So, just for kicks, Grace and I decided to taste a sample-size bottle of an American-made bourbon, Maker's Mark, and see how it struck us after all these lovely single malt scotch whiskies. Bourbon is an American whisky made from corn instead of barley, and by law all bourbon that is labeled as such must come from Kentucky. And yes, they spell it "whisky," instead of the more common American spelling "whiskey."
In the glass, Maker's Mark is a pale caramel color, with long legs. On the nose, the first impression is a pungent alcohol burn, almost like moonshine or slivovitz ; this isn't a terribly smooth drink, despite their claims. The main flavor note is vanilla, although there is a little bit of a floral note -- maybe rose or carnation. Grace says "light Karo syrup." There's some oak, a little bit of char like burnt toast, and a bit of a licorice-like anise flavor. The finish is long and a little bit sour-tasting.
If you add a bit of water, the burn smooths out and the flavor opens up -- there is some apple and pear in evidence, although the flavor never gets complex.
Grace and I only give this a five on our ten-point scale. With water, it deserves a six. It would make a good mixer, and I wouldn't turn it down over ice and certainly not in certain mixed drinks, but there are much better things to savor after dinner.