Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

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Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby CaptSaltyJack » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:09 pm

Hey guys,

I'll start off saying that I did start with Maker's Mark, and was severely disappointed. Actually, that wasn't quite my starting point, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I got home yesterday, cracked open the Maker's Mark, poured into a beer tulip glass (the closest thing I have to a snifter or whiskey glass), let it sit for a few minutes, swirled it. It smelled great from afar. As I moved in to sip, the alcohol burned my nostrils. I sipped it, just a tiny bit, let it sit, chewed on it, swallowed. Blech! I may as well have been drinking gasoline. There was a burn on my lips and tongue for a few minutes after that.

So I'm puzzled how people can recommend this, and furthermore, talk about its sweet and smooth taste. I must be missing something here.

Now I'll go back to explain my earlier comment about my bourbon starting point. Actually the first bourbon I tried recently was Woodford Reserve. Great stuff! Very little alcohol burn, so it was "smooth" by my definition. And I was sipping it neat, no ice or water. I'll also add that I've had quality Irish whiskeys such as Redbreast, and while there is that initial burn on the first sip, it wasn't as repulsive as the Maker's Mark burn. Different "quality" burn I guess you'd say.

So what is my problem here? Is it just that Maker's Mark is cheap crap and I need to spend more money for higher quality whiskey? Should I just go back to Woodford Reserve? Or maybe grab their double oaked version? Or maybe try Basil Hayden's? I want something that doesn't give me the impression that I'm drinking gasoline. Warming is ok, burning is not. And flavor, flavor is also super important. Recommendations?
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Mike » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:18 pm

I would suggest you have a small sip of water before drinking and add a few drops to the bourbon. That should 'soften' the alcohol a tad. Maker's Mark is generally considered a 'soft' and sweet bourbon, and I certainly consider it such. If the alcohol is still objectional in many bourbons go for the 80 proof ones, especially Four Roses.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby CaptSaltyJack » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:30 pm

Any reason I found Woodford Reserve to be smoother than Maker's Mark? I did cut Maker's with a bit of water. It helped, but it still didn't have an interesting taste, IMO.

Four Roses gets a lot of positive reviews. What about Basil Hayden's, I hear that's a lighter bourbon?
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Mike » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:56 pm

I believe the 50 ml bottles of Makers, Woodford, and Basil Hayden bourbons are readily available, but I don't recall seeing any Four Roses 80 proof in 50 ml bottles. I suggest getting the three that are available and do a side by side. A sip of water between each and a few moments between sips should help clarify a few things for you. I have never been a fan of Basil Hayden having always thought of it as a first rate rip off (it is Old Grandad diluted), so I have not tried it in years. As you no doubt know, your taster can and will vary with many factors.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Wasatch » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:58 pm

I'm thinking you just need to try a bunch of different bourbon's and make up your own mind. I like Basil Hayden's, Knob Creek, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, and many others.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby kyjd75 » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:58 pm

Ancient Ancient Age, 10 year old, 86 proof. I drink it neat. To me there is nothing smoother on the rye bourbon side. Another option is Weller 12 year old 90 proof. A wheater, and another that I drink neat.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Watson Roadster » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:32 pm

If it was me...

I would start with the easily accessable 80 proof bourbons.Again,if it was me,I would start with Jim Beam White Label.I would do this for 3 reasons:

1.It's fairly reasonable in the price area

2.It's not offensive

and most importantly,

3.It has a very simple flavour profile

Basically,what you get with Beam is a little caramel,a little vanilla,a little corn sweetness,a little oak,a little barrel char,and occassionally,there's a citrusy thing going on.Most bourbons have all those in varying quantities,with different levels of nuance,as you work your way up.

Then I might try Wild Turkey 80...It's a bit different than Beam,and you'll notice the difference,but it's only a slight difference.

Then I might try Jack Daniels Old No.7...I don't find that stuff terribly appealing,and it's not exactly bourbon,but it would be worth the effort just to see the difference.

Mike's right,try Four Roses Yellow Label...For an 80 Proofer it has alot of nuance and flavour.

