Posts tagged ‘Fighting Cock’

The Best Bourbons to Cure the Common Cold

If you ever had a cough, a stuffy nose, or any symptom of the common cold in my presence, you have probably heard me suggest bourbon as a remedy.  Of course, folks are always asking me what type of bourbon they should be drinking.  I’m here to answer that question.

First off, I want to explain how I believe bourbon should be used as a cure.  I do not suggest drinking bourbon when you are actually sick, especially if you have an upset stomach.  Bourbon will not help that at all, and it will usually hurt it.  In addition, drinking too much bourbon is always bad.  Don’t be your own irresponsible doctor.  However, if you feel yourself start to get a little stuffy, or if allergies are hitting you hard, then a small dram of bourbon can do just the trick.  It works by clearing your palate and your sinuses to allow you to go through the day with a clear head.  Just so we are clear, I am not a medical doctor; I just go with my gut and past experience.

For curing the symptoms of a cold, I would recommend a high-rye, high proof bourbon.  I would also recommend not wasting a great whiskey on a cold.  My choices for cold remedies definitely start with Fighting Cock 6-year.  At 103 proof, it has plenty of bite, and it really zings hard on the finish.  If this doesn’t clear out your sinuses, I’m not sure what will.  If you want the same bite, but you want a little more complexity and character, reach for Wild Turkey 101.  It is one of my favorite winter whiskeys for just this reason.  If you want something really cheap, try Old Grand-Dad Bonded.  It is a pretty drinkable whiskey (even at 100 proof), and I have found it for as low as $15 a bottle.

All that being said, find the whiskey that works best on your cold, and let it ride!

Bourbon Rankings (Taste)

I have had several people ask me to provide a ranking of the bourbons I have reviewed based solely on the bourbon.  Well, here are my bourbon grades.  Check out my grading scale here.

1.  Booker’s (A)

2. Four Roses Single Barrel (A-)

3. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (B+)

4. Jefferson’s 18 yr. Presidential Select (B+)

5. Noah’s Mill (B+)

6. Rowan’s Creek (B+)

7. Maker’s 46 (B+)

8. Rock Hill Farms (B+/B)

9. Wild Turkey 101 (B+/B)

10. Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage 2002 (B)

11. Woodford Reserve (B)

12. Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel (B)

13. Blanton’s Original (B)

14. Wild Turkey Rare Breed (B)

15. Four Roses Small Batch (B)

16. Knob Creek 9 Year Single Barrel Reserve (B/B-)

17. Elmer T. Lee (B/B-)

18. Basil Hayden’s (B-)

19. Buffalo Trace (B-)

20. Jim Beam Devil’s Cut (B-)

21. Elijah Craig 12 Year (B-)

22. W.L. Weller 12 Year (B-)

23. Willett Pot Still Single Barrel Family Reserve (B-)

24. Jefferson’s (B-)

25. Four Roses Yellow Label (C+)

26. Wild Turkey 81 (C+)

27. Old Forester (C/C+)

28. Knob Creek 9 Year Small Batch (C)

29. Old Grand-Dad Bonded (C)

30. Old Weller Antique (C)

31. Jim Beam Black Label (C)

32. Evan Williams Black Label (C)

33. Bulliet Frontier (C)

34. Berkshire Bourbon (C)

35.  Fighting Cock 6 Year (C-)

36. Kentucky Vintage (C-)

37. John E. Fitzgerald Larceny (C-)

38. Maker’s Mark (C-)

39. Wild Turkey 80 (C-)

40. Jim Beam White Label (C-)

41. Jesse James (D+)

Those are my bourbon rankings ranked solely on my tastes.  That’s the fun of bourbon, you might rank these completely different.  Which ones would you change?

