Miscellaneous Rumbles

American whiskeys - school me

1

I'm a huge fan of Scottish single malts. I love the Islay malts, Talisker from Skye, the malts of Jura and I'm intrigued by some of the Highland malts I've tried. Which is kind of nuts because I live on the other side of the planet. When I was in New York last month I tried a couple of Bourbons in bars - one was Buffalo Trace which i quite enjoyed neat and on the rocks because it reminded me of sneaking booze into school dances.

I haven't tried many US whiskeys - here US whiskey has always been Jack Daniels and Jim Beam, neither of which impressed me much. I was once given a bottle of Woodford Reserve Rye which was nasty! It just tasted like I was sucking on a piece of green oak. Maybe it was the flavour of rye coming through - I have always detested rye bread or anything made from rye,

So what would you Americans recommend to someone who wants to find some great, sublime American whiskey? Buffalo Trace is fun - I bought a bottle here and I like it - but it's not particularly complex or sophisticated. It's easy drinking and possibly sweeter than I usually like. Any suggestions?

I'm planning to try Wild Turkey Longbranch next. Is Gentleman Jack worth trying? I was also given a bottle of Maker's Mark once and it was too sweet for me.

2

My favorite bang for the buck bourbon was Sam Houston. Wow, it was good, and it didn’t break the bank. Unfortunately, they discontinued it, and now use the same name for a whiskey.

Not unlike guitars, you can spend some pretty onscene amounts on bourbon, and I won’t stop you.

But what I’ve found to be a nice bourbon that’s pretty easily found and reasonably priced for the quality is Jim Beam’s Basil Hayden.

But if you can afford some Pappy Van Winkle, please let me know how it was!

3

Maker's Mark. I've only had it on the rocks and it's fantastic.

4

Lots of choices...

Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye are both very nice.

I tend to like Bourbons that have a high Rye content, adds a spicey character.

It is one style out of the 3 or 4 generally accepted for Mash Bills. Past that, it is aging or blending, single barrel, etc.

Adding a little Barley helps the Mash convert. Canadian Whiskeys tend to have more Barley and Rye.

High Wheat Bourbons are a little softer.

High Corn Bourbons are sweeter.

https://www.mantelligence.c...

https://blog.distiller.com/...

https://www.southernkitchen...

I like to tell a joke about how our early American settlers probably didn't wait to start enjoying...

"Moonshine" being one end of that thought, and "Old Crow" aged just about as long as anyone's thirst could handle!

5

Just the opposite, I go for ryes over bourbon. Corn whiskey is just too sweet for me. A lot of cheaper ryes have bourbon in the mash bill to soften the bite, a nice example being Sazerac (not the cocktail). Anything from Indiana was likely made by the giant MGP distillery, a nice example being Templeton 6 year old. What you can call an American whiskey is governed by law, so learn the lexicon. Whistle Pig is obscenely priced, but really a treat.

6

Another vote for Pappy Van Winkle but it's expensive. Bookers is definitely worth a try too.

7

Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey, the mid or upper tier is your friend. And anyone you share a glass with

8

When I was a whiskey drinker, I liked "Evan Williams" bourbon whiskey. https://evanwilliams.com/fa... it's made in Kentucky, and has been growing in popularity. For a long time, it was difficult to find, outside of the southeast United States, but it is showing up in more and more places now.

9

Hard to beat home-made. But it's part science, part art, and part alchemy.

However, I don't mind good store bought bourbon either... Jefferson's comes to mind, as well as Old Forester.

10

My bourbon aficionado co-worker speaks highly of Blanton’s single barrel.

11

I’ll second the Blanton’s. You get to keep the fancy stopper to boot.

12

By way of orientation, my all-time favs are Lagavulin 16, Laphroaig 10, and Balvenie Doublewood. And I drink everything neat.

I'll go to the liquor and spend a lifetime looking, but always end up coming home with either Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey 101, George Dickel, or Evan Roberts. And i'm always satisfied.

