It’s sometimes hard for those who only casually know me to believe that I am a frugal person. They’ll point to the fact that I have over 50 different whiskies (just in my office closet, unopened, that I paid for), as evidence of the fact that I am, in fact, the very opposite of a frugal person.
But truth be told, I do not like wasting money. I don’t mind spending money, if the object is worthwhile or the price is obscenely discounted. But spending money without doing your research is just foolish. You may get lucky, but more often than not money will be wasted.
Researching value. When it comes to bourbon, it often means looking below the top shelf. It can mean finding a liter of 100 proof bourbon for less than $20. But can it mean finding one for less than $15?
I recently bought two very similar bourbons, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond and Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond. Both are produced by Heaven Hill. Both are 100 proof, bottled in bond. Heck, they are both even packaged in the same style glass bottle. The only differences from the outside are the name on the label and the fact that one costs 50% more than the other.
To avoid price influence, we tasted these in a double blind format. I poured into glasses 1 and 2 and my wife moved them to spots A and B. I knew what bourbon was which number and my wife knew which number coresponded to which letter, but neither of us knew which bourbon coresponded to which letter. Then we sat down for a nice Sunday afternoon tasting.
Nose: Shoe leather, corn, dusty oak and a hint of caramel
Taste: Caramel corn and candied ginger
Finish: Long and sweet with a bit of charred oak
Thoughts: Does it knock my socks off? No. But no matter which one this is, for under $20 per liter there is no reason to not always have this on your shelf. I like this one.
Nose: Dried corn, mint, dried grass or hay
Taste: Hot. Hot and harsh. Cinnamon red hots candy and dried corn
Finish: Long. More cinnamon candy which fades to a sour corn flavor.
Thoughts: This is really hot. Cinnamon candy is predominant with a lot of grain flavors supporting it. Kinda meh here.
Bourbon A was my favorite and after the reveal, I learned that it was the Evan Williams Bottled in Bond. In this case, price really does make a difference. Though I was kind of hoping that the lower priced underdog would somehow pull it out, and that the extra 50% higehr price was just spent on all the marketing that the Evan Williams brand receives, I wasn’t really surprised. It does make it a little more palatable to know that that 50% works out to just around six bucks.
For me, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond beat Old Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond hands down.