Flavor Profiles with their Impact on Cocktails – American Whiskey
The type of a particular spirit that you use can have a lot of impact on your cocktail. This is so pronounced that different brands carry different flavor profiles known as a distillery’s “character”. Knowing your ingredients is as vital to a well-made cocktail as is proper measuring. Bourbon Heritage Month continues with a brief breakdown of American whiskeys.
I spend a lot of time tasting my liquors. Suffice canada goose ladies ny down jacket outlet online to say that in my youth I spent a lot of time drinking my liquors, but canada goose ladies ny down jacket outlet online wasn’t until about four years ago that I really started tasting them. If you had a conversation with the 20 year old me and told that me to hold the liquor in his mouth, let it warm up, and do some exercises to move it from the throat to the mouth and back again; I’d’ve probably told you to shut the hell up and give me the shot already. My what wisdom age may bring.
Bourbon has legal requirements; they are:
It’s that top requirement — the 51% corn makeup — that separates your Bourbons from your Wheats and your Ryes. Corn is an abundant canada goose ladies ny down jacket outlet online in America — the staple of our society actually — as many writers both classical and contemporary have penned. It’s revered in early American history art and jeered as the nightmare of Michael Pollan. Tennessee Whiskey, like the infamous Jack No. 7, must be Bourbon and must be made in Tennessee, whereas Bourbon itself can be made anywhere the sun shines in these United States. Bourbon is fantastic! It’s sweet and delicious (akin to old world whiskey styles), uniquely American and arguably the reason American liquor became a global force. I tend to have an issue with it though; it doesn’t work in every whiskey cocktail.
So how do we decide which whiskey to use in which cocktail? It’s easy… we study.
Tasting is the most vital aspect of good drinking, which is the target of the Liquid Culture Project — to have you drinking better. It’s fun, you can do it in solitary or with friends, you get to experience a lot of great flavors and you really start to understand the character of each distillery. The masters, which I am not (yet), will be able to decipher the distillery, if not the distiller, based on the character of the dram at their lips. I do not expect you to become a master though, but we can follow some very simple rules for using your American whiskeys and it’s based on common flavor profiles. Mind you there are (many) exceptions to these rules. A rule of cocktailing is that you should try to blend like-flavors because they’ll mend better together. You’ll want to be careful though because sometimes your like-flavors can play off each other a little too well and you’re left with a drink that’s cloyingly sweet.
Drinks using cherry-based liqueurs like Luxardo Maraschino or Cherry Heering, or sweeter vermouths (Cinzano, M&R) will generally benefit from a sweeter Bourbon, because cherry and oak is a common flavor profile for most straight Bourbons. Keep in mind that citrus is the great equalizer of sweet.
Wheated Whiskey (sometimes Wheated Bourbon):
Wheated whiskeys are wonderful in citrus-based drinks, especially on hot days, as the light, non-abrasive nature of the earthy wheat mends well with citrus fruits and tropical flavors (think a Hefeweizen with an orange or lemon in it, if you’re into that kind of thing). Works great with grapefruit!
If you’re working with Manhattans and using a rye whiskey, a bitter, more-aggressive vermouth will shine better because the herbal profile of the vermouth will mend well with the spice of the Rye and give you a very complex delicious Manhattan. We did that one here. Also use with brandy-based orange liqueurs (Grand Marnier, Gran Gala, etc…)
Anyone who likes home mixology should keep one of each of these on the shelf, and I’ve provided a short guide to some I’ve found to be versatile in their mixing capability and straight consumption potability. Frankly, especially for their prices, they’re just damn good!