Welcome to our second (of three) American series reviews. When they reviewed American whiskies the Whisky Waffle lads panned the big, common bourbons (Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), but had good words for more innovative products. I did a similar comparison last week, Jim Beam vs. Rogue’s Dead Guy, and indeed the craft product out-shined the mass-market product by a fair margin. This week, we line up a bourbon titan the Waffle guys missed, Wild Turkey 101, up against Knob Creek—itself a Jim Beam ‘premium’ product. Both are Kentucky Straight Bourbons, 100-ish proof, and well, we’ll see what’s what.
Way back in the long ago (2015), the Whisky Waffle lads down in Tasmania put on cowboy hats took a swing through American whiskies. They did a nice job and gave the US of A a fair shake, tasting a fewold standards (which failed to impress) followed by some truly interesting and innovative whiskies. Along the same vein, I’m going to look at a couple interesting whiskies available now and compare them to the standards. I’m starting with Dead Guy Whiskey, from Oregon’s Rogue Distillery. To show the difference between a craft-distilled whiskey vs. a standard industrial scale dram, I’ve got Jim Beam bourbon lined up. And Beam areindustrial at 52M liters per year! In contrast, Rogue has a single tiny 550 gallon still and probably produces thousands of liters a year.
If you have someone who is a fan of Scotch (and that’s all you know) this is the guide for you. You want to offer a nice present that is appreciated, and not pushed to the back of the cabinet or mixed with Coke (unless that’s their thing). You want a smile on that day. You have come to the right place.
Buying Scotch can be intimidating because of the multiple styles, regions (which do not always coincide!) and sometimes strong flavor profiles. Scotch drinkers vary from those appreciating a subtle array of delicate aromas and those who like a pugilistic nose like the air in a WW2 battleship’s boiler room.
Note: I am US-based and this guide refers in the main to whiskies you can buy in the US.
In previous posts, I compared in the Battle of the Sub-Jacksons* the blends Cutty Sark, Duggan’s Dew, Grant’s Family Reserve and Ballantine’s Finest. That is a very popular post (well, for this modest blog) garnering a few hits per day. But the sub-Jackson (under $20) category has other entrants that bear review. Today we’ll take on White Horse, a Diageo brand, and J & B Rare, another Diageo brand, and throw in Ballantine’s Finest ($19.95 locally) as a benchmark from the first sub-Jackson battle.
First off, why two Diageos? Well, they’re separated by a whopping $2, J&B being the pricier one here in Oregon at $19.95. We’d have three Diageos but Johnnie Walker Red is another $2 and breaks the Jackson barrier. Diageo really have the blended market saturated. And they have a couple 12-year blends too. More on those in a later post.
When the US 2020 election was approaching and anxiety at its height, I added subscriptions to several publications beyond my existing barrage of news gatherers (Bloomberg, WAPO, the Atlantic, Politico). I was looking for any source of tea leaves to read to know where this election was going, whether or not the US was going to descend into autocracy. As I furiously scanned the internet, I followed various Internet threads into Vanity Fair articles a few times, so when I saw the $15/year offer, I pulled the trigger. I like to support journalism when I use it.
Their online subscription offer includes a paper version of the magazine. Odd, because you can’t opt-out of the paper mag and just go digital. Also odd, as having a magazine is an entirely different experience. A magazine, being a curated set of articles, presents you with information you probably would not choose to pursue as you would by following an internet search. So the mag came, and one Sunday I sat down with my coffee and started reading.