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Need some bourbon inspiration for Derby Day? Check out these new bourbon batches
For about two minutes on Saturday, the whole country’s attention will be focused on Churchill Downs. But the Kentucky Derby is more than a horse race: It’s an opportunity to don your most impressive hat and fix a delicious mint julep. And to ensure your cocktail is a sure thing, pick up one of these new bourbons.
FOUR ROSES 2013 SINGLE BARREL BOURBON ($99):
Keep an eye out for this year’s Four Roses Single Barrel. There are nearly 4,000 bottles of the special 13-year-old whiskey on store shelves around the U.S. It has notes of baking spices and vanilla, and opens up with a bit of water.
JEFFERSON’S PRESIDENTIAL SELECT 21-YEAR-OLD BOURBON ($120):
Watch the Derby in grand fashion by imbibing a super-deluxe mint julep made using this 21-year-old from Jefferson’s. And if you feel odd mixing such a mature spirit, sip it straight or with a splash of H20. Either way, you’ll like this rich dram.
RUSSELL’S RESERVE SINGLE BARREL BOURBON ($50):
The latest addition to the Wild Turkey lineup is Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (pictured above). The 110-proof, non-chill-filtered whiskey was selected by father and son distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell. It has hints of sweet marzipan and orange on the palate.
MICHTER’S ORIGINAL SOUR MASH WHISKEY ($44):
While Michter’s Original Sour Mash isn’t technically a bourbon (there’s too much rye and not enough corn in the mash bill), we still recommend enjoying it during the Derby. The liquor was just re-released but was for decades the distillery’s best-seller before it was discontinued in 1989.
ELIJAH CRAIG BARREL PROOF SMALL BATCH BOURBON ($40):
You should be able to now find the limited-edition Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Small Batch Bourbon in major markets across America. It was aged for 12 years in American oak casks and is a potent 134.2-proof, which makes it ideal for cocktails.
This story was originally published at Winner's-Circle Whiskies:2013. For more stories like this join Liquor.com and drink better. Plus, for a limited time get How to Cocktail in 2013, a cocktail recipe book — free! Join now.
A New Round of Whiskey
After falling out of favor, bourbon, rye and other browns are back in vogue.
"Whiskey for them as like it, and for them as don&apost--whiskey," ordered Alec Guinness, playing an officer of a Scottish regiment in the 1960 English movie Tunes of Glory. Anyone issuing a similar mandate a decade or so ago would have been faced with some decidedly disgruntled drinkers. Today, however, the command is likely to receive a unanimous cheer. Whiskey is back.
Most Americans lost their taste for full-flavored spirits during Prohibition in those days it was far easier to procure homemade gin or white rum from the Caribbean than it was to get a bottle of aged bourbon or scotch. Then came World War II, with a dearth of good, aged whiskeys, and after that the Fifties, when martinis were anything but teeny and sales of "browns" (scotch, bourbon and rye) plummeted. But now, thanks to the single-malt scotch craze that erupted in the Eighties and the infatuation of baby boomers and Generation Xers with anything and everything stylish and sophisticated--which whiskey most assuredly is--brown is beautiful once again. Here we offer our take on some of the best news in brown. (Note that whiskey can be spelled two ways.While most American and Irish producers prefer whiskey, Scottish and Canadian makers drop the e. We have followed suit.)
Single-malt whiskies--pure unadulterated spirits made the old-fashioned way--represent the very finest from Scotland. Produced from a mash containing only malted barley, single malts run the gamut of flavors. Some are sweet, soft and honeyed others are tough and hearty, redolent of the peaty, briny land in which they are made and aged.
One of our favorite new single malts is the wildly expensive 40-year-old Bowmore ($7,000 a bottle!) another is the (comparatively cheap) Balvenie Vintage Cask 1966 ($350). Both of these sterling single malts have been aged far longer than the usual 10 to 20 years, and as a result they offer a totally different and far more complex taste. (They also may be hard to find, as are some of the whiskeys that follow.) Three more bottlings of note are the 12-year-old Glenmorangie, which now comes aged in sherry, port or Madeira casks ($45) the 21-year-old Balvenie Portwood ($60), which hit the market late last year and the recently available 15-year-old version of the eastern Highlands malt Glendronach ($43), which is matured in sherry butts and is by far the best whisky produced by Glendronach.
