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  1. #1

    New to Bourbon, need advice

    I found this forum while looking for some Bourbon advice. I am a afficiando of many things, but Bourbon surely is not one of them. I have many friends who drink bourbon and keep bugging me to join them. I usually stick with vodka, wine or beer. My problem is this, I had a bad experience as a youth with Old Grand Dad (ugh) and to this day, the smell of any brown spirit brings back bad memories. I have tried a few big name bourbons, mixed various ways with not much luck in enjoying the flavor.

    Can any of you bourbon fiends recommend a "Baby" bourbon and/or a "new to bourbon" drink that might ease me into this spirit and allow me to gain a taste for it?

    Thanks,

    SpanKy in VA

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
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    Feb 2000
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    Florida
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    516

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice


    Welcome. Here's a good start. Click on the slide show.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6347299/

    Omar

  3. #3

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    Funny you should post that link. I read it today and thats what got me thinking and finding this site... ahha.

    SpanKy

  4. #4
    Enthusiast
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    May 2004
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    Sherburne County, Minnesota
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    389

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    Yikes! Did you see the results so far of that survey (which is your favorite bourbon)? Maker's Mark is way out front in the polling. None of the above is second place so far.

  5. #5
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Burlington VT, USA
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    336

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    I know many folks in this forum would disagree, but I think that a very approachable bourbon is Maker's Mark. It's a bit pricey for what you get, but it is quite smooth for a beginner.

    Something with a little more depth and flavor would be Knob Creek or Evan Williams Single Barrel (1994 vintage is the newest). I've recently gotten my wife (definitely not a bourbon drinker) hooked on Eagle Rare Single Barrel, which is not too pricey where I am - a very reasonable $19 / bottle.

    Try diluting with water (bourbon can handle quite a bit of dilution due to its strong flavor). Mixing bourbon with some soda water is also doable, although I bet some folks here will have a coronary when they hear me recommending that. Bourbon and coke is a popular drink, but since most of the flavor is masked, you can get away by mixing an inexpensive (but definitely not cheap) bourbon like Evan Williams black label.

    Drinking on the rocks can mask a lot of the flavor, and leave you with just the burn. Some whiskeys fare better than others over ice, and I haven't experimented enough to give you a good direction here.

    You could also try making a whiskey sour (although this can mask a lot of the bourbon flavor) or a Manhattan. Manhattan's are another good way to get used to bourbon while having a bit of vermouth to make it go down a bit easier.

    Good luck, and welcome aboard!

  6. #6
    Guru
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    May 2002
    Location
    Central Arizona (near Prescott), U.S.A.
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    4,235

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    SpanKy,

    Eventually it may be possible for you to get past your early, unpleasant experience with Old Grand Dad. Your story certainly rings a bell with me. Today Old Grand Dad has a permanent spot on my shelf (assuming I can replace my current bottle, now that I live in Outback, Arizona).

    BTW, to respond to your question, I'd suggest that Virginia Gentleman, 6 year-old, 90 proof (aka, "The Fox") would be a good one to try. It certainly is a far cry from Old Grand Dad, with its strong rye bite. For an even greater contrast (wheat takes the place of rye), try Old Weller 12 year-old, which I hold to be just about the smoothest, full-flavored bourbon around.

    If it turns out that bourbon is just not the drink for you at this time, fear not. Some of my best friends are scotch-drinkers. (My son is one example.)

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    12,375

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    I would echo the suggestion that you start with Maker's Mark and dilute it with water 1:1, then if you like that, gradually reduce the amount of water. Using room temperature water will give you more whiskey flavor, but chilled water just seems to taste better. I think dilution with water, room temperature or cold, is better than using ice. For one thing, it's easier to get an exact ratio and every sip will taste the same. With ice the drink becomes progressively more diluted as the ice melts. If the flavor is too strong even at 1:1, add more water. Unless you have a lot of confidence in your local tap water, spring for some spring water.

  8. #8
    Connoisseur
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    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    621

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    Hey Spanky!

