View Full Version : My Current Favorites (Watch for Changes Daily)
Recently Jimbo asked me to list my favorites. I did so in a PM, but I think he missed my response.
FWIW, here is the substance of that response:
1. VWSR 12 y/o Lot "B" -- Not like other VW bourbons, spicier and more fruity somehow. (I mistakenly referred to this one as 'ORVW Lot "B" ' recently.)
2. VWFR Rye 13 y/o -- Has never been out of my top five since I first tasted it. Spent several months as my all-time favorite whiskey.
3. ORVW 10/107 (aka "Old Commonwealth") -- Not as impressive today as at first taste when I posted my first formal tasting notes, but still worth grabbing on the way out the door if the house is on fire.
4. WT Russell's Reserve -- "And now for something completely different..." I've had ups and downs with this one. Right now it's up -- way up. Possibly the best buy of the WT line.
5. WT 12 year-old -- It easily dethroned Kentucky Spirit in a head-to-head last Superbowl Sunday. I seldom drink it because it's all but unavailable now, and I have only one and a fraction bottles. It ruined KS for me.
6. Rock Hill Farms -- Let's see if this one holds up, now that I'm pouring it from a recycled WT 101 bottle, rather than its original, swanky, decanter-like bottle, whose lip disintegrated as I opened this bottle.
7. Wathen's -- This probably should be higher on the list, but which ones can I stand to move lower? Maybe RHF.
8. Old Ezra 15 y/o -- The best of the super-aged rye recipe bourbons. Not acrid like EC18. Some people say just the opposite.
9. Hirsch 16 y/o -- This used to be ranked higher until the VW Lot "B" blew it away in a head-to-head after Christmas dinner.
10. ORVW 18 y/o (Park Ave bottling) and 20 y/o (Sam's bottling) -- How could these two be ranked so low? Maybe because they cost an arm and a leg, so I seldom drink them, which means I don't really remember what they taste like. I do remember that they're damn good.
Conspicuously absent from my top ten are Hirsch 20 y/o, Blanton's, Stagg, EC18, Jefferson's Reserve, all of the JB small batch (especially the way-overrated Booker's), EWSB, and the OFBB (of which I have last year's and the first release of this year). Of all of the preceding bottlings, the Hirsch 20 y/o, last year's OFBB and Baker's are the only ones with a chance of breaking into my personal top 10 of the moment.
Just a quick note...what I love about this site is that after reading your post I went and cracked open my bottle of "Lot B" to compare it to your review. I will have to revisit it several times before I can rank it properly, but that is mighty good bourbon. My top 5 previously included Hirsch 16, VWFR Rye 13, GT Stagg(either release), OFBB 2003, and the ORVW 18 from Park Ave,(one that I have tried recently). Either Stagg or the Birthday Bourbon gets bounced from my top 5 by the "Lot B", not sure which. Then again, ORVW 15/107 is also a favorite so maybe that also replaces one of my top 5. Tough choices.
Quite a list Dave. I have only been tasting bourbon since August of last year, so my experience is meager compared to yours. But five of your top ten are on my "repeat list", VWSR 12 yr lot B, VWFR Rye 13 yr, ORVW 10/107 (Well actually ORVW 15/107 and 10/90 on my list.), WT Russell's Reserve and Old Ezra 15 yr (I assume you mean Ezra B. SB 15 yr.). And I have Hirsch 16 yr on my shopping list and a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 yr unopened in my cabinet.
The only notable bourbon on my "repeat list" that you don't mention is, Elijah Craig 12 yr and 18 yr, Knob Creek 9 yr and Jim Beam Black.
You are correct regarding my mistaken reference. It's "Ezra B...".
I don't know why I didn't think to mention EC12, at least as a contender. Sometimes I think that if they were to double the price, I would take it more seriously. (Bettye Jo, please don't spill the beans to your marketing department. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif) Not only is it a pleasure to drink neat or on the rocks from a proper glass, it holds up well in a flask, where the nose is much less prominent. (Some bourbons seem to die in a flask.) The EC18 did not make my repeat list. The scorched wood flavors were too dominant for my taste.
