Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

Bourbon vs. Scotch

Your tastes and our tastes are discussed here, so make sure you share your pleasures with us.

Bourbon vs. Scotch

Postby bamber » Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:12 am

Every time I have an Ardbeg in my hand, I sit there, misty eyed, convinced that Scotch is superior. Then I'll pour something from Buffalo Trace or an Elijah Craig and I'll marvel at its richness and purity - no funny finishes, just Kentucky sunshine and brand new oak barrels and realise I need to move to Kentucky. The great thing is, I'm allowed to drink both (I must admit I have tried mixing them !)

Thing is, many Scotch drinkers write off half the fun, without really giving it a chance. With little effort, I have managed to turn two friends to the American side. After years of writing off Bourbon as sweet, strong and obvious they now list American whiskies, as their favourite whiskies. The formula was as follows:

Old Rip Van Winkle 15YO, Buffalo Trace, Bookers, Elijah Craig 12YO, Sazerac 18YO rye, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye and Noah's Mill .

If your not drinking Bourbon, you're missing out.
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby bond » Wed Sep 22, 2004 1:12 pm

But are they really mutually exclusive?

Have been able to balance my preferences for both..... just that easier availability of scotch in these parts of the world ensures I have it more often than bourbon.
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby Aidan » Wed Sep 22, 2004 1:24 pm

They are totally different drinks. It's almost like comparing brandy to whisky, I think.

Neither is superior. Personally, I prefer scotch, but doesn't make it better.

Anyway, Irish whiskey is the best in the world :wink:
Aidan
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 2:01 am
Location: Dublin

Postby Ralph » Wed Sep 22, 2004 4:19 pm

Hello, the nly thing we can say on superiority is the quality of indgrdients used and the great scotch, americn, irish, japanese, canadian etc all use top quality ingreident and work they put into makgin. non of these are better than others. i have ones i like most but maybe others do not like it.

Ralph
Ralph
New member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:24 am

Postby Frodo » Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:48 pm

Ralph:

For the most part, I agree with your sentiments. I belive that good whisky can be made from a variety of traditions when good care and quality raw materials are used in the creative process.

As a whisky lover, I've tried all kinds of whiskies and the only style that I don't like is Canadian whisky. There are a couple of brands that are O.K., but none that make me sit up and say WOW, like Ardbeg, Middleton VR, or Blantons single barrel do.

Any staunch defenders of Canadian whisky are hearby summoned to defend the bottle!!! :!: :!: :!: :P :P :P

Militant Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby Aidan » Wed Sep 22, 2004 8:27 pm

What is the difference in the way they make Canadian whisky and American whiskey? I know they can add wine etc to Canadian and still call it whisky.

I don't know anything about Canadian, but I'd like to try it.
Aidan
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 2:01 am
Location: Dublin

Postby Frodo » Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:28 am

Quite a bit of differance actually:

When making Bourbon, the distiller throws in all of the grains to be used in the fermenter at the same time (usually 3 types of grain). Sometimes I've heard of the corn being started earlier because it's tougher to get the sugers out of it. The casks used have to be virgin oak by law, with varying degrees of CHAR inside the barrel (preferance depends on the brand to be aged, and the degree of wood influance wanted). Aging takes place in a warm climate so that the whisky ages faster than say, in Canada or Scotland.

