Still, highly illegal
November 14, 2013 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Every wondered where your favorite brown liquid came from? Find its starting position on the Bourbon Family Tree.

An excerpt from The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining, which will indeed teach you what it says on the cover.
posted by Potomac Avenue (67 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
It comes from the reaction of sodium bromide with sulfuric acid.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But enough toilet humor... *instant rim bowl shot*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2013


Here is a more comprehensive albeit less pretty guide to which whiskeys come from which distilleries.
posted by enn at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2013


How did you know bourbon was my favorite brown liquid? Are you a wizard?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Heaven. Bourbon comes from Heaven.
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Process of elimination (no pun intended)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2013


I visited the Buffalo Trace distillery a couple of months ago and learned that there's a whole strategy to where the barrel goes in each bonded warehouse. Apparently those destined to become Pappy Van Winkle go on the higher, warmer floors, where the greater temperature changes draw more barrel-flavor out of the wood or something. When they took us inside there were a bunch of barrels that were stamped EXPERIMENTAL, so probably elf blood.

It's funny that the très moderne (rī)² whiskey is just fusty old Old Overholt plus a couple of years.
posted by theodolite at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2013


Wild Turkey is owned by Campari? That explains a lot.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:56 PM on November 14, 2013


Thanks, but I already know where beer come from.
posted by Edgewise at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2013


"All of what is bottled at Willett is distilled elsewhere for now, but unlike a lot of distilleries who source their product, the folks at Willett seem especially good at this task--it's very hard to go wrong with any of their labels (though it's also hard to know what differentiates them sometimes, if anything). Labels bottled by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers include: Johnny Drum, Old Bardstown, Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Pure Kentucky."

Man, no kidding. All of those listed taste more alike to each other than anything else on the market does.

That is not to say I wouldn't drink any of them in a heartbeat.
posted by komara at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2013


Nine words in and I'm all "Coffee milk?"
posted by jessamyn at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I visited the old Jameson distillery in Dublin and at the end they gave a comparison tasting against an American bourbon, which they later revealed to be Jack Daniels. Totally unfair as Jameson is matured for almost twice as long. Pitting it against Maker's Mark would have been more sporting.
posted by exogenous at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find myself with a surfeit of bourbon lately, and I've been doing comparative tastings with other bourbon friendly guests lately, and you know what? Bourbon all tastes the same. Now we know why. (And before I get lit up for heresy, Bourbon doesn't all taste the same, but it certainly exhibits far less differentiation than any other spirit.)

The cheap stuff tends to have nasty chemical notes not exhibited in better bottles. The expensive stuff tends to have the rough edges polished off that make bourbon so appealing, something like Bullit or Buffalo Trace seems to nicely skirt the line between the two.

And no, I haven't thrown my beloved Jack Daniels into the mix, mostly because I don't want to know that it's not very good. It's almost perfect as far as I'm concerned.

Also Interesting that Makers Mark is on a stalk by itself, as when tasted with other bourbons it's flavour profile makes it a total outlier from the rest.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:11 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Old Grandad is somehow way better than Basil Hayden's despite just being a younger version of it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:17 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the twisting branches, has Bulleit been sold a few times or is it a partnership?
posted by wcfields at 2:18 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And Jack Daniel's isn't bourbon.
posted by dilettante at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bourbon is a brand name. It's Tennessee Sippin Whiskey like this paper stuff on my desk is "Facial Tissue".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:20 PM on November 14, 2013


I don't understand the twisting branches, has Bulleit been sold a few times or is it a partnership?

Answer:
When Seagram’s disintegrated due to mismanagement in the 1990s, the whiskey, then in the process of aging, was sold to other distilleries in the fire sale of assets, as one salvage company after the next tried to determine what to do with the distillery and its excess inventory. This is how one generic whiskey became known by more than a dozen names, including Templeton Rye, Redemption Rye, Bulleit Rye, Willet, Smooth Ambler, and George Dickel Rye, among others. The companies that own each of these brands have purchased LDI rye whiskey and now bottle it under their own labels, adjusting the proof and length of aging in order to create their own differentiations.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is a very cool graph.

Pappy van Winkle might as well not be on there for all the likelihood I have to ever taste it again.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:27 PM on November 14, 2013


Aged longer or not, I'd take Jack over Jameson every time. I don't love Jack, but Jameson is so. .. boring.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:28 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I prefer "refined." To me Jack tastes like a company trying to eke every last bit of profit out of a still by making a less pure product. Now vodka, that is boring.
posted by exogenous at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2013


Also Interesting that Makers Mark is on a stalk by itself, as when tasted with other bourbons it's flavour profile makes it a total outlier from the rest.

