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Bourbon – The True American Spirit

It doesn’t get any more American than bourbon. Although its origins are debated, bourbon most likely got its name from “Bourbon County” to honor the French Royal Family. Located in the central Bluegrass region of Kentucky, the region once housed the major shipping ports for distilled spirits heading down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, often with barrels stamped “Bourbon County”, so Bourbon and Whiskey soon became synonymous.

Ever since Elijah Craig from Kentucky distilled his whiskey from corn mash and opened a distillery in 1789, bourbon has become the adopted spirit of the U.S. And it continues to be a passionately guarded tradition with the debate as to whether Kentucky produces the only true bourbons.

For a product to be called "Bourbon" the distilled spirit must conform to certain requirements. True bourbons must be made in the United States using "mash bill" of at least 51% corn (most distillers use 70 to 80 percent corn, with a remainder of wheat), and aged a minimum of two years in new, charred oak barrels. These barrels cannot be re-used for bourbon, and are sometimes sold to distillers in Scotland who rely on them for single malt scotch whiskey production.

There are many variables that distillers must consider when selecting barrels for aging bourbon. Four components that directly relate to wood contribute to bourbon's flavor, these include tannins and the char layer. There are two major considerations when it comes to tree composition and location. The top half of the tree tends to have more lignin, which contributes to the formulation of vanilla and vanilla flavor. The bottom half of the tree tends to have more tannins, which leaves the mouth dry and delivers complexity or richness in texture. Charring transforms the wood and caramelizes the sugars, bringing out the vanilla and caramel flavors characteristic to the bourbon style. There may also be different degrees of char, depending on the distillers’ specifications.

Terroir plays a role, since the quality of the water and corn can make a difference in the process. Nothing can be added to bourbon at bottling to enhance flavor, add sweetness or alter color. "Straight" bourbons are aged under four years and must be labeled with the duration of its aging. Small batch bourbons are produced from a "batch" of barrels that have been mixed prior to bottling; as opposed to single barrel bourbons that are the bottlings of one "single" barrel of bourbon. A recent approach is “blended bourbon” that marries batches selected from various producers.

Until recently, commercial bourbon distilleries were only located along the Bourbon Trail® in Kentucky. There were hundreds of distilleries in Kentucky before the Prohibition. A few of the them have since reopened under different names and remain the most well known to this day, such as Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Four Roses, etc. These established producers have only recently seen competition from new craft distilleries opening throughout Kentucky. While still associated with the American south, bourbon-producing distilleries can be made anywhere in the United States, There are over 400 distilleries currently producing bourbon in at least 32 states.

Bourbon continued its spectacular run in 2017, reaching 20 million nine-liter cases in the U.S. market last year for the first time in three decades. And despite the increase in distillation and the addition of distilleries over the past few years, bourbon demand sometimes outpaces supply.

Bourbon must be matured in new oak barrels and some bourbons age in barrels for eight to ten years, even over two decades. That's a long time to wait for a bottle of bourbon. Not to mention, with the amount of bourbon lost to evaporation over time, barrels are half empty after ten years. So the increase in demand, coupled with the aging process and evaporation loss, can lead to shortages.

 

The Fifty Best Bourbon Tasting of 2018

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 34 bourbon whiskies with a panel of 20 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The bourbons were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at room temperature. Each of the bourbons were judged and scored separately. Only ice water, unflavored unsalted crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded in this tasting. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin, distilleries and alcohol proofs are identified for each brand.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Low Gap Straight Bourbon California Whiskey
86.4° proof  (American Craft Whiskey Distillery, California)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, chocolate fudge, chocolate, dark cocoa, demerara, brown sugar, toasted sugar, cane sugar, vanilla, vanilla cream, honey, biscuit, coconut, tropical fruit, mango, pineapple, dried tropical fruit, apricot, lemon, sherry, light juniper, cut grass, deep coffee grains, wood chips.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, chocolate, cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, marmalade, custard apple, pear, raisins, coconut, lightly nutty, nutmeg, spicy, pine, smoky, soft.
Finish: Chocolate, cocoa, dessert-like, sherry, dried almond, cinnamon, clove, spicy, oak, well-balanced, nice, smooth, very pleasant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Low Gap Straight Bourbon California Whiskey



Conviction Bourbon Whiskey
97.64° proof  (Southern Grace Distilleries at Mt. Pleasant Prison, North Carolina)

Nose: Caramel, cream, vanilla, sweet corn, honey, maple, hard candy, Christmas cake, sweet banana, dried apple, nutmeg, hops, high-rye bourbon, briny, slight charcoal, dark wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel cream pie, vanilla, cream, cocoa, bitter chocolate, honey, corn, blackberry, dark berry, dried apple, raisin, coffee, mocha, hazelnut, almond, sesame, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, holiday spices, pepper, salty, sharp malt, wood, oak, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, toffee, vanilla, honey, molasses, demerara sugar, lemon curd, citrus, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, smooth spice, oak, power up front, easy, awesome.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Conviction Bourbon Whiskey



Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey
92° proof  (Yellow Rose Distilling, Texas)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, dark chocolate, brown sugar, demerara, molasses, vanilla, citrus, banana, dates, perfume, lilac, eucalyptus, spice, cinnamon, pepper, sherry, tobacco, rack house, oak, soft.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, treacle, chocolate, molasses, maple, vanilla, crème caramel, creamy, whipped cream, pear, raisins, nutty, spicy, cloves, nutmeg, musty, peaty, smoke, pine, sweet oak.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, clotted cream, creamy, malt, bitter almond, cinnamon, spice, pepper, bacon, wood, musty, rich, savory, complex, easy, pleasant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Yellow Rose Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey



Cooper's Legacy New York State Bourbon Whiskey
100° proof  (Cooperstown Distillery, New York)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, clotted cream, maple, vanilla, cotton candy, honey, jammy, banana, pineapple, dried fruits, cinnamon toast, sweet corn, toast, bread, coffee, clove, allspice, cumin seed, bitter melon seed, oak.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, creamy, fudge, chocolate, maple syrup, cane sugar, vanilla, honey, clover honey, marmalade, orange, banana, walnut, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, spice, peppery, peppermint, fennel seed, sherry, pine, sweet oak, nicely balanced.
Finish: Honeysuckle, sweet cream, orange blossom, cinnamon, nutty, woodsy, cedar, nice, soft, smooth, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Cooper's Legacy New York State Bourbon Whiskey



Garrison Brothers Cowboy Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
137° proof  (Garrison Brothers Distillery, Texas)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, buttercream, chocolate, fudge, maple syrup, cane sugar, vanilla, honey, Werther’s originals, cola, Kahlua, deep rich coffee, espresso, almond, walnut, rye seed, cognac, oak.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, creamy, caramel, burnt caramel, chocolate, marzipan, vanilla, honey, buttered rum, ginger, mint, dried herbs, cereal, almond, hazelnut, nutty, cinnamon, canella, spicy, pepper, leather, tobacco, oaky.
Finish: Toffee, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, toasted whole wheat bread, almond, hazelnut, canella, spicy, pepper, smoke, powerful, intense, amazing.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Garrison Brothers Cowboy Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Hillrock Estate Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey
92.6° proof  (Hillrock Estate Distillery, New York)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, molasses, maple, vanilla, clotted cream, whipped cream, tart cherry, apricot, dried berries, raisin, floral, spice, pepper, fresh hay, leaves, musty, leather, pine, bright toasted oak, oak.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, creamy, salt water taffy, caramelized vanilla bean, molasses, maple syrup, cane sugar, honey, banana, raisin, sultana, apple, pear, orange, anisette, licorice root, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, spicy, pepper, oak, smoky, strong flavors, complex.
Finish: Toffee, treacle, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, apricot, orange marmalade, coconut, rye, tea leaves, floral, clove, cumin seed, spicy, earthy, oak, smoky, silky, smooth, complex, powerful, elegant, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Hillrock Estate Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey
94° proof  (Garrison Brothers Distillery, Texas)

Nose: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, buttery, chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate syrup, cocoa, baked brown sugar, maple, molasses, honey, caramel apple, dates, raisins, dried fruit, dried cherry, grains, canella, honeysuckle, mesquite flower, leaves, pine, smoke, port-like.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, orange blossom honey, dates, prune, dried cherry, sweet corn, grain, rye, rose, mint, peppermint, cinnamon, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, sherry, tobacco, oak, balanced, complex, well-crafted, extraordinary.
Finish: Buttery, burnt sugar, molasses, orange, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, fennel, rye, tea leaves, spicy wood, woody, complex, soft, silky smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Smooth Ambler Contradiction
Blend of 2 y.o. Wheated Bourbon and 9 y.o. High Rye Bourbon
100° proof  (Smooth Ambler Spirits, West Virginia)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, molasses, demerara, light maple, honey, prune, pineapple, citrus, floral, grass, light toast, argan nuts, almond, nutty, nutmeg, spice, peaty, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, honey, dried orange peel, orange blossom, lemon, grass, corn, rye, almond, hazelnut, bay leaf, canella, spicy, coffee, tobacco, smoke, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, orange blossom, hazelnut, canella, pepper, salty, tobacco, smoky, woodsy, balanced, nice, easy, clean, fresh, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Smooth Ambler Contradiction



Benjamin Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey
90° proof  (Prichard's Distillery, Tennessee)

Nose: Caramel, nougat candy, fudge, chocolate, molasses, vanilla, vanilla cream, cream, cream cake frosting, cherry honey, maple, nutty maple, buttered toast, toasted coconut, dates, dark raisins, floral, herby, walnut, mild cinnamon, woody, oak.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, nougat, vanilla, creamy, clotted cream, moscavado sugar, brown sugar, maple, light golden honey, cherry, banana, dry dates, raisin, toasted almond, toasted hazelnut, walnut, spice, sherry, smooth, classic flavors.
Finish: Rich bittersweet chocolate, maple, sherry, floral, walnut, bitter almond, mixed nuts, spice, white pepper, wood barrel, apple wood, nice, soft, smooth, elegant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Benjamin Prichard's Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey



