Buffalo Trace, a delicious new friend

25 02 2009

Nothing says USA like a nice bourbon. And I discovered a good one recently I’d like to share:

Dangerously Smooth

Disturbingly Smooth

Meet Buffalo Trace. This delicious bourbon runs for around $25 for 750 ml. and is at least as smooth as some much more expensive whiskeys on the market. In enjoying this fine beverage, I began to wonder, what is the official difference between bourbon and other whiskeys? I know that bourbon is corn-based and comes from Kentucky, but there’s got to be more, right? So I did a little research. Turns out that while the difference is corn and the ol’ “made in the USA” label there is a little bit more to it.

Whiskey is the umbrella category for the particular liquor and generally each whiskey producing country just slaps its name on to indicate the country of origin: i.e. Scotch Whisky (they drop the “e.” Scotland is O.G. with the “whisky” so they can do what the want ), Irish Whiskey, Canadian Whiskey, etc. But we Americans have a special name for our corn-based whiskey (it must be at least 51% corn) and that name is bourbon. Bourbon generally comes from Kentucky although legally, contrary to popular belief, it does not have to; however these days there are very few bourbon-producing distilleries outside of Kentucky. Bourbon must be aged in new charred-wood barrels, White Oak being the wood of choice due to its specific porous-but-not-too-porous properties.

I personally discovered bourbon through a back-door route in the form of Jack Daniel’s while in college. Although Jack fulfills the legal requirements that would render it a bourbon, people in Tennessee decided to get fancy and call their bourbon “Tennessee Whiskey,” to distinguish it from the other brands further perpetuating the myth that bourbon must be made in Kentucky to be called such.

In any case, me and Jack had a good long run. Jack and coke is sweet with a dirty bite to it that I learned to love. However when I realized that my passion for Jack and Coke was leading me to drink liters of Coke on any given night on the town, I switched to Jack and seltzer because c’mon, soda is unhealthy whereas Jack is good for strong bones and muscles. Jack and seltzer is a beverage that really only a Jack lover or a masochist can drink.

Me in my college years discussing the finer points of Tennessee whiskey with a cohort

Me in my college years discussing the finer points of Tennessee whiskey with a cohort

Living in Korea was like the “moving in” stage of this relationship when I discovered, in addition to the hilarity of the words “Jack and Cock” written on more than one menu, the “Jack Daniel’s Set.” This is what bottle service would be like if it didn’t totally blow. A Jack set means that when you and your friends go to a bar, for anywhere from about $60-$70you can get a full bottle of Jack, unlimited Coke, some “dry appetizers” (usually peanuts and perhaps some dried squid), and two to three hot platters to be shared (fries, potato skins, quesadillas, or some such bar food). Glasses and ice bucket are brought out and what you have yourself is a veritable instant party. Those were good times.

One day, however, I was drinking Jack straight and realized that it was time to admit to myself that the stuff GOES DOWN LIKE GASOLINE. After a good run, the time had come to say goodbye. But the question remained, what to drink? Maker’s Mark was the most obvious answer since this bourbon really has all the smoothness that ol’ Jack lacks. (I have to respectfully disagree with the Knob Creek drinkers of the world- it tastes like an only slightly improved Jim Beam to me)  But since most NY bars are dumb, it means shelling out $2-$3 more per drink for this brand which the price per bottle does not really justify. I have settled on Irish Whiskey: Jameson, or Powers if it’s available because I can stomach paying more for these since they truly are so smooth but with a bit of an edge that I enjoy. However, with all the fantastic bourbons these fine United States produce, it’s a shame that most bars feature only Beam, Knob and Makers (and my man Jack! Who as explained above is not a bourbon only because Tennessee decreed it so).

With this in mind, I looked around online at what people were saying about good bourbons and compared it with what good ol’ Warehouse Wines & Spririts had on the shelf and came up with Buffalo Trace for a weekend trip with friends. Wow. This is good stuff. It has a nice vanilla taste without being sweet and leaves a nice aftertaste. It goes down smoothly, dangerously so in fact- in less than a few hours we’d killed the whole bottle. So if you like whiskey and can get down with bourbon, why not try this bad boy? It will make you a BETTER AMERICAN!

(More on Scotch later because I found out some interesting stuff about that stuff too . . . like that it’s made out of babies!)

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9 responses

25 02 2009
Matt Buczek

Nice read and I have never tried it, I will give it a go.

As a rule i am a bourbon man when I mix and a Scotch man when I drink neat.
I am interested to read your Scotch thoughts…..I am a Scotch fan and have been for years having tried most of the Single Malts and Blends. If you need any contributions, let me know!

26 02 2009
iammaya

Fo sheez- I’d love to know your thoughts about Scotch. I definitely have my likes and dislikes on the Scotch front but I still have a lot to learn. It’s funny- I usually drink bourbon neat or on the rocks but it does mix well. I had a great cocktail (which I actually mention in a post) containing lemonade, maple syrup & bourbon & it was incredible!

26 02 2009
Tim

Jack is still the shit. LET IT BURN!

26 02 2009
Dunzino

I really like Baker’s 107 Bourbon

IT WILL GET YOU DRUNK

1 03 2009
Weedless in Seattle

I like to drink too. I like to drink beers and smoke beerz. Call me Batman ’cause my life’s like a movie, and cause I wear capes… and smoke capes???

3 03 2009
Sarah Pease

I just emailed Sarah Palin to tell her that the best americans drink this. No more Joe Six Pack – it’s all about the Bill Buffalo Trace.

3 03 2009
Weedless in Seattle

I like to drink beers, and smoke beerz. I don’t know if this Buffalo can compete with White Horse Whiskey, plus it comes with a little horsey charm. That’s class.

10 03 2009
Lee

Good post. I was recently turned onto Basil Hayden’s, a solid bourbon, but not even close to the same price point as your beloved Buffalo. If I see it at my liquor store, I’ll give it a whirl. I have a enough faith in your ability to identify a fine brown liquor.

Keep posting.

17 03 2009
effyouitsmagic

I don’t drink the hard stuff (unless you consider amaretto sours hard stuff… although those DiSaronno on the rocks commercials where she sucks the ice cube dry do seem to bring the word “hard” to mind), but if you like bourbon, I think you’d like Char No. 4 on Smith Street – http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/char-no-4/.

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