The Gentleman’s Guide to Bourbon

One often overlooked aspect of a man’s image is his preferred spirit of choice. While this may seem a trivial point of concern, a man’s signature drink speaks volumes about his level of refinement. Don’t believe me? Picture your average guy in a downtown bar. Put him in an expensive blazer and tie with neatly trimmed hair and quality footwear:

Now, place a can of Bud Light in his hand. You just made a judgment about him. Remove the Bud Light and replace it with a martini. Different guy. A fruity red frozen drink in a long-stemmed glass with an umbrella? Different guy again.

A man’s signature drink is both his ultimate accessory and a powerful personal statement. As is the case with icons like James Bond and Don Draper of Mad Men fame, a drink can come to define your character as much as the car you drive or the clothes you wear.

For men seeking to stand out from Vegas bomb shooting, keg standing, beer chugging frat boy crowd, allow me to introduce you to the quintessential man drink: bourbon.


Bourbon has enjoyed a renaissance among men of class and distinction and as a bartender and resident of Kentucky’s bourbon country, I am proud to see arbiters of taste learning to appreciate America’s native spirit.

Of course, its important for you to know what you are talking about, know how to properly taste bourbon, and to have respect for the craft. Bourbon is distinctly different from other spirits, and knowing those distinctions can be the difference between you looking like a showboating know-nothing or a refined gentleman of great taste and culture.

Take the time to learn what separates grown men from the forever-frat-boys and you’ll be more than a few steps ahead.

Know What You Are Talking About

Every bourbon is a whiskey, but not every whiskey is a bourbon. Unlike whiskey, bourbon is regulated by United States Federal Standards that state all bourbons must have the following characteristics in common:

  • bourbon must be produced in the United States
  • bourbon must consist of no less than 51% corn
  • bourbon must be bottled at no less than 80 proof
  • and bourbon must be aged in brand new, charred, oak barrels for no less than 2 years.

While all bourbons follow the same four point blueprint, whiskeys are not regulated as strictly. Some whiskeys can be clear and dangerously high in proof, as is the case with “moonshine”, or can be created from any mish mash of grain that produce sub par or low proof spirits. But with bourbon, you can trust what’s in the bottle.

97% of the world’s bourbon comes from the American state of Kentucky. While it is not mandatory that bourbon originate in Kentucky, the state possesses some of the purest and best tasting limestone water – a key ingredient in bourbon distillation – and one of the best climates for grain growth and barrel aging.

Bourbons fall into two categories: “single barrel” bourbons and “small batch” bourbons. Occasionally, a master distiller – the person responsible for the finished product in a bourbon bottle – will discover a particular barrel resting in the perfect location in the facility where bourbon barrels are stored (called a rick house). Deciding that nothing more needs to be done to improve on the whiskey, he will bottle it straight out of the barrel as a single barrel bourbon. On other occasions, he may discover that he can produce a better tasting bourbon by blending several different barrels together, thus creating a “small batch” bourbon.

You will also encounter “wheated” bourbons and “rye” bourbons. These descriptors indicate the second predominant grain in a bourbon’s composition (with corn, of course, being the primary grain). Whereas corn lends a natural sweetness to all bourbons, wheated bourbons are notably smooth, and rye bourbons tend to be on the spicier side.

Knowing the differences between single barrel, small batch, rye, and wheated bourbons will make you more intelligent than most bar patrons, and will improve your ability to select a good bourbon.

Know How To Taste Bourbon


Newcomers to bourbon often complain that all they can taste is alcohol – a sure sign of an unrefined palate. Tasting bourbon, or anything else for that matter, is a skill that must be developed with practice and attentiveness. To truly appreciate bourbon requires that you sniff it, swish it, and of course swallow it.

Seventy-five percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell – therefore in order to properly taste a bourbon, one must first smell it. Rather than inhaling your whiskey deeply and slowly, use short, quick sniffs. Doing so will improve your ability to perceive the subtle fruit, floral, earth, wood, and candy-like aromas that the untrained taster is unable to recognize.

When it comes to our sense of taste, we generally sense sweetness, saltiness, sour, and bitterness on different parts of the tongue. In order to pick up on these tastes, take a small sip of bourbon and roll it around on your tongue so that a little lands in every part of your mouth (here, we call swishing ones bourbon around in the mouth the “Kentucky chew”).

Bourbon gets its taste from the water, the types of corn and other grains used in the composition of the bourbon, the yeast strains used to ferment the bourbon, and the barrel aging process. Yeast strains from fruit trees and berry bushes gives different bourbons different subtle fruit notes. As bourbon rests in its barrel, the wood absorbs and releases the bourbon repeatedly over the years, giving the bourbon flavors of toasted oak, char, vanilla, and caramel.

