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11 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

Just a note on this after trying it this evening....I hope it gets better. Lol. 

It's not bad....just not quite what I was expecting. It reminds me a lot of Canadian whiskey, which isn't a bad thing, but it's definitely not bourbon. One of the things I don't like about Canadian whiskey is that it's TOO smooth. There's no edge. While I'm not a fan of the heat that a high proof bourbon brings, I do enjoy flavor. While this has flavor, it's definitely tempered. I'm hoping that after it opens up a few days that I'll enjoy it more. 

This is the problem I often have with trying to find an alternative whiskey to bourbon to drink when I want to mix things up a little. While I’ve enjoyed Irish whisky in the past, the vast majority available to me here in NC seems to be offered at 80 proof. Like you, I don’t always want/need something to be 110 proof or higher, but I never really drink anything below 90 proof. That’s because, like you said, it just seems to be lacking depth, flavor, etc. & seems weak & too easy to drink… and thus sorta boring.

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1 hour ago, k-train said:

This is the problem I often have with trying to find an alternative whiskey to bourbon to drink when I want to mix things up a little. While I’ve enjoyed Irish whisky in the past, the vast majority available to me here in NC seems to be offered at 80 proof. Like you, I don’t always want/need something to be 110 proof or higher, but I never really drink anything below 90 proof. That’s because, like you said, it just seems to be lacking depth, flavor, etc. & seems weak & too easy to drink… and thus sorta boring.

Yup. I think I’m just going to stay in my lane from now on. There’s waaaay too many bourbons out there that need to sampled. 
 

I did pick up a bottle of Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve at the same time I bought the Redbreast. It was a bit ethanol forward at first (even after letting it open up for about 15 minutes), but I still enjoyed it. I definitely get the similarities to Old Forester 1910 in its flavor profile. Banana was most prevalent to me….at least last night. I’m hoping as it opens up a bit more that the others come through. Definitely a good alternative to OF 1910 & 1920, especially considering I paid $30 for the bottle. 

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17 minutes ago, Goober Pyle said:

Yup. I think I’m just going to stay in my lane from now on. There’s waaaay too many bourbons out there that need to sampled. 
 

I did pick up a bottle of Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve at the same time I bought the Redbreast. It was a bit ethanol forward at first (even after letting it open up for about 15 minutes), but I still enjoyed it. I definitely get the similarities to Old Forester 1910 in its flavor profile. Banana was most prevalent to me….at least last night. I’m hoping as it opens up a bit more that the others come through. Definitely a good alternative to OF 1910 & 1920, especially considering I paid $30 for the bottle. 

Glad you got to try the CCBR, since I’m not sure if it’s available in all 50 states yet. It’s definitely not quite as well put together as the OF1910, but it gets you in that ballpark on a half price ticket… which is hard to argue against. I personally don’t pick up a ton of banana in Brown-Forman products other than the Jack Daniels line, and kind of enjoy what that adds to the JDSiBBP, but tons of people get banana in a lot of their other products as well… especially many Old Forester expressions. So it’s not too surprising you’d be getting that in the CCBR.

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On 3/21/2021 at 10:59 AM, k-train said:

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength -vs- Maker’s Mark 101

ced4b71372830758.jpg

When Maker’s 101 first rolled out in 2020, I was very curious to know how it compared to Maker’s Cask Strength. I finally got around to doing a side-by-side blind tasting of these two great Maker’s expressions. I tasted glass A, took notes, then moved on to glass B. I then took & break to reset my palate, and then continued tasting in reverse order, B then A. I did some brief back & forth comparisons before coming to my conclusion.

Glass A
Nose: Light & airy with aromas of caramel, birthday cake with vanilla frosting & sweetened cherry, and a hint of oak. While ethanol can be found, it’s very much in check.

Palate: Rich sweetness up front with a good amount of honey & cinnamon spice. Mouthfeel is a light medium which is right on the cusp of being thin.

Finish: Medium-long with the cinnamon spice hanging on for longer than expected. Caramel sweetness accompanies the spice the whole way.

Overall: There isn’t much going on here beside the sweet notes & the cinnamon spice, but what’s here is very nice. This is extremely easy to drink & very delicious right from the start, even if it’s not particularly interesting.

Glass B
Nose: Much darker then glass A. Burnt brown sugar, custard, a touch of vanilla & lemon, and a fair amount of oak. There is more ethanol present here than on glass A, but it’s still not out of hand.

Palate: Very rich & on the verge of being decedent. A burst of caramel, toffee, and vanilla. The same cinnamon spice is also found on this one, but amped up a notch compared to glass A. Medium, almost syrupy mouthfeel.

Finish: Long finish, but not as sweet as glass A, and slightly drier. The spice on the finish is more black pepper than cinnamon, and there are some cola notes going on. A bit of bitterness comes through toward the end, likely from the oak tannins.

Overall: This has a nice complexity, and while it takes longer to develop, it seems to get better and better each time I go back to this glass. Very nice once it all comes together.

