Seeking Exceptional Bourbons

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The title pretty much says it all...

I have been playing with Whiskeys and Bourbons for a while now (yes, I know all bourbons are whiskeys) and I have come to the conclusion that I really like the sweetness corn brings to the table. I have also concluded I really don't like peaty whiskeys.

I am looking for 2 things I am hoping some of you can help with.

1. I am retiring at the end of this year and would like to buy 1 exceptional bottle of Bourbon for that event. Price is not much of a factor.
2. I am also looking excellent Bourbons to stock for regular consumption and price plays no role as I know some bourbons are reasonably priced but are exceptionally fine. I would like to narrow down the field by using your experiences so I don't end up with a bunch of mistakes in the cabinet.

Help a brother out with some suggestions?
 
Jan 30, 2020
1,996
6,572
New Jersey
Granted I have never small batch hunted like some people but bourbon is my favorite tasting drink so I like to try random, regularly available brands.

Makers 46 is my favorite by a mile. I have gone through a good part of their catalog….regular, cask strength, winter release, store specific stave combinations but 46 is just perfect to me.

There’s a distillery a few miles down the road from me that makes small batches and while good, still didn’t compare for what I like to 46.

That’s my #1 and I always have a bottle around.
 
Wait, you drink and smoke, but yet you are moving to Utah? I don't think you'll like it there. Is someone forcing you to move there, or is this some sort of sentence you are having to serve?
I am moving to St. George. It's worse: I grew up Mormon, even went on a mission for 2 years.. :) I Already have the house and I love it there! puffy It gets hot in the summer so I have a place in Jackson Wyo. I am negotiating on as we speak for the summers. I hate snow but LOVE Fly fishing....
 
I am moving to St. George. It's worse: I grew up Mormon, even went on a mission for 2 years.. :) I Already have the house and I love it there! puffy It gets hot in the summer so I have a place in Jackson Wyo. I am negotiating on as we speak for the summers. I hate snow but LOVE Fly fishing....
St. George, Florida? Nevermind, there is a St George Utah also. sorry, was thinking you were nearer to me than thought.
 
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Granted I have never small batch hunted like some people but bourbon is my favorite tasting drink so I like to try random, regularly available brands.

Makers 46 is my favorite by a mile. I have gone through a good part of their catalog….regular, cask strength, winter release, store specific stave combinations but 46 is just perfect to me.

There’s a distillery a few miles down the road from me that makes small batches and while good, still didn’t compare for what I like to 46.

That’s my #1 and I always have a bottle around.
I put this one on my list to pick up.
 
Dec 3, 2021
5,164
44,081
Pennsylvania & New York
One of the best bargains in bourbons are the Cask Strength Four Roses; they're incredibly refined and complex, and there are ten different mash bills with different flavour profiles. They run about 90 dollars where I am. Some of the recent Stagg Jr. releases have been exceptional and around the same price or less depending on where you are. I love George T. Stagg, but, prices are prohibitive; they're supposed to be around 80 to 100, but are selling for 10x that. Knob Creek 12 Year is very tasty.
 
Anybody tried Pappys?
My wine club had a tasting of Irish whiskies, and Pappys was there. I am by no means an expert on whisky, but Pappys was more rough than some of the others, like Slate and Sexton. But, it wasn't as watery as Bushmills. That's it, the extent of my whisky knowledge, ha ha. And, I don't even know what the hell peat is.
 

LotusEater

Lifer
Apr 16, 2021
4,212
57,178
Kansas City Missouri
I was going to suggest the Four Roses Cask Strength or their single barrel stuff.
My go to bourbons after that are Angels Envy and Uncle Nearest 100 proof - both are around $50 a bottle.
Whistle Pig is another I like but I usually drink their rye whiskey.

You mentioned Pappy - I’ve never had it but if you are willing to spend a couple grand on a bottle it is definitely considered “exceptional” by many

I’m in the market for a couple of new to me bourbons myself so I’ll be interested to see what others suggest.
 
I was going to suggest the Four Roses Cask Strength or their single barrel stuff.
My go to bourbons after that are Angels Envy and Uncle Nearest 100 proof - both are around $50 a bottle.
Whistle Pig is another I like but I usually drink their rye whiskey.

You mentioned Pappy - I’ve never had it but if you are willing to spend a couple grand on a bottle it is definitely considered “exceptional” by many

I’m in the market for a couple of new to me bourbons myself so I’ll be interested to see what others suggest.

I would rather spend that same amount on several exceptional bottles. It sounds like Pappy's is kind of like Esoterica in that it sells out immediately and is stupid pricey with the scalpers.... puffy
 
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pipingfool

Can't Leave
Sep 29, 2016
369
1,477
Seattle, WA
I work in the wine and spirits industry and manage a portfolio of several Bourbons/Whiskies. I've had the opportunity to try several brands over my 20 years in the business. Below are some of my favorites.

Frequent Sippers
Four Roses Small Batch - my daily sipper
Buffalo Trace (has been harder to get lately, but you can usually find a bottle at retail)
New Riff Bottled in Bond Bourbon (they also make a Rye)
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon (and Rye)
Wild Turkey 101 - can't beat the price and stands up in an Old Fashioned
Castle & Key Restoration Rye - cool story and good juice; coming out with a Small Batch Bourbon next month
Templeton 4yr or 6yr Rye - MGP (Indiana) Juice, but really good and consistent
Four Roses Single Barrel
Four Roses Small Batch Select - actually like this better than the Single Barrel
Oak and Eden - good juice and a cool concept; they add an oak spiral to "finish" the liquid while it's in bottle
Bradshaw Bourbon - Terry Bradshaw's Whiskey, and actually very good
Sagamore Rye
Uncle Nearest - Tennessee Whiskey; a little pricey and can be hard to find at times
Belfour Spirits - Eddie Belfour's (Hockey Player) brand; try the Pecan Wood finished Bourbon
Garrison Brothers - a little "rich" for my tastes and a little pricey, but still good juice; the "Honeydew" is actually a very good sipper.
Angel's Envy Rye - Finished in Rum Casks and tastes like Buttered Pecan Ice Cream
Sazerac Rye - a Buffalo Trace product, but you can usually find a bottle on the shelf

Hard to Find or Unicorns
Four Roses Limited Editions - they put one (sometimes two) out every year; hard to find at retail
New Riff 6yo Malted Rye - one of the best whiskies I've ever had; will be released this spring
Sagamore "Finished" Ryes - they've done Cognac, Tequila, Manhattan, and Rum


Anything else produced by Buffalo Trace except Buffalo Trace
(Eagle Rare; Blanton's; EH Taylor; Elmer T Lee; Stagg and Stagg Jr; etc.)
This would include the elusive Pappy in all its variants.

I won't lie. Pappy is really good. But would I spend secondary pricing to get it? Nope. There are several expressions of Pappy and they are all different. I personally prefer the 15yr, but the secondary prices range from $2500 to $5000. Sometimes you can come across a bottle and get lucky, but you are still probably going to spend over a grand for any bottle that has the name Winkle on it.

Before the Bourbon Boom started about 14 years ago, I was able to find anything listed above at retail. Pappy 23yr was $123.00 on the shelf. And it had dust on it (kind of sounds like Esoterica, right).

Blanton's was and still is one of my favorites. It used to be my house bourbon about 13 years ago when I could pull samples of it for some tastings and take the rest home and drink it. Now I can hardly find it on the shelf for less than $100.00. It's good, but there are other whiskies out there that I enjoy for a lot less.