A Bourbon Tasting

28 09 2010

Bourbon.  An American spirit with lots of southern tradition and production involved.  The limestone spring water of Kentucky is known to contribute much to the flavor and purity of this drink, as does the aging, bottling, temperature and storage. 

To me, bourbon denotes mint juleps and southern men in seersucker, however, I truly have never thought to actually sit down and compare the products.  I realize the absurdity considering this is a southern blog, but ideas don’t come all at once!  Sunday evening we hosted a little bourbon tasting and sampled three Kentucky bourbons, Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, and Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

[sidenote: Tastes are subjective. Understanding this, you might not agree with some of our opinions and if you do, please be encouraged to host your own tasting. I know the parties involved will not mind!]

Selection : Maker’s Mark, 750ML, $23.99

Reason:  Maker’s Mark was selected as it is one of the more visible bourbons on the market.  It is most often in bars, and restaurants as the bourbon of choice. As a result, I selected it as our standard from which the other two would be compared. 

Production: Maker’s Mark is a small batch barrel bourbon (see An Introduction to Bourbon), made from Kentucky limestone spring water, local corn, grains contributing to the whiskey are baked and slow cooked,  the sour mash method  (see An Introduction to Bourbon), fermented in cypress tanks, distills the whiskey in copper, and rotated during the aging process. 

Taste Notes:  

Low ball glass, 2 ice cubes, 1 shot of bourbon. 

The nose on Maker’s Mark is warm even to the smell. You can pick up on the sweetness and masculinity of this drink.  To taste, you could feel the warmth, and notice the tastes of Christmas, allspice, and butterscotch, backed by the force of the alcohol content.  (Make sure you have something in your stomach before you start this journey). The taste does not linger, so you take another sip, and another until you are ready for a new glass. 

Selection: Buffalo Trace, 750 ML, $25.99

Reason: The reviews of Buffalo Trace are all good, and as it won the Malt Advocate Distillery award for Distillery of the Year in 2000, 2005 and 2006, as well as, named Distiller of the Year in 2005 and 2007. Lastly, Buffalo Trace won the Wine Enthusiast Magazine award for Distiller of the Year in 2006. All these awards are quite convincing. 

Production: Buffalo Trace begins with corn, rye and barley milled by a hammer, and then pressure cooked.  The sour mash ferments anywhere from three to five days and afterwards is distilled and stored in barrels at 125 proof.  Additional steam is pumped into the warehouse during the aging process, and barrels are selected from the middle of the warehouse for small batch barrel bourbon.  Finally the bourbon undergoes a chilling process to ensure the color and flavor maintain, and then is reduce to 90 proof by using water that is reserve osmosis filtered.

Taste Notes:

Low ball glass, 2 ice cubes, 1 shot of bourbon

The nose on Buffalo Trace is much stronger than that of Maker’s Mark, and instantly you smell the alcohol followed by the flavor.  This is much the same when tasting. You are initially shocked by the taste of alcohol and then move forward to taste the caramel, vanilla and brown sugar.  It feels heavier on the tongue and more one dimensional compared to that of Maker’s Mark.

Selection: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, 750ML, $27.99

Reason: Truthfully, I was originally drawn to the Bulleit packaging and then began to read a bit more about the product. Known for the high amount of rye, more so than others, lack of phenol alcohol and over six years of aging sold me. 

Production: Produced in small batches and stored in a single story warehouse as to reduce inconsistencies provided by temperature.  Aged six years and the barrels are mingled, not blended unlike some other bourbon. 

Taste Notes:

Low ball glass, 2 ice cubes, 1 shot of bourbon

This bourbon has a smooth smell, soothing almost.  Full bodied and includes notes of vanilla, and caramel.  The difference between this bourbon and the others is the complete lace of harsh taste and lends itself to drinking straight or mixing. 

Overall, I preferred the Bulleit to the others, due to the smoothness, and flavors.  It was a rare treat! We welcome your opinions and hope to hear about your favorite bourbons.  We are open to new things!

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One response

30 09 2010
BBQ Bourbon Ribs « Sweet Iced Tea

[…] continuation of our bourbon celebration and National Bourbon month, we wanted to share the recipe for Barbeque Bourbon Ribs and Sauce.  […]

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