Parker stepped in it. It's irritating that he wouldn't spend a bit more energy getting it right. Perhaps he still views whisky drinkers as second-class to wine drinkers and therefore does not warrant a more careful review, or maybe it's just arrogance. Either way, though, I think the PR and infusion of new drinkers will only benefit the bourbon ecosystem in the long run.
The review so littered with problems, its hard to know where to start. Another example: "High West Whiskey Campfire I threw this in because this distillery in, of all places, Park City, Utah (better known for skiing than high quality spirits), is apparently a fascinating operation. They make a pre-blended Manhattan that is a killer, but the two whiskies I tried included their least expensive, Campfire....Just about everything I have tasted from High West in Park City, Utah is impressive. "
It is a facinating operation, too bad what you are drinking is not a product of that operation. As with many of the examples in his review, zero mention of the actual source of the product in the bottle. And Campfire is not the least expensive High West product, as if price was relevant in his article.
"Buffalo Trace Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 10-Years Old; 45% alcohol; 90 proof
..... has 45% alcohol, which makes it 90 proof." For the 13th bourbon on the list, I think we've figured out the whole proof thing by now, even without the redundency. But then there's "Buffalo Trace Distillery Experimental Collection 1993 .... alcohol 43.6%; 90 proof" Which is it??? Literally one minute on Google reveals evaporation was listed on the label as 43.6%, and it is 45% abv.
Amusing yet scary indeed.
(I'm not knocking Perkins, as he's upfront about his blends, but that's what he's doing: Blending finished whiskey.)
The point I was trying to make when I said "zero mention of the actual source of the product in the bottle" is the distiller. The list is overwhelmingly Buffalo Trace.
Another thing I noticed that scotch&icecream noted, if the article states "I highly encourage those who don't know how good a sip of bourbon, no ice, can be to check some of the following out." Why create a list filled with a lot of one-off products that aren't even offered anymore or items so limited they "seem to fly off retailers' shelves as quickly as they appear."? I can only get 4 items on the list, and even that is only because I can walk to the High West distillery. And the flavor profile of the items on the list is hardly a great introduction to bourbon, esp to someone who would normally drink wine. Why not start with Buffalo Trace and then move up to Eagle Rare SB/Blantons? Why not start with Makers or Bulleit and then move up to Makers 46 or Bulleit 10yr?
The fact remains that Robert Parker is the single most influential wine critic in the world today. His reviews move both prices & product. He has a slavish cult of minions who storm out to purchase cases of wine based on his reviews. The really scary thing is that bourbon is cheap by comparison to high end wines, unknown Napa Valley Cabs with no track record to speak of debut at $100 a bottle. Whereas, with the exception of certain limited production bourbons, the vast majority of high quality bourbon trades between $25 & $75 per bottle. If wine geeks start to realize the value represented in these bottles and acquire a taste for bourbon, well it will be Katy bar the door because the prices we know will be long gone. That's the aspect that worries me, I saw it happen to the Single Malt market & it is under way in the bourbon market as well.
I happen to like Mr. Parker's wine reviews, but usually limit my purchases to the under $15 per bottle realm. In this area Spain has been crushing it of late & 2 of his recent finds, Breca (94 pts /$14) & Besllum (93 pts & $13) are home runs & for that I have to give him his credit due. Most of the wines he reviews are way out of my price points.