The Bourbon Blog

Finding Local Liquor Stores with Great Bourbon Selections

Inlet Harbour Liquor, Riviera Beach, Florida: Palm Beach Bourbon Society -- The Bourbon Blog - Finding Local Liquor Stores with Great Bourbon Selections

If you have developed an interest, love, or passion for bourbon, then you know the challenges of finding liquor stores in your local area with a sizeable and varied selection where you can purchase a bottle or two without spending your whole paycheck. Given the hysteria of demand for bourbon, finding a dependable bottle for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) can leave you frustrated, let alone a “unicorn” bottle such as Pappy Van Winkle or a Russell’s Reserve 13-Year-Old Single Barrel that will send you into a spiral of insanity. 

Despite the demand and the challenges of secondary pricing for the most-sought-out bottles, there are plenty of retail liquor stores across the country, such as in Palm Beach County of South Florida, which offer great bottles for reasonable prices.

While you can find a large selection of bourbon bottles at regional and national retail chains such as Total Wine and Liquor Barn, finding a local, independent store will give you a better chance of potential finding good bottle selections of bourbon based on the relationships you can potentially build at the latter. 

Developing Relationships with Local Liquor Stores

The advantage of finding a local liquor store that has a great bourbon selection over a large, national retail chain comes from the relationships you can build with the owners, managers, and sales associates who may have a deep knowledge and passion for bourbon. Specifically, they know about certain bottles from distilleries that may not be as known within the marketplace, especially with barrel picks (also known as store picks). 

If you can develop a relationship with some of the people that work at one liquor store or another, you can potentially receive access to an allocated supply of rare bottles that they may keep in the back and not upfront. 

If you’re a regular and loyal customer, you will have a higher chance of obtaining a limited bottle of bourbon than someone who isn’t.    

Tips to Find Local Liquor Stores

The best way to look for stores with great bourbon selections is to do the following steps:

Online Keyword Search

Go on a search engine such as Google or Bing (depending on your preference) or local search and crowd-sourced review websites such as Yelp to search for local liquor stores in your local area.

A second way to find local stores is through joining Facebook groups comprising bourbon enthusiasts with a focus on your respective local area, such as the one run by Palm Beach Bourbon Society. Many of these people share local liquor stores where they have found allocated bottles and provide the advice you won’t find on the Whiskey Advocate, other whiskey-focused publications, and whiskey YouTube Channels. 

Palm Beach Bourbon Society -- The Bourbon Blog - Finding Local Liquor Stores with Great Bourbon Selections
Know What Bourbon Bottles to Find
  • When you visit the liquor stores in your local area, make sure you have decided what you want to find from your searches and advice from other bourbon enthusiasts.
  • If the stores have a website, look at what they have available. If you have an idea of what these stores have, you can create an action plan.
  • If you’re unsure what the store will have, come up with five (5) bottles you would like to consider for purchasing and see if the store has them for a reasonable price.

Over time, you will become acclimated to what these stores carry and what you want to keep an eye out for buying. 

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How to Gauge Your Level of Devotion / Fandom to Bourbon

Everyone has a story of when they first developed a taste for bourbon. Sometimes, there is a romanticism to explaining how you were introduced; other times, not as poignant.

  • Did you discover you had a taste for the brown water that is bourbon at a bar?
  • Did you discover your friends were drinking bourbon and wanted to jump on the bandwagon so you wouldn’t be looked at as uncool?
  • Did the company for whom you work have clients that drink bourbon and wanted to fit in so you could have a better chance of earning business?
  • Did you watch a video on YoutTube discussing a bottle of bourbon that impressed and mesmerized you where you decided to see what the “hubbub” was all about?
  • Were you drunk at a house party, and someone gave you a shot that wasn’t Jack Daniel’s Old No.7?
  • Did Jack Daniel himself come to you in a dream and say to do so?*

*Yes, we know Jack Daniel’s is not a bourbon officially as they insist on being classified as a Tennessee Whiskey… even though they meet the official requirements of what constitutes a bourbon… but we digress.

