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Gillman

Comparing Manhattans With Different Bourbons

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Gillman

I think it would be interesting to compare Manhattans made the same way with three bourbons: one with Heaven Hill BIB 6 years old (or any comparable inexpensive bonded), one with a decently aged rye-recipe bourbon, say JBBL (or WT 101, or BT), and the last with a well-aged wheat recipe-bourbon, Pappy 15, say.

Ideally small adjustments should be made with water so the proof of the liquor is the same, otherwise a more alcoholic bourbon may seem more attractive than it should.

Make enough to combine the three for a fourth "vatted" Manhattan.

And then taste the four blindly.

Which would win?

Gary

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bad_scientist

I tried making some for my wife, using basic stuff - Noilly Prat sweet vermouth and 2 dashes of bitters (can't remember if I used Angostura or Peychaud's) using (separately) Russell's Reserve Rye, ORVW 10/107, Ritt BiB, and Redemption Bourbon. Boy, it's been a long time since I did that... I did them blind because she doesn't like bourbon and wouldn't drink anything she knew had bourbon in it.

Turns out she loved the one with ORVW the best! In her opinion, it was far ahead of the Ritt BiB, her second-favorite.

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Gillman

That's very interesting. Two of the whiskeys were rye though, and one a craft bourbon. These would reflect very assertive flavors which I think someone not accustomed to bourbon, let aloneprobably. straight rye and craft (young) bourbon, might understandably shy from. ORVW 10 in contrast, even the 107, is fairly mild-tasting.

It's good data but I think a tasting by one familiar with straight rye and craft bourbon would be a good follow-up.

I project that he or she wouldn't choose the Van Winkle bourbon Manhattan, but I may be wrong!

Gary

P.S. Ideally, the taster should not know what is in each, but this would be difficult in practice to do, probably.

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bad_scientist

Forgot to mention that she loves rye Manhattans, so she's used to up-front, bracing flavors. I just threw in a wheater to see what she would do, and it was surprising that she preferred it, since it's, as you said, a lot mellower than most ryes.

I'll see if she can make me Manhattans based on your recs, and blind me, since I love rye and bourbon.

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Gillman

Okay, interesting! (Given she didn't like bourbon I thought rye Manhattans would be a no-go).

It would be great to hear your reaction to the range proposed!

Gary

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Brisko
I just threw in a wheater to see what she would do, and it was surprising that she preferred it, since it's, as you said, a lot mellower than most ryes.

It is, and it isn't.... the barrel really starts to make it's presence known in the ORVW and I can see where the other ingredients (bitters, mostly) might actually bring that to the fore.

I really like this idea, by the way. I need to dig out my barware and do a comparison.

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tommyboy38

Gary,

Great idea for a thread. I've been wondering the same thing lately. A little bored by staright bourbon :bigeyes: and having a few cocktails. Sours a few weeks ago and more recently Manhattans. My problem is I'm usually drinking my whiskey alone.

But i've picked up some High West barreled Manhattans and some Noily Pratt so looking forward to various Manhattan versions.

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sailor22
I think it would be interesting to compare Manhattans made the same way with three bourbons: one with Heaven Hill BIB 6 years old (or any comparable inexpensive bonded), one with a decently aged rye-recipe bourbon, say JBBL (or WT 101, or BT), and the last with a well-aged wheat recipe-bourbon, Pappy 15, say.

Ideally small adjustments should be made with water so the proof of the liquor is the same, otherwise a more alcoholic bourbon may seem more attractive than it should.

Make enough to combine the three for a fourth "vatted" Manhattan.

And then taste the four blindly.

Which would win?

Gary

I'm guessing there won't be a best in that group but it would depend on the tasters preferences in Whiskey in general.

When it was much more available Van Winkle Rye was my favorite staring point for a Manhattan. Today it's Bookers if I'm going big and 4r small batch or Blantons if light is the goal. When I want a Rye based Manhattan I use Baby Saz now but that's getting hard to find too.

