“Bourbon is an acquired taste”. That is what people always told me when I first started drinking whisky years ago. These same people also told me that it was possible to fall in love with Scotch after drinking Bourbons for some time, but most definitely not the other way around. Oblivious as to what the product even was exactly, I believed them and went my own way exploring the Scottish National drink and her foreign malt relatives. Every now and then my curiosity won and I tried a bourbon or two, some of which were surprisingly quaffable, but most of them I quickly discarded by saying “not my thing”, and waving an undefined hand gesture. The rough, often woody notes did not agree with my preferences, which also reflects in my tasting notes of some of the older single malts. In the last couple of years, I have been discovering more than a handful of single grains and have found my palate to be more accepting of the odd (read: different) taste some of the other grains have, not dissimilar to some of the more developed bourbons. The discovery halted a while with this acceptance, but I never took the next step to explore further because, well, to be honest, there are too many other (mostly single malt) samples waiting to be savoured first. To my absolute pleasure, we were surprised by the Drinks by the Dram team who had decided to send us a box of 24 chocolates bourbons to discover each day during Advent…
“A cognac? Nah, I’ll skip this dram”. Mostly my reaction when I would be offered a cognac, up until the beginning of this December. I have had exquisite, rare and old cognacs before, some of them should have been memorable, but most of them have become forgotten by name, face and occasion. It is, like with bourbon, a completely different drink, where cognac is made with grapes instead of grains. As I am not a wine drinker and do not have a sweet-tooth, the appeal to start with cognac was never there to begin with. The process of how it is made turns out to be very similar to making whisk(e)y – after the preparations of the basic ingredients, there is fermenting, double distilling and maturation in wood, until a master blender decides the product is ready for bottling. Terroir, grape variety and wood type play much a bigger role in the creation of this spirit, and the result is more often that not, noticeable in the bottled product. That little trigger to explore the spirit was easily pulled by having been sent that second box with 24 drams, so we “each have our own” was a nice gesture of the guys and gals at Drinks by the Dram, which would put us to work during the first weeks of December.
And so after a long wait, it slowly became December. Curious as we both are, we obviously decided not to claim our own box box, but split the drams in two and both simply enjoy both boxes [laughing diabolically]. Each consisted of a wide selection and has opened doors [pun intended] to intrigue me and wants me to explore more of the world of either spirit. I may as well be one of the rare “whisky-to-bourbon-converts” (don’t worry, there are still plenty single malts to explore), and I am definitely curious about the possibilities cognac does have to offer beside the sugary, head-hurting experiences I first had with the drink. More and more different spirits tickle my curiosity, and with the large selection on the Drinks by the Dram website, there is much to choose from, and if the this year’s offerings will represent what is in store for next year, there is enough reason to stay curious. Be sure you select one of them on time, because before you know it, it is that time of year again.
Have a great Christmas, Hanukkah, or whichever holiday you celebrate, look for the notes of the hard labour I put into tasting the bourbons and cognacs on this very site and Ansgar’s, there are twenty-four of both spirits to be found between the other cracking notes of last month. Speaking about cracking, I have to pop off, we are starting Christmas dinner a little early today. Cheers!