(ignore the cheesy alliteration in the title)
I am just getting in to Bourbon what should I try? I have heard this questions hundreds of times.
Here is a list of five Bourbons that all beginners should try. All of these bourbons are readily available and fairly inexpensive. They also serve a purpose to show you how different Bourbon can be. Keep in mind all Bourbons have to be at least 51% corn. After that rye, malt, and wheat are added to create different flavors and characteristics.
Makers Mark has has a rich Bourbon history and is considered one of the most recognizable Bourbon Brands. Check just about any bar in America ,if they only have one Bourbon on the shelf it is usually Makers Mark. Most
Proof: 90 (If you want some controversy Google “Makers Mark Proof”)
Uniqueness: Wheated Bourbon. Wheat adds a smoothness to bourbon
If you didn’t notice we are progressively adding rye to our Bourbons. Buffalo Trace uses Mash Bill # 1 from Buffalo Trace Distillery. While not released there is around 10% or less rye in this mash bill. Buffalo Trace does not state the age of their flagship bourbon. That is because it’s probably a mixture of 6-8 year bourbons.
This deep amber whiskey has a complex aroma of vanilla, mint and molasses. Pleasantly sweet to the taste with notes of brown sugar and spice that give way to oak, toffee, dark fruit and anise. This whiskey finishes long and smooth with serious depth.
Old Charter/Eagle Rare ($15/$30)
The second bourbon a beginner can choose could be either Old Charter or Eagle Rare. The reason is they are both made from the same Mash Bill by Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Mash Bill Buffalo Trace (mas hbill #2) uses a little more rye than what is in regular Buffalo Trace bourbon. They don’t release the exact amount but rye is most likely 12%-15% of the recipe.
As long as you can find it I would go with Old charter. Eagle Rare is an older single barrel Bourbon and that means more $$$.
A complex, well-balanced nose that shows both dry, peppery notes and a rich honey sweetness. The palate features some tingly spice notes and mellow toffee, very long and very satisfying finish.
The nose (a fancy way to say smell the Bourbon) has a lot of toffee, hints of orange peel, herbs, honey, leather and oak. The taste is bold, dry and delicate with notes of candied almonds and very rich cocoa. The finish is dry and lingering.
On the nose of this Bourbon you get orange, corn, ginger, oak, cinnamon with a slight floral not. The taste is even better. It is very similar to the nose with orange, corn, ginger, oak, cinnamon but you also have the spiciness of the rye as you taste it.
While we were building up the rye ladder we come back down a few notches with this one. Jim Beam Black’s mash bill is only 15% rye but as you will notice it is much sweeter than some of the previous lower rye Bourbons. This is because it is 75% corn. Corn adds a distinctive sweetness to the Bourbon. Also, the 8 years of aging add a smoothness and richness to the Bourbon.
The nose has a strong caramel, vanilla, and corn aroma. Once again the taste is backed up by the nose with caramel, vanilla, and spice up front with as well as a little oak flavor that is added by 8 years in a new oak barrel. You may also notice a hint of cinnamon. This is from the 15% rye.