While I don't understand why someone serious about bourbon would stop at the Jim Beam or Wild Turkey distilleries, Jason Wilson's piece on bourbon is pretty good and worth reading.
I thought this bit especially interesting
That's not to say anyone needs to understand esoterica to enjoy bourbon, easily the most accessible and affordable premium spirit in the liquor store. It always surprises me that mixologists or other spirits "educators" so often steer newcomers directly toward Scotch or Irish whiskey or, these days, to trendy ryes. Often the newbies' only experience has been with white spirits, such as flavored vodkas, or with bad cocktails. I've seen it happen many times: The newbie takes one sip of smoky Scotch or spicy rye and doesn't take a second.
Bourbon, on the other hand, is too often dismissed by misguided whiskey snobs as "sweet," which has become the euphemism in food and drink circles for "less sophisticated." This is a shame.
Why would someone steer a newcomer toward scotch? That's a very difficult drink and in my view, unpleasant. I like a good Irish whiskey and I'm glad to see rye come back into fashion. But for my money, there's no better whiskey than a good bourbon. That snobs have decided that bourbon is uncool for the time being because of its sweetness is indeed a shame--if it is a bad thing to enjoy the taste of my drink, I guess I'm just unsophisticated. I know those newbies having a scotch thrust upon them probably would have enjoyed something else and now they probably won't come back to good whiskey for a long time.