When you settle on a Bourbon or Rye you prefer in your Manhattans then it's time to start trying different brands of Vermouth. There is a huge difference between some of them and they have a profound effect on the flavor. Some Vermouth can overpower the lighter tasting whiskies pretty easily so you might need to adjust the ratio.

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T Comp
I'm guessing there won't be a best in that group but it would depend on the tasters preferences in Whiskey in general.

When it was much more available Van Winkle Rye was my favorite staring point for a Manhattan. Today it's Bookers if I'm going big and 4r small batch or Blantons if light is the goal. When I want a Rye based Manhattan I use Baby Saz now but that's getting hard to find too.

When you settle on a Bourbon or Rye you prefer in your Manhattans then it's time to start trying different brands of Vermouth. There is a huge difference between some of them and they have a profound effect on the flavor. Some Vermouth can overpower the lighter tasting whiskies pretty easily so you might need to adjust the ratio.

Glad to see Steve uses Bookers as it is fairly close to my preferred whiskey of Knob Creek bourbon (either version) for a Manhattan. I've used many different ryes and bourbons but keep coming back to Knob Creek and it has the benefit of being availabe in most restaurants. The yeasty and penaut flavors of KC seek to take well to Vermouth and bitters for me but in the spirit of the thread will continue to try more. I don't drink enough of them to justify the more expensive vermouths and oxidation so stick with 375 ml bottles of Noilly Prat when making my own.

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bad_scientist

I actually tried using a bunch of different whiskeys in Manhattans, but I found after the second that I don't like Manhattans. Oh well.

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Gillman

Absolutely the yeast-forward Beam signature seems ideal for the Manhattan. Ditto many rye whiskeys which on their own are a little tough to drink neat (for many anyway).

I would advise for the neophyte Manhattan drinker not to use too much vermouth, 3:1 whiskey to vermouth might be good although I make it sweeter. But some will never take to it, fair enough.

Gary

P.S. Might I add that bitters are essential to the drink, it tastes "right" with them and incomplete without them.

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bad_scientist
Absolutely the yeast-forward Beam signature seems ideal for the Manhattan. Ditto many rye whiskeys which on their own are a little tough to drink neat (for many anyway).

I would advise for the neophyte Manhattan drinker not to use too much vermouth, 3:1 whiskey to vermouth might be good although I make it sweeter. But some will never take to it, fair enough.

Gary

P.S. Might I add that bitters are essential to the drink, it tastes "right" with them and incomplete without them.

Thanks Gary, I used 3:1 and 4:1 but just couldn't get into it. Anyway, sorry for the thread hijack - this is for enthusiasts!

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Gillman

I understand fully, and thanks for giving it a stab! The good thing about bourbon and rye are, there are numerous ways to enjoy them.

Gary

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Bourbon Boiler

Easy on the vermouth, heavy with the bitters.

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LostBottle

I read the title of this thread with sheer horror - Manhattans with bourbons!? I think a tear just rolled down my cheek and into my proper rye Manhattan :)

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Kalessin
I read the title of this thread with sheer horror - Manhattans with bourbons!? I think a tear just rolled down my cheek and into my proper rye Manhattan :)

Piffle! Balderdash! Sometimes one wants to taste the rye kick, especially with not-so-fancy vermouth, and sometimes a subtler bourbon will let the flavor notes of a better vermouth like Cocchi sweet or Carpano Antica have their day in the sun (or their evening on the sofa). :D

A Manhattan made with scotch is a Rob Roy, so perhaps we need a more clever name than "Bourbon Manhattan"...

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Gillman

Well, a bourbon Manhattan is (for most here I think) better than one made with blended whiskey - although I know at least one honored member here who prefers them that way! And Manhattans have been made for a long time with blended and Canadian... As always personal taste rules here and I find many bourbons suit the drink well, not necessarily those which are rye-heavy, but mid-aged examples which have a "robust" taste. VOB is a good example.

But there's no question the drink started with rye and a good rye Manhattan is a good drink.

Gary

Edited by Gillman

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