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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    I apologize in advance for the long post, but I'm pressed for time (have until 4/7) and I want to give enough info to help focus your recommendations.

    I want to put together a good "bourbon sampler" gift for my parents. I've been reading up on the forums here, and I know opinions and favorites vary pretty widely - however, basically I'm looking for any input where my selection may be way off the mark. In other words, I doubt there will be a 5 bottle consensus - but I'm open to suggestions.

    My Dad's tastes will dictate the selection. On one hand he likes a drink with some kick - and makes a martini that'll knock you on your butt, but on the other hand, when it comes to Bourbon (or any other liquor besides Gin), his tastes lean towards sweeter mixed drinks like Sours, Manhattans, Daquiris, Margaritas, etc. Even his tastes in wine are heavy to the sweet side and he doesn't care for wines that are even moderately dry. The Bourbon he keeps on hand is Jim Beam, but like I said, it is exclusively used with a mixer.

    After what I've read at this site (very nice site - BTW), I'm assuming I need to focus on the Wheat blends as opposed to Rye since sweeter and smoother seem to be what they would prefer. I would like to include a single Rye selection just for contrast and in case it may be preferred in those occasions where the drink is accompanied by a cigar.

    Here's my preliminary selection, and I welcome and appreciate any feedback or corrections:

    1. Wild Turkey Rare Breed (the only Rye selection)
    2. W.L. Weller 12 YO
    3. Old Rip Van Winkle 10/107 or 15/107
    4. Elmer T. Lee
    5. Maker's Mark (want a readily available bar selection)


    If I can make them converts, it will dramatically reduce the prep time for our weekly Happy Hours - so this isn't entirely without its selfish motivations.

  2. #2
    Virtuoso
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    Apr 2005
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    1,394

    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    You might consider a low-rye mashbill bourbon. A good example would be Old Charter, either the 12 year "Classic" or the 13 year "Proprieter's Reserve." the difference is more in the profile selection than one year's difference would imply. It's rye content has been posted elsewhere - from memory I believe it's about 5%, where a middle of the road number might be about 12% and higher rye mashbills range from 18% (Forester) to about 30% (Grand Dad, some Four Roses).

    Much of the spiciness in wheaters or low-rye bourbons will come from the oak, and be influenced by rickhouse conditions. It's not all about the mashbill.

    It might be more accurate to say that the higher corn content of a low-rye mashbill is more significant to adding body and oiliness compared to a wheater than the few percentage points of rye create noticeably more spiciness than a wheater has.

    Roger

  3. #3
    Advanced Taster
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    Sep 2006
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    I think you've selected some really good bourbons to start. I would love to have started with this mix!
    Mmm, dat's good!
    Pappy's Friend

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    I guess it should be pointed out that Elmer T Lee is a rye mashbill bourbon, though one chosen for a sweet profile.

    I second Roger's thought on adding in a low-rye bottling, in addition the the Old Charter, Eagle Rare is a low-rye also.

    Just a thought, but if your father is a traditional martini drinker (as opposed to the vodka based abomination) he might just like something with a little spice to it, just not as intense as some of the high proof pours, Basil Hayden might be worth a shot for him.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  5. #5
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    I guess it should be pointed out that Elmer T Lee is a rye mashbill bourbon, though one chosen for a sweet profile.

    I second Roger's thought on adding in a low-rye bottling, in addition the the Old Charter, Eagle Rare is a low-rye also.
    I'll check those out. I'll probably need some back ups anyway. I just got back from our large local distributor and they only had the Rare Breed and Maker's available from my list. They did have some Pappy and Weller variations, but I only went with my specific list. Or I'll have to find an online distributor - if such a thing exists and can ship to SC.

    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    Just a thought, but if your father is a traditional martini drinker (as opposed to the vodka based abomination) he might just like something with a little spice to it, just not as intense as some of the high proof pours, Basil Hayden might be worth a shot for him.
    Even though his trademark Martini that earned an infamous reputation among many military circles from the 60s to the 80s was actually a 3/2/1 mix (Gin/Vodka/Vermouth), he refers to Vodka Martinis the same way as you do and doesn't appreciate many bartenders assuming Vodka by default. Much like I don't appreciate having to specify a taller glass for my Tanqueray and Tonic because even many higher end joints serve it up like it's a double shot of Jack. Even worse is the 10% of the time where the bartender knows what he's doing and he says "Of course" and looks at me like some heathen.

