Ladies, Know Your Bourbon!


I grew up in a very strict Christian home and had no exposure to alcohol until I got to college. Now in my early thirties, I would consider myself a very light social drinker – there are only a few alcoholic beverages I enjoy: rum-based drinks, ciders (as compared to beer) and a handful of white wines. Clearly, my palate needs help.

So when I was recently invited to a bourbon tasting hosted by a professional organization I belong to, I immediately RSVP’d. I showed up during the networking session for the evening and was handed a mint julep right as I walked in. Not shockingly, men really like bourbon – about half of the attendees were men, ranging from late 20s to well into retirement age.  Most of the younger (i.e. under 40s) men seemed connected to the wealth management firm sponsoring the event. Sidenote: men also seem to enjoy cigars with their bourbon. A cigar station always had two or three guys getting freshly rolled cigars. I don’t smoke, but did take one home as a souvenir.

Now, about bourbon: bourbon is a type of whisky, along with scotch (made in Scotland) and rye (Canadian, American or Irish).  This site does a great job of explaining differences between the types of whiskey. Our tasting notes for the evening indicated that we should focus on four things in order to compare each bourbon: Appearance and Color, Aroma, Taste and Finish.

Color-wise, they all pretty much looked the same. But, based on smell I did a good job of anticipating whether I would like the taste (I must say, thank God there were food pairings at each station). I also thought it was interesting how the taste changed if I took the bourbon neat versus with ice. Here are the four bourbons that were presented, in order of how well I liked them:

  1. Van Winkle (107 proof, 10 years). I loved this one – it had a warm, spicy taste that just felt good as it went down. However, it was so strong, I would prefer to drink it only on special occasions. It tasted like something I would enjoy in a home library, in front of a fireplace while discussing the latest Bilderberger conference, lol
  2. Dark Horse Distillery (89 proof). Of the remaining bourbons I liked this best, surprisingly. I’d had a cocktail once with either Dark Horse bourbon or rye that I hated, so I was shocked I liked this over the others I tried.
  3. George Dickle (80 proof, 8 years). The taste was just too bold for me, whether straight or with ice.
  4. Maker’s Mark (90 proof). This left a harsh aftertaste and I didn’t enjoy it.

I also didn’t enjoy my first-ever mint julep – it was too sweet for me. Anyhow, I hear this event was such a hit they are planning to do scotch and rum tastings. I’ll be there!

What are some of your favorite adult beverages?

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