Thanksgiving and bourbon pair so well together because there are many similarities between the two. For Thanksgiving friends and family get together just like good friends get together over some pours of great bourbon. They both involve good times, memories to be made and if one indulges too much then things can get out of hand. Thanksgiving gives us certain feelings and emotions that not just any whiskey will do to complement each other with. That is why this list has been specially curated to pair throughout your Thanksgiving Day. Often when we think of Thanksgiving food pairings it is normally with wine, however enjoying some pours of bourbon throughout the day will help keep you less full so you can take on a bit more dressing and turkey.
Cooking/Preparation– Cooking and preparation for the big feast to come can be a daunting task. All the ingredients must be right, timing must be spot on, hopefully you remembered to buy everything you needed at the grocery store and make sure not to burn the turkey. With dishes all over, multiple courses on the stove and trying not to burn down the house things can quickly get hectic. Thankfully there is a bourbon or two to help take the edge off of things. More than likely preparation and cooking may happen the night before or the morning of Thanksgiving, both of which you don’t want to overdo your bourbon intake to just start things up. Start off your day with these two great whiskies.
Option 1: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye– It is hard not to associate Thanksgiving with fall. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye is that first taste of fall. Many people associate Jack Daniel’s with the black label Old No. 7, but the brand is so much more than that. If you have never tried any of the more premium Jack Daniel’s, then one of the single barrels is a great place to start. However, for Thanksgiving we are going with the rye single barrel. The rye is never too forward or introduces any notes of dill that sometimes rye spice can protrude. It is a great beginner’s rye and a great pour to start the day off with. It is not too high in proof so you won’t overdo your palate first thing during the day. Even if neat or on the rocks is too much for first thing in the morning, the rye would stand up well in a cocktail such as an old fashioned. As an added bonus, sometimes you can find these as a single barrel picked by your local store or club.
Option 2: Old Forester 86 Proof– Old Forester is a brand with a lot of bourbon history, which pairs well with a holiday with its own history. The 86 proof offering is both low enough in proof to not burn out your palate first thing of the day, but still flavorful enough to sip on. This one could be used in a cocktail if you wish, but with its low proof the bourbon may get muted with the other ingredients. We suggest neat or on the rocks.
Before Dinner– The food is prepared, several dishes are already finished cooking and just waiting for the turkey to be finished or arrive. It is time to start winding down a bit, enjoying the company that may be starting to arrive or just take a moment to yourself after the crazy time cooking and prepping. These before dinner pours are sure to have you feeling good before fixing your plate. This is your time to kick back and relax and enjoy the smell of the simmering food and enjoy the bourbon on your palate.
Option 1: Woodford Double Oaked– Another member of the Brown-Forman family of brands has made the list, but this time it is Woodford Double Oaked. This is not your standard Woodford Reserve, although the original version would be a great substitute if you have that one on hand. This version is the regular Woodford Reserve that was put into a second new oak barrel and aged for additional time. The continued aging in new oaks provides for a sweeter bourbon with a bit more body to it. It is not overly proofed, it’s sweet and would even pair well in your favorite bourbon cocktail if you are not ready for something neat just yet.
Option 2: Old Tub– Old Tub is a fantastic offering from Jim Beam that not only has a lot of history surrounding it but it is also Bottled in Bond. This is the warm up bottled to another great Jim Beam favorite that makes the list. With notes of peanuts and creamy peanut butter this bourbon surely is a treat. With this bottle we take a step up in proof and start priming our palates for the higher proof whiskeys in this list. This is a limited offering from the distillery but since it is from such a large company it is still widely available.
During Dinner– The dinner bell has rung and it is time to dive into that wonderful meal you have been waiting all year to have, but you can’t forget to fix yourself a great pour of bourbon. As you begin eating you will introduce savory and robust flavors from your dishes to your palate, so in order for the bourbon to stand a chance on your taste buds we want to start upping the proof a bit and introducing bold spirits.
Option 1: Wild Turkey 101– What would Thanksgiving be without some good old Wild Turkey? If you haven’t given Wild Turkey a chance by slowly sipping it instead of the often affiliation with mixing and shooting it down, then this is your chance. If you already know the greatness of Wild Turkey then you know that it is full of bold bourbon flavors that will help stand up to any dish. Enjoy a heavy char pour with notes of cherry and sweetness. It just seems fitting for the occasion. If you are feeling really bold you can always substitute with Wild Turkey Rare Breed which is the same recipe as the 101 but at a higher proof.
Option 2: Old Scout Single Barrel– Here is where we really start upping the proof on what you have been sipping on throughout the day. This pick for this meal will however take a bit of prior planning. We suggest finding a store pick of Old Scout. This may not be readily available on the shelf because it will depend on if your store has a current store pick of it or not, but if they do it will be worth the hunt. These are bottled at barrel proof, which means they will be at the proof that the barrel was at time of bottling without any extra water added after aging. Many of these offerings are creamy, chocolate and caramel forward. Since these are single barrels though, each barrel will be different from the next, but that is what makes things fun.
After Dinner/Dessert– Dinner is over, your food is digesting and that means it is time for dessert. Whether you are eating pumpkin pie or any of your Thanksgiving favorites, we have a couple of good bourbons that will be good on their own as dessert or pair with your last course. By this time you will be full of the delicious food you have smelled all day, so here is where bourbon comes in at being a great drink to settle down with for the rest of the evening because it won’t be extra filling or make you feel bloated like wine or beer. With these finishing bourbons you will be sure to be able to kick back and enjoy the rest of the evening with your company before they all leave or even enjoy some of the Thanksgiving football games. With these high proof bourbon suggestions, make sure you are settled in where you will be spending the night.
Option 1: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof– Jack Daniel’s makes its second appearance on today’s list, once again as a single barrel but this time as the regular Tennessee whiskey and at barrel proof. One note in particular that Jack Daniel’s is known for is a banana note. Although single barrel and every barrel can vary, many times this barrel proof offering has notes of banana pudding. It is a liquid dessert that is full of flavor at its high proof. You can find this as just single barrel offerings from the distillery on store shelves or as a store or group single barrel pick. Either way, you will be in for a treat. The proof of these single barrels range, but are usually always high proof. Put it over some ice or add a little water if needed.
Option 2: Booker’s– There are several releases a year of Booker’s and each vary slightly in their own way, but there is no particular batch that we are recommending because simply you cannot go wrong with any of them. Booker’s is a Jim Beam product, the second on today’s list, bottled at barrel proof. What makes this bottle dessert worthy on our Thanksgiving list is the creamy peanut butter nose and the taste of roasted shelled peanuts on the palate. This is a peanut butter lover’s dream. Step up this offering by pairing it with some of your favorite dark chocolate as you sip for the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cup dessert.
No matter what type of food you may have on your plate this Thanksgiving, one thing for sure is that if you follow this list you are bound to have great bourbon in your glass. Always remember to enjoy responsibly. Happy Thanksgiving from Sipping History!