Over the past year, The Bourbon Guys have had the honor of tasting many great and different bourbons. As a follow up to last year’s “Sweet 16 of American Whiskey” we have decided to share our list of Sweet Sixteen Bourbons for 2013 and 2014. Once again we also wanted to release this list in honor of March Madness. We see this as fitting because it’s the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 and because we are likely to stir up a little “Madness” with our choices.
Though there are many other great bourbons that could easily be added to this list, we could only include Sixteen. This list contains 16 of some our favorite bourbons of this year. To be balanced we tried to list a few premium or harder to find bourbons along with some average priced bourbons and then finally some economical bourbons. Please remember that the best Whiskey is the one that you like. The following are the overall favorites of The Bourbon Guys for 2013/2014:
|16||Elijah Craig 12 Year|
We went back and forth on this one. Though we could’ve easily picked another product like 1792 or Evan Williams Single barrel we decided on Elijah Craig 12 year because the nose was better than some of the others. At this price point it’s difficult to find a bourbon with a better nose and a more balanced taste and finish.
|15||Old Forester Signature 100|
This solid entry from Brown Foreman is a great value. We actually prefer Old Forester Signature over its cousin Woodford Reserve. No offense to Woodford Reserve, which is fine bourbon. This bourbon is smooth and drinkable with balanced flavors of candied walnuts, brown sugar, caramel and charred oak. The finish is clean and relatively long for a bourbon at this price point. See our full review here
|14||Old Grand-Dad Bonded 100|
This returning member of our Sweet Sixteen was a no brainer for us. As we mentioned last year, for the price it’s probably the best bourbon on the market. It’s a smooth sipper with a nice, sweet finish. Every bourbon lover needs to grab a bottle of Old Grand-Dad 100 proof. The traditional Old Grand-Dad 80 proof and Old Grand-Dad 114 are fantastic bourbons as well.
|13||Four Roses Small Batch|
Four Roses Small Batch is a real go to bourbon at a great price point. The nose has that typical citrus and vanilla scent with the taste of sweet vanilla, cinnamon spice and mild oak flavor. The finish is smooth and long. A bourbon for everyone, especially the newer bourbon drinker.
|12||Wild Turkey 101|
Another repeat to our list this year, Wild Turkey 101 is one of our all time favorites. Wild Turkey 101 is fantastic and very well balanced bourbon for the price and is great for sipping as well as mixing. Try this one blind before you make a decision. Every whiskey lover should have this in their collection.
|11||WL Weller 12 Year|
Last year this bourbon made our Sweet 16 and wasn’t as well known. This year this bourbon from Buffalo Trace is still delicious but it has become much harder to find. This well balanced, easy to drink, wheated bourbon is one that we always keep on hand. Be aware that this bourbon is only released a couple times a year and can sometimes become scarce for short periods of time. Once the public was made aware that this was the same mash bill as Pappy, the bourbon world scurried for this bourbon.
Because it’s hard to find and very limited, we almost didn’t include this in our Sweet 16. But after much deliberation we had to add it. This very unique barrel strength bourbon from MBR is absolutely delicious. There is a very nice nose with a nice blend of cinnamon red hots and maple. The taste is unlike any bourbon we’ve had with rich flavors of roasted butter pecan and a slight touch of cinnamon. This finish is long with not a lot of burn considering it’s 104 proof barrel strength bourbon. If you ever see this buy it and let us know what you think.
|9||Elmer T Lee|
This has historically been one of The Bourbon Guys’ number one go-to bourbons. We are never without a bottle of Elmer T Lee. With a great nose, complex flavor and smooth finish, this bourbon is tops in its price range and deserves a taste by anyone wanting to taste a great bourbon. The biggest issue is the scarcity of this bourbon since Elmer’s passing this year. This bourbon will be back on store shelves soon but we fear that the price will increase due to the new label that will be on the next release.
|8||Knob Creek Single Barrel|
Knob Creek Single Barrel makes the list for the second year in a row. At 120 proof, Knob Creek Single Barrel comes packed with a little heat but a lot of flavor. Knob Creek’s sweet and nutty flavors combined with a little cinnamon spice makes for very nice bourbon that is excellent sipped neat even at the higher proof.
|7||Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel|
Once again Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel makes our “Sweet Sixteen”! This 110 proof bourbon drinks like a low proof bourbon. Overall, this is a very well balanced single barrel with lots of caramel flavor and a nice, long finish. If you love rich flavor this is a bourbon for you.
|6||Old Forester Birthday 2013|
This year’s release of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon was nothing short of excellent! This super smooth, well balanced and flavorful bourbon was a real treat. We thought is tasted like an ice cream sundae with caramel and toasted marshmallow on top. A real treat!
|5||EH Taylor Barrel Strength|
EH Taylor Barrel Strength is probably our surprise of the year! Overall we haven’t been huge fans of some the EH Taylor stuff but this bourbon has changed that! This 135 proof powerhouse does pack a little heat but it’s still very drinkable even neat. Similar to other Buffalo Trace barrel strength releases, this bourbon is rich and flavorful with a long enjoyable finish.
|4||Booker’s 25th Anniversary Edition|
What can we say about Booker’s 25th? We actually enjoy this gem the more that we drink it. This special release is pretty much sold out already but if you can find one grab it now. This very rich bourbon is well balanced and there is very little burn even at the 130.4 proof. It actually has less burn than its little brother Booker’s Small Batch. Full review here
|3||Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2013|
Though we like the 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch a little better than the 2013, this bourbon was still fantastic. Super well balanced and drinkable, this high proof gem is best enjoyed neat in our opinion, though a few drops of water won’t hurt it any. The Four Roses Limited Edition Small batch releases have consistently become one of the best releases every year. Full review here
|2||Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year|
To us this year’s release of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year was outstanding. Though we’ve always liked previous year releases, this year’s version is very well balanced and one that you could sip all day long. The nose is outstanding and the taste and finish are excellent as well. The oak in this year’s release is subtle but delicious.
|1||William Larue Weller|
This year we absolutely fell in love with the overall package presented by William Larue Weller. The rich nose of sweet tobacco, caramel and leather could be sniffed all day long. The taste is very rich, oily and full of flavor. If that’s not enough, the finish is long with a mild, rich burn with flavors of tobacco and rich caramel. See our full review here
by The Bourbon Guys (Tim & Larry) & contributor Jason Farler
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.