I was reading again Robert M. Parker, Jr.'s Wine Buyer's Guide (6th edition) which is an extraordinary book any way you cut it. In describing the characteristics of a great wine, he includes considerations such as, i) ability to hold a taster's interest, e.g., the wine is recognisable by its bouquet alone, ii) offering intense aromas and tastes without heaviness, iii) propensity of the wine to taste better with every sip, iv) ability to improve with age, iv) offering a singular personality, and vi) ability to please both intellectually and in terms of the palate. By intellectual he means offering multiple dimensions in flavor and aroma, not a simple taste.
I was thinking that each of these criteria can be applied to some bourbon, even the ability to improve with age although this criterion will more be appreciated by warehousemen and master distillers than the ordinary retail buyer. (However some here have had the chance to taste barrels of differing ages or characteristics when selecting their purchase, also, some bourbons come in different ages and one can assess whether older is better, e.g., Old Charter, EC).
Which bourbons (if any) under the Parkerian criteria merit the description of greatness?
I'd say, George T. Stagg. Recent as the series is, it has become a benchmark of high quality. True, not every criterion will apply equally in every year, e.g., the light-but-rich one is (so far) most suited to the Fall '05 Stagg. But bourbon is not wine so we can adapt a little his schema. Still, overall the Parker rules apply very well to Stagg.
Possibly they apply to other bourbons too. Any thoughts?