Bourbon in Scotland
January 25, 2013 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading to Scotland in a few months and I'd like to give my host, who's a fan of Scotch (or just whisky, there) a gift of good American Bourbon. My criteria are that it's a very good bourbon, and that it's a bourbon that he couldn't get there in Scotland. I don't know anything about bourbon, though. Want to help me out?

I don't know anything about bourbon, but a little research gave me a list of bourbons that are readily available in my area and are generally considered high quality: Buffalo Trace, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, Blanton's, & Basil Hayden.

The main problem I'm running into is figuring out which ones are and are not available in the UK. Does anyone know if any of the above bourbons are or are not available there? Or do you know another bourbon I should be considering?
posted by perrce to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure about UK availability, but here in Kentucky all of the ones on your list are considered to be good, solid choices.

You might also consider any of the higher-end Pappy Van Winkle bottles (the 23 year is really really delicious), Four Roses Small Batch (cheaper, but good), or Parker's.
posted by broadway bill at 7:23 PM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: All except the Ridgemont are available here. If your host is a serious malt snob, bourbon may be way too candy-sweet for them. If they're Scottish, they'll probably receive it with much appreciative fuss, have a glass with you, say “Oh, that has a very different taste”, then quietly use it for cleaning spoons/lighting bonfires when you're gone. We have an odd way of being grateful.
posted by scruss at 7:27 PM on January 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

2nding Pappy Van Winkle. It does what a good bourbon should.
posted by cyndigo at 7:27 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about US whiskey (though today being Burns Day we're sampling a few varieties of Scottish whisky - happy birthday Robbie!) but fyi in Britain the appellation "bourbon" is used for brandy not whiskey -- might be good to know so you don't confuse your lucky recipient.

if my grammar is a bit off tonight, the reason should be obvious
posted by anadem at 7:31 PM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: You are going to think I'm nuts, but Cedar Ridge Bourbon Whiskey from frickin' IOWA is the most delicious bourbon I've had in...ever. It's smooth and flavorful and just a tiny bit sweet. And he definitely will not be able to get it in the UK.
posted by Lieber Frau at 7:43 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

If the >$200 price of PVW 23 year is a bit out of your budget, you might try Booker's, a cask-strength bourbon that is very good.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:54 PM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: If you're concerned that the sweetness of bourbon might put them off, Stranahan's, while not a representative bourbon (or technically a bourbon at all, though its flavor is somewhere between bourbon and an Irish whiskey,) might be a good American whiskey to give them. It's delicious, and I really doubt it's available in the UK.
posted by contraption at 8:08 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband (from near Cedar Ridge, actually -- thanks for the rec!) says that Templeton Rye, also from Iowa, is really good -- it's a Prohibition-era recipe, and now they're making it again. People love it, and lots of places sell it, but apparently it sells out so quickly that it can be hard to get sometimes.

(Caveat: we are not big spirits drinkers, but he says it's another good off-the-mainstream suggestion.)
posted by Madamina at 8:11 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If your Scottish host is too much of a snob to enjoy fine American whiskey, well then, screw him. I'd go for something that's the most American possible: the "sweetest" (note, no actual sugar), most vanilla, least smokey bourbon you can find. I don't have a specific recommendation for you, but I strongly suggest going for a single barrel bourbon, an unblended whiskey that (in theory) has more of a distinctive flavor. More distinguished, along the lines of single malt Scotch. Also less likely to be available over there.

If bringing bourbon to Scotland scares you off the US is also having quite a renaissance of gin right now and there's a lot of interesting flavors that won't be in the UK. Anchor Steam is making a fine San Francisco gin, there's also a lot of interesting gin distilleries up in Portland. They're readily available in fine liquor stores as well as places like BevMo, at least on the west coast.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 PM on January 25, 2013

You might also consider any of the higher-end Pappy Van Winkle bottles (the 23 year is really really delicious), Four Roses Small Batch (cheaper, but good), or Parker's.

Psst: a UK-dwelling friend reports that the Van Winkle bourbons (and rye) are available now in the London, if you know where to look.
posted by kathryn at 8:23 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Elijah Craig 20 year old, while not in production anymore, can still be found. it's not at all sweet.
posted by Splunge at 9:08 PM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: You could try bringing coals to Newcastle with an American single malt!
posted by monotreme at 9:29 PM on January 25, 2013

Elijah Craig is my goto bourbon anymore. I really do like the Templeton Rye though I doubt you can get it.
posted by sanka at 9:44 PM on January 25, 2013

Response by poster: You all have convinced me. I'm going to try to track down a bottle of American Single Malt for my host. I'm tentatively looking for a bottle of Balcones '1' Texas Single Malt Whisky. I'm not sure if it's available in my area, though. Thanks for all the help!
posted by perrce at 8:46 AM on January 26, 2013

All the Whisky nerds I know are also very serious about their Bourbon as well. In fact here in Scotland being into strong booze with a scholarly intent is a great way to hide a latent alcohol problem.

Most people will just know the supermarket selection. In your average high end liquor store in Edinburgh (a few steps up from the supermarket) they have nearly all the brands listed in your post. Smaller towns will be lucky to have Buffalo trace only.

Applejack is harder to come by here if you want something truly unique from the USA. If your friend is into cocktails then many of the bitters produced stateside are rare and a thrilling addition to a home bar.
posted by camerasforeyes at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2013

Another vote for Templeton Rye. It's not only tasty, but the story behind it--Prohibition, Capone, bootlegging and such--is charming.

Booker's, like the other small batch Jim Beam bourbons (Baker's, Basil Harden, Knob Creek) is quite probably available there. Bulleit is definitely available there.

Not sure if Michter's small batch is available there. That might work.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:34 AM on January 27, 2013

This is the web outlet for my local booze shop, they are in the middle of nowhere but have a great range. If they don't have it there's a decent chance it will not be easily available in the UK, even in London. They had about half the rare-ish bourbons recommended in another recent bourbon thread.
posted by biffa at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2013

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