Quote Originally Posted by Crowes View Post
I though it might be interesting to weigh in on this as a bourbon neophyte. 2012 marked my entrance into the serious world of bourbon. These awards listed below are certainly my personal preferences as far as what I have tried, and what has influenced me as I started my journey with this wonderful spirit.

Best Bourbon I tried this year: Pappy Van Winkle 15 (2008). This one really opened my eyes to what a great wheated bourbon can be. I was able to purchase several bottles in the Van Winkle line up this fall, but none of them held the overall magic of what I tasted in this bottle.

Best Bourbon I purchased this year: This one is a tie for me between Jefferson's Presidential Reserve 18yr (batch 17), and Van Winkle Lot "B". Some may be surprised by the Lot "B" shout out but I love this bourbon. The dark fruity nature and balanced oak qualities really set this apart for me as far as what I was able to purchase, and that includes a nod over the PVW 20 I also got.

The One Bourbon that shocked me and changed my perception of what bourbon can be: Four Roses Single Barrel. This one really blew me away when I tried it. So different from everything else I tried this year. Like a syrup candy bomb with unique floral and spice notes that had my head spinning on every sip. What a unique and well crafted whiskey.

Distillery of the Year: For me, this goes to Heaven Hill based on two products; Elijah Craig and Evan Williams Single Barrel. To discover two bourbons of such a high standard that I can purchase any time I like, and for a reasonable price, sets this one apart for me.

Special Bourbon Award for 2012: I want to give special mention to the one bourbon that started it all for me this year - Bookers. I purchased a bottle for my boss for his birthday earlier this year and we sat down and had a few glasses. Up until this point the only bourbons I had really ever tried were a few standards like Maker's Mark and Knob Creek. One sip of Bookers and my mind was blown. So rich and powerful. Wow! Still one of my favorite pours after purchasing so many other brands. A bottle will always be on my shelf.

Best Bourbon Resource for Beginners (or anyone for that matter): Again, a tie for me between Jayson Pyle's sourmashmanifesto.com and the forums here at straighbourbon.com. I relied heavily on Jayson's reviews as I started purchasing various bottles, a well written site with thoughtful reviews. This forum here has also been so beneficial. I have started to develop a few relationships with some very knowledgeable members here, and the endless threads on various products and topics have been a joy to explore. I have gained a ton of knowledge and insight into the world of bourbon through everyone here and I thank you all.
Crowes, not only is it "interesting to weigh in on this as a bourbon neophyte", it's absolutely at the heart of what this site is all about. It's all about the journey, from the beginning to total bourbon geekdom! If we can't hear about what's going on from those getting started and early on in the journey, and just blabber among long-time supposed "expert" participants, it simply becomes an echo chamber. How boring would that be?