Winner: Glass B

Reveal
Glass A: Maker’s Mark 101
Glass B: Maker’s Mark Cask Strength Batch 20-03

Final thoughts: About halfway through, I felt like I had a good feel for which was which… even though that wasn’t the intention… and I was correct. On their own, these were both extremely enjoyable. Once I got past the first part of the tasting (where I was spending time with each glass & taking tasting notes), I moved on to directly comparing the two with each other. At that point it quickly became very clear that the Cask Strength was just bringing a bit more to the party. The 101 was **** good, and very, very, very easy to drink, but there wasn’t enough oak or overall balance/complexity. The thinnish mouthfeel of the 101 was kind of a let down by comparison to the Cask Strength as well, and the awesome cinnamon spiciness was amped up just a touch more on the Cask Strength. While the Cask Strength won this tasting, you really can’t go wrong with either, especially if you’re able to get either for around $40.

Sorry to quote a post from March, but I recently bought a bottle of MM101 - my first. I've gone through my 20-03 bottle of MMCS and found a bottle of MMCS 19-02 about a month ago. My very unexperienced take on these bourbons would echo @k-train's in that the MM101 is VERY drinkable, but does not have the depth or complexity of flavors as the MMCS. I will say NOTHING is wrong with the MM101 as it's d@mn good in its own right. I'm not sure if there's been a price hike or if GA is just higher on certain bourbons, but I've seen the price on the MM101 in $50-$60 range. I paid $55 for the bottle I found while (as best I recall), the MMCS was right at $50. 

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On 7/14/2021 at 3:01 PM, Goober Pyle said:

Sorry to quote a post from March, but I recently bought a bottle of MM101 - my first. I've gone through my 20-03 bottle of MMCS and found a bottle of MMCS 19-02 about a month ago. My very unexperienced take on these bourbons would echo @k-train's in that the MM101 is VERY drinkable, but does not have the depth or complexity of flavors as the MMCS. I will say NOTHING is wrong with the MM101 as it's d@mn good in its own right. I'm not sure if there's been a price hike or if GA is just higher on certain bourbons, but I've seen the price on the MM101 in $50-$60 range. I paid $55 for the bottle I found while (as best I recall), the MMCS was right at $50. 

For years, MM101 was only available at the distillery or in duty-free stores in airports. When they decided to roll it out with national distribution, it was initially presented as a limited release. To my knowledge though, MM never actually specified what they meant by that. It's been steadily showing up here in NC with no let up at all from the start.. so that doesn't really seem to be limited at all. Perhaps they were unsure how well it would be received at first, so they listed it as a limited release, but have since decided to make it a part of their regular rotation? At any rate, it's possible that the pricing you are seeing (which does seem on the high end for that release) is reflecting the 'limited release' notion. Here in NC, it's always available & priced at $42.

I just killed my bottle of MM101, and while it didn't quite hold up in a side by side comparison to the MMCS expressions I've had, it was pretty dang nice in its own right. I'm sure I'll pick up another one at some point.

As for the MMCS, $50 is what they are normally priced at here in NC, but I usually hold out until the few moths per year when they drop the price to $40 (which will happen again for the month of September).

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47 minutes ago, k-train said:

For years, MM101 was only available at the distillery or in duty-free stores in airports. When they decided to roll it out with national distribution, it was initially presented as a limited release. To my knowledge though, MM never actually specified what they meant by that. It's been steadily showing up here in NC with no let up at all from the start.. so that doesn't really seem to be limited at all. Perhaps they were unsure how well it would be received at first, so they listed it as a limited release, but have since decided to make it a part of their regular rotation? At any rate, it's possible that the pricing you are seeing (which does seem on the high end for that release) is reflecting the 'limited release' notion. Here in NC, it's always available & priced at $42.

I just killed my bottle of MM101, and while it didn't quite hold up in a side by side comparison to the MMCS expressions I've had, it was pretty dang nice in its own right. I'm sure I'll pick up another one at some point.

As for the MMCS, $50 is what they are normally priced at here in NC, but I usually hold out until the few moths per year when they drop the price to $40 (which will happen again for the month of September).

Great info as always! Thanks bud!!

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Bulleit Single Barrel (NC Private Selection)
Parent Company/Distillery: Diageo/Sourced (likely Four Roses)
Barrel #: 2-E1-0096
Proof: 104 (52% ABV)
Age: 9 years
Price: $59.95

ME23GWL_o.jpg

The neck tag that accompanied this bottle did not include the barrel number, so I sent the lot code printed on the bottle to Bulleit & asked for some specs on this particular bottle. They sent a reply which included the barrel number, along with the following information:

“The E in the code represents the lower-rye variant of our mashbills with 21% Rye, 75% Corn, and 4% Malted Barley.


The 1 immediately following the E notes our Yeast #1 from a 5-yeast library which our master blenders identify as contributing at Leather, Banana, Fruit flavor to the distillate.

This barrel was aged approximately 9 years in a new oak barrel charred to a Level 4.”


The age, mash bill, and my personal tasting notes have me thinking this is quite possibly from when Bulleit was sourcing from Four Roses.

Nose: Vanilla & caramel are accompanied by orange zest/candied orange slices, cinnamon sugar graham cracker, and a tiny bit of cocoa & Luxardo cherry. There is a slight scent of a vanilla glazed sweet, bready dessert pastry… like what you’d more often find on a bourbon with a wheated mashbill. Dense, dusty oak, leather, and tobacco provide a nice counter to the sweet & fruity notes. A small dash of baking spice joins the cinnamon from the graham cracker note to add yet another dimension. Ethanol isn’t too much of an issue here. Overall, really nice balance & complexity.

