Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flavored Bourbon

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in my introduction to this series of posts, these are my thoughts and do not apply to anyone but me.  I am not seeking to offend anyone only to share my thoughts after enjoying good and not so good bourbon for 40 years.
Let me start by saying that I believe that bourbon should taste like bourbon. 
I do not like flavored bourbon.  A good bourbon should stand on its own and not need to have maple, honey, cinnamon, apple, berry or other flavors added to make it palatable.  A bourbon should have the right mix of flavors from the grains and especially from the oak barrels.  I like to sit with a Glencairn glass filled with two fingers of good bourbon warming in my hand and just smell the flavor coming into my nose.  As the bourbon warms, a different set of delicious odors comes up.  While I sip from the glass my nose is as happy as my tongue.  I don’t want anything to interfere with my enjoyment of the bourbon.  I only have my two fingers each evening but as the bourbon warms and breathes, I get several unique drinking experiences in the same glass.
Flavors added to bourbons take the complex and multifaceted bourbon and turn it into a one dimensional booze.  When I have had a flavored whiskey I can only taste the added sweet flavor.  I can honestly say that only one of the flavored whiskeys that I have had was actually bad but none was just exceptionally good.  Most were very “drinkable” whatever that means but none gave me the bourbon experience that I crave.  I could taste little of the oak and grain much less the more subtle flavors of spice, fruit, caramel and toffee that are so characteristic of the bourbon that I love.  All I could really taste was the added flavor.
As I said earlier, I can only state my opinions.  I have nothing against flavored whiskey if that is what you like.  Friends had told me that flavored spirits are a good way for non bourbon drinkers to make the transition from clear spirits to bourbon.  I can see that.  I even recommended a honey flavored bourbon to a friend who wanted to make the move over to bourbon from mixed party drinks.
For me, I want my bourbon to taste like bourbon and will continue to buy and enjoy my favorite bourbons.  I will leave the flavored choices to those who appreciate them.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Steve's Bourbon Blog

Now that I am 60 years old I am officially an old man and have the accompanying rights to be a curmudgeon.  One of the curmudgeon rights is the airing of grievances.  There are a lot of things in my life that give me great pleasure, a beautiful and understanding wife, wonderful and successful daughters and their husbands and the world’s best grandson.  I get a ton of pleasure from all of these things and the joy of living.  I look forward to coming home from work at the end of the day and enjoying a sip of good bourbon by the fireplace before turning in for the night.
I have always liked bourbon but came to love it when I was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky in the early 1980s.  I was a broke 25 year old student toiling over dissertation research and living apart from my family.  Did I mention that I was as poor as a church mouse?  Drinking good Kentucky bourbon was practically a graduation requirement at UK.  We could get some fine bourbon for not a lot of money.  Getting caught drinking a certain whiskey from Tennessee was practically grounds for dismissal from the University. Over the 30+ years since I lived in Central Kentucky, my love of good bourbon has only grown.
To express my affection for bourbon, I have resolved to write about some bourbon related issues that trouble me. These are my airing of grievances.  I had considered preparing articles for submission in one of the print bourbon periodicals or even writing a bourbon book.  However, I am in possession of neither the bourbon expertise nor literary skills of people like Chuck Cowdery, Michael Veach or Goeff Kleinman.  There is a certain license for poor writing skill that comes with posting thought on the Internet.  I will promise to not use emotocons, emogees or common abbreviations like IHO, LOL or BTW.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting my thoughts on several bourbon topics.  Please keep in mind that these are my thoughts and opinions as a lifelong bourbon drinker.  Do not be offended if I am critical of your favorite drink.  To the greatest extent possible I will try to not name specific brands but will speak to general classes of bourbons such as flavored bourbon, double aged, limited releases, etc.  I am only saying that these are my thoughts and do not necessary apply to anyone other than me.  I would be pleased to stimulate discourse from other bourbon aficionados who dissent or are in agreement.  I value the opinions of the members of the bourbon loving community and look forward to stimulating discussion.