There are a lot of unsupportable opinions in the earlier thread about Bourbon and Rye Whiskey. Several years back, the American Whiskey industry thought that they should have a piece of the Single Malt Scotch market and invented small batch, or single barrel Bourbons. Most of them taste excessively oaky and sweet...kind of like a caricature of a California Chardonnay. (Despite my opinion I'd have liked to have been involved in that focus group). There are exceptions, where a distiller took the opportunity to make something extraordinary (like the Maker's Mark Gold Label or Old Rip van Winkle) but basically this is marketing. Some of the most characterful (not the smoothest) Bourbons are also the cheapest. Someone mentioned Evan Williams...bravo! The Bourbon I drink is bottled in bond (ie. 100 proof), $7.50 a 750ml bottle and jam-packed with flavor...subtlety and complexity, yes...finesse, no. How do folks feel about this? Are you getting steered towards the thirty dollar stuff because you're scared of the ten dollar stuff?
I buy the $30 Basil-Hayden b/c I like its rye flavor and I definitely like it more than the decidedly charcoal filtered Evan Williams. Of course I can just grab a bottle passing through tax-free NH on the way to go snowboarding and it's in the mid 20's in price.
I have to agree about the hype about signle barrel bourbons etc. Definitely marketing driven. Why charge $10 bucks for a bottle of booze if you sweeten it up a bit, give it a little barrel flavor, and you can charge $30. Most of these did not exist a few years ago.
Even Maker's is now owned by one of the biggies. The whole "small batch" bunch I believe is owned by Jim Beam.
I actually like the plan old regular Jim Beam just fine with a few cubes of ice.
George Dickel is also an excellent Tennessee whiskey.
Not speaking from the perspective of a bourbon afficianado, I personally find most bourbon too swwet for my taste. Having a preference for scotch, I find the only bourbon I can reaaly enjoy is Wild Turkey, because it's the only one that doesn't leave that lingering sweetness in my mouth. After dinner, with a good cup of coffee, a Rare Breed, with a little ice, or just straight, is real contentment. Cheers.
Two of my three sons-in-law drink a particular brand of bourbon which has gotten more and more expensive.
One time I bought a bottle of Evan Williams and poured it into the empty bottle of their favorite brand. They noticed no difference and didn't know of the substitution until months later when one of my daughters finally told them.
Sure saved me some bucks - although I do get teased about it quite a bit. D.
Great to read about various bourbon preferences. I drank quite a bit in my younger days, especially Evan Williams and George Dickel. I prefer scotch nowdays, in moderation, but never really pondered why until reading this thread. I do recall a drink I invented in college, though. A "Dead Hillbilly," made with one part Rebel Yell bourbon and two-three parts Mountain Dew. I believe that drink is why I no longer care for the stuff.