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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Issaquah, WA.
    I highly reccomend Chuck Cowdery's book Bourbon Straight if you enjoy reading. It has a great history of Bourbon and many of the distilleries that are still around today. At the end of the book it offers many different "tast groupings" that help to contrast mash bills. It also follows a "bottle" up the shelf so you can compare a product as it ages or is subject to tighter selection requirements which is interesting.
    I have found that my purchases go up and down the shelves depending on my available income more than the available selection!
    I have been able to pick up some nice bottles that were not expensive, but because of the information on this board, I learned they were limited or no longer being produced.
    I have been searching for an affordable "everyday" pour for myself, but still managed here and there to pick up a top shelf bottle to try or save for a later date.
    One of the best tips I have received was not to give up on a bottle after one pour, my taste changes depending on my mood, what I have had to eat or drink prior to a taste, more than I would have guessed.
    This is an incredible site, and the people here have been awesome in helping my education and selection.
    Welcome and enjoy!

  2. #12
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Brisbane Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by kbuzbee
    It's a great question. IMO I would not go straight to the best of the best of the best. To accurately appreciate what these Bourbons bring to the table you need a foundation. This is not different from anything else you might taste. Before you go for the 5 star french dinner you should try a wide variety of french style foods to have some idea what they taste like. I'm not saying you won't enjoy the best Bourbons immediately but you just won't taste everything they have to offer. Now I'm not advocating starting off with the cheapest thing you can find either. I would recommend you try a few distiller's "mainstream" products. Wild Turkey 101, Jim Beam Black, Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace etc. These are wonderful Bourbons that will give you terrific examples of these distiller's products. Once you can taste the (rather substantial) difference between them, give a couple of the premium pours a shot (no pun). Kentucky Spirit, George T Stagg, William Larue Weller, Booker's... I think you'll see why these get such great reviews around here. Happy tasting - and welcome to the forum.


    That's a mighty fine answer in my opinion Ken - well said!

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Montgomery County, PA
    Ken's right - and the joy of finding the holy grail is being able to recognize it as such. That requires an appreciation of styles. There's every reason to avoid the bad, but there's everything to be gained by being able to discern, and enjoy, both the good and the great.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    I think its easier to drink the more expensive ones, it was for me. I bought the cheap ones but had a hard time drinking them so then bought a few more expensive ones. But after trying the more expensive ones, now I am returning to the cheaper ones. I have never had a REALLY expensive one yet. I think Evan Williams Single Barrel is pretty darn good. But nowadays I just as soon have the regular Evan Williams 7YO. I think the more expensive ones are easier to drink, but once you get used to it, you can graduate to the cheaper ones.

  5. #15
    I've found that Maker's Mark is a great day to day pour. The price around here is only $35 for a 1750 from Costco, or about $20 for a 750 from Trader Joe's. It doesn't kill the budget, it's very smooth, and it's a wonderful drink day in day out.

    The Elmer T. Lee is a lot harder to come by, but the price wasn't bad. The Blanton's that I tried was definiately my favorite, but at $50 it's not going to become a daily pour any time soon...

    Next up is Pappy Van Winkel and Knob Creek. Beyond that I'm not sure what I'll try next. I'd like to find the Elijah Craig 12 Year, as it seems to be popular around here.


  6. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Arlington, VA
    I agree that with those who say you shouldn't start at the top. If you start with the best stuff, you have nowhere to go but down & I think you'll be spoiled in a sense as nothing you taste will be able to compare the ORVW 10/107 or WT12 or Stagg that you started off on.

    But you shouldn't start with the low-end stuff either. Start with good low-mid range bourbons that, for whatever reason, are underpriced, and get a sense for what you like first, then upgrade from there.

    I would generally recommend the following bourbons for early acquisition - they are all great values: Jim Beam Black, Old Grand-Dad BIB (100 proof), Old Forester 100 proof, Wild Turkey 101, Old Fitz 1849 (if you can find it - if not, maybe a lower-priced W.L. Weller or Maker's Mark or even Old Rip Van Winkle 10/90 so that you have a wheated bourbon), Elijah Craig 12 yo, and Eagle Rare SB (or Buffalo Trace, Ancient Ancient Age 10 yo, or Elmer T. Lee depending on price and availability).

    This will give you at least one bourbon from most of the major distilleries, as well as a variety of different taste profiles and mashbills. If you like the Old Grand-dad or Old Forester, you may want to check out more rye-heavy bourbons like OFBB or Rock Hill Farms. If you like the wheated bourbons, try out the Van Winkle & W.L. Weller lines. If you like the WT101, check out some of Turkey's up-brand products. If you like EC12, check out other stuff from Heaven Hill. If you like the Beam Black, check out Beam's small batch collection. If you like Eagle Rare SB, check out other bourbons from the Buffalo Trace distillery.

    Keep in mind that one bottle isn't completely representative of a distillery (or style), so you won't want to blacklist a distillery just b/c the first offering you try from them wasn't to your taste. But it does make sense to put your initial investments towards distilleries or styles that you like right off the bat, as you're more likely to enjoy their cousins.
    Last edited by Sijan; 03-17-2006 at 09:16.

    Who stole the cork from my breakfast?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    I'm still a newbie, but would second the following:

    "One of the best tips I have received was not to give up on a bottle after one pour, my taste changes depending on my mood, what I have had to eat or drink prior to a taste, more than I would have guessed."

    I would say there are also differences batch to batch and over time in any bourbon brand.

    At first, I thought I just liked the wheated bourbons (MM, OVW, etc) but then I got into all the Wild Turkey's and love many of them, so who can figure.

    I'm still very very perplexed at how even a single bottle can taste different from tasting to tasting. At first I thought this was how I was pouring it (ice, water, type of glass, airing) and I think that's part of it, but there's a real complexity to bourbon taste which is endlessly fascinating and somehow doesn't appear to be all that constant from dram to dram out of the same bottle. It may be heresy, but I'm not even sure the standards of single malt Scotch tasting, wine tasting, and beer tasting can be made to applied to bourbon. Part of my initial interest in Bourbon and this site was to just find my own 3-4 different premium brands to stock my bar and/or ask for at hotels, but now I've gotten more interested in the variety of the experience.
    Better a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy

  8. #18
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Berkeley, CA
    AJ 123 and T47 make a good point. When I first bought the WT RR 101, I wasn't a huge fan. In fact, it wasn't till I was finishing the bottle that I realized how much I was enjoying it. It seems a shame now, but I look forward to the next WT product to grace my cabinet, probably Rare Breed.
    You know those times when you want a drink, and you don't have anything in mind? Those are the times, for me, to go back to that bourbon you didn't really love last time you had it.



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