What's new

Bourbon Recommendations

Bourbon Or Scotch?

  • Bourbon

  • Scotch

Results are only viewable after voting.
Learn something new every day. I had a read up on burbon production on the wikipedia. One interesting point is that burbon should be no greater than 125 proof, bookers is 126 proof, fine line there.
I guess I missed your mention of Turkey - sorry.

As pointed out, Bourbon can be made anywhere. It is one of America's alcohol myths that Bourbon is named for Bourbon KY, it is not. Way back when, before the modern Bourbon (place) was really there, all these whiskies were shipped via an older Bourbon in bbls so marked, so they became known as Bourbon whiskey (as in New Orleans Jazz).

I THINK Bourbon can be distilled a bit higher than 125 proof. I don't have the number at hand, but I always thought it was 145. I have some Geo T Stagg Bourbon that is bottled at 142.

The reasoning behind this is that as you distill it to higher proofs, a lot of the essential characteristics go away (and you eventually wind up with a neutral spirit - used to make Vodka). It is in everypone's best interest to distill it high enough to make what you want (something that will age properly, etc.), but not so high as to loose it's essential whiskey-ness.

This business can be a little tricky. According to the BATF regulation (27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i)), straight whiskey cannot be distilled at more than 160 proof. It is "stored at not more than 125 [degrees] proof." The kicker here is that bourbon, when stored, typically loses water through evaporation faster than alcohol. Thus, a whiskey stored at 125 proof or less can gain alcoholic strength during aging. This means that the BATF regulation must refer to the proof at the time the whiskey is placed into barrels, not during the entire storage period.

mdakin said:
I've been lurking for a while now; it's time to post.

If you want to spend a lot, I like A.H. Hirsch Reserve. If you want to spend a moderate amount I'd say Woodford Reserve. And if you want to spend less, Jim Beam.

I like smooth Bourborns and all of the above are smooth to my palate. Knob Creek, Bookers and Makers Mark all are a bit more harsh to my palate. (But I'll still drink them!) :biggrin:

welcome aboard....

be careful with the bourbon and the shaving....together....:001_tt1:

look at what happened to randy !!!! :w00t:

mark the shoeshine boy
Scotch: Glendronach, and Bowmore (I prefer the 12yr, it may be rough but the flavor is incredible). I'm not a blended fan, but I do keep some Walker black label around for any of my friends that like mixed drinks with scotch.

Bourbon: Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark.

And just to ever so slightly derail this thread, some more liquors of choice:

Rum: Arehucas (Canary Islands)
Tequila: El Jimador
I also have a bottle of Horinca, a bottle of Charanda, and some other misc staples (Drambuie, Jaeger, etc).
I've got a dozen different bottles of bourbon open right now, and my favorite seems to change daily. But here are four worth looking at.

W.L. Weller 12-year-old

For an everyday drinkin' whiskey, you can't go wrong with the 12-year Weller, especially if you like "wheated" bourbons such as Maker's Mark. This bourbon actually has the same mash bill (grain recipe) as MM, but it is aged in oak for about twice as long, and it still costs less. For an "under $20" bottle, it is an incredibly smooth bourbon, suitable for drinking straight or mixing. All of the Weller products, made by Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, are good. This one and the Weller Antique (107 proof) are my favorites.

Elmer T. Lee

Another fine product from Buffalo Trace. Elmer T. Lee (the man) is a master distiller emeritus, and he reportedly still shows up at the distillery and will give visitors a personal tour. With more than five decades of distilling experience, this man surely knows his bourbon. The distillery says Mr. Lee personally selects the barrels that are bottled under his name. Elmer T. Lee (the bourbon) is a very "nosey" whiskey, with vanilla, fruit and floral aromas mixed with leather and spice. The taste is sweet without being cloying. It is surprisingly smooth, almost buttery, on the tongue and pleasantly warm going down. Sip this one straight.