Some bourbons are thick and heavy, and sit on your palate like syrup. Others are very light bodied and almost evaporate on your tongue. Pay attention to these as you taste your bourbon.

Finally, swallow and take note of the finish. Is it uncomfortable to swallow, or does it go down smooth? Is the finish bitter, sour, sweet? Does the pleasant aftertaste last long after you have swallowed, or does the taste evaporate quickly? The finish is where a truly excellent bourbon stands out from the crowd, and can be enjoyed long after you have finished your pour.

A fine bourbon will possess both a pleasant aroma, a strong flavor, and an interesting, pleasant, long lasting finish. These are the things you are looking for – not a fancy label or a brand name you read in a mens magazine.

Respect The Craft

When a man of refinement enjoys a bourbon, he is enjoying generations of apprenticeship, years of aging, and decades of carefully honed craftsmanship. As a man who has witnessed the love, dedication to duty, and life force that master distillers have invested in their craft, so help me God if I see any of you dumping coke, sprite, or fruit punch in a fine bourbon, I will slap your glass out of your hand and dismiss you from the bar.

Chugging a fine bourbon is a cardinal sin on par with polluting it with inferior substances. Bourbon is a spirit that is meant to be sipped and enjoyed slowly. Respect the time that it took to make your whiskey by taking the time to truly taste it. Besides, no worthwhile woman will be impressed by your ability to kegstand, shoot, and chug your way to unconsciousness.

As a side note: men will often take shots of bottom shelf bourbon to aid their game – a practice that can lead to regrettable consequences. Let it be known that while some refer to alcohol as a “Liquid Panty Remover”, puke is far better known as “Liquid Loneliness”, and if you are drinking to improve your game, the only thing you will score is a free ticket to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Once you have found a bourbon you truly love (and there is one out there for you), use it to craft a signature classic cocktail that matches your tastes and personality. Classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and the Revolver are routinely consumed by gentlemen of substance as crucial mediums for telling their personal story in a split second. These gentlemen know that standing at a crowded bar, your drink order is not merely a declaration of your alcohol conveyance preferences – it’s you in a glass.

At Bourbon of the Day, our mission as bourbon brand ambassadors is the transformation of our readers and guests into better bourbon drinkers with reviews, tasting notes, and lifestyle guides.

Read More: A Players’ Guide To Wine Appreciation

131 thoughts on “The Gentleman’s Guide to Bourbon”

    1. Because Beam’s like rubbing alcohol. Devil’s Cut, while not really bourbon, is some quality spirits, though. It almost redeems the harsh of Beam.

  1. As booze go, Bourbon is one of my favorites. I wouldn’t recommend finding one “favorite” bourbon, and only then craft a “signature classic cocktail.” The ideal bourbon for a Manhattan is, for me and I suspect most people, rather different from the ideal one for sipping straight.
    For those who smoke cigars (I don’t myself, but very much enjoy the aroma of being around those who do), the best bourbon (or any other booze) with a stooge, also tend to be different than the best one for complete stand alone enjoyment. Ditto for enjoying it with food. Typically salty bar snacks, call for a completely different flavor profile in the glass, than a piece of pecan pie.

    1. i thought bourbon was cheap whiskey for cowboys ?
      scotch is the real stuff and the prices per bottle goes up into 6 figures…..
      these fads for brandy, tequilla, vodka etc…. are just a lot of marketing….
      tequilla is rot gut made from cactus because the spanish ran out of brandy while they were invading mexico, so they just brewed up whatever they could find…. it’s one step away from medical alcohol…. brewing up corn is slightly better, but it’s still not the real thing…..

      1. Them cowboys kicked the snot of the Redcoats on the battlefield. Why assume things are any different in the distillery?

        1. because most of the rules for making bourbon were invented to create a cheaper, quicker, easier product than the real whiskey they couldn’t get… much like the spanish started brewing cactus……

        2. I call bullshit. White Scotch whisky was made by barley famers in Scotland for personal use cheaply and easily. Raw Bourbon distillation is the same but using corn. The biggest corn growing region in the world is bound to have corn whiskey. As for the rules, mostly politics. Ensuring high levels of corn benefits local growers, 80 proof minimum is to ensure consistency in excise taxation and being only made in the US means that the government can protect against cheap and unsafe imports.

