My first taste of straight Kentucky bourbon was quite likely experienced before I had any memories, as my grandmother, (we called her Nana, pronounced “nah-nah” with a short a vowel sound) firmly believed in the medicinal abilities of “corn whiskey” to sooth a colicky baby, and ease the pain of teething. After raising seven of her own during the depression, and praying all four of her sons home from active war-time duty ranging in age from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, her daughter in-laws dared not protest when their mother in law dipped a pacifier in her toddy, or rubbed sore infant gums with a finger coated with Old Crow. If nothing else, grand babies slept well at her house.
Bourbon has always been a staple of southern culture, and my daddy was a true southern gentleman, who enjoyed his whiskey on the rocks, with a splash of water right from the tap. His version of bourbon and branch. One of my earliest, and favorite memories is of me sitting on daddy’s lap, watching the evening news (this is how I came to learn every swear word I know. Daddy was very vocal while watching Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather) while he sipped his evening “toddy”. I loved the smell of his bourbon, and the taste, as I would snuggle close and sneak a sip when he got distracted. Throughout my childhood, bourbon was also the main ingredient for soothing a sore throat, mixed with honey, lemon, and hot water, the proverbial Hot Toddy is a tried and true home remedy. As I got older, and adolescence progressed into early adulthood, during my teen, and even as a very grown woman, a slug of whiskey helped take the edge off monthly menstrual cramps.
During prohibition, six distillers were allowed to produce government controlled amounts of “medicinal” liquor, that required a prescription allotting each recipient a pint every ten days. Since the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was pretty much negated by Prohibition, these medicinal whiskies technically did not have to meet the act’s requirements. Now, Prohibition is long past, and pharmaceutical companies combined with modern medicine have eradicated the use of medicinal libations, but if you find yourself feeling a tad “peaked”, and nothing helps, allow me to suggest a few of my favorite restoratives.
Luckily, no prescription is required, and unlike many pharmaceuticals, a bottle of premium bourbon won’t break the bank. As a matter of fact every brand mentioned in this post is priced well under $50. So, I’ll start with the most economical, and one of my favorites because it’s just as smooth, well aged, and delicious as much higher priced whiskies. Four Roses, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Four Roses Small Batch, all three individually unique, yet each one well below $40 a bottle. Alone neat, on the rocks, or with a mixer, you can’t go wrong with this bourbon. In the same price range is my next pick, Buffalo Trace. I prefer this one for mixing in cocktails, especially with ginger ale, or in an Old Fashioned. Next up, my “go to” Maker’s Mark, and Maker’s 46, both affordable, yet each have their own distinctive flavor. When life has me feeling all peely-wally, I find that Maker’s on the rocks with a splash of Cointreau brightens up my outlook considerably. Another exceptional choice, Elijah Craig 12 yr is easy on the finances, offering a hint of spice that blends nicely with a sweet, creamy finish. I highly recommend giving any one of these a try.
I haven’t even come close to covering all the amazing, affordable, Bourbons available, and we all know medicating with alcohol should never take the place of real health care, but there are those days when enjoying a really great sipping whiskey makes everything better. When it comes to curing what ails you, sometimes nothing is more soothing to the spirit than…well spirits, as in Straight Kentucky Bourbon, or good ol Sour Mash.
Drink responsibly, designate a driver, don’t drink and drive.
Nancy McGehee Guillory