Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bourbon vs Scotch

I thought it would be useful to settle this debate by simply taking the words straight out of the horse's mouth. See tasting notes are widely available all over the web.  What I've done here is compile a comparison for you.  One is a list or words used to describe the various tastes and smells of scotch.  The other list is the same.. except for bourbon.

I think you'll see a distinct difference.

First the Scotch:

Sea Sand
Dry Seaweed
Sea Grass
Linseed Oil
Bog Myrtle
Seaside Salt
green sticks
clean hospital
pine resin

And now...The Bourbon

Caramel Apple
Vanilla taffy
brown sugar
burnt sugar
Maple sugar
Maple syrup
sweet corn
toasted nuts
pancake batter
fireball candy
big red chewing gum

Now what did we learn?  If you notice... the bourbon list is actually made up of things that people want to eat.  The scotch list?  mmm... acetone... mmmm...  creosote...

I know I know... you're going to say I cherry picked.  But I didn't.  I picked tasting notes from scotches that all received rave reviews and high ratings... and the bourbon list comes from everything from Makers Mark to plain ol' Evan Williams... to Rare Breed and Bookers.  So in reality I threw in the junk bourbon and only used the "good" scotches.

Listen folks... just because you can recognize a flavor in something... doesn't mean its a good flavor.  Well... I don't know... maybe you're the type that likes to lick the inside of your chimney... or paint your tongue with nail polish remover.  Me?  Hell I'd rather have vanilla caramel toasted pancake batter.


Josh said...

"clean hospital"

Good lord.

Raggededge said...

I'm surprised you left out "ball sweat" on the Scotch list.

Nate said...

i didn't actually see "Ball Sweat" on any of the tasting notes I found... but then again... I wouldn't be surprised.

Res Ipsa said...

I used to see "earth" on bourbon tasting notes. I guess they quit using that one.

Allabaster said...

Now bourbon can compete with the real competition, Aged Jamacian rum, Appleton Estate 12 YO, proof God wants us to be happy.

mmaier2112 said...

"clean hospital"?? WTF?

I'm with you, Nate.

I've had at least one amazing Scotch, but it's probably $100 a bottle these days. And it was finished in French red wines barrels so it wasn't a "normal" Scotch.

I've also had a very good Scotch that was (I think) $40 for 750ml and worth it.

But I've had the amazing Bookers for for $45 and I can get MM for $22 on sale, so... yeah. Buy 'murican.

Raggededge said...

Rum...hummm. guatemalan rum is pretty fantastic. I went to the Zacapa distillery and they take their shit pretty seriously.

JACIII said...

Next, We should do a comparison between Jimmy Russel and whichever fly by night they have over at MM who wants to make beer...ahem 80 proof.

Nate said...

Fly by night?

Mate 46 stands up just fine to anything... ANYTHING... the frogs at Wild Turkey make.

Raggededge said...

46 ain't bad, but WT Rare Breed, Russell's Reserve and Kentucky Spirit... Well, never heard Jimmy suggest they would taste just the same with a little less alcohol.

WaterBoy said...

"It doesn't have to be just has to be entertaining."

Somebody or other said that once....

Nate said...

Maker's never said it about 46

sb- said...

Is it really up for debate? It takes a self loathing son of a bitch to drink scotch. Its a statement: I'm an asshole and my booze should taste like it was aged in one.

Makers 46 is a gimmick. Add $20 to the cost of makers for an extra 4 mos with an extra hunk of oak. I think straight up mm is mighty taste as is. Some folks judge good Bourbon by the price tag hence the gimmick to appeal to the "its shit under $50" crowd.

Raggededge said...

Maker's never said it about 46

I've become a bit jaded about the slippery slope. It's a faith thing.

Nate said...

mmmm.... dirt...

WaterBoy said...

mmm...turpentine and confectioner's sugar...

If I wanted something that cloyingly sweet, I'd drink SoCo.

sb- said...

46 is almost exactly $20 more than regular makers mark.

Makers ~$26
46 ~$42-49

Not really sure what the comparison is to. But to hit that price point was the exact reason for 46. Because amongst the bourbon snobs who judge by cost makers was "cheap". That still is the most ridiculous and often used criticism of makers.

To each his own if you think its better. I just don't find it superior to makers and know why it came to be.

sb- said...

Thanks for identifying yourself as amongst the self-loathing waterboy.

WaterBoy said...

Nate: "Losing battle waterboy. Scotch is shit."

Taste, as always, is subjective. But go ahead and declare victory, if you insist. Wouldn't be the first time, and most likely won't be the last.

Know what else is subjective? Cherry-picking words from reviews. Why, here's one, right here:

Medium pungency and rich overall.
(Straight) Cognac-like, with some sulphur and a whiff of peat. Sulphur disappears, and the spirit becomes sweeter (icing sugar) with some acetone and seaside salt.
(Dilute) These aromas remain when water is added, but reduced. Some bubblegum and a light hessian scent. Fresh and faintly floral (bog myrtle).

Medium mothfeel, smooth; easy to drink, with a good balance of primary flavours. Starts sweet, engages the whole palate and finishes dry, with faint but distinct peat- smoke in the finish.

Mulch, chicken mash.

Let's see...sulphur, acetone, seaside salt, bog myrtle, mothfeel (?), mulch, and chicken mash. Why, they match an entire section of your list, though "mash" has become "feed". But what about rich, cognac-like, icing sugar, bubblegum, light hessian scent, fresh, and faintly floral? Guess those didn't fit the narrative so well, do they?

And "mothfeel" -- really, you put a typo on the list? It's supposed to be "mouthfeel", as in the feeling one experiences on the palate. "Medium", in this case, which is not a bad thing. But I guess it's close enough in spelling to "mothball" to go ahead and throw that in there, too, eh?

