What's my next all-purpose whiskey/bourbon?
- blkery Mar 16, 2011 09:56 PM
I'm finally getting into whiskey and bourbon after a lifetime of gin dedication. I was pretty impressed with the versatility and price point of Bulleit. Are there any others I should take a look at?
Elijah Craig 12 yr old, all around excellent at a slightly lower price point.
Buffalo trace is a nice sipper but maybe not flavorful enough to mix well.
Weller Antique 107 is a little harsh for sipping neat but has a lot of flavor for mixing.
Maybe try some George Dickel No 12 Tennessee whiskey, made Jack Daniels taste like water in a side-by-side taste test I did recently.
If you're looking for something low price, decent tasting (it's a touch on the sweet side), and that you won't mind mixing, I say go with a bottle of Ancient Age.
You can pick up a 1.75 liter bottle for around $16. I always keep a bottle on hand specifically for mixed drinks.
George Dickle and Rebel Yell are also pretty good bourbons...
I was trying to suggest Bourbons at a similar price point and quality level to Bulleit, with which you seem to be satisfied, which is around $20-25 here in NC (depending on sales).
There are plenty of acceptable Bourbons at a much lower price point but IMO a substantial step down in quality. I assumed when you said "all-purpose" and versatility you wanted something you could sip as well as mix.
Also Ancient Ancient Age is only a couple $ more and a little better, and 90 proof vs 80 for Ancient Age.
Just a head's up for anyone looking for Ancient Ancient Age...
The regular Ancient Age is 3 years old, and there are two versions of Ancient Ancient Age.
There is Ancient Ancient Age 10 STAR, which is 6 years old.
There is also Ancient Ancient Age 10 YEAR, which is (not suprisingly) 10 years old.
The latter 2 look exactly alike, but the 10 Year is not often found outside of Kentucky. Both are good all purpose bourbons, but if you spy the 10 YEAR, grab it!
I got a bottle of Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year in Kentucky a couple of years ago and it was a good value because it is so cheap there (I think it was around 15 bucks). But it really helped me understand what people mean when they talk of "finish" versus "nose" and "taste". The Ancient Ancient Age smells and tastes almost identical to Buffalo Trace (no big surprise since it is the same distillery and mash bill) but the Ancient Ancient Age finish vanishes quickly while that of BT lingers. I guess the tasting panels really know their stuff.
In the Bulleit price range, i.e. $25, I'd recommend Buffalo Trace's standard bottling, or , even the Eagle Rare 10yr old if you can find it on sale. I will say that Bulleit is pretty versatile because of its high rye content, and can be used as a substitution for rye whiskey in cocktails in a pinch. However, in my opinion, the Buffalo Trace bourbons taste a bit more like bourbon.
Evan Williams Single Barrel is another great bourbon in that same price range. It's a bit more floral/citrus-y and delicate than the Bulleit, but very good nonetheless.
I also like Knob Creek, but it's a bit higher in alcohol than Bulleit.
I've also heard great things about Jim Beam Black, which should be a bit less than the Bulleit.
Funny that you mention Eagle Rare and Evan Williams SB because they are both on sale this month for $25 in NC and I have never had either one. I was so torn between them that I didn't buy either LOL (though I have a feeling I will be back before month's end .)
Knob Creek was also in the mix though it is a little pricier at $30 on sale (reg $34).
I did buy a bottle of Beam Black (also on sale this month, can only resist so long) to revisit it because I was unimpressed when I had it last year, and I wanted to try it again now that I have some more experience with Bourbon. Though there is nothing bad about it, there is also nothing all that distinctive about it. It's a solid, decent but not all that interesting Bourbon.
At the same price point as Elijah Craig 12 yr old, I would always choose the latter. In a blind comparison I found the Craig spicier, oakier, just generally more flavorful - but just as smooth.
But we're discussing trying Bourbons he hasn't had before, not a good idea to shell out $50+ and be stuck with a huge amount of one you don't love.
Once you find something you know you like a lot, sure go big. Elijah Craig 12 yo is $43 in NC for a 1.75 which is actually about the same price as the 750 on sale, while Knob Creek 1.75 is $70 - also about the same as $30 for a 750. Of course we are state-run and I know privatized states seem to have much better prices on larger bottles.