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The Most Anticipated Whiskeys of 2022

With so many new and exciting whiskeys being released each month, often it’s difficult to drown out the noise and identify which bottles are worth pursuing. Here, we’ve tried to narrow it down for you with a handpicked selection of bourbon and single malt scotch that we’re most excited about in 2022 (and very keen to get our hands on!)

What will become of 18? A full rebrand? Slight tweaks? It’s anyone’s guess at the moment as to what Stagg ‘Jr’ Batch 18 will look like, but we can say with confidence that whatever the release is named and however it is presented, it will do well to keep the same quality, consistency and punchiness that the brand became synonymous with from Batch 17 and below.

It makes sense that Sazerac feel the need to jettison the ‘Jr’ labelling associated with Stagg, particularly given this silo’s big energetic proof and bold flavor profile. Naming a bourbon of this caliber and quality 'junior' is counterproductive and rather misleading. In reality, there is nothing junior about Stagg Jr Batch 1 through 17, so Stagg 18 is a logical step and will no doubt have an even bigger impact on the appetite and demand for the line.

Some may think it a happy coincidence that there will be no release in this year’s BTAC and a new, rebranded Stagg Batch 18 is planned to take its place, but we think it’s rather noble of Buffalo Trace Distillery to place such high-quality benchmarks and standards on its flagship limited-edition collection - at the end of the day, you would rather wait for the 2023 GTS than receive a subpar 2022 George T Stagg…

Stagg 18 will undoubtedly become one of the most talked-about releases of 2022, and we can't wait to see what all the hype is about.

It’s the investment opportunity of a lifetime… a celebration of The Macallan’s rise to fame and the advertising campaigns that gave birth to a legend. The Archival Series is a scarily exclusive collection made available in eye-wateringly small quantities. Let’s be honest… 99% of buyers and collectors who have been waiting for Folio 7 aren’t even planning on drinking the whisky. There’s little chance of that for us purists, with the Archival Series so ridiculously coveted that ownership is nothing more than a pipe dream. 

A ballot draw release, direct from The Macallan, for the lucky few who are selected they will be the new owners of what is quite possibly the most anticipated whisky of the last 2 years. With Folio 6 released way back in December 2020 and the hotly anticipated Folio 7 not reaching the public in 2021, this year is the year! 

Another spectacular limited-edition release from The Macallan that will likely become more myth than reality, the Folio 7 is absolutely essential whisky in 2022 for any high-end collector of the finest and rarest single malt scotch whisky.

While it mightn’t hold the same allure as the Archival Series and Folio 7 (what with the market’s pure obsession, lust and appreciation for the Folios), The Macallan’s Harmony Collection is another piece of very hot property, with the 2nd instalment in what is likely a 6 bottle series set to be released imminently.

The Macallan Intense Arabica extends on the , with the same eco-conscious ethos as the inaugural release. The Harmony Collection appears to represent the Speyside powerhouse’s adoption of a more sustainable and ethical approach, with innovative techniques and natural materials becoming the primary focus of this series.

The whisky itself is believed to have been aged in European and American sherry seasoned oak casks, and bottled at 88 proof or 44% ABV, the same concentration at which the Rich Cacao was bottled - a nice piece of consistency. In keeping with the theme set by the Rich Cacao, Intense Arabica is a collaboration with another one of the world’s foremost masters in the world of coffee, and as such, the profile will reflect a rich, intense espresso flavor.

Demand is swarming for the Harmony Collection with many predicting that this range has the same potential trajectory as the Editions, with the Edition 1 and 2 now worth a very pretty penny at auction. If this speculation is true, then the Intense Arabica is a must-buy and an essential addition to any scotch collection in 2022.

The first-ever barrel finished Blanton's release, the 'Honey Barrel' is going to be a ridiculously rare Kentucky whiskey release, and is believed to be limited to just 5 barrels. We’re currently unsure as to whether or not this is the long-awaited M&P Festival 2021 Polish Edition, but what we’re certain of is that the Blanton's 2021 'Honey Barrel' Single Barrel Bourbon is possibly set to become the most coveted and collectible single barrel bourbon in the world.