  6. #6
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    I have one more place to check for my original list, but I know they don't have the ETL. My alternate choices for #2, #3 & #4 are:

    Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 YO
    Weller Centennial (or Weller Antique 107 as a backup)
    Eagle Rare 90 Single Barrel (or Eagle Rare 101 as a backup)

    Do these make sense?

  7. #7
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    It all looks pretty reasonable.

    I know you're steering away from rye-recipe bourbons, but honestly I continue to be amazed at the number of people who discover that they hate rye-recipe, but fall in love with a good straight rye. I poured a decent spectrum of American whiskey for some friends last weekend and even in the presence of such premiums as Pappy 20 and Hirsch 16, the two runaway favorites were my two "bargain" standards: Weller Antique 107, and Rittenhouse Rye bond. Not that people didn't find the other two to be amazing, but that their intricate flavors demanded to be sampled alone and without distraction.

    Personally, if the Weller Antique is readily available, I'd go with that and drop Maker's entirely. Toss in a Rittenhouse bond, and apply the combined savings towards a Pappy 15 or 20 (and try to get him to enjoy ONE great bourbon without any mixers).
    Dave

  8. #8
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    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    Just a follow up:

    I ended up getting him:

    1. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
    2. Eagle Rare 90 Single Barrel
    3. Maker's Mark
    4. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 YO
    5. Blanton's
    6. Knob Creek
    (I snagged a mini bottle of Knob Creek just for the heck of it.)

    He finally got around to a blind taste test, and here are the results:

    Best: Maker's Mark
    Very Good: Van Winkle, Blanton's
    Good: Wild Turkey RB, Knob Creek
    Not Bad: Eagle Rare

    He's definitely a straight bourbon convert. I told him to give the WTRB another try next time he has his monthly cigar because it is supposed to be a decent pairing with a smoke.

    Can someone rank these six by pricing? It's been so long since I bought them, I have no clue what I paid. The fact that I went to about half a dozen liquor stores to get them all makes pricing them next to impossible. I don't need the price - I'm just curious about the price vs. his taste.

    If you guys have any observations from the results, let me know. I wouldn't mind having some other options if I decide to get him another bottle or two to try.

  9. #9

    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post
    Just a follow up:

    I ended up getting him:

    1. Wild Turkey Rare Breed
    2. Eagle Rare 90 Single Barrel
    3. Maker's Mark
    4. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 YO
    5. Blanton's
    6. Knob Creek
    (I snagged a mini bottle of Knob Creek just for the heck of it.)

    He finally got around to a blind taste test, and here are the results:

    Best: Maker's Mark
    Very Good: Van Winkle, Blanton's
    Good: Wild Turkey RB, Knob Creek
    Not Bad: Eagle Rare

    He's definitely a straight bourbon convert. I told him to give the WTRB another try next time he has his monthly cigar because it is supposed to be a decent pairing with a smoke.

    Can someone rank these six by pricing? It's been so long since I bought them, I have no clue what I paid. The fact that I went to about half a dozen liquor stores to get them all makes pricing them next to impossible. I don't need the price - I'm just curious about the price vs. his taste.

    If you guys have any observations from the results, let me know. I wouldn't mind having some other options if I decide to get him another bottle or two to try.
    Price. Hmmm.

    I'm guessing it goes like this:

    Maker's Mark
    Knob Creek
    Eagle Rare 10yo single barrel (90 proof)
    Wild Turkey Rare Breed (not sure here, i've never bought this)
    Van Winkel 12yo
    Blantons

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

    http://vinesnwines.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
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    Jul 2003
    Location
    Houston, TX
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    1,744

    Re: Putting together 4 -6 bottles as a gift for newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by CPanther95 View Post

    1. Wild Turkey Rare Breed - $30 to $35
    2. Eagle Rare 90 Single Barrel - $25
    3. Maker's Mark - $20
    4. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 YO - $35 to $40
    5. Blanton's - $50
    6. Knob Creek $25
    Prices vary from state to state, but here are my estimates.

 

 

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