Palate: Almost immediately, I’m met with both sweet & spicy goodness. It starts like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, before exploding into a very vibrant, but manageable array of spices: cinnamon, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and a hint of rye spice as well. Very tasty right from the start, with caramel & vanilla mingling with a more prominent cherry note than what was found on the nose. Additionally, orange & dark chocolate arrive to help add some vibrance & richness. A healthy dose of oak is present, along with some noticeable barrel influence. This has a slightly silky/slightly creamy, medium mouthfeel. Adding a drop or two of water takes a bit of the edge off of the spicier notes, and brings out an almost buttery aspect. Overall, it’s not incredibly complicated, but still somewhat unique/interesting & fun to drink.

Finish: Semi-dry finish where cinnamon, pepper & rye spice lead the way, providing a nice level of heat which lingers long on the tongue. Richness from the caramel & chocolate notes is present, and balanced nicely by slightly bitter oak tannins. The oak found here is plentiful without ever becoming overbearing; not at all dissimilar to what I get from Knob Creek 12Y. It suggests a decent amount of age, while also adding a bit of sophistication & complexity to the overall profile. The finish on this expression has a pleasant warming sensation, and seems like it would be an absolutely awesome sipper on a cold winter evening.

Overall: Let me start by saying that I have not historically found anything from Bulleit to be to my liking. This however is another story altogether.

I saw these show up briefly here in NC ABC stores several months ago, but due to my preconceived notions on the brand, I passed. Soon after, I came across a few reviews by folks I trust which spoke quite favorably of these single barrel selections. Unfortunately, these were long gone by the time I became willing to take a chance.

So, when they recently showed up at a local store, I didn’t want to miss out again & so I picked up a bottle. I’m really glad I did, and while I still have plenty of reservations about Bulleit’s other expressions, this particular offering has me thoroughly impressed. There are things here which remind me a good bit of both the standard Four Roses Single Barrel & Knob Creek 12. I don’t think either of those are out of this world, but they are both rock solid, easy drinking bourbons that I truly enjoy… and so is this.

Score: 7.5/10

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1 hour ago, k-train said:

Bulleit Single Barrel (NC Private Selection)
Parent Company/Distillery: Diageo/Sourced (likely Four Roses)
Barrel #: 2-E1-0096
Proof: 104 (52% ABV)
Age: 9 years
Price: $59.95

ME23GWL_o.jpg

The neck tag that accompanied this bottle did not include the barrel number, so I sent the lot code printed on the bottle to Bulleit & asked for some specs on this particular bottle. They sent a reply which included the barrel number, along with the following information:

“The E in the code represents the lower-rye variant of our mashbills with 21% Rye, 75% Corn, and 4% Malted Barley.


The 1 immediately following the E notes our Yeast #1 from a 5-yeast library which our master blenders identify as contributing at Leather, Banana, Fruit flavor to the distillate.

This barrel was aged approximately 9 years in a new oak barrel charred to a Level 4.”


The age, mash bill, and my personal tasting notes have me thinking this is quite possibly from when Bulleit was sourcing from Four Roses.

Nose: Vanilla & caramel are accompanied by orange zest/candied orange slices, cinnamon sugar graham cracker, and a tiny bit of cocoa & Luxardo cherry. There is a slight scent of a vanilla glazed sweet, bready dessert pastry… like what you’d more often find on a bourbon with a wheated mashbill. Dense, dusty oak, leather, and tobacco provide a nice counter to the sweet & fruity notes. A small dash of baking spice joins the cinnamon from the graham cracker note to add yet another dimension. Ethanol isn’t too much of an issue here. Overall, really nice balance & complexity.

Palate: Almost immediately, I’m met with both sweet & spicy goodness. It starts like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, before exploding into a very vibrant, but manageable array of spices: cinnamon, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and a hint of rye spice as well. Very tasty right from the start, with caramel & vanilla mingling with a more prominent cherry note than what was found on the nose. Additionally, orange & dark chocolate arrive to help add some vibrance & richness. A healthy dose of oak is present, along with some noticeable barrel influence. This has a slightly silky/slightly creamy, medium mouthfeel. Adding a drop or two of water takes a bit of the edge off of the spicier notes, and brings out an almost buttery aspect. Overall, it’s not incredibly complicated, but still somewhat unique/interesting & fun to drink.

Finish: Semi-dry finish where cinnamon, pepper & rye spice lead the way, providing a nice level of heat which lingers long on the tongue. Richness from the caramel & chocolate notes is present, and balanced nicely by slightly bitter oak tannins. The oak found here is plentiful without ever becoming overbearing; not at all dissimilar to what I get from Knob Creek 12Y. It suggests a decent amount of age, while also adding a bit of sophistication & complexity to the overall profile. The finish on this expression has a pleasant warming sensation, and seems like it would be an absolutely awesome sipper on a cold winter evening.

Overall: Let me start by saying that I have not historically found anything from Bulleit to be to my liking. This however is another story altogether.

I saw these show up briefly here in NC ABC stores several months ago, but due to my preconceived notions on the brand, I passed. Soon after, I came across a few reviews by folks I trust which spoke quite favorably of these single barrel selections. Unfortunately, these were long gone by the time I became willing to take a chance.

So, when they recently showed up at a local store, I didn’t want to miss out again & so I picked up a bottle. I’m really glad I did, and while I still have plenty of reservations about Bulleit’s other expressions, this particular offering has me thoroughly impressed. There are things here which remind me a good bit of both the standard Four Roses Single Barrel & Knob Creek 12. I don’t think either of those are out of this world, but they are both rock solid, easy drinking bourbons that I truly enjoy… and so is this.

