IF WE HAD A BENJAMIN
The following is The Bourbon Guys’ contribution to a collaborative effort of many great bloggers, retailers, and other industry “folks” to the question of, “If you had a Benjamin, what bourbon would you buy?” Of course, we can’t do anything “traditional,” so the following is our rollicking, pitiful attempt at poetry with a message. If you can stomach any more, we’ve taken some time to write up a serious recommendation following all the terrible rhymes. Thanks for reading!
IF WE HAD A BENJAMIN
If we had a Benjamin,
Oh the bourbon we could buy.
A Wild Turkey 101,
Or three, or four, or five.
Traditional, with lots of rye,
this bourbon makes the grade.
Jimmy Russell and his boy Ed,
watch closely how it’s made.
Russell’s Reserve at 110 proof,
it sips just like a dream.
That telltale rye it balances
this bourbon’s caramel cream.
Old GrandDad surely hits the spot,
A favorite tried and true.
The 80 proof may fade in drinks,
where the 114 shines through.
100 proof is just as good,
They’re each a value pour.
With Benjamin we’re sure to carry
several out the door.
But then you ask, do we like more?
We’re sure to tell you Noe.
Bold flavor in his coffee cup,
Ol’ Booker made it so.
Knob Creek another favorite,
and here we’ll include rye.
Beam-Suntory raised the bar
for all you Jim Beam guys.
Our Benjamin would also let
Evan Williams come our way.
The vanilla nose and butterscotch
says, “Take me home today!”
And then there are so many brands
that Wheatley brings to bear.
A Buffalo Trace and some pecans
are an inexpensive pair.
Weller of almost any sort
represents the wheat,
while Eagle Rare at just 10 years
is the barrel char elite.
Jim Rutledge serves Four Roses
in so very many ways,
But for sheer value in the glass
His Small batch earns our praise.
Now, we know you Woodford folks
think it’s Brown-Forman’s best,
But we believe Old Forester
Is the one to pass that test.
On we could go with this bourbon show,
and on perhaps you’d read,
but all this talk of whiskey
only serves to fuel our greed.
So, if we had a Benjamin,
Which bourbons would we buy?
We’d load our cart with many here,
and to our glasses fly!
If I only had a Benjamin – By Larry Parece (The Bourbon Guys)
If I only had $100 to spend on bourbon, I would need some time to consider just how I would spend it. As in our rhyming mayhem above, there are so many stellar options under $100. Of course, I would have to consider how long this bourbon would need to last. Assuming I had reasonable expectations of another Bourbon Benjamin appearing somewhere in my future…
I would begin by purchasing an Old GrandDad 114. At $23 per 750 ml, this bourbon has the flavor and integrity to be enjoyed straight or in your favorite cocktail. Too, if it is a little bold for a guest, an ice cube or two tames the heat, making this a versatile choice.
The next bottle would have to be a Wild Turkey 101. I love most everything that Turkey puts out, but this one is a true value pour. At 101 proof, it provides the flavor-forward, high rye profile that many bourbon drinkers look for, but it doesn’t bring the heat you normally would expect from a 100+ proof whiskey. It is also about the same price as its 80 proof little brother, so I would take the 101. If I choose to, I can always proof it down myself.
My next choice is, perhaps, one of the better kept secrets in bourbon. Unfortunately for us, theword has gotten out of late, and it is harder to find than it once was. I’m talking about Johnny Drum Private Stock. At 101 proof, and roughly $30 per bottle, it is another excellent sipper. Of course, it would hold up in your favorite cocktails, but I would hesitate to alter the experience of enjoying this bourbon neat. Now, in the event that Johnny Drum Private Stock is unavailable (as it often is lately), its substitute would have to be another Wild Turkey offering. With a rich mouth-feel and bold front palate, the 112 proof Wild Turkey Rare Breed exhibits an excellent mid to back-palate balance of oak and savory spices that rise up to meet the front, without overpowering it. In truth, selecting between these two would be more a matter of stock level than personal preference.