Regardless of what the reason is, it is irrelevant. The point is you found bourbon, and bourbon found you.

Once you’ve decided that you like the brown water known as bourbon, determining how much you love Bourbon is like asking whether or not you like NFL Football and how devoted a fan you are.

Are you…

A Newbie: That person who says, “I love that bourbon by what’s their name? Jack Daniel’s or something?”

Casual Drinker: A casual fan who knows that bourbon is something like Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, or Pappy Van Winkle — only because you have heard it in conversation and seen pictures of the label.

A “Bourbon” Drinker: Someone with more than a few bottles (3-5 bottles) of bourbon on their bar who drinks it as the preferred spirit of choice and likes to do cocktails with it.

A Bourbon Enthusiast: A passionate fan who has a sizeable collection of at least 20 (maybe 50 or 70 bottles), knows how to talk shop with other bourbon enthusiasts, goes to bars with good bourbon selections, and meets up with other bourbon drinkers (like the Palm Beach Bourbon Society).

A Fanatic: Someone who lives and breathes for the brown water, who goes on auction sites and bids on bottles of Pappy Van Winkle and other rare or allocated bottles.

  • Someone with a collection most likely comprising 100s of bottles to where there are shelves filled with them… everywhere in your home.
  • Someone who hunts for allocated bottles in multiple states.
  • When the opportunity approaches, someone that goes to visit distilleries with the hopes of a “talking shop” with master distillers, blenders, and tasters in hopes of trying something not available to the public.
  • Someone who may have a spouse that secretly/openly hates this obsessive compulsiveness with bourbon to the point they are considering a break-up or burning the collection down to the ground… unless they are also enjoying the bourbon or tolerating/accepting this love to the “n”th degree.

No matter the type of fan you are, the fact remains that you like bourbon and want to enjoy bourbon with other like-minded bourbon individuals. The best way to achieve this is to join a bourbon group.

If you live in South Florida, specifically Palm Beach County, you can join the Palm Beach Bourbon Society and participate in our Facebook group feed and monthly activities.

But no matter where you are, you are not alone in your love of bourbon. There are many of us, and we seek friendship to share our devotion to the brown water.

Join us and enjoy the ride.

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Barrel Picks — Is the Price Worth the Purchase?

Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Barrel Picks — Is the Price Worth the Purchase?

With the ever-growing popularity of bourbon, especially over the last 15 years, has come a scarcity of sought-after bottles such as Pappy Van Winkle, W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, and William Heavenhill, amongst others. As a result, the increasing demand and the swallowing up of the supply of these and other bottles have led bourbon drinkers, consumers, and flippers (people who buy allocated bottles of bourbon at retail price from a liquor store or distillery and sell them on the secondary market for substantially more) to look elsewhere for other bottles that may be considered a “unicorn.”

That “unicorn” has come in the form of “barrel picks.”

What is a Barrel Pick?

A barrel pick is a group of bottles (usually between 100 and 250) that come from a single cask/barrel that a bar/restaurant, retail liquor store, group, or individual purchase and sell at an exclusive offering.

Why are Barrel Picks Popular?

Part of the reason barrel picks has become popular comes from the rise of single-barrel and small batch whiskeys dating back to the 1980s that ultimately ushered in the Bourbon Renaissance.

Bourbon’s Decline & Rebound

For those unfamiliar with the history of bourbon, following its initial peak of popularity in 1964 — which led the United States Congress to designate bourbon as a “distinctive product” of the United States through H. Con. Res. 57, sales slowly declined due in part to the younger generations favoring vodka and gin as the preferred spirit. With distilleries shutting down and bourbon all but left for dead by the early 80s, single barrel and small batch whiskeys were introduced by the George T. Stagg Distillery (currently known as Buffalo Trace) and Jim Beam respectively to give the spirit its jump-start (and it did). Barrel picks became a seamless extension of that.

Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Barrel Picks — Is the Price Worth the Purchase?

Are Barrel Picks Worth the Price?