    First of all, welcome to SB.com! I see you're from VA, so the suggestion Dave had for Weller 12, although is 100% right on the money for a non-aggressive bourbon, isn't going to work. (I know this because VA ABC refuses to carry it!)

    My suggestion for an approachable bourbon would be Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10yo. Many SB.com'ers would probably protest this one, but I find it extremely approachable for a beginner, and there are MULTIPLE layers of flavor should you choose to explore them!

    If you make it to a Maryland liquor store, definely try some Weller 12...I went years without trying it and it's absolute ambrosia, and it's a complete bargain as well!

    Enjoy, and welcome!

  9. #9
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2004
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    Burlington VT, USA
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    336

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    I second (or rather third, since I recommended it in my post as well) the Eagle Rare Single Barrel. EWSB '94 and ERSB have made my wife into a part-time bourbon drinker. No mean feat!

    There's something about the sweetness of the ERSB that is very appealing to her, and I have to admit I quite like it as well.

  10. #10
    Taster
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    Dec 2003
    Location
    Spokane, WA
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    93

    Re: New to Bourbon, need advice

    Welcome, Spanky.

    I am a afficiando of many things, but Bourbon surely is not one of them.
    Safer to say, perhaps, that bourbon is not one of them *yet*.

    I have many friends who drink bourbon and keep bugging me to join them.
    I am guilty of exerting peer pressure myself, but only upon people I really care for. It's not that I'm a pushy person by nature, (I am decidedly not,) but because I'm deeply concerned for the wellbeing and happiness of my fellow man, I feel obliged to introduce such a rich source of joy into their lives.

    ... I had a bad experience as a youth with Old Grand Dad (ugh) and to this day, the smell of any brown spirit brings back bad memories. I have tried a few big name bourbons, mixed various ways with not much luck in enjoying the flavor. Can any of you bourbon fiends recommend a "Baby" bourbon and/or a "new to bourbon" drink that might ease me into this spirit and allow me to gain a taste for it?
    This is a more common story than you realize. It is my own, in fact. I got foolishly drunk on whiskey in my youth, as have many wayward youngsters, both before and since, and one does not quickly forget the experience of whiskey-laden bile coursing through one's nostrils. For years I could drink anything *but* whiskey. It was less than a couple years ago that a kind soul introduced me to Sc*tch, which is very similar to whiskey. (jk, jk.) I approached it with interest, and with an open mind, and I fell in love. After some experimentation, I discovered Bourbon, which is even more agreeable to my palate than Sc*tch.

    The very thing that is keeping you from Bourbon, my friend, is the very thing that holds such an attraction: the rich, deep, complex, incomparable FLAVOR which NO OTHER SPIRIT comes close to matching. I enjoy beer. Wine is nice. Vodka, gin and rum are great for getting hammered without being too involved in what you are actually drinking. But whiskey, (yes, even Sc*tch,) is in a league of its own. Brandy drinkers THINK they have the holy grail, but their taste buds have yet to attain to the epitome and culmination of the art of distillation: whiskey.

    Advice: probably best to start with a lighter bourbon. Makers Mark is very smooth and mild, and would be eminently approachable by a novice, yet it still tastes like bourbon. Some here may crucify me for suggesting this, but good ol' Jim Beam white label is very mild and smooth and ridiculously easy to drink straight. Try it. It's not a sin to cut whiskey with a little water; connoisseurs do it all the time, and many whiskeys actually benefit from it. Neither is it a crime to mix bourbon with ginger ale; in fact, it's good. The flavor will shine right through. Take small sips, and let the liquid roam around your mouth, collecting saliva. Do not recoil from the experience, but fall into it. Whiskey is not (merely) an alcohol delivery system, it is all about the flavor. Explore it. Once your palate aquires the taste, sample the more bombastic expressions of this Nectar that are discussed on this board.

    Welcome again, and good luck. And if you should discover that Bourbon is simply not for you, then do not fret; there is no shame in admitting it. Just crawl back into ignorance and darkness and try to forget that you were ever exposed to the truth. Maybe some French wine will help you cope.


 

 

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