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Jun 6, 2012 06:24 PM

I've got a 2-liter limit. Which bourbon(s) would YOU bring?

Headed to visit dear friends in Australia in a few weeks. Bourbon is available there, of course, in a limited way (only a handful of distillers) and it's quite expensive, but I'm from Kentucky, so it's unthinkable not to share the wealth.

What under-fifty-dollar bourbon would you bring to whisk(e)y-loving friends? I reckon two 750s plus a flask-size or two. Rye is fair game as well.

(Incidentally, tips on packing the glass bottles for a trans-Pacific journey are also appreciated.)

Much obliged!

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  1. I'm not a bourbon drinker but my husband's suggestion is Woodford Reserve and Makers's Mark

    3 Replies
    1. re: Njchicaa

      For rye, if you see them, Templeton or Willett.. Or Bulleit rye is easier to find. Bulleit bourbon is very rye-forward too.

      I've flown with bottles a few times. I suggest placing wrapping them in some clothes and placing that in a good plasitc bag (like a garbage bag. If they break, you'll still have to wash everything, but it won't be as big a disaster. Placed away from the corners of the suitcase, they are unlikely to break.

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      1. re: EvergreenDan

        They make super-sized Ziploc storage bags that might be worth using. They're strong, and transparent, and easy enough for TSA to reseal if they go through your bags by hand...

      2. Are you trying to surprise them? It would be easier to make a recommendation knowing the type of Bourbon they like.

        if they like Bourbons that are smooth and sweet, Maker's mark and Woodford Reserve mentioned above.

        If they prefer something a little more flavorful and spicy, then Old grand dad 114, Wild turkey Rare Breed or Elijah Craig would be a good choice,

        You couldn't go wrong with Sazerac 6 yr rye if you can find it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ncyankee101

          They've only really had Jim Beam and Makers, which are available there. One friend managed to get his hands on some Buffalo Trace which he really loved. They are whiskey and scotch drinkers but are dying to try some good bourbon -- price is prohibitive there, as a bottle of mid-range bourbon can run $80+!

          1. re: LauraGrace

            Since one of them liked Buffalo Trace (which I also really like), you might try another brand made by Buffalo Trace. Pappy Van Winkle that others have suggested is one such brand albeit it would be very hard to find. You might have better luck finding Blanton's, Eagle Rare 10 Year, or Rock Hill Farms all three of which should be in your price range.

            For packing (assuming you are taking 750 ml bottles), I'd just buy something made for packing wine. For example, there is a product called the "wine mummy" which is just essentially a zip locked bag made out of bubble wrap sized to fit a 750 ml bottle. They sell them for about $6 for 2, and they are reusable.

        2. woodford Reserve for the smooth & Knob Creek for the bite.

          1. I have been hearing a lot about Van Winkle but I believe it is pricey ( boutique brand) . We like Bookers or Woodford.

            13 Replies
            1. re: juli5122

              Booker's is a good idea because as a high-proof bourbon, you get a lot of flavor per unit volume. It is 63.4% ABV, which is still under the airline limit of 70% ABV. Knob Creek Single Barrel is 60%. (I have a bottle, but haven't tried it yet; I like regular Knob Creek (50%) both to sip and mix with.

              Van Winkle does make at least one expression that would be in the price range, but good luck finding it.

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              1. re: EvergreenDan

                I went with Woodford Reserve and Knob Creek as they are both in the $30.00 range and have different characteristics. Woodford is a little more refined and smooth & Knob Creek is a little more in your face with a bite.

                Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr. runs in the mid $60.00 range, Bookers 7yr old runs in the mid $40.00 range. Again there is a good contrast here and many would put it in the top shelf

                PAPPY VAN WINKLE 15 yr : is smooth and flavorful and one of the highest rated under $100.00. I believe it is around 107 proof. If you can find it and afford it you will be bringing one of America's best.

                BOOKERS: At around 126 proof, this is the real thing, uncut straight out of the barrel in your face bourbon. A little of goes a long way.

                1. re: Tom34

                  Full disclosure: Woodford was the first bourbon I ever tried and I hated it. Lo, these several years later? Still hate it. I'm a spicy gal, I guess, and I think Woodford tastes like drinking extremely smooth vanilla extract while gnawing on a barrel stave. :D

                  But this is part of my nervousness. If I bring my favorites, will people whose palates are accustomed to Scotch and Irish Whisk(e)y like it? I'm overthinking it, I know... ;)

                  1. re: LauraGrace

                    I like the Booker's suggestion. I remember trying to get on a plane in 2000 with a bottle of 151 rum. That didn't go well. They didn't mind the Booker's though.

                    Buffalo Trace is my house bourbon. Rittenhouse 100 for rye (I now have a stockpile b/c I pick up a bottle whenever I see it) or Bulleit if that isn't available.