Canadian whisky is known as rye whisky in these here parts, but there is precious little rye in the blend. Almost all Canadian whisky is blended whisky, with corn (as with bourbon) being the dominant grain. Two of barley, rye and wheat are usually used in the blend. The differance is that Canadian whisky is almost always blended. For example according to Dave Broom, Kittling Ridge distiller John Hall makes nine whiskies that go into his Three-Grain brand. Three are corn whiskies, three rye and three barley, and each of the three grain types are aged in TOASTED barrels of differant levels. When you factor in different reuse levels as well as more scope as to what was in the barrels, you have a lot of options for blending. An example is that John Hall made his own Canadian sherry, sold off the sherry, and used the barrels for aging his Barrel Select. Funny thing, there is a MJ review under whiskies of the world and he quite likes it. It's one of the only times I can remember strongly disagreeing with one of his reviews. The only other thing here is that 9.09% of the product in the bottle can actually be anything (neutral grain spirit, Canadian sherry or port, BRANDY, etc.). I've heard of brandy casks being used for aging incidentally. Now imagine the ability of this process to cover the taste of poorly made whisky!
One distillery (Glen Breton) makes scotch style whisky, but I don't think that it's relevent to this discussion.
One other thing. Two companies (Seagrams and Hiriam Walker) dominate the landscape. There are a lot of brands to be found in the liquor stores without a lot to differentiate them from each other. The style they produce is easy drinking, marketed to the mass consumer. There is starting to be a movement towards producing more upscale whiskies, but it's still in it's infancy stage. I've tried too many to name that had nothing to recommend them, and the one or two that are O.K. are just plain overpriced in my view. And if they're overpriced over here, they'll be twice as overpriced in your neck of the woods Aidan.
If I want a lighter style whisky, I'll stick to Irish thank you very much. At least until our distillers get thier **** together.

Rant over
Tired Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby Admiral » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:21 am

When I did some research into Canadian whisky a year or so ago, I concluded that they are basically allow to throw almost anything into the bottle! All sorts of grains, whiskies & spirits (although I didn't know there was a cap on the amount of neutral spirit allowed) can basically be thrown into the blending vat and mixed together, bottled, and called "Canadian Whisky". If I recall correctly, the constituent whiskies don't even have to have been distilled or matured in Canada!!

THe only one I've tried is Canadian Club, which is a six year old. It's just too thin and harsh for me. Not my cup of tea at all.
Sasquatchman has sung the praises of Canadian whiskies on these pages in the past, but he seems to get access to the good stuff!

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby bond » Thu Sep 23, 2004 5:57 am

The only Canadian whisky that I have laid my hands on is also Canadian Club.

While I agree with you on it being thin, I somehow found it too sweet for my liking. In fact, several non whisky drinkers find it to be very "palatable" (akin to Haig)
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Canadian whisky

Postby bamber » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:17 am

I believe the thing that really makes the difference in Canadian whisky is that most of it is distilled to very high proofs (190 - 195). The nearer you get to 200 proof the nearer you get to grain neutral spirit - ethanol (hopefully !).

This is essentially how vodka is made and hence many detractors label Canadian whisky as 'Brown Vodka' (Gillman at straightbourbon.com told me of the process).

As for the taste, well its the only form of whisky that sits behind brandy for me. Just way to thin for a palate used to vindaloo curries, Stilton and pickled onions !

Now apparently the Alberta Distillers products do not distil to such high proofs - Has anyone tried any of their stuff ?
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby Frodo » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:52 pm

Bamber:

Yes I've tried the Tangle Ridge 10 yr old in which all whiskies used in the blend are supposedly made soley from rye. Not my cup of tea at all although the Beverage Tasting Institute gave it a good rating :shock: :shock: .

As to Canadian whiskies that are any good, the only ones I've found acceptable are the Crown Royal Special Reserve, the Gibson's 18 yr old, and one called Pike Creek that was finished in port pipes. The port totally drowned out the whisky flavours, perhaps that's why I liked it.

Wiser's 18 yr old I don't even remember (that forgettable), Canadian Club 10 yr was mildly interesting, similar to watching a bead of water travel down a pane of glass to connect with other beads of water and finally hit bottom. If this is your idea of time well spent, I heartily endorse the CC 10yr.

Crown Royal (regular) is something I don't have to hold my nose to drink. It's soft but has nothing to work over my taste buds with nor does it have any subtle layers of complexity. It's just bland : :( :( :( . Michael Hall's Three Grain is something I kinda sorta remember liking but I'm not sure why :oops: :oops: :oops: .

"Sasquatchman has sung the praises of Canadian whiskies on these pages in the past, but he seems to get access to the good stuff" -Admiral 3 posts down.

I'm not sure what "the good stuff" is. I'm betting Sir Sasquatch and I have diverging opinions on this one, as I've tried most out there with the disapointment to prove it.

Aidan you are sooo lucky to live where one can go to a pub and order a house blend (Powers Gold Label) that you can look foreward to tasting.

