Another step in my exploration of international whiskies takes me to the US, home of bourbon.
I have to confess that my introduction to bourbon was about as rocky as my introduction to scotch – in this instance it was a miniature of Jim Beam in a fresher’s pack at university. I obviously drank it because I was a student and it was alcohol, but it didn’t leave me with a lasting desire to try more.
A couple of years ago, after I’d grown to appreciate scotch, a friend introduced me to Woodford Reserve and I suddenly realised that good bourbon could be as smooth and enjoyable as good scotch.
So this week is Old Fitzgerald 1849, a bourbon from Kentucky. It’s a wonderful rich gold in the glass, with a nose full of sweet caramel, honey, vanilla and just the right amount of alcohol. A splash of water doesn’t make a huge difference, but reduces the sweetness a little.
The first sip is initially harsher on the tongue than I was expecting from the nose with a distinctly peppery spice to it. The taste quickly settles down into a long drawn out toffee sweetness, but the finish has a bit of a raw bourbon grain that I’m not particularly in love with. Water cuts back on that spice and smooths the whole taste out.
Overall, an interesting stop on my tour of bourbon – a little rough around the edges, but with some intriguing flavours in there too.