For the New Bourbon Drinker, Top 5 Whiskies to Try

Bourbonmania has hit new highs. Some people say it’s a bubble. I’m not quite ready to say that because I believe Bourbon was ignored for far too long and only now are the masses actually recognizing appreciating it. We have years before this bubble bursts and the quality and quantity will keep getting better and better for the foreseeable future.

Everyone newbie wants to get the newest BTAC, FRSBLE, or OFBB released. To be honest, it’s not just the newbies who want them–it’s all of us. But the difference between the newbies and the old timers to this hobby, is that the older group has already tried it all and realizes that some things are worth the hunt (or paying up on secondary) and some things aren’t;  what is or what isn’t is purely based on your personal preference, not a review or a bloggers piece. Personally I love the Cask strength bourbons and the high proof ryes. Pappy, OFBB, Michter’s wax capsule releases and ER17 are great, but if I come across them at retail I’ll trade them for GTS, THH or FRSBLE any day.

Today I’m putting out my top five whiskies for the “new bourbon drinker”…. These are the ones that I’m happy to drink any day of the week and are readily available.  You won’t find the unicorns on this list, but these are the whiskies that if you want to start the hobby, go for these.

#1 Buffalo Trace: yes the one that costs $20 in your retail store. This may be one of the most overlooked and undervalued whiskies in the world. Yes it’s lower proof than I like but it has the flavor, the mouthfeel, and for goodness sakes, it’s $19!!! It’s the same mashbill as some of their releases that secondary for hundreds of dollars. This is the Bourbon I serve people to see if they like Bourbon or not. It’s just that simple. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/buffalo-trace-yes-the-standard-one-with-the-buffalo-one-yes-its-very-very-good/)

#2 Pikesville Rye: thank Heaven for Heaven Hill and their high proof 6yr rye. Spicy and amazing in every way and best of all you can usually find it for between $50-$60. When I don’t feel like I deserve a pour of Handy (which is my favorite, but too expensive to make this list), Pikesville comes in a close second. Just an amazing product. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/)

#3 Just when you though I was going to go all cheap on you and only mass produced products, I’m going to throw you for a loop. Barrell Bourbon, any batch, is #3 for all new bourbon drinkers. Unlike most limited release, Cask strength, Bourbon releases, this one can usually be found and retailers aren’t jacking up the prices on it. Retails for between $70-$90 for a regular batch and $10 more for a single barrel release, Barrel is worth every penny. As a sourced whiskey, Barrell finds the best of the best and bottles it at cask strength to provide the consumer with the purest Bourbon you can get. I’ve never been disappointed, and more often blown away by what they come out with on a regular basis. I’ve never missed a release, and some of them I’ve stockpiled because I know once they are gone they are gone for good. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/)

#4 Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style. Although I wasn’t a huge fan when I first opened it, after sitting for a month or two it really mellows out but keeps the nice spice and strong mouthfeel. By far the best of the series, this one is still pretty readily available at around $60.  Although my review makes it sound just ok, I would revise it up a point or two after airing it out for several months.  (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/old-forester-1920-very-good-not-great/)

#5 Blanton’s. The Original Single barrel Bourbon. This is most people’s gateway to great Bourbon, and I was no different. Still pretty readily available and looks great on the shelf. I’ve never been disappointed by any Blanton’s I’ve ever had. If you are overseas and can get the Straight From the Barrel, it’s even better and totally worth snagging. (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/4-bottle-blantons-tasting/)

I really wanted to put OGD114 on this list, but you can never find it. I also wanted to put Mellow Corn on it, but again, almost every store is sold out of it. Part of the criteria for making the list was being readily available and not trading for silly prices on the secondary, which is why ETL, which is amazing, obviously got cut.

Anyway… I hope people like the list and learn from it. Happy to answer any questions on DM on twitter or on the comment section of the blog. Happy drinking!

P.S. Yes this is my top shelf, and you won’t find most of these on this list, but if anyone wants to come by I’m happy to pour any of them for my readers!

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http://www.barrellbourbon.com

http://www.buffalotrace.com

https://www.blantonsbourbon.com/

https://www.oldforester.com/

http://www.pikesvillerye.com/

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Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holler

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Perhaps the photo gave it away?  Once you taste this, it will explain everything.  Let’s not waste our times on the history of Orphan Barrel, or that this is just some 28yr old Dickel juice aged somewhere else, or why it’s called American Whiskey instead of Bourbon… I’m going to let other bloggers write about than and instead I’m just going to get into the review…

The color is extremely light, just from looking at it, I would have assumed it was a 2-3 year bourbon.  Very hard to believe this has been aged for 28 years.

The nose has aromas of my bathroom garbage can, used Band-Aids, pine needles and rubber.  The first time I tried it a few weeks ago it was more potent, now, although the smells are the same, they are less pronounced, but nothing better coming through.

The taste, hard to believe, is even worse than the smell.  It is dry, astringent, unappealing, just not good at all.  It has the feeling of being massively over oaked, without any of the positive aspects of oak–pretty amazing feat in itself.  I guess the only redeeming quality of the taste is that I’m getting a slight burnt orange aroma, which is better than the trash I was getting before.  The taste just brings a frown to your face, like you are sucking on a lemon, but a lemon that tastes like trash.  Just gross.

Now… here is the kicker.  I paid $199.99 for this thing.  I actually bought 6 of them for $1200.  I was convinced I was going to flip them and make a killing on it.  Can you imagine how upset I was when I got home and tried it?  For full disclosure, I did list them on bottle-spot and was able to get rid of all of them, after shipping costs, for just a little more than I paid for them, but I feel bad for those people who bought them.  This is just gross.  And the fact that Diageo had the balls to not only put this out on the market, but charge $200 a bottle for it is so bad.  It’s even worse that I bought it for that price.  I keep buying these stupid Orphan Barrels, partially because they tend to go up in value and also because they have such pretty labels and look good on my bar.  Why do I keep doing this to myself?  I hope everyone reads this before they go out and buy another Orphan Barrel ever again… I have just one more thing to say… Diageo: go fuck yourselves.  1/100