Regards
Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby bamber » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:23 am

Sounds like you've had nothing that really sparks your interest from Canada. I think the only Candian I'd really enjoy is one from Scotland or Kentucky :)
Last edited by bamber on Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby Aidan » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:31 am

Frodo wrote:
Aidan you are sooo lucky to live where one can go to a pub and order a house blend (Powers Gold Label) that you can look foreward to tasting.

Regards
Frodo


Frodo

Yes, I am lucky in that respect, but there isn't a great selection of scotch or American whiskey in most pubs, although most would have the regulars as well as a plinth with Cragganmore, Lagavulin, Oban and one or two others.

But they have most of the good standard Irish. Last night I was on the Blackbush and enjoyed it a lot. Also tried the 10 yr old, 16 yr old and the 21 yr old.
Aidan
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 2:01 am
Location: Dublin

Postby Frodo » Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:26 pm

Aidan: I'm not sure how you would feel about good bourbon, but it's a pity haven't had a chance to try it yet :( !

I realize the thread has gone off topic a little in no small part due to my rant. It was supposed to be a comparison of scotch vs. boubon. My apologies. I agree with Bamber's origional thrust that some scotch drinkers seem to have an elitist idea about their whisky. Perhaps it's the differances in the base (corn vs barley) or the fact that the traditions surrounding the making of bourbon are newer. If someone tries bourbon and says "not for me" fair enough. Boubon has some fairly strong flavours. But to simply dismiss something without trying it first - well, all I can say is "it's your loss".

Regerds
Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby Aidan » Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:36 pm

Frodo

You can get good burbon and American whiskey over here, but not in the pubs. I have tried lots of very good American whiskey and burbon and am a fan.

Unfortunately, all they'd have in a pub would be the standard jack daniels, which I don't like.

I hvae also had Elijah Craig 12, Jim Beam, Four Roses, Makers Mark red, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve and I'm sure a few I've forgotten. I especially like the Makers Mark and Woodford Reserve. American whiskey is not good for my hiatus hernia, though. No whiskey is really.

Aidan
Aidan
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3252
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 2:01 am
Location: Dublin

Postby Frodo » Fri Sep 24, 2004 4:08 pm

I heard that :!: :!: :!: .

What did you think of Four Roses and Buffalo Trace? I've never tried Four Roses, and I asked a friend to get some for me when he visited the States. He forgot however. Buffalo Trace I've tried to great fanfare put out by the state liqour stores (the LCBO). All I can say is "too rough for me".
O.K., head in chopping block, looking around with trepidation for an axeman...

Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby bamber » Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:02 pm

It must have been a fake bottle ;) Buffalo Trace was actually the Bourbon that got me into American whisky. I have to say noone I know seems to like it as much as me, but its one of the whiskies I always fancy.

Four Roses is a nice delicate introduction to Bourbon - guess what I think of it ? :D Apparently, however, their lastest single barrel version is fantastic - I've heard this from quite a few Bourbon fans (not just JM's book).
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby SasquatchMan » Sat Sep 25, 2004 11:09 pm

Frodo, I tend to agree with you on your selection of what a guy might call drinkable Canadian whiskeys. Gibson's 18 actually having an identifiable flavour. Tangle Ridge is almost over-mellow, with shades of whatever wine caske it is finished in being almost the only note of interest in the palate. Generally, canadian whiskeys, like Canadian Club (which is rough and thin) are mixed with coke or ginger ale, and make for good highballs. Crown Royal, Canadian Club Reserve, Gibsons... all drinkable, but very light and often one-note tunes. There are a few other products on the market - Century Reserve has some pretty interesting flavours, which as I understand, is due to the stuff basically being treated like Scotch after distillation.

Most Canadian Whiskeys are aged only 3 years, and the actual contents of the bottle is generally not posted. :(


To get back to the original idea on this thread, the Bourbon vs Scotch thing... I like both, and generally drink more bourbon in the winter, walking the dogs in the snow. Scotch goes all year round, and there's always an expression that goes down fine on any given evening.

I think people that experience scotch and like it before liking other whiskeys have a tough time going to lighter/sweeter/spicy/whateveryoucallthatfunnyflavourinIrish styles. Conversely, it's easy for a guy reared on rye and coke to get to scotch through Irish, and blends, and then get into the single malts. Malt whiskey has it's own rewards, obviously, and it's a matter of personal taste as to which other whiskeys one finds rewarding.

