Even though it’s the start of a new year, full of fresh expectations, January always has me a little down. College football is over and my team, Ohio State did not end on a high note. I’m not a big NFL fan and I can’t stand basketball, so there’s not a ton of sports activity for me to partake in. At least the Jackets are on a six-game win streak, so there’s a little excitement in my city! But as I (im)patiently wait for my absolute favorite sport to start up again, I’ve picked up a fun and relatively new hobby to pass my time- whiskey.
Yes, while people make their new year’s resolution to drink less, I have chosen the opposite- drink more. Well, taste more… not a fan of getting drunk (the recovery kills me, I’m old!!). I’ve been a liquor promo girl for over five years now and I’ve tried a bunch of different brands during this time! My favorites have always been in the whiskey family. I like stuff that I can drink by itself and not have to dress up… sorry vodka you’re not for me! Bourbon has caught my attention in particular, as it’s the official spirit of the United States.
Something you should know- I am obsessed with this old fashioned idea of “Classic America.” It’s one of the many reasons I love the sport of baseball so much and why Wrigley is my favorite ballpark. There’s something very alluring to a time when there were fewer distractions and materialism and more traditional values (CHIVALRY). Chances are it never truly existed- I know there’s always been fighting, civil unrest, and change, but this is a romantic notion that I choose to cling to. Not that I’m completely opposed to change… I like this internet thing.
So bourbon fits right into my wheelhouse, and I recruited one of my friends, the lovely Beth, to drink with me. I mentioned her a few posts ago as she was a finalist to the Fox Sports Ohio Girl gig and needed your votes. For some crazy reason they didn’t pick her- she is phenomenal! I guess as a small consolation she has free time to drink whiskey with me… I’m happy about that! We decided to start by drinking through the whiskey menu at a local bar- Barrel 44 in Columbus’ Short North. They offer flights and the atmosphere is very old-timey bar, which is perfect for our Whiskey Fridays!
We are not connoisseurs by any means, this was a very simple process- smell neat, try neat, smell on rocks, try on rocks, do you like it- yes or no. I just thought it would be fun to document what we tried and share my new hobby as I wait for baseball season. Here are our first six-
Bakers– One of four small-batch whiskeys from Jim Beam. Aged seven years, it gets all it can from the barrel in terms of fruit, vanilla, and sweetness. 107 proof.
Basil Hayden- Another bourbon in the Jim Beam family, aged eight years. While there’s a distinct pepperiness to it, due to it’s lower strength there are more fruity flavors, in particular, citrus. 80 proof.
Blanton’s Single Barrel- As perhaps the first single-barrel bottling, this bourbon is unique as each barrel varies, thus each is different. The bottle carries no age stamp, it’s up to taste instead. 93 proof.
Bookers- Considered the best of the Jim Beam small-batch whiskeys by many, this six year aged bourbon is bursting with rich flavor and a honeycomb candy heart. 127 proof.
Buffalo Trace- Known for its easiness on the palate, this bourbon is very mainstream due to its sweet fruitiness. 90 proof.
Bulleit- Made at the Four Roses distillery, this bourbon has lots of honey and vanilla flavors as well as a fruitiness to it. 90 proof.
Our overwhelming favorite of this batch was Basil Hayden with Buffalo Trace and Bulleit rounding out our top three. The only one we did not care for in this group was Bookers. It tasted like straight alcohol… nothing else to it for our palates. The information I added about each of those bourbons above came from the book, The World’s Best Whiskies by Dominic Roskrow. It was a new year’s gift to myself… I don’t half butt anything- when I’m in, I’m in! Learning is living in my humble opinion.