Score: 7.5/10

I have very little experience with Bulleit bourbons and it was at the beginning of my bourbon journey. A friend had both the Bulleit Bourbon and the Bulleit 10 Year. As I recall, we mixed the regular with Cokes and later had the 10 Year straight with a couple of ice cubes. This was my first sipping without mixing it with anything. He later poured a little of the regular Bulleit in a tumbler with some ice so I could see the difference between the two. Although I can’t remember the flavors, I do remember that the 10 Year was much better than the regular and I could see why we had been mixing that bottle. Lol. Sorry for the tangent, but that’s my Bulleit story. 

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Just now, Goober Pyle said:

I have very little experience with Bulleit bourbons and it was at the beginning of my bourbon journey. A friend had both the Bulleit Bourbon and the Bulleit 10 Year. As I recall, we mixed the regular with Cokes and later had the 10 Year straight with a couple of ice cubes. This was my first sipping without mixing it with anything. He later poured a little of the regular Bulleit in a tumbler with some ice so I could see the difference between the two. Although I can’t remember the flavors, I do remember that the 10 Year was much better than the regular and I could see why we had been mixing that bottle. Lol. Sorry for the tangent, but that’s my Bulleit story. 

To add to that story, when I went to a liquor store a few days after that tasting I decided to check the price on the 10 Year. I was absolutely shocked to see that it cost $50! Lol. This was obviously before I got into the bourbon world. At the time I couldn’t imagine spending that much on a bottle of bourbon. Oh how far I’ve fallen….

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Maker’s Mark Cask Strength - Batch 21-02
Parent Company/Distillery: Beam Suntory/Maker’s Mark
Batch: 21-02
Proof: 110.4 (55.2% ABV)
Age: NAS (rumored to be around 6 years)
Price: $49.95 regularly (this bottle purchased on sale for $39.95)

ME25EIT_o.jpg

Nose: Yeasty with a heavy dose of fermenting fruit funk. Very dense with a nutty quality… like raw walnuts or Brazil nuts. There are slight touches of vanilla & caramel taffy trying to creep in as well. Upon further inspection, a bit of over-ripe melon comes through; think cantaloupe or honeydew. I’ve found a touch of cigar tobacco & leather here as well. This definitely has a unique nose, but I can’t say it’s particularly appealing to me, personally.

Palate: There’s a bit of buttery caramel up front with a small splash of honey, cherry, sugary simple syrup, and maybe a bit of vanilla custard, but the sweeter notes found here are somewhat subdued & you gotta search to find them. This leans heavier than expected on darker notes of oak, leather, and tobacco, and honestly reminds me a lot of the FAE-01 (which is a profile I like, but don’t love). Overall, this lacks complexity, and that combined with the fact the mouthfeel clocks in at medium at best on a good day (and kinda thin otherwise), really doesn’t do this expression any favors.

Finish: Medium finish that chokes out just before reaching a noteworthy length. A bright blast of white pepper joins those darker notes of oak, tobacco, and leather. Bitter oak tannins begin to emerge, but thankfully never get out of hand. Those funky, yeasty notes from the nose linger as well, but thankfully not enough to be too much of an issue… just unfortunately hanging there in the background. A touch of sweetness mingles with cinnamon to add a bit of welcomed complexity. This leaves a slightly sweet aftertaste, which is probably the best thing this particular expression has going for it thus far.

Overall: Of the Maker’s Mark Cask Strength expressions I’ve tried thus far, this is easily my least favorite. I wasn’t completely sold on 20-03 at first, but with time it got much, much better. I was really hoping that this would follow a similar path, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case at all. Instead, this has been a pretty consistent disappointment for me. I know plenty of others seem to be quite fond of this batch, but there just not anything I’ve personally found too appealing about this one. It’s just not particularly interesting or enjoyable to me. It’s not the worst thing ever, but just not anywhere close to the bar the other MMCS releases have set for me.

Score: 6/10

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On 7/19/2021 at 4:31 AM, k-train said:

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength - Batch 21-02
Parent Company/Distillery: Beam Suntory/Maker’s Mark
Batch: 21-02
Proof: 110.4 (55.2% ABV)
Age: NAS (rumored to be around 6 years)
Price: $49.95 regularly (this bottle purchased on sale for $39.95)

ME25EIT_o.jpg

Nose: Yeasty with a heavy dose of fermenting fruit funk. Very dense with a nutty quality… like raw walnuts or Brazil nuts. There are slight touches of vanilla & caramel taffy trying to creep in as well. Upon further inspection, a bit of over-ripe melon comes through; think cantaloupe or honeydew. I’ve found a touch of cigar tobacco & leather here as well. This definitely has a unique nose, but I can’t say it’s particularly appealing to me, personally.

Palate: There’s a bit of buttery caramel up front with a small splash of honey, cherry, sugary simple syrup, and maybe a bit of vanilla custard, but the sweeter notes found here are somewhat subdued & you gotta search to find them. This leans heavier than expected on darker notes of oak, leather, and tobacco, and honestly reminds me a lot of the FAE-01 (which is a profile I like, but don’t love). Overall, this lacks complexity, and that combined with the fact the mouthfeel clocks in at medium at best on a good day (and kinda thin otherwise), really doesn’t do this expression any favors.

