This past weekend I went home for a little pre-holiday visit and was pleasantly surprised with a small bourbon tasting!
My parents have recently been doing some travelling through the American South and have fallen in love with the Bourbon trail. And in true souvenir-finding form they keep bringing home Bourbon. Since my family takes any available opportunity to enjoy and explore new drinks, we decided to have a mini-tasting. My mom, stepdad, brother (Nick) and I all gathered at the dining room table on a random Monday night to try three different bourbons.
What is Bourbon?
For the uninitiated, bourbon is a type of whisky made from corn. It’s made in a bunch of different places, most notably the US. There are US laws that govern what can technically be called bourbon, which, conveniently enough, Canada also abides by.
Bourbon can only be called bourbon if it meets these terms:
- Made in the US
- Made from at least 51% corn
- Aged in new, charred oak barrels
- Distilled to no more than 160 proof
- Put in the barrel to age at no more than 125 proof
- Bottled at more than 80 proof
Here are the three bourbons we tasted, and my impressions of each.
This guy was the mildest of the bunch. It had a fruity, almost tropical nose. The flavour was a bit like candy or marshmallow which, to be honest, blew my mind a little, and it had a gentle flavour, almost creamy. My stepdad said it was very soft, and we all thought that maybe this was because this bourbon is finished in port wine barrels – surprise! That’s probably why I liked it so much.
This guy had a much more earthy nose. Nick smelled some caramel and my mom and I both smelled a little smoke. Nick and I agreed that it had a nice bite and a smooth finish. This one ended up being Nick’s favourite, which is great for him because it’s the only one currently available at the LCBO.
This one had a lighter nose, more similar to the Angel’s Envy than the Bulleit. The flavour was bracingly spicy and peppery, but I was a little disappointed when it ended harshly. Nick and I talked about how, like the Bulleit, the Rowan’s Creek had a nice bite but then finished just as hard, which neither of us liked.
On first blush I liked the Angel’s Envy best. I did also like the Bulleit – it’s stronger, slightly harsher flavour would be nice if my mood was right. I would really like to try the Rowan’s Creek with a bit of water (I had all three bourbons neat) added to see if it opens up and finishes more smoothly, since that was the main reason I didn’t love it.