View Full Version : The Complete Bourbon Collection
What would you consider to be needed to make complete a collection of bourbon? This would be a drinking collection with the aim of being able to capture the world of bourbon in one assemblage pf booze. I already have a fairly extensive collection but am curious what corners of the bourbon world I have left unfilled and to leave a path for others who might be interested in making a drinking collection. Let's say price is no limit and nor are the number of bottles. On the other hand all bourbons suggested should be current production and in widespread distribution. What say ye?
all bourbons suggested should be current production and in widespread distribution.
This leaves out a lot of what I consider "must have" bottles.
Wild Turkey, Four Roses and the Van Winkles have special releases that come and go, some are still on store shelves and also available on the on-line auction sites.
Ah, but those special releases are often unseen in local stores the rest of the country or even foreign drinkers of bourbon have access to. As well, those special releases, dusty bottles, etc are so unreliable (some would say unfair!) in their distribution that they cannot be relied upon to be present in the average sized retailer. Again, I am supposing we are all on equal playing ground and are going to be purchasing from the local retailers and not from online retailers. To my mind an outline of a list would look something like this:
1. Wheat based bourbons
2. Rye based bourbons
3. Bourbons from the distilleries to compare products
4. Bottled in Bond bourbon
5. High proof bourbon (over 100 proof)
6. Low proof bourbon (80 proof)
7. Aperitif or desert bourbons
Any suggestions about what brands to fill in to that outline or even suggestions about modifying the outline? They way I see it with 10 bottles and perhaps $200-$300 one could get a pretty good grasp on the macro world of bourbon. Suggestions? Input?
Here's a list of one from each still.
I think these fulfill your criteria.
Your #4 could be 4R1B, it doesn't say BIB but it meets all the requirments.
#6? go with WT80.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Four Roses Single Barrel
Old Grand Dad 114
Elijah Craig 18yo
WL Weller 12yo
Old Forester Signature
Old Rip Van Winkle 10/107
Ah, but those special releases are often unseen in local stores the rest of the country or even foreign drinkers of bourbon have access to. As well, those special releases, dusty bottles, etc are so unreliable (some would say unfair!) in their distribution that they cannot be relied upon to be present in the average sized retailer.
Ah, but just because something is limited or hard to get doesn't mean you don't need it to be complete...think of baseball cards, someone who only played part of one season with a team, may have had a card printed in very low quantities, but that doesn't mean you don't still need to get it to have a complete team for that season. Everyone who collects that team is subject to the same limited supply, just because one shows up in one person's local card shop and not anothers' doesn't make it unfair, it's just the nature of scarcity.
Suck it up and deal with the fact that your collection isn't complete without this or that bottle and either be willing to fork over the cash or have an incomplete collection.
How about two collections. One collection of good stuff, that most people could reasonably expect to find with some effort. The other collection could be all the museum trophy, maybe open hypothetically in the future, can't replace stuff.
Even if you wanted to take this from a Complete Collection of Bourbon to a "Broadly inclusive overview of each distilleries' bourbon production" you'd still need some hard to obtain bottlings.
The main ones being:
One bottle of each recipe of Four Roses, which is only available in it's barrel proof program...10 recipes to be obtained.
Early Times Bourbon, which I think is still currently export only.
All Pot Still Woodford Reserve...you're looking at either some of the Masters' Collection stuff (most of which has been corrupted in some way) or a private barrel purchase.
Stitzel-Weller: current production includes: Pappy 20 and 23, Jefferson's Reserve Presidential (or whatever it's called) and a few private barrel purchases
Pre-fire Heaven Hill...I think the only current products still old enough would be Elijah Craig 18, Evan Williams 15, 23 (export), Fighting Cock 15 (export), William Heavenhill ($500 at the gift shop)
If I had to pick from current production, I would pick my favorites from each distillery. My current production favorites are as follows:
-Jim Beam Black
-Old Grand Dad BIB
-Saz JR rye
-FR single barrel (probably several different recipes)
-Rittenhouse BIB rye
-Old Forester Signature
If I were to take it a step further and add some favorite dusties, I would add the following:
-Pappy 15/ORVW 15 (S-W)
-Weller Centennial (both S-W and non S-W)
-Weller 19 (mainly because I've never had one)
-Any BIB brands that are no longer available as I love higher proof whiskey
-I.W. Harper 12 (this was a limited release during the whiskey glut and not
very plentiful even when available
-Old Charter 12
-VSOF 12 (S-W)
-Jim Beam distillers series
-EW 12 (export)
-Old Taylor BIB (ND)
-Old Grand Dad 114 (ND)
I'm sure I missed a few from each list, but this gives the general idea. Thankfully, out of both lists, there are ony 2 brands mentioned that I don't currently have. The whiskey gods have definitely blessed my bunker!
I echo Oscar's comments about the fallicy of eliminating the "specialty" / "limited edition" bottlings.
Of the rest, I would include:
WT 101 or Rare Breed
FR Yellow Label
KC (cuz there should be something else from Beam)
OF Sig (cuz it's not WR)
EC 18 (or, if unavailable, EC 12)
Anything with the Van Winkle name on it
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