I don't particularly enjoy Irish, but I do like American and Canadian whiskeys. I'd like to get some of the Nikka or Suntory in me too, but can't find it.
SasquatchMan
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 168
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:10 pm

Postby Frodo » Sun Sep 26, 2004 4:25 pm

Good point on matching the whisky with the weather!! For me, bourbon always feels like winter whisky whereas Irish is more summer. Scotch always depends - expressions can always be found to suit the weather. And Canadian, well if I had a car...

Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby Laphroaig » Mon Sep 27, 2004 7:11 pm

This topic will always beg for a bar-fight imho. For the discussion of whisk[e]y, this is right up there with -"Which chicks are the best" (fill in the imaginary ethnic backgrounds of your choice).

There is a certain amount of spite felt for each regional production even with-in the individual regions themselves. Take for example how many bourbon fans think Jack is or isn't just that. . . "JACK"? Many Islay fans that I know think of most Lowlands as lack lustered. Or look at the contrast between single malt fans and their overwhelming love for "Grains". :shock:

I won't even drag Ireland, Japan, or Canada into the debate. My rant would go on for weeks as to why we should enjoy what we like and drop the additional jabs.

Anyone who thinks Scotch is much more superior to bourbon, surely rejects all those brands that specifically mention thier single malts grew up in a bourbon cask (right?). Anyone who thinks American whiskey is unanimously superior, or that Scotch whisky is not worthy of enjoyment, surely hasn't tried the entire spectrum of Scotch out there. For if they have I can only shake my head in wonder as to how someone could torture theirselves to continue to drink something they felt they didn't like HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS of drinks ago. From an enthusiast's point of view, that to me would be going at least one step beyond the term alcoholic!

02¢ (unless of couse someone has change for a buck!)
Laphroaig
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:01 am
Location: SF CA USA

Postby bamber » Tue Sep 28, 2004 8:54 am

Good to hear from you Laphroaig !!

Tried some Stagg 2003 last night !! All whisky is a subset of GTS - its that complex (I admit I'm still a bit overwelmed !) Also got some Weller 19YO (that you suggested) in the cupboard, another fantastic whisky.

Its all good !! - except Canadian of course ;)
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby Laphroaig » Wed Sep 29, 2004 4:58 pm

Stagg 2004 is just out... Dipped down to 129º and is said to be more like the original release which (imho) was thee Supreme Being of bourbon.
Laphroaig
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:01 am
Location: SF CA USA

Postby Lawrence » Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:31 pm

I just came across this thread so I'm a bit behind, are quite a few Canadian whiskies on the market and more and more are coiming on the market all the time. One of those that stand out is called "Lot no. 40" "single copper pot still Canadian Whiskey" and is a very flavourful rye whisky bottled at 43%, made with malted rye. It is produced by Corby Distillers. I quite like it and it has a great nose with loads of rye.

There are a number are a number of other Canadian whiskies that have come on the market over the last few years ranging from 10 to 25 years old. I have not tried them all, but I'm working on it.

However the whisky that is world class and beats a lot of Scottish malts is the "flavouring whiskey" made by Alberta Distilers Ltd. At 8 years old it has more flavour and nose than most whiskies on the market, period. The strange thing is they use all of it for for Tangle Ridge (only a small percentage of the make up) and they do not bottle an ounce as a single. It is really a crying shame. I've been trying to convince the distillery to bottle it but no luck so far. I have suggested it to the SMWS as their first canadian whisky, we'll see what happens.
Lawrence
Matured cask
 
Posts: 5019
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 1:01 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Postby justin » Thu Sep 30, 2004 1:45 am

i bought a small batch bourbon sampler pack tonite. basil haydens, bakers, bookers, and knob creek. never had any of them, so it should be interesting. i'm doing my best to branch out and give the bourbons a shot. we'll see how it goes. . .

justin
justin
New member
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 6:04 am
Location: texas, u.s.

Postby justin » Thu Sep 30, 2004 3:33 am

decided to have the basil hayden's tonite. very good stuff! a very good balance of sweetness, fruitiness, and spicyness. i'll add a bottle of this to my collection very soon.

and so my journey into bourbon begins. . . . :lol:

justin
justin
New member
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 6:04 am
Location: texas, u.s.