While barrel picks have become a great business move to foster relationships between the distillery and the bourbon-buying consumers when they can’t get bottles like Pappy Van Winkle, Old Fitzgerald, and others, over the last couple of years, the continued demand has led to retailers and bars buying up the supply and charging more to the public, especially to whiskey social groups such as the Palm Beach Bourbon Society. 

Ultimately, the consumer pays the price literally for a bottle of bourbon that shouldn’t be going for hundreds of dollars in the marketplace. Barrel picks are no longer as plentiful as they once were. And when you’re able to pick up a barrel pick, the quality and experience of sipping the bourbon don’t justify the high price compared to what’s regularly available in the stores. 

For example, Woodford Reserve produces its Double Oaked Bourbon, that’s a blended release, but also does barrel (or store) picks of it as well to certain retail stores. The price may range from $10 to $30 more than the regularly produced Double Oaked. However, there is no guarantee those bottles coming from that barrel will be any different, let alone unique, for any drinker to say is extraordinary.

As the market continues to be a boon for bourbon, the likelihood that you will be disappointed with purchasing a barrel pick has become more likely. More frequently, we see on online retail websites as well as in local retail liquor stores, barrel pick bottles going for $75, 80, or $100, whereas not too long ago, they were going for $50 to $60. 

Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Barrel Picks — Is the Price Worth the Purchase?

Ultimately, the skyrocketing costs of bourbon, let alone barrel picks, will hurt the market due to consumers growing fed up and moving on to other whiskeys, spirits, and other types of alcoholic drinks. With no regulation in place to control these costs due to the demand, it’s a matter of when not if, people tire of spending a small fortune on one bottle from a store or one pour from a bar, and turn their back on an industry that needs those dollars to thrive and survive. 

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July PBBS Meet N’ Greet — Sweetwater

Palm Beach Bourbon Society (PBBS) had so much fun at Sweetwater: Cocktails, Whiskey & Kitchen (Sweetwater) in Boynton Beach for the June Meet N’ Greet event that they made the decision to have an encore there with the July one. If you are a PBBS member and attended the June event, you could easily state that the July event topped the former.

Like the June PBBS event, attendees enjoyed pours from a collection of bourbon bottles they had brought to share while noshing on some small bites prepared by the Sweetwater kitchen. However, the July PBBS event found attendees enjoying an even larger array of bottles, comprising bourbon, rye, and scotch, from which to choose to pour.

If you’ve been to at least a few of the PBBS Meet ‘N Greets between October of last year and this recent event, you could argue that the cache attendees could pour was, by far, the largest yet. Part of this could be attributed to the large turnout by PBBS members — new and existing active ones. At least 30 people enjoyed great pours of the “brown water” at Sweetwater, clinking Glencairn glasses and engaging in the excellent vibes and company this event became.

The Pours

For those that attended the July PBBS event, the number of bottles available to pour was phenomenal. Everyone came with different expressions based on their preference of pour.

Highlights from the Bourbon (as well as the Rye and Scotch) Bottle Share included the Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered, the Weller Antique 107 wheated, Four Roses Single Barrel – Barrel Strength, Marker’s Mark Wood-Finishing FAE-02 wheated, the ASW Fiddler Georgia Heartwood “Glory Glory” release and the Issac Bowman Port-Barrel-Finished bourbon.

A surprise standout was a bottle I had never tasted, the Dancing Goat High Rye Bourbon, aged 8 years. While there were subtle notes on the nose of fruit, the palate comprised caramel, vanilla, and cream, making for a supersonic sip, which seemed to be the sentiment of most attendees who tried it. Out of all the bottles brought to the share, the attendees bottle-killed early in the event.

The single malt statements brought to the July PBBS event at Sweetwater were a bigger surprise. Releases by Bruichladdich were astonishing, especially its Micro Provenance single cask release that was aged for 10 years and bottled at a cask strength of 126.2 proof. Unlike many single malt expressions, this one consisted of a complex signature known with these types of releases drawn from one of 200 different casks.

