WASHINGTON -- These days, buying bourbon is a lot like buying art: There is no real limit to how much you can spend and no guarantee that, once you do, it's worth what you paid. The secret in both cases is to spend exactly the amount that feels right to you.
Here at Bourbon Story, we've been asking ourselves if the huge interest in premium and super-premium hootch has meant we've collectively forgotten that there is plenty of good American whiskey -- bourbon, especially -- that goes down nicely and still leaves enough in the billfold to pick up the milk and bread on the way home from the liquor store.
In other words: Our editors love a good high-end pour as much as the next bourbon enthusiast does. But sometimes it's fun to focus on the more pedestrian brands to see what secrets they may reveal under the scrutiny of a good three-finger pour.
But which bourbons? That's the question. If you go cheap, you have to have a plan. Life, as the man said (or should have, anyway), is just too short to drink bad whiskey.
Fortunately, Bourbon Story Magazine is especially positioned to help decode just these kinds of puzzles. We're not a tasting magazine -- lots of sites already do that just splendidly -- but we are a magazine whose content is built from the ground up, by editors living and writing (and drinking) in cities across the country with a common goal: To engage and enliven conversations about bourbon in their region of the country.
Our editors in Houston, Chicago, Colorado, Washington and Kentucky have been asking: What's the best low-priced bourbon out there? What classics have been overlooked? What's the equivalent, then, of the everyday table wine a traveler might find on an afternoon stop in Umbria, served in a carafe for 8 euros a liter?
We've got you covered. Our editors are exploring some good finds and we'll report back later this week. But first we want your help: What do you drink when the budget is tight? Or when the company is ordinary? Do you have a bottle you pour when you've hidden your Pappy away until Christmas?
Look for some intelligence on Old Forester, which many in Louisville call the city's house brand. Our man in Chicago, Allen Helm, has sussed out the bargain bourbon Costco, which he says doesn't taste much like a bargain bourbon at all. Kevin's been popping in and out of the Bourbon Affair this weekend, and he'll reports on the extravaganza -- and maybe a few blue-collar pours to go with the super-premium sips he's managed to find. We'll have input from Colorado, Texas -- and a treat -- California.