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Everyday mixing Bourbon


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#1 Yojimbo

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 06:24 PM

What with the constantly shifting grains in the hourglass of the bourbon market (to say nothing of rising prices), the imminent run for the roses, spring, etc., I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit a general topic:  what's your go-to brand (arbitrarily defined as under about $40) for everyday mixing?

 

I've been undertaking an alphabetical sampling of bourbons at my local bar (hard work, yeah), but have been sipping them neat because I just want to taste the spirit, and they're mainly a craft beer bar without decent vermouth or amari.  While I've been impressed with the balance and smoothness of some, I have yet to find a clear winner. If I had to pick right now, it'd probably be Russell's Reserve. 


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#2 gfweb

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:16 PM

Makers for mixing. Woodford for sipping. Or Pappy if you can get it.

#3 Rafa

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:26 PM

Hi Yojimbo,

 

This recent thread on Chuck Cowdery's blog about good values in bourbon has a lot of great suggestions. Make sure to read the comments as well. Bourbon is one of the great values in spirits, and you can find very respectable bottles for under $15, like Jim Beam Black and Evan Williams Black Label. 

 

I'm not a big bourbon drinker (I prefer Scotch for sipping and rye for mixing), so I don't usually like to spend more than $20 or so on a bottle. Weller 107, a wheated bourbon, is a great value, and I hear great things about the 12 year old. Old Grand Dad, which is rye-heavy, is also wonderful, both in its bonded and 114-proof expressions. All of these are around $20. Buffalo Trace, a good all around mixing and sipping bourbon, is a little more expensive, as is the badass Wild Turkey 101, which in some moods I'm inclined to call my favorite bourbon in the world. 


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937


#4 Rafa

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:29 PM

On the fancier end of things, Elijah Craig 12 and Four Roses Single Barrel are excellent sippers and a steal at under $30. The Four Roses yellow label is a decent everyday mixer. 


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937


#5 sbumgarner

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:29 PM

I generally use Elijah Craig 12 if I want a softer expression of the bourbon (a Paper Plane is an excellent example of a drink that shines with EC 12) and Buffalo Trace or bonded Old Granddad for something more assertive. If I could find Old Weller easier that would slip into the mix as well.

#6 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:57 PM

For mixing, I too like Elijah Craig 12 and Buffalo Trace. I agree that Buffalo Trace is more assertive so I choose depending on the type of drink.

#7 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:34 PM

No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.



#8 Hassouni

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 09:14 PM

Wild Turkey 101!!! $30 a handle, yes, that's right, 1.75 god damn liters. 



#9 weinoo

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 04:04 AM

No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.

I think it's fine, if a bit expensive for what it is.


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#10 Rafa

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 06:34 AM

No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.

Jim Beam Black is the same juice, a year younger and at a lower (but still respectable) proof, at less than half the price. 


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937


#11 mkayahara

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:04 AM


No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.

Jim Beam Black is the same juice, a year younger and at a lower (but still respectable) proof, at less than half the price. 

Except in Ontario, where Jim Beam Black is only 6 years old, and costs 63% of the price of Knob Creek.

 

On the other hand, our everyday mixing bourbon is Evan Williams, which isn't even available in Ontario: We bring it in by the liter every time we go to the US, and get friends to bring us bottles on their trips too!


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#12 Rafa

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:23 AM

Damn. We're really spoiled down here. You made a great choice for an everyday bourbon, though!

 

And at least you can get Havana Club.


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937


#13 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:09 AM

No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.

Jim Beam Black is the same juice, a year younger and at a lower (but still respectable) proof, at less than half the price. 

 

We have the six-year old Black for the same price (or a couple of pounds either way), here on the dark side.

 

You're liable to overshoot $40 for a lot of the products mentioned here, too :hmmm:

 

Keeps us well behaved, I suppose.


Edited by Plantes Vertes, 02 May 2013 - 10:42 AM.


