The Really Important News

Maker’s Mark will not be watered down. I find it hard to believe that UK getting their doors blown off by Tennessee and this heartening development are coincidental.

…via DJA, some interesting stuff here.

98 comments on this post.
  1. boctaoe:

    That’s Tennessee. I believe there is a rhyme for that.

  2. Djur:

    I’m not sure Maker’s has a lot of room to raise prices before pricing themselves out of their tier, though. Right now they’re kind of “top of the middle shelf”, and they can’t compete with the top shelf.

    Reducing the proof was probably the better decision, but whiskey drinkers can be prickly about these things.

  3. jon:

    Shades of New Coke…

  4. Scott Lemieux:

    Look, that state will have the right to have its name spelled correctly as soon as they stop issuing paychecks to Glenn Reynolds.

  5. JoyfulA:

    What’s the best bourbon?

  6. Linnaeus:

    That’s a hard question to answer for a couple of reasons: tastes vary so much that if you ask ten different people, you’ll get 10 different answers and it’s hard to compare distillers if their product isn’t widely available. There’s a local distiller just outside of Seattle that I think makes very good bourbon, but you wouldn’t get it outside of Washington (or even in most parts of Washington, for that matter).

    My favorite value bourbons are Elijah Craig and George Dickel No. 12 (a Tennessee whiskey). If I want to kick it up a bit more, I go with Bulleit.

  7. John:

    Whiskey distilled in Washington is not bourbon.

  8. Jberardi:

    Subjective, of course. This one has been getting a lot of heat with the Bourbon geek crowd lately: http://sourmashmanifesto.com/2013/01/20/review-four-roses-limited-edition-small-batch-bourbon-2012/

    You can also check the rankings here: http://www.whiskyadvocate.com/whisky_reviews.asp?Search=Y

    Personally, I love the Evan Williams Single Barrel editions. Available and affordable ($30 give or take), and the barrel-to-barrel/year-to-year variability keeps me coming back to it. More of a “minty” bourbon than a big spicy fireball, I’ve gotten a lot of “wow, I usually don’t like bourbon, but…” responses when sharing this one with friends.

  9. Jberardi:

    Not true. “Bourbon” can be distilled anywhere in the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourbon_whiskey#Legal_requirements

  10. Captain Haddock:

    Sure it is. See 27 C.F.R. 5.22(b).

  11. c u n d gulag:

    Crack?

  12. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    To be fair, they really can’t compete with the middle-shelf in terms of the quality of the product. If you’re drinking Maker’s, you really ought to think about drinking something else that’s just as good but cheaper, or just as expensive but better.

  13. c u n d gulag:

    If I could afford it, I’d get Knob Creek – it’s the best of the non-boutique/none-small-distillery bourbons.
    It’s not too expensive, and has great a taste – to me.

    The thing about bourbon, like with scotch, is you have to taste to see what you like.
    Some bourbons are too ‘vanilla-y’ for some peoples tastes, not enough for others – like some scotch’s which people say are too peaty, while others say it’s not peat-y enough.

    Find what you like, and stick with it.

    Most of the fun is in the trying! :-)

  14. Eggomaniac:

    How much money do you want to spend?

    As with all whiskys…

    Price correlates strongly (though not precisely) with quality.

    Single-barrel bourbons are overall much better than the batch-distilled stuff, though individual ones might not be.

    Age also tends to correlate strongly with quality.

    Beyond that, it’s a matter of personal preference.

  15. Eggomaniac:

    I’d love to know what percentage of Maker’s Mark’s customer base drinks the stuff straight and therefore might actually have an argument for not wanting it watered down.

  16. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Ditto what everyone else has said about tastes varying. There are actually a ton of good bourbons at various price levels (and for what it costs, I wouldn’t include Maker’s, though a case could be made that the more expensive Maker’s 46 gives you good bang for your buck).

    For my tastes, good bourbons at (various non-extreme) price ranges include (in no particular order):
    Buffalo Trace
    Four Roses (Yellow Label, Small Batch, and Single Barrel)
    Old Forester (esp. Birthday Bourbon)
    Wild Turkey 101
    W. L. Weller 12 y.o. (a much better, mid-priced wheated bourbon than Maker’s IMO)
    Elijah Craig
    Evan Williams Single Barrel
    Old Grand-Dad (114 and Bottled in Bond)

    (That’s without going into the bourbons that are usually talked about in “Best Bourbon” discussions, which tend to be very prices, hard-to-find, superpremium whiskies like Pappy Van Winkle and the annual Three Roses special bottlings.)

