This fall got me thinking about an elderly fellow I once knew, a friend of my father’s father and a veteran of World War One. He was 85 at the time, and blind as a bat—used to watch TV from the couch through a pair of binoculars perched on a stick, sipping what he referred to as “bourbon and branch.” That simply means bourbon and water (technically water from a small stream; it’s an old Southern term), as opposed to bourbon and soda, but it has an antique resonance to it that’s awfully appealing, I think.
Anyway, he’s gone now—has been for years—but there’s still plenty of good bourbon out there, and since it’s officially “a distinctive product of the United States” (by a 1964 Congressional resolution, no less), why not pour a glass?
W.L. Weller Special Reserve ($19) The rye in the mash bill for this is replaced by wheat, making this a less spicy bourbon with more caramel notes to it, and a soft, forgiving character. It’s a fine example of the wheated bourbon style, not to mention a great value.