        3. I’m sure that they grew barley in the colonies so I doubt that’s why someone invented bourbon using corn.
          And as far as barrels they had plenty of American Oak to make them. Not to mention the sherry and Madeira barrels they could use. Savannah was the centre of the Madeira trade in those days when many people drank it.
          So how about shutting up because you know nothing.In fact, just keep quiet and be thought a fool, rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

        4. You’re right, all of these things whether beer, wine and products distilled from them were originally products of farms and the crops available in the area.People in the town who didn’t have land would just buy it from farmers who distilled as a sideline to farming. Eventually as things became more specialised they became just distillers , beer making, wine makers and the stuff was sold to a wider audience and even exported if you made a particularly good or unique product.

        5. Interestingly, due to the rise in Bourbon whisky popularity, the oak barrels seem to running low on supply. There is the notion that there could be a shortage in Bourbon in the coming years. Or at least, genuine Bourbon.

        6. My favorite Scotch distillery – Glenmorangie – uses casks made from American white oak. Many distilleries in Scotland boast of using American White Oak casks that were initially used to age Bourbon, because it makes for the best tasting and aged Scotch. So, while I agree that Scotch is superior to Bourbon, many of the best Scotches use Bourbon casks. So don’t hate on Bourbon too much, because without it we wouldn’t have some really great Scotch.

        7. I’ve heard of wine made from Army Worms when they explode in population and are everywhere (10 year peak population cycle?). So, conceivably, you could distill that wine and create Army Worm whiskey.

        8. Hipsters’ tastes (or fashions) leading to every bar in America keeping a good bourbon selection, is one of my favorite current examples of even broken watches being right sometimes……
          It’s the perfect hipster drink. Manly, traditional connotations. Complex procedures to geek out about. Drank by many icons of yesteryear….. Yet still priced, even in the best bottlings, at a level that won’t blow a student loan or an upper middle class trust fund; unlike similarly high end Scotch, Cognac, wine and others.

        9. Actually, scotch was traditionally aged in used sherry butts although today they’ve been experimenting with all sorts of barrels. Sherry and Port were always shipped to England in barrels and then bottled in Bristol or London etc The leftover barrels were sold to whisky makers.It just so happened that these barrels were excellent for ageing scotch. But since the 80’s Sherry has been bottled in Spain and Port in Oporto.
          New barrels sometimes overpower the whisky and make it too tannic and dark.Even for Bourbon they are charred first.I think that in the US using new barrels really just had something to do with the law where they could keep better track of the whisky for excise tax purposes.In Scotland they used to have (not today) an excise tax man right on the premises of the distillery.

      2. What?
        I have no idea what cowboys drank, probably just some cheap whiskey.
        6 figures for Scotch? You’re crazy and apparently saw some very rare whisky in some expensive crystal decanter.$50 will get a top malt and even some of the standard $20 or so bottles are good.
        Brandy generally means Cognac and that too is about $50 although I like Delamain at about $100 a bottle
        Vodka and Tequila can either be ordinary cheap stuff or very high quality depending upon how it’s made
        And obviously you just can’t brewup whatever you can find. I’m sure that experts decided that the Agave plant was excellent for making spirits and had the right amount of natural sugar in the bulbs.
        All spirits are made the same way. You first make wine and then distil that into brandy. Or make a sort of beer and distil that into whiskey. etc The agave would have to have the sugar to ferment first than that solution would be distilled.When you use grains you first have to convert the carbohydrate into sugar so you can ferment it into alcohol to make beer>>>that can be distilled into whisky. This is just a simplification for you boys.

  2. I have been drinking bourbon since I was about sixteen, and I have a few observations to add to this.
    I think cocktails involving bourbon ought to be illegal. The only thing that should be added is water. This stuff isn’t vodka, and you don’t want to taste anything but bourbon.
    The absolute best place to drink bourbon is next to a fire. Some of the best memories of my life are of conversations that happened next to a fire with a glass of bourbon in my hand.
    If you’re properly sipping bourbon on ice, the character of the drink changes over the twenty minutes or so you drink it as the ice melts, the bourbon warms up, and time goes on. It’s a fantastic experience.
    Bourbon is also a great thing to take along in a flask hiking or hunting or even the symphony. Warms you up and chills you out.
    Mine: Maker’s Mark.

