From one bourbon newbie to another…



Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

    As both a bourbon and a wine drinker, kudos to this post. The best advice I ever got about wine–from someone working at a Napa Valley winery, no less–was to figure out what tastes good to you, and to not worry about all the other details (until and unless you reached a point where you were comfortable enough with wine that you wanted to delve into the arcanity). The same is true for bourbon (and Scotch, and beer, and… and… and…).Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      The best advice I ever got about wine–from someone working at a Napa Valley winery, no less–was to figure out what tastes good to you, and to not worry about all the other details …

      It’s nice to hear that some things are common sense no matter what people drink. Kudos to you.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      The best advice I ever got about wine–from someone working at a Napa Valley winery, no less–was to figure out what tastes good to you, and to not worry about all the other details…

      And if you don’t have time (or budget) to explore broadly, find a reviewer whose tastes are like yours — ie, you like stuff that they like. Given that exactly the same wine can be judged anywhere from swill to gold medal, depending on the competition’s judges, you need to find someone that gives recommendations that work for you.Report

      • Avatar Jam3s Aitch says:

        Also, you don’t have to pay a lot. Most of the wines I buy are in the $8-12 range, and only ocasionally do I get one that’s not worthwhile. I did pay in the twenties for a couple bottles recently, which is unusual for me, but they were something I particularly wanted and have a hard time finding.Report

  2. I’m a Woodford Reserve kind of guy, myself. If I’m going to take a bourbon to be enjoyed on its own, that’s my pick. I don’t fancy myself anything like an expert, however, and when I get around to expanding my palate I’ll probably work on my scotch appreciation first.

    For manhattans, I’m less choosy. I”ll usually go with Knob Creek for that one.Report

    • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

      Have you tried Eagle Rare?

      I’ve not tried Woodford Reserve, but I think I’ll make that my next try.Report

      • I love Eagle Rare. It’s what I order in my manhattans when I’m out and about.

        I also really like Basil Hayden’s.Report

        • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

          Basil Haydens? I’ll have to check my liquor store.Report

          • Avatar Dave says:

            I want to do a blind taste test between Old Grand Dad 80 proof and Basil Hayden. I hear the mash bills are very similar. Both are Beam brands.Report

        • Avatar Dave says:

          To me, Eagle Rare is one of those single barrel bourbons you introduce people to when they really want to start getting into the good stuff. It’s easy to drink yet it has everything I like in it. It’s more to the sweet side and doesn’t have the oak punch of Woodford but that’s perfectly okay here.

          It’s also very reasonably priced.Report

          • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

            Yes, to all of this. I tend to have acid reflux problems, and some of the rougher bourbons stir that up. I love the taste of them, but to avoid discomfort I usually stay with the smoother ones.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Hadn’t had it before we tried it in the Bourbon club, and when I did, I loved it.Report

        • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

          $250 to fix a trailer wheel today.
          $350 for the kids’ dentist appointments.
          Anybody like Woodford Reserve enough to front me a bottle? 😉Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      I was not a fan of Woodford when I first tried it, but as I spent more time with the bottle, it started to grow on me until I was in a full-blown love affair with it. I love how the flavor characteristics change the longer it stays in the glass. With a little time, the sweetness comes out and those candy apple hints are yummy.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I tried the Scotch route, also perceiving it to be of nobler stock. But, all things being equal, I just like bourbon better. I’m still a relative noob to both but, eh, I’m okay with tha. If I like what I’m drinking, I like what I’m drinking.Report

    • Avatar j@m3z Aitch. says:

      Scotch is good, too. There are times I really like that peaty flavor better than bourbon. But the thing to remember is that it’s all just corn liquor of various sorts, and anyway the folks who originate bourbon were probably just descendants of the original Scots and Irish corn liquor makers.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Let m first say I almost always prefer beer to liquor. And some situations do lend themselves better to Scotch. And certain Scotches I like better than others, though right now its the simpler ones as my palate develops. But, again, I drink what I like.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Around our house lately, it’s all been bout the Rye. But we will come back to bourbon, I’m sure.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I have never liked bourbon, or any of the brown liquors (scotch, irish, rye, whisky, etc.) but I’ve recently been introduced to Bulleit, and it’s pretty damned good.

    I like the idea of rye, since it lest me pretend to be Humphrey Bogart telling Dorothy Malone that without her glasses she has gazongas out to here, but it’s vile stuff.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:


    You’re totally on point here on all your topics in this post.

    After visiting Scotland, I picked up a single malt scotch ranking book and single mindely went though it tasting all the 80+ scored bottles I could get my hands on (over about a decade). It was fun and I do consider myself a connoisseur, but the price / value propisition is always in my mind.

    I’ve also got into bourbon and I enjoy it quite a lot. I’ve had both the 20 and 23 year old Pappy’s, and IT IS VERY GOOD, but the price / value ration between the 20 and the 23 year old,at least several years ago, wasn’t worth it. The 20 was good enough. Now, since it’s gotten so trendy, I can’t even get it.

    Neither the single malts or Pappy’s is what I would call “regular drinking” booze, it’s more for special occasions or as an indulgence, and I’m currenly enjoying some lower priced brands. It looks like the suggestion above are worth investigating.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:


      As someone that’s tried the Pappy, do you think that someone like myself that hasn’t had the Pappy would be able to tell the difference between that and another high quality wheated bourbon like W.L. Weller? I’ve read tasting notes on the Pappys and one thing that I see in a lot of those reviews is that Pappy doesn’t have a strong/dominant oak presence, something I get in a good way from George T. Stagg.

      I’m very much a bang for the buck guy. A bottle of black label Evan Williams costs several dollars less than a bottle of Jim Beam ($13 vs. $18) and offers a lot more bang. Rittenhouse Rye and Old Grand Bottled in Bond can be had out here for $19.99. I bought my first bottle of Elijah Craig for $23. Sadly, it was in Ohio. It’s more expensive in NJ.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        The Pappy’s 20 year old, when I got it (as a gift for someone) was @ 150 USD. The 23 year old was over 200 USD. To me the difference in cost between the two bottles far outweighed the quality of the drink. I think that’s applicable to most aged alcohol. At some point marginal improvement in the quality of the drink becomes negligible. The sweet spot for me between cost and flavor is 20 years max.

        Now, that being said, I’ve never tried the bourbous you’ve mentioned, but Pappy’s was very smooth and didn’t have a lot of dominant oak, as I recall. I’d describe it as very smooth, balanced, with some carmel/sweet notes and a nice finish.

        I think you’d be able to tell the difference, but good luck actually getting a bottle! It’s become very trendy.Report