Finish: Medium finish that chokes out just before reaching a noteworthy length. A bright blast of white pepper joins those darker notes of oak, tobacco, and leather. Bitter oak tannins begin to emerge, but thankfully never get out of hand. Those funky, yeasty notes from the nose linger as well, but thankfully not enough to be too much of an issue… just unfortunately hanging there in the background. A touch of sweetness mingles with cinnamon to add a bit of welcomed complexity. This leaves a slightly sweet aftertaste, which is probably the best thing this particular expression has going for it thus far.

Overall: Of the Maker’s Mark Cask Strength expressions I’ve tried thus far, this is easily my least favorite. I wasn’t completely sold on 20-03 at first, but with time it got much, much better. I was really hoping that this would follow a similar path, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case at all. Instead, this has been a pretty consistent disappointment for me. I know plenty of others seem to be quite fond of this batch, but there just not anything I’ve personally found too appealing about this one. It’s just not particularly interesting or enjoyable to me. It’s not the worst thing ever, but just not anywhere close to the bar the other MMCS releases have set for me.

Score: 6/10

Thanks @k-train for posting your impressions of this bourbon. I read your review and then saw a bottle at the store later and thought "Nope". If I can find a bottle of the 20-03, I'm going to pick it up. There's a store in a nearby town that I drop in if I'm working in the area. It's where I found my bottle of MMCS 19-02 - which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I'm hoping to score another bottle of 19-02. I have a buddy that recently started working for a local distributor and I'm hoping that he can help me find the "good stuff". :D

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6 hours ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

My new favorite whiskey. It’s a little spendy. But man is it smooth

image.png

My birthday brother, if it brings you happiness, then that's all that really matters.

However, if you're interested, you can do MUCH, MUCH better than Basil Hayden's, especially at that price point. It takes some determination to build tolerance to higher proofs & develop a palate to recognize different flavors, but the pay off is tremendous for those who put in the effort. 

Just for the record, good bourbon often has next to nothing with being "smooth". It's kind of like the idea of "soft rock"... when you make it soft, it no longer rocks. That's not to say good bourbons can't be easy-drinking, but what a lot of folks actually are picking up on when they say something is smooth is a lack of dynamics, bold flavors, heat, oak, and/or spice... basically it's smooth because it's lacking the very components which set the profile of bourbon apart from other spirits.

Quite often, the higher the proof, the more flavorful the bourbon. This Basil Hayden's is just 80 proof... which is the absolute lowest something can be & legally still be called bourbon. So, it's best to invest in better quality, slightly higher proof bourbons, because you can always add a drop or two of water to proof them down slightly as you acclimate. Rather than spending $50 or so in this 80 proof Basil Hayden's, drop $30-$40 on a bottle of Knob Creek 9Y & add a few drops of water as needed. Then slowly add less & less water, until you get acclimated to drinking it neat. Your palate will thank you.

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9 hours ago, k-train said:

My birthday brother, if it brings you happiness, then that's all that really matters.

However, if you're interested, you can do MUCH, MUCH better than Basil Hayden's, especially at that price point. It takes some determination to build tolerance to higher proofs & develop a palate to recognize different flavors, but the pay off is tremendous for those who put in the effort. 

Just for the record, good bourbon often has next to nothing with being "smooth". It's kind of like the idea of "soft rock"... when you make it soft, it no longer rocks. That's not to say good bourbons can't be easy-drinking, but what a lot of folks actually are picking up on when they say something is smooth is a lack of dynamics, bold flavors, heat, oak, and/or spice... basically it's smooth because it's lacking the very components which set the profile of bourbon apart from other spirits.

Quite often, the higher the proof, the more flavorful the bourbon. This Basil Hayden's is just 80 proof... which is the absolute lowest something can be & legally still be called bourbon. So, it's best to invest in better quality, slightly higher proof bourbons, because you can always add a drop or two of water to proof them down slightly as you acclimate. Rather than spending $50 or so in this 80 proof Basil Hayden's, drop $30-$40 on a bottle of Knob Creek 9Y & add a few drops of water as needed. Then slowly add less & less water, until you get acclimated to drinking it neat. Your palate will thank you.

Good advice. I’ve always been a beer drinker, tequila neat, or just vodka sodas depending on occasion. But I’ve gotten more into drinking neat whiskey. Not gonna lie. 100 proof sounds intense lol. But I didn’t think about adding a little water. Like 2-1 ratio whiskey to water?
So you’re recommending knob creek 9 year? Any other suggestions? You make a solid point on the Basil Hayden’s. I’m fairly new to whiskey. Price doesn’t really matter, as you can see I’m willing to drop 50 on BH. For me, i want the best quality for your buck. I don’t care about big brand names either. Patron Tequila and Grey Goose vodka are both wallet killers and sooooo overrated. 
 

I also went through a bottle of Woodford Reserve which I believe is 90 P. It was solid but I thought it was a little strong…but I didn’t add water lol.

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9 hours ago, k-train said:

My birthday brother, if it brings you happiness, then that's all that really matters.

However, if you're interested, you can do MUCH, MUCH better than Basil Hayden's, especially at that price point. It takes some determination to build tolerance to higher proofs & develop a palate to recognize different flavors, but the pay off is tremendous for those who put in the effort. 