As I mentioned, I'm not hot on any of the JB Small Batch collection. However, besides the Baker's, I do go back and forth on Knob Creek, and at least it's reasonably priced. I finished one bottle of JB Black; it failed to leave much of an impression. It's certainly OK as an any-port-in-a-storm bourbon. (That phrase reminds me of a thread that Chuck started, where we rated bourbons as "drinkable anytime", "drinkable in a pinch" or "undrinkable". I think I'll do a search and revisit that one.)
Regarding your quest for Hirsch 16 y/o, I suppose you know that it's available from Sam's and Binny's, if out-of-state shipment is an option for you. Before the recent blow-out sale on it, I saw it a couple of places for $70-80. You shouldn't have to pay more than $50-55 at the moment. I assume that price will rise when supplies start to dwindle.
I have several of your Top-10 list unopened and untried (I'm still relatively new to this), so they may well move onto my not-yet-formed 'list' soon enough. But right now, I'm having a fine time just opening the closet door and trying to make a decision from among Weller 12, Ezra B 15yo, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Evan Williams Single Barrel (1989), ORVW 10/90, Hirsch 16yo and Stagg '03 (diluted about 3:2), all currently open and a-pouring. I like them all. I'm also fond of the VW 13yo rye, though my remaining bottle is intact.
While I realize I am just a novice (only because I have only a few postings) I bought a bottle of EC 12 yo for $18.00 in KY, across from Cincinnati, OH. My decison was based on many of the fine forum postings about this bourbon. I thought "How bad could a 12 year old bourbon taste?" Well... it is one of my worst tasting bourbons. Only Bulleit (spelling?) Bourbon was worse. Sorry to disagree with all of you.
Sorry to disagree with all of you.
You're not disagreeing with us all. I have said many a time that I do not personally care much for EC12yo. I do like it on ice somewhat, but straight I do not care for it. That being said, what one person really loves another could hate. Everyone not liking that same thing all the time is what makes this fun, imagine if we ALL loved the same thing time after time...
Why don't you like it, what puts you off about it exactly?
That being said, what one person really loves another could hate.
Mark is right on. I happen to really enjoy both EC12 as well as Bulleit bourbon both straight up and on the rocks. Alternately, I can't stand George Dickle #12 (vitamins) and it is a favorite of many on this board. Don't worry about disagree'ing with anyone about a particular brand, just as long as your not drinking scotch, you're OK with us! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
I bought a bottle of EC 12 yo... it is one of my worst tasting bourbons.
No need to apologize--I've said it many times, EC12 is a love-it-or-hate-it bourbon. One thing though, before you completely give up on it, try it on a different night. I happen to love the stuff, but I find it hits different notes on different nights.
Dittos on what the rest of the gang has already said (except that I do like EC12).
I must add that even though I have been attracted to EC12 from my first taste a year or two ago, my perception of it has changed over that time. At first I agreed with others who found it to have a medicinal taste (Vicks Formula 44 was one descriptor). Later I think I said it tasted as though one stave in each barrel was made of eucalyptus wood rather than oak. Now I pretty much take it at face (tongue?) value as the intensely flavored bourbon that it is.
One recent discovery is that my enjoyment of it holds up better than any other bourbon when I drink directly from a flask. Some very fine bourbons seem pale and lifeless absent a presentation that allows nosing while sipping. If it weren't for that big lip on the bottle, I'd suggest you take a swig right from the bottle sometime.
Dave Morefield (The Original "DaveM")
Having been asked the same question a couple of times lately, I have only this in response: When someone asks who which one of your children is your favorite, don't you usually say ALL OF THEM? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
Or, in somewhat the same vein, "If you can't be with the one [bourbon] you love, love the one you're with." http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
I tend to agree with the medicinal and eucalyptus taste description. It is slightly woody, which I do not prefer, but, I know many people do. I go for a smooth dram, easy to swallow and a great feel during the aftertaste (finish). It may be worth the $18.00, but for my money, I go a little more... from $26 to $36, such as Makers (wheat), Woodford Reserve or, my favoite family of bourbons, anything premium from Wild Turkey. Some day I would like to start a thread about blind bourbon tastings and my theory about individual bourbon tastes. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
I did, and still didn't like it.
Thanks for the suggestion, though.
