I’m usually in the vicinity of the alcohol super center Total Wine about once a month. I like to pick up something new that is small and cheap-ish just to give my tastebuds a workout.
Bourbon is America’s champagne, it’s used in whiskey sours, and there are a bunch of makers at a bunch of different price points. I did a little research online when I was doing the whiskey sour article so I had an idea of what I wanted to try. To me there is almost no point in getting an expensive or exclusive brand. Sure, I’ll try a snootful if you’re serving it up but I’d rather spend my time finding the best value or the best tasting product that I’m likely to purchase again.
I’ve tried two different kinds of the same brand of brandy. They were within about $2 price of each other. It was amazing the difference in flavor – like comparing a red wine to a white wine. I wanted to see if the same held true for bourbon. It doesn’t. All three of these taste similar. It is obvious that the Jim Beam is the least nice but you have to start splitting hairs to tell much of a difference between the two better ones. It reminds me of comparing a $20 and a $50 bottle of wine. When you taste one against the other you can tell a difference but you’d probably not notice if you were served one or the other straight.
With that in mind, we have three bourbons to compare at three different price points. All are commonly available and affordable.
Jim Beam Black Label
Jason: Sharp and peppery. No bad aftertaste though. Fine for a mixed drink.
Mel: Not good
Jason: A little sweeter than the other two. Nice. Smooth. Very good.
Mel: Best of the three. Bourbon is not my favorite drink.
Jason: Most complex flavor with no bad aftertaste. My favorite. Probably not worth paying any extra if you are just going to use it for mixed drinks but wonderful for sippin’.
Mel: Most flavor. Second best of the three. I can stand it. Did I mention bourbon isn’t my favorite drink?