Every now and again. for reasons both obscure and irrational, The Cabinet feels compelled to reaffirm its allegiance to scotch whisky. It does so by spending an evening sampling some other sort of whisky, such as Irish or Canadian rye or, as in this case, American bourbon. Now, don't misunderstand me, bourbon is a fine drink, but don't misunderstand The Cabinet either - it is not, in fact, a drinking club. Were it a drinking club, bourbon would be a more welcome regular visitor to our glasses. No, The Cabinet is not a drinking club, but rather it is a contemplation club where the focus of the contemplation is scotch whisky. This works so well because scotch whisky invites contemplation with its complexity and diversity. Bourbon, on the other hand, invites coca-cola or ice or barbecued pork ribs, or preferably all three. It is, as I have already said, a fine drink, but a drink that quickly fades into the background, like an uninteresting party guest who has little to say. To be fair, I should clarify I am talking about the "average bourbon" compared to the "average scotch". The best bourbons apparently exceed the worst scotches. This like a Venn diagram with a region of overlap. Some Cabinet members even reported having personally tasted these superior bourbons, and as their testimony can be taken as reliable, such a beast can longer be considered a unicorn. It is, however, a rare animal, like a white rhino, so the innocent scotch drinker needs to accept a significant degree of risk when pulling a random bourbon bottle off the shelf at the liquor store.
That rambling preamble out of the way then, I will briefly describe the meeting itself. The Cabinet traditionally holds its August meeting outside of its chambers in a gazebo on the banks of the Assiniboine River. This year we decided on the back porch instead, that being felt to be more in keeping with the bourbon spirit. It was a very fine warm evening for us to sip bourbon and listen to Delta blues and distant sirens. I will simply list the bourbons tasted from most favourite to least:
Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 year old - Here is a bourbon that competes with the lesser single malt scotches. It actually has balance and it has a lingering finish, which is absent among most other bourbons. Given that it is cheaper than many of the lesser single malt scotches, it might be worth a look.
Sazerac Rye - This is certainly a bold one, launching an unrestrained rye assault on your palate. If you like that sort of thing, look no further. I do, on occasion, in limited doses. A bit of a one-trick pony though, to use an American metaphor.
Basil Hayden's Kentucky Bourbon - There are a few things going on here, including some notable rye again, but it is a confused jumble that quickly dissipates and is just as quickly forgotten. Nice looking bottle though.
Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select - I made Cabinet history by actually dumping this one. After two sips the horror was simply too much for me. Fire and sugar and nothing else. However, it must be said that this bottle had been sitting 80% empty for nine years since the last bourbon night, so it may have oxidized considerably.
I called The Cabinet a contemplation club, but that is misleading. It implies that we sit around silently, each deep in private thought, only offering carefully considered commentary. It is quite the opposite. The Cabinet is a contemplation and conversation club, and the conversation ranges far from whisky to Morgellons and storm chasing to the Oakland buddha and the advisability of driving a Lambourghini in Winnipeg in the winter.
Thank you to Trevor and Cory for the splendid snacks, and thank you to all the members for making The Cabinet what it is.