Tuesday 10 September 2013

Bourbon Derby: 23 days off

Just getting thoughts down here...

Been a while since I drank bourbon. I've certainly had a slug here or there (feel dirty calling it a "dram"), but the last year has seen me drink less bourbon than I have in a decade, due to learning about beer and cocktails and all that fun jazz.

So, a few whiskeys a week, to re-orient my tastebuds. I'm actually going to aim for one a day, to lead up to Toronto Bourbon Week.

First off is Jim Beam White Label. Figured it would be an appropriate starting point, as it's most folks' starting point with bourbon. I don't get the nuances I used to, which makes me trying whiskey all the more important. Still, that corn-y-ness, the raw cornbread and yeast Jim Beam flavor is still there, and makes that first sip a little tough. It's watery, too, lacking the viscous mouthfeel and complex flavors of the amaros and such I've been drinking recently. The finish is a bit unpleasant for a bourbon -- not bad, mind you, and certainly nowhere near harsh, but thin and not too exciting. That said, I can see why this was the fancy step up from Kentucky Tavern for me a decade ago; its harshness is a mild, rounded back of the mouth sort, the kind that doesn't gag. I find I let my mouth open for oxygen more to let the taste escape. There's some acidity on the sides of the back and tip of the tongue. It's certainly more sippable as the pour opens up and I'm ten minutes in; the sweetness comes through, and it's not wholly drowned in ethanol. Still, you can barely taste it as a rye-flavoured whiskey; 80 proof probably cuts back on the intensity a bit much.

Not sure what I would do with it in a drink; feels like it would get lost. On the rocks, I recall, it tastes like the dirty-but-an-institution bars you go to see grungy bands at; Black Cat in DC, the Dame in Lexington, Little Brothers in Columbus, hell, even Lee's Palace here in Toronto. Watery whiskey that is made inoffensive by the cold, then you chew on the whiskey-flavored ice to hydrate and save money on buying another. Corn-water-with a little finish, so you know you're drinking bourbon.

Jim Beam. You ain't bad but sure you ain't any good.

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