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
And So, the SECOND of our Long-Awaited announcements is here!
WE’RE HAVING A PARTY!
The Bourbon Guys, in collaboration with our friends at DEPs Fine Wine & Spirits, are inviting 30 or so of our closest friends to attend our first Private Barrel Launch Party. DEPs is hosting the event on Tuesday, 5/27/14, at 6:30 p.m. at their Fort Thomas location just off of I-471. If you haven’t been to this facility, we are sure you will be amazed at the vast selection of wines and spirits!
In attendance will be the legendary Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller of Wild Turkey, to share some of his vast knowledge on bourbon and its history (and sign a bottle or two!). Jimmy is a warm and welcoming Kentucky gentleman, a treasure of the commonwealth who you won’t want to miss!
It is also our very special pleasure to have entrepreneur and mixologist extraordinaire, Molly Wellmann, in attendance. Molly is an author, bourbon champion, proprietor of several of the most popular gathering spots in town, and a great friend to The Bourbon Guys.
But this gathering is about the bourbon!
You will have the opportunity to taste (and purchase!) two very special Private Selection Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbons, chosen by The Bourbon Guys (Jason, Larry, & Tim) and the staff at DEPs Fine Wine & Spirits! Space is very limited, so PLEASE RSVP if you are able to attend. We will send out confirmations to the first 30 people who respond. This is a very special and very limited release, something you won’t want to miss! We look forward to seeing you there!
You can find directions to the DEPs location right here.
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
Bourbon lovers find all sorts of ways to express their passion for their favorite brown spirit. T-shirts and shot glasses adorn the gift shops of every distillery. Collectors scour websites and festivals for lapel pins. And oh, the things we do with barrels! Both of The Bourbon Guys have tables made from bourbon barrels. But recently, we met someone who took his passion one step further and made it a permanent part of his body.
Shawn Doan and his girlfriend April Manning, of Terre Haute, Indiana, attended a tasting and dinner with Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, Cincinnati’s oldest tavern. Shawn rolled up his shirtsleeves to reveal this tattoo that pays homage to his favorite bourbon brand, Wild Turkey. He was kind enough to allow The Bourbon Guys to photograph the ink masterpiece. And Jimmy Russell himself was kind enough to provide his autograph for Shawn — who, as it turns out, already had an appointment set for the next morning to permanently ink the living legend’s name underneath the familiar logo!
Distiller: Wild Turkey
What does the distiller say: An accidental blend of 78% Bourbon and 22% High-Proof Rye
Age: Blend of ages
Color: Golden copper
Tim: (88/100) “Light, sweet, and flowery. The bourbon component is pronounced but you definitely get a very nice high rye nose. I Could smell this all day.”
Larry: (89/100) “Floral overtones are aromatic but not cloying. The rye comes through in perfect balance with the bourbon, offering vanilla and caramel with spicy notes of cinnamon.”
Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.
Tim: (90/100) “Brown sugar, giving way to cinnamon and rye spice on the mid-palate.”
Larry: (91/100) “Beautiful and balanced. Bread pudding on the front with rye rising to strike a perfect rye/bourbon balance mid-palate.”
Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.
Tim: (89/100) “Long, and mellow with just the right amount of rye and cinnamon spice.”
Larry: (90/100) “Lengthy. The balance on the mid-palate carries clear through to the end. The residual flavors are wonderful. Greater duration is all that could have given this finish a higher rating.”
Overall Rating: (90/100)
Though some believe that Forgiven is more marketing than mistake, we have it straight from Mr. Jimmy Russell that Forgiven was, in fact, the most fortunate error in recent memory. Whichever you believe, you can rest assured that Wild Turkey Forgiven will not disappoint.
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
As the tournament comes to a head, we thought it was appropriate to repost our ‘Sweet 16 of American Whiskey‘. We know there are a great many fine bourbons that did not make this list, and we look forward to hearing your views on the ones that did and/or did not make it… and remember:
“The Best Bourbon is the One You Enjoy” – The Bourbon Guys