That's because their grain bill has wheat instead of rye. Try WL Weller or a Van Winkle and you'll notice the similarities.
posted by peeedro at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nine words in and I'm all "Coffee milk?"
posted by jessamyn


This is one of the saddest things I've ever read on Metafilter.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone born and raised in Tennessee I will now tell you God's Honest Truth and that is this: Jack Daniels is an abomination. George Dickel is the one true path to Tennessee whisky.
posted by komara at 2:43 PM on November 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Jack Daniels is an abomination. George Dickel is the one true path to Tennessee whisky.

I never could understand the popularity of JD, myself. Shit is harsh. Dickel is a much more enjoyable sip, for sure.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:52 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Elmer T. Lee represent. For 26.00 a bottle locally I haven't found anything that compares in taste for the price. When I invent the next great dongle and retire at 40, maybe I'll be able to sample some of these pricier browns.
posted by echocollate at 2:54 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's true, Jameson tastes like water, but if the choice is between Jameson and Jack, the only winning move is to burn the building down.
posted by invitapriore at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2013


The trick with Jack is to drink a lot of it really quickly so you can stomach drinking the rest.

This has been exhaustively tested by myself in many of our nations' fine rural dive bars.
posted by The Whelk at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the raw burn of cheap ol' JD. Then again I also like eggs with way too much hot sauce.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:29 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The coarse, tasteless burn of Jack is to remind you that you are making bad decisions tonight, possibly the start of a series of bad decisions.
posted by The Whelk at 3:30 PM on November 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Exactly. As evidenced by the fact that the best thing on earth with Jack is a Marlboro Red, perhaps the only thing on earth worse for you that plating Russian Roulette.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:36 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damnit now I want a bottle of Jack in a road house with a marlboro red and maybe some fried food with CCR on the jukebox.

I am going to my Dean Winchester thought palace apparently.
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Old Crow isn't just the best cheap bourbon...it's the best cheap anything."
posted by Drinky Die at 3:50 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like the world of phony wine snobbery has overflowed and started leaking into American brown spirits. Bourbon seems especially afflicted. I saw a bottle of Michter's the other day with a signed dangling around its neck about how it was the top-rated bourbon from Wine Connoisseur or some such magazine, and the first thing through my head was "well that's a big strike against it."

Two other pieces of trivia:

1. Everything coming out of Heaven Hill/KBD/Willett tastes exactly the same as everything else coming out of Heaven Hill/KBD/Willett. For example, I have a rather well-developed pallette, and doing a side-by-side comparison, I could not tell the difference between Rowan's Creek, Black Maple Hill, and Noah's Mill.

2. Rye is better than Bourbon and I will fight you if you say otherwise.

2b. Canadian rye does not count.

And a bit of a tangent: A few months ago a friend of mine was contracted to design the bar on a yacht for its launch. This process involved him acquiring rare and expensive booze, which would then be epoxied to the bar shelves and never consumed - like a $4,000 bottle of Glenmorangie pride. The entire thing was just for show. The "real" bar was under the counters, and was stocked almost exclusively with vodka and Johnny Walker Blue.
posted by Vox Nihili at 3:57 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This process involved him acquiring rare and expensive booze, which would then be epoxied to the bar shelves and never consumed - like a $4,000 bottle of Glenmorangie pride.

Which raises the thought...If the bottles were never to be used, how would the owners know if the rare booze somehow got re-bottled by the designer friend?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which raises the thought...If the bottles were never to be used, how would the owners know if the rare booze somehow got re-bottled by the designer friend?

From what I heard of the launch party, the owner's teenage kids and their friends showed up wasted. So my guess is that bottle of Pride is destined to be siphoned out with straws and replaced with water by a bunch of teenagers that'd rather have Koolaid spiked with vodka.
posted by Vox Nihili at 4:04 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a teenager but how to access the ornamental booze if I am ever on the boat was the first thing that came to my mind as well.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:22 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Every wondered"? #editing
posted by andreaazure at 4:32 PM on November 14, 2013


The fact that no one commented on this typo in the three hours since it was posted, combined with the fact that I'm basically straight-edge and I did... hrm.
posted by andreaazure at 4:33 PM on November 14, 2013


I've been plotting the heist of the jumbo-size Knob Creek bottle at one of the local bars here for a while. The only missing part of the plan is a good demolitions expert.
posted by invitapriore at 4:43 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything coming out of Heaven Hill/KBD/Willett tastes exactly the same as everything else coming out of Heaven Hill/KBD/Willett. For example, I have a rather well-developed pallette, and doing a side-by-side comparison, I could not tell the difference between Rowan's Creek, Black Maple Hill, and Noah's Mill.

