KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

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KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby thanis » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:44 am

I imagine it is not the connoisseur's focused topic, but I have one general thread I would like to post on the issue.

I tend to like chilled straight whiskey, burbon, and scotch. It is about 50 / 50 on the rocks or just straight. I was once a fan of TN whiskey, but now, I think due to the Lincoln County Process (charcoal filter) I can become sick just by the taste (maybe I just over consumed in my youth with Jack).

From time to time while social drinking, I like a cocktail / mix drink, and I've found I prefer TN whiskey in a whiskey sour, and dislike a whiskey sour made from a scotch. I'm not sure why, but I don't think bourbons I've tried make a good sour. I've never thought to try a rye, wheat, or Irish as a sour. Canadian is fine as a sour, but honestly, I think the sour mix takes over on a Canadian.

Is this generally understood to be true, that a TN whiskey makes a good sour compared to other whiskeys? I feel the same way concerning a KY bourbon as a base for a good mint julep (I've only tried TN whiskey, scotch, and KY bourbon in a mint julep).

If so, any thoughts why, I'm a real novice. I know what I like, but I'm not sure how to express what it is. There is something about these two cocktails that help me to differentiate some differences between wiskeys vs bourbons.

What is it about mint and bourbon? What is it about sour and whiskey?
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:00 am

thanis wrote:... I was once a fan of TN whiskey, but now, I think due to the Lincoln County Process (charcoal filter) I can become sick just by the taste (maybe I just over consumed in my youth with Jack)

Yup; you did. The Lincoln County Process (i.e., maple charcoal filtering of the white dog before barreling) has been the "definitive" step in Tennessee-style whiskey for over a hundred years, so it isn't something that happened since you started drinking it. Some of us might suggest that your taste has simply become a bit more sophisticated :wink:
By the way, there are only two Tennessee whiskeys, and the other one is George Dickel. While there are certainly detectable similarities, Dickel is quite a different whiskey from Jack Daniel's, and cocktails mixed with it would taste very different as well. You'd do well to try it; you just might find it to be your favorite.

... From time to time while social drinking, I like a cocktail / mix drink, and I've found I prefer TN whiskey in a whiskey sour, and dislike a whiskey sour made from a scotch. I'm not sure why, but I don't think bourbons I've tried make a good sour. I've never thought to try a rye, wheat, or Irish as a sour. Canadian is fine as a sour, but honestly, I think the sour mix takes over on a Canadian

With apologies to GilmanG, and with the understanding that there are Canadian brands this doesn't apply to, I think nearly anything added to most Canadian whiskey would take over whatever flavor one might imagine they find there :D
BTW, if you've never tried a sour made with rye (REAL rye whiskey; not "Canadian Rye", which is too often only a euphamism for wheat), you need to. As for wheat, there is Maker's Mark, and there is Van Winkle/Old Fitz. These are both wheat, but they're not at all the same. Forget MM. A sour made with Old Fitz should be very good. A sour made with Van Winkle is simply a waste of good Van Winkle; it would taste great, but I'd save the Van Winkle for sippin' straight if I were you.

... I feel the same way concerning a KY bourbon as a base for a good mint julep (I've only tried TN whiskey, scotch, and KY bourbon in a mint julep)

The "original" mint julip was made with Cognac and predates Kentucky and the Derby by many years. It's interesting to try, but then you -- like I and probably most others -- will almost certainly go back to making them with bourbon. It's a Kentucky tradition, and bourbon is the only way to go.

... There is something about these two cocktails that help me to differentiate some differences between wiskeys vs bourbons ... What is it about mint and bourbon? What is it about sour and whiskey?

Think of it this way: a "whiskey sour" should be made with Scotch; a "bourbon sour" should be thought of as a different cocktail altogether. Mint is a common ingredient in rum cocktails, and (historically) in bourbon cocktails where the bourbon was a substitute for rum. Other than the Kentucky Bourbon Mint Julip, I'd avoid bourbon cocktails with mint. If you want a julip, avoid any other liquor than Kentucky Bourbon.
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:10 am

John, no need to apologize, I am in full agreement with you (and even if I wasn't you don't have to!).

Just some other comments: Try current Jack Daniels Single Barrel, it is very good. For some reason, it seems to come into its own on ice and a dash of water doesn't hurt. You get interesting flavours that sipping neat doesn't offer.

The straight rye John was referring to includes brands like Old Overholt, also Jim Beam Rye, Rittenhouse rye, Sazerac rye. These are the original form of rye whiskey - the Canadian approach is basically to use a little straight rye and a lot of neutral-type (but aged) spirit to blend it with. This results in a mild drink that is fine but isn't strong enough in taste - in the opinion of some myself included - to use well in cocktails.

Straight rye - any of the brands mentioned and there are others - work very well however in a sour or other cocktail (Manhattan).

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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby thanis » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:21 pm

Dickel is tops on my list to try next. It will either be Dickel or Wild Turkey. I'm headed toward Dickel just because I'm trying to get TN whiskey off my list.

Thanks for the feedback, I really need to try Old Overholt in general, and Old Fitzgerald is another on my list (and I had not considered it in a sour mix). If Old Fitzgerald might make a good sour, would something like a Bernheim Original be even better, or is that a waste of the Bernheim Original?