Never before has Blanton's released a 'finished' spirit, with its variations always previously based on age and proof. The 2021 Honey Barrel Blanton's will break this mould and is interestingly a nod to Colonel Blanton’s use of Honey Barrels at the brand’s early inception. Buffalo Trace still sells honey directly from the Distillery, and the Honey Barrel Finish will likely be beset with a remarkably sweet, honey inspired profile and a lush, viscous mouthfeel.

A stunning collector's item and a bottle deserving of a place on any connoisseur's top shelf, Blanton's Honey Barrel Special Release is a guaranteed must-have for bourbon whiskey collectors the world over.

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Building a Cultural Icon: Don Julio 1942

It’s no secret that Don Julio 1942 is the most iconic luxury tequila of all time, with the acclaimed agave spirit coveted around the world for its sophisticated detailing and exceptional drinkability. While the product may have sold itself based on quality alone, ’s marketing of the 1942 Anejo tequila has intentionally created an air of exclusivity around the product, with the Mexican tequila house using this ‘luxury’ perception as a mechanism for building market demand and an insatiable buyer appetite. 

Don Julio 1942 is a hyper-premium Anejo tequila that was introduced as a commemorative release in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Don Julio opening his first distillery. Today, a can fetch anywhere in the vicinity of $200-$250 USD, depending on whom you know, and the ’ is at least triple the price with most retailers and will set you back around $550-$600 USD. The question of whether this cost is justified comes down to how we judge the quality of the tequila.

When we assess 1942 Don Julio objectively from a purist’s standpoint, the spirit itself is one of elite caliber and formidable sophistication. When we take a look at the pillars that define luxury spirits, we're presented with an extremely limited, super small-batch tequila that’s crafted by hand in an ‘artisanal’ fashion - though it’s not branded as artisanal in the conventional sense. On top of this niche exclusivity, the 1942 is an unbelievably complex and well balanced Anejo tequila, and quite possibly the best in its class. Characterized by a silky-smooth, velvet-like mouthfeel, the 1942 is defined by a bouquet of flavors that range from creamy vanilla to rich, natural Anejo and onwards to a subtle oakiness imparted by the 2 to 2.5 years of ageing that this type of tequila must undergo. Before the marketing does its work we’re already bearing witness to an exceptional piece of tequila making.

From the 1942’s inception, the ploy from Don Julio was ingenious. The best way to create demand is to shorten supply, and that’s exactly what they did to build hype and create this aura of exclusivity around the bottle. Don Julio 1942 soon became an enigma that was only accessible in high-end restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Today, there is still a sense that the 1942 is reserved for the ‘elite’, and it remains the tequila of choice for many socialites and celebrities. 

Possessing a bottle of 1942 is not only a statement but a feat of being in the know and knowing the right people. You have to be well connected to get your hands on a bottle that is so hard to come by. From flashy awards ceremonies to being the ‘go to’ for high profile, pop culture families, Don Julio 1942 is truly a cultural phenomenon that has redefined and reinvented the meaning of ‘luxury’ in the spirits world. Not only is the taste and flavor of this elegant Anejo tequila sophisticated, but the bottle’s shape is iconically refined, and its place in pop culture mimics this trajectory as well.

Several brands have since tried using this formula as a model for their high-end offerings, but none have been able to drive success in the way that Don Julio has. It’s well known that when you’re the first to do something and execute it well, imitators will flock in droves - but this hasn’t deterred fans of the 1942, who continue to support and elevate its status as one of the finest tequilas in circulation.

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Shearing the Rams: The Best Australian Whisky Distillers

When it comes to whisky, generally we think of classic American bourbon, deep complex single malt Scotch or the sweet smoothness of Irish whisky. Australia isn’t normally associated with distilling fine whisky, renowned more for its viticulture and the excellent red and white wines that come out of a number of esteemed vineyards. While this is the assumption, it isn’t necessarily true. Whisky is a budding industry down under, with a number of small distilleries gaining worldwide recognition for their craftsmanship and ability to engineer complex, exciting and interesting single malt and blended whiskies from the unique terra of Australia.

Oft inspired by local surroundings and the natural landscape, Australian whiskies are imbued with an innate and remarkable earthiness. Be it the offerings of the country’s southern-most island, Tasmania, or the considered and cultured wares of inner-city micro-distilleries and whisky houses, Australia boasts a phenomenal and fearsome array of whiskies that cater to all tastes and preferences. The best Australian whiskies are those that don’t apologize for their rawness and embrace the eclectic and unusual aspects and challenges of making whisky in the country.