Of the Jim Beam Small Batch Bourbon Collection, this is the best of the bunch. It more than makes up for the politeness (read: blandness) of Basil Hayden's and the rough edges of Knob Creek. It's named for Booker Noe, the master distiller at Jim Beam, who died at age 74 in 2004. Bottled at cask strength (about 126 proof), a whiff of this whiskey will make your eyes water. It should be cut with a bit of spring water before drinking, unless you have something to prove. The taste is big, bold and spicy, with a sharp hit on the palate and a long, pleasant, lingering finish. It will also warm your insides right quick. It's priced a bit high, but bourbon lovers will want to give it a try. Good for serious drinking and late-night soul-searching. This one comes in a nice hand-numbered bottle, packed in a branded wooden crate. It wins for best packaging, too.

A.H. Hirsch 16-year-old
$70-100, if you can find it

This bourbon was distilled in the spring of 1974, at Michter's distillery in Pennsylvania, which, at the time, was the oldest distillery in the United States. It was, in fact, older than the United States. First known as Bomberger's distillery, its history goes back to the mid-18th century.

Two other facts distinguish Michter's. First, it was the last surviving distillery from what was once a huge distilling industry in Pennsylvania. Second, Michter's was, at the time, the last commercial distillery to use traditional alambic still (or pot still), as opposed to a modern columnar still.

In 1989, the distillery went bankrupt and stopped operations. The owners eventually abandoned the distillery, and vandals ransacked the warehouses, which were still full of booze. Efforts at historic preservation faltered. The distillery fell into ruin and was condemned in the 1990s.

But back in 1989, a bottler named A.H. Hirsch bought up Michter's entire stock of 15-year-old whiskey. The following year, most of the barrels were dumped into huge stainless steel holding tanks, to halt the aging process at 16 years, and transferred to a bourbon warehouse in Kentucky. A small number of barrels were kept for additional aging, and some of it was bottled at 20 years. (That stuff is long gone.)

The 16-year-old underwent several bottlings, the final one in 2003. It received phenomenal reviews, and was the only bourbon to win the Spirit Journal's 5-star rating. A company called Preiss Imports bought up all of the existing inventory in 2004. As far as I know, all of it has been distributed, and available stock is limited to what is on store shelves.

I bought a case of it at $50 a bottle earlier this year as an investment, plus a bottle just to drink. It's an unbelievably smooth, great-tasting whiskey. But a big part of its appeal is its history. With each sip, you're aware that you're drinking something that can never be made again.

NOTE: The Michter's trademark has apparently been revived. Whiskey currently marketed under that name is not from the historic distillery. Also, A.H. Hirsch has done other bottlings, including a pricey 21-year-old rye whiskey. It also does not have the same provenance as the 16-year-old bourbon.

Bomberger's history: http://web.tampabay.rr.com/ybfowler/legacy.htm
Andre said:
As pointed out, Bourbon can be made anywhere. It is one of America's alcohol myths that Bourbon is named for Bourbon KY, it is not. Way back when, before the modern Bourbon (place) was really there, all these whiskies were shipped via an older Bourbon in bbls so marked, so they became known as Bourbon whiskey (as in New Orleans Jazz).

Yes, bourbon can legally be made anywhere. But nearly all of it comes from Kentucky. And, frankly, I'd be a bit suspicious of bourbon from New Jersey. (No offense intended to our friends in the Garden State!)

However, I'm puzzled by your assertion that it is a "myth" that bourbon is named for Bourbon County, Ky. Do you have any sources for this assertion? I think perhaps you are, as grandma used to say, "just talking out of your ***." I cannot find any mention of "bourbon whiskey" prior to 1791, or of another place called Bourbon that existed in the United States prior to 1786.

The "modern" Bourbon County was formed in 1786 and was named after the French royal house, in keeping with the francophilia of the American Revolutionary period. (There's a Paris, Ky., in Bourbon County and a Versailles, Ky., down the road in Woodford. I live in Fayette, which is a corruption of Lafayette.) The central Kentucky region, then party of Virginia, was known as "Old Bourbon."