Bourbon
  • Peerless Double Oak Bourbon
  • Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch
  • Smoke Wagon Small Batch
  • Smoke Wagon Uncut Unfiltered
  • Weller Antique 107
  • Eagle Rare
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch
  • Woodinville Small Batch
  • Ezra Brooks Cask Strength Distiller’s Collection
  • Four Roses Single Barrel – Barrel Strength
  • Maker’s Mark Wood-Finishing Series FAE-02
  • Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
  • ASW Fiddler Georgia Heartwood – “Glory Glory” National Champion Release
  • Chattanooga Whiskey Cask 111
  • Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Single Batch Series Appalachian Grist
  • Dancing Goat Distiller High Rye Bourbon Aged 8 Years Stillman’s Private Stock
  • Wild Turkey Rare Breed
  • Larceny Barrel Proof
  • Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon
  • Art of Alchemy Blended Straight Whiskeys
  • Chicken Cock
  • Fireside Single Barrel
  • Issac Bowman Port Barrel Finished
  • Castle & Key Small Batch (Batch #1)
Rye / Tennessee
  • 10th Mountain Rye Whiskey
  • Chicken Cock
  • Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select
  • Blue Run Rye
Scotch
  • Bruichladdich Micro-Provenance Single Cask release in France 10 Years
  • Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Valinch Heavily Peated Islay Single Malt
  • Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Cask Exploration 16 Am Fear A Behosh Aise Gheibi E
  • Highland Park 20-Year Single Malt

Distillery Tastings

Noxx & Dunn and Hard Truth Distilleries attended the July PBBS event to pour some of their latest offerings and give attendees opportunities to try some whiskeys of different signatures or liqueurs altogether.

Noxx & Dunn Straight Barrel was a nice sipper, especially if you want to enjoy a pour at barrel strength or full proof.

The Hard Truth offered a tasty and savory 14-year-old Schoonover Uncut & Unfiltered Straight Bourbon that was quite chewy on the finish. Additionally, they had a 100-proof Indiana Rye Whiskey, a 115-proof Sweet Mash Rye, and bottles of various liqueurs such as Maple Bourbon Cream, Peanut Butter Whiskey, and Toasted Coconut Rum.

Tasty Treats

The July PBBS event eats prepared by Sweetwater were quite tasty between the Poke Tacos, Korean BBQ Tacos, Cauliflower Hushpuppies, and flatbread — similar to the June PBBS event. But everyone who could grab a taco or two, a couple of hushpuppies, and some flatbread were more than satisfied.

Until the Next One

July’s Meet ‘N Greet at Sweetwater could easily be considered the best event done since re-starting last year. Everyone enjoyed various pours as they hobnobbed with each other, noshing on some food and taking in the friendly vibes that bourbon can deliver.

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Where to Find a Good Whiskey Bar

Finding a good whiskey bar is a lot like life; sometimes, you’re lucky, and you find that special one with the charm, the company, and the selection that won’t force you to sell your first-born child. However, you may find searching for a whiskey bar a challenge based on where you live in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Australia respectively.

Being that this Bourbon Blog is based out of South Florida in the United States, specifically in Palm Beach County, we will be focusing on the whiskey bars in this local area that you can frequent to develop your expansive palate with bourbon. These bourbon bars will serve as the locations where you can order pours from bottles to determine whether you buy a bottle later.

The other aspect of finding a good bourbon bar is the clientele (or crowd). Finding a good bourbon bar means finding a community of others who have at least a passing knowledge of bourbon and are willing to “talk shop” and provide pointers and tips on what pours to order (and bottles from nearby local stores after you leave).

If you’re looking to find good liquor stores to build your bourbon collection, it’s best to find out from the best sources, usually local bourbon drinkers in whiskey bars.

With that, here are some local Palm Beach County whiskey bars that have good bourbon bottle selections.

Sweetwater – Cocktails, Whiskey & Kitchen

Boynton Beach, Florida

Sweetwater is a glorious speakeasy-styled bar in Boynton Beach on the corner of Woolbright Road and Federal Highway in the Los Veritas complex that specializes in a terrific selection of various spirits, such as bourbon, comprising hundreds of bottles.