By the way, it will become one of my well bourbons. It wasn't so bad that I dumped it. I did do that with two of my bourbons because I couldn't see myself serving them to my friends. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif (to you, too!)
My current top ten...also subject to change at any time.
George T. Stagg
Eagle Rare 17
Ancient Ancient Age 10yr
Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve
Van Winkle 12 lot B
Rock Hill Farm
Aside from Stagg as number one, the rest are too hard to put in a firm order. The "drinkers" here are Buffalo Trace, Weller 12 and AAA10yr.
Looks like you lean heavily to Buffalo trace products: Stagg, Eagle Rare, Sazerac, BT, AAA, and Rock Hill Farms. Maybe even the Van Winkle, but probably not yet.
yes...I didn't notice that till I saw the list in print. For ten years I was mostly a "Beam" man...my tastes have definately changed, evolved...no doubt will continue to change.
Like many others have said, tastes change. And I don't make a habit of keeping official "lists", but I had fun putting this together:
1. Pappy 20--My true champion. If you taste it you'll know what smoothness, class, and refinement are in a bourbon. I wish I had access to the 23, because if there's ANY chance it's even better, that'd be the best $180 I'd ever spend.
2. OFBB '02--This is another one that is just beyond words. It has a take-no-prisoners attitude but with a softness and subtlety for balance. The complexity and depth keeps you coming back for more.
3. Hirsch 16yo--Our last chance at this piece of distilling history. It's the only very long-aged rye recipe bourbon in my favorites list. This is the bottle I have bunkered for ~30 years from now when I retire.
4. Blanton's--I love this one so much that it just BAFFLES me how some people can dismiss it as being too subtle. It's an explosion of awesome bourbon flavor with the best finish of any bourbon I've ever had.
5. VWFR Rye 13yo--The best Manhattan you'll ever make is with this delight. I hope the scuttlebutt is wrong about this one being in limited supply!
6. Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10yo--Actually a recent find of mine. Many dismiss it as being too light or sweet, but I get a whole cascade with this one, and it's a bargain! Incredibly drinkable, it's a good one to introduce to the bourbon-curious!
7. Elijah Craig 12yo--The 'my kid beat up your honor student' bourbon of the list. Many wouldn't consider this a premium, but I can't make a favorites list and not have it. It's another one you never fully master because it will morph itself indefinitely.
8. Buffalo Trace--Yes, the plain, ordinary bottling. The absolute staple of my bar. If I drank frequently enough to have an 'everyday pour', this would be the one. Definitely a premium masquerading as midshelf.
9. Booker's--I like my previous description of this one best: raw, unadulterated, barrel-proof bourbon that Booker Noe selects. The man knows his business.
10. Ancient Ancient Age 10yo--I've been exploring this one lately, largely since I found out Kentucky and Virginia are its only sales states. Believe it or not, among the bourbon drinkers I know this one goes largely unnoticed, and it's a true gem.
Missing from the list = any Wild Turkey bottlings. I guess I'm weird that way...WT products all seem to have a dry, earthy, unpleasant finish to them that ruins the whole experience. Even the otherwise spectacular Kentucky Spirit has it. Also missing = Stagg. It's unavailable to me, and even though my sampling of it has been exceptional, it's like hosting a 'foster child'...you don't dare get too attached because you know the relationship can only be temporary.
It's refreshing to see to see Bookers on a top ten list here. It's my impression that the JB small batch doesn't have much of a following on the website. Bookers was my first introduction to an overproof bourbon, and it's still one of my favourites too.
4. Blanton's--I love this one so much that it just BAFFLES me how some people can dismiss it as being too subtle.
I resemble that remark. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
Seriously, I'm guessing that 25,000 Lucky Strikes (unfiltered), Marlboros and Salems (and toss in the occasional pack of Murad and Turkish Ovals), along with a few hundred pounds of Latakia-blend pipe tobacco and a walk-in humidor or two of cigars -- combined with a life-long fondness for jalapeno peppers -- have seriously handicapped my ability to taste anything.
Can it be a coincidence that I like EC12 better than Blanton's? I think not.
Oh, and I freely admit that the WT line has a touch of charcoal briquette roughness that I sometimes crave, even though I also appreciate the velvety smoothness of the likes of Eagle Rare Single Barrel.
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