I was very interested to learn the history of the Cognac and mint julip. For a long time I've wanted to explore brandy vs whiskey.
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:08 pm

thanis wrote:...If Old Fitzgerald might make a good sour, would something like a Bernheim Original be even better, or is that a waste of the Bernheim Original?

Very interesting idea, Bernheim Original.

Not everyone is familiar with that whiskey, so for those who might miss what Thanis is referring to, Bernheim Original, one of Heaven Hill's premium brands, is unique in that, unlike bourbon -- which usually contains anywhere from 60% to 80% corn, and either rye or (less commonly) wheat to augment the flavor -- is the only currently produced "straight wheat whiskey". That means it contains at least 51% wheat. Now, it stands to reason that, if say, 12% wheat makes a noticeabley different bourbon from 12% rye, then 51% wheat is gonna make a humongous difference. Well, it turns out not to be QUITE so humongous but it certainly isn't flavorless, either. A sour made with Bernheim Original might be very tasty. And it should certainly get points for being about the most unique American whiskey sour you could serve.

I agree with Gary's suggestion that you try Jack Daniel's Single Barrel if you haven't already done so. JD has gone through some changes since I last tried the "fruit of the buzzard's roost", but what I've had is some of the best whiskey of any type I've tasted. About as comparable to regular JD as Baker's is to Jim Beam white label. Like most really good liquor, the complexities come out with a splash or a bit of ice, but I think the richness and smokiness make it a cocktail in itself.
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:31 pm

Well put, John.

Cognac and bourbon have many intersections, explored in many past posts here. Some people think Cognac influenced the creation of bourbon (John and Mike, take it from here).

In terms of the drinking experience, the Sazerac cocktail, associated traditionally with New Orleans, originally was made with Cognac (hence the common "ac" ending, both terms derive from French). Later, they switched to straight rye and finally (sometimes) bourbon.

Numerous cocktails manuals circa-1900 advise to mix bourbon or rye with Cognac. The result is very good and logical in terms of the origin of the drink.

A Sazerac is, whiskey and/or Cognac base, good dash of bitters (any kind, e.g., Angostura), and a dash of any kind of anise-flavoured drink, it might be anisette, Pernod from France (a pastis as it's known), absinthe or anything else that has a light licorice taste. In a pinch, add a black licorice candy and give it time to soak in. Traditionally no sugar was added but some people add a bit. A fine old American drink, too often neglected today.

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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby EllenJ » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:48 pm

gillmang wrote:... good dash of bitters (any kind, e.g., Angostura), and a dash of any kind of anise-flavoured drink, it might be anisette, Pernod from France (a pastis as it's known), absinthe or anything else that has a light licorice taste.

Two additional points: small, but significant...

The anise-source of choice in N'ahlins is actually HerbSaint (sure sounds a lot like "Ehbs Sent", don't it? :wink: ). If you can find that brand you ought to use it. Like Pernod, it's not real absinthe anymore, just pastis, although Pernod now markets a (somewhat) true absinthe and HerbSaint might have one too. For the amount you use, I don't think it really makes much difference; it just looks "cooler" to have the HerbSaint bottle sitting out on your bar :D

The bitters is somewhat more important, though. The Sazerac cocktail was originally created as a promotion for the Peychaud's brand of bitters, which are quite different from Angostura. You can use Angostura bitters, and your Saz will still taste great, but it won't really taste like the real deal. Of course, since Sazerac itself produces Peychaud's bittlers, I'm not certain just how much today's bitters resemble the 1830 version cooked up by Tony Peychaud. :roll:
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:51 pm

John, I hadn't known Peychaud's was connected to the origin of the Sazerac; certainly I agree with you Peychaud's makes an excellent Sazerac. But any bitters actually works well, I use generally two kinds.

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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:37 pm

Speaking of the mint julip, Chris Carlsson, writer of Spirits Review, has posted

THE MINT JULEP
The Very Dream of Drinks
FROM THE OLD RECEIPT
OF SOULE SMITH, DOWN
IN LEXINGTON, KY
THE GRAVESEND PRESS
1949

here

where it's written that

Who has not tasted one [the mint julip] has lived in vain.


Such am one is I. I'm determined that my life shall not be in vain. :sunny:
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Wed May 19, 2010 6:40 pm

I have not lived my life in vain.

Mint Julep.JPG
Mint Julep according to old recipe
Mint Julep.JPG (192.02 KiB) Viewed 2772 times


I used Eagle Rare 10, single barrel as my bourbon. I must say, my spirits have been lifted immeasurably. :sunny:
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Re: KY bourbon to mint julep as TN whiskey to sour?

Unread postby cowdery » Fri May 21, 2010 11:21 pm

I enjoy a whiskey sour nor and again but I never even thought to make it with scotch, just bourbon or rye for me, though Canadian or American blended would do in a pinch. I find scotch ill suited to cocktails and about the only scotch cocktail that readily comes to mind is the rusty nail. As for Tennessee Whiskey being uniquely good for sours, okay, if you say so, but I don't see that as parallel to the julep, which works equally well I think with bourbon, rye or Tennessee.

This is all personal opinion, so let me add that while I love wheated bourbons, I don't like them in cocktails nor generally with food, although I just enjoyed some Weller SR with Chicken Masala and, now that I think of it, that was a pretty good combination. Make a note.
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