It&aposs a mistake to think, as many people do, that single malts are the only scotches worth drinking. Blends, which are made by marrying aged single malts to aged grain-neutral spirits, can be incredibly good whiskies. In fact, some high-end blends are as worthy of savoring neat as any single malt.
The latest bottling of blended scotch that we&aposve enjoyed sipping is the 18-year-old Chivas Regal ($70), a world-class whisky by any standard. The 18-year-old Johnnie Walker Gold Label ($60), which contains more than a few drops of Clynelish single malt, one of our all-time favorite malts, is in the same league. We also recommend two 12-year-old bottlings: the White Horse ($25), which is made from Lagavulin, a highly peated single malt, and the Famous Grouse Gold Reserve ($23), a wonderfully balanced but slightly softer dram that&aposs ideal for serving neat.
Though bourbon, a whiskey made primarily from corn, had its origins in America&aposs backwoods, today it&aposs more likely to be found at cigar bars and steak houses. And the bourbons served in those swank settings are correspondingly more sophisticated than the simple sour mashes of the old days. (Sour mash refers to the practice of using a portion of previously fermented grain in the distillation process.) Two new-style bourbons we&aposre particularly impressed with are the 13-year-old Old Charter Proprietor&aposs Reserve ($34), one of the world&aposs most complex whiskeys, and Jim Beam Black ($13), a seven-year-old that&aposs similarly complex but far more affordable.
Straight rye whiskey, which must contain at least 51 percent rye grain, is actually fairly difficult to find. In fact, what many people call rye is often Canadian whisky. The confusion probably developed in the early post-Prohibition years, when Canadian whisky makers were flooding the American market with their spirits, which were then made with a large percentage of rye. (Today Canadian whisky is more frequently distilled from corn than from rye.) Wild Turkey Straight Rye ($17) is undoubtedly the best-known rye, but we find two new bottlings equally engaging: the 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Straight Rye ($25) and the 12-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye ($20).
The primary difference between Irish whiskey and its Celtic cousin, scotch, is that the Scots introduce peat into their spirits, making for smokier drams than the more honeyed whiskeys of Ireland. Also, while scotch is almost always distilled twice, Irish whiskey is traditionally distilled three times, giving it a somewhat cleaner taste.
The distillery that seems most committed to bringing Irish whiskey into the 21st century is Bushmills: witness its new 16-year-old Three Wood Single Irish Malt ($55). Aged in used bourbon, sherry and port casks, this is an extremely complex dram suitable for armchair sipping. Other Irish whiskeys of note include the Midleton Very Rare 1974 ($120), an exceedingly smooth if somewhat expensive bottling, and the 12-year-old Jameson&aposs 1780 ($28), whose considerable character warrants lengthy contemplation.
The Canadians have been a little slow off the mark with new bottlings, and although we know that some top-notch ones will become available next year, the distillers are keeping very quiet about what will actually hit the shelves. One offering that we were able to sample comes from Seagram, whose VO label has long been considered the classic Canadian whisky. Its new eight-year-old bottling, VO Gold ($15), has a honeyed nose and a nice if simple balance of grainy sweetness and delicate spice on the palate.
GARY REGAN and MARDEE HAIDIN REGAN&aposs latest book, The Bourbon Companion, will be published later this year.
8 Bourbons to Taste for National Bourbon Day 2019
To us at BourbonBlog.com, every day is National Bourbon Day. We’re always on the hunt to find Bourbons to tell you about, distilleries to visit, and events to host to share the Bourbon with you.
I’ve created a list of a few Bourbons we’ve been sipping lately at BourbonBlog Headquarters. There are way more than this that we enjoy. You can call these
I predict you will no doubt say, “Why don’t I see my favorite Bourbon on this list?” Quite simply, our goal is to introduce you to a few new ones and hopefully.
I’m often asked, “What do you look for in a Bourbon?”
For me, the ability to return to a whiskey and always experience something new is one of the most important elements to me. Of course, I will enjoy older Bourbons that show serious aging profiles. Who would turn down a Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 year, right? At the same time, younger and experimental Bourbons will catch my interest. If it can be this pleasing as a 4-year-old, what might it turn into? Or if you can a wine barrel cask and make that whiskey speak a new language but still hear it’s “Bourbon accent,” then you are an artist.