There are some GREAT Japanese whiskeys--Akashi, Hibiki, Nikka, Ichiro's--but they're pricey and when I bring them home, my wife gives me the stink eye.

Jack, JW, and Jim Beam don't do it for me. I always think that you could spend a few bucks more and get something w/ more personality--but that's just me. It's literally a matter of personal taste.

13

The only good thing I have to say about Jim Beam is that their used barrels make great aging barrels for scotch. That's about it.

16

Bourbon is so tricky these days. Brands seemed come out almost hourly and magically have five-year-old product despite not being in business nearly that long. I see many of the ones I enjoy here but since I am mostly a value-for-money guy I don't buy top-end stuff on the regular. Having said that I love Weller antique, same people that do both pappy and Buffalo Trace. My current favorite value brand is Evan Williams white label. the green label Weller reserve is delicious as well although they keep putting the price up now that people are onto it. It used to be a very affordable treat.

17

I find Bourbon to be far more accessible than scotch. For me, it’s easier drinking and I’ll have it with ice and soda while I’m out. Cheap bourbon is better than cheap scotch. I don’t, however, know the ins and outs of expensive bourbons, like I do scotch. Bookers is one of my favourites, although it’s quite strong. I have friends into the Pappis craze, but the limited releases seem like a little too much hype to me.

18

Thanks! I have somewhere to start now. Funny Jopapa that you like Lagavulin 16 and Buffalo Trace - we must have similar tastes. My top malts would probably be Lagavulin 16, Talisker and maybe even Jura Superstition. Superstition is not a "vintage" scotch but it's a very smooth smoky drop and I like it. It's almost the Scotch equivalent of Buffalo Trace. In fact last night I had one or two Juras after trying a Buffalo Trace on ice. Usually it's neat for me but on ice seems to be an American thing so I thought I'd try it. I might stick to neat from now on because it seemed I need to warm it up in my mouth before I could taste it.

Jalexanderdixon I know what you mean by bourbon being more accessible, and I'm no fan of cheap scotch. It has to be a decent single malt. I do find a good single malt more satisfying than any of the American whiskeys I've come across so far, so I'm wondering of there is an American whiskey with the complexity and fire of a top malt? I mean have a mouthful of Lagavulin - there's a lot going on in there. Loads of flavours exploding in your mouth, and more become apparent in the aftertaste.

Oh well, it should be fun experimenting.

19

Try a whiskey with a single ice cube or a little water. It drives the aromatic compounds to the surface where you’ll smell them just before you sip. No bull.

20

Thanks! I have somewhere to start now. Funny Jopapa that you like Lagavulin 16 and Buffalo Trace - we must have similar tastes. My top malts would probably be Lagavulin 16, Talisker and maybe even Jura Superstition. Superstition is not a "vintage" scotch but it's a very smooth smoky drop and I like it. It's almost the Scotch equivalent of Buffalo Trace. In fact last night I had one or two Juras after trying a Buffalo Trace on ice. Usually it's neat for me but on ice seems to be an American thing so I thought I'd try it. I might stick to neat from now on because it seemed I need to warm it up in my mouth before I could taste it.

Jalexanderdixon I know what you mean by bourbon being more accessible, and I'm no fan of cheap scotch. It has to be a decent single malt. I do find a good single malt more satisfying than any of the American whiskeys I've come across so far, so I'm wondering of there is an American whiskey with the complexity and fire of a top malt? I mean have a mouthful of Lagavulin - there's a lot going on in there. Loads of flavours exploding in your mouth, and more become apparent in the aftertaste.

Oh well, it should be fun experimenting.

– JimmyR

I'm as American as they come, but Ice is pure blasphemy with a single malt... neat with a measured splash (larger splash for cask strength malts) of distilled water to open up the nose is about as pure as it gets.

However, ice can actually improve the flavor of cheaper blends by toning down the harshness of the neutral grain alcohol base. So if your tastes lean toward blended scotch, then by all means, drop in a cube or two.