Just for the record, good bourbon often has next to nothing with being "smooth". It's kind of like the idea of "soft rock"... when you make it soft, it no longer rocks. That's not to say good bourbons can't be easy-drinking, but what a lot of folks actually are picking up on when they say something is smooth is a lack of dynamics, bold flavors, heat, oak, and/or spice... basically it's smooth because it's lacking the very components which set the profile of bourbon apart from other spirits.

Quite often, the higher the proof, the more flavorful the bourbon. This Basil Hayden's is just 80 proof... which is the absolute lowest something can be & legally still be called bourbon. So, it's best to invest in better quality, slightly higher proof bourbons, because you can always add a drop or two of water to proof them down slightly as you acclimate. Rather than spending $50 or so in this 80 proof Basil Hayden's, drop $30-$40 on a bottle of Knob Creek 9Y & add a few drops of water as needed. Then slowly add less & less water, until you get acclimated to drinking it neat. Your palate will thank you.

 

13 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

Good advice. I’ve always been a beer drinker or vodka sodas. But I’ve gotten more into drinking neat whiskey. Not gonna lie. 100 proof sounds intense lol. But I didn’t think about adding a little water 

Hey @JD dirtybird21! Glad to see you with the "Bourbon Bros". :D

My man @k-train knows his stuff! When I first started drinking bourbon, my initial thought was to find smooth easily drinkable whiskey. But as I explored different brands and types of bourbon (mainly thanks to this thread), I realized that I didn't particularly like smooth - I was craving something something that I could detect the different flavors in and that had a little bite to it. 

I have some reflux issues, but still drink the 90-120 proof stuff....I just add some water to the higher proof ones. The flavors are still there, but the heat isn't as bad. Once you start trying the barrel proofs, the bottled-in-bond, and single barrels - then God help you and your wallet! But your mouth is gonna be so happy!

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3 hours ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

Good advice. I’ve always been a beer drinker, tequila neat, or just vodka sodas depending on occasion. But I’ve gotten more into drinking neat whiskey. Not gonna lie. 100 proof sounds intense lol. But I didn’t think about adding a little water. Like 2-1 ratio whiskey to water?
So you’re recommending knob creek 9 year? Any other suggestions? You make a solid point on the Basil Hayden’s. I’m fairly new to whiskey. Price doesn’t really matter, as you can see I’m willing to drop 50 on BH. For me, i want the best quality for your buck. I don’t care about big brand names either. Patron Tequila and Grey Goose vodka are both wallet killers and sooooo overrated. 
 

I also went through a bottle of Woodford Reserve which I believe is 90 P. It was solid but I thought it was a little strong…but I didn’t add water lol.

You wouldn't want to do a 2:1 ratio, because that will proof it down way too much. Literally just a few drops into a 2oz pour can make a surprisingly large impact. With a 2oz pour of something that is 100 proof, .5oz of H20 takes it down to 80 proof. If you take it down that far though, you'll be sacrificing flavor for easy of drinking... not a good idea. So if 100p seems a bit much for where you are right now, try adding just somewhere between .1oz-.2oz (so less than 1/4oz & closer to 1/8oz). That'll take it from 100p down to around 90p-95p, which will smooth out the edges a bit without nearly as much loss of flavor & complexity. I personally find a lot of drop off occurs once you start getting below 90 proof & especially below 86 proof. So my advice would be to pick up some things that are already in that 86p-90p range & start drinking them as-is. You'll become acclimated pretty quickly & then you can experiment with adding a bit of water to 100p+ bourbons to get them into that range.

Here is a handy calculator to help figure this all out: https://www.whiskyadvocate.com/proof-calculator/

I had mentioned Knob Creek 9Y, because it's in the same "small batch" family of Jim Beam expressions as Basil Hayden's (along with Baker's & Booker's). However, what might be a pretty cool experiment would be to grab a bottle of either Old Grand Dad Bonded (which happens to be one of my personal favorite everyday sipping value bourbons) or Old Grand Dad 114. These are both made using the exact same "high-rye" mashbill as Basil Hayden's, which is 63% corn, 27%, 10% malted barley. So proofing them down would get you a lot closer to what a higher proof, more flavorful version of Basil Hayden's could be like. The 100 proof OGD Bonded runs $20-$25, while the 114 proof OGD114 is usually right around $30.

As for some solid options in the 86-90 proof range:
Russell's Reserve 10Y
Eagle Rare 10Y
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon
Belle Meade

I'd avoid any single barrel expressions until you have developed your palate a bit. By nature, they offer less consistency from bottle to bottle, so that could be a bit of a hindrance early on when you are trying to figure out which flavor profiles work best for you.

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37 minutes ago, k-train said:

You wouldn't want to do a 2:1 ratio, because that will proof it down way too much. Literally just a few drops into a 2oz pour can make a surprisingly large impact. With a 2oz pour of something that is 100 proof, .5oz of H20 takes it down to 80 proof. If you take it down that far though, you'll be sacrificing flavor for easy of drinking... not a good idea. So if 100p seems a bit much for where you are right now, try adding just somewhere between .1oz-.2oz (so less than 1/4oz & closer to 1/8oz). That'll take it from 100p down to around 90p-95p, which will smooth out the edges a bit without nearly as much loss of flavor & complexity. I personally find a lot of drop off occurs once you start getting below 90 proof & especially below 86 proof. So my advice would be to pick up some things that are already in that 86p-90p range & start drinking them as-is. You'll become acclimated pretty quickly & then you can experiment with adding a bit of water to 100p+ bourbons to get them into that range.

