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  1. #1
    Novice
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    Jul 2004
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    Sacramento, CA
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    3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    First, I would like to say thanks to everyone for revisiting a previous topic. I've been lurking on the site and boards for awhile as my interest in Bourbon has been increasing, but I haven't posted. It seems the longer and farther I'm away from the midwest (born in Cincinnati) the more I'm interested in taking some of it with me. So even though wine is the drink of choice here in California (and I have had some wonderful wines) I'm really interested in exploring bourbons more.

    So, my question. I have been trying out Makers Mark and Knob Creek for awhile to get a sense of their differences (wheat vs. rye, high proof vs low proof) and I tend to drink them both on the rocks (though the MM with a lot less ice, just a cube, mostly because it can be so hot here in the summer). To expand a little more I'm thinking of buying a bottle of Woodford Reserve. Is this a good choice? value? If not what might provide a nice contrast to the Knob's Creek?

    Thanks for all your help, past and present!

  2. #2
    Guru
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    I don't think that Woodford Reserve is that good of a value even if it has gotten better than it used to be as others have said. If you want something that is reasonably priced and in the middle of Knob Creek and Makers Mark I would say to try Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 10yo or Elijah Craig 12yo. Eagle Rare 10yo is one other good choice. Bevmo should have them and if not HiTime in SoCal has them for order...

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    Nice post, welcome to the board.

    My suggestion would be Barton Very Old, which is 6 years old. Go for the higher proof range if you can find it, say, 90 or even 100 proof.

    My next choice would be Evan Williams Single Barrel 1994 vintage.

    Both these offer a good contrast to Knob Creek yet on the ryed bourbon side of the divide.

    I would think Trader Joe's or the many good liquor stores in Southern California would carry these two brands.

    Gary

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
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    Aug 2004
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    Beijing
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    If you want something that contrasts with your Knob, i would go with an Evan Williams Single Barrel bottle. I have a '93 bottle and I find it to be very light-oaky on the nose with a nice refreshing vanilla scent, rather then a heavy vanilla scent one gets with a heavier drink such as KC. The taste of my '93 is an extremely gentle vanilla and instead of tasting oak, i got the impression I was drinking something so refreshing it had to have come from cedar or something (but still sweet of course). My '93 is one smooth and airy drink and is a good contrast to the rougher edged KC.

    Another great all around choice is Wild Turkey Rare Breed. This is an extremely sweet bourbon that just blankets your mouth with the flavor of overly buttered vanilla cake batter. it finishes off with the right amount of spice too that is like the kick you get when you eat your meat with a good amount of black pepper. this is a solid drink without any rough edges like KC.
    I saw an Evan Williams Single Barrel at an Albertsons here in San Diego(the only place ive ever seen it on the shelves after checking a million liquor stores).
    The Wild Turkey Rare breed can usually be found at any supermarket liquor section and that one should be no trouble getting....unless you cant afford the 30 bucks it costs
    well then, have a good drink.

  5. #5
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    I will answer before I read what others have answered.

    I would try some representative samples from different distillers. From Wild Turkey, you could try their standard 101-proof, or Russell's Reserve 10-year old, or Rare Breed barrel strength.

    From Heaven Hill, try either Elijah Craig 12-year old or Evan Williams Single Barrel.

    And, from Buffalo Trace, you could select Buffalo Trace, Rock Hill Farms, Blanton's, or Eagle Rare. (RHF and Blanton's are pretty expensive, though).

    Do try the Woodford Reserve, it is a honey.

    Tim

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Sep 1999
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    All of the suggestions already made are good ones and I'll echo some of them there. The hot segment within the American whiskey category right now is the $20 to $30 price point. Two of the leaders of that segment are Knob Creek and Maker's Mark. Woodford Reserve is the third. The other contenders (one from each major company) are Evan Williams Single Barrel, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Bulleit and Russell's Reserve. Barton's Ridgemont Reserve, when it returns, will be in that segment as well. All of these are good products, well supported by their makers, and they may represent where the category is going. They also offer pretty good variety.

  7. #7
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    Having read your post as well as the answers, I feel the need to remind some of us that some of the bottlings (VOB, BT) are probably not available in California and therefore you are teasing the poor fellow. Of the widely distributed bourbons you are most likely to find I would agree with several here on Russell's Reserve and Evan Williams Single Barrell. Both are superior IMHO to the regular versions without costing too much more. I'll reserve comments on Woodford Reserve until I taste the newer bottling though as the older bottle I have now is less than impressive and am looking forward to sampling a newer bottle possibly at bourbon fest.

  8. #8
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    Alot of stuff can be ordered off the net now, like the Buffalo Trace. Sometimes you jsut have to be willing to make a call and be persuasive. Even if the newer WR's are better for their price I really don't see myself buying one when there are so many other buys out there cheaper that have been good all these years.

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
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    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    621

    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    Even if the newer WR's are better for their price I really don't see myself buying one when there are so many other buys out there cheaper that have been good all these years.
    As much of a bourbon nut as I consider myself, I have to echo Mark's sentiments with regards to WR. I've had such a bad experience with their (presumably previous) product that I can't bring myself to try their new one. My batch 99 is really going down with a LOT of difficulty. It'll take a lot of post 110+ batch reinforcement (maybe at the Bourbon Festival!?) to win me over as a customer. I even get the stuff on sale for $19.99 and it *STILL* hasn't pushed my buttons. YMMV.

  10. #10
    Administrator in exile
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    Aug 2002
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    Re: 3 Bourbons for a beginner: Redux

    Barton's Ridgemont Reserve, when it returns, will be in that segment as well
    It has indeed made its come back In Lexington at least it has reappeared at $24.99. I haven't picked up a bottle yet but plan to do so soon.

 

 

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