                    Evan Williams Single Barrel is another consistently-great bourbon that's a real value. I have a bottle of Elijah Craig 12 that I haven't opened yet- keep hearing that it's a good value, too.

                    1. re: LauraGrace

                      I'm not a fan of really smooth Bourbons, I had a 375 of Woodford once and though I didn't hate it I don't plan to rebuy it, but a lot of people who like that style think it's great.

                      When you say they like "Scotch and Irish Whiskey", what type of Scotch are we talking? If you mean Talisker or Ardbeg/Islays (my favorites), then I would say spicy flavorful Bourbons would be fine. If they like Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet, or other mild Lowlands or Speysides, then you might want to go the smooth route.

                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        Oh golly, now you've stumped me. I do not enjoy, nor do I have the budget for, Scotch, so that whole world is a closed book to me. I do know that they have broad appreciation for a variety of whiskeys, enjoy trying new things, and have good palates (they're also beer, coffee, and tea aficionados).

                      2. re: LauraGrace

                        You can never be 100% certain but usually Scotch & Irish Whiskey drinkers will also drink Bourbon.

                        I find Irish whiskey & Canadian whiskey a little bland and boring. Same with the Lowlands and Speyside Scotches.

                        I like the strong Islay Scotchs (Laphroaig 10 & Ardbeg 10 ) and therefor I prefer a powerful spicy bourbon like Van Winkle & Bookers.

                        A couple posts up NCYANKEE101 gives a very good analogy of scotches vs bourbons that you may be able to use to feel your friends out.

                        Bottom line is that you never really know what somebody else likes. The more refined Pappy Van Winkle 15 & the powerful Bookers are both icons in bourbon circles that I would never be ashamed to give as gifts. Probably just over a $100.00 for both depending on your state.

                        1. re: Tom34

                          Tom - agree with you on the Irish and Canadians, though the Irish I've had were pleasant enough and easy to drink, just not interesting at all. Canadian Club tasted to me like whiskey-flavored vodka.

                          I have yet to try Redbreast (about which I have heard very good things) or Connemara peated (mixed reviews), both of which are supposed to be significantly more flavorful - have you had either?

                          A while back I had a chance to get a bottle of Bushmill 16 yr on a misprice for $31 but I waited too long, I would like to try a long-aged irish at some point but don't want to pay the high prices of $50-60 or more.

                          1. re: ncyankee101

                            No I have not had either. I am in NJ and here Redbreast averages in the mid $50's & Connemara is in the mid $60's. Too many great single malts & bourbons in that $ range.

                            Great internet prices from places like Mission Liquors in CA, about $4.00 p/bottle to ship (case rate). (case rate: Most places will let you mix the case with different stuff as long as its 12 bottles)

                            EX: More Wines CA - Laphroaig 10 $29.99 plus about $4.00 ship if you buy a case. In NJ it averages $45.00 plus tax..

                            Unfortunately NJ does not allow out of state liquor purchases to be shipped here.

                            1. re: Tom34

                              Tom - I somehow missed this when you replied.

                              I was actually looking over Morewines prices, they are all over the place, some amazingly low (Asombroso platino tequila $20, Ron Viejo de caldas 3 yr rum $8 and 8 yr $10) and a few ridiculously high (redbreast 12 yr $65). Most are at least good, many excellent - including many "out of stock" prices which were really low and I suspect were closeouts.

                              A better deal on Laphroaig if one doesn't want to order a case is Pacific online spirits, which has it for $33 with free shipping over $100. Of course the problems is 3 Laphroaigs leaves you $1 short, but you could get a bottle of Highland park 12 for the excellent price of $35 for the third bottle, or a bottle of "blair's original death sauce" for $7.50.

                              I realize this doesn't do you much good in NJ - though from what I have seen at Shopper's Vineyard and Bayway World of Liquor, there are some very good deals to be had there. Since you seem to have done some homework on out-of-state retailers, I assume you might have friends or family in other states who you visit on occasion (or vice-versa), and you have orders shipped to them.

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                I have friends in PA & DE I see often but those states don't allow alcohol shipped in either. Others I see require a flight which brings about other issues with large quantities. I have heard there is a strong lobbying effort to allow wine to be shipped to all states. Hope they are successful and it spreads to liquor as well.

                                I know some people find Laphroaig 10 offensive but I love it and $33.00 a bottle would be great. Having a case under the bar would be sweet.

                                Your right about those closeouts. Some of those prices on the Tequila's were steals. I don't drink it but like to keep a doz or more mid to high range bottles on the bar for guests to taste test. There are so many different brands of Tequila and I have found that friends who drink it really love to sample and compare the brands.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  Tom - for $30-35 there aren't many liquors I like better than Laphroaig 10, and definitely no Scotch. The quarter cask is one of my absolute favorites (along with Lagavulin 16 and Talisker 18) but hard to find under $50, over $60 here in NC (I'll be getting some in Florida next week.)