  17. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    very pricey*

  18. elm:

    Pappy van Winkle is hands down the best but, depending on vintage, can cost around $200. (And even the ‘cheaper’ stuff is up near 100.)

    More affordable (~$50) bourbons that are excellent are Blanton’s and Woodford Reserve.

    Knob Creek and Maker’s Mark are also both good at even lower price points. I’m not a huge fan of Bulleit personally, but it’s high quality at an affordable price.

  19. elm:

    Oh, and IB above reminds me I should have put Buffalo Trace in that last category.

  20. JKTHs:

    This. Maker’s Mark is really in no man’s land.

  21. bob_is_boring:

    UK getting their doors blown off by Tennessee

    Britain has a basketball team?

  22. elm:

    I have a strong preference for wheated bourbons, but I’m actually not a fan of Weller’s. I strongly prefer regular Maker’s (and, as you note, Maker’s 46 as well.) On the other hand, I haven’t had Weller’s in a number of years and perhaps I should give it another try.

  23. bob_is_boring:

    Elijah Craig (12 yr)

    Is the correct answer, money-per-awesomeness speaking.

  24. Djur:

    Agreed with all above about bourbon being very much a matter of taste. As far as commonly available bourbons go, it’s Knob Creek for sipping, Elijah Craig for drinking, and Evan Williams for swilling. (And for mixing with Coke or whatever, if that’s your thing.)

    Maker’s Mark is popular because it’s a very smooth-drinking bourbon (this has a lot to do with the mix of grains in the mash). I actually think it goes nicely in coffee, but it’s kind of too expensive to justify mixing.

    Now, rye…

  25. elm:

    As I say below, I’m a fan of Maker’s (though now that I can afford better stuff, I rarely drink it, as I now mostly drink Woodford Reserve or Blanton’s.) It’s a smoother, slightly sweeter bourbon than similarly priced bourbons. If you’re looking for spicier or more complex bourbons, Maker’s won’t be to your liking, but there’s a reason that it has a large and devoted following.

  26. JKTHs:

    Only having experience in the under $30 or so price range, I’d say Buffalo Trace

  27. rea:

    Idiocy?

  28. rea:

    Yes.

  29. Linnaeus:

    I’ve been telling anyone I know who is interested in bourbon that in terms of value, Elijah Craig 12 is one of the best out there. 94 proof, too!

  30. Bill Murray:

    Schmennessee?

  31. catclub:

    You haven’t seen the xkcd on hotel reviews. Where giving bad reviews to good places keeps their prices low for you?

  32. Scott Lemieux:

    I agree, Maker’s has become underrated. Sometimes you’re in the mood for spicier, sometimes smoother, and MM is the best of the latter at that price point. I like Blanton’s or Woodford better too, but around here they’re a lot more expensive.

  33. Linnaeus:

    I hadn’t seen that, but now that I have, maybe I need to enact that strategy.

  34. Scott Lemieux:

    Buffalo Trace isn’t always easily found here, but it’s a great value. If money is no object, Pappy Van Winkle.

  35. Walt:

    I drink it straight.

  36. JoyfulA:

    I developed insomnia, and the meds for it both don’t work well and have side effects.

    I’ve never been a drinker because I fall asleep before I sense any of the touted effects. I don’t like wine or beer. However, I accidentally learned that bourbon is delicious. Then I learned that not all bourbon is all that delicious.

    A blog post about bourbon ought to be a good place to learn something about it, before I commit to ongoing nightcaps, and it has been.

    Thanks!

  37. Vance Maverick:

    Take your pick!

  38. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I still think Weller’s (esp. the 12 y.o.) is a better wheated bourbon at (or below) MM’s pricepoint. YMMV, of course.

  39. Djur:

    Maker’s is a lot more likely to be available at a bar, though.

  40. Tybalt:

    Or overseas, where some of us endure a lack of supply. In Ontario the available bourbons from the LCBO make a pathetic offering.

  41. -dg:

    I don’t know who makes it as it is store label, but Costco has “Kirkland Premium Small Batch Bourbon” for $20 per liter. Kentucky, aged seven years, 103 proof and yummy yummy yummy. Spicier and more interesting than Makers. My favorite bourbon under $35, it’s good for drinking and cheap enough to use for mixing. A huge bargain.

    Buffalo Trace is pretty good too, but not as flavorful. Black Maple Hill if you can find it is quite tasty.

  42. Hogan:

    Sounds like the one they drink in Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder novels: Amsterdam Liquor Store Bourbon (“Our Own Brand”). But probably better.

  43. DrDick:

    George Dickle #12 is good for that (I know) and quite affordable. I also second the recommendations for Buffalo Trace, Elijah Craig, and Wild Turkey 101.