    1. Pappy Van Winkle 23yo for Bourbon
      Bushmills 21yo for malt
      -drinking Glenlivet since ’66 (and everything else)
      OK a few NY made:
      Van Brunt Malt Whisky (Brooklyn)
      Van Brunt Due North Rum
      Widow Jane Bourbon
      Long Island Rough Rider Bourbon
      Brooklyn Gin
      New Amsterdam Gin or Vodka
      Harvest Spirits Pear Brandy (Hudson Valley)
      Tuthilltown Gin (Hudson)
      Harvest Spirit Applejack (Hudson) btw, very little genuine applejack is made these days with only this and Lairds which is in NJ

    2. Love Maker’s Mark. It is my ‘table bourbon’ for drinking at home and most occasions. I drink Basil Hayden’s on special occasions, It is a cut above Maker’s, but so is the price. I started out as a Tequila drinker, progressed to high end Vodka, but I will die a Bourbon drinker. I also agree that it is a sin to mix fine Bourbon into a cocktail.
      For those new to Bourbon or who want to try it, order a higher end bourbon on the rocks next time you are out on the town. Take a small to medium sip and let it wash over your tongue, then take a slow breath in and out of your nostrils. You will be converted.

    3. Mine: Four Roses single barrel or even the el cheap Old Charter.
      I didn’t discover the pleasures of bourbon until my 30’s. I regret those lost years. Bourbon to me is the uniquely American spirit and I prefer it to all others including fine scotch.
      I have no tolerance for low class idiots even though I used to be one.

    4. I have to dissent with the ice cubes and bourbon. If I’m drinking quality alcohol, it’s neat: I’m drinking good stuff for a reason and it’s not to have it watered down. The rest of your post I totally cosign and, with us Canadians’ ability to get Cubans, it only gets better with one of those.
      Bonfires, bourbon, good friends. Life simplified.

  3. After reading this article, I need to make a trip to the store all of a sudden.

  4. I took a very roundabout journey to the enjoyment of bourbon, but now it’s one of my favorites. My go to drink for relaxing is a glass of Bowmen Brothers. Small distillery…huge flavor.

    1. I’m a direct descendent of the first person to be given a government licence to legally distil whisky after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

      1. My nephew is the grandson of my father, a man I am directly descended from.

      2. Did you knew that my father married into Rothschilds family? I’m also related to Jesus and Buddha.

    2. Distilling was invented by one of my ancestors in Lombardy, Beavis Machiavelli in 700BC who was also the 2nd King of Rome that predates the Republic.He also invented the freeze distil method where he would take strong wine and leave it in barrels in the mountains in Winter. The water would freeze first leaving the concentrated alcohol which would be drained and aged in barrels.

      1. Sure it was. And i’m related to High Priests of ancient Egypt and to Jesus Christ himself.
        You guys are hilarious. Fucking snobs.

    3. Grain whiskies are made all over Europe and Britain. Barley used in malt whisky is just ones of the types but the other grain whiskies which are a blend of grains including barley are not inferior and in fact are used in very expensive blended whisky like Johnnie Walker Blue.A lot of the malts were just too strong and unrefined tasting to drink as they were so balanced blends became popular in the 1800’s. Remember that this was a time where the Elites drank wine or brandy(Cognac) a light refined spirit while the peasants were drinking beer or gin.
      Nothing was invented in the US and they just used whatever was available to distil. Corn (pig fodder) was used because it’s easy to grow and was common.

      1. Amen, whiskey/bourbon is a product of corn and don’t forget it when you’re getting all high & mighty. Similar to rum in how it will always be a dank drink. I enjoy it but my .02 – Have a handle of Evan WIlliams around the house for cooking and guests, better than JD at half the price and 86 proof to boot (real bourbon). If you want to get fancy a fine tequila will blow the doors off many other liquors for smoothness. Agreed, we love whiskey for its depth and harshness, but don’t fall for too much of the marketing.

        1. Almost got into an argument with a friend that knows very little about tequila. He thinks tequila is for shots and mixed drinks not sipping. He just refused to believe that there are many circles south of the border that never take shots of tequila; one of my other friends from an upper-middle class family down there informed me about this years ago.

        2. Blue agave vs corn, after it has been aged in oak-the cactus will beat it for smoothness. American whiskey was founded by Irishmen dicking around with corn I bet, or some desperate Scotsman in Kentucky. It’s like the Mezcal of Scotch, born by necessity.

  5. i never drank alcohol, smoked cigarette.
    asian indian. 26 year old.
    kissless handholdless virgin.
    works for a giant corporation. at 26 owns a 3BHK condo and an audi.
    thinly built. 6/10 looks.
    the reason I am what I am is probably because I had started balding when I was 17. It became highly visible in my 20s. I despise myself and I’m convinced that since sexual selection gives high precedence to a full head of hair only an idiot would be attracted to me.
    so yeah, balding it causes person to not have a signature drink.