I agree with most of your comment [see here] except for the inclusion of Heaven Hill. While Rowan's Creek and Noah's Mill are indistinguishable from each other I feel that Elijah Craig from Heaven Hill is a totally different beast. Next time I get a bottle there'll be a side-by-side for sure, but I recently had an Elijah Craig single barrel bottling that was miles away from anything KBD is producing.

Oh, and speaking of single barrels - George Dickel has recently released some single barrel bottlings. Check your local liquor shop because they are delicious, as is to be expected. I'm drinking some this very moment.
posted by komara at 5:12 PM on November 14, 2013


After drinking Maker's exclusively for many years, I tried ( and enjoyed ) a few bottle of Buffalo Trace before finding my new go-to boubon, Weller Antique 107. 24.99/litre.
posted by mikelieman at 5:18 PM on November 14, 2013


This is not how you make HP Brown Sauce. Frankly I'm not HP'd.
posted by arcticseal at 5:27 PM on November 14, 2013


Invitapriore: anywhere near Seattle? I know a guy...
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:20 PM on November 14, 2013


Brownest of the brown liquors...so tempting...what's that? You want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a trial!
posted by MoonOrb at 6:33 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


invitapriore: "The only missing part of the plan is a good demolitions expert."

Let's talk.
posted by notsnot at 6:58 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jack Daniels is on there but not Town Branch? Well, so much for that source.
posted by J.W. at 7:10 PM on November 14, 2013


Bulliet Rye still #1 goto brown.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:34 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulliet Rye still #1 goto brown.

Give Rittenhouse or 1776 a try. Bulleit rye is pretty good neat, but it gets absolutely lost in cocktails. Templeton's another that's very good neat. I wouldn't mix with it, though.

My personal favorite is the High West Double Rye. Neat or mixed.
posted by Vox Nihili at 8:25 PM on November 14, 2013


Just creamed a couple lbs of High West after writing this post. Improved my spelling by about 40% apparently
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:47 PM on November 14, 2013


I prefer brown things with one or two ice cubes. Neat for some reason makes me not enjoy it. Probably because I give up and slam it after three sips.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 PM on November 14, 2013


I've been trading off the Templeton with the Bulleit lately. The Templeton seems a little wan to me. It is definitely lacking mixed in a Manhattan compared to the Bulleit rye. Maybe it's just the lower proof.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:40 PM on November 14, 2013


I was at a wedding in Tennessee last month, and the lovely hotel bar had an excruciatingly large number of whiskys(ies?) available, and I got a chance to try some stuff I normally wouldn't get to sample.

The one thing that stood out was the Dickel.

So I get back to Minneapolis, and I go to buy some beer, and they have a ten foot high display, the requisite gorgeous sales rep, and a huge sale on Dickel.

I was like, are you following me?
posted by Sphinx at 6:15 AM on November 15, 2013


My favorite brown liquid? A nice Maris Otter/Amarillo hopped Dark Amber beer that I'm bottling today. It's my Christmas gift batch so it's been aged over whiskey barrel chips soaked in George Dickel, so that counts, sort of, right?

That said, if you need a cheap drink to put hair on your chest and get your head straight, a shot of Rebel Yell in Blenheim's pink cap ginger ale is as good as it gets on a hot summer afternoon. I mean you could buy a more quality whiskey, but why bother?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:01 AM on November 15, 2013


I think it's funny that Heaven Hill's titular whiskey does not appear on this chart.

Also, I apparently am a Buffalo Trace man. Good to know.
posted by snottydick at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2013


As someone born and raised in Tennessee I will now tell you God's Honest Truth and that is this: Jack Daniels is an abomination. George Dickel is the one true path to Tennessee whisky.

I think that's overly harsh (Jack and Coke is my go-to if I'm in a dive bar with not much selection), but I love you so much for loving George Dickel so much.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Old Crow isn't just the best cheap bourbon...it's the best cheap anything."

I like this quote so much I'm going to get it tattooed on my face.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:53 AM on November 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


mikelieman: "Weller Antique 107. 24.99/litre"

QFT. Our work-based whisky tasting society (now about 550 whiskies deep into that vast world of deliciousness which is about 0.5% of the Malt Maniac's master spreadsheet) has identified that particular Bourbon as the most bang for you buck so we have made it a staple that we restock regularly.

komara: "George Dickel is the one true path to Tennessee whisky."