The Top Ten Historical People to Drink Bourbon with

Have you ever been reading a history book, and thought, “I’d like to have a drink with that person?”  As a historian and avid bourbon drinker, this happens to me often.  So, here are the ten people I would most like to have a few glasses of bourbon with.  Obviously, this is an anachronistic list because bourbon whiskey as we know and love it did not originate until the 18th century, and it was not made official by Congress until 1964.  The only qualifications for this list are that the person had to have lived at some point, and that person must have lived most of their life prior to 1900 (a list of more contemporary bourbon companions is in the works).

10. Mithridates VI of Pontus (Mithridates the Great) (134 BCE-63 BCE)  – Mithridates was arguably Rome’s greatest enemy.  He spent most of his adult life chipping away at Rome’s territory, until he was eventually holed up in his tower, where he tried to kill himself by consuming poison.  However, he had built up such an immunity to poison over his life that he ended up having his servant stab him to death instead.  In addition to being a ruthless militarist, Mithridates was also one of antiquity’s most famous polyglots, claiming to speak around 30 languages fluently.  All things considered, Mithridates the Great is one of the most epic individuals to have ever lived.  Mithridates’ bourbon:  Fighting Cock 6 year.  Its big, bold, and finishes with a bang.  Mithridates was always one to go big or go home.  Its also a bourbon of the people, not elitist, much like Mithridates and the way he fought the Romans.

9. Charles Earl Bowles (Black Bart) (c. 1829-c. 1888) – Black Bart is perhaps the most famous criminal of the American West, mostly for his gentile style and the poems that he left behind.  Supposedly, he never even loaded his gun.  He simply relied on intimidation to hold up the stagecoaches he robbed.  Like most Wild West characters, separating fact from fiction is nearly impossible with Black Bart.  However, that does not mean that he would be any less of a bourbon partner.  He was a poet with some great stories to tell over a glass or two.  Black Bart’s bourbon:  Wild Turkey American Spirit.  Black Bart was not an American, but he came to embody the romance and ruthlessness of the American West.  I’ve got him drinking a top shelf bourbon that’s a little rough around the edges.

8. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) – To my knowledge, the only one of America’s founders to have a bourbon named after him/her is Thomas Jefferson, which puts him on my list of people to drink bourbon with.  In addition to his political exploits, he was also interested in a variety of different things, from farming to architecture.  He also had an eye for aesthetics rather than pragmatics, which is probably why Monticello was a failed business venture that left Jefferson in debt most of his life.  Like Mithridates, he spoke many languages (between 5 and 10), which would have made him a great bourbon companion.  Jefferson’s bourbon:  Jefferson’s Reserve, Presidential Select.  Come on, the bourbon is named after Jefferson’s presidency.  What else would he drink?

7. Henry “Long Ben” Every (1659-c. 1696) – Henry Every has been dubbed “The King of the Pirates,” primarily because he was never caught.  Of course, nobody actually knows what happened to Every after he stopped pilfering the Atlantic.  I like to think that he lived happily on Madagascar for many years.  That is where I’d like to sit and drink bourbon with “Long Ben” Every and hear his crazy seafaring stories.  Long Ben’s bourbon:  Jim Beam Devil’s Cut.  Devil’s Cut just sounds the bourbon that a pirate would drink.

6. Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) – Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius, one of the few pure geniuses ever (in my opinion).  Unfortunately, many of his inventions were too far ahead of his time to be practical, which is why he would be a fascinating person to meet during time travel.  He was notoriously mysterious and reclusive during his lifetime, all the while pressing his mind to its limits for the sake of satisfying his own curiosity.  That’s certainly one recipe for a good bourbon companion.  Da Vinci’s bourbon:  Angel’s Envy.  It’s innovative, and a little off the beaten path.  It’s also hard to find, just like Da Vinci himself.

5. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – Oscar Wilde is one of the most quotable people I’ve read, which makes me think he would be a great bourbon partner.  Bourbon is not a drink for those who simply desire intoxication.  It is a complex drink that invites deep thought as well as light banter.  I believe Oscar Wilde would excel at both.  How many people have a top ten list of just their quotes?  http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-quotes-by-oscar-wilde.php  Oscar’s bourbon:  Blanton’s Original Single Barrel.  This bourbon is certainly one of the most iconic bottles in bourbon, with its orb-shape and racehorse stopper.  It is also incredibly smooth and seductive, much like the beautiful sexuality that Oscar Wilde loved so dearly.