    1. Dude. Here’s what you do:
      -Shave your head like Bruce Willis and grow some facial stubble. Or check out “”
      -Check your Testosterone levels and get them fixed if need be.
      -Hit the weights hard.
      -Learn how to dress.
      -Practice good hygiene.
      -Approach 3 chicks a day and follow-up with any that seem interested.
      You’ll be swimming in pussy in 3 months

    2. Shave your head, grow a beard, and get over yourself. I started going bald in high school and sure wasn’t a virgin.

    3. I’m bald…and I own it like a boss. Shaved my head and never looked back. Chicks dig the tough, don’t give a fuck look. Trust me.
      Go for the Bruce lee look at the gym. He wasn’t huge, but rock solid.

    4. Peter Dinklage the actor who plays the dwarf on game of thrones is married and has a child…. and you think you’ve got problems with a little hair loss… give me a fucking break….
      there is no such thing as a male virgin… since men don’t have hymens to break… there is only a schlep that never got his dick wet….. start by hiring a good pro…. then go out to a bar and just start talking to women…. it’s really no big deal…
      i shaved my head last week as it’s gone a little thin on the sides, i really couldn’t give a fuck and the response from women and men has been nothing but positive. a man with a shaved head appears automatically with more authority….. scientific fact.

      1. You got that straight!
        I learned to grow hair on my balding head, but never cosmetically satisfactorily. So I shaved the bitch.
        And guess what. I STAND OUT! I’m different and interesting. I intrigue women and men respect my choice, while they try to cover up their balding spots.
        Now, it’s not every girl’s thing, a modern day Telly Savalas, but there are 150 million females or US alone. I’ve had more success with women after shaving than before. It didn’t stop by from bangin’ 20 year olds as a middle age man.
        The best part of being bald is it’s a look you have to really own with confidence, and confidence is what attracts women. Of course, it helps if you back up your chrome dome with fitness and style, like Telly.

      2. So everybody should become sex obsessed alcoholics?
        This thought has probably never occurred to you, but there are more worthy, interesting things in life than chasing women and drinking booze.

    5. owns a 3BHK condo
      So what’s that in real money, about $400k?
      I suggest that you get cracking before you’re a complete mess and will have to pay for pussy.

    6. If you’ve never kissed a woman, my guess is that you are somewhat uncomfortable around women then? It might be a good idea to find a sympathetic prostitute and pay her to pop your cherry. Do that a few times until the discomfort subsizes. Then start learning and practicing game. Prostitution is basically just an emergency measure, not something to become dependent on.
      Maybe also use your race to your advantage? A lot of white women find indian men as “exotic”.

  6. Sorry Demitrius but alcohol, whether it is a $5000 bottle of wine or a very rare bottle of Napoleon era brandy is still a neuro-toxin. You should drink very little or no alcohol as it’s a poison there is no getting away from the fact that your bourbon is toxic.
    P.S. It is neither ‘big’,manly or sophisticated to drink alcohol.

    1. Lel, moderate drinkers of alcohol are happier, mere successful, healthier, and live longer. Calling alcohol a neurotoxin is as retarded as the chemicalphobes bitching about high fructose corn syrup and honestly believe it’s less healthy than other forms of sugar. Even ignoring the health benefits, whisky(ey) is undeniably masculine and certain forms are seen as refined and sophisticated. Thin isn’t feminism where we rewrite history to protect the feelings of the weak. Masculine things aren’t always going to be the safest and healthiest. Fighting, fucking many women, tobacco, motorcycles, finding your limits, it all has its risks. Being a man is about living to get the most out of life. Cheers

      1. Disagreement doesn’t require ignorance. I enjoy a drink but I am under no illusions about the dangers. It is toxic on many levels and so drinking it sparingly is smart. And yes all sugar is bad but high fructose corn syrup is up there as one of the worst for very specific reasons. There is no benefit to consuming it and it is easy to avoid it.
        For me, being a man is increasing knowledge and wisdom over time and acting accordingly.

      2. Excellent. I shall salute you at my earliest convenience with a taste of Woodford Reserve, a very fine bourbon.

    2. Stop sounding like a neurotic female who’s afraid of everything. Eventually you’ll get old and die. Unless you’re a real alcoholic drinking will not cause any problems.Are you an ectomorph? Many people of this body type cannot tolerate alcohol. It just makes them dizzy and nervous.

    3. I’ve found a little whiskey before bedtime improves sleep and dental health. Why take drugs, or swish with mouthwash, when there’s whiskey?

  7. Dumb article , enjoy the drink you enjoy , whether that’s alcohol or fruit juice, don’t drink something inorder to impress yourself or others.

