Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Whisky novice stuckon two brands


elfin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Not an expert on 'whisky'-I love Jack Daniels (sour mash) and Crown Royal. I do not like scotch (even the expensive ones). Have been burned trying to broaden my scope and have ended up with scotch type whiskies which I do not like. Any suggestions/recommendations? Is there a European equivelent that I can order when I am traveling abroad?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey like Jack Daniels, and Canadian whiskies like Crown Royal are much sweeter than Irish or Scotch whisky, and it sounds like that's what you like. Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to find anything like that flavor profile in anything European.

On the other hand, you might branch out and try some bourbons and other Tennesse whiskies-- Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, George Dickel, Bookers, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(singing) bourbon bourbon everyone likes their bourbon!

if you're like me you aren't digging the peat flavor that is prominant in scotch.

Try one of the garden variety Bourbons: Maker's Mark or Jim Beam, or Woodford's Reserve, or.... there are tons. I cant help you about being overeas, my brother lives in the UK and I send him bourbon for every holiday, it is all he asks for.

edit: digital dexterity and mornings are mutually exclusive

Edited by markovitch (log)

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When somebody is wanting to extend their familiarity with a spirit (such as Whiskey) I always recommend that they try to learn a little bit about "what" that spirit actually is all about, and then use that as a stepping stone into trying out different brands.

Of all of the spirits, whisky has probably the most complictated and confusing geneology.

Whisk(e)y started off as simply being a way to take something that was easy/cheap to ferment (grain) and then distill it in order to increase it's alcohol. In areas that took this to it's extreme, and wanted to get as high of an alcohol content as possible, ended up with Vodka. For places that were satisfied with not spending that much time and energy on distillation, they ended up with a product that still retained some of the flavor of its original grain-based origins, and this became known as Whisk(e)y.

We are probably talking about the early 1400's here, which is when we start seeing some minor mentions of the distillation of a brewed beverage in order to create "aqua vita", or "usquebaugh", which eventually bacame "whiskey".

Ireland "appears" to be where formallized distillation of whiskey gained a decent foothold, but it also was evolving along similar lines in Scottland at this time as well, both areas appeared to exchange some of their techniques, styles, and equiptment for processing, although one key feature remained unique to Scottland, and that was that they would dry their malted barley over peat fires, which would give Scotch Whisky a unique smokey flavor that was lacking in its Irish counterpart.

When Settlers from Ireland and Scottland arrived in America, they brought with them their distillation skills and processes, and quickly began setting up shop. Instead of using primarily barley as their ingredient, they began trying various grain products that were already well along in their cultivation here in America, noteably corn.

Originally these settlers were situated on the east coast, but as the tax collectors began seeing distilled spirits as a way to beef up their coffers, the distillers moved further and further westwards, eventually settling in around the area now known as Kentucky... and as they moved, they continued to acclimate their processes to using the grains on hand, and thus Rye and Wheat were added to their existing recipes of corn and barley.

Gradually, production evolved from being just the process of producing alcohol, to producing a product that had some level of quality associated to it. Originally whiskies would be sold soon after distillation, and would have been clear, harsh, and would have a flavor nothing like what we currently associate with American Whiskey. With a settled business in place, the whiskey distillers could take the time to both fine-tune their mash recipe, as well as start storing whiskey in barrels, which would mellow their flavors, and deepen their color.

Rye became the popularized whiskey, and was made (as you might expect) with Rye as its primary ingredient. Another style of whiskey, "Bourbon", started getting noticed, the name coming simply from the fact that the barrels of this whiskey were stamped with the port along the Mississippi from which they originated... "Bourbon". Bourbon was made with corn as it's primary ingredient. It wasn't until after prohibition that Bourbon and Rye would exchange their roles, which is why Bourbon is not the predominant American Whiskey, and Rye can be very hard to find.

For an American whiskey to be called "Bourbon", it can be made anywhere in the US, but it has to contain at least 51% corn in its mash recipe, and it has to be matured in new charred oak barrels. For it to be called "Rye" it has to be made with at least 51% rye, and also matured in new charred oak barrels.