So, for the uninitiated, here are the best Australian whisky distillers and a few of the best Australian whiskies that typify the classic and crafty Australian approach to the world’s favourite spirit.

 

The pride of Australian-grown whisky, Lark is home to some of the finest and most beautifully appointed whisky in Australia. An innovator and a true icon in Australian spirit distilling, Lark has achieved nothing short of greatness since producing the country’s first Tasmanian single malt whisky (distilled in 1893), becoming the front runner in Australian whisky craftsmanship and building a catalogue that has captured the hearts and attention of whisky fans across the globe.

Defying tradition, rewriting definitions, Lark pushes the envelope when it comes to the unique and interesting finishing touches it puts on its single malt whisky, and has solidified a reputation as one of the most innovative and exciting distillers in Australia and also the world.

Notable not just for the quality of its staple collection and the elegant flavors imparted in each batch, Lark is revered for its limited-edition cask finished whiskies, from Australian , a single malt finished in to a finished whisky, Lark have shattered the confines of conventional whisky making with the result being some of the most interesting and exciting whisky available on the market.

Arguably Australia’s most renowned craft spirit distiller, Archie Rose distillery is based in Sydney and is home to some of the country’s best, award-winning gins, whiskies and niche, tailored spirits.

Critically acclaimed and named as one of the world’s best distillery experiences, Archie Rose combines pride and passion to produce a magnificent array of character-rich and charismatic drinking spirits.

Awarded the world’s best rye whisky at the World Whisky Awards in 2020, the speaks to the caliber and quality of Australian whisky distillers and is proof that this lesser-known producer of the world’s favorite spirit can more than hold its own against the biggest powerhouses in the world.

The South Island’s star distillery, Nant is one of the most popular producers of whisky in the Tasmanian Highlands and is responsible for some of the most elegantly crafted and exquisitely flavoured sipping spirits in the country.

Subtly layered and remarkably complex, Nant uses traditional methods and techniques for distilling their award-winning whiskies, producing them in smaller batches and volume than some of the country’s larger facilities. A passion for natural whisky and high-proof is also a defining feature of Nant, with a number of their cask strength whiskies weighing in at over 120 proof.

Taking cues from the natural environment and local Tasmanian ingredients, whether it’s the or the - Nant has something for everyone and is a must-have for purveyors of fine Australian whisky.

An eco-conscious distillery whose focus revolves around sustainability and ethical whisky production, is a phenomenon when it comes to Australian whisky with an American inspired vein. 

The non-chill filtered 100% rye whisky produced by Belgrove is arguably the closest thing to an American whisky that you will find Down Under, produced at the home of the only bio-diesel powered still in the world using peat sourced from Brown Marsh Bog in Tasmania.

For an authentic take of a classic rye whisky, Belgrove’s earthy excellence is not to be missed and is a formidable whisky with a profile that ranges from earthy, light peat, to allspice, cinnamon, honey and a subtle smokiness

Melbourne made, meticulously measured, marvellously mature. When it comes to crafting exceptional whisky, Starward truly reach for the stars.

A scintillating whisky brand that typifies the passion and poise of Australian spirit making, Starward is one of the foremost authorities on classy, quality whiskies. Engineered as gastronomical complements, Starward whisky is designed to be paired and enjoyed with food.

Aged in red wine barrels and inspired by the local Melburnian culture, you can’t go wrong with a dram of the , Nova or Single Malts, with each offering a slightly different take on a classic Australian whisky. 

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Blue Monday: The Timeless Allure of the Blue Label Whisky

When it comes to whisky, be it scotch, bourbon, rye or moonshine, color is important. Like a red flag to a bull, the color blue to a whisky drinker can only mean one thing. 

There is something truly primal about man’s connection to the deep amber hue of a well-aged 30 year old scotch, the glistening nectar that has captured the attention of countless connoisseurs and collectors, captivating every generation before the last. 

This connection to color is the most important and integral facet of whisky drinking aside from the actual ritual of experiencing, tasting and drinking a glass of scotch or bourbon. 

However, there is another unspoken connection to color that many have an almost otherworldly affinity for in the world of whisky; the allure of the magnetic blue label.