Distillers flocked to Kentucky from Pennsylvania during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 and set up shop. Although whiskey was most likely never made inside the Bourbon County limits, it was shipped in barrels marked "Old Bourbon," designating the region of origin.

Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of this story is that today Bourbon County is completely dry. The distinctly American spirit that bears its name cannot be made or even sold there.
It's not my theory. It was one of a whiskey writer whose work I read once (it was an excellent history of Bourbon). I don't have the book in front of me, I'm too lazy to get up, and I don't care enough to argue! In any case, that's the deal.

Oh, I wasn't trying to fight you... Just defending the honor of my adopted home state as bourbon's rightful birthplace. :wink: All in fun. (Mock indignation doesn't always translate well to text-only media. I beg your pardon if I gave offense. And, btw, I love your Leslie Nielsen avatar.)

We may, in fact, be saying essentially the same thing: The area known as Bourbon County prior to 1789 encompassed 34 modern Kentucky counties, including what is now Bourbon County. The area continued to be known as "Old Bourbon" after the county shrunk to its present size. The current (smaller) Bourbon County is not where Bourbon was made. But the whiskey was named for a place called Bourbon in Kentucky (which was a territory of Virginia at the time).

A good history: Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey by Charles K. Cowdery.

I've been following this thread and was disappointed that no one mentioned my personal favorite every day whiskey: George Dickel #12.

IMHO a far superior product than JD, and a lot cheaper as well.

Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve are my special occasion bottles.
I just did an inventory of my cabinet today and the following bourbons are currently in residence:
  • Woodford Reserve
  • Knob Creek
  • Jim Beam Black
  • Eligah Craig
  • Wild Turkey Rare Breed
  • Wild Turkey 101
  • Old Forester 100 proof

I find them all quite drinkable and enjoyable. The WT Rare Breed is a bit hot, but sometimes that's in order.

I finished off a bottle of the Bulleit a few months ago and found it a bit too sweet, so I haven't rushed out to replace it.

Bourbon: Maker's Mark, Old Crow

Scotch: haven't had enough on the high end, Chivas is about as far as I've gone with the pricey stuff. Low end I enjoy Johnny Walker and Teacher's.
I have one bottle of excellent scotch and several bottles of excellent bourbon.

Scotch: The Balvenie 15-year old single barrel

Bourbons: Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, Rock Hill Farms, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, plus many others not quite in this lofty category

Cognacs: Remy Martin XO, Courvossier VSOP

I realize I have not added to this.

The top of the chart would be Blantons Single Barrell

Elijah Craig is pretty good stuff too

Kentucky Spirit is good but to me it runs too hot as well.

Makers is too harsh.

Blanton's is just smooth and shockingly enough makes a mean mint julep.
Look I just want to say I love all of you guys so much right now.

Honestly, this is the only time people have named alcohol preferences on mass, and I didn't feel like driving my head through a wall.

All of your choices, bespeak knowledge of the history and quality of the drinks mentioned. Even the man who said JD, acknowledged that in the world of whisky (I don't know why you insist that's a spelling mistake :lol:), its akin to "roughing it". (No need to worry, Jim Murray claims the same in one his book on the subject).

I also like how you all tip your hats to Maker's Mark. it's the polar opposite of Laphroaig (aged at least 10 years), while Maker's is only two. Yet you guys appreciate a young whiskey (fine, have it your way, bloody yanks lols and irish), that tastes of fudge. Incidently, that unique palate inculcated by Maker's (in this case fudge), is also why I like Glenfiddich (it's pear taste is not found anywhere else, in similar abundance).
I of course, like the Islay's because they are mostly not unique, just variations on the same beautiful smokey theme. (I mean, there are differences, but that's not why I choose them), the reason I choose Maker's is because it stands out from everything (even its own crowd).

Yeah this is getting kind of long. Better end it now. But I just wish to reiterate, I love you guys, so very very much.
Top Bottom