I've been on a bit of a cocktail kick lately. The thing I like about cocktails is the same thing I like about cooking, the interplay of flavors. Really, it's one of the things I like about whiskey too. But unlike whiskey where someone else has determined what works together, with a cocktail you are the one who decides what to put together. And it may be amazing or it might not.
As I was doing the tasting for tonight's bourbon, I was struck by the distinct anise notes that presented themselves. Now anise is a fairly major flavor component in my favorite cocktail, the Sazerac. I know a traditional Sazerac uses Rye Whiskey. But since the Rye was a replacement for the original Cognac, I didn't feel too bad about substituting a High Rye Bourbon. Especially since the difference between a High Rye Bourbon and the barely legal Rye whiskey that's often called for is a few percentage points of Rye at most.
And it was good! It had a nice thick mouthfeel; the spice was a bit more nutmeg and cinnamon than in the Rye version I normally make. Speaking of that, I made another Sazerac cocktail using Sazerac Rye to compare to it. And by way of comparison, the Rye-based one fell a bit flat. Of course, by a weird turn of events, the Sazerac Rye is one of my least favorite Ryes to use in a Sazerac so who knows what would have happened with a better Rye. But that's the point, keep experimenting. You never really know how things are going to turn out until you do.
Jim Beam Signature Craft: High Rye Bourbon
Purchase info: $16.67 for a 375 mL bottle (on sale) at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN
Details: 11 years old, 45% ABV, more Rye than usual used as flavoring grain.
Nose: Floral, Anise, and Oak.
Mouth: Sweet with Anise, Spice, and Oak.
Finish: Warm and long with lingering sweet Anise.
Thoughts: This one is delicious. Top two or three of the six for sure. I'm a big fan. Reaffirms my decision to snag another batch of six at the sale price.
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