For my final bottle, I have to agree with my partner Tim that Old Forester Signature 100 is one of the best bourbons below $20. Exhibiting greater refinement than some bourbons that cost twice as much, Old Forester Signature 100 is a pleasant sipper and enhances any cocktail. For my money, I’ll just take it neat.
If I only had a Benjamin – By Tim Beckelhimer (The Bourbon Guys)
If I only had a Benjamin to buy bourbon, I would first be a little bummed. All kidding aside though, it would be fairly easy for me to decide what bourbons I would buy with my Benjamin. The first bottle I would grab is without a doubt Maker’s Mark ($26.99). Not because it’s a bourbon that I regularly drink but because many of my friends like to drink it and it’s also my wife’s favorite! After all, Happy wife, Happy life!
As I continue to walk through the liquor store aisle, I would without a
doubtgrab a bottle of Old Forester Signature 100 ($19.99). This 100 proof gem is one of my favorite all-time pours in the under $20.00 price range. It provides a fantastic foundation for any bourbon cocktail such as an Old Fashioned. The nose, taste and finish are also above average compared to any bourbon in this price range. This is a great sipper and it’s great to use in blind taste tests as well. Old Forester Signature 100 is one of my true everyday drinkers.
Another well-rounded bourbon that would I would purchase with my Benjamin is Knob Creek ($27.99). In my humble opinion, Knob Creek is one of the most underrated bourbons on the
market. Thought it recently received high praise at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, it still receives little mention publicly. Knob Creek is great neat, with a splash of water and on the rocks. It’s also nice to know that it’s readily available in many restaurants, which is very nice since I travel somewhat.
For the price, this high rye gem is one of the most well-balanced bourbons on the market. This bourbon is what I call a year-round bourbon; it’s crisp, bright and floral, which makes it a great sipper when sitting out on a porch swing in the summer time. It’s equally delicious in the winter. Four Roses Small Batch is great in cocktails, neat, on the rocks or any other way you prefer to drink it, but I prefer it neat.
Though there are many other fine bourbons that I could just as easily have purchased with my Benjamin such as Buffalo Trace, Weller (not easy to find any more), Wild Turkey 101, Elijah Craig and Evan Williams just to name a few, I must say that Maker’s Mark, Old Forester 100, Knob Creek and Four Roses Small Batch are what I would spend my Benjamin on – at least for today!
The Bourbon Guys hope you’ve enjoyed our take on “If I Only Had a Benjamin…”, but more than that, we hope you’ve found some value pours of which you were previously unaware! Cheers!
Special Thanks: The Bourbon Guys would like to thank Bill and Matt from Modern Thirst for coming up with such a great idea and for allowing The Bourbon Guys to contribute. Check out all our friends’ takes to “If I only had a Benjamin” below:
- Bill with Modern Thirst
- Matt with Modern Thirst
- Ben with Big Earl’s Beverage Co.
- Darren with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
- Chris with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
- Claire with See Claire Write
- Melissa with The Chicagoist
- Ginny & Charlie with the Charlie Tonic Hour
- Brian with Sipp’n Corn
- Jason with Sour Mash Manifesto
He’s back! Long awaited and much anticipated, Elmer T. Lee has returned to store shelves, even if it’s just for a short while. Today, The Bourbon Guys were fortunate enough to lay our hands on a bottle of 1919-2013 Elmer T. Lee, Single Barrel, Sour Mash, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey! A commemorative, limited edition, this offering comes in at 93 proof (in honor of Elmer’s 93 years spent making this world a better place), slightly higher than the traditional Elmer T. Lee. At just a couple of dollars more than its 90 proof brother, 1919-2013 is worthy of a far higher price tag. Continue reading
Over the past year, The Bourbon Guys have had the honor of tasting many great and different bourbons. As a follow up to last year’s “Sweet 16 of American Whiskey” we have decided to share our list of Sweet Sixteen Bourbons for 2013 and 2014. Once again we also wanted to release this list in honor of March Madness. We see this as fitting because it’s the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 and because we are likely to stir up a little “Madness” with our choices. Continue reading
If you’re reading this you are probably well aware that bourbon is booming. The spirit is seeing a renaissance of incredible magnitude. But how has the recent bourbon boom affected us short term and how will it affect us long term? Continue reading
Don’t you hate it when false rumors are spread around? We have been hearing from many of our friends and followers over the past few months who have been told by different liquor stores that Elmer T Lee Bourbon is no longer available and will not be available in the future. Some liquor stores are actually telling customers that when Elmer T Lee passed away a few months ago, he took his recipe with him to the grave and there’s no one who can replicate it. This is the farthest thing from the truth.