4. Jesus of Nazareth (7-2 BCE-30-36 CE) – Regardless of your personal beliefs regarding Jesus of Nazareth, somewhat that has sparked the amount of controversy that he has would be a great bourbon companion.  His following indicates that he was an intelligent and captivating speaker, which is definitely one thing to look for in a bourbon companion.  Honestly, I’d like to just talk with him to see what was really going on in his mind.  Jesus’ bourbon:  Honestly, he would probably just supply his own.

3. Socrates (c. 470 BCE-399 BCE) – In many ways, my first introduction to Socrates was when I slowly began to learn the powers of the mind, and the powers of language.  For this reason, I would love to have a drink with the man who is partially responsible for my journey into intellectual history.  He loved a good conversation, and most good conversations are enhanced by bourbon.  Socrates’ bourbon:  Old Grand-Dad 114 proof.  As one of the grandfather’s of Western thought, it is only fitting that Socrates drink the best the Grand-Dad of bourbon (Basil Hayden, Sr.) has to offer.

2. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) – Like Da Vinci, Franklin was pretty damn close to being a pure genius.  His curiosity knew no bounds, and his intellect followed closely behind.  He was a strong proponent of a few glasses of the good stuff, and I’m sure he would have been a strong endorser of bourbon had it been around in his lifetime.  Like Oscar Wilde, Franklin could be both a genius and a rabble-rouser in the same hour, which makes him a pretty solid bourbon companion.  Ben Franklin’s bourbon:  Hooker’s House.  Obviously, Franklin’s propensity for prostitutes makes this bourbon the logical choice.  In addition, Hooker’s House is an innovative bourbon created by finishing the bourbon in Pinot Noir casks before bottling it.  Creativity and sex were definitely two of Franklin’s hallmarks.

1. John Henry “Doc” Holliday (1851-1887) – As is the case with Black Bart and many other legends of the American West, separating fact from fiction with Doc Holliday is nearly impossible.  However, in the case of Doc Holliday, there are several themes among all his biographers and Hollywood portrayals.  Doc Holliday was a smooth-talking Georgian with a penchant for bourbon, poker, and a prostitute called Kate.  Hence, Doc Holliday is the historical figure I would most like to drink bourbon with.  Doc Holliday’s bourbon:  William Larue Weller.   I’ve got Doc drinking a bourbon that tastes great, but will also have the alcohol content to cure his tuberculosis.  Although William Weller is hard to get, Doc Holliday could sweet talk just about anybody with that soft, seductive Georgia accent.

Those are my top ten bourbon companions, what are yours?  Let me know what you think and let it ride!

Woodford Reserve Review

Today, I am reviewing one of the most popular craft bourbons on the market, Woodford Reserve.  It is a 94 proof whiskey from the Labrot & Graham Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and a favorite of many.  Like several bourbons I’ve reviewed recently (Basil Hayden’s, Wild Turkey 101, and Fighting Cock), Woodford Reserve uses a higher percentage of rye in the mash bill.  However, the rye is very well balanced, making up about 18% of the recipe.  This gives the bourbon the light flavors of a rye whiskey, without the intensity of the rye spices found in bourbons like Turkey 101.

On the nose, Woodford Reserve is rich with the flavors of a candy shop in the Old West.  There are pronounced flavors of butterscotch and toffee, with some balancing rye spice and cinnamon.  There is also some fruity sweetness (caramel-dipped apples) that shows up.  The palate follows up the nose well with rich butterscotch, some toffee and caramel, and some vanilla.  Woodford Reserve has a silky, buttery feel to it on the palate, letting the flavors roam freely about the mouth.  This whiskey finishes with great balance.  The butterscotch sweetness does not leave, but it is backed up by the zest that one would expect from a bourbon with a higher rye content.  The heat from the rye spice and the smooth sweetness of the butterscotch are in perfect balance in the finish.