There are many reasons why we’re drawn to blue label scotch, not only is the exceptional quality and high caliber profile of these whiskies common knowledge but they are also shrouded in an unexplainable mystique that makes them more interesting and exciting than the ordinary bottling. They don’t have to be limited or explicitly rare, the blue label has an untapped power over whiskyphiles that places these whiskies in the upper echelons of the spectrum.

The psychology behind the blue label is well documented, with blue and navy bringing to mind a conservative calmness, stout reliability and consistent quality, important facets of a good whisky. There is a sense of power and trust in the blue label, arousing strong feelings of loyalty - once you’ve tried and enjoyed a good blue label whisky, it’s hard for you to go back… 

One of the best-known examples of this phenomenon is the iconic the most celebrated blended scotch whisky in the world, synonymous with both excellence and elegance in equal measure. 

Introduced in 1992 to shock and adoration, particularly the former given its $150 price tag in the early 90’s, Johnnie Walker’s Blue Label predates the single malt renaissance and is largely regarded as the whisky that reinvented ‘top-shelf’ spirits. 

There is no doubt that the Blue Label is the most prestigious blended whisky in history (and continues to be the most refined blended whisky available on the market), but such is its reputation that it somehow manages to rub shoulders with the finest single malt scotch whiskies in its price range today.

A sublimely complex and altogether enveloping whisky, the Blue Label has always been defined by its sweeping vanilla and citrus forefront, with complex herbal notes and subtle smoke at the rear. An elongated finish concludes a truly robust tasting experience, with the Blue Label well established as a dynamic and distinguished piece of whisky craftsmanship.

There have been countless limited-edition Johnnie Walker’s released since its inception, but one thing has remained the same throughout 3 decades of peerless quality, a blue label. The affinity for blue label whisky could be attributed to the stature and aura that the Johnnie Walker Blue Label has cultivated, but there are other bottles that suggest this has been a trend for much longer…

There is something rather different about a vintage Macallan, an energy that vibrates through your body when in possession of such a bottle, an overwhelming sense that this particular single malt whisky is special, unusual, unique. 

This feeling is amplified ten fold when presented with a blue label, an out of body experience ensues. Enter the perhaps the most eye-catching, regal bottle of Macallan outside of the Fine and Rare or Exceptional Cask Collections.

A Prussian blue, deeply royal verging on navy, iconically designed in a conventional, traditional sense, this bottle of Macallan is a bonafide collector’s item, stunningly appointed in the Sherry Oak style. The most important facet of this bottle is undeniably the dashing blue color that centres the gaze and captures the viewer immediately. This is what I mean when I speak of quantifying the unquantifiable enigma that is the blue label.

Swimming in sherry and stunning the palate into submission with an array of flavors, ranging from citrus, stone fruits and oak at the forefront, to tannins, pepper and nutmeg throughout, all tied together with a silky smooth mouthfeel and the crashing waves of the iconic sherry oak finish, there is a reason why this Blue label 30 year old whisky is so sought-after - it is the perfect storm between exceptional quality whisky and that unspoken brilliance of the ‘blue label’. 

Though all of the Sherry Oak 30’s are good, this one is the best, and while it’s hard to say that the blue label is the reason why this particular bottle sits atop the pile, it cannot be coincidence.

The blue label is not just a powerful entity in scotch whisky, it has pervaded the realm of bourbon too. is an annual release designed each year for the M&P festival, with around 1000 bottles available each year. The 2019 iteration of this silo is one of the rarest and most sought-after bourbon whiskeys ever produced by Buffalo Trace, with the iconic blue label cementing the status of the 2019 Poland Edition as one of Blanton’s most visually appealing labels.

There is no doubt that some of the interest surrounding this bottle pertains to the scarcity of the bottle, as well as the bold higher proof and exceptionally refined tasting experience that this offers, but for fans of Blanton’s and indeed of the Poland Editions, the blue label stands out as an essential centerpiece in any collection. Why? Because of the unique label that this flagship bourbon whiskey is adorned with.

The fanfare to which this bottle was received is justification for the allure of the blue label, particularly given it is not too dissimilar to the standard Original single barrel or Gold Edition. The core differences being the slight changes to the palate and proof, and of course a distinctly different blue label that makes this limited edition whiskey a magnetically attractive release.

