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Carnagusfarnbuckler

Advice For Newbies To Bourbon

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Carnagusfarnbuckler

I am going to put this out as my advice for a newbie purchasing bourbon. Do not do what I did. When I got into bourbon about 8 months ago. I bought a few really cheap bourbons, heck one was an American whiskey and I did not know the difference. I thought they were all bourbon. They were bad, real bad. I then started watching YouTube, websites, reviews, and forums. I bought a lot of bourbon and thought I knew what I was doing. Now I look back I can see I probably should not have bought so much so fast. So what I am saying for a new person to bourbon is slow down. Get you a few good starter bottles that are under twenty bucks and learn what a wheated bourbon and rye bourbon are, like Evan Williams Black Label, Larceny, Rebel Yell, Wild Turkey, and Very Old Barton. Then later you can pick out a couple of better bourbons and go from there like Eagle Rare, Elijah Craig Small Batch, Henry McKenna, or Evan Williams Single Barrel. I was just looking at all the stuff I have bought over the last several months and thought why did I buy that and why did I buy two of that. I now know that there are tons of better bourbons that I could have spent that money on instead. I hope this makes sense and I am sure some of the more veteran bourbon drinkers will also have some great advice to add.

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Limegoldconvertible68

The best advice I can give is to make a bourbon budget. Stick to it. That’s “x” number of bottles every so often. The key when starting out, however, is to open those bottles and taste them.  After you become famwith a few bottles do a blind test of what you have purchased. Have your spouse or a friend pour four or five different bourbon and let you you savor them without knowing what you are drinking. You will soon learn if you are buying bottles because of the name on them or because you truly like what’s in the bottle. 

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kevinbrink

There have been a few versions of this thread over the years but I'll say what I tend to say, buy small format bottles and keep your early investments low. 

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dad-proof

Everyone's budgets and preferences are different, but I see more people wasting money early on in their bourbon journey overpaying for craft, NPD, or unicorn bottle that they have no frame of reference for properly evaluating. I understand the letdown of buying Old Crow, but hey it's $9.

 

My recommendation would be to taste and each of the mid-shelf workhorses bourbons from across the majors like WT101, Elijah Craig SB, BT, OF100, KC100, OGDBIB, MM etc. and do your best to figure out what you like and don't. These are all likely $4-7 pours, or you could split bottles between 2-3 friends, so for less than $100 one could taste each of the workhorses multiple times.

 

 

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PaulO

Most of the 80 proof stuff, you can skip.  The interesting to drink neat is usually 90 proof or above.

Be wary of non distiller producer brands.  Do your homework.  A few are honest brokers with good product.  Many are overpriced mystery juice.

Rarely will you find anyone working in a liquor store that can give good recommendations.

Check out the Bourbon Of The Month, and Whiskey Tree threads on this site.

Don't worship unicorn bottles.

Have fun, and enjoy reasonably priced bottles that aren't too hard to find.

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pouringwhiskey

As someone who is fairly new to enjoying bourbon, I only have one piece of advice so far - start from the bottom and work your way up. I made the mistake early on of trying to hunt down allocated bottles like Eagle Rare, Blanton's, ETL, EH Taylor (I realize these may sit on shelves elsewhere, but are harder to come by in Ohio). I was successful at finding most of these early on and enjoyed each of them for what they were, later on down the road I started picking up easy to find, cheaper bourbons like Benchmark, Buffalo Trace, VOB, etc. Since I worked backwards from higher end to these, they all kind of fell short comparatively. Not to say I don't enjoy them all, but I think I would have enjoyed them more if I would have went the opposite direction. But hindsight is 20-20, and I still find myself enjoying $10-$15 bottles along with my $100 bottles ?

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BottledInBond

Here is a piece of advice for newer people that are in a Total Wine market. Don’t listen to anyone that works there, and passion all of their Spirits Direct crap. The only caveat to that is that occassionally if they do a barrel pick they also call those Spirits Direct and if it is from a distillery you know, you can buy those as you normally would. 

 

I know this one doesn’t apply to everyone since TW&M isn’t in all markets, but they do tend to be large players in the markets they are in. They will try to direct you to a Spirits Direct product 99% of the time, and 99% of those products are terrible or just overpriced for what they are.

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kevinbrink
5 minutes ago, BottledInBond said:

Here is a piece of advice for newer people that are in a Total Wine market. Don’t listen to anyone that works there, and passion all of their Spirits Direct crap. The only caveat to that is that occassionally if they do a barrel pick they also call those Spirits Direct and if it is from a distillery you know, you can buy those as you normally would. 

