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
Distiller: Buffalo Trace
What does the distiller say: “Uncut and unfiltered, this hand-bottled bourbon is barrel proof. Weller substitutes wheat for the traditional rye grain, a production method pioneered by W.L. Weller.”
Age: 12 Years (or so we’ve been told)
Color: ( 93 )
Dark and rich, like the leather it brings to mind!
Nose: ( 94 / 100 )
Pronounced tobacco with modest notes of leather and caramel
Taste: ( 94 / 100 )
The front is wonderfully balanced between the savory leather and oak elements, and the sweetness of butterscotch and bread pudding. The mid-palate develops some of that high proof burn while elevating the sweeter components.
Finish: ( 94 / 100 )
Long and satisfying, the sweetness slowly recedes to relinquish the spotlight once again to components of savory leather and oak.
Overall Rating: ( 94 / 100 ) Buy (Until you can’t buy any more!)
We’ve got just three words for you: A-Maz-Ing! The 2013 William Larue Weller surpasses the 2012 offering by striking a cleaner balance between the savory flavors of leather and oak (which the 2012 had in spades) and the sweeter notes that became the star of the mid-palate. Excellent in every way, our initial response was to rate this at #2, just behind the Sazerac 18, but further reflection put them in a dead heat!