Thursday, August 30, 2012

At Home Bar - Well Bourbons & Under $30

I'm on a quest for an economically sound bar at home. My financials and my lust for high-end bourbons happens to be a constant and unwanted battle. Recently, I've taken it upon myself to taste and sample a couple of bourbons for my "well" at home as well as a single barrel or small batch under $30. I thought I'd share my some I've taken a liking to and perhaps you all will give them a try next time you're out and about.

Well, well, well:

Most people find the term well to be synonymous with "cheap", however in my terms I mean it to be "affordable, but satisfactory for an array of drinks." Wordy, I know, but so we're on the same page...I digress...In my search I've picked the brains of some of my favorite local bars and asked point blank "what's your well?" Some have surprised me others have disappointed me, nevertheless I've got my own.

Bourbon- the Wells

Ancient Age

It's cheap $8.99 for a 750ml, it hits the notes for most of your cocktails and your friends won't know the difference. Made by the mad scientists at Buffalo Trace, Ancient Age is literally Buffalo Trace the younger. It has some similar notes as Buffalo Trace, candied and caramels, but it comes in at 80 proof. It's not meant to be sipped, but with the proper hand it can satisfy most palates in a drink. Also too, the price is kind of ridick.

Henry McKenna

This is a sleeper. I doubt most people think, "Hey it's $12.99 and it's a liter, gonna be great!" I had heard about this from several customers where I work, but never gave it much thought...then I decided what the heck and I was pleased. It isn't too big, the finish doesn't linger, yet it has a memorable character. Produced by the guys at Heaven Hill, this is my definitive well at home. It makes a heckuva a cocktail, it has more sipping appeal to the novice drinker and the price is fantastic.

Single Barrel and Small Batch Bourbons:

I've had my fair share of phenomenal single barrel and small batch bourbons. I've been lucky enough to try or have sip here and there of the really really good stuff. The problem...the good stuff normally costs a bit too much. Like way too much or just out of reach. It wasn't long before I was researching and checking out which single barrel bourbons I could find at a reasonable price. Not the "best of the best", but the noteworthy and sippers that I could offer friends and company.

Under $30s - the "Try This"

Evan Williams Single Barrel

I can only tell you that we had a friend over not too long ago, she asked what I might "introduce" her to and I offered her the Evan Williams Single Barrel. This week she bought a bottle of bad-ass bourbon. Erase all you know about Evan Williams, this is a well thought out and serious single barrel. It has a nose of toffee, caramel and definite baking spices. It opens nicely and the finish isn't too acidic. I would like it to be a bit bigger, however it's clear the distillers at Heaven Hill were looking for something to be enjoyed neat. It retails at $25.99 at some places and for that price you can't go wrong with this playful bourbon.

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old

This is the classic. The bourbon I think of when I'm think of bourbon. I've turned a cult following onto this bourbon at work considering it's price point of $25.99. It's big at 94 proof, it has a touch of sweetness on the nose, but mostly it's a dry bourbon with complex layers. Elijah Craig 12 Year carries weight with strong charred notes and a lingering finish. This is something you can simply drop a bit of water into and enjoy...just remember it's 94 proof or you'll be praising it's awesomeness all night.

Wathens Single Barrel

Sipping smooth. This bourbon has balance, depth and a finish that plays just enough to remind it's there. At around $25, this bourbon is a friend to those who prefer there bourbons neat. The vanilla lingers on the nose while there is a bit of fruitiness to its body. You can definitely tell this bourbon was cared for over eight years. For those who are fans of Woodford Reserve, this is a must try.

That's what I got thus far! This list will certainly grow once I get more opportunities to enjoy some more bourbon as the year progresses. Currently, I have my eyes on the Henry McKenna Single Barrel, Buck and Elmer T. Lee. In the meantime, check these out!

Personally, I'm going to go enjoy more Wathens Single Barrel.

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message