If you’re a bourbon drinker or a spirit aficionado, Sweetwater has any type of liquor/liqueur you could possibly want, they have. Being a bourbon enthusiast, walking up to the bar with the shelves of spirits such as bourbon behind it is like being a kid in the candy store and wanting to order a pour with everyone imaginable.

Warren

Delray Beach, Florida

Probably one of the most impressive displays of whiskey I have seen at a bar in Palm Beach County, Warren is a happening place with a whiskey bar whose design and aesthetic breathes happiness for the bourbon drinker.

If you’re in West Delray Beach off of U.S. 441 and Atlantic Avenue on the southeast intersection (basically across from the Delray Marketplace), you can find the Warren to be a mecca for all selections of whiskey, including bourbon, scotch, and Irish whiskey. At the Warren, you will find the opportunity to order pours of hard-to-find bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, among other bottles.

Voodoo Bayou

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

If you’re visiting Downtown at the Gardens Mall, Voodoo Bayou is a must-visit, not just for the food but for the drinks. In addition to having a fantastic ambiance that Cajun meets gothic, with excellent cuisine and cocktails, Voodoo Bayou offers quite a groovy whiskey selection that’s listed on its primary menu.

Price-wise will depend based on what you’re looking to order, but if you’re seeking to try some pours that you haven’t before, you can find them here. They offer allocated bourbons such as Blanton’s Gold, EH Taylor Barrel Barrel Proof, and earlier releases of George T. Stagg. They also have a solid rye selection, a variety of scotches, and Japanese, Canadian, and Irish whiskeys. 

Inlet Bar

Riviera Beach, Florida

Located off on the westbound side of Blue Heron Road, down the street from U.S.1, the Inlet Bar is a local dive bar that’s part of the building that holds Inlet Harbour Liquors — one of the best stores to pick up bottles of bourbon (especially store picks). But if you want to cool your heels and enjoy a relatively inexpensive pour of some sought-after bourbons, you can visit the Inlet Bar before or after you splurge at the liquor store. 

Inlet Bar offers one-and-a-half-ounce pours of bourbons and ryes such as Blanton’s, EH Taylor Small Batch, Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel, Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye, and Elmer T. Lee for $15 each.

Searching for Whiskey Bars Online

You can perform online searches on web browsers such as Google and Bing and service and online review directories like Yelp to determine where they may be a bar that provides good bourbon and overall whiskey selections in your local area.

While it’s always easy if you live in a city or area with a high volume of bars that may possess some good bottles, there will be some trial and error in the process. The key is to at least find one where you feel comfortable grabbing a bar stool and asking the bartender or the surrounding patrons what’s good to order.

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What is the Reddit Bourbon Approach?

Back in 2020, there appeared a post on Reddit.com that claimed you only need five (5) bottles of bourbon in your collection at any given time. You really only ever need 5 bottles of bourbon at a time. : bourbon (reddit.com) 

The Reddit Five bourbon collection consists of: 

  1. Daily Drinker – Your “Go-To” bourbon for enjoying daily and not worry about replacing it after a week because it’s inexpensive to pick up, usually within the $20 to $30 price range but can be more based on your budget.  
  1. Guest Impressor – The type of “fancy” bottle that will raise eyebrows but not too fancy to where you’re worried about getting the bourbon stolen at the end of the night. This bottle may cost anywhere from $50 to hundreds based on your… (wait for it)… “fancy.”  
  1. Cheap Mixer – One that you can buy cheap, personally drink neat, and your guests will never know and appreciate. Usually, a cheap mixer is a bottle of bourbon that costs anywhere from $15 to $30 in the price range.  
  1. Friday-Night Bourbon – That once-in-a-week pour you bring out to enjoy and not worry about killing the bottle too fast to where you have to buy more – and it costs you more than $30 to $40. 
  1. Special Occasion – That bottle you bring out once in a while for precisely that, celebrating a special moment with something on which you spent a “pretty penny.” 

For most of us that have been collecting bourbons for years, we snicker at such a thought. There shouldn’t be a suggested limit on how many bourbon bottles one should have in their collection; that ultimately depends on them. Many have hundreds of bottles in their collection from which to choose.  

