My Top 5 Drams of the Year

#1 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2015 (98 points, bottle-spot $425)

#2 William Larue Weller 2015 (99 points, bottle-spot $600)

#3 Barrell Bourbon Batch 006 (96 points, MSRP $90)

#4 Garrison Brothers Cowboy (96 points, $200 MSRP)

#5 Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout 2015 (99 points, bottle-spot $75)

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How did I pick the order my top 5?  Honestly, you could put these in any order and it would be fine by me… I’m honored to have tried every one of these and to still have them all in my bunker.

In terms of cracking the top 5, these were by far the best I had this year, so it wasn’t even close.  George T. Stagg 2015 was up there, but just didn’t come close to the Weller, and for the value the Thomas Handy was the other BTAC that was nearest to making the list.  If there was a 6-10, you would have seen the THH, Stagg Jr, Pikesville and a couple others crack it, but the differentiation between 1-5 and 6-10 was extremely significant.

For bottles you can get at the store or online at MSRP I put those prices, for ones that are impossible to find I listed the approximate bottle-spot.com going rates.

For the money it’s clear that Barrell Bourbon is the best buy of the list here (and you can still find it online for the MSRP still!!  https://www.caskers.com/barrell-kentucky-straight-bourbon-whiskey-batch-006/  http://www.barrellbourbon.com/), while if money is no object, this year’s Weller is out of this world.  Jim Rutledge’s final LESB was the winner, as he saved his best for last.  Cowboy bourbon is a totally unique product and I absolutely recommend everyone pick up a bottle, or if $200 is too much, pick up their 2yr which is also excellent (https://www.caskers.com/garrison-brothers-texas-straight-bourbon-whiskey/).  I did throw a beer in here, but if you haven’t had it, don’t judge: it’s just as complex and enjoyable as the others on the list here.  If you have a smaller budget, my $30 and under best buys of the year are Old Grand-Dad 114 (https://www.caskers.com/spirits/old-grand-dad-114-bourbon-whiskey/) and Elmer T Lee (if you can find them at those prices).  Here’s to a great 2016!

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Black Friday = Bourbon County Brand Stout

If you are a beer guy, like I am in addition to loving Bourbon, Black Friday means one thing and one thing only: The release of Bourbon County Brand Stout.

I was very lucky to get a couple cases this year, although last year I got more. They changed the bottle design from last year, which was normal beer bottle sizes. This year it’s 16.9oz, and the bottle looks amazing, but I strongly prefer the other design. When you are dealing with a 14.3% alcohol beer, that also had a ton of calories, opening up this larger size is harder to do solo.

I secured a single Rye, and will open that in a few months once it settles down–I found that the flavors for the varietals last year were overpowering initially and were better after a few months.

For $9.99 a bottle, the regular stout is probably the best beer on the market.   I try to buy as much as I can for a few reasons, but primarily because once it’s gone, it’s gone. But also because it ages very nicely and will evolve for years. It also is good trade bait for other things.

I love how dark this is when it pours out. You can smell the bourbon on the nose. Chocolate, espresso, vanilla bean, charcoal and happiness. There is a richness to the taste.  I drink this out of a snifter or a wine glass because it’s meant to be consumed slowly and evolve in the glass more like a wine than a beer. Every year this is just such an amazing drink.

To me, Black Friday is synonymous with BCBS, and the 2015 is another winner. 99/100.

 

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