Secondary market on this bad boy is roughly 400/450… This is just a crazy 4x price. “Caskers, are you serious?”
Secondary market on this bad boy is roughly 400/450… This is just a crazy 4x price. “Caskers, are you serious?”
The Bourbon Community has always been really great about giving back. We recently had our third annual Bourbon at the Barbershop special charity event that we hosted at The New York Shaving Company. We raised over 3k for local children’s charities and everyone had a great time. Take a look at the photos below, but let’s just say that everyone felt they got their money’s worth. We had 80% of the BTAC collection, Al Young, Willett Family Estate, a couple great Barrell Bourbon releases, Garrison Bros. Cowboy, Lot 40 Cask Strength, Wiser’s 35yr, EHT Four Grain, Kentucky Owl Rye, Appleton’s Rum 25yr Joy, Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, Elliot’s Select, JPS 25yr and more! It was the best heel party I’d ever been to! Thanks again to New York Shaving Company for being an amazing partner!
It was a long day and I needed a drink. I headed to the Bobby Van’s in New York City just north of Grand Central (nearest to 46th and Park) and I scanned the bar for a dram of choice. You don’t often see Old Rip 10yr on the shelf, so I asked the bartender how much? $130 a pour (plus tax and tip). Are you serious? I realize there are a few Wall Street banks a 7 iron away, but those days are over. This is a complete joke. Shame on you Bobby Van’s!
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!
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!
Batch 12 is the most recent release from Barrell Bourbon, just off the heels of their best Bourbon of the year award from San Francisco Ultimate Spirits (http://www.fredminnick.com/2017/04/27/shocking-whiskey-upsets-17-san-fran-world-spirits-comp/). I also was a huge fan of Batch 011 (link). I think I have a future as a spirits judge…
Batch 12 is quite a bit older than 11 coming in at 9 years, but is lower proof, 108.5. I’m not sure, but this might be the lowest proof they have ever released.
The nose on this one is completely different than any previous batch I have tried. This one is a complete fruit bomb: plums, dried cherries, orange peel, hints of graham cracker and brioche. Very little heat on the nose.
Great oils and tannins on the mouthfeel with a wonderful spiciness I didn’t get first on the nose. Getting the fruit and more on the palate. Warmer than expected, in a good way. The finish is at least two minutes long.
This is a really solid follow up to Batch 011. While most of the stores I go to have sold out of Batch 011, if you buy 012, you won’t be disappointed. It might be enjoyed even more by people who don’t like their Bourbon at 135 proof–probably is more approachable to most whiskey consumers. 94/100.
The VWFRR is one of those very rare releases that trades at crazy prices on the secondary market and is arguably the hardest to find of the Pappy line. It is the only Rye and it is 13 years old.
Very spicy nose, lots of cracked pepper, strong oak notes, crushed smoked pecans, Twix, s’mores on cinnamon graham crackers and cedar closet. Moderate heat for a 95.6 proof whiskey.
Initially an enjoyable mouthfeel but then comes in with a big punch of oak. Heat is a little higher than expected the first time around but still very enjoyable. The finish is moderate long as it fades away into mostly wood flavors. The palate is dominated by the oak flavors instead of the more complex spicy ones.
VWFRR is a very good whiskey but isn’t one you need to camp out to try. It’s a little too oaky for my taste. Just to make sure my palate wasn’t completely nuts I thought it prudent to pour some of my favorite rye, the 2014 THH. Everything about the Thomas Handy is better: more spice coming through on the palate. The Handy is hotter, but it’s half the age and 35% more alcohol so that’s not surprising. But the finish is more enjoyable and longer. For 1/3 the secondary price, albeit still expensive, THH kicks VWFRR’s butt. I still really enjoy it, but for the price there are just so many better options. VWFRR 93/100.