  44. socraticsilence:

    If your going to go to the mid-premium range I much prefer Booker’s and Amos T. Stagg, the mouth feel is amazing but admittedly the super high proof stuff isn’t for everyone.

  45. -dg:

    Now, rye…

    Yes, what about rye? I like rye but don’t have a favorite as all the ones I like so far are expensive. I tried the Bulliet and it was nasty.

  46. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    I love the Wild Turkey 101 rye, which, like their bourbon, is very reasonably priced (though, again like the bourbon, it’s getting a little harder to find relative to the less good 81 proof version). I’ve heard great things about Rittenhouse, which is also reasonably priced (I’m planning to pick up a bottle when I finish my bottle of the WT rye).. Bulleit rye is ok, but totally overpriced IMO.

  47. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    If you like spicier bourbons, the Old Grand-Dad 114, which goes for less than $20 for 750 ml here in Oklahoma, is a great mixing bourbon …. especially for use in drinks with a lot of ice. My go-to mint julep bourbon, e.g.

  48. Scott Lemieux:

    So I saw Weller’s available here today. Do I want to try the standard, or the “antique”?

  49. Anonymous:

    Jim Beam Black.

  50. Jberardi:

    Rittenhouse 100 is fantastic, and at $20, completely off the charts in terms of value.

  51. Colin:

    Since nobody has mentioned it yet, let me put in a good word for Eagle Rare, which is usually reasonably priced ($20-30 in both TX and NM).

  52. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    There are three bottlings: standard, antique, and 12 y.o. I have the last of these, which I really like. I haven’t tasted the others, tho’ the antique has a lot of fans and some seem to prefer it to the 12 y.o. So I’d say go for the antique.

    (There’s also a related, premium bourbon called “William Larue Weller” that costs upwards of $70 and is supposed to be fantastic, tho’ I’ve never tasted it.)

  53. Scott Lemieux:

    Yup, it can be hard to find but Rittenhouse is an incredible bargain. Sazerac isn’t quite as good and is pricier, but it’s solid. Old Overholt is acceptbale in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

  54. virag:

    turkey 101. why bother with anything else?

  55. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    OK, while I’ve got you all here and we’re talking booze, I was wondering if y’all wanted to share your favorite quality but not outrageously expensive choices for:

    Vodka
    Gin
    Whiskey
    Tequila

    And also too do y’all usually put this stuff in cocktails (what kind?) or drink them straight up or on the rocks?

  56. fcc:

    So, I’m supposed to jump through meaningless hoops to prove I am of legal drinking age to enter a WEBSITE having to do with whiskey? And special notice if I’m on a shared machine, lest I corrupt my three year old sister who having sampled the loose life moves to Boston, denounces god, votes democrat and marries a dusky hued woman. You can’t be too careful these days.

    fcc

  57. expatchad:

    What is the name of the Seattle product and what is the location of the distillery.

    (ex Seattleite living in Phiulippines.)

  58. expatchad:

    Am not!

  59. bob_is_boring:

    This is true; I know that EC has raised price due to demand over the past decade. Whoops.

    Still a freaking steal though.

  60. bob_is_boring:

    Fine.

    Ultimate Kylie, an album by Kylie Minogue

    Happy?

    Still probably glad Tennessee beat her…I guess?

  61. Linnaeus:

    It’s called Woodinville Whiskey Company and it’s located in, not surprisingly, Woodinville, WA.

  62. Captain Haddock:

    Gin:

    For a decent, simple, cheap martini, I’ll use Gordon’s. It’s cheap, sold in volume, and gets me to my happy place.

    For a martini with a lemon garnish, I’ll use Plymouth or Bombay Sapphire (or maybe Hendricks).

    For a martini with a cucumber garnish, I’ll use Hendrick’s.

    Don’t care for an olive garnish, personally. If I did, I’d probably use Tanqueray 10.

  63. Captain Haddock:

    Oh, and the vermouth: Noilly Prat, Dolin, or Vya, depending on the gin and the garnish.

  64. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    I’ve really come to like Bombay Sapphire. I’m not a HUGE gin fan, but it has this really nice complexity that really grabs ya.

  65. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Thanks! I will keep your brands in mine next time I hit the liquor store.

  66. Linnaeus:

    Vodka:

    Luksusowa is quite good and pretty reasonably priced. I drink it chilled by itself or I’ll mix it when I make Moscow Mules or Bloody Marys. If you want to go up a step, Russian Standard is pretty good too.

    Gin:

    Gordon’s and Bombay Sapphire are very solid choices; I like both for martinis and I would use Gordon’s for gin & tonics or a Tom Collins. Junipero gin is also good if you’ve got a few more bucks to spend.

