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Best Bourbons

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I hope someone can help me. I am not a bourbon drinker, but my grandfather is. He is a member of a few bourbon and whiskey groups in his home city. My problem is as follows: I am a chef studying to be a master chef, an occupational dream which my grandfather is helping me to fulfill by financing my education. In order to show my gratitude, now that I am making a decent living, I would like to purchase for my grandfather a bottle of the finest bourbon for his upcoming 80th birthday. I have saved quite a bit of money for this, but my expenses are limited. I want to know which bourbon is considered the finest overall, regardless of cost, and where I can locate a bottle for purchase. I value honest opinions of those who appreciate bourbon, but really don't want a bunch of commision-driven company pitchman trying to sell me their product. I would like to hear from bourbon admirers and critics only please. Thank you for your time.

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There is really no consensus as to the best bourbon on the market, but here are some possibilities that won't disappoint. From here on out, you can let your budget be your guide. Luckily for you, and as compared to Single Malt Scotch, even the best bourbons are quite modest in price. Jim Beam makes a product it sells for about $250, which I have never tried, but I doubt that price can be justified by its taste. If you find anything else priced above $100, you are in the wrong store. Here are my recommendations.

1. The Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve advertised on the home page of this website is a very worthy candidate. Its marketer is a participant on this board, but I am not he and I am not beholden to him in any way. It is a fine and rare whiskey.

2. Any of the Van Winkle products would be worthy choices. Same disclaimer as above.

3. Any of the Hirsch whiskies. Like the pricier Van Winkles, they have the advantage of being rare as well as outstanding in their quality.

4. Blanton's. I personally think very highly of this product.

5. Booker's. A reasonably-priced superpremium from Jim Beam.

6. Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit.

The last three should be available for $40-$50 a bottle, the top of the Hirsch and Van Winkle lines are more like $70-$80.

Please let us know what you decide.

- chuck

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What Chuck said, with the following reservations/perversions.

I love the Hirsch to DEATH, but I would suspect that your Grampa would prefer a Kentucky bourbon. (Besides, that's one more bottle left for me.)

I would choose Hancock's President's Reserve over Blanton's; a purely personal choice, and I'm always happy to drink either... just a little happier with the Hancock's.

I also have to admit in front of God and Julian that I favor the Van Winkle 15 YO over the Pappy's Reserve: but then, I prefer the 15 YO over damn near everything but the Hirsch.

And I would put the Booker's further up the list.

But that's why we have discussion groups! Do let us know what you wind up with!

Lew Bryson

Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

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