From start to finish, Woodford Reserve is a fantastic bourbon.  It is not always in my price range, but that does not mean it isn’t a good value buy.  My grade: B.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This is a damn good everyday whiskey, but it falls short of my special occasion pour (but that doesn’t mean it can’t be drank on special occasions).

Comparison Review: Wild Turkey 101 vs. Fighting Cock 6 Year

I decided on these two bourbons for my first comparison review because they are very similar.  They are both under $30, over 100 proof, have a high percentage of rye in the mash bill, and they are both named after crazy poultry.  The biggest difference between the two is that almost everybody has heard of Wild Turkey, and almost nobody has heard of Fighting Cock.  However, both of them are very good value bourbons.

Wild Turkey 101 comes from the famous Austin Nichols Distillery, producers of the famous Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve bourbons.  There is no age statement on the bourbon, but my guess is that most of the bourbons that make it into the bottle are between 3 and 6 years old.  It has fancy advertising campaigns, and most college students have taken a shot of Turkey 101 at some point in their career.  However, what few college students realize is that they are drinking a damn good bourbon.

On the nose, Wild Turkey 101 is rich and complex.  There are strong notes of brown sugar and rye spices that balance each other well.  Some more fragile notes of dried summer fruits (peaches?), caramel, and pine sap come through as well.  Jason Pyle at Sour Mash Manifesto (http://sourmashmanifesto.com/2010/11/11/wild-comparison-wild-turkey-russells-reserve-vs-wild-turkey-101/) describes Wild Turkey’s mouth feel as “a porcupine running at 60 MPH,” but I think the palate is a bit softer than that.  There are certainly a lot of sharp spices from the rye, which give the bourbon a lot of peppery notes, but there is also good balance to the palate.  The brown sugars and caramels from the nose stick around through the whole experience, calming down the big rye kick on the palate and the finish.  Wild Turkey finishes with a sharp, spicy finish, with just enough caramel and barrel sugar to keep it smooth.  I only wish the finish would stay longer, it always seems too quick to me.  My grade: B+/B.  Price: $25-30.  This is a damn good sipper for a damn good price.

Fighting Cock 6 year is a 103 proof bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery (Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, etc.).  It is not easy to find, especially in places that aren’t big bourbon hotspots, but it is worth a try if you find it.  At only about $20 for 750ml, it is a pretty good deal.  It is also available in a limited edition 15 year, which is very difficult to find.  If anyone finds that one, let me know (or just send me a bottle).

On the nose, the rye spices are very clear, with only some soft caramel and oak to balance out the bourbon.  On the palate, Fighting Cock is very full-bodied, with a distinct rye profile.  The bourbon is spicy and peppery on the palate, with some corny sweetness, nutmeg, and light caramel lingering around the front of the tongue.  The finish is monstrous.  Fighting Cock rumbles over the back of your tongue, kicking and screaming all the way.  The finish is dominated by the peppery flavors of the rye spices and drying oak, but there are slight sweet flavors (corn, caramel) that come back after a minute or two.  The finish is definitely longer than Wild Turkey, but Fighting Cock’s finish isn’t as complex, which can make it feel pretty harsh if you aren’t used to drinking high proof bourbons.  My grade: C-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a fine pour, but it is not complex enough to be the daily sipper.

Overall, Wild Turkey is the winner, hands down.  It is the more complex bourbon; it is rich, balanced, and very drinkable.  Fighting Cock is still very good value, but it isn’t as balanced as Wild Turkey 101, which can make it feel like a rough, one-tracked ride.  If Wild Turkey were at the same price point as Fighting Cock, then Wild Turkey might be my favorite value whiskey on the market, but its fame has made it a bit pricy.  In some places, you can still snag a bottle of 101 for $22.  If that is the case in your area, there is no reason not to have a bottle of Turkey 101 in the liquor cabinet when I come visit.