And I suppose it's just coincidence that all the words from this review with negative connotations just so happen to appear on other, independent reviews, while none of the good ones do, right? As the man said, "I'll buy that for a dollar."

It's also notable that "charcoal" made the scotch list, but not the bourbon...especially since the product is literally soaking in the stuff for years. Magically property, that charcoal, which comes out of the barrel into the scotch but not into the bourbon, eh?

Like I said, it doesn't have to be true, as long as it's entertaining.

WaterBoy said...

wb-: "Thanks for identifying yourself as amongst the self-loathing waterboy."

And thank you for identifying yourself as being amongst the intellectually stunted. (C.f., "association fallacy", if you want to know more.)

WaterBoy said...

Damn typo -- "wb-" should be "sb-".

WaterBoy said...

Nate: "because its made in used bourbon barrels that ain't good for anything but making planters out of."

You know why the law requires bourbon to be made in brand new charred barrels, instead of used ones? Because the original charring came about when bourbon makers used old fish barrels to make their product, and charring them was the quickest and easiest way to remove the fish smell. The requirement for brand-new barrels is a government-imposed quality control measure; if not for that, you can be damn sure that bourbon distillers would reuse them, just as the scotch distillers are.

Ridip said...

My son bought me some cask strength Redbreast 12yr. Irish Whiskey for my birthday. He doesn't drink at all and since I'm born on St. Patrick's Day...

Being my first CS, I asked the fellow that curates a large local bourbon section what he'd do. His suggestion? Grab some of this Four Roses 90 proof. It's not expensive, isn't awful, and will warm you up so you can get it down. That gave me a good chuckle. I suspect he didn't recommend starting with a really good bourbon that'd make the Redbreast look bad.

I will say the Redbreast is more drinkable than the Four Roses Small Batch with a lot more foody flavors, but I'm sure it cost him 3-4x as much. The first thing that hits me with the Four Roses is leather (not completely objectionable). The Redbreast I can't completely describe, but it is smooth for 115 proof. Easily the best Irish I've had. May compare it to something inexpensive like Ole Grandad 114 for a chuckle.

sb- said...

only the self loathing drink scotch.
Waterboy drinks scotch.

Can you guess what comes next?

The premise does not have to be true for an argument to be valid. Hence the joke. Nice attempt though.

WaterBoy said...

sb-: "only the self loathing drink scotch...The premise does not have to be true"

Thank you for proving me correct (the premise is the association fallacy) and admitting you were wrong.

WaterBoy said...

sb-: "And your inability to recognize a joke ironically confirms the self loathing son of a bitch."

Humor-impaired* ≠ self-loathing. Yet another association error by you. You should just give it up and leave the humor and/or reasoning to those who understand them.

For a joke to be funny, there has to be an appreciable modicum of truth in the initial premise. Your fallacious premise provided no such base upon which to build.

Like I said, it doesn't have to be only has to be entertaining. Your comment was neither.

* Also an incorrect assertion, but there you go...just par for the course from this one.

SDH said...

How did this not rate a "Vox is a fairy/fag" label?

I would have thought discussion of anything stronger than an Amaretto Sour would warrant such.

Res Ipsa said...

I’ve partaken quite liberally from Waterboy’s scotch cabinet and humidor over the years. I’ve yet to have a bad scotch or smoke on his deck. He’s turned me on to a couple of outstanding smokes and more than one good glass of spirit.

There are several cheap scotches on the market that are undrinkable. It’s true they smell and taste like hospital disinfectant. There are some piss poor American made whiskey too.

I like the triple distilled darker spirits better myself. I’m not even going to consider Canadian whiskey, highland scotch or any one of a number of other drinks. I like it smooth and flavorful, other guys like their spirit to have a bit more of a bite. It’s all what you prefer.

SDH said...

It's unfortunate that Canadians decided that "grain spirits distilled and aged in Canada" was all that was required to be called Canadian whisky.

Forty Creek makes some good whisky and I prefer Alberta Premium in Manhattans.

Edradour, Glenmorangie and Dalwhinnie are all pretty good Highland malts.

Res, If you haven't, try Cardhu or Glenrothes.

Nate said...

Candian whiskey... blended shit for women and boys.

Nate said...

and I accept the criticism that this post should've had a Vox is a Fairy tag. You're absolutely correct. It should've had that tag. No question.

Mea Culpa.

Res Ipsa said...


I haven't tried any of the western Canadian whiskeys. They may be OK. I spent more than one weekend slipping into Ontario when I was under 21. I still like some CAN beer but I’ve not liked the booze. I’m up for trying something new though. Maybe next time I get to go fishing I’ll get a bottle or two.

Does anybody remember Imperial Canadian Whiskey?

How does the Spec Ops compare to the Warlord?

Nate said...

Warlord is a bigger stick than the Spec Ops but not much.. I think the Warlord 7x55... and the Spec Ops is 7x50.

They are both fantastic.

SDH said...

Imperial looks like it was a Hiram Walker product, I've never seen it before.

The only Canadian whiskeys I'd recommend are the Alberta Premium and Forty Creek, particularly their small batch.

Russ said...

Anyone ever try Laphroaig? It tastes like an ancient saga. I love that stuff.

Susan said...

After the bottle of Scotch my daughter brought home from Europe a number of years ago, I am convinced the Scots export their cow purge to us and keep the really good stuff for themselves. I wish I could remember the name of it.

On the homefront, I totally agree with your assessment of Scotch vs Bourbon. Your list is exactly why I could never stomach Scotch. Like I said, cow purge.