Here is a handy calculator to help figure this all out: https://www.whiskyadvocate.com/proof-calculator/

I had mentioned Knob Creek 9Y, because it's in the same "small batch" family of Jim Beam expressions as Basil Hayden's (along with Baker's & Booker's). However, what might be a pretty cool experiment would be to grab a bottle of either Old Grand Dad Bonded (which happens to be one of my personal favorite everyday sipping value bourbons) or Old Grand Dad 114. These are both made using the exact same "high-rye" mashbill as Basil Hayden's, which is 63% corn, 27%, 10% malted barley. So proofing them down would get you a lot closer to what a higher proof, more flavorful version of Basil Hayden's could be like. The 100 proof OGD Bonded runs $20-$25, while the 114 proof OGD114 is usually right around $30.

As for some solid options in the 86-90 proof range:
Russell's Reserve 10Y
Eagle Rare 10Y
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon
Belle Meade

I'd avoid any single barrel expressions until you have developed your palate a bit. By nature, they offer less consistency from bottle to bottle, so that could be a bit of a hindrance early on when you are trying to figure out which flavor profiles work best for you.

This is great stuff man. Thank you. Will probably buy a bunch sample stuff 

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25 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

This is great stuff man. Thank you. Will probably buy a bunch sample stuff 

My pleasure. It can be a little confusing & intimidating at first to get your mind wrapped around all the differences & nuances, so if you have any questions, want advice/suggestions, etc. don't hesitate to ask. More than happy to help any way I can!

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1 hour ago, k-train said:

You wouldn't want to do a 2:1 ratio, because that will proof it down way too much. Literally just a few drops into a 2oz pour can make a surprisingly large impact. With a 2oz pour of something that is 100 proof, .5oz of H20 takes it down to 80 proof. If you take it down that far though, you'll be sacrificing flavor for easy of drinking... not a good idea. So if 100p seems a bit much for where you are right now, try adding just somewhere between .1oz-.2oz (so less than 1/4oz & closer to 1/8oz). That'll take it from 100p down to around 90p-95p, which will smooth out the edges a bit without nearly as much loss of flavor & complexity. I personally find a lot of drop off occurs once you start getting below 90 proof & especially below 86 proof. So my advice would be to pick up some things that are already in that 86p-90p range & start drinking them as-is. You'll become acclimated pretty quickly & then you can experiment with adding a bit of water to 100p+ bourbons to get them into that range.

Here is a handy calculator to help figure this all out: https://www.whiskyadvocate.com/proof-calculator/

I had mentioned Knob Creek 9Y, because it's in the same "small batch" family of Jim Beam expressions as Basil Hayden's (along with Baker's & Booker's). However, what might be a pretty cool experiment would be to grab a bottle of either Old Grand Dad Bonded (which happens to be one of my personal favorite everyday sipping value bourbons) or Old Grand Dad 114. These are both made using the exact same "high-rye" mashbill as Basil Hayden's, which is 63% corn, 27%, 10% malted barley. So proofing them down would get you a lot closer to what a higher proof, more flavorful version of Basil Hayden's could be like. The 100 proof OGD Bonded runs $20-$25, while the 114 proof OGD114 is usually right around $30.

As for some solid options in the 86-90 proof range:
Russell's Reserve 10Y
Eagle Rare 10Y
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon
Belle Meade

I'd avoid any single barrel expressions until you have developed your palate a bit. By nature, they offer less consistency from bottle to bottle, so that could be a bit of a hindrance early on when you are trying to figure out which flavor profiles work best for you.

I'm going to second the vote for the Russell's Reserve 10 Year. That's an absolute must try for a less than 100 proof bourbon. The Eagle Rare 10 Year is another must try, but it can be a little difficult to find in certain areas. I've not tried the other two. I'd also vote for Old Forester 1910 (93 proof), but it can be a little pricey. Good luck bud! 

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2 minutes ago, Goober Pyle said:

I'm going to second the vote for the Russell's Reserve 10 Year. That's an absolute must try for a less than 100 proof bourbon. The Eagle Rare 10 Year is another must try, but it can be a little difficult to find in certain areas. I've not tried the other two. I'd also vote for Old Forester 1910 (93 proof), but it can be a little pricey. Good luck bud! 

Yeah, IMO RR10 is just the perfect option as a starting point for folks looking to dive a little deeper. Good point about Eagle Rare scarcity. It's not as bad in some places as others, but I'm not sure that Netflix thing (which was basically two 40 minute long ads for Buffalo Trace) that's gotten some attention recently is going to help the cause.

The standard Old Elk Bourbon is possibly the perfect option for @JD dirtybird21's transition from Basil Hayden's to something with a bit more going on. It was created by Greg Metze (one of the legends of distilling) using a very unique mashbill with the intention of being an easy-drinking, higher end bourbon. As a matter of fact, in the review of it on breakingbourbon.com, they said:

"Old Elk Bourbon is carefully crafted and intended to be a smooth bourbon with mass appeal. The company succeeds in that goal. At $50 it is premium priced, and its 88 proof won’t necessarily excite more die-hard enthusiasts. But this is a premium bourbon intended for the masses. If there were a direct competitor the one that comes to mind is Basil Hayden’s - a premium easy-sipping bourbon with mass appeal. When comparing taste, Old Elk blows it out of the water. It’s far more satisfying, and my hunch is more carefully crafted. As someone who scrutinizes bourbons on a regular basis, I actually found myself enjoying this, and will recommend it without hesitation every time someone asks me for a “smooth” sipping bourbon."

