pressure=9Pa wrote:My bar consists of 52 different American Whiskies (~45 of which are bourbon), and a few odds and ends of some gin, vodka, scotch, irish, and rum.
expound on this please
give me your knowledge
Well, my higher shelf offerings are Pappy Van Winkle 23 year and Pappy Van Winkle 20 year. I enjoy having these around, but I really only pull them out when bourbon-loving comapny is over. Wild Turkey Tradition and Wild Turkey American Spirit are my two other bottles that I consider high shelf at ~$100 each, and those two are my two favorite releases ever.
Most of my collection are bottles that range from $30 - $60, usually proofed between 90 - 105 (min to be called bourbon is 80, much like gin, vodka, or rum), and most with a rye mashbill instead of wheat. Bourbon by defiinition is at least 51% corn. Rye can be added for a spicy, peppery flavor. Wheaters are another category of bourbon which are much milder. Wheat is almost tasteless, so people who like wheated bourbons are actually tasting more of the corn - wheat whiskey is a completely different flavor. Speaking in vague generalities, rye-heavy bourbons don't need as long to age. A decent bottle of ryed bourbon can only be in the barrel for 5-6 years and be very drinkable. Wheaters however, need longer to mature. Makers Mark is the low end of wheated bourbons, and most of those age 6-8 years.
Speaking specifically to Makers, it is designed and advertised to be completely non-offensive on anyone's pallet. If you're not a whiskey drinkers, this is one to get you hooked. If you are a whiskey drinker, you're likely to find Makers smooth, drinkable, but boring.
For a $40 - $50 bottle, my two reccomendations are Blanton's and Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit. The kicker with Kentucky Spirit is that it needs to be a bottle with either a pewter or dark wood top. The light wood tops are pretty good, but not nearly to the standard of the other versions. Which leads me into my next point.
To be bourbon, the whiskey need only make contact with a virgin white oak barrel. To be straight bourbon, it must age at least two years. To not require an age statement on the bottle, it must age at least four years. If a bottle doesn't have an age statement, you know it is at least four years old. However two identical bottles on the shelf next to each other may have aged different lengths of time. It is useful to think of bourbon as a agricultural product rather than a manufactured product. IE, you can't make it exactly the same twice. Bourbons are bottled when they're ready. Even bottles with age statements are only required to report the youngest age. Eg one barrel is aged 6 years, but after 6 years the other still doesn't taste right. It is ready after 7 years, but poured into the same container to load the bottle. The bottle will still say 6 years, because that is the youngest of the components. Wild Turkey has as a corporate practice not used age statements on most of their releases. Over time, they substitute younger (and thus less favored) product into the same label. This is perfectly legal, since they are not declaring the age. They just have to use bourbons that are at least 4 years old.
To appease the bourbon nerds/snobs/connosuers, WT makes a subtle label or packaging change every timme they fundementally alter the formula. In the case of Kentucky Spirit, the changed the color of the cork.
Thus ends today's bourbon lesson. I could probably right a 12 page word document tonight from memory, but I'll save everyone the boredom.