Adventures in Whiskey

Being a big cigar smoker and a recent appreciator of slowing things down to gain clarity, I thought given the popularity of pairing cigars with whiskey, I'd take a deeper look into this concept of making cigar smoking an even more pleasurable & meditative experience. And so it begins...



Phase 1 involved drinking several various 50ml samples of bourbon, Irish whiskey & Scotch. Also, lots of learning, sampling & reading. Just like most honest research either professionally or just for personal fun, the more you look into it, the more you find a long trail of history, technique & science. Much like cigars, whiskey too has a long & colorful history.


Phase 2 of my foray into noob whiskey drinkery. Graduating from 50ml samples to the pint, 375ml. I think I've narrowed it down to 8 whiskeys - 5 bourbons, 2 scotches & so far 1 rye that I'd like to delve into a little deeper. Some are hard to get and some don't come in pints so a bit of searching is involved. For bourbons I have a Woodford Reserve, a Maker's Mark, & a Knob Creek straight bourbon in the pint.

Still would like to pick up a Bulleit & a Buffalo Trace (which for some reason is hard to find in my parts). For scotch I was pretty blown away with a dram of the standard MaCallen 12 and really want to try for the heavy peat smoke thing with the Ardbeg Corryvreckan (what's not to like with a name like that). Tons of ryes out there but one that looks worth the try if I can find it in a pint is High West Rendezvous Barrel Select or Double Rye. So anyway in the name of science, *hiccup* cheers!


Phase 3 of intermediate nerd whiskey appreciation. Mostly bourbons so far. Starting to get a feel for the finer taste differences in the actual makeup of components known as the 'mash bill'. Whiskey components are corn, rye, barley, wheat & sometimes oat. To be a bourbon, there must be +51% corn and to be considered a rye whiskey there must be +51% rye. With a predominant corn makeup (bourbon) there is a rich, sweeter profile whereas with a rye there are more spicier, sharp & dry tastes. A wheated bourbon, as a secondary grain like what Maker's Mark has, provides an additional subtle creaminess.

A picture here in the gallery of a pint of Bulleit has what would be called a high rye bourbon (over 15% rye) because it's higher rye content is 28%, which is noticeable from a certain zesty tingle on the tongue. Think of the taste difference between corn bread vs. rye bread. Even though this popular Bulleit is considered an entry level decent booze it's higher rye content sets it apart from regular bourbons. I'm enjoying it insomuch that I think I'd like a rye whiskey. Now imagine me saying all this in a Ben Stein monotone voice, lol.


Phase 4 After reading several online reviews & checking with local stores availability, I picked up a 750ml bottle of High West Double Rye. Apparently this brand has gotten some pretty good reviews not so much for it's overwelming rye taste but more so for it's originality in flavor mitigation. This particular whiskey has a blend of two predominant rye batches, one young and one old. Picked this one up for 40 clams which seems to be on the higher end of the going rate. I have high hopes for this considering that I have purchased this large bottle (couldn't locate a pint) without having any previous samplings. I'll let you know after I get into it. I'm not so sure if I'm the type to go full tilt into the reviewing of whiskeys as there a plenty of brilliant reviewers out there. The extent of my critical reviewing might be quite narrow at this point and likely comical after a few high proof samplings. In any case, it shouldn't take someone too long to know if they like a certain brand or style. Cheers!


 - Gabe

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