                                  I tried the Laphroaig triple wood in a bar a couple months back, my not side-by-side impression was that it is similar to the quarter cask but perhaps a little sweeter.

                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                    I have bought bottles of Laphroaig quarter cask several times but still like Laph 10 the best. I also like Ardbeg 10 for the smoke but the Laph 10 adds in that iodine flavor that puts it over the top for me.

                                    I have not seen Laph triple wood or Talisker 18 around here. I have had Lagavulin 16 ($70.00 here) and its very good but still keep coming back to the Laph 10.

                2. Old Weller Antique would be my first choice. It's a great bourbon, wheated like Maker's but made by Buffalo Trace, and my guess is they don't get much of it over there. It runs about $20.

                  Rittenhouse 100 Rye would be my next choice. A great rye, thought it can be hard to find.

                  You could easily get both of these for $50 with a few bucks to spare, and since you are in Kentucky, you may have enough to add a bottle of Very Old Barton 100 proof. Great stuff that goes for about $13, and it doesn't even make it out to California, not to mention Austraila.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: sku

                    I quite like the idea of getting a less-pricey but less-seen bottle as well as something a bit nicer. I absolutely love that Weller Antique -- one of my favorites! Lots to ponder.

                    1. re: sku

                      Excellent suggestions sku. I'll also add Ancient Ancient Age 10 star which is 6 yrs old and 90 proof by Buffalo Trace or the AAA 10 yr old which is 86 proof since you are in Kentucky. Also agree on the OWA over the MM. Higher proof and more flavor

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        I see AAA on the shelf at my local but I've never tried it -- I'll have to give 'er a taste sometime!

                        It's been ages since I had the Weller Antique and I need to break it out again. Higher proof might be just the ticket since it'll be midwinter in Tasmania! :)

                        1. re: LauraGrace

                          LauraGrace, while in Tasmania bring back a bottle of the Belgrove White Rye Whiskey. Peter Bignell, the owner, built the still, grows the rye, malts and mashes it, distills and bottles it, all himself, on his farm. Not available outside of a handful of shops in Tasmania and just a few in Australia. I was sent some of the prototype to taste and created a few simple cocktail recipes for him.

                        2. re: scubadoo97

                          Scubadoo - do you feel the AAA 10 yr is worth a premium of $22 vs $15 over the 10 star/6 yr? My friend was on the Bourbon trail today and texted me the price, I told him to go ahead and get me a bottle though it was more than I expected.

                          It seems prices are at a premium on the Bourbon trail, I would guess taxes are higher there? My friend said Prichard's Double Barrel is $72 at the distillery, I see it online as low as $58.

                          1. re: ncyankee101

                            Woah - that price difference is more than I would expect. I live in Ohio, and get the AAA 10 star for around $16 (or so). Whenever I get down to Cincy, I make sure to head across the river to Kentucky to stock up. When I pick up the AAA 10 year there, the bottle only costs me $19 (I think - it's been about a year.) I recall that the diffence was only $2-3. However, the fact that liquor in general is much cheaper in Kentucky could explain some of that.

                            I've never been in a store that sells both; the places I've been either carry one AAA or the other. Although, I did see one (tiny) store in Kentucky that clearly didn't know there were two different types, since they were mixed together on the shelf; the shelf tag said "Ancient Ancient Age 10." It would be interesting to see the price difference at a store carrying both.

                            1. re: Ditdah

                              That was the price in NC for the 10 star vs KY price for the 10 yr. I decided to go ahead and have him get me one just because I have never had it and I don't live anywhere near KY. Although it didn't sound like a great deal, it should beat some rather mediocre whiskeys I spent $20 on recently, such as 1792 Ridgemont reserve and Henry McKenna single barrel.

                            2. re: ncyankee101

                              Sorry, I've only had a few tastes when in Bardstown so really can't comment on the difference with that limited experience. I guess your paying a premium for the extra time in the barrel.

                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                Prices at the distilleries are significantly higher than in liquor stores in Kentucky and taxes have nothing to do with it. Some of the distillery gift shops have a sign, in others the staff will tell you, that they purposely do not undercut the prices of the liquor stores in order not to hurt the local economy, etc. I don't know if this is true or just BS in order to allow the distilleries to make more profit, but the fact is that for a standard bottle it is always better to buy at a liquor store than at the distillery itself. We visit Kentucky, where my wife is from, every summer and we do our big bourbon buy at Old Town Liquors in Louisville. We only but at the distillery if ti's a special commemorative bottle we want (such as bottles from "my" Ambassador Barrel at Maker's) or a product that is ONLY sold at the distillery -- which is something that Buffalo Trace often has.

                                1. re: ravchaz

                                  Almost all distilleries, both the big guys, and the small artisanal ones, sell for more than the local liquor stores, for exactly that reason. Wineries do the same thing.

                            3. re: sku

                              I couldn't agree more with your two choices. Those are the two bottles I find myself going back to over and over.