There are many other whiskies with iconic blue labels that share similar tropes, bottles that are a different shade to the run-of-the-mill offerings you pass by every day. Of course, there are many unbelievable bottles with regular labels that rival the above mentioned whiskies, but the blue label reigns supreme as a vessel for undefinable excellence.

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Is the best bourbon in America under $25?

It sounds like a stupid question, but could there be more truth in it than you think? Could the best bourbon in America really be less than $25? In actual fact, we think we might’ve found one. The best bourbon in the country, 2 bottles for a 50 dollar bill and receive a fistful of change for your troubles. Unbelievable, right?

As is the case with all bourbon drinkers, connoisseurs and collectors, however, everyone's an expert and opinion reigns supreme, varying depending on who is speaking in this hotly contested arena. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too must good taste therefore lie on their tongue.

Many of our readers will be quick to quip that nothing under $25 could ever hold a candle to a , a or an , and they’d be right to an extent. You’d be a fool to say otherwise, but there lies a caveat in wildly assuming that just because of the stature and reputation of these bourbons they somehow warrant a place on the proverbial ‘pedestal’ or that your palate would be in agreement that they are in fact the ‘best’ purely based on hype and popularity alone. 

Blindfolded, with no preconceived notions or assumptions daring to skew or sway the verdict, you’d be surprised at the outcome that’s determined by your palate. That’s the fun of drinking bourbon, exploring and uncovering whiskeys that others daren’t try, discovering hidden gems based on your own tastes and preferences rather than buying into the marketing machine and the opinions of others.

Now we wrote about this bottle recently and included it in a list of the , and having tried it again and then retried it a couple more times (perhaps a bottle was killed in the process),

Now that is a loaded claim, and obviously I am not suggesting that it is in fact better than some allocated bottles, but rather that given where it is situated in the current bourbon matrix and in terms of its availability, quality and value, it might just be the ‘best’ when you consider all of these things combined.

There are a number of reasons as to why Evan Williams Bottled in Bond White Label Bourbon is a seriously good whiskey, and I’m not just talking about the price. Less than $25 is outrageously cheap in the current bourbon climate, and the profile of the White Label certainly punches well outside its weight class. 

It is a truly excellent bourbon taking price out of the equation, a genuine and an honest, humble straight shooter. The nose swims with vanilla and caramel, as is the expectation with a bourbon of this caliber, while a nuttiness is prevalent on the palate verging on oaky undertones. While many will consider a 100 proof bourbon to still weigh on the more mild side given the current trend of barrel strength, full proof popularity, there is a diligent heat in Evan Williams Bottled in Bond White Label, which I found to be welcomingly opened up by a splash of water. This brings a bouquet of citrus and some faint smoke and leather, cinnamon soon comes to the fore which is the dominant tone throughout the finish, a spicy, red-hot affair.

Now, that’s my two cents on the ‘best’ bourbon, and granted, it’s a contentious call. However, I strongly believe that in the current landscape, the argument holds up. is becoming less and less available and harder to find, anything allocated is a needle in a haystack and the haystack is growing deeper and bigger every month. For an accessible, exceptional and electrifyingly good bourbon, Evan Williams Bottled in Bond White Label 100 Proof is the best around.

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Poor Man’s Pappy van Winkle - The Best Bourbon Alternatives

It’s the best known name in bourbon, . Just typing that name causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand at attention, shivers down the spine, a cold sweat fever dream of a whiskey that haunts my dreams and waking hours. The allure never ends, and neither does the pursuit. The amount of times that I’ve found myself in possession of this enigmatic elixir in my lifetime can be counted on one hand, the number of times I’ve been privileged enough to try Old Rip van Winkle’s Pappy silo can be counted on one finger. One, just the once. The thirst never ceases. 

Suffice to say, Pappy van Winkle bourbon is fairly hard to come by, and on the rare occasion that you do come across one of these holy grails of whiskey drinking folklore, 99% of the time the price tag is above the tertiary market, with some bottles advertised for well into the 5 figures. Such is the mystique of Pappy, thanks to its outrageously short supply and booming demand, the market is geared towards lottery winners, which you may well need to be if you find a bottle of Pappy anywhere in the world.

So, what to do? While you can never replicate the original, you can get pretty damn close. Let’s take a look at similar wheated bourbon whiskeys with a like-for-like mashbill. 