    1. Well, it helps to order a masculine drink.
      Once on an early career business trip we met the customer at a bar after hours for some drinks. Not being much of a drinker, I ordered some Polynesian concoction which arrived in a glass with a hula girl and a little bamboo parasol.
      A co-worker said “Cute drink Elmer.”
      After that I always ordered a Scotch.

      1. Yeah I hate it when that happens. They should have a man and woman section in the cocktail list.

      1. If by “refinement” you mean becoming an intolerable, snobby asshole like you guys, then no thanks.
        Snobbiness is bitchy behaviour, by the way. Some “alphas” on this site lol…

  8. The core issue with Bourbon is that it tastes gross. Never understood the connection between crappy tasting drinks and masculinity. I’ve always been more of a beer drinker more than anything, but formative time in Germany will do that to you.

    1. Of course. You always relax with a nice Scotch, not Bourbon AFTER you have pounded about 15 beers.
      Add a good Cuban cigar and you are good to go.

    2. Most alcohol is only good after you’ve acquired the taste. Bourbon is has a strong flavor, which I like. When I’m drinking beer, I go for high-IBU IPAS. All that stuff is more expensive…but I never have to share it. A can of Coors light will sit in my fridge for months. Swill!

    3. In the days of the old American West it has been shown that cowboys actually drank fruitier drinks and cocktails more than hard whiskey as is commonly portrayed on the big screen. This is because the fruit added much needed flavor/nutrients and the hard drinks at the time (called “rotgut”) were unsafe and cut with chemicals that could make a person very very ill.

    4. Love German beer. Wish I could get Augustiner here…
      Side note: I love scotches, bourbons, and whiskeys too

  9. Great article. I’m partial to the occasional Old-Fashioned and usually order it made with Woodford Reserve –
    I do share concerns with the fact that it needs to be 51%< corn/maize though – with so many corn products in our food system already (e.g. high-fructose corn syrup) I wonder if bourbon will have similar long-term detrimental effects.

  10. I love whisky. Be it Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian even the Japanese make some top notch. I love it in a shot, with ice, with cola or in cocktails. What I don’t like is tough guys who hate on other types of whisky like they are supporting a football team. Wah, wah scotch. Boo hoo Bourbon. Please. Whiny people who grouse about how you drink your whisky. Mind your own damn business. Don’t like my drink or how I am drinking it? Go and buy me one they way you like it. Until then, shut up. Whisky is good.

    1. If you love whiskey, see if you can find Forty Creek Rye where you are: the only rye worthy (and capable) of drinking neat.

  11. My go-to list for bourbons:
    – Maker’s Mark or (even better) Maker’s 46 for basic sipping bourbon. The 46 has, to my palate, an oakier, almost sweeter aftertaste, complete with subtle hints of vanilla. While perfect by itself, the 46 also makes for a damn good Manhattan. (When used with Martini & Rossi brand vermouth — not sure how well it pairs with other brands.)
    – Angel’s Envy makes a great birthday/holiday/just got out of a relationship gift, either for yourself or… well, hell, AE is on the pricier end of bourbons, so why I’d be spending that kind of money on someone else is beyond me. The shit practically melts over your tongue as you’re sipping it and, frankly, I’ve never bothered trying this one in a cocktail. Neat or on the rocks, only.
    – Bowman Brothers as either a sipping bourbon or for a cocktail such as an old-fashioned.
    – On the cheaper end, you can’t go wrong with good old Wild Turkey (I prefer the 101 proof variety) or Four Roses. Four Roses makes a pretty nice Small Batch that’s mellow and pleasing as all hell, and the Turkey is what I consider to be a good all-purpose bourbon that’s handy to have around: good for cocktails or sipping straight, and good for those unrefined females who still lean on whiskey ‘n coke as their go-to panty loosener.
    – In the 2/10 WND Again category, I’d list Rebel Yell. A buddy of mine had a bottle of this that someone had fobbed off on him as a gift and, absent anything of better quality, we tore into it one night. The next morning, it felt like tiny elves had entered my skull and were cutting away at my brain with a rusty saw.

  12. Finally, a bourbon piece on RoK! While Maxim just did their piece on them a couple of issues ago, they mainly focused on the small label kinds that are impossible for not only us Canadians to find but some of you Yanks must have issues with. That being said, it’s Maker’s (full strength at 45), Woodford, or Bulleit for me. EDub isn’t bad at all but I don’t go out of my way to buy.
    Bourbon knockoffs like 46 and Devil’s Cut are wonderful, too. If it ain’t whiskey and it’s not neat, I’m not interested.