Postby Admiral » Thu Sep 30, 2004 4:19 am

Justin,

I've bought that Jim Beam small batch bourbon four-pack a few times.

In my humble opinion, I think the Basil Hayden's is the weakest of the four, so I think you'll REALLY enjoy the other three. Let us know what you think.....maybe even rank the four the order?

My ranking is:

1. Bookers
2. Knob Creek
3. Bakers
4. Basil Hayden

Cheers,
Admiral
Admiral
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2003 2:01 am
Location: Australia

Postby bamber » Thu Sep 30, 2004 8:38 am

Laphroaig wrote:Stagg 2004 is just out... Dipped down to 129º and is said to be more like the original release which (imho) was thee Supreme Being of bourbon.


Believe you me I'm trying to get my hands on some.
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby justin » Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:55 am

having the baker's tonite. . . and once again i'm very impressed! :D i may have to start drinking bourbon a little more often since it is a little easier on the pocket book. . . though not much for these small batch fellas.

justin
justin
New member
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 6:04 am
Location: texas, u.s.

Postby bond » Fri Oct 01, 2004 6:07 am

Have not had much of bourbon but for the odd Jack Daniels and Jim Beam (White and Black Label) . Am trying to lay my hands on some of the more recommended brands, most of which are unavailable here.

Where does Jack Daniels figure in the bourbon pecking order? I do see any mention of it on the favourites list.

For the uninitiated, (like self), Jack Daniels is THE face of bourbon; romanticised in part by Hollywood and a series of popular fiction writers .

Is it popular only within the U.S.??? Or is it something like Fosters beer which is the face of australian beer outside Australia (thanks to, you guessed it, marketing) and is not really hot within the country?

Or is it considered "entry level" bourbon?

Cheers
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby bamber » Fri Oct 01, 2004 7:59 am

Actually JD is not bourbon. It is made in Tennessee and uses a process of 'Charocal filetering", where the whisky is passed through sugar-maple charcoal. This is considered an additive and Bourbon is not allowed additives.

This process is what gives JD sweet distinctive flavour. Not suprisingly its nice now and then but one can quickly tire of it.

Personally I really dislike JB white label - It is actually my least favourite whisky ! but it is a Bourbon.

Most American whisky drinkers are dismissive of JD but like you say it is an American institution. They also consider it overpriced.

You obviously love your whisky bond - you need to try some decent bourbon !!
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Postby bond » Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:09 pm

Shall do so soon. A friend is visiting the U.S. later this month and I shall ensure I fill up his permissible import quota
bond
Gold Member
 
Posts: 513
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 1:29 pm
Location: New Delhi, India

Postby Frodo » Sat Oct 02, 2004 8:27 am

Tried Basil Hayden 8yr last night. Really disapointing :( . Not "punchy" enough, and few herbacious notes. Perhaps I just had some from a poor bottle? Not worth the price... :( :( :? .

Frodo
Frodo
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2472
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:22 pm
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Postby brian12069 » Sat Oct 02, 2004 12:56 pm

I'm not too fond of Basil Hayden either.
brian12069
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 104
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 2:37 am
Location: Upstate NY USA

Postby Laphroaig » Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:34 pm

bamber wrote:
Laphroaig wrote:Stagg 2004 is just out...


Believe you me I'm trying to get my hands on some.


It's in stores in KY. Behind the counter and must be asked for (I'm told)!
I hear many stores are limiting purchases to ONE or TWO bottles per household.
Laphroaig
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:01 am
Location: SF CA USA

Stagg 2004

Postby bamber » Tue Oct 05, 2004 8:08 am

I have been given first refusal on a bottle here (UK) but they want £150.

Don't get me wrong I actually think its worth that, but I've still got 2/3 of a bottle of the 2003 and it irritates me they put so much of a mark up on it.

Still hoping another source will get me a bottle for a better price but otherwise I will leave it. As good as GTS is its not the be all and end all of whisky.
User avatar
bamber
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:57 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

Next

Return to Whisky Tastings

Whisky gift and present finder