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Advice for a Bourbon novice.

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Advice for a Bourbon novice.

Postby Squire » Mon Oct 25, 2004 12:43 am

Some opinions please bourbon connoisseurs.

I would like to buy a bottle of some good bourbon as there are limited options available for tasting in our bars here in Sydney.
Which do folk think is the better bet?

I can get Elijah Craig 12yo for $38AUD (about $28US) which seems like a bargain to me??

I just saw Evan Williams single barrell for $45 ($33US) which, again, is slightly cheaper than I expected.

Bookers goes for about $75AUD (about $55US) and the rest of the Small Batch range for slightly less.

Woodford Reserve is about $65AUD ($48US).

Unfortunately there aren't that many more options here due to the majority of cretins downing Jim Beam like it's cordial and considering regular Wild Turkey to be a luxury product. :wink:

Of course, taste is a subjective thing but what is people's advice on the best value dram for something of a beginner in the world of REAL bourbon?

Cheers, Squire.
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Postby SasquatchMan » Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:46 am

Squire, bourbon is a bit like Scotch - every one is different.

I really think Elijah Craig is pretty good value. It's smooth for it's proof, and tastes spicy and woody.

Even Williams SB came as a surprise to a friend and myself - we cracked a bottle to celebrate finishing a big job, and we were both surprised (as scotch drinkers, I guess I should add) at how sweet it was. Course, half a bottle was gone in no time.

Haven't had woodford or Bookers, simply because I kinda decided I like Scotch more the bourbon, so the $$ go to Highland Park or something like that...

My favorite bourbon, especially for the price, is Maker's Mark. Not a stereotypical bourbon, using wheat rather than rye, but it has a nice flavour balanced by a certain spiciness that I find irresistable. Others here are not so fond of it, but I know Frodo will second this opinion.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Oct 25, 2004 4:11 am

Squire,

I'd recommend the Elijah Craig 12yo anyday:

a) Until very recently, it was unlike any other bourbon available in Australia. If you've grown up on a diet of JB and Wild Turkey (I love your comment - many here do seem to think it's a luxury bourbon), then the complexity and character of EJ12 will be quite a revelation to you.

b) At AUS$38, it's a bloody bargain!

The Woodfords Reserve is a great whisk(e)y, but at nearly double the price, I wouldn't say it was twice as good as EJ12.

Cheers,
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Postby bamber » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:01 pm

EC 12YO is a great whisky and would without question be my recommendation, given the price and the other choices.

But .... not everyone likes it, whereas most people do like the WR.

If you don't like JB, I would avoid the Booker's. Although Booker's is far superior, their common origins are apparent in their taste (IMHO).
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Postby Frodo » Mon Oct 25, 2004 2:38 pm

Hey there Squire:

My take on your choices are that all the products you listed are good pours... (I notice Scotch drinkers say drams, Bourbon fans say pours). A couple of observations on the choices you've listed.

At the price, The Woodford Reserve is a RIPOFF :evil: :evil:. It's good whisky, don't get me wrong, but I was used to it being in the same price range as Elijah Craig. EC seems really well priced as does the EW single barrel.

The EW is a lighter Bourbon that might not appeal to you, but this would be my choice even taking into account the differance in price. If you want something a little more substantial, the EC would be a better bet. As a side note, the EW is vintage dated and differant years are reputed to have differant flavours. I'm not enough of a fan to be able to recite the differances between a '92 and a '95 EW as I've only ever had one bottle (but what a bottle :D ).

Bookers seems to be priced right, realizing that it's 114 (?) or something proof. You can always water it down if it's too strong (I know, I know, heresy right Bamber :P ?).

In conclusion then, EW or EC seem like the best buys to me. If you tried one and want something darker, heavier, and more intense, try the Bookers and just add some water if you can't deal with the taste immediately.

Regards
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Postby clayton jr » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:02 pm

Squire -

I'll chip in here and say that Elijah Craig is one of my least favorite bourbons. I bought (and finished) a bottle, giving it chance after chance, sharing with friends, etc., but it just never hooked me. Others find it to be the best value on the shelf. I've also had the 18-year-old recently, and found it similar to the 12. Good, but just not all that interesting.

Simultaneously, I was surprised to discover that I quite like the Evan Williams Single Barrel (I've had only the 1994 vintage). This is surprising because they share the exact same mashbill and distillery (Heaven Hill). The EWSB is very gingery to me, and has a certain blend of herbal notes that is unusual.

Your price for Booker's isn't much different than what I pay here (US$50). I dearly enjoy the Booker's, and it's like getting an extra half bottle for the price if you're adding water. Less than that if you add only a tiny bit of water (as I do). Booker's is big and brawny, rich and take-no-prisoners. Delicious.

The price on the Woodford Reserve is pretty high. I pay US$30 for it here in Seattle. I like the WR considerably better than the EC12, personally. If you get a higher batch number, they are using more and more pot-still source, which means the whiskey is getting more and more character as the product evolves. I find it quite appealing. Lots of cinnamon and rather floral. Not sure I'd pay US$48, but when options are limited the story changes.