In Canada, things evolved a little differently. The Grain Millers were where farmers would take their grains to be milled into flour. Often the millers would be paid with a portion of the grain, and so many millers would have a stockpile of grain that they could then sell as flour. In many cases they started ending up with an excess that they didn't know what to do with, and they soon discovered that they could begin fermeting the grain before it was milled, and then distill it into whisky. This provided them essentially with a way of indefinately storing their "grain bank", although it would no longer be possible of making bread with it :-> Usually they would save their better grain for turning into flour, and the lesser grain which wasn't really suitable, they would turn into whisky. Since these gain millers would have a rather diverse collection of grain to use, the whiskies they would make became a "blended" style, with their recipe never specifically sticking to one particular grain or another.

There is little in the way of regulations as to what a "Canadian Whisky" is, other then the fact that is is made in Canada. However virtually all of them are still of the"Blended" style, which means that the distiller will blend together the distillation from several different types of grain, sometimes even using neutral grain spirit. And while many people often refer to Canadian Whisky as "Rye", there is far less then the requisite 51% rye in Canadian Whisky.

In the above, I've tried to stick as much as possible to the proper "naming" of Whisk(e)y. Traditionally (although there are no regulations that I know of that demand this), the products from Ireland and America are referred to as "Whiskey", while the products from Scottland and Canada are referred to as "Whisky" (without the 'e'). There are some exceptions of course, both Maker's Mark and George Dickle here in America refer to their product as Whisky.

So what we have now is the following styles of whisk(e)y:

Irish: Perhaps the simplest style of Whisky flavor-wise, made from malted barley like scotch, but without the smokey peat flavor.

Scotch: It's often strong smokey character can make it a little daunting to the newly initiated. The "Lowland" Scotches will be of a softer style then the "Highland" Scotches, and so to provide for a more gradtual introduction you might want to start off with a Lowland Scotch.

American Whiskey: Bourbon, and Rye, are the main special varieties, but you can also find many "Blended" Whiskies in America as well. Bourbon has a sweeter flavor to it, which comes from the corn. While Rye will be drier, and perhaps with a more detectable spicey character, which comes from Rye being the major ingredient.

Canadian Whisky: Virtually all of them are blended, and across all of the whiskies, the blended versions are usually of less specific character then the non-blended versions.

Now... did that just confuse you further, or did it actually answer any questions you might have had? :->

-Robert

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with simply expanding your horizons within the realm of what you know you already like. There are myriad options to try that are close relatives to the two brands that you mentioned, but with flavor profiles that are vastly different. Plus you can explore many of these without spending a lot of cash! For instance, Elijah Craig 12 year old and Bulleit Bourbon won't cost an arm and a leg and you get two distinct, but familiar tastes. Also, Canadian Club 15 year old is very inexpensive for a very smooth blend. Go to your local spirits vendor and tell them what flavors you like and they will make some recommendations. Or tell us more here, and we will try to offer more options. Another recommendation is to educate yourself about what you like and what is out there. To do that, READ! I recommend picking up a copy of Malt Advocate as a start. This magazine not only has good articles, but they also have recommendations and ratings. Let us know what you try and how you like it!

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I'm an American living in London. It's pretty easy to find a range of bourbons if you take the time to scout a bit. Many bars that offer a range of good scotch also offer at least some choice of bourbons. Note that pubs are generally poor places to dring anything except beer, whatever your preferred poison.

Barring that, most have a bottle of Maker's Mark on the shelf. Canadian whiskey is for some reason hard to find. But that may be because I'm not really looking.

I've found that my occassional forays onto the continent, it's hard to find liquors in general, at least beyond the bog standard (Jack Daniels is far too easy to find). I tend to drink the local concoction, unless I'm in Turkey (raki is evil!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm an American living in London. It's pretty easy to find a range of bourbons if you take the time to scout a bit. Many bars that offer a range of good scotch also offer at least some choice of bourbons. Note that pubs are generally poor places to dring anything except beer, whatever your preferred poison.

well for my brother, well, he left the US with a serious nose for boutique Bourbon. On top of that (and weve done the math) it is cheaper for me to buy it here and ship it to him.

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...