However, for those entering the world of bourbon, they may be unsure of where to start. More importantly, a new bourbon drinker may not want to start with bottles priced within the $20 to $30 range. Therefore, a list like this might be a good start for those who may not want to fill their home with 100s of bottles… at least not right away.  

For those considering this approach, here are some “suggestions” for each of the bottles in the collection you can attempt to purchase. 

Daily Drinker – Wild Turkey 101, Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch, Buffalo Trace 

Guest Impressor – Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series, Weller Antique 107 

Cheap Mixer – Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond, Old Forester 100 

Friday-Night Bourbon – Old Forester 1920, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Makers Mark 46 Cask Strength, Belle Meade Reserve 

Special Occasion – Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Series, 1792 Twelve Years Old, Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond, Weller 12, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year 

While many of us will continue to buy bottles at will without worry about how much space they take up, where the Reddit approach finds usefulness in the ability to determine which bottles in a collection fall into one of these categories.  

Neat Pours. Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – What is the Reddit Bourbon Approach

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Building a Bourbon Collection 

Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Building a Bourbon Collection

For the person who develops a taste for bourbon (or any whiskey in general), the time arrives (whether gradually or immediately) when you want to buy bottles of them and build a collection of your own. How you build a bourbon collection depends on various factors – not limited to how much money to spend.   

If you talk to anyone that has built a bourbon collection, the explanation and story told to you will differ, but how you build it always starts with one bottle that hooks you into its world. From there, the path can go several different ways.  

ADVICE BEFORE YOU START YOUR BOURBON COLLECTION 

Before you go down the rabbit hole into the world of bourbon collecting, where you will be spending hundreds (and ultimately thousands) of dollars on bottles, make sure the passion is there. Meaning: when you walk into a liquor store, a wine and spirits store, or any store that sells bourbon, make sure you are going to buy bourbon first and always first.  

Your passion for bourbon should be obsessive-compulsive, the type of passion where most of your friends will grow sick and tired of hearing you talk about it.   

If you like gin, vodka, rum, or tequila as equally as bourbon, you should think twice before diving headfirst into building a collection. In this scenario, investigate buying only a handful of bottles – such as the Reddit approach (five (5) bottles of bourbon you should ever need to purchase) — more on this in another post.  

With that being said, here are some pointers to follow in building out your collection. 

BOURBON COLLECTION BUILDING TIPS 

1.) Start Small and Cheap 

Look to buy bottles of bourbon that range in price between $20 and $30. Granted, you may have already tasted pours from glasses of bourbon you like where the bottle price is more than this. But outside of finding that bottle (whether readily available or limited in its allocation), start building your collection should involve picking up bottles that you can find easily in a liquor store.  

Inlet Harbour Liquors, Riviera Beach, Florida. Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Building a Bourbon Collection

Recommended bottles include: 

  • Wild Turkey 101 – $20-25 Price Range: 101-proof bourbon, comprising barrels ranging from four (4) to seven (7) years in age. 
  • Rebel 100 Straight Bourbon – $20-25 Price Range: 100-proof wheated bourbon comprising barrels ranging from four (4) to six (6) years in age.  
  • Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon – $25-30 Price Range: 90-proof bourbon, comprising barrels ranging from four (4) to six (6) years in age. 
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel – $25-30 Price Range: 86-proof single-barrel bourbon, coming from a single barrel as opposed to a batch of barrels, where the age will differ depending on the barrel itself – normally, at least four (4) years in age.  
  • Old Grand Dad 114 – $25-30 Price Range: High-proof (114), high-rye bourbon derived from barrels at least four (4) years in age. 
  • 1792 Small Batch – $25-30 Price Range: 93.7-proof small batch bourbon consisting of barrels at least four (4) years in age.  
  • Buffalo Trace – $27-30 Price Range: 90-proof small-batch bourbon comprising barrels ranging between seven (7) and nine (9) years in age.  