This is only part of my answer. Let’s get to sipping. Happy National Bourbon Day from all of us at BourbonBlog.com.
Enjoy the list below and let us know where YOU want to see us on our Why Whiskey educational tour by sending an email to [email protected]
One of our greatest pleasures is hosting tastings for events large and small. We’d love to pour some for you.
Whiskey Journalist, Educator, and Founder of BourbonBlog.com
Can you say you’ve ever put anything in your mouth that has seen the whole world? Now you can.
Jefferson’s Ocean starts the first part of its life in aging in a Kentucky rickhouse. For the rest, it ages on a ship that sees over 60 ports of call and crosses the equator around a half a dozen times.
There is nothing else I’ve ever tasted like this. Yes, the iodine and subtle lacing of salt are both definitely there. No, it isn’t just my imagination.
To pin down exact notes of this often is so subjective. I’ve heard everything from a rare Japanese sausage (of which I don’t even know the name) to crème brûlée.
The current voyage for the standard Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea is 17. The most recent “Cask Strength” Ocean was 18. There will be another Wheated Jefferson’s Ocean coming soon which will be Voyage 19.
More details to come on that.
Savage & Cooke Burning Chair Bourbon
From winemaker Dave Phinney’s distiller in California, this Bourbon starts as a minimum of 4-years-olds from Kentucky. It finishes for several months used Dave’s Napa Valley Cabernet projects.
In a class all its own compared with other wine-barrel aged Bourbons I’ve tasted. The Bourbon is elevated and given room to speak its complex language of fine whiskey through the delicate hints of red wine.
A powerful yet elegant burst of milk chocolate, coconut meringue pie, complemented by the rich barrel.
Perfect for sipping by itself or in a cocktail, the touches of wine barre amplify a Manhattan, Old-Fashioned or your favorite libation.
Kings County Peated Bourbon – Brooklyn, NY
As explained by the distillery, this Bourbon, “conforms to the American requirements for bourbon but is made with malted barley that has been exposed to peat smoke, a practice more common in Scotch whiskies—the malt we use for the peated bourbon was even grown and kilned in Scotland.”
This “best of both worlds” takes the palette on a journey to help us celebrate Scotch drinkers who come to find American whiskey.
At the same time, there is a smokey, dark and creamy chocolate element complemented by salted caramels. I’m a big fan of all the whiskeys that Kings County.
Gunfighter American Bourbon Whiskey, Double Cask – Golden Moon Distillery
This Double-Cask Bourbon whiskey is aged for a minimum six months in new American Oak Barrels and then finished in used French Port Barrels.
Distillery founder Stephen Gould is a master of flavor and has elevated this young Bourbon to a place you wouldn’t believe. Perfect by itself or in a cocktail. The finish on it almost makes it a “cocktail in a bottle.”
From pastry notes and baking spices to freshly baked blueberry muffins, this Bourbon can be appreciated by enthusiasts and Bourbon “newbies” alike.
With a price point of only around $35, it is an exceptional treat.
Rabbit Hole Bourbon Whiskey
At only a little over 2 years old, this Bourbon both tastes older and goes places in the palate that no young Bourbon I’ve ever had can quite go.
The lively vanillas are there along with a beautiful expression of the barrel. Caramel gelato with drizzles of honey against spicey dark chocolate.
A unique diffusion of flavors which will help refine “Kentucky Bourbon.”
Double Star Bourbon Cream Liqueur -Southern Distilling Company,
Move over Bailey’s. We’ll always love you, but there is a new breed of Bourbon creams made with American whiskey.
This one is by far the most interesting and flavorful I’ve tasted. With chocolate, coffee, Bourbon and a serious cream, there is nothing like this on the market.
Breckenridge PX Sherry Cask Finish Bourbon Whiskey
We’ve been following the story of Breckenridge Bourbon since their beginning. With a portfolio of award-winning and delicious whiskeys, I am choosing the PX Sherry Cask among my favorites.
The Pedro Ximénez Sherry is deep throughout this Bourbon. Beautifully balanced, the signature flavor of Breckenridge Bourbon is still there.
This is one of my favorite whiskeys to pair with a cigar.