Weller bourbon whiskey is the obvious choice and stands out amongst a crowd of imposters. The fact that Weller’s wheated recipe was essentially the genesis for Pappy’s, being born out of Stitzel-Weller distillery way back in the mid 1930’s, means that in some respects the ‘cousin’ of Pappy is partly responsible for shaping the most exclusive, sought-after bourbon in the world rather than being an imitation of it. 

As a brand, Weller has been producing ‘wheated’ bourbon whiskey longer than anyone else, and today with both brands being distilled out of , the similarities are rather uncanny. When taking a closer look at Weller vs Pappy post 1992 and their production at BT, what with the near identical wheated mashbill and shared history, it becomes clear that these two are very much alike - and some iterations could be construed as near interchangeable additions to either lineup.

It’s said that Weller 12 Year Old Bourbon and are siblings, and despite Old Rip handpicking the best barrels to secure the best wheated whiskey possible in this age bracket, there is little to separate the two. The discrepancy between them in secondary market pricing is perhaps reflective of the very subtle nuances between taste and quality, but it would be foolish not to realise that the hype behind Pappy and its aura is somewhat responsible. 

In any case, a school of thought exists that if some Weller 12 barrels were allowed to mature and age slightly longer than nature has allowed, then they would indeed become and , which is one of the main lines of argument for the comparisons that are drawn between the two (aside from the fact that they are almost the same composition and flavor wise).

Argument aside, Weller 12 is the best off-the-shelf Pappy alternative, and is an incredible piece of whiskey craftsmanship in its own right.

Though it is aged for a number of years fewer than its elder counterpart, Weller’s Antique 107, in particular the older style ‘squat’ bottlings (pre 2017 but many much older than this), are a fair representation of adolescent Pappy and have drawn comparisons to the iconic wheated van Winkle line.

Weller’s Antique 107 represents the lowest entry price point from either brand (aside from the Green Label Special Reserve Weller), and is widely regarded as one of the best value for money whiskeys anywhere in the world. While it is now marketed as a non-age stated bourbon, the red label antique 107 has drawn comparisons to the , and is a mature and refined bourbon that bats well above its weight when it comes to quality.

While there are a handful of wheated bourbons outside of Buffalo Trace Distillery, such as Larceny and Maker’s Mark, these don’t quite share the same mystique that the BT wheated mashbill possesses, and so it would be folly to include them as reasonable alternatives to Pappy. There is however, one more option that you won’t find ready available or on the shelves, and is still one of the best kept secrets in bourbon circles around the world…

First published by Bourbonr in 2014, there is much debate and speculation as to where this recipe originated (and who was bold enough to first try this). Poor Man’s Pappy is widely regarded as the ultimate Pappy van Winkle alternative and is essential tasting for fans of wheated whiskey who don’t want to necessarily break the bank and pay secondary.

As you might have deduced, you will need a bottle of Weller 12 and a bottle of Weller Antique 107, which need to be married at a ratio of 2:3, i.e. 40% Weller 12 and 60% Weller Antique 107. There is no set guide for the length of rumination following the initial marriage, though a few days is undoubtedly recommended, but the end product should be a perfect combination of the smooth, sweet, silky Weller 12 which balances and subdues the char and fire of the Antique 107.

For those of you who have spent years hunting that elusive unicorn to no avail, and those of us who have held that unicorn in their hands a number of times only to let it slip through our fingers before we get a chance to taste it, the Poor Man’s Pappy is a godsend - an incredible hack that offers the chance to get as close as one may ever get to the otherworldly Pappy van Winkle.

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Kentucky’s Hidden Gems: 10 Seriously Underrated Bourbons (part 1)

What do you look for when purchasing your next bottle? The best value whiskey, the most underrated bourbon, or perhaps just another bottle that you hope won’t disappoint? Are you one of the millions of people hunting the same thing, that ever-elusive Pappy van Winkle or BTAC unicorn, a bottle that will impress your friends, a bottle that you mightn’t ever open and enjoy?

With so much competition for popular, well-marketed bourbon whiskeys, it’s easy to forget that there are exceptional bottles right under our noses that might not have the same hype or allure thanks to large advertising budgets and extremely short supplies. Often, we forget to explore uncharted waters in the pursuit of those undiscovered hidden gems, so today we take a look at 5 of the most seriously underrated bourbons anywhere in the world (that you can access at affordable and reasonable prices).