    Whiskey:

    When I’m not drinking bourbons that I mentioned above, I tend toward Irish whiskey. Jameson or Tullamore Dew are what I usually drink. I don’t typically drink those in cocktails, although I will have bourbon in an old fashioned.

  67. MacGyver:

    Old Crow for bottom shelf
    Bulleit for mid-shelf
    Black Maple Hill or Angel’s Envy for upper mid-shelf
    Pappy Van Winkle for top shelf

  68. expatchad:

    As of today’s exchange rate, Maker’s Mark is $54.18 in Manila and Cebu.

  69. Eggomaniac:

    I bet most people don’t, however. I slung drinks in a bar many years ago and hardly anyone ordered whiskys without some kind of mixer. Commenters here are probably not representative of the broader liquor-consuming public.

  70. elm:

    Dang! Even as a fan, I’ll say Maker’s is not worth $55. I suspect, though, that the bottle that run $55 here are going to cost you $75 or so in Manila. Is there a Filipino whiskey that you could get cheaper?

  71. elm:

    I drink all whiskeys and whiskys straight or on the rocks. Bartenders do react with some surprise when I order a Maker’s Mark or Wild Turkey neat, though they don’t when I order something more expensive. So, you’re probably correct.

  72. elm:

    Ditto on the Whiskey. I’ll often substitute Jamesons or Tullamore Dew for my bourbon. Both are very tasty and relatively well-priced. I’ve also tried the Jamesons single-barrel, which I didn’t find to be worth the upgrade in price over the regular.

  73. Eric:

    OT: This is really rich, considering what Jacobson had to say about Loomis in L’affaire Pierre.

  74. Hogan:

    Luksusowa is a potato vodka, which is more unusual than you might think. My wife swears she can tell the difference between potato and corn (and prefers potato), and if you say she’s wrong I will mess you up. I can’t tell, myself, but Luksusowa is good stuff.

    Ditto on Irish whiskey as the alternative to bourbon. My regular choice is Clontarf, and Jameson and Tullamore are quite good. Someimes I’ll get Redbreast or one of the other single malts for special occasions. Peaty. If you like that kind of thing.

  75. Linnaeus:

    I like Redbreast, too, but don’t get it often.

    I suspect most people wouldn’t notice a difference between a potato vodka and a grain vodka, so I didn’t get into that. I myself don’t notice a difference, but I recommend Luksusowa based on value.

  76. MattT:

    What is the Vya dry vermouth like? I have the sweet for Manhattans, and while it is very tasty, it is really floral and herbal, and while totally overpower a smoother bourbon. Great with a spicier rye though.

  77. Linnaeus:

    I’ve also tried the Jamesons single-barrel, which I didn’t find to be worth the upgrade in price over the regular.

    Never tried that, so that’s good to know.

  78. DocAmazing:

    Anchor Brewing now distills and makes Old Potrero rye whiskey, which is better than Old Overholt, but not by enough to justify the price difference.

  79. DocAmazing:

    Kirkland Vodka is reputed to be Grey Goose in mufti, so I wouldn’t be surprised if their bourbon is equally high-end.

  80. Lindsay Beyerstein:

    I’m with you, elm.

  81. expatchad:

    I’ve always thought of Woodinville as pretty surprisingly…

  82. expatchad:

    There is one made by San Miguel called Ginera, but I don’t know it’s price (They also make gin, but by far the most common hard liquor here is Tanduay rum and brandy, at about $1.00 for 750 ML and $1.30 for 1 L.

    Sugar is here in huge abundance for the rum, and I have some suspicions that the brandy might actually be grapeless….

  83. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Gin: Broker’s and Plymouth

  84. Incontinentia Buttocks:

    Sweet Vermouth: Carpano Antica (also: Punt e Mes, which is a little more bitter than a vermouth, is a wonderful drink and mixer)

  85. CaptBackslap:

    Old Crow is pretty underrated, but it is important to remember this:

    Do NOT get drunk on Old Crow. It tends to result in Lucky Jim-style hangovers.

  86. Djur:

    I’m always secretly glad when the bar’s well is Old Crow, and I always have to take a stiff neat double. It’s not good, but there’s this weird appeal to drinking something that basically tastes like someone put out a burning oak branch in it.

    Around here it costs about the same as Evan Williams Green, which is superior, but Old Crow has nostalgia value.

    Stuff like Pappy is beyond top shelf to me. I sort of feel like cheapness is one of the fundamental qualities of bourbon. The few tastes I’ve had were sublime, though.