Now,what I do is I always go back to Beam to get that simple flavour profile back in my mind.Then I might try Jim Beam Black in a side by side with standard Beam...

Then I would try the 90 proofers like Makers Mark,Woodford Reserve,Four Roses Small Batch,Bulleit,Buffalo Trace,etc...Even George Dickel No.12...

Another thing about Makers Mark...Occassionally,I have got a bad bottle of the stuff.I had one last Spring that tasted literally like soot!And I wonder if you've got a bad bottle because Makers is a fairly sweet,completely agreeable bourbon?
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby CaptSaltyJack » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:09 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! I think I'll hit up a bar and buy some samples, will be cheaper that way.

I could have a bad bottle. Hard to say. It's pretty repulsive, and I've had bourbon before (Woodford) and it was quite good.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby JPBoston » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:24 am

Count me as another person who doesn't find much taste (other then alcohol) in Maker's Mark.... yet I love Buffalo Trace, Woodford's, and Knob Creek neat. And I find Evan Williams Blk and Old Grand Dad 86 enjoyable considering their price range.

I hadn't had MM in years, and my wife got me a big 1.75L of it as an early Christmas present... I pretended to love it, of course, but all I really got was alcohol/astringent flavor out of it, and found myself wondering what all the 'sweet/smooth' talk was about. Maybe a few bad batches went around this past year?
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby William » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:53 am

I just bought my first bottle of Old Grand Dad 86 proof and really liked it. Four Roses yellow label (40% aby) is very smooth as well. If youre just starting with bourbon you should go for 40% to 43% alcohol by volume. I used to think Makers was good, but after having so many other brands I dont need to buy it again.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Birdo » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:58 am

I'm the resident cheap skate here at BE. I can tell you that I like Makers pretty well, and I get that alcohol taste that you mention. The taste profile is pretty good with oak and vanilla. The big problem with Makers is its over priced for what it is. Wellers SR is pretty similar for half the price. For what you pay for Makers, you could be drinking something real good like knob creek. Jim Beam Black is better for less money also.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby JPBoston » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:05 pm

Birdo wrote:I'm the resident cheap skate here at BE. I can tell you that I like Makers pretty well, and I get that alcohol taste that you mention. The taste profile is pretty good with oak and vanilla. The big problem with Makers is its over priced for what it is. Wellers SR is pretty similar for half the price. For what you pay for Makers, you could be drinking something real good like knob creek. Jim Beam Black is better for less money also.


Amen to that. Enjoying a bottle of KC right now, myself.

May I add that you can get a 1.75L of Evan Williams Black for LESS then a 750ml bottle of MM. And its about twice as good.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby gauze » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:14 pm

I can't stand Maker's Mark tastes like gasoline to me as well, it just might not be for us. there are many good suggestions above already roll with 'em.
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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby dickelfanaustralia » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:55 am

Here is i list I dont recommand. I have bought them.
Maker's Mark no way I can not even sip that neat without some pain. The Van winkles I hear are the weat bourbons you want.
Evan Willaims. No refinement. Just senseless menthol. Dont taste small batch at all.
Bufflio trace is too spiky on the palate. Bullit i don't recoommand either.
WT rye does not have much power so your 1/2 bored but has a quality taste and smooth palate
Eligh Craig 12 I would leave that too. Pretty calm and massive wood.
Old grand dad performs well. good soft rye at end. But the primary orange peel taste my not be for you.
All Beams 40% i would leave too. Not much at the back palate. All have a nice simple taste.
JD 7 and Gentalman I would forget that too.

There are charcoal mellowed botton self bourbons that are ultra smooth with a very smoky charcoal infusion. A high proof of one of them may do you good. They dont have much taste or flavor from the one bottle I bought.

I am currently thinking myself WT Rarebread or Bookers right now. Bookers I had before but I am thinking rare bread for some power.





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Re: Suggestions for a bourbon newbie who wants tasty and smooth?

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:44 am

Man, from that list there's not a hell of a lot of stuff you like. Good luck.
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