October 19th, 2007


Celebratory cigar, bourbon tasting

So last night, in lieu of going over to tmfiii's apartment for a cigar, I hung out with a neighbor of mine to have a celebratory cigar.

I almost brought out one of my more expensive ones but decided at the last minute to go with a Lone Wolf Sungrown.  The Lone Wolfs are a good day to day cigar in my opinion - they're not bad, they're pretty inexpensive, and if I lose one or it's a poor smoke, I don't feel disappointed.

The wind was rather gusty in our area, but the cigar lit fine.  As soon as I ashed it, though, it immediately tunneled and had a hard time staying lit.  I only managed to get about halfway through it before I gave up in frustration.

At least, after all, it was only a Lone Wolf!  The only cheaper cigar that I have in my humidor is a Maker's Mark little tiny one, given to me in honor of a friend having his first kid, and that one is technically my brother's, but he'll never smoke it.

I also started tasting some bourbons.  Marshall made the autumn drink, which if I remember correctly he's already posted on here, the one using Laird's Applejack, apple cider, St. Germain, and some bitters.  I'm looking to do a winter drink, and while it's still unseasonably warm (dammit) I'm looking to do something combining whiskey and vanilla.

I haven't decided exactly what kind of whiskey or how I'm going to do it yet, though.  So yesterday I bought about a dozen miniatures of various bourbons and blended scotches - plus a Canadian or two - and I'm going to work my way through them, taste testing.  Last night I did the two bourbons that I bought, Bulleit and Maker's Mark.

(Given that it's good odds that I'll be buying more good bourbon in the future I wasn't overly worried about trying a lot of them.  I'd like to keep it to a fairly mid-line whiskey, though.)

The Bulleit, even with a few drops of water thrown in, just tasted a bit harsh to me.  Bourbon Enthusiast describes it as:
Initial nosings pick up soft, even flowery scents of violets and juniper; later whiffs identify melded aromas of dried herbs, hay, dry cereal, wild flowers, mushrooms and spice. Plenty of grip at palate entry; midpalate is plump and sweet corn-like. Finish is moderately sweet and long. An understated whiskey that subtly displays multiple levels of complexity.

So I went on to the Maker's, it being one of the bourbons that I've had in a number of mixed drinks but not straight in a while (despite it being the favorite drink of someone...).  I found it much smoother, much easier to drink, and I could easily see it pairing well with vanilla.  Michael Jackson (in whiskymag.com, via bourbonenthusiast.com) described it:
Nose: Wheaty, nutty. Bananas?
Palate: Buttered toast. Molasses. Maple syrup.
Finish: Clean, dryish, flapjack.
Comment: Beautifully structured. Tightly combined flavours. Every bit as smooth as it claims to be.

Another quoted reviewer on that site, Jim Murray, had an additional line that matched with what I tasted:
Finish: Caramel toffee with the oak guarantees a bittersweet edge.

This definitely becomes a contender.  I'll probably try the Elmer T. Lee, maybe some Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare again before moving on to the scotches - or I might just try the scotches.  I've got a variety of blended scotches, such as Johnny Black, Chivas, Dewar's White Label and Dewar's Reserve, plus some other whiskeys I haven't tried before (and, of course, Crown Royale, since that's the family whiskey it seems).

Heck, I'll probably go ahead and throw in some Evan Williams into the mix.  Not Jim Beam, though - I freakin' HATE Jim Beam.  (Too much of it in college, I wager.)