Sonoma Bourbon Whiskey – Sonoma County Distilling Co, California
Founder Adam Spiegel and his team have been doing it right since they started in 2010.
While there are flavors reminiscent of Kentucky Bourbons on the palate, Sonoma Count Distilling Co. takes a California approach to this to showcase finesse and elegance on this whiskey.
Buttery and complex with a lovely expression of grain, barrel and light notes of tobacco.
10 Bourbons to Add to Your Liquor Cabinet
What’s not to love about the quintessential American whiskey? Bourbon is an enduring favorite, a spirit that survived the years of Prohibition survived the decades when most drinkers opted for Cosmos and Cuervo over classic whiskey and has recently exploded in popularity, to such an extent that many distillers can’t keep up with the demand. We all associate bourbon with Kentucky, but it’s a common misconception that all bourbon is from Kentucky. Not so. While there are many requirements for true bourbon—like that it must be made from at least 50 percent corn, and aged in charred new American oak barrels—it can be made anywhere in America. All bourbons share a certain character, the comforting scent of vanilla and caramel and wood, the pleasant heft of an aged spirit. But moving beyond that, they’re all over the map: some are distinctly sweet, others have a bit of spice some are so smooth they drink like a cocktail, others so powerful they’ll send a shiver down your spine. While there are dozens of bourbons we could recommend, here are 10 to know and to drink—from low-end to high, well-known to a little less so.
Four Roses Small Batch Select Review
Four Roses Small Batch Select
|Four Roses Small Batch Select||Details|
|In the Bottle||104 proof|
|Mashbill||Mashbill B - 60% Corn, 35% Rye, & 5% Malted Barley |
Mashbill E - 75% Corn, 20% Rye, & 5% Malted Barley
|Yeast Strain||OBSV - Delicate Fruit and Rye |
OBSK - Rye and Baking Spice
OBSF - Delicate Rye and Mint
OESV - Delicate Fruit and Caramel
OESK - Baking Spice
OESF - Herbs and Mint
|Age||Minimum of 6YO|
|Style||Non-Chill Filtered Small Batch|
|Pros||Great Value for Price and Drinking Experience|
|Cons||No Glaring Flaws|
|Availability||Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin|
|Rating||Silver 92 out of 100 Points|
I&rsquom a huge Four Roses fan. I&rsquom one of those guys who&rsquos hunting all 10 recipes. For those who don&rsquot know Four Roses has two mash bills and five yeast strains to make 10 available recipes. They mature their bourbon in single-story warehouses so there&rsquos more consistent maturation but they add the variety of flavors many distilleries get from higher warehouses with the 10 recipes.
Their standard Small Batch is a blended whiskey (containing four of the B recipes OBSK, OESK, OBSO, and OESO), their single barrels are OBSV, and their bottom shelf yellow label is a blend of all 10 recipes. You won&rsquot see the five E recipes or the four other B recipes on their own unless you keep your eyes open for store pick single barrels.
That&rsquos part of what makes this release special. This small batch blends three of the B recipes and three of the E recipes (OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK, and OESF). What&rsquos even more exciting is this release is over 100 proof and unfiltered (non-chill filtered) bourbon. Now I&rsquom not an NCF snob, but it&rsquos a smart move for a line expansion that&rsquos high proof to appeal to a broader audience.
Nose &ndash 91 out of 100 Points
Sweet cherries, candied apple, and floral spice. Buttered pie crust.
Taste &ndash 92 out of 100 Points
Sweet vanilla pop on tip of the tongue. Signature Four Roses Single barrel spice on side of the palate with hints of tart apple and caramel. Toasted cinnamon and oak warms the mouth. Long and oily
Finish &ndash 91 out of 100 Points
Medium finish with cinnamon, oak, & dark chocolate.
Complexity &ndash 92 out of 100 Points
This bourbon is only 104 proof with complex and easily definable flavors without palate fatigue or burnout. Brent Elliott, Four Roses Master Distiller, described their objective:
&ldquoWe wanted to add something to our lineup that brings that pure experience you get with a non-chill filtered Bourbon, while also showcasing some of our recipes and flavors that aren&rsquot as forward-facing in our other existing bottles. While Small Batch Select can certainly be one of your special occasion Bourbons, we want it to be more accessible so you don&rsquot hesitate to open up that bottle and enjoy it any time.&rdquo
With that stated objective, I would say this new bourbon is a major success. It&rsquos a bourbon I&rsquom always keeping stocked. If you&rsquore already a fan of Four Roses, it&rsquos a must-buy.