Though there is currently a shortage of Elmer T Lee (which is market driven), the recipe for Elmer T Lee was not taken to the grave. The Mashbill (recipe) for Elmer T Lee is actually Buffalo Trace’s #2 Mashbill. Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill #2, a high rye Mash, is also used to make other fine bourbons like Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farms, Ancient Age and Hancock’s Reserve. So as far as the recipe goes, it’s still alive and well. It is also true that Elmer T Lee was involved in selecting his own barrels. But we would imagine that he had some help selecting barrels over the past year or so because his trips to Buffalo Trace were very limited due to the illness that eventually took his life.
The best news that we are hearing is that Elmer T Lee bourbon is alive and well and that there are no plans to stop its production. As reported in an exclusive from whiskeycast.com, there are no plans to stop making Elmer T Lee bourbon. In fact we wouldn’t be shocked if Buffalo Trace isn’t planning a special Elmer T Lee release in the near future.
We’ll keep you posted when we know more, but don’t believe everything you hear out there!
Cheers! The Bourbon Guys
Distiller: Buffalo Trace
What does the distiller say:
Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of [George T. Stagg] himself.
Age: 8 Years
Color: Very Deep Amber
Floral with strong overtones of sweet vanilla. The high proof does not translate to overpowering alcohol as might be expected. A few drops of water adds to the sweetness.
Neat – Bold up front, as the proof would suggest, followed by caramel and a lot of vanilla mixing on the mid-palate. The mouth feel was noticeably thin and showed its relative youth just a little.
With Water – A few drops of water and the flavor opened up a little providing slightly more sweetness and depth of flavor.
Neat – The finish was mild and, as anticipated by the thin mouth feel, faded more quickly than we like.
With Water – The finish changed dramatically, actually adding to the duration, a welcome surprise.
Overall Rating: 89/100 (Recommended)
Recommended, especially if you like the higher proof bourbons. It has been produced as a more accessible version of the older and nearly unattainable George T. Stagg. At roughly $50 retail, we find this bourbon to perform its role admirably.
Not only is September the month that celebrates Bourbon Heritage, it’s also the month when the annual Bourbon Festival takes place in Bardstown, Kentucky. Whether you plan on attending the event this year or you just plan on visiting Bardstown in the near future, here is a great article about our visit to the Bourbon trail with a unique perspective.
Click here > Forget the Cake :Here’s how to make your wife happy and have your bourbon!
Special thanks to guest contributor: Lisa Beckelhimer
You all know the bourbon world lost a legend this week, but more importantly, the world lost a great man.
Yes, Elmer T. Lee was innovative, giving us the very first single barrel bourbon in Blanton’s, but Elmer (no “Mr. Lee” for this humble Kentucky gentleman) was more than a great maker of America’s spirit. He was a scholar, graduating from the University of Kentucky with honors in engineering, and he was a patriot, serving his country as bombadier in a B-29 over Japan during World War II. But with all he gave to us, perhaps his most notable achievement was that he was one heck of a nice guy! Rest, Elmer. We’ll all do our best to follow the example you set for us and take it from here.