Big Shot

Bourbon is aiming to attract a new generation.A few years ago a co-worker gave me a copy of Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze for Christmas.  It’s an interesting little book full of witty, earthy, and sometimes sophomoric, anecdotes involving some of the legends and actual history of liquor.  Now, I’m not sure this is a good thing, but the nuggets of history, science, and folklore surrounding whiskey (and whisky – you’ll learn whether there’s a difference), gin, rum, vodka, brandy, various liqueurs, famous names and producers encouraged me to try some new things.  Try, I said.  And, of course, always in the name and for the sake of knowledge.

Uh huh.

Anyway, to that point I had never been much of a fan of gin, Tanqueray being a favorite of the other adult in the household.  Too much like drinking perfume, I thought.  Not that I’d know, you understand, but that’s what I thought.  Fresh from learning more about the subtleties of gin, though, I was willing to give it another try.  Beefeater (nice citrusy notes), Plymouth (plausibly calling itself “The World’s Smoothest Gin”), and even the eclectic Hendricks (including cucumber and rose petals in its botanical infusion) have turned out to be very enjoyable – all different interpretations on the gin theme, but all enjoyable.

Classic Manhattan CocktailThe lasting lesson of Big Shots has been to appreciate the variety among spirits that go by the same name.  Seems self-evident, but it just wasn’t a world I had really explored until then.  As featured in the New York Times, bourbon is enjoying its own resurgence.  Small batch and single barrel bourbons are all the rage, and taking up more and more shelf space (at the store, not so much at home).  The bourbons featured in the NYT article are mainly intended as “sippin’ whiskey” in order to appreciate their individual attributes.  But whether it’s over ice or in a nice cocktail (try a classic like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned), bourbon has a sweetness owing to the predominance (at least 51%) of corn that makes it (I think) more accessible, more “user friendly” than others.

As always, please drink responsibly.  And never drink and drive.


One thought on “Big Shot

  1. Finally visited a local beer/wine/liquor shop (after living back here only what? ten years?) and found a much better selection than my usual supermarket. Actually found things I have lamented not being able to get except at a specialty store or out of state. Anyway, now I know where to look for things like Pernod and Chartreuse, though I passed those up this Saturday for a bottle of Jim Beam “Yellow Label” Straight Rye whiskey.

    Since Jim Beam “White Label” Bourbon still contains a fair amount of constituent whiskeys in addition to the corn, there is a great deal of similarity between the JB bourbon and rye. The rye is dryer and spicier, and makes a Manhattan that is somewhat lighter and crisper in flavor than the typical bourbon version.

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