Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's all about style.....

Whenever someone finds out I'm a whisk(e)y enthusiast, I can count down 3.....2.....1 "so...what's your favorite whiskey?"  I understand the motivation for the question but that's like asking what your favorite food is.  I like many types of food and the same goes for whiskey so the question really has no answer.

Thus the education begins ".....whiskey is diverse as wine in many respects...." and I go on to explain the origins of whiskey, the various grains that make up whiskey, the distillation differences, cooperage differences, aging differences, etc. etc.  This cornucopia of whiskey information typically leads then to the real question.  What style do you like?

When it comes to bourbon, I pretty much like them all.  When it comes to Scotch, almost anything except Islay (ok, for those paying attention to this blog know that last exception is a lie).  I dislike MOST Islay....there are exceptions like my Bruichladdich 15 year second edition. 

I cut my teeth on Wild Turkey back in the day and then when reintroduced to bourbon, I gravitated toward wheated bourbons like Van Winkle Family Reserve Lot B.  Today, I like a very broad cut across the whisk(e)y offerings so for me, I don't have a favorite whiskey but when it comes to styles, I do like barrel strength bourbons and in Scotch, I like Highland and Speyside primarily.

Style can cover many aspects:

Barrel proof to cut proof (that sweet spot that is your preferred drinking proof)
Single Barrel, Small Batch, or Vat
Extra age to young
World region (e.g. Japanese over Irish)
Mashbill of Rye, Wheat, Barley or Corn
Vintage or current
...and the list could go on

So, what's your style?  Is your preference a broad drinking experience like mine or do you narrow in on a specific style?  There is no wrong all comes down to what you like.


  1. I can honestly say that I enjoy most any richly flavored spirit with an honest balance. I used to say "coopered spirit" (i.e. Bourbon, Scotch, Irish, Canadian, Cognac, Rum, Reposado & Anejo Tequila, brandy, etc...). But truth be told I like the richer gins and even good eau de vie and white dog - so the barrel is not strictly necessary. In the world of whisky I started with a love for big peat bombs and massively oaked older sherry bombs and turned my nose up at delicate floral highlands, Speys, Irish and Canadians. Then my pendulum swung back to sweet. I fell for young whiskies like Balcones', Mackmyra, Amrut & Kavalan. I fell for tropical fruity brown buttery Japanese whisky. My style - in short - is eclecticism. Maybe I just love spirit. If I'm with any quality spirit I'm a happy camper it seems...

    1. Josh - I'll have to admit, there have been only a few craft whiskey's I've found to be drinkable. While in TX recently I met up with someone who brought along 4 or 5 bottles of Balcones and while a number of them were drinkable, I wouldn't pay the premium price that goes with it. There was one or two that I did like enough to consider the price point.

      To your point about the big spirits and then moving back toward lighter offerings; I've liked the broad spectrum of whiskey for quite some time and to me the big bruisers have a place in my bunker and drinking rotation just as much as the lighter whiskey's you mentioned. I've found I really like the Japanese offerings as well as Amrut, an Indian whisky that's quite enjoyable. I hope to be able to acquire some Tazmanian whisky in the near future to add yet more depth to the bunker.

  2. I like American Straight Ryes and Bourbons. I've liked most of the ones I've tried to some extent or another. Most of my favorites are around 90-100 proof. For me, barrel proof is ok once in a while, but not all the time.

    If I had to name a favorite, I'd say Four Roses {mumble mumble}, but you'd really have work hard to make out which one I said since I don't know if I could narrow it down that much.

    1. Eric - if you had asked me three years ago what I thought of Four Roses I would have told you I didn't care for the shelf offerings. Fortunately, I've been able to participate in some barrel picks that have been outstanding and now Four Roses is at the top of my list of preferred bourbons. I do like barrel strength but adding a splash of water does tend to open up the profile a bit plus take down the proof a touch. I do have a number of barrel proof bourbons that are way too drinkable at proof and don't need any help by adding water. So for me, it just depends on what I'm drinking. My preferred drinking proof is somewhere between 100-120.

  3. I like American Whiskey, both bourbon and rye. I don't like Scotch but I don't dislike it either. Same holds true with other whiskeys. When it comes to rye, I like a more spicy/herby product. For bourbon, my preference is 100+ proof wheat recipe like OWA. That's not to say I don't like a rye recipe. In fact, I love a high rye bourbon, especially if I'm mixing a cocktail. I don't care for the young, craft bourbons that are on the shelf. I prefer an age of at least 4 years or more, with a preference of around 8-12yrs. Well maybe that's not all true because I really enjoy the Williet 3yr Rye barrel proof. Maybe that's because I gravitate towards the LDI profile when it comes to rye. I also like aged wheat recipe bourbon.

    Aw hell, I'm all over the damn board! It really all depends on my mood when I approach my home bar or when I'm out. Just tell me what ya got and I'm sure I'll find a pour to enjoy haha.

  4. Sounds like your palate and mine and in tune...I too have the LDI Willett 3 yr Rye and I thinks it's very good for a young whiskey.

  5. I like any of the higher proof, wheated bourbons (favs are SW PVW 15yr 107 proof, George T. Stagg or William Larue Weller). Also, I pretty much like all bourbons. :D

    1. If you haven't already, try playing with the proof by cutting the barrel strength stuff (WLW, Stagg) and see how it changes. I've found some barrel strength bourbons while drinkable out of the bottle, really open up with water. For me, many of my bourbons really open up nicely at around 105 to 115.