These bourbons should provide an excellent first experience into the primary flavor profiles you will find on the palate neat without breaking the bank. If you can drink these neat, you can certainly use them as a mixer for cocktails.  

Discovering a Bourbon Doesn’t Drink Well Neat 

If you buy a bottle of bourbon and discover you’re only using it for mixers when friends are over, and can’t drink it neat, then it shouldn’t be taking up space in your collection. Always do your best when you pick up a bottle to determine whether this will be a good drinking experience or one that you are trying to quickly pass off to your friends mixed with coke like you are reliving college all over again. Even if you use one specific bourbon for mixing cocktails, it should be a bottle from which you can also enjoy a neat pour. If you can enjoy the bourbon neat, then you can enjoy it in a cocktail.

Avoiding Expensive Bourbon Bottle Purchases… In the Beginning 

While the temptation is there to find some of the flashy bourbon bottles high in demand and go for hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) — e.g., Blanton’s Single Barrel, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year, and Weller 12 Year, for example, don’t fall into that trap. There are thousands of different bourbons available in the marketplace produced by hundreds of distillers today. Find those bottles first that aren’t going to cost you “an arm and a leg”.  

2.) Properly Store Your Bottles of Bourbon

While many bourbon drinkers and collectors fantasize about having a “bourbon room” or some room in a cellar designed in dark wood with leather-bound chairs smelling like rich mahogany, that’s not entirely realistic in the beginning unless you have the cash to spend. However, you can ensure your bourbon collection is in a secure, designated area that comprises a shelf by the kitchen, a bar counter, a liquor cart, or a display such as a glass-paneled cabinet.   

You can purchase kitchen carts and three-tiered shelving online from Amazon and other retailers that you can assemble for storing your bourbons. And make sure you keep away your bourbons from windows where the sun usually comes through.   

Ultimately, as you build your collection, you can separate your collection from everyday bottles (bourbon you can consider daily drinkers – and within the $20-30 range) and those for more special occasions that may cost a little more. Keep the former on one readily available shelf and the latter in a more enclosed case or remote room away from general view if you don’t want to open that often.  

3) Tasting and Reviewing Your Bourbons 

Part of building your bourbon collection stems from determining what bourbons you prefer over others. Especially if you drink your bourbon neat, you will find that your flavor profile will change over time from when you first start your collection.   

Drinking Neat. Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Building a Bourbon Collection

Therefore, taste testing your bourbons – including blind tastings – is essential in seeing what you like and don’t. To taste neat, see if you can pick up some Glencairn glasses (they are small and tulip in shape). If not, any tumbler/rocks glass or a sherry/port wine glass can suffice for nosing and tasting the bourbon.

Nosing the Bourbon

Initially, take the glass and bring the rim within two (2) fingers in width from your nose (an inch or two (2)) to where you can smell the flavors without just sensing the ethanol fumes from the alcohol.  

  • Too close means you’ll feel your nostrils on fire.  
  • As your nose adapts to the aroma of the bourbon, then you can move it closer to within the glass.  
Sipping the Bourbon

Sip the bourbon to determine the flavors you pick up when it initially enters your mouth at the tip of your tongue (which serves as your palate), as it travels across your tongue and mouth, and when it hits the back of your mouth before swallowing.

  • Because your tongue has many senses regarding taste, what you will experience with sipping the bourbon will change – picking up more than a couple of flavors.  
  • For example, you may taste vanilla and caramel; pick up the oak from the wooden barrels where the bourbon was stored; pick up some baking spices and black pepper. There may be some citrus notes you discover. 
  • The mouthfeel may comprise a body (volume) and a sense that ranges from full and rich to light and watery. Some people say they experience an “exceptional mouthfeel” on the palate when sipping, which could describe a variety of different interactions based on prior experience with sipping other bourbons. 
  • Make sure to add a couple to a few drops of water to see how it tastes to you. Maybe you prefer your glass of bourbon on the rocks. But do see how your experience changes when you add water and ice to the equation.  
How does the Bourbon Finish?
  • What flavors linger on your palate long after you have swallowed the sip?  
  • Does the taste quickly fade away, or does it linger for minutes? 
4) Expand Your Knowledge of Bourbons 

As you build your collection and become more immersed in the world of bourbon, make sure you find other bars that have an ever-expansive selection of bourbons for you to try. By trying more bourbons, you can determine which ones you prefer before you decide to buy more bottles that fall in a higher price range.   

