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Bourbon lovers find all sorts of ways to express their passion for their favorite brown spirit. T-shirts and shot glasses adorn the gift shops of every distillery. Collectors scour websites and festivals for lapel pins. And oh, the things we do with barrels! Both of The Bourbon Guys have tables made from bourbon barrels. But recently, we met someone who took his passion one step further and made it a permanent part of his body.

Before Tattoo

After Tattoo

Shawn Doan and his girlfriend April Manning, of Terre Haute, Indiana, attended a tasting and dinner with Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, Cincinnati’s oldest tavern. Shawn rolled up his shirtsleeves to reveal this tattoo that pays homage to his favorite bourbon brand, Wild Turkey. He was kind enough to allow The Bourbon Guys to photograph the ink masterpiece. And Jimmy Russell himself was kind enough to provide his autograph for Shawn — who, as it turns out, already had an appointment set for the next morning to permanently ink the living legend’s name underneath the familiar logo!

Shawn, April and Tim (One of The Bourbon Guys)

WT_ForgivenBourbon Name: Forgiven

Distiller: Wild Turkey

What does the distiller say: An accidental blend of 78% Bourbon and 22% High-Proof Rye

Proof: 91

Age: Blend of ages

Year: 2013

Color: Golden copper


Nose: (89/100)

Neat -

Tim: (88/100) “Light, sweet, and flowery. The bourbon component is pronounced but you definitely get a very nice high rye nose. I Could smell this all day.”

Larry: (89/100) “Floral overtones are aromatic but not cloying. The rye comes through in perfect balance with the bourbon, offering vanilla and caramel with spicy notes of cinnamon.”

Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.

Taste: (91/100)

Neat –

Tim: (90/100) “Brown sugar, giving way to cinnamon and rye spice on the mid-palate.”

Larry: (91/100) “Beautiful and balanced. Bread pudding on the front with rye rising to strike a perfect rye/bourbon balance mid-palate.”

Water – A few to several drops of water did not appreciably change our observations.

Finish: (90/100)    

Neat –

Tim: (89/100) “Long, and mellow with just the right amount of rye and cinnamon spice.”

Larry: (90/100) “Lengthy. The balance on the mid-palate carries clear through to the end. The residual flavors are wonderful. Greater duration is all that could have given this finish a higher rating.”

Overall Rating: (90/100)

Though some believe that Forgiven is more marketing than mistake, we have it straight from Mr. Jimmy Russell that Forgiven was, in fact, the most fortunate error in recent memory. Whichever you believe, you can rest assured that Wild Turkey Forgiven will not disappoint.

Picture3Bourbon Name: Stagg Jr.

Distiller: Buffalo Trace

What does the distiller say:

Uncut and unfiltered, this robust bourbon whiskey ages for nearly a decade and boasts the bold character that is reminiscent of [George T. Stagg] himself.

Proof: 134.40

Age: 8 Years

Year: 2013


Color: Very Deep Amber

Nose: 91/100

Floral with strong overtones of sweet vanilla. The high proof does not translate to overpowering alcohol as might be expected. A few drops of water adds to the sweetness.

Taste: 89/100

Neat – Bold up front, as the proof would suggest, followed by caramel and a lot of vanilla mixing on the mid-palate. The mouth feel was noticeably thin and showed its relative youth just a little.

With Water – A few drops of water and the flavor opened up a little providing slightly more sweetness and depth of flavor.

Finish: 86/100

Neat – The finish was mild and, as anticipated by the thin mouth feel, faded more quickly than we like.

With Water – The finish changed dramatically, actually adding to the duration, a welcome surprise.

Overall Rating: 89/100 (Recommended)

Recommended, especially if you like the higher proof bourbons. It has been produced as a more accessible version of the older and nearly unattainable George T. Stagg. At roughly $50 retail, we find this bourbon to perform its role admirably.

Not only is September the month that celebrates Bourbon Heritage, it’s also the month when the annual Bourbon Festival takes place in Bardstown, Kentucky. Whether you plan on attending the event this year or you just plan on visiting Bardstown in the near future, here is a great article about our visit to the Bourbon trail with a unique perspective.

Click here > Forget the Cake :Here’s how to make your wife happy and have your bourbon!

Special thanks to guest contributor: Lisa Beckelhimer


Have you ever seen a new bottle of bourbon on the shelf at your favorite liquor store, and thought, “I better see what the experts have to say before I shell out my hard earned cash for a complete unknown”? I certainly have.
Of course, the question then becomes,”What experts should I seek out?”
Just like anything else, when you take your first foray into bourbon tasting, its difficult to know who the “experts” really are. The longer you spend in the Bourbon culture, the more you come to realize that there really are no experts. Because palates very so greatly, the reviewer I find to be insightful, you may find to be clueless, and the truth is, we are both right. The trick is to find an authority whose palate most closely matches your own. Over time I have come to trust the opinions of several who have, in my estimation, hit the nail on the head time and time again.
The greatest disservice to those new to bourbon, however, are those reviews that never find fault with a single spirit. They are so concerned about ruffling feathers, that they lose sight of their true purpose: informing the masses. These Stepford Blogs continuously provide ratings of 95, 96, 97 and higher to everything they taste, so as not to offend those who produce them. The problem is that you, the reader, are left with no usable guidance when trying to choose between them. At The Bourbon Guys, we strive to offer our honest, forthright opinion of every spirit we taste. Anything less is a disservice to our readers, and quite frankly, a waste of your time. We have great respect for the master distillers from distilleries all over this great nation, but it is completely unreasonable to assume that those who make some excellent whiskey, always make excellent whiskey. The men responsible for some of the best whiskey we’ve ever tasted are also responsible for spirits we would hesitate to mix with cola. And what’s more, they would be the first to admit it. Time and again, we have spoken with master distillers who have been making whiskey for decades, and every one of them have a story of an experiment that went awry, failed, and was blended out of existence.
The bottom line is this: Find a reviewer whose opinions closely match your own, but guard against those that never seem to find fault with any product they try. While it is certainly helpful to hear about the latest fantastic whiskey to hit the store shelves, we believe it is more helpful to hear about those that fall short of the mark. Keeping you forewarned and perhaps saving you some of that hard earned cash in the bargain.
- The Bourbon Guys

You all know the bourbon world lost a legend this week, but more importantly,  the world lost a great man.

Yes, Elmer T. Lee was innovative, giving us the very first single barrel bourbon in Blanton’s, but Elmer (no “Mr. Lee” for this humble Kentucky gentleman) was more than a great maker of America’s spirit. He was a scholar, graduating from the University of Kentucky with honors in engineering, and he was a patriot, serving his country as  bombadier in a B-29 over Japan during World War II. But with all he gave to us, perhaps his most notable achievement was that he was one heck of a nice guy! Rest, Elmer. We’ll all do our best to follow the example you set for us and take it from here.

As the tournament comes to a head, we thought it was appropriate to repost our ‘Sweet 16 of American Whiskey‘. We know there are a great many fine bourbons that did not make this list, and we look forward to hearing your views on the ones that did and/or did not make it… and remember:
“The Best Bourbon is the One You Enjoy” – The Bourbon Guys

Sweet 16 of American Whiskey

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