This year has seen secondary prices continue to go up, and primary prices also increase. I’m on so many Facebook groups about people complaining about this, but I wish people would just be realistic. Sure, the special releases are getting a little out of hand, but the standard release products are also the best they have ever been. Now, this list happens to celebrate the best of the best, but I will also pay homage to the under $100 list soon, for the perfect holiday stocking stuffer.
This is the first year that I do not have a rye on the list, but Kentucky Owl Rye Batch 001 was so close it deserves an honorable mention. MSRP of $130, and secondary in the $175 range made it reachable for most people and it was a standout. I picked four Bourbons and one Rum for the list, and they are all so good, you could easily pick any one of them to be #1. I did another blind taste test with all five spirits last night and decided based on that final test that I couldn’t put them in order, but each one was the best for a certain criteria (cop out? probably… but it was just too difficult).
Most Underrated by the Critics: E.H. Taylor Four Grain was one that I liked from the very beginning although was panned by the Bourbon community. The MSRP of $80 is pretty irrelevant for this one, but the secondary started at $325 and fell all the way to $175 before Jim Murray dubbed it the number one bourbon of the year and secondary now is $350-$400.
Best Lower Proof Bourbon: Four Rose Al Young 50th Anniversary was dubbed early on at the odds on favorite to win number one of the year, yet no large publications awarded it the honor. Again, MSRP of $150 was pretty irrelevant, but if you could get it there you were lucky. Secondary was pretty stable at $350 all year for this one.
Best Higher Proof Bourbon: George T. Stagg 2016 was a scorcher at 144.1 proof, yet in the right glassware was epic. Again MSRP of $90 for BTAC is irrelevant, and secondary for this one ranged between $375-$525. (For those who complain that I should be talking about the 2017 GTS, it also would have make this list)
Best Value: Barrell Bourbon Batch 011. By far the least expensive of the list with an MSRP of $89.99, but after winning the number one Bourbon of the year from San Fransisco Wine & Spirits, the secondary basically doubled and you are now lucky if you can find it for $150-$175.
Best Non-Bourbon: FourSquare 2006 Single Blended Rum Double Maturation was one that you could only get at auction and prices were between GBP 150-300 depending on whether you bought it before or after Fred Minnick’s book came out. This was one of the perfect rum’s that Fred rated in his book, and once you taste it, you will understand.
Agree? Disagree? Continue the discussion on Twitter @newbourbondrink or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/newbourbondrinker/ Cheers to 2017 and a great 2018 to come!