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Battle at the Bar

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
10th Anniversary Issue, Nov/Dec 02

(continued from page 8)

We would be remiss in not mentioning Bourbon's two American cousins, rye and Tennessee sour mash whiskey. The former has a longer tradition in this country than Bourbon. Settlers in Maryland and Pennsylvania found it easy to grow rye and made whiskey rich in that grain before they ever thought of corn liquor. With rye composing more than half its mash bill, it has a spicier, grainier complexion with subtleties that often enhance the enjoyment of a milder cigar. Tennessee sour mash whiskey is the category into which Jack Daniel's falls. Even though it shares most of the characteristics of a Bourbon and is often mistaken for one, Jack Daniel's (along with its lesser known neighbor George Dickel) is differentiated by its mellowing charcoal filtering. All of the above share the legal stipulations of straight whiskey, making them consistently great cigar accompaniments. Enjoy the whiskey patriotism.

WOODFORD RESERVE Made from the "honey barrels" of Brown-Forman's Old Forester, this whiskey is a confection of maple sugar, cherry, vanilla and caramel, tempered with meat and smoke. Smoke full bodied.

BOOKER'S TRUE BARREL Unfiltered and uncut, it's about 125 proof, and loaded with orange, leather, vanilla, nuts and honey. Sublime with a big cigar, death to the mild.

KNOB CREEK The anchor of Jim Beam's Small Batch collection, Knob is creamy and informed by vanilla, maple and caramel with a hint of orange. Invites a wider range of cigars than big brother Booker.

WILD TURKEY Hard to choose between WT's excellent superpremium range-Rare Breed (floral with caramel, orange, licorice and maple), Kentucky Spirit (as candied, but meater) and Russell's Reserve (the spicier offering) -- so we won't. Smoke medium to full.

BLANTON'S SINGLE BARREL The original single-barrel Bourbon, Blanton's paints a wide swath between fruity pear flavor to strong woods and a touch of grittiness. Finds a range of good cigar matches.

MAKER'S MARK Maple sweet, orange and vanilla flavored and solidly medium bodied. Pairs well with a wide range of cigars.

EVAN WILLIAMS SINGLE BARREL VINTAGE 1992 Vintage concept brings yearly variations within a medium-bodied profile. This last bottling is stronger in spice, but still sweet with orange and maple.

JACK DANIEL'S SINGLE BARREL A Tennessee sour mash whiskey, Jack Daniel's is filtered through charcoal, leaving it with orange and caramel notes and no rough edges. Exceptional with milder cigars.

OLD OVERHOLT RYE Inexpensive straightforward rye with nutmeg/
vanilla sweetness and a toasty balance. Good all-around cigar partner.

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