 

I know this one doesn’t apply to everyone since TW&M isn’t in all markets, but they do tend to be large players in the markets they are in. They will try to direct you to a Spirits Direct product 99% of the time, and 99% of those products are terrible or just overpriced for what they are.

Pretty spot on for bourbon, although for other spirits there are some great products that count as spirits direct, virtually all of the Independently Bottled Scotch and Rum, a number of Rums from Foursquare (Doorly's, R.L. Seale etc.), virtually all of the Armagnac, and on top of that many of the "Luxury Whiskies". If you into such things and you spend enough to get a chance at the LE stuff more power to you. Probably worth noting that if you download their app they have coupons all the time, right now at least here in NJ there is one for 10% off all SD if you buy two bottles. I'm not advocating for buying at TW but if you are going to do it at least save some money. 

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pouringwhiskey
18 hours ago, Limegoldconvertible68 said:

Have your spouse or a friend pour four or five different bourbon and let you you savor them without knowing what you are drinking. You will soon learn if you are buying bottles because of the name on them or because you truly like what’s in the bottle. 

I love this idea and agree 100%. A lot of people, admittedly myself included, let hype, price and availability alter our opinions of bottles. Thankfully I have since grown to know better, it's quite the eye-opener to have a lineup of expensive, rare hyped up bourbons and pick WT101 as the best.

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Bourserker

One piece of advice I have is that when first getting into bourbon if you happen across a unicorn at or near MSRP buy it on the spot.  Back when I was buying up everything in sight (several years ago) I left some stuff on the shelf that I wish I had bought...I still think about "the ones that got away" to this day.

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Carnagusfarnbuckler
2 hours ago, pouringwhiskey said:

As someone who is fairly new to enjoying bourbon, I only have one piece of advice so far - start from the bottom and work your way up. I made the mistake early on of trying to hunt down allocated bottles like Eagle Rare, Blanton's, ETL, EH Taylor (I realize these may sit on shelves elsewhere, but are harder to come by in Ohio). I was successful at finding most of these early on and enjoyed each of them for what they were, later on down the road I started picking up easy to find, cheaper bourbons like Benchmark, Buffalo Trace, VOB, etc. Since I worked backwards from higher end to these, they all kind of fell short comparatively. Not to say I don't enjoy them all, but I think I would have enjoyed them more if I would have went the opposite direction. But hindsight is 20-20, and I still find myself enjoying $10-$15 bottles along with my $100 bottles ?

I sort of did the same thing.  Great advice!

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Carnagusfarnbuckler
10 minutes ago, Bourserker said:

One piece of advice I have is that when first getting into bourbon if you happen across a unicorn at or near MSRP buy it on the spot.  Back when I was buying up everything in sight (several years ago) I left some stuff on the shelf that I wish I had bought...I still think about "the ones that got away" to this day.

Great advice, I did the same thing at Christmas time this year.  I went into a larger store here and the guy was saying they had Weller Antique 107 for $24.99.  I only bought one since I did not know much about it.  Two days later it was gone.

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fishnbowljoe

I’ve been a member here for going on 12 years now. I’ve learned a lot here in those years. Some of the things I learned were by my own trial and error. Other things I learned were from the wisdom provided by other members here. This includes being bitch slapped a few times for not really thinking, and just being plain f**king stupid. :unsure: Thankfully, I was a quick learner. Sometimes being bitch slapped can hurt a little. :mellow: The best advice I can give to newbies? 

 

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  Ain’t The Wizard Of Oz one of the greatest movies of all time?  Think about it. :ph34r:

 

Biba! Joe

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Curtis Reed

My advice is to drink blind. Have spouse or friend pour your bourbon and remove the bias of the label. You will learn much quicker what you like. Side by side blind tastings or 4x blind flights help develop palate. 

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jodytek

My advice is to buy what you can afford. Buy it to drink it, it’s not an investment. Be happy with what you have. Share it with friends and family. And don’t worry, they’ll make more. So many warehouses full to the rafters with it.

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Carnagusfarnbuckler
17 hours ago, jodytek said:

My advice is to buy what you can afford. Buy it to drink it, it’s not an investment. Be happy with what you have. Share it with friends and family. And don’t worry, they’ll make more. So many warehouses full to the rafters with it.

Great advice.

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