Bourbon and Rye whiskeys tend to be a little more resilient in the when it comes to the choice of ice or no ice.

But hey, if you like ice with your malts, I won't stop you... some people just have no stomach for room-temperature or cellar-temperature spirits.

And Jimmy, I fully agree with you about the Lagavulin 16 (although I'm more of a Laphroaig man). Take a generous dram of Lagavulin, and it's like a Druid seasonal celebration on your palate.

21

Oh no - I never add ice to malts! Blasphemous! I have also tried adding a drop of water to malts as it is always recommended. But I just prefer 'em neat. Love that intensity. And I don't care for blended scotch either. Even the highly regarded/highly priced blends - nope.

One thing I love about malt is that you can try one from Islay or Skye and then one from the Highlands and they are almost two different drinks. Hard to believe they are both the same kind of spirit. I'm slowly getting more drawn towards Highlands malts. Actually I suspect fans of American whiskey might like some Highlands malts.

22

My wife has similar tastes - Islay single malts, Japanese... Her favourite US label is Stranahan’s https://www.stranahans.com/ The distillery wasn’t too far from our house in a Denver. They’re a bit rebellious about whisk(e)y traditions.

23

My wife has similar tastes - Islay single malts, Japanese... Her favourite US label is Stranahan’s https://www.stranahans.com/ The distillery wasn’t too far from our house in a Denver. They’re a bit rebellious about whisk(e)y traditions.

– absaroke

So you're saying I drink like a woman?

Just kidding. Thanks for the Stranahans tip. If I can find it in NJ, I'll pick up a bottle because it looks affordable. Colorado has some cool distilleries. I had 291 Whiskey, which was full of personality--a hair too bold for my tastes--but still really delicious.

My weekend goal is to find a bottle of Henry McKenna 10 yo. Single Barrel. It won "best in show" in a San Fran competition and is within my budget (although retailers are reportedly jacking up the price because of the spike in demand).

24

Thanks! I have somewhere to start now. Funny Jopapa that you like Lagavulin 16 and Buffalo Trace - we must have similar tastes. My top malts would probably be Lagavulin 16, Talisker and maybe even Jura Superstition. Superstition is not a "vintage" scotch but it's a very smooth smoky drop and I like it. It's almost the Scotch equivalent of Buffalo Trace. In fact last night I had one or two Juras after trying a Buffalo Trace on ice. Usually it's neat for me but on ice seems to be an American thing so I thought I'd try it. I might stick to neat from now on because it seemed I need to warm it up in my mouth before I could taste it.

Jalexanderdixon I know what you mean by bourbon being more accessible, and I'm no fan of cheap scotch. It has to be a decent single malt. I do find a good single malt more satisfying than any of the American whiskeys I've come across so far, so I'm wondering of there is an American whiskey with the complexity and fire of a top malt? I mean have a mouthful of Lagavulin - there's a lot going on in there. Loads of flavours exploding in your mouth, and more become apparent in the aftertaste.

Oh well, it should be fun experimenting.

– JimmyR

Jimmy--Just to be clear, the bourbons on my list are all budget bourbons. They don't represent the best in the US. They're just what I can buy w/o too much guilt.

I actually once wrote a whole song around it.

Link

25

With Scottish malts I feel confident spending up to around Aust$100 a bottle (approx US$65 or so, although we pay higher taxes on spirits). But with US whiskeys I am more keen on the Aust$50 at the moment because I don't know what I'm buying.

So I appreciate what you're saying, Jopapa.

When we first bought our house we had zero disposable income. I had a gig at a city venue attached to a larger concert hall. The management promised us all sorts of things they failed to deliver. We had a half-dozen gigs booked there so found ways around not getting the drinks riders we were promised - as they were too tight to put staff on during soundcheck we just filled our gig bags with beers from their fridges and that was our rider. One time my rider was a bottle of Jack Daniels. That bottle lasted quite some time and I seem to remember enjoying it.


Register Sign in to join the conversation