    1. Just curious…

      Bourbon knockoffs like 46

      How exactly is the 46 a “Bourbon knockoff” — especially when it’s 47% alcohol to the 45% of regular Maker’s?

      1. Because it’s not bourbon according to the rules. It’s finished with oak staves inserted into the barrel. The liquor itself is basically bourbon, yes, but according to the rules it isn’t because of how it’s aged.

      1. You’re supposed to drink it hot, traditionally. To me it tastes like milky, watery alcohol. It messes you up quick, though.

  13. I’m drinking chocolate milk through a colorful straw right now.

  14. There is something wrong with the article. The title says “The Gentleman’s Guide to Bourbon”, so why does the content not state “stay away from it. Drink Scotch as Gentlemen do; Bourbon screams ‘uncivilised American’ all over it”?!

    1. I’m a Scotch man – anything by Glenmorangie neat will change your life – but I would like to discover some Bourbons that could compete, because it basically made America. I want to taste patriotism.

  15. mine is Buffalo Trace’s Eagle Rare
    One question that’s been bothering me:
    I’m in France (GMO are banned)and i was wondering about the GMO effect since i assume that most primary materials for US bourbons have to be GMO and the idea of sipping sweet GMO juice isn’t really cool with me…anyone has thoughts on that?

    1. I’m a Scotch man and Eagle Rare is a Bourbon I enjoy. Most Bourbon has too much of a sour or acidic taste to me compared to Scotch, but I do like Eagle Rare and Maker’s Mark.

  16. I should have read this last night so I could taste bourbon, now i can hardly wait till the next weekend…

  17. Something made out of corn grown in the gmo paradise land? I’ll pass!
    And besides how’s holding a drink make you more masculine if you’re already not?

  18. A good article; a fine bourbon is a fine thing, and it’s nice to see a good intro to drinking here.
    That said, I have a few quibbles.
    I get tired of articles aimed at men, saying x, y or z “says everything about you.” Your drink order indicates *something* about your persona. It isn’t “you in a glass.” The idea that x, y or z activity somehow encapsulates your entire persona, seems to me to be exactly the tactic used on women in women’s magazines and commercials. We don’t need it on a men’s site.
    My drink order varies on my mood. Sometimes I want wine (Malbec, Cabernet, Sangiovese, sometimes Pinot Grigio), sometimes beer (partial to Oatmeal Stouts, Doppelbocks, Red Ales, Wheat beers in Summer). Sometimes I want straight-up single malt scotch, and I like the whole gamut of single malts, from Islay to Speyside, even being partial from time to time to a triple-distilled Irish whiskey. Today I may drink Laphraoig Quarter Cask, tomorrow it’ll be Glemorangie Nectar d’Or, Auchentoshan, or Bush Mills. I love a good gin, and I like a classic martini, but garnished with a twist of some citrus or other (depending on my mood at the moment). That’s probably my go to “mixed” drink of choice. Sometimes just some vermouth on ice hits the spot, wet or dry. Sometimes I want bourbon on the rocks. Sometimes I want a reposado tequila straight up (I don’t care for silver or anejo, usually); but I won’t turn my nose up at a good, top-shelf margarita (I’m from the Southwest). A fine bourbon shouldn’t be mixed in a cocktail, but sometimes a nice old fashioned just hits the spot. Or a mint julep or “draque” (the original name of the mojito, so named by the Spanish in honor of Sir Francis Drake who invented it as a tonic and scurvy-preventer). When I’m slumming I’ll drink a White Russian or my own, low-budget mixed drink (Tito’s vodka, kahlua, grand marnier, and maybe a bit of cream if it isn’t Lent or a fast day). Anybody who wanted to define me by my drink order on any random day, would be an idiot. A man of substance won’t drink the same thing all the time, much less try to broadcast his personality with his drink order. Those who feel the need to emphasize how much “substance” they have by exterior signs, are dilettantes and without substance; the man of substance will communicate these things naturally, from the natural enjoyment produced by his refined taste, without being preoccupied with how he appears. He will have a broad palette and enjoy a variety of things from time to time. Variety is the spice of life, they say.
    Second, single malt scotch is far and away the more suitable drink for somebody looking to entertain the palette with the subtle delights of liquor. I like bourbon, but with a very few exceptions (Pappy van Winkle’s comes to mind), one bourbon will taste much more like the next, than is the case with scotch. With scotch, there’s usually a greater difference within the same region, or sometimes even within the same distillery, than there is between one bourbon and the next. There is a world of difference between the Laphroaig 10 and 18, that is broader than the difference between Maker’s Mark’s and Woodford Reserve’s standard issues.
    That said, I have a soft spot for bourbon, as every American must. I could never forget bourbon altogether, and I hope more American men will develop a respect for it.

