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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2004
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    Suggestions requested

    Hey, gang. A friend has asked me to give a presentation about whiskey to his church men's group next Monday. I've decided to restrict it to just bourbon, and the presentation will include a tasting of four or five representative bourbons. I want to go with something a notch up from the real entry-level products, but I don't want to invest too much money in this, although my friend says they will reimburse me. So, I'm trying to come up with a good line-up. I want products characteristic of multiple distilleries, and at least one example of wheat and rye mashbills.

    I figure I can do five less-expensive bourbons, or four slightly more-expensive bourbons. Here are some I'm considering right now. My hope is to keep each group relatively similar in proof, so I don't have to worry about diluting anything.

    Here are a few I'm considering in the 86 to 90 proof category:

    Jim Beam Black
    Old Forester
    Weller Special Reserve
    Buffalo Trace
    Maker's Mark
    Old Grand-Dad
    Eagle Rare SB

    Here are candidates in the higher-proof category:

    Knob Creek
    Wild Turkey 101
    Old Grand-Dad BIB
    Old Fitz BIB
    Weller Antique
    Fighting Cock

    Note: Unfortunately, no VOB varieties are available in my area.

    (A perverse part of me realizes that with the same budget I could get Ten High, Evan Williams, Jim Beam White, and a bottle of Stagg.)

    Thoughts would be welcome.

    Chuck King

  2. #2
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Park City, UT
    Posts
    194

    Re: Suggestions requested

    I had a tasting event similar to this with $18-$25 bourbons. Here is what I recommend for you:

    Beam Black
    Bulleit
    Buffalo Trace
    Makers

    Keep is simple with only four. I selected these for their similarity in proof, variety of mashbill, Beam and Makers are household names, and all are easily approachable to a novice's palate.

    For fun, you could do this blind. After everyone has tried about half of their sample, reveal the identity of each, then they can sample some more.

    Good luck.


  3. #3
    Novice
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Connecticut
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    18

    Re: Suggestions requested

    As an off-shoot question, what are the bourbons that best demonstrate the wheat or rye characteristics in this range, ie, mid-shelf 86-90 proof? In other words, if your trying to show people the difference between a wheated bourbon and one made with rye, what two bourbons are best for doing so? I ask this because I'm fairly new to borbon tasting myself (well, not bourbon drinking, but new to really concentating on the nuances of different ones). I notice Buffalo Trace produces both wheated bourbons and rye bourbons. Would it be a good idea to stick with one maker as this would keep all other variables (other than the rye/wheat difference) as similar as possible? Like for instance an Elmer T. Lee 90 proof vs Weller 7 yo 90 proof?

    Thanks for your help.

    Paul

  4. #4
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    Dec 2004
    Location
    Decatur GA
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    322

    Re: Suggestions requested

    These must be Episcopalians.

    I think the Old Charter 12 at 90 is a pretty distinctive taste. Is ORVW 10 yr. 90 proof available there? And I'd probably go to the OGD 114; more drinkable than you'd expect at that proof, and might be good to let people know that can happen.

    You've got a couple of good groupings. When in doubt, between two bottles, I'd probably choose the one that's most available there. Hate to get someone loving something he can only get 40 miles away.

    Bob

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Mentor, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    837

    Re: Suggestions requested



    I figure I can do five less-expensive bourbons, or four slightly more-expensive bourbons. Here are some I'm considering right now. My hope is to keep each group relatively similar in proof, so I don't have to worry about diluting anything.

    Here are a few I'm considering in the 86 to 90 proof category:

    Jim Beam Black
    Old Forester
    Weller Special Reserve
    Buffalo Trace
    Maker's Mark
    Old Grand-Dad
    Eagle Rare SB

    Here are candidates in the higher-proof category:

    Knob Creek
    Wild Turkey 101
    Old Grand-Dad BIB
    Old Fitz BIB
    Weller Antique
    Fighting Cock

    Hey Chuck, great project! Be sure to let us know how it goes!!

    I know you said Bourbons but I would humbly submit WT Rye as an example of great rye taste and, if your budget allows, I would include/substitute WT Kentucky Spirit.

    Buffalo Trace is a great choice. I like the reccomendation of Weller 12. Makers and Beam Black for the reasons you cite.

    Great luck!

    Ken

  6. #6
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Chicago
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    295
    Over the weekend my friend who is organizing this event backpedaled a bit regarding the anticipated level of attendance, so I lowered the budget some. Also, he wanted a rye thrown in. But, he said people will be bringing some of their favorites, so I don't feel as much pressure to have examples of a bunch of prominent styles and brands. So, the line-up will be:

    W. L. Weller Special Reserve
    Old Forester
    Old Grand-Dad
    Old Overholt

    Those are all decent whiskeys (good enough to drink neat on purpose), not too expensive, and readily available. Also, your average bar doesn't stock them, so to people who aren't whiskey enthusiasts they will present something new.

    Tonight is the event!

  7. #7
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    Dec 2004
    Location
    Decatur GA
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    322
    Yep, I'd say in those parameters, you've got a really good group of four. They should be able to taste the diffrences and get a good idea of the range of things available. I'd at least mention the existence of better stuff in those styles, in case someone wants to explore "up" as well as "out."

    Have fun.

    Bob

  8. #8
    I've tried many of the ones you're looking at and would like to suggest Ezra B. it's in the $20-25 price point, and is a nice mellow single barrel.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    I like to start with a baseline, something in a standard bourbon, but I hate to use Jack or white label Jim, which I increasingly think are only ever consumed with Coke or as shots, but I digress. Jim Beam Black is very good for that. For the rest I think you want to choose products that show some of the range of American whiskey. Also think in terms of your audience. What's the next "step up" for them. Know their level of experience, start there, and take them up one notch. Don't go for the top unless it's that kind of audience. I like to do a standard rye bourbon, a standard wheat bourbon, either a high rye bourbon or a rye, then maybe something with significantly more age. Show them the range of possibilities. Another thing, pick products your audience can realistically go out and buy, in terms both of price and availability. If people are bringing favorites, one way to teach them something is to use their bottles and yours to create some groups, i.e., grouping them by mash bill, age, whatever makes sense.

  10. #10
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    Chicago
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    Success, and a bonus!

    The presentation went very well, I think. Everybody seemed to enjoy it, and I could tell that they were looking at bourbon in a new light. To the extent these guys drank whiskey it seemed that Irish and Scotch were their styles of choice, so hopefully I expanded their views a bit. They were particularly impressed with the straight rye, which I don't think any of them had ever had before. The Old Grand-Dad was also popular.

    The big news, though, involved one of the bottles the attendees brought. They brought a variety of whiskeys, although not much bourbon. But one guy had a bottle he had received as a gift decades ago: Stop 'n' Shop 8yo BIB, distilled in 1963, bottled in 1971. The distillery number was either 230 or 320, but since it said it was from Clermont I figure it was Beam.

    I had a taste and it was very smooth. By lucky happenstance, someone else had brought a new bottle of Knob Creek, so we had the chance to side-by-side 100 proof Beam products of similar age bottled 35 years apart. The Knob Creek had a more robust flavor, but was a little harsher than the old BIB.

    At the end of the night, the guy who had brought it gave me the bottle! He said he never drank it and only used it to mix drinks for guests. There's not much left, but I will bring the remnants to the Sampler!

 

 

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