Music lesson: Bourbons that can carry a tune
It’s no secret that whiskey and song go together, but Reid Mitenbuler of Daily Beast has an intriguing theory: comparing a bourbon to music could help nail its essence. As Mitenbuler points out, rather than use the sensory language so common today, wine critics once described the drink like a novelist delineates a character.
To test his idea, he turns to a handful of distillers. Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Kings County Distillery, says its Straight Bourbon “has the same notes as Alt-Country, a defunct and ill-defined genre that found inspiration in an old and deep tradition in American music.”
At Illinois’ FEW Spirits, founder Paul Hletko likens his Bourbon Whiskey to the Grateful Dead: “Those that love it, love it. Nontraditional, proudly experimental, and not afraid to fail.” It’s on the traditional side, but Jerry and the boys did a mean “Whiskey in the Jar.”
20 bottles for richer and poorer
Sticking with bourbon, VinePair’s Tim McKirdy offers this top 20 list for every budget. First up: Evan Williams Black Label (average price $12*) out of Kentucky, “an entry-level bottle you’ll actually want to drink,” heavy on the caramel and vanilla.
On the middle shelf, we’re drawn to Chicago-based Koval’s Single Barrel Bourbon (average price $48), whose millet-corn grain mix “provides a unique-tasting fruity bourbon, rich in tropical notes.”
The high end? Pull up a Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel Straight (average price $90) by Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery. McKirdy’s take on this 50% ABV, bottled-in-bond number: “refined, complex, and full of character”—and one of the best bourbons under $100. Music to our ears.
*All prices in U.S. dollars