Sunday, January 20, 2013

The 12 Best Bourbons & Ryes I Tasted in 2012

I've declared the 2012 whiskey of the year, and now here is a list of the 12 best bourbons and ryes I tasted in the first 12 months of my American Whiskey obsession, in order (sort of).

1) Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year - $70
I went through 3 of these last year and every drop was just about perfect.

2) Abraham Bowman 18 Year - 147.5 proof, TPS private barrel - $65
Hot!  Almost makes the Stagg feel tame.

3) Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch - $90
Floral, fragrant, fantastic.

4) Sazerac 18 Year Rye - $75
Only 90 proof but oh so full of flavor.

5) George T Stagg (2012) - $75
Hard core kick-your-ass bourbon goodness.  Tough to find a bottle, but I know a bar or two around town that you can get a pour for $10.

6) John J Bowman 14 Year, TPS barrel #45 - $55
I proclaimed this my whiskey of the year so you may be wondering how it's at #6.  It's because, unlike the first 5 bottles on the list, you can still grab a  bottle, and I thought it was pointless to name a whiskey of the year if you can't get a bottle!  Good luck finding #'s 1-5, though you could get lucky.

7) Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 Year.  I wish I had stocked up on this, because the $70 price at Hi Time turned into $120 and now they are out.  A few BevMo's still have it for around $100.  A 21 Year version is set to come out soon, but that may be a $200 bottle.

8) W.L. Weller 12 Year - $25
A standard on my bar, tough to beat for the price.

9) Vintage 17 Year - $70
Out of production now but you can still find one collecting dust if you look hard enough.

10) Parker's Heritage Collection - 2012 Blend of Mashbills - $80
A blend of a ryed bourbon and a wheated bourbon.  Very unique flavor and thick, grainy mouth feel.

11) Elmer T Lee -  $25.  I posted a review of this bourbon last year.  Similar to the Weller in that it's tough to beat for the price.

12) Very Old Fitzgerald - Barreled in 1960, bottled in 1968.
I almost left this off the list, but the historical significance requires that I include it.  From the Stitzel-Weller distillery, essentially the original Pappy Van Winkle.  This was a tiny 4/5 pint bottle that was consumed, in it's entirety, after having tasted 10 or more other fine bourbons.  As a result I only have a faint, blurred memory of what it tasted like.

Honorable Mention:
Elijah Craig 12 Year - $23
Very Old Barton 100 proof - $14
Old Fitzgerald 100 proof - $15
Old Charter 10 Year - $18
Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year - $19
Four Roses Single Barrel 100 proof - $35
Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof - $23
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year 107 proof - $35
Wild Turkey Rare Breed -  $36
Buffalo Trace - $20
Booker's - $55
Willet 21 Year - $$$
High West Double Rye - $34
I could add 20 more, but I'll stop.

Worst Bourbon & Rye I tasted in 2012:
Old Fitzgerald 1849 - The only bottle that I poured out
Hudson Baby Bourbon - Aged 6 months, absolutely disgusting.  $40 for 375ml bottle, really?  Glad I only paid for one shot.
High West Pure Silver Rye - Okay, if the whiskey is clear, don't drink it.  It has not been aged.