All that tells me is that you must not have tried Prichard's yet. I used to think Dickel was the ultimate Tennessee Whiskey (side note: for some reason I actually prefer the #12 over the fancier Barrel Select) but Prichard's is just awesome. Also the guy who makes it is a real original and a bit of a nutcase. Prichard's is the only Tennessee Whiskey still made in pot stills. And it's still privately owned (Dickel is Diageo). Also, it's the only Tennessee Whiskey that isn't using the Lincoln County Process and is sold unfiltered which means you get a little char from the casks in there but also a whole lot more flavor. It's amazing stuff. Still love the Dickel but Prichard's beats it hands-down.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:00 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, while there really is a huge segment of the Bourbon market with similar tasting interchangeable products mainly caused by the reduction of Bourbon production to a few industrial scale distillery companies it is also true that you can find very unique and interesting Bourbons. Even from the big producers.

For example, K&L here in California, semi-regularly offers exclusive single barrel bottlings from a Four Roses experimental series based on a 4x3 grid (I believe) of different yeast strains and some other parameter I can't recall right now. This is not to be confused with the regular 4R single barrel bottlings you can find everywhere. Those are good, too, but very similar to each other overall. The single barrel single yeast 4R bottlings K&L releases are very unique and consistently delicious. The best one was actually the first one (designated OBSO... each 4-letter combo represents one of the cells of the grid) which came out of a freak cask which absorbed a lot of liquid. I think there were only ~170 bottles. It was aggressive, powerful and loaded with intense, complex flavors. A real sold-your-soul-to-the-devil once in a lifetime explosive quality sort of like the first proper release of Bruichladdich's Port Charlotte series (PC5) on the single malt side. Still kicking myself that I didn't buy multiple bottles. It sold out in like 30 minutes... *sigh*

Then there's outstanding stuff like Buffalo Trace's George T. Stagg which is unbelievably smooth on the second sip, which you'll be able to enjoy right after you regain consciousness (the first hit of Stagg can deliver a vicious blow to those unprepared for it's blistering 140+ proof heat). Once your sensory apparatus gets back to operational status you'll find it really doesn't taste like every other Bourbon. Unfortunately it's rather hard to find due to releases being extremely limited. I actually got lucky just now and won K&L's annual raffle for the right to buy a bottle. Yay!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:21 AM on November 15, 2013


I used to think Dickel was the ultimate Tennessee Whiskey (side note: for some reason I actually prefer the #12 over the fancier Barrel Select)

As you should. #12 is the right way to go - the Barrel Select is insufficiently awesomer to warrant the step up in price.

All that tells me is that you must not have tried Prichard's yet.

I have, I just don't yet accept them. They are young upstarts, they weren't around during my formative drinking years, and I can't forgive them for putting out a key lime rum. I mean I know they had to make money somehow while their first batches of whiskey were aging, but ... a Tennessee brand making a key lime rum? That's enough to make you spit your Dickel out.

anyway yes, their whiskey is pretty darned good. I do not, however, retract my statement.

George Dickel: sic itur ad astra
posted by komara at 1:44 PM on November 15, 2013


[to put it another way: Prichard's tastes like a very nice whiskey, George Dickel #12 tastes like my memories of Tennessee and can not be dethroned in this matter.]
posted by komara at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2013


Hey, in other news that isn't about me being nutso for George: have you all tried Benchmark yet? It's probably on the bottom shelf of your local whiskey supply depot but it's a Buffalo Trace product (more or less) and is actually really really good for the price. One of our local grocery store chains here in New Orleans has it for sale at a scandalous price, $12.99 for a 1.75L bottle. It's slightly superior to Ancient Age and yet somehow cheaper. I mean I know our liquor prices here are low regardless but this is beyond my ken.
posted by komara at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2013


komara: "to put it another way: Prichard's tastes like a very nice whiskey, George Dickel #12 tastes like my memories of Tennessee and can not be dethroned in this matter."

That's... too bad. For a moment it seemed you and I could have become friends.
Pistols at dawn?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:57 PM on November 15, 2013


I appear to be fresh out of pistols. How about bottles 'til dawn?
posted by komara at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Old Crow's insane. I'd say it's as Knob Creek say, but 20 bucks for a handle!!! Talk about amazingness. Makes me agree with the saying that price per quality, bourbon's head an shoulders above any other liquor.
posted by Carillon at 3:08 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if this article is making the rounds. The mass market place I go to is out of Weller, and the local boutique spot just raised their prices on Weller like 25%. :P
posted by danny the boy at 5:32 PM on November 15, 2013


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