Value &ndash 94 out of 100 Points
I&rsquoll jump the gun and say this (hold onto your butts): in my opinion, this is one of the best values for over 100 proof bourbons when considering availability, price, and flavor. Now hear me: I&rsquom not saying it&rsquos the best over 100 proof I&rsquove ever had &mdash but again availability and price considered.
National Bourbon Heritage Month
Of all the “National _______________ Days” that seem to come daily on our social feeds, this one is unique because it wasn’t created in a marketing department or PR office, but by congress. That’s right, the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month back in 2007, a “month to celebrate America’s Native Spirit,” the official title also given by congress back in the 60’s.
Clearly, the best way to celebrate bourbon is by drinking bourbon, but first, it’d be wise to learn all we can about it so that we can find bourbons we like. I’ve been talking about it a little bit on the podcast, but the new book by Fred Minnick, Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker is deeply interesting and unmistakably helpful.
Covering many details of bourbon making and history (did you know Tabasco sauce is aged in bourbon barrels?), Minnick leads us into the final 1/3 of his book: a highly-valuable tasting guide. Categorizing bourbon flavor profiles into 4 groups, grain-forward, nutmeg-forward, caramel-forward and cinnamon-forward, I realized quickly that the bourbons I’ve loved the most were in the cinnamon category.
…..then I realized that Simple Cocktails had previously missed an entire brand of cinnamon-forward bourbons. I’m not exactly sure why, but I has thought Four Roses was an expensive, exclusive bourbon, so I figured it’d be hard to cover here, but after reading Bourbon Curious, I noted that Four Roses is one of the oldest, most respectable bourbon brands in the flavor category I love the most, and I had to grab some immediately. Continue reading &rarr
RASPBERRY BOURBON SMASH
Have you been looking for new summer bourbon cocktails to make at home? This raspberry bourbon smash recipe is just what you need!
This style of drink is called a smash for a reason: by muddling the fruit and herbs it helps to extract the oils and juices to really infuse the flavors into your cocktail. This bourbon smash recipe is made with fresh raspberries, mint, and lemon, creating a light and refreshing cocktail that is perfect for a warm summer evening.
TELL ME ABOUT MAKING THIS BOURBON SMASH RECIPE
Level of difficulty: Easy. Minimal cutting required for the lemon, then all you need to do is muddle, shake, strain, and enjoy
Flavor: The raspberry, mint, and lemon all shine through in this drink, making this one of the best summer bourbon cocktails!
Time: It will take you approximately 5 minutes to mix up your raspberry bourbon smash
KEY INGREDIENTS FOR THIS RASPBERRY BOURBON SMASH RECIPE
Fresh Raspberries: the star of this whiskey smash recipe, raspberries add a wonderful sweetness to this drink as the juices infuse into the cocktail
Fresh Mint: fresh mint adds something really special to this bourbon mixed drink
Lemon: fresh lemon adds brightness and a little zing
Simple Syrup: a little bit of sweetness is added to create a smoother drink
Bourbon: use your favorite bourbon whiskey for this raspberry bourbon smash recipe
Club Soda: just enough to top your drink (1-2oz) and add a few bubbles
OVERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE A RASPBERRY BOURBON SMASH
Place raspberries, mint leaves, and lemon wedges in a shaker.
Add simple syrup, bourbon, and ice to the shaker and shake vigorously, until the outside of the shaker is very cold (approximately 15 seconds).
Strain the contents of the shaker into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and optionally garnish your glass with additional mint, raspberries, and/or lemon wedges.
FAQS ABOUT MAKING AN AWESOME BOURBON SMASH
What is the best bourbon to use for this bourbon mixed drink? Since there are minimal ingredients in this cocktail, using a high-quality bourbon is important when making a raspberry bourbon smash. Three of my favorites are J.Henry & Sons, Makers Mark Cask Strength, and Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. But the best bourbon for this summer bourbon drink recipe is a bourbon that you enjoy!
