Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Cocktail - Bourbon on the Rocks

I know the Friday Cocktail and this blog in general have been a bit vacant lately, but the merman has taken over my free time. However, I recently tried my hand at seriously tasting some bourbon and writing about it and here are the results:

I currently have 4 bourbons on hand: Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, Evan Williams: Single Barrel Vintage 1997, and 80 Strong.

I usually have Jim Beam for simple bourbon and Cokes (actually Coke Zeros which works exceptionally well with bourbon or rum if you ever do that sort of thing). And, I always have one mid-premium rotating between Knob Creek, Maker's Mark, and Woodford Reserve. I've tried not to let my palate get me into the higher priced bourbons. I've never really tried to write or talk about tasting bourbon, so this was a good opportunity to give it a try. Here's the method I followed. I pulled out 4 small glasses and poured the first bourbon, Knob Creek, about 1/2 to 3/4 oz. I took some time smelling the glass and jotted down notes, then took a sip or two for taste 1 and took notes. Then I put 2 ice cubes in and swirled them around and took notes for taste 2. Then I moved on to the next bourbon, letting the first sit in the ice cubes. After tasting all 4, I went back through tasting them again with with a little melted ice on them. Finally, I pulled out The Bourbon Companion and compared my notes with the Regan's to see if I knew anything or if they could better help me to verbalize what I tasted. Here are the results:

Knob Creek (100 proof)
Nose: Sweet, a little fruity and vanilla
Taste 1: sweet, soft for the high alcohol content
Taste 2: crisper
Taste 3: nose is sweeter with water,
Regan's Rating 90 - they also talk about berry notes which I probably just can't distinguish from fruity, and oak/carmelized sugar

Woodford Reserve:
Nose: sweet, but slightly medicinal
Taste 1: warm, welcoming, rounder, fuller
Taste 2: takes to the water quicker, smooth (90 proof)
Taste 3: woodier now
Regan's Rating 91 - they mention vanilla, caramel, toffee, and leather which I probably verbalized as warm, welcoming, rounder, and fuller

Evan Williams: Single Barrel Vintage 1997: (87 proof)
Nose: sweet, more citrus
Taste 1: corn
Taste 2: sweetest
Taste 3: very smooth, but loosing a little character
Regan's Rating 90 - they describe it as sweet and sharp which I think I got with sweet and citrus (I never got caramel, but did get herbal)

80 Strong: (80 proof)
Nose: most medicinal
Taste 1: woody
Taste 2: woody but still a bit chemically
Taste 3: chemically
This is a new bourbon and has been both panned and praised in the blogosphere. I'm a sucker for the pin-up girl gimmick. I bought 3 bottles online, which came with 3 t-shirts for about $70 shipped. It's too new for Regan's book, but I liken it to Jim Beam. If the price were similar to Beam in a local store I'd buy it for the packaging, but it's not something I'd plan on sipping.

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