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  1. #1
    Novice
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Front Royal, VA
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    7

    Smile Bourbon Newbie Question

    Newbie here who has decided, as I approach middle age, that I'm tired of the bloat of beer and have taken a liking to whisky, especially bourbon. Living in Virginia, my current bourbon of choice is Virginia Gentleman 90 proof. I'm thinking of trying a more premium blend - any suggestions for a brand, given that VG 90 appeals to me? Makers Mark seems to have consistently high ratings, so am considering trying that...

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    651
    hey Vam,

    Welcome. My regular pour was VG 90 too. My tastes started out in one direction and as time went on have gone down a different path (expanded). Some of the pours mentioned here in threads are going to seem not that great if you try them right away. But, if you go back to them later on you may find them to your liking.

    My tastes went almost immediately to rye heavy bourbons, along with some others. What I'll give you though is the short list of what tasted good to me at the very first and were easy to enjoy (also available).

    Weller Antique 107
    Eagle Rare Single Barrel 90 proof
    Sazerac 18 year old (pricey, good and unfortunately not that available)
    Evan Williams Single Barrel (any year)
    Basil Hayden's


    I think if it would have been available, Weller 12 year old would have been good as well. Pappy 20 I think is pretty easy to get along with, but all of the younger Pappys, in my opinion take a little bit of getting used to (I didn't like them at first, I do now), even the lot B.

    It's all personal taste. Buy a small variety, taste and experiment.


    Have fun!
    Mark/Nebraska


    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take... but by the moments that take your breath away. 11/25/2004

  3. #3
    Guru
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    May 2002
    Location
    Central Arizona (near Prescott), U.S.A.
    Posts
    4,235
    That's a tough call.

    At a gross level it's a question of more of the same vs. branching out. Actually there is no "same", but you get the idea.

    It's been at least two years since I've tasted VG90, aka "The Fox". I remember it as being very clean tasting, whatever that means, with pleasant, not intense, flavors on the palete and a short but pleasant finish. A bourbon that I might describe in those same words is Maker's Mark -- although it is priced in the same vicinity as The Fox, maybe a bit less. The interesting thing about MM in this context is that it's made with wheat in place of the rye that is used in most bourbons.

    Being something of a Wild Turkey fan I might focus on your words "more premium" and suggest Kentucky Spirit. (Oh, BTW, the word "blend" is probably not what you meant. As normally used that word denotes a mixture of whiskey and neutral grain spirits -- whiskey-flavored alcohol, in other words.)

    The readily available premium bourbon that I happen to like best of all is Rock Hill Farms.

    I can't predict, based on your liking for VG90, whether you will like either of them. I happen to like all three, but that's just me.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield
    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

    Dog Lover, Euphonium Player, Campfire Guitarist, Marksman,

  4. #4
    Virtuoso
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    Apr 2005
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    Chicago SW 'burbs
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    1,178
    Wild Turkey Rare Breed is also a wonderful pour, and I'd second the recommendations on the Weller Antique, Eagle Rare, and the Sazerac 18 (the latter is rye, and oh, it's good stuff).

    I'm not sure what all's available in Virginia, but Buffalo Trace is excellent as well; think of it as VG90 cranked up a bit (even though both are 90 proof).
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  5. #5
    Novice
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Front Royal, VA
    Posts
    7
    These are all very helpful ideas - I appreciate you guys taking the time to educate a newbie. A further question comes to mind - Is VG 90 considered a wheater or a rye heavy bourbon? Expanding may mean trying the other variety for me.

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    651
    To answer your question, I'll tell you I can't answer your question. Virginia Gentleman is kind of it's own animal. One of the differences is the number of times it's distilled. It actually starts its life at Buffalo Trace, then is trucked to Virginia.

    Just because it started out at Buffalo Trace, definitely does not mean it resembles those products and it doesn't.

    I stand by my first post as far as advise.
    Mark/Nebraska


    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take... but by the moments that take your breath away. 11/25/2004

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,610
    To answer the question more specifically, I believe VG's mashbill is a standard rye-flavored bourbon.

    I'm not sure the triple distillation accounts for the difference as much as the different aging environment and different aging practices. VG's warehouses are small and the barrels are stored on end, on pallets, rather than on their side in racks.

    Also, the character of any whiskey is a function of the barrel selection process. When does the master distiller decide they're ready? What combination of ages is used?

    Joe Dangler, who runs the operation there, is a real whiskey man who knows what's he's doing. VG 90, especially, reflects his particular vision of how a good whiskey should taste.

  8. #8
    Based on others descriptions of VG, I would suggest Maker's Mark also. It's a good pour and one I always have in my cabinet.

    Joel
    "Oh Bother!" said Pooh as he slapped another magazine in his AK-47...

    http://vinesnwines.blogspot.com

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    602

    Re: Bourbon Newbie Question

    Every recommendation I've read seems good to me, but I'd also recommend some of the Black Maple Hill offerings, I have never been disappointed with any of them. As well as Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year Lot B (there is no lot a, c, etc) I really enjoy and feel that they are pretty user friendly, but with all things bourbon, ymmv. Good luck.
    Another very good rye heavy bourbon is AH Hirsch 16, it's excellent. An some cheaper alternatives which are still rye heavy are Evan Williams 1783 and Old Grand Dad 114.
    Tim

    To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

  10. #10
    Disciple
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    Feb 2005
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    Japan, (American)
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    1,674

    Re: Bourbon Newbie Question

    H i Vamtnlion,
    You have gotten a lot of good suggestions, some more expensive than others. Two I don't recall seeing that are more moderate in price are Wild Turkey 101 and Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond.

    Have you tried anything new yet?

    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

 

 

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