Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bourbon Tasting

I love whiskey. Really I am not that discerning - I love Scotch, Canadian, Blended, even Irish whiskeys (whiskys?). I have a special place in my heart for Bourbon, however. Maybe it's the corn. There is just something about the caramel, nutty sweetness that appeals to me.

Manhattans have been my go-to cocktail for sometime. For the last couple of years though, I've been exploring Bourbon on its own. Our neighbor Mark gave us some nice Eagle Rare 10-year old Bourbon a couple years back. He may be to blame. Enjoying three fingers of Bourbon, neat (no ice, no water) is something I have come to appreciate.

It is funny when we go out for a nice dinner. I order a Manhattan or a Bourbon neat and Gavin orders a Cosmopolitan. On a few occasions, the person that brings out our drinks makes the assumption that the whiskey is for the gentleman and the (fruity girl-drink) cosmo is for the lady. Ahem, thanks. Then we switch glasses.

Well, my friend Jens loves whiskey too. We have been talking for some time about doing a Bourbon tasting. So we called up some of our fellow Bourbon lovers and set up a tasting Friday night.

The only criteria that we put out was that it had to be Bourbon from Kentucky. All in all, we tasted 1792, Basil Hayden, Blantons, Bookers, Jim Beam, Rebel Yell, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and Woodford Reserve.

As you can imagine, a Bourbon tasting gets a little out of hand as the night goes on. I did manage to make a few observations and scribble some notes though.

The Bookers & Wild Turkey Rare Breed are both high octane (100-125 proof). They definitely needed some ice and water helped too. Their flavor was big, but the high alcohol kind of blasted my taste buds.

Jim Beam & Rebel Yell are moderately prices ($15-18 a fifth) and fine for sipping, but probably better for mixing.

My favorites (in this order) were the following:
Basil Hayden: nice toasted vanilla flavor, nutty with some hints licorice
Blantons: smooth
1792: a little smoky, pretty zingy and a nice chocolate/caramel finish.
Woodford Reserve: rich

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