Sunday, March 10, 2013
Being a Bourbon Snob Wrecks Your Wallet
I accidentally ordered a $25 glass of bourbon. So goes the perils of pretending to be a bourbon snob. But passing on Pappy van Winkle - the current "it" bourbon of note - was not an option unless I planned on giving up my whiskey cred (that's only in my head.) When you come across some Pappy, the decision has been made for you. Order and never shut up about it.
The problem is, I finally found some Pappy at this swank Cap Hill bar with no whiskey menu. No menu = no prices. My girlfriend and I were out for a celebratory drink, so I was willing to shake things up a bit. Passing on what I call "The Bourbon Yeti" was not going to happen.
When I say "The Bourbon Yeti," I mean it. This is some serious small batch booze that's become incredibly hard to find. Only 7,000 cases are produced a year. For the entire country. That is ridiculous.
Every liquor store I wander into, every bar I frequent I take a peek for Pappy. I'm embarrassed to ask the bartenders. Why? Because I don't want to come of as a poseur, a whiskey tourist desperate to appropriate myself into the new manly-chic world of sophisticated bourbon consumption. Besides, they are probably tired of disappointing everyone seeking the Pappy thrill.
So I saw those three bottles of Pappy, all lined up and screaming my name. Three choices - 12-year, 20-year, and 23-year. Surely based on my ramblings so far you can guess which I chose. Can't go with the cheapest, I'll give away my un-sophistication. I have no idea what the prices are, so going for the 23-year seems a bit risky. 20-year is the safe bet. Nothing like picking out your drink with the same method I use to decide which drive through car-wash level to get. Yeesh.
This is where my advanced-palette fakery does me in. I really have no clue what makes a good drink. I just knock it back and let the smoothness tell the story. Talk to a real bourbon connoisseur and they'll start droning on about oak barrels, hints of boysenberry, and the type of dirt outside the bottling plant.
I taste none of the fancy frou-frou-ness. My little secret. Maybe I want that one day, but for now I'm flying blind. Bourbon works for me because it's smooth, a bit spicy, and the color is spectacular. No advanced palette secrets here.
But I want experience The Pappy in all it's brown glory. Maker's Mark has done me well, but it is time to advance to a new state of booze consciousness And since I didn't know it was $25 for a single ounce while I was drinking it, I can claim my conclusions were sound.
It was an exceptional five sips.
And based on my limited ways of quantifying a quality drink, the smoothest and richest (pun-intended) bourbon I've ever tasted. Now I'm desperate to find a bottle. Just a quick stop at the bank for a nice low-interest loan to ease the pain.