The best kept secret in bourbon? Those who know just how good the 1920 Prohibition Style from Old Forester is might disagree with us including it in this list for fear of it being spoiled and harder to find, but the cat’s out of the bag - this is possibly the best widely accessible Kentucky whiskey of the last 5 years (before the market exploded and bottles began fetching astronomically high prices). 

A profile that swims with licks of vanilla and caramel and dives into heavy oak undertones, a charred nuttiness and subtle hints of dark fruit, baking spice and sweet cereal - at the price point, you’re set an almost impossible task trying to find a whiskey that holds its own against some of the heavier hitting allocated bottles.

Another staple of the Kentucky whiskey landscape that deserves more attention than it receives, while Evan Williams is the second-largest selling bourbon it is also one of the most overlooked and disrespected in general terms. When it comes to excellent bourbon and remarkable value, the Bottled in Bond White Label, distilled at Heaven Hill, is one of the pound-for-pound heavyweights.

A 100 proof high-quality bourbon aged for at least 4 years, the mashbill is 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley and makes for a classically appointed bourbon with a sneaking, subtle sweetness that ties the spirit together exceptionally well. From the outset, caramel and vanilla prevail, before earthy rye resounds alongside smoky barrel char. The finish is understated, with a distinctive dryness and a lengthy but not overpowering heat. 

114 Proof. Beset with a label that features an old man. A unique, rye heavy mashbill. In the current landscape that is bourbon, a few of these elements can be found in bottles that fetch upwards of $1000, so it’s perhaps ironic that the Old Grand-Dad 114 sits at a fraction of the price when compared to extremely similar products.

With the rising popularity of rye-heavy bourbons, it’s surprising that Old Grand-Dad isn’t a more sought-after bottle. The mashbill is exceptionally unique, comprised of 63% Corn, 27% Rye, 10% Malted Barley, making for an exciting, full-bodied flavor bomb that’s instilled with the expert craftsmanship of Beam, as well as the peerless quality standards for which the distillery is renowned.

A brilliant bourbon at a budget price, enjoy the bouquet of spice, cinnamon and rye heat before it gives way to a fierce yet fruity body that licks with fire and finishes with a candied cinnamon flurry.

So good it was voted 2019’s 4th best bourbon (in any price category) by the Whisky Advocate, Heaven Hill’s 7 Year Old Bottled in Bond Bourbon is a classy and charismatic whiskey that’s silky on the palate and seriously interesting from start to finish. 

A collision of complex flavors defines the 7 Year Old BiB, with the 100 proof somehow more potent than it should be. The nose is brimming with nuanced flavors, spanning from honey to roasted nuts and sweet caramel, before the proof explodes and introduces a cacophony of chocolate, baking spice and the anise of herbal clove and tobacco smoke.

There is something different about this whiskey, a meticulous and methodical bourbon that conjures an otherworldly aura through bold, brazen flavors, the powerful proof and languid, length of finish - a spectacular bourbon for the price point and one that must be included in any collection.

There’s history in this bottle, a lineage that dates back to the early 90’s; it’s a bourbon that has learnt about itself over time, about its strengths and weaknesses, good and bad - there is little weak or bad about this whiskey however. The Rare Breed from Wild Turkey is a barrel proof straight bourbon that blends 6, 8 and 12 year old Kentucky whiskeys and marries them to produce something akin to nectar.

Bottled in the region of 108-115 proof, and composed of a corn heavy mashbill (75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley), the Rare Breed is one of the best value, most underrated whiskeys found anywhere in the world, a balanced and bold bourbon that boasts big classic flavors and subtle nuances that make it a step above almost any other whiskey in its class.

From the outset, caramel and toffee intertwine with the zing of orange peel and citrus before oak takes hold and adds a mature elegance and depth. The palate is coated in butter and the mouthfeel is silky and smooth, a complex mixture of rye spice and the sweetness of caramel and burnt sugar is foregrounded before more citrus presents itself and is bruised by swathes of tobacco and leather. The rare breed is a unique and rather rare experience, a most excellent bourbon that is perhaps the most underrated of the lot.

Join us next week as we take a look at part 2 of the most underrated bourbons, exploring more of the best kept secrets in Kentucky whiskey.