OK… so I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets this question all the time from friends, family, co-workers, etc…. Usually it starts out like “hey, can you get me some Pappy?”… yes I can, you want a ORVW for $450-$500? “Oh, I though you had the hookup, can you get it for me at retail?” No… I can’t get it for myself at retail… then eventually we just arrive at the Seinfeldian response of “well, why don’t you just tell me what you want to pay…” So, here is my list of the best bottles that are available and can be purchased for under $100 in 2018… I changed some of them from 2017’s list for some reasons including eliminating certain bottles like ETL, RHF, BTAC, Stagg Jr, etc because the MSRP just rarely is the price you see in stores, at least in the Tri-State area… These are in no particular order. I also realize every is going to have a different list here, and please add anything you think should be on here in comments! Happy New Year everyone!!
Buffalo Trace… yes, the original one that retails for $30. It’s the same mashbill that goes into bottles that are 1k’s of dollars in secondary, same distillery. Whether it’s straight or in a cocktail, it’s lovely. Always make sure you have at least one of them on your bar at all times.
Barrell Bourbon Batches… I’ve never had a batch I didn’t like. I’ve had some that I’d LOVED. The only one that was impossible to find was Batch 011, because it won best Bourbon of the Year from San Francisco Wine & Spirits. At least one batch is usually available at my local store, it looks great, a perfect gift and a wonderful drinker. You will not be disappointed.
Foursquare 2004 or 2005… cask strength, usually $60-$90, and yes, it’s a Rum! Aged in Bourbon barrels and others, non-chill filtered, so much flavor. These guys are the real deal.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof… I almost didn’t put this on the list, but it seems like this is more frequent this year and I usually see it on the shelf. I’ve never had a bad one, and I’ve had quite a few good ones. I prefer the old bottle design, but if they are making more of them with the new bottle, I’m OK with that. Last year I had Old Weller Antique on the list, but given I can never find it anymore without texting my local liquor store owner ahead of time, I’m bumping them for ECBP due to 2018’s availability. Should be around $60-$70.
Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Bourbon… didn’t make the cut last year, just squeezed in this year and at $65, a solid member of the list. I find that the first crack is just ok, but if you leave it open for a few months it gets a lot better… if I were to re-rate it, I’d say it’s a solid 92. Worth having on your home bar.
You don’t need to buy Pappy or BTAC to make the people on your list happy! Anything on this list will show you know your whiskey and you care about making your friends and family happy. Happy New Year!