At some point a couple years ago, most likely during a marathon Mad Men session, I decided I needed to start drinking scotch. I was an adult…kind of, and I should start acting like one. I needed a drink when I went out for work that didn’t need a bottle or draft clarification. In order to prepare, I asked for some recommendations and headed out to the ABC store. I got a couple different kinds and went to it. While it wasn’t terrible, I very quickly realized I was not a scotch guy, especially the brands that taste like burnt leaves. Not too long after this failed experiment it dawned on me that I am a good southern boy and as such, bourbon ought to be my poison of choice. I then embarked on a bourbon tour of my local liquor store. I had dabbled in the brown liquor while in college, but I am not sure Old Forester legally qualifies as bourbon. My brother bought me a fifth of Blantons and Basil Hayden for christmas. The Blantons is actually a single barrel bourbon, which I must admit was lost on me initially. While I enjoyed both, I finally landed on Basil Hayden as “my” bourbon. I even helped make my brother-in-law’s 21st “blackout” awesome for him with some BH. About a year later we moved to Delaware (yes its a place) and my eyes were opened to a greater variety of the sweet nectar. I enjoyed Elmer T Lee, Four Roses, and of course the piece de resistance Pappy Van Winkle. I must admit that I learned about Pappy during a podcast between Bill Simmons and Wright Thompson a couple years ago. I logged it away in the memory banks until I stumbled upon it at a liquor store in Maryland. I must also credit Mr Thompson with my latest “discovery,” Bulleit Bourbon. It is a bourbon in the same price range of Makers that provides a little more flavor.
You need at least two types of bourbon in your arsenal (or four in my case). You need a good sipping whiskey for the grande occasions like birthdays or a promotion at work. I would suggest Basil Hayden’s, Four Roses, or Bulleit (the most affordable choice).
This is also where Pappy fits into the equation, but its hard to find here in North Carolina so I guard it like my co-editor will guard his daughter’s virtue.
You will also need a mixing whiskey for which I suggest a nice 7 year Jim Beam. While I was in Delaware (again, I swear its a place) I was big on Makers Mark as it was cheaper (than in NC) and my consumption was at a healthier level. As my consumption increased and I experimented with different cocktails I had to find a more affordable alternative. I really enjoy the Jim Beam and you can actually drink it over ice in a pinch.
I am not making a case here for one type of bourbon being better than another, but I am telling you to be a man and pick a bourbon or scotch you can order at a bar while your boss or potential boss looks on with approval.