If I had a Benjamin

Not long ago, I  was asked if i wanted to participate in a blog series with some  ourbon writers.  Here is the premise as posted by ModernThirst.com. 

“I had $100 to spend on one or more bourbons, which ones would I buy?

It’s really the age old question for bourbon-lovers isn’t it?  On what particular whiskey should a whiskey lover spend their hard-earned dollars?  To best answer it, I decided to call in the cavalry.  I contacted a number of bourbon and whiskey bloggers, podcasters, writers, and retailers and asked them to submit their own strategic allocations of a hundred bucks.  This Bourbon Brain Trust consists of:

Bill (me) with ModernThirst
Matt with ModernThirst
Ben with Big Earl’s Beverage Co.
Darren with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
Chris with Bottom of the Barrel Bourbon
Claire with See Claire Write
Melissa with The Chicagoist
Ginny & Charlie with the Charlie Tonic Hour
Tim with The Bourbon Guys
Larry with The Bourbon Guys
Brian with Sipp’nCorn
Jason with Sour Mash Manifesto
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll see each writer answer that question however they like.  They’re free to create any scenario (desert island, last bourbons they’ll ever drink, etc.) And they’re free to structure it any way they like.  The only real constraint is that the bourbon they choose must be at least somewhat reasonably obtainable to the standard buyer in their area (so no Pappy, 1965 Dusties, etc.)

We’ll post excerpts, full text, photos, links, etc. right here on ModernThirst, but be on the lookout for their work to pop up on their own sites as well!  And check twitter for #IfihadaBenjamin.”

Here’s mine…

So, it is time to dream. Someone just handed me $100 and told me to go buy bourbon. There are clearly a couple of ways to approach this. I tend to favor the “quantity AND quality” theory so, here goes. Keep in mind that I am going from memory on pricing and am going to round them off and ignore sales tax. That said, three of these four stay on my bar at all times.

I learned to love bourbon by drinking wheated bourbons and I prefer a higher proof bottle. Therefore, the first bottle in my basket would be Weller Antique (107proof) which comes in at about $25 dollars or so and holds the distinction of winning a blind tasting (warning, blasphemy coming) that some friends and I did between several wheated bourbons including 15 year old Pappy. That’s right, even with unlimited funds, I prefer this bottle. This one is on the bar now.

My tastes vary quite a bit from day to day so; the second bottle in my basket would be Old Granddad 114. Again, I like a higher proof bottle most of the time. As a Jim Beam product, this one has a familiar flavor profile and is a less expensive bourbon than many of their other high proof bottles (also comes in around $25)…also on the bar now.

One more inexpensive bottle would wind up in the basket for me. Both of the others I’ve selected so far are very nice drinks no matter how you want to drink them, but sometimes the drink would be better with a lower proof bottle. In that case, my choice would likely be Benchmark. Benchmark isn’t often one I would reach for to drink outside a cocktail, but it holds the distinction of having a solid mash bill and being about as cheap as it can get and still be bourbon. I like it as a mixing bourbon and it doesn’t hurt my feelings to mix it since it comes in around $12 almost everywhere. This one isn’t always on my bar, but I believe there is a bottle in the cabinet as I type this.

My fourth bottle would be a bottle of Smooth Ambler’s Old Scout 7yr old. I know that some wouldn’t agree with my choice of a sourced bourbon (MGP) on this list. However, unlike some others, the folks at Smooth Ambler have done a really nice job with their selection and are remarkably honest about how they market their products. For a price tag between $35 and $40 (my last bottle was $36.99) depending on where you find it, you are getting a great bottle of bourbon that hasn’t disappointed anyone I have had the pleasure of sharing it with. This is one I rarely allow myself to run out of and is on the bar now.

The Bourbon Classic

Some friends of mine and I got the chance to go to the Bourbon Classic last week, Check out our reviews here…


Look for the pictures and a couple of reviews of the classic. There is other good stuff there too.

Barrel House resize

Some other friends have done similar reviews on their site. Check them out here…


It’s been a while…

Hi everyone!!  I do apologize that it has been so long!!  You can see in this picture some of the new stuff we’ve gotten in. There is also both new and seasonal beer in the store.  We’ve picked up a lot more craft beer, a few more ciders for the winter, and some more solid whiskeys that I don’t have pictures of yet.  We have new items coming in every week at this point so keep checking back with us to see what you find!  I can promise that something will suit your tastes.

As always, it isn’t drinking alone when you drink with Big Earl!!

New Beer!!!!

The cooler is working overtime to chill some new beer and one new cider!!  Today I stocked:

Bells Best Brown

Bells Double Cream

Bells Expedition

Founders Breakfast Stout

Sonoma Hatchet Cider.

I also restocked my:

Founders Porter

Lagunitas IPA

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’.

Come see us and stock up for the weekend!!!

News that’s fit to print

So, I’ve been a bit lax recently about telling everyone what we’ve added to the store.  I thought I would take a few minutes and see if I could shine a little light on that.

The bourbon section is growing steadily and at both ends.  I have added several bottles that are quite nice and easily affordable.  A quick list of those would include the Old Forester 100 proof, Evan Williams White Label 100 proof, and Pennypacker will join them next week.  In the next tier, we have added an entire new line of Smooth Ambler products that includes a 7yr old bourbon, a 10yr old bourbon, an 8yr old single barrel bourbon, a 7yr old rye, and a 7 yr old cask strength rye.

The craft beer has taken a huge jump and there are really too many to list now.  We’ve added two offerings from Lagunitas, two from Founders, two from Bell’s (with two more coming next week), and a couple from Dogfish.  There are at this moment at least five different pumpkin ales and several additional Octoberfests.  The IPA selection has grown exponentially over the summer and we are starting to order the stouts and porters for the fall and winter months.



Hi everyone!!  For those that have been following along on the continuing saga of Big Earl’s, we thought this might be a good place to keep everyone updated about what is going on.  We expect things to be finalized very soon (both exciting and terrifying).  That means we’ll finally be able to change that pesky sign out front, start making changes to the look of the store (get out your painting clothes if you want to help), and start adding some of the more interesting stuff that we’ve been wanting to add for a while.

For newer followers, the things we’ve been wanting to add include: tastings (bourbon, wine, and craft beer), growlers, build your own six packs of craft beer, and an expanded bourbon selection.

If you haven’t been in for a while, now is a good time to start coming back.  We have already started to change the way the store looks to reflect the nature of the business a bit more.  We’re ordering as many of the interesting bourbons as we can get since this time of year has some really cool releases.  The craft beer selection is growing weekly and currently features a broad selection of seasonal products (think Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales) as well as all of the newly canned beers from our Friends at Country Boy Brewing and West 6th Street.  As they continue to expand their canning lines, we will continue to add products from both of them.

While we concentrate on bourbon and craft beer, we are always adding new and interesting wines (Table #7 and Big Bad Zin are coming soon) as well as new releases in other sections of the store when they are available.  As always, if you have questions or want suggestions from any of us, give us a yell and we’ll do our best to find something that is exactly what you are looking for.

Quick news and events from Big Earl's