The regular Belle Meade provides a good, standard set of aromas & flavors without too much heat, and a really good balance of sweet & spice. It's a nice alternative to the RR10 & ER.

I also had initially thought of placing OF1910 on that list... but was unsure given how that's such a unique flavor profile which might not be fully realized until after he's gotten pretty well acclimated to drinking things in that range neat & has his bearings in terms of general bourbon profiles. Definitely a fun one that isn't coming in at too terribly high of a proof, though.
 

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5 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

I'm going to second the vote for the Russell's Reserve 10 Year. That's an absolute must try for a less than 100 proof bourbon. The Eagle Rare 10 Year is another must try, but it can be a little difficult to find in certain areas. I've not tried the other two. I'd also vote for Old Forester 1910 (93 proof), but it can be a little pricey. Good luck bud! 

 

5 hours ago, k-train said:

Yeah, IMO RR10 is just the perfect option as a starting point for folks looking to dive a little deeper. Good point about Eagle Rare scarcity. It's not as bad in some places as others, but I'm not sure that Netflix thing (which was basically two 40 minute long ads for Buffalo Trace) that's gotten some attention recently is going to help the cause.

The standard Old Elk Bourbon is possibly the perfect option for @JD dirtybird21's transition from Basil Hayden's to something with a bit more going on. It was created by Greg Metze (one of the legends of distilling) using a very unique mashbill with the intention of being an easy-drinking, higher end bourbon. As a matter of fact, in the review of it on breakingbourbon.com, they said:

"Old Elk Bourbon is carefully crafted and intended to be a smooth bourbon with mass appeal. The company succeeds in that goal. At $50 it is premium priced, and its 88 proof won’t necessarily excite more die-hard enthusiasts. But this is a premium bourbon intended for the masses. If there were a direct competitor the one that comes to mind is Basil Hayden’s - a premium easy-sipping bourbon with mass appeal. When comparing taste, Old Elk blows it out of the water. It’s far more satisfying, and my hunch is more carefully crafted. As someone who scrutinizes bourbons on a regular basis, I actually found myself enjoying this, and will recommend it without hesitation every time someone asks me for a “smooth” sipping bourbon."

The regular Belle Meade provides a good, standard set of aromas & flavors without too much heat, and a really good balance of sweet & spice. It's a nice alternative to the RR10 & ER.

I also had initially thought of placing OF1910 on that list... but was unsure given how that's such a unique flavor profile which might not be fully realized until after he's gotten pretty well acclimated to drinking things in that range neat & has his bearings in terms of general bourbon profiles. Definitely a fun one that isn't coming in at too terribly high of a proof, though.
 

Gave this stuff a try. Very good 5BC9DE88-23B7-4D65-BCC9-6C96B7F43A13.jpeg

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2 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

 

Gave this stuff a try. Very good 5BC9DE88-23B7-4D65-BCC9-6C96B7F43A13.jpeg

Nice find!

A really good rule of thumb to follow, especially as the proof goes up, after you pour it into the glass, be sure to let it sit in the glass for about 15 minutes before you start nosing & tasting. That allows the ethanol time to evaporate a bit, which in turn helps the good flavors stand out a little better, making the overall drinking experience a lot better.

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3 minutes ago, k-train said:

Nice find!

A really good rule of thumb to follow, especially as the proof goes up, after you pour it into the glass, be sure to let it sit in the glass for about 15 minutes before you start nosing & tasting. That allows the ethanol time to evaporate a bit, which in turn helps the good flavors stand out a little better, making the overall drinking experience a lot better.

Bro I just poured 3 shots in the glass and downed it.

 

kidding 

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8 minutes ago, JD dirtybird21 said:

Bro I just poured 3 shots in the glass and downed it.

 

kidding 

A long, long time ago I was gifted a bottle of Booker's... which was one of the first available cask strength bourbons available. It was in the neighborhood of 130-135 proof. It was soooooooooooo delicious, but obviously you had no choice but to take it slow.

Anyhow, I had been telling my friend about it a bunch, making a point that it's not even remotely like anything he'd had before. He's the kind of guy who to this day cannot drink bourbon unless it's got a ton of coke in the glass & always wants to drink weird shooters like the Orange Whip. Knowing this about his drinking style, it was imperative that I nail home the idea to him that you absolutely cannot do a shot of Booker's or you may end up on your ***.

Like an hour later, we were picking something up from my house & I asked him if he wanted to try it. He said yes, so I poured him about an ounce in a small rocks glass. As I'm pouring myself one, I see in my peripheral that he's tossing his back like a shot. It was like time slowed down as I yelled "Noooooooooooooooooooo" and tried to stop his arm from taking the glass to his mouth...

... but it was too late.

He immediately spit it up & all over my kitchen floor, and then proceeded to spend the next several minutes coughing profusely & gasping for air as tears poured down his cheeks. I started to feel bad for him, but then I remembered how many times I had literally just told him to not do the very thing he just did. Plus, he wasted an ounce of Bookers.

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