#14 tanstaafl2

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:26 AM



No-one likes Knob Creek? The strong heat calms down in mixed drinks and its nice nut flavours and sweetness come out.

Jim Beam Black is the same juice, a year younger and at a lower (but still respectable) proof, at less than half the price.


 
We have the six-year old Black for the same price (or a couple of pounds either way), here on the dark side.
 
You're liable to overshoot $40 for a lot of the products mentioned here, too :hmmm:
 
Keeps us well behaved, I suppose.


One of my favorites for a nice wheated bourbon is a 50/50 mix of Old Weller Antique 107 proof and Weller 12. OWA used to be 7 yo but has recently lost the age statement. Still when mixed it adds some proof to the Weller 12 while the Weller 12 contributes a nice barrel influence. Together they just seem to work. Good on its own and a nice blend for mixing as well. Neither bottle is typically over about $25 here and are sometimes considerably less.

For rye bourbons there are so many nice choices in the under $40 price range. For me Elmer T. Lee is a current favorite as is the OGD 114 when a little more proof is desirable.
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#15 scubadoo97

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:22 AM

I would say one should identify if they are looking for a high rye, low rye or wheated bourbon for mixing<br /><br />Hard to beat Old Grand Dad BIB or 114 for a high rye mixer or for sipping. WT 101 also works well for mixing<br /><br /> For a lower rye, many of the mid to low shelf Beam and Heaven Hill products will do well as a serviceable mixer at a good price. KC is a bit pricier as a mixer but should work very well with 100 pf to stand up well for mixing<br /><br />For a wheated OWA, Weller SR or Makers will do well for mixing<br /><br />I'm more of a neat sipper and don't do cocktails much so personally I would look for mid to lower shelf for mixing

#16 brinza

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:01 PM

For an economical everyday mixing bourbon, I've been very happy with Ezra Brooks which runs about $12 a 750ml and at 90 proof manages to hold its own in multi-ingredient drinks (By "multi-ingredient," I mean that for Manhattans and Old Fashioneds I'll stay with "sipping" ryes or bourbons).
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#17 Yojimbo

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:30 PM

Thanks too all for picks and suggestions; I wish I could report back my tasting experiences so far.  If I'd been really systematic, I'd've written up my tasting notes and presented them here in fine detail, but for two pragmatic issues:

 

1.  In the moment, I was as much concerned with winding down after an intense day of work, rather than recording the nuances of a particular brand, and

 

2.  I recognize that, even aside from the personal idiosyncrasies of taste, the world of Bourbon is just too diverse to rank one-on-one.

 

My goal was to identify a bourbon version of Rittenhouse BIB, i.e., good value and mixable, and I soon found out it's just not that simple.  Some prefer wheated Bourbon, others high rye; some lean toward higher proof for mixability, others look for smoothness, and everybody's got a different price in mind for their go-to brand. 

 

I will say i was impressed with Basil Hayden and some of the higher level expressions of Eagle as sipping whiskeys; almost on the level with a pot still Irish whiskey or some single malt Scotches, but I'm still on the lookout for an everyday mixer.


"The thirst for water is a primitive one. Thirst for wine means culture, and thirst for a cocktail is its highest expression."

Pepe Carvalho, The Buenos Aires Quintet by Manuel Vazquez Montalban

#18 scubadoo97

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:23 PM

Wild Turkey 101!!! $30 a handle, yes, that's right, 1.75 god damn liters.


And 101 isn't too far off their barrel proof. They come in pretty low compared to other bourbon

#19 Vieux Carré

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:47 PM

I too searched for a Bourbon version of Rittenhouse BIB. I decided that a traditional style was preferable than either a wheated style like Makers or a high rye style. If I want the rye, I'll use Rittenhouse.  I ended up choosing Jim Beam Devils Cut. It is a well treated traditional bourbon at 90 proof. A reasonable and versatile mixing bourbon, I think.



#20 Dezmanturner

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 03:24 PM

Willett for sipping, Bulleit for mixing.