  • From visiting these bars, you will meet people who are also bourbon enthusiasts on your journey that can discuss the joys of the brown liquid and advise on what to seek for bottles at local liquor stores as well as online retailers that sell.   
Bourbon Enthusiasts conversing about all things bourbon. Wrigley BBQ, Palm Springs, Florida, Meet ‘N Greet event. Palm Beach Bourbon Society — The Bourbon Blog – Building a Bourbon Collection

Furthermore, discover online and through books about the culture and history surrounding bourbon, the distillers that produce them, and other people’s experiences and reviews. Make sure to document your own experiences to determine what your first experiences were and how they changed over time. These experiences also make for good stories to share with your fellow bourbon friends so you can become better immersed in this world.  

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BOURBON COLLECTION BUILDING 

Through your experiences, you can determine what you like that you would purchase again, and maybe something else by that distiller or someone else that may be more money. How your bourbon collection develops over time depends on you ultimately, but it should be a journey however you see fit. 

Building a Bourbon Collection  Read More »

June PBBS Meet N’ Greet — Sweetwater

Having stood as one of the bonafide whiskey bars of Palm Beach County for more than a decade, Sweetwater: Cocktails, Whiskey & Kitchen (Sweetwater) was the appropriate location for the latest monthly Palm Beach Bourbon Society (PBBS) Meet N’ Greet event. The June PBBS event brought a stunning collection of various bourbon bottles for members to enjoy while noshing on an array of small bites prepared by the Sweetwater kitchen.

PBBS members in attendance had the opportunity to sample pours from bottles of 1792 Sweet Wheat and Aged Twelve Years, Peerless Double Oak, Chattanooga Whiskey Founder’s 10th Anniversary Blend, Four Roses Single Barrel Store Picks (the Barrel Strengths were quite tasty), Wyoming Whiskey, and others. If you had the opportunity to enjoy a pour from the Old Fitzgerald Eight-Year Bottled-in-Bond or the Blue Note 17-Year Tennessee Whiskey, you were not disappointed, given the scarcity in finding such bottles for retail price, let alone locally. Additionally, you had the opportunity to try some old “Dusty” bottles of Rebel Yell, Old Grand-Dad, and Bourbontown Club. Each provided a vastly different nosing and sipping experience that was quite fascinating and gratifying.

During the event, PBBS treated members with some tasty small bites that they had Sweetwater prepare ahead of time for everyone to enjoy, such as Korean BBQ Tacos, Cauliflower Hushpuppies, Pulled Pork Sliders, and Flatbread. If you were so inclined, you could order a cocktail or two from the bar (PBBS members received a 20 percent discount on all cocktails).

While most were there for neat pours, cocktails such as the Blind Swine (bacon bourbon, smoked sea salt, maple bitters, and a garnish of bacon) and Death & Taxes (Earl Grey-steeped gin, elderflower stone pine liqueur, lemon, yuzu tonic) were quite delicious.

When you come to a PBBS Meet N’ Greet, you can expect to enjoy a good pour (or three), some good eats to soak up such pours, and, most importantly, share those experiences with people who appreciate the bourbon and from it flows. The June event at Sweetwater continued the excellent company, drinks, times, and vibes since PBBS re-started the Meet N’ Greets last year.

June PBBS Meet N’ Greet — Sweetwater Read More »

Welcome to The Bourbon Blog

Greetings PBBS Members! We want to introduce you to “The Bourbon Blog”, our regular source for all things bourbon and whiskey-related news.

Our purpose for the Blog is both objective and subjective in discussing the joys of the “water of life” and our group’s interaction with it.

We look forward to presenting a variety of different whiskey and group-related articles and posts. Enjoy!

Welcome to The Bourbon Blog Read More »

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