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Thread: Bourbon 101

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Bourbon 101

    Just getting started drinking Bourbon...tried Knob Creek and Maker's, enjoyed em both...

    Wondering though; what are good "starter bourbons"?

    Not too expensive but able to show me what is a good bourbon.

    Also, should I drink bourbon the same as Scotch (just a splash of h20)?

    Thanks for the help!
    Fan of the great sport of rugby.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Austin, Texas

    Re: Bourbon 101

    everyone has a different preference. so, try it one way then try it another. I have found that I want something different very often. buy a new bourbon each time you go to the store, and leave a little left in the last bottle to compare to your newer purchases. just enjoy and don't forget moderation.

  3. #3

    Re: Bourbon 101

    You've started with two solid bourbons at a good price point.

    I would also look for:

    Elijah Craig 12 year old
    Elmer T. Lee
    Evan Williams Single Barrell
    Old Grand Dad 114 (will give you a taste of a higher proof)
    Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve
    Wild Turkey 101
    Old Rip Van Winkel 10 year old

    Most of those should be available in the $20-25 price range, which is the same range as the Maker's and the Knob Creek. I used to be able to find Eagle Rare 10yo for about $20, but it appears to have jumped up to around $30 these days. Worth it though.

    The only two bourbons I have purchased that I really didn't care for were Woodford Reserve and Old Forester 100. I also have realized that, for me, 90 proof is about the minimum, but others around here are quite fond of 86 proof bourbons. I tend to like the high proof stuff like Booker's and OGD 114...

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


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Re: Bourbon 101

    Buffalo Trace and Old Weller 107 are 2 more very good Bourbons...they can also be had for less than $20 each.
    Bob O.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Livonia, MI

    Re: Bourbon 101


    One of the great features of bourbon is you can experiment and discover what you like.

    My current preferences are bourbons at about 90 proof such as Eagle Rare Single Barrel (ERSB) or Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B. I usually drink these at room temperature. Today the A/C was not on at home and the temperature was a little warmer than usual and I had a little pour of ERSB and it was spectacular. Was it the increase in temperature or the sensitivity of my taste buds or something else, I don't know, but being a chemist I see opportunities for experimentation. Oh, the joys of bourbon.

    Welcome to the club and enjoy.


  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999

    Re: Bourbon 101

    Go to the top of the "New to Straight Bourbon" page and click on the first announcement, "Bourbon Recommendations," for some useful information.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Re: Bourbon 101

    As for how to enjoy it, there's a wide range of opinions. But again, the mantra is experiment, grasshopper.

    You will find that like scotch, bourbons respond in different ways to water and ice, and you should try them all. The higher the proof, of course, the more useful it is to use greater quantities of ice and water. The lowest proof whiskeys are already watered down so just a splash, or literally a few drops of water, is enough to do the trick, i.e., "open up" the whiskey.

    The best thing to do is try the different approaches side-by-side. Take your bourbon and get three to five glasses. Pour one neat, one with only 1 or 2 ice cubes, one with a small splash of spring or filtered (not straight tap) water, and if you like, a glass with lots of ice and finally ice and water (I recommend paying attention to the dilution you're creating - use the The SB Whiskey Dilution Calculator under "Tasting"). There are noticeable differences with different whiskey characteristics becoming more or less prominent.

    You'll also find different whiskeys respond differently. For instance, I believe ryes tend to react more strongly to added water than bourbons do.

    Happy experimenting!


    I love him whose soul squanders itself, who wants no thanks...for he always gives away and does not want to preserve himself.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Heart of Dixie

    Re: Bourbon 101

    For what it is worth, I find that all alcoholic beverages open up a bit with heat and close down with cold. This is true of everything from beer to white lightning. A great bourbon can be greatly improved when warmed to around 95 degrees. This is rather easy with just your hands. Remember much of the sensory experience you et from food and drink is received via your nose and heat has a positive effect in allowing any given material to release odor. This is why Bud light is better ice cold and Louis XIII is best at around 100 degrees F. Good Luck.



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