Drink of The Week: The Sampson
What we're all about:
The Bourbon Barrel is an informative one-stop-shop for all things bourbon. Created for young adults venturing into the business world, a new crowd learning about an age old trade, or anyone who can appreciate a good bourbon. From recipes to syrups, to shakers and more, The Bourbon Barrel has it all. So fill up your snifter, light a cigar, and read on.
Bourbon on a Budget: A Guide to the Bottom Shelf.
If you're new to bourbon and looking to explore, but don't quite have the money to go out and buy $50 bottles of bourbon, there are a few things you can do to still live the bourbon life. The first step is to go to a nice bar. Since the "bourbon boom" is currently in effect, bars across America are offering great bourbons that any bourbon enthusiast would drink. Although the price per glass is higher than the average spirit, buying a few different glasses of top shelf bourbon helps to narrow down what type of bourbon you may like, without costing you a fortune. After you've experimented with different bourbons and want to expand your home bar on a budget, it's time to explore the bottom shelf. The term "Bottom Shelf" generally means lower end, cheap liquor displayed on the ground shelf of a liquor store, however, for our purposes, the bottom shelf will refer to any bottle of bourbon under $30.00. There are far too many great bourbons under $30 to list, so I'll start with my top five.
1. Buffalo Trace. Any bourbon drinker will know that Buffalo Trace distills some of the best bourbons in America including the Pappy Van Winkle line, however a bottle of Buffalo Trace only costs about $25.00
2. Benchmark. Made by Buffalo Trace, Benchmark received a 90 from Wine Enthusiast, and comes in at a lovely $8.00 a bottle.
3. W.L. Weller Antique. Yet another bourbon from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Weller is a wheat bourbon similar to Pappy but at a fraction of the price at about $25.00 a bottle.
4. Evan Williams 1783. A fine tuned, small batch version of the 'Ole Evan we grew up on serves as a refined version of the classic at about $15 a bottle.
5. Larceny. Made by Old Fitzgerald, Larceny is a warm wheat bourbon coming in around $25 a bottle.
Although breaking out a bottle of any of the above won't make any jaws drop or change your life, they are all great bourbons that won't break the bank. So go out and pick up a bottle or two, and enjoy!
Go to the "Review" tab to take a look at an ongoing review of the variety of bourbons produced by different distilleries throughout the Country.
For Cocktails and Shooter recipes, go to the "Recipes" tab and check out some of our favorite classics, and some Bourbon Barrel special drinks.
For any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to get in touch us via the "Contact Us" tab.
When to Drink What?
When new to the Bourbon scene, it is often hard to know when to make the right cocktail for the occasion. My go to will always be a Manhattan, however that may not work for you in the summer on a hot day. When the weather is nice and warm, a cool, sweet, refreshing drink is desirable, like a Julep. On a cold winter night, something warm and seasonal like a Manhattan or and Old fashioned will allow the evening to warm up. Adding Mint to any summer drink, or Cinnamon to any winter drink helped to enforce the season and better your drinking experience. Check out the "Recipes" page for a few ideas!
Some may argue that bourbon is bourbon regardless of whether you drink it from a crystal snifter, a mason jar, or a solo cup. I, however, have to disagree. This may be due to my love for the bourbon we put inside these glasses, or the fact that I, quite honestly, love toys (especially if you can drink bourbon from them). Regardless, whether you agree or not, nice glassware is always a way to appear like you know what you're doing, even if you have no clue. If you prefer your bourbon "on the rocks," I would recommend using a wide-bowl Canadian whisky glass, in order to fit your ice, while maintaining the nosing shape necessary for appreciating the aroma of the bourbon at hand. If you're a eco-friendly bourbon drinker, I would recommend making your own recycled bourbon glass from used wine bottles. Although a difficult task, the punt (indent in bottom of wine bottle) makes a great stand for a King Cube or Ice Ball, allowing the free movement of bourbon, while providing a slow melting ice, as to not water down the beverage. For the true men out there who drink their bourbon neat, investing in a few crystal nosing glasses will treat you well in your experience with bourbon. Remember, bourbon is sunshine held together by water and glass. Cheers!