Bourbon whiskey should be the star of your next bar crawl
MANILA, Philippines — Our choice of drink says a lot about us. Even with that in mind, it’s easy to fall back on the old reliables: beer, margaritas, maybe wine if you’re feeling fancy. But with the weekend fast approaching, you’ve got the chance to mix things up and make a strong statement. The drink we have in mind? Bourbon whiskey.
While beer is too basic, margaritas too flirty, and wine too snooty, Bourbon is self-assured. All Bourbon cares about is the enjoyment of the person drinking it. Bourbon is confidence.
Bourbon whiskey is the ultimate no-compromise drink. That’s what we realized during the Philippine visit of Wild Turkey Bourbon head distiller Eddie Russell. The visit was part of an Asian tour that also took Eddie to Japan and Hong Kong. The Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer came here to provide a master class on the fine art of bourbon whiskey production and – most importantly – enjoyment.
Bourbon is an American whiskey that is just as iconic as its Scottish counterpart. Made primarily from corn and aged in new oak charred barrels, bourbon generally tastes sweeter than scotch whiskies, and has notes of cinnamon and vanilla. Bourbon whiskey production goes back two centuries, and is most commonly associated with the American south, particularly the state of Kentucky. It’s as rugged and individualistic as the nation that created it.
This was pretty clear during Eddie’s master class. When asked if he was planning on creating gimmicky flavored whiskey, Eddie was pretty direct. “I am not. Big brands do that,” he asserted. “Right now even bourbons, which traditionally didn’t do that, do that. My father (Wild Turkey master distiller, Jimmy Russell) came out with a honey-flavored bourbon in 1976. And then, 10 years ago, everyone else started doing it. I don’t think it’s what Wild Turkey’s about.”
What is evolving though, are the whiskey drinkers themselves. Eddie notes that more young people are developing a taste for bourbon. “I think it’s fantastic, and it’s what’s growing our industry. For years and years, our drink was 95 percent of what was sold in a liquor store. It was an older gentleman who got a bottle and started drinking.” Clearly, bourbon is no longer just your tito’s drink.
The rise of cocktail culture
While Eddie prefers taking his bourbon neat or on the rocks, he sees a rise in cocktail culture – young people enjoying mixed whiskey socially. And we think it’s the perfect way to enjoy your whiskey this weekend.
“The classic cocktails are what are really big; Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Sours,” Eddie says. “My favorite cocktail is a Boulevardier. That’s my thing. I think citrus flavors like orange or lemon go well with a bourbon. In Japan, it’s a Highball – soda water. You know, for us in America, you don’t see that. But in Japan it’s huge. If I was going to mix one thing with a bourbon, it would be ginger ale. I think ginger ale, or ‘dry’ as they call them in Australia, goes well with a bourbon.”
All that info may seem overwhelming, so Eddie recommends a simple, hands-on approach to finding one’s taste for bourbon. “Go to your local bar and have a drink,” he says matter-of-factly. “And that way, you can have several different ones over time instead of going to a liquor store and spending a whole bunch on something you might not like.”
Not surprisingly, that nugget of wisdom also applies to everything else in life. If it’s true for bourbon, it’s also true for life.
Let’s drink to that, shall we? – Rappler.com