There are no stupid questions. There are, however, a lot of inquisitive idiots. I should know… I’m one of them. At any rate, in order to spread what little knowledge I possess (and so I don’t have to come up with more original content), I’ve decided to answer some reader mail. Here goes nothing…
Dear Dr. Bourbon
Where do you get off calling yourself “Dr. Bourbon”? Do you have any serious academic qualifications? Have you ever worked in the spirits industry? Have you at least attended bartending school?
-Kurt in Dallas
I have no formal bourbon training or education. I am, however, a pompous windbag. Also, I love bourbon. And if you don’t stop hassling me, I’m going to stop inviting you over for drinks. Ok, the Pretty Little Wife says I can’t stop inviting you over, but I don’t have to serve you the good bourbon.
Hey Bourbon Guy,
I’ve tried to enjoy scotch because it seems like the thing to do. However, it all tastes like burned swamp to me. I was told I could add some plain water, but that just made it taste like watered down burned swamp. I’d like to try some good bourbon, but I don’t want to spend too much because…you know, burned swamp. How much should I expect to pay for a decent bottle and do you have any suggestions?
-Mike in Murphy
First off, you don’t have to drop a ton of cash to get a good bottle of bourbon. While some of my favorites have been in the $80-$100 range, there are a number of great choices available closer to the $25 price point. You should be able to pick up a bottle of Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, or Evan Williams 10 year for right around $25. For $30-$35, you could get Maker’s 46 or Eagle Rare 10 year. For $40, you can pick up a bottle of Blanton’s or Knob Creek. If you just can’t decide, try to make friends with someone who loves bourbon and is willing to share. Say goodbye to burned swamp and hello to vanilla, caramel, cinnamon and honey. If you want to make your scotch more tolerable, I hear there’s a way.
Do people actually email you bourbon questions? You’ve only been blogging for a few weeks and hardly anybody reads your blog. And besides, I don’t see an email address anywhere on here. What’s the deal?
-Anonymous in University Park
Ok, you caught me. Most of my readers (and I’m averaging about eight a day since I started blogging two months ago, thank you very much) are friends and coworkers who ask me questions in person. Sure, I’ve tried to make their questions more interesting (read: entertaining), but they’re all basically real. You’re the only completely fictional character I’ve used so far. But if someone did want to ask me a question, the could DM me on Twitter (@BourbonInExile) or just email me directly (BourbonInExile at GMail dot com). If enough people ask me interesting questions, maybe I’ll get to do another “Viewer Mail” blog.
Dear Pretentious Bourbon Blogger,
I enjoy a wide variety of cocktails, but I some of my favorites are served in embarrassingly feminine glassware. Manhattans are delicious, but the second I get a martini glass in my hand, I feel like people are trying to figure out which Sex in the City girl I am. Does the glassware change the flavor of the drink? And, if not, how can I get all my drinks served in tumblers?
-Totally a Manly Man in Garland
First off, you need to put down Sex in the City and sign up for a James Bond refresher course. If the martini glass is good enough for Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, it’s good enough for you. In fact, maybe it’s too good for you. Let’s see about getting you some less prestigious glassware, shall we? The key is knowing the ingredients in your preferred cocktail. If you ask for your drink by parts rather than by name, many bartenders will serve it in the most no-frills glass they’ve got. Ask for a Manhattan and you can expect a martini glass. But ask for bourbon, vermouth, and a dash of bitters, and your chances of getting it all in a tumbler go way up. The same goes for most other specialty drinks. Order a Sea Breeze and expect a fancy, flutey, girly glass. Ask for vodka, pineapple, and cranberry, and expect a rocks glass. But consider this… While drinking from less fancy glassware may make you feel more manly, the ladies notice (and appreciate) a man who can drink from a fancy glass with confidence. Or so sayeth the Pretty Little Wife, and that’s good enough for me.
Oh, and the shape of the glass doesn’t matter for most cocktails. It’s more of a big deal when you’re doing a tasting and you want to make sure you don’t miss any subtle aromas.
Did you ever get around to trying that Willet Pot Still Reserve I told you about?
-Marathon Kurt in Dallas
-Patrick the Test Team Guy in Wylie
Yes, I did. I tweeted about it as I was tasting. Hadn’t planned on doing a full blog post. To rehash:
Nose: Grain, vanilla, sweet brown sugar, and just a hint of bubblegum. Not overly oaky. Light. Fun.
Taste: First taste is light and smooth, silky. A bit of citrus with sweet brown sugar or maple syrup. Apples and pears. A little alcohol burn.
Finish: Hazelnut and warm cinnamon with a rising heat that retreats to a bit of dry oak.
Verdict: Willett Pot Still Reserve is a very nice bourbon. It’s not in my top 5, but certainly a good addition to the bourbon shelf.