  87. Djur:

    Vodka: Don’t pay too much for it. Most vodkas are just food-grade ethyl alcohol diluted with water and an ad campaign. Some of the fancier ones use fancier water and really pretty bottles. It’s all the same stuff. Find the cheapest vodka that works in the drinks you like it in (for me, white and black russians) and stick with that. If you don’t care about money and want the smoothest vodka drink possible, Grey Goose will do the job and isn’t a ripoff.

    Gin: I like the cheapness and nostril-kicking quality of Gordon’s, so that’s the gin I keep around for me. I keep Tanqueray or Plymouth on hand in case someone wants a gin drink but turns up their nose at Gordon’s, and sometimes I dabble in others for fun.

    I don’t really like martinis, I’ve come to realize. I’m not a huge fan of dry vermouth, is the thing.

    My gin drink of choice is a negroni. A negroni converted into a long drink over ice with some lime and soda water is the ultimate hot day lazy drink for me.

    Tequila: Unless you’re doing cheesy lime-and-salt shots or making a bunch of margaritas (both perfectly valid things to do that I enjoy quite a lot), drink 100% agave. It’s honestly very hard to go wrong from that point, assuming you like tequila. If you don’t really like tequila, try an anejo, which is more like a whiskey.

    If you are doing those cheesy fun things, nobody’s really going to care if you use Sauza, although they might also not mind if you go with the Hornitos.

    Bonus round: Campari, fernet, basically any Italian bitters. If a place has a good pisco sour, have one. The dark and stormy is the perfect summer late afternoon drink — real ginger ale and either Gosling’s or Myers’ (or Kraken if you’re into that).

    (Okay, that’s enough of that, you lush.)

  88. elm:

    Of all the whiskeys that up in the well, Old Crow is far and away the best. I drank a lot it in my grad school days, for probably obvious reasons. Thank god for being lucky enough to get a tenure track job, though, as I have thankfully not had Old Crow in about a decade.

  89. Anonymous:

    I like G’Vine Floraison for martini’s, but then again I also like a dash of orange bitters in them. For general mixing I use Bombay Sapphire Gin, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Pinch (Dimple for those outside the US) Scotch, or Bowmore if I want a single malt (such as in a Blood and Sand), and whatever potato vodka I have on hand. I’m also partial to “Spice Tree” vatted scotch for a Rob Roy, and my wife swears by Talisker in a Blood and Sand. I recommend whatever cognac is on sale for brandy drinks.

    And you can taste the difference between a potato vodka (or at least a non-antiseptic ultra distilled vodka) and a wheat vodka when drinking them neat.

  90. Scott Lemieux:

    I’ve liked the Anchor stuff whenever I’ve had it, but here we really only get the gin (which is indeed excellent.)

  91. Scott Lemieux:

    Vodka — I’m not the one to ask, although I like Core (which I assume you can’t get down there.) My wife likes Prarie vodka from Minnesota and Belvedere.

    Gin: I actually like Beefeater for martinis and G&Ts. Tanqueray is also excellent,and New Amsterdam is acceptable and very cheap. (I should note that I’m not dissing Bombay Sapphire; I can’t have it because of my nut allergy.) Try a gin gimlet too.

    Whiskey. Bourbon — Maker’s rocks if you like smooth and a little sweet, Buffalo Trace if you like spicy. Rye is best for a Manhattan; as discussed above, Rittenhouse if they have it in SC. Irish, Black Bush or Tullamore Dew.

    Tequilla — Gran Centenario. Awesome. Good straight, good in a margarita.

  92. Cody:

    +1 for Four Roses. Small batch is my preferred normal bourbon. It’s relatively cheap ($30 here… I’m awful close to the source though), but I have been itching to try the private reserve. However, I’m always afraid to get a bad barrel or turn out not liking it after spending $50 on a fifth.

  93. DJA:

    And you can taste the difference between a potato vodka (or at least a non-antiseptic ultra distilled vodka) and a wheat vodka when drinking them neat.

    No you can’t (and double0blind taste tests prove this). When you distill to 95% alcohol (as vodka is), all trace of the base ingredients are wiped out. Any flavor differences in vodka are attributable to the water used, not the base ingredients.

  94. jrkrideau:

    Overseas? Ontario?

    Those are lakes you’re looking at not the Pacific Ocean!

  95. Dr.KennethNoisewater:

    Thanks, Scott! Thanks, everyone! I was not familiar with a lot of these brands, but I’m going to try them.

  96. sharculese:

    I can’t believe I missed bourbonthread!, but yeah, I don’t have much money so when I do get bourbon, Buffalo Trace is pretty much my go to.

  97. Flakmeister:

    Take any mid-low grade vodka and run it through a Brita filter 5 or 6 times….

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