I don’t have bourbon. Can I substitute something else? In a pinch, most whiskeys will serve as a good substitute. The name ‘bourbon’ is short for ‘Bourbon whiskey’, and there are many other types of whisky too. I would recommend a smoother style of whiskey, like an Irish Whiskey or Blended Whiskey.
What other sweeteners could I use in this bourbon mixed drink? If you do not have a simple syrup prepared, you still have several options! You can use granulated sugar (start with ½-1 Tablespoon). You could also use a natural sweetener, like agave syrup or honey (start with 1 tsp and add more as desired) to create a refined sugar free cocktail.
You Deserve Your Bourbon
Custom bourbon enables personalized flavors.
Everyone tastes whiskey flavors differently according to their pallet. Custom bourbon enables everyone to create bourbon recipes that are aligned with their tastes. We make this possible by blending these bourbon recipes with patent-pending measuring ladles that guarantee that measurements are the same from 5ml taste sizes to 750ml bottles. You will consistently be able to order your personal whiskey recipe!
For the first time, you will create your bourbon recipe!
Custom bourbons are among the highest rated bourbons from the 2020 Ultimate Spirits Challenge and the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competiton.
Top 8 Best Bourbons of 2018
Here are the bourbons that made our final list. Each of these is an outstanding drink in its own right, so they're not listed in any particular order.
Four Roses 2017 Small Batch Limited Edition Al Young's 50th Anniversary
12 to 23 years
Willett Family Estate 5 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B517 - Lot B
Varies by Release
12 Years Old
Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades
10 to 20 years
Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year-Old Bourbon
Maker's Mark Bill Samuels Private Select
Henry McKenna Single Barrel
10 Years Old
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
Four Roses 2017 Small Batch Limited Edition Al Young's 50th Anniversary
That's a long name, even as alcoholic drinks go - but at least it's easy to find the exact bottle you're looking for! Four Roses is a Kentucky distillery that's been operating since 1888 - before Prohibition. The company's had ups and downs since then, but it's continued to release some of the best bourbons on the market thanks to more than a century of institutional experience.
This particular bottle was created to honor one of their distillery managers. Each bottle contains a blend of several of the company's recipes, aged anywhere from 12 to 23 years. The limited release sold out fairly quickly, but you may be able to find a bottle at your local bar or tavern - and that's the best place to get a sip.
Willett Family Estate 5 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
When is a bourbon more like a bottle of wine? When you bottle it that way, of course. This release from the Willett Family Estate genuinely looks like it belongs in a wine cellar, but make no mistake it's pure bourbon all the way through.
At just five years old when bottled, it hasn't aged nearly as much as many of the other options on this list. The 5 Year Single Barrel is a particularly floral drink, featuring a strong taste of honey blossom and fig. The oak influence is relatively mild, too, ensuring the flavor of the barrel doesn't overpower the rest of this bottle.
This drink is quite hard to find. However, the distiller does plan to ramp up production in the future - so if you can't find a 2017 bottle, go ahead and keep an eye out over the next few years (and consider having a bottle shipped to you by the professionals).
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B517 - Lot B
Surprisingly, there's not much of a name to this product - just the identification number. That said, Batch B517 is easily one of the best drinks they've put out in recent years. The smell features whiskey staples like caramel, toffee, oak, and spices - as well as orange, red berry, and grapes. It's quite enjoyable just holding it near your nose, but the taste is what really matters.
Expect to notice brown sugar, tobacco, caramel, oak, and orange zest flavoring the drink. Despite the quality of this drink, the distillery - Heaven Hill - made enough of this to sell it at a comfortable mass-market price of $60. Even if you have a hard time finding some of the other bottles on this list, it should be easy to find this on the shelves.
Just make sure to avoid confusing this with other batch numbers. Batch C917 is particularly notable and an excellent drink in its own right - but it's always a little embarrassing to buy the wrong bottle, regardless of its quality. We only needed to make that mistake once.
Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades
Now that's a suggestive name - but don't worry, it doesn't taste like turkey. Rather, the Wild Turkey Distillery has been putting out drinks for more than 75 years, and in that time they've released quite a lot of high-quality products.
This particular release mixes bourbons of 10 to 20 years, representing some of the best drinks ever created by Master Distiller Eddie Russell. As a blended drink, it doesn't have the same distinct flavors as single-batch bourbons - instead, it focuses on mixing the character of aged bourbon with the vibrancy of younger barrels.
