fanatic almost ten years ago when I bought a bottle of Glenlivet 12yo on a whim -- because it was on sale and actually cheaper than the Jack Daniels I was intending to purchase -- and proceeded to mix it with coke and get hammered. When I awoke the following morning, I realized that that was the first time I had ever gotten drunk on hard liquor without experiencing any kind of hangover the next day.
Thus began my fascination with single malt Scotch, which culminated in my wife and I making a pilgramage to Scotland in the fall of 2007 where we visited several distilleries. I came back with almost $500 of scotch - about 8 bottles. One year later, all of that scotch is almost gone (along with a lot of scotch bottles I bought here in Hawaii), and I'm looking at my collection and realized that I just can't afford to drink like that anymore...So it was time to find a cheaper alternative.
So the next time I was at a bar here in Honolulu, they had Maker's Mark on special, I ordered a double on the rocks....and I was pleasantly surprised.
See, prior to that moment, I had a "single malt" snobbish attitude. After getting seriously addicted to scotch, I simply wouldn't drink any other kind of distilled spirit for years. I didn't even want to touch cheap scotch. Glenlivet and Glenfiddich became my "cheap" pours, and I considered Jack Daniels and Jim Beam "rubbish." Those were the whiskey's my buddies and eye used to mix with coke and drink at high school parties when we simply wanted to get wasted as dumb kids.
But that moment, I realized that I had been entirely too close-minded when it came to whisky...
So I went to Costco and saw that they had the 1.75 liter bottle of MM for $34.00 - whereas the standard 750ml bottle usually sells for $28-$30 in most grocery and liquor stores here in the islands.
So I became an almost exclusive MM drinker for several months, as I found it the perfect "substitute" for my very expensive scotch tastes.
But, just as it was with Scotch, I became curious in seeing if all bourbon was as good as MM.
So the next time I was at a bar, I ordered a Wild Turkey 80 proof on the rocks....
Realizing that there was a DRAMATIC difference in taste and quality between WT80 and MM, I googled "bourbon" and found this here website...and I must say, I'm glad I did.
At that point, I had written off Wild Turkey as garbage...until I read the BOTM thread on WT101. It seemed like this entire board agreed that WT101 is THE standard when it comes to KSBW. Seeing it was on sale at my local grocery store, I bought a bottle....I can't believe the difference between WT80 and 101! It's like night and day! Up to that point, MM was the be all end all of bourbon as far as I was concerned.
Needless to say, I'm now finding myself going through the same thing I went through when I first discovered single malt scotch with KSBW -- my wife and I are already talking about a trip to Kentucky next year --
Thanks to reading all the threads on this here forum, and learning about the differences in mashbill ratios, Ryes, Wheat, barrell proofing etc., I'm finding myself having an important dilemma when I stand before my whisky bar at my house...Bourbon or Scotch? This is a good problem to have!
It's been fun for the past three months or so.
My biggest problem now though is that I've discovered that most of the Bourbon you all discuss and recommend and rant and rave about is unavailable here!
I can get just about any type of Scotch here, even a few limited distiller's editions and single-cask bottles from some of the more obscure Scotch distilleries at several different stores around the island...but Bourbon?
We have MM, JBwhite, JBblack, JBRye, Early Times, Evan Williams, Wild Turkey, MM and Knob Creek in most liquor and grocery stores. A few places also have Woodford's Reserve and Bulleit, but that's about it. (I love Bulleit - but am really dissapointed in WR.)
I've found one specialty liquor store this past New Years Eve that had Basil Haydn's, WTRB and WT Single Barrel...but because I well versed in the price ranges of Single Malt Scotch I'm fairly certain that because the single malts at that store were highly overpriced, I was sure the Bourbon was also. The WTRB was $75 and the WTSB was $85. I did end up getting a bottle of EWSB - '98 vintage for $39, and I was not dissapointed at all.
I've since learned to set aside my preconcieved notions and ill-founded biases and open my mind and my palate and not be a whisky/whiskey snob. I've also actually discovered that premium pricing is not really a good indicator of quality. I'd rather have an $11 bottle of JBwhite or EWblack than the $38 Woodford Reserve...or $18 WT101 than the $35 Knob Creek.
That said, I do look forward to exploring the world of KSBW...next time I'm in Vegas to visit the in-laws, I'm going to Lee's Discount where I do know they have a large Bourbon section. I go to Vegas at least once a year, and up til now have always used that occasion to pickup a Scotch. Next time, I'm going for the Bourbon! I wanna try some of the stuff you guys all rave about that I can't find anywhere here!
That being said, I want to thank ya'all for all of the enlightening and entertaining posts on this forum. I've learned a lot.
I think I'll be sticking around....
A hui hou!