Thank you all for helping kickstart my new bourbon mini-obsession!
I started getting really interested a couple of weekends ago when I was in Kentucky. I wanted to tour a bunch of distilleries while I was there, and my finance and I ended up checking out Jim Beam, Maker's, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey.
The only one we did a full tour of was Maker's. I thought the tour itself was great - very interesting and pretty comprehensive, complete with some tastings at the end. They certainly have their branding and marketing down. I've had Maker's before, so no surprises there. The Maker's 46 was interesting to try, but it's pretty pricey stuff.
We tasted at Four Roses and I came away really impressed. The yellow label struck me as a great mixer. I really like the single barrel as well. For the price, I thought the small batch occupied a sort of awkward position between the other two and I felt like I'd prefer either the single barrel or the yellow label if I had to make a choice. I was also really impressed by Beam, which I wasn't really expecting. Wild Turkey didn't blow me away; we tried their higher end stuff (Russel's Reserve, etc.).
I stopped by a Liquor Barn and picked up a bottle of Booker's, some Eagle Rare 10yr, and a bottle of Rowan's Creek. Then I started reading around here to get more opinions, and I like the advice to start on the low end and get a feel for what you're drinking before moving to the higher end stuff. I've left the Booker's and Eagle Rare unopened and I searched around here for a while to get recommendations. I picked up EWBL, OGD BIB, and Old Forrester 86 locally. OF86 was about $16 and OF100 was $35 (which seemed very overpriced) so I opted for the 86.
The OGD BIB is great stuff, and I like the OF86 too, but not quite as much. The OF86 seems to have an odd note or two that I can't quite place, but it's still enjoyable. EWBL I just can't get behind after trying it for a few days running. It drinks really rough, so I find it hard to enjoy straight, and by the time it's watered down to a less rough proof there's no flavor left. Fortunately I only got a 375ml of that.
Looking forward to trying more over the next couple of months!