The release of this product can be a little irregular - the distiller's personal preference affects things - so get it while you can if you want to try it.
Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year-Old Bourbon
This is the bottle you're least likely to find on the market - and even if you do, expect to pay a significant premium for a single bottle. Only 710 bottles were ever produced, and they mark the oldest drinks from the distillery. The box it's contained in is made with oak from the 11 barrels of the batch, a nice touch that helps to commemorate them.
Incidentally, while this particular drink will be hard to find, you may be able to get a similar product at a charity auction. Some of Old Rip Van Winkle's best and most limited drinks are only released for charity purposes, so they're a great way to support a good cause while simultaneously enjoying a drink.
Maker's Mark Bill Samuels Private Select
The Maker's 46 whiskey has become popular in recent years, but the Private Select has remained less noticed - and that's good for you because it's a much better drink. The Private Select is almost identical to the 46, but they decided to bottle it at cask strength. That results in a drink around 112 proof, which is significantly higher than most bourbons.
It's enough of a difference that you may need to change the way you drink to enjoy it properly. Unlike already-distilled bourbon, most experts suggest drinking a cask strength product with something like a large cube of ice.
As it melts throughout the evening, you'll be able to enjoy this bourbon at different strengths. If you're especially gutsy, you can distill it yourself in various ratios to try them individually. Just remember to use small glasses for these - the high ABV adds up quick.
Henry McKenna Single Barrel
This is another high-proof bourbon - and the second entry on our list from Heaven Hill Distillery. That's not as surprising as it may sound at first because they're one of the largest suppliers of alcohol in the entire country. You don't get to be popular by selling bad drinks!
This Bottled-in-Bond bourbon is made following the regulations of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. If you're not familiar with the term, it means that a drink has to be made in one distillation season, aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years, and bottled at 100 proof. In effect, bottled-in-bond drinks have a proof of quality that smaller distilleries (who tend to be vague about their process) can't match.
The Henry McKenna offers a smooth oak taste with honey, sweetness, and sharp spices to give it some personality. It's particularly good in a 1:2 ratio of bourbon to chilled mineral water stirred into a cup of ice. 100 proof is a little high for casual drinking or sipping, so this is a bourbon that works best in a cocktail or watered-down drink.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
This drink from Woodford Reserve is one of the most complex bourbons we've ever seen - and we love experiencing the complexity of flavors a good drink offers. As the name suggests, this drink is created by maturing it in two barrels (each charred in different ways) to create a more robust profile. You can't get anything similar with the standard one-barrel process.
The flavor starts with the corn, malt, and rye used for bourbons, then moves on to the oak, hazelnut, almond, and pecan flavors imparted by the wood. Meanwhile, the apple, pear, orange, cherry, and cognac provide a pleasant fruity aroma, supported by a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. To round it out, this drink uses chocolate, honey, marzipan, brown sugar, butterscotch, maple syrup, caramel, and vanilla for its aromatics.
If you've never tried a double oaked bourbon before, now's a great time to experience it. Woodford Reserve sells this drink online through its Reserve Bar, though you may be limited to the current year's batch. The 2017 is the one we reviewed, but anything more recent should be fine. You might find a new favorite process - and the competitive price (around $60) means you won't have to break the bank.
The Best Bourbons of 2020
The year isn’t over yet, there are some great bourbons on the market, and in contention for best bourbon of the year. The first bourbon season of 2020 has offered some incredible frontrunners, from the likes of Heaven Hill, Angel’s Envy, and Bulleit.
The 50 Best Whiskeys in the World
The seasonality of bourbon releases actually has some legal heritage. Bourbon releases tend to have two peak seasons throughout the year, one in spring and one in the late fall. These coincide with the two official seasons of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, which established some of the first quality controls for the American whiskey industry. Most whiskeys don’t meet the bottled-in-bond requirements these days, as new blending and labeling conventions have taken over, but the release calendars nevertheless haven’t deviated much in the last 120 years.
Best Bourbons Under $50
What this means for you is that there are a lot of great bottles out right now, worth scooping up before they’re all gone. Here are our picks for the best new bourbons you can (and should) grab.