I like Islay whisky, what Bourbon might appeal?
April 20, 2013 9:33 AM   Subscribe

My single malt top preference is for fairly tradiitonal peatty Islay malts. I very much enjoy most of the Laphroaig outputs and love the 16 year old Lagavulin - I can take or leave Bruichladdich and have no interest in the trend for super peatty malts. I am looking to expand my tastes into bourbon but have little experience. Given that love of Laphroaig and Lagavulin, what bourbons might most appeal?
posted by biffa to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I would start with something like Bulleit or Knob Creek. They're both slightly more interesting "not entry level Bourbons" that in my opinion aren't sugary sweet like Maker's Mark can be. Woodford Reserve is also fantastic.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on April 20, 2013

Best answer: Start you with High West's Campfire, a blend of bourbon, rye, and an unnamed Islay! We have it, we love it, and we love the Islays, pretty much all of them.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on April 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would second the recommendation for Bulleit. The higher rye content gives it a dryer, spicier flavor.
posted by Svejk at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2013

Yeah, Bulleit is good, and might be more easily gettable than the High West if your profile location is still accurate.
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on April 20, 2013

Response by poster: I picked up some Woodford reserve this morning, not tried it yet, but the trip to get it was what made me think of asking about this - there is a local specialist booze shop that had about 50 or bourbons and I thought I would have a go but had no idea of what might suit me and ended up with the Woodford as I had remembered it being recommended previously. I don't mind dropping some cash on a good one, just want to get more of a clue as to what I might like beforehand.
posted by biffa at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2013

rtha, that sounds great. I'll have to pick some up myself.

I was going to recommend the Knob Creek Rye, though both their bourbon and Bulleit are excellent.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:53 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Balcones Baby Blue is the only bourbon I'll actually order in preference to Scotch. Not sure how widely distributed it is, though - it's local to me.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:12 AM on April 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Hudson Rye would perhaps fit the bill for you. I also enjoy Laphroaig and Bulliet. Hudson is a bit more dosh than Bulliet, but they are both great.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2013

Best answer: The road I took from Scotch to Bourbon was toured through Irish whiskey, and I also wasn't an Islay fan, so I can't tell you what you'll like.

Unlike single-malts though, most common bourbons are available in airline bottles. Those are by far the cheapest way to do some sampling. Like all whiskies, bourbons will benefit from a drop or two of water, but take them neat before you try them over ice, even if iced is your thing. As my father says, you can always add ice, but it's not as easy to subtract it.

You can't go wrong with Woodford; it's definitely a superior specimen. I won't go into best bourbons; there are a million threads on it here, and I, for one, don't like Bulleit, and think it sells because the classy bottle. My only advice was to avoid the sweet ones, like Makers--it'll taste like candy to a scotch drinker, if my experience is anything to go by.

You may also want to try some Tennessee Whiskies. They've been through the Lincoln County filtration process. George Dickel is my standby, but I don't know how it compares in general to others. Jack Daniels is a TN whisky.

Also ryes: the new ryes are good, but Old Overholt is probably the better of the classic brands. (I keep Jack Daniels Rye around for making Sazeracs, which is a sweeter whiskey cocktail, something like an old fashioned in a glass rinsed with absinthe-- it's great for the "well," as it were.)
posted by Sunburnt at 4:07 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Many thanks all, this has been very useful. The Campfire sounds very promising and my local place does have it so that will likely make it on to my shopping list next time we are over there. They don't stock the Hudson unfortunately. They do have the Balcones and it sounds pretty interesting, I might look into that as well

I haven't really had any awareness of Tennesse whisky, it looks like I will be able to get the Dickel if I want it. I will see what the guy in the shop has to say about it and what it compares with.

I tried the Woodford last night, very pleasant, not likely to challenge the Lagavulin in my affections and a little too heavy on the vanilla but a decent and nicely warming glass. not likely to languish at the back of the booze cupboard.
posted by biffa at 3:23 AM on April 21, 2013

Just a quick aside on Bruichladdich: if you go to their distillery you'll find they sell a much broader range of whiskies than either their website or mainstream distributors would suggest. Some of it is a bit experimental, or gimmicky to their critics, but I found it pretty interesting how they were experimenting with different casks. Unlike Lagavulin and Laphroaig, who very much pitch themselves on continuity and tradition, Bruichladdich pitch themselves as "progressive" and aren't all about a single style.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:19 AM on April 21, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks muffinman, I will admit to testing Quite a few of the bruichladdich expressions and enjoying them, I like their first expressions range, kind of like whisky for brandy drinkers.
posted by biffa at 5:49 AM on April 21, 2013

Best answer: I'd go for straight rye before bourbon -- more pepper, less vanilla and caramel, but the single-malt comparison there would be Talisker rather than the peaty Islays -- although I'm not sure how many of the newer small-batch ryes make it across to the UK. Then look at bourbons with a decent amount of rye in the mash: perhaps Basil Hayden's or Eagle Rare.
posted by holgate at 12:07 PM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

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