    1. I’m a bit late to this parade, just a thumbs up on your comment. Agreed with everything down to the last nuanced sentence. Single malt is heaven in a glass.

      1. Thanks, man. You agreed with my liquors of choice, too? You must be a man of excellent taste!

  19. The tongue does NOT have different tastes in different regions. Get your science right. Otherwise, good.

  20. Bourbon is a passion of mine. Truly. A good glass of bourbon over rocks is an amazing way to take the edge off of a day. I don’t add water, I let the ice melt. I disagree that bourbon shouldn’t be used for cocktails. Really good bourbon shouldn’t. An old fashioned or a manhattan is a great way to turn an everyday or basic bourbon into a great drink. Bourbon and ginger ale is a common and respected drink in Kentucky, so if you aren’t a purist, what’s good enough for them should be good enough for you. I’m not talking about Canada Dry ginger ale, I’m taking about Ale 81 or Vernor’s in a pinch. But back to my earlier comment, the old fashioned is where it’s at with bourbon. Hints of orange peel, bitters, and a splash of simple syrup to round it out. It’s a sipping cocktail (what cocktails originally were).

    1. “I disagree that bourbon shouldn’t be used for cocktails. Really good bourbon shouldn’t.”
      Amen. If you want to sit around the fireplace smelling each others farts, knock yourself out with that snifter. Don’t get me wrong, neat bourbon is wonderful. But, if you’re out on the town operating, you need to be able to pace yourself.
      Cocktails aren’t enormously popular because they’re a bad thing. BTW, you know what else has notes of orange, lemon and caramel? Coke. Bourbon and Coke tastes like mother-lovin’ football season.

  21. Wild Turkey 101 is delicious! Maker’s Mark is a close second for me.

  22. I personally go for mead: The wine of the Vikings.
    Unfortunately, it is a bit of an “esoteric” drink these days…

  23. WOA!
    I want to know the bar that gave a 4oz pour in a tumbler to that guy in the pic!
    Yes. All whiskey should be sipped, neat. No froo-froo coctails fellas. These whiskey makers ( at the the scotch distilleries) have honed their craft of hundreds of years in some cases. Why would anyone destroy that work by putting anything but a bit of water to open up the whiskey’s nose and flavors?
    And btw, let’s dispense with the snifters and fancy “whiskey” glasses. I tell my bartenders to put mine in a common-man’s highball glass. I thought men who drank whiskey weren’t pretentious? Does everything have to be glammed up for pretty boys, metro sexuals and gays?

  24. As a man from Bourbon country, it was really nice to see this article and realize that the pride of your state is appreciated farther afield.
    When it comes to bourbon in particular…you very much get what you pay for.
    Wild Turkey is a good middle-of-the-road bourbon for the guy that doesn’t want to shell out half a days pay for a bottle. But if you’re willing to pay, Woodford Reserve is the way to go.

  25. I would tend to agree with the school of thought that fine spirits should be enjoyed neat – while everyone’s drinking experience of course is unique and personal, I find that adding ice will, over time, dilute the spirit to an extent where much of the flavor and richness of the original drink quite literally has been watered down.
    An exception to this would be the case of overproof Bourbons/Whisk(e)ys – 100 proof or more, where adding literally a drop of water -think dipping the butt of a dinner knife in a glass of water and then letting one to two drops fall into the glass- releases an astonishing complexity of flavor in the drink.
    My personal favorite is Kentucky Vintage – not very common to find on the shelf but exceedingly flavorful and smooth, a real good bourbon in that price range (circa 30-40USD).
    Buffalo Trace is another relative novelty which is very drinkable.
    As for the issue Scotch Malts vs Bourbon, I do enjoy them both but to be honest I don’t think there is much to compare – they really are two fundamentally different drinks altogether.

  26. Personally, I think it should be illegal to call a bourbon not made in Kentucky a bourbon. But that’s a different discussion altogether. Some things to remember, just because it says bourbon doesn’t mean it’s the real deal. Look for the words “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.” Otherwise you might end up with a weak blend. Even the cheapest most bottom shelf Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey can boast it’s quality with that name.

  27. For newcomers to whiskey’s and bourbon, if you are having problems with the taste make a bourbon with a splash of ginger ale. It takes away the harsh alcohol and oak taste, and you can still taste the good stuff. It’s how I started really enjoying the taste, and now I love it straight up. While I might get shot for suggesting this, Crown Royal and ginger ale is easy to start with. Now I love my Oban and Makers Mark.

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