I'd buy the EWSB and/or the Booker's, if I were you.
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Postby Squire » Tue Oct 26, 2004 1:02 am

Cool. 8)
Thanks for the input, guys. Seems to pretty much sum up how I was thinking. Think I'll grab the Elijah Craig at that price while I can.
They do sell Bookers at a few bars so I will try before I buy.
Then I'll add Evan Williams to my shopping list. (or maybe my Christmas wish list!! :lol: )

Cheers. Squire.
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Postby justin » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:04 am

just recently got into bourbons myself. i liked the knob creek enough to buy a larger bottle. give it a try.
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Postby Squire » Thu Oct 28, 2004 12:49 am

Just a quick update...
Bought the Elijah Craig and had my first pour two nights ago.
:D What a great Whiskey!! :D

Renewed my faith in bourbon. It's not just a crappy drink for 17 year olds to get slaughtered on after all!! :wink:

So rich and smooth and just... utterly delicious.
Shame is, it made the Jamesons I had last night taste like cat's piss by comparison.

Don't worry, I'll rediscover my love for the Irish stuff...
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 28, 2004 4:02 am

Squire said,

Don't worry, I'll rediscover my love for the Irish stuff...



Why? 8) :D :twisted:

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Postby Squire » Thu Oct 28, 2004 4:38 am

I still think Jamesons is a good, light quaffing whiskey for not much dosh.
It still has a place in my sentimental old heart...
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Postby bamber » Thu Oct 28, 2004 8:57 am

Squire wrote:Just a quick update...
Bought the Elijah Craig and had my first pour two nights ago.
:D What a great Whiskey!! :D

Renewed my faith in bourbon. It's not just a crappy drink for 17 year olds to get slaughtered on after all!! :wink:

So rich and smooth and just... utterly delicious.
(snip)


Glad you liked it - now the fun begins because its pretty tricky getting Bourbon in Oz !

I guess the wonderful weather, fantastic food and stunning scenery might be some compensation though :)
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:29 pm

Squire,

As you're obviously aware, Bamber is pretty much spot on about good bourbon being hard to find.

However, for a small outlay of around $25-$30, you can buy a 4-bottle tasting pack of the Jim Beam small-batch bourbons. This has a 50ml miniature of Bookers, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, and Baker.

If nothing else, it adds a bit variety on the barren bourbon front.

Ring around first, but some of the Vintage Cellars store have them 4-pack, and I've seen it at Dan Murphy's too.

Cheers,
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Postby richard » Fri Oct 29, 2004 6:41 pm

as well as the elijah craig i would try woodford reserve a cracker of a bourbon
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Postby SasquatchMan » Sat Oct 30, 2004 2:09 am

Ahah! Another bourbon man is uncovered. You're right, Squire, EC makes Jameson taste like cat piss. I had a jameson the other night and couldn't believe the initial sour smack. Bluck.
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Postby Frodo » Sun Oct 31, 2004 5:36 am

Sir Sasquach:

I sympathise with your assessment of Jameson if you are talking about the house blend. I'm not sure if you've tried the 12 or 18yr old versions. I'm not sure you WANT to try them, but they are as differant from the basic version as Bookers is from Jim Beam white label. If Irish whisky is not your thing, fair enough. But be sure that there are Irish brands that have a lot more effort put into them than the basic Jameson.

I would draw a comparison with Crown Royal. The basic version is innofensive enough to not turn anyone off, but doesn't have much going for it other than this (my opinion). But to downplay Crown Royal doesn't take into account the Special Reserve level which is a differant animal, and one of only four Canadian whiskies I've ever liked.

Regards
Frodo
Last edited by Frodo on Sun Dec 19, 2004 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SasquatchMan » Sun Oct 31, 2004 6:27 pm

Frodo, it turns out Irish isn't really my thing. The Irish I've liked are the aged Bushmills malt offerings. But Redbreast didn't do much for me, and even Black Bush I think I'd pass up for a rye and coke. C'est la vie.
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Postby bamber » Mon Nov 01, 2004 3:13 pm

SasquatchMan wrote:Ahah! Another bourbon man is uncovered. You're right, Squire, EC makes Jameson taste like cat piss. I had a jameson the other night and couldn't believe the initial sour smack. Bluck.


I know what you mean - but that initial sour smack grows on you ! I really love it now. Just picked up a bottle of Jameson Gold at the airport but am going to save it until Xmas to go with my Ardbeg 1977.
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Re: Advice for a Bourbon novice.

Postby orjan » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:14 pm

I am planning a Bourbon tasting and I wonder if I should suggest that we add a few drops of water as you do with Singel Malts. Does anyone have any ideas? /Orjan
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Re: Advice for a Bourbon novice.

Postby sku » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:06 pm

Same issues as with adding water to Scotch. Some people like it and think it enhances tasting, some don't. The higher the abv, the more likely people will enjoy a bit of water.
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Re: Advice for a Bourbon novice.

Postby mikeymad » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:25 pm

Welcome to the forum orjan,

I would say that you can suggest it. Nose it, and have a sample, before adding any water. Use the bottle cap as a guide to add in a bit of water, then nose and sample again.

It may or may not improve any single beverage, but most of the time it will change the characteristics that you notice.

Let us know how it goes.

Cheers,
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