A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey
100° proof  (Laws Whiskey House, Colorado)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, crème brûlée, milk chocolate, sugarcane, cane sugar, maple butter, vanilla, honey, dried dates and figs, light lemon, green leaves, peppermint, rye, almond, filbert, nutty, latte, canella, cardamom, spice, tannins, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, molasses, vanilla, honey, dried fruits, light buckwheat, rye, bitter almond, walnut, cinnamon, canella, allspice, cayenne pepper, peppery, woody, charred oak, sweet oak.
Finish: Figs, raisins, beef jerky, bitter almond, nutty, anise, canella, spicy.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Pendergast’s Royal Gold Bourbon
90° proof  (Tom's Town Distilling Co., Missouri)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, nougat, crème brulee, cream, cane sugar, maple, vanilla, green apple, lemon, citrus, dried fruits, almond, coffee, clove, cinnamon, green tea leaves, wet leaves, wormwood, soft.
Palate: Toffee, treacle, molasses, sweet dark sugars, chocolate, cocoa, toasted marshmallow, vanilla, cream, cream soda, honey, cherry, banana, apple skin, sweet grass, straw, nutty, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice, sherry, oak.
Finish: Coconut, nutty, cocoa powder, floral garden, allspice, mint, tea, cereal, hay, tobacco, wood, soft, elegant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Pendergast’s Royal Gold Bourbon



Flag Hill Straight Bourbon Whiskey
90° proof  (Flag Hill Distillery, New Hampshire)

Nose: Treacle, molasses, brown sugar, sugarcane, simple syrup, maple syrup, cocoa, subtle mocha, clotted cream, vanilla, honey, floral, orange blossom tea with honey, corn, boiled sweet corn, buttered popcorn, toasty, nutty, tea, leather, earthy, wood, oak, pine.
Palate: Caramel, taffy, demerara, cane sugar, sweet candied maple, syrup, sweet cream butter, creamy, cocoa, honey, pineapple, lemon, almonds, clove, licorice root, eucalyptus, spicy, rich wood, oak, balanced.
Finish: Toffee, cocoa, light dark chocolate, vanilla sugar, light peppermint tea, peppery, hot spice, nutty, clove, woodiness, well-balanced, even, clean, fresh, smooth, mellow.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Flag Hill Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Garrison Brothers 2016 Vintage
Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

94° proof  (Garrison Brothers Distillery, Texas)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, sweet butter, fudge, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, sweet vanilla, sweet grains, biscuit, toasted oats, cereal, malt, grass, cinnamon, hazelnut, almond, wood.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, creamy, chocolate, fudge, brown sugar, dark sugars, vanilla, honey, orange, elderflower, rose, mint, almond, cinnamon, spice, pepper, fenugreek, sherry, port-like, smoky, wood, smooth, well-balanced.
Finish: Spicy dark chocolate, bitter almond, cinnamon, spice, toast, smoky, nice, smooth, classic, elegant, refined.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Garrison Brothers 2016 Vintage Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Black Dirt New York State Bourbon Whiskey
85° proof  (Black Dirt Distillery, New York)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, peanut brittle, light sweet corn, banana, lemon, orange blossom, green leaves, licorice, coffee, hazelnut, nutmeg, clove, minerality, leather, smoke.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, fudge, caramel, creamy, buttery, sweet butter, sweet candy, marzipan, vanilla, honey, cherry, pineapple, orange zest, citrus, light grain, almond, hazelnut, herbal, tea leaves, eucalyptus, mint, cinnamon, roasted cumin seeds, bay leaf, spice, pepper, smoke, oak, silky, smooth, refreshing.
Finish: Caramel, demerara syrup, honey, orange zest, lemon, floral, grainy, cereal, coffee, bay leaf, spice, pepper, smoke, woody, oak, smooth, clean, refined.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Black Dirt New York State Bourbon Whiskey



10th Mountain Rocky Mountain Bourbon Whiskey
92° proof  (10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company, Colorado)

Nose: Caramel, buttery, vanilla, honey, ripe berries, plums, banana, coconut, toasted almond, toasted hazelnut, nuts, cereal, leather, tannins, maple tree bark.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, fudge, demerara, marzipan, clover honey, orange marmalade, mango, banana, coconut, sweet corn, toast, cinnamon, cardamom, spicy, cherry pipe tobacco, oak, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, creamy, banana, orange, cinnamon, canella, spicy, pepper, black salt, nutty, tobacco, leather, musky, smooth, well balanced.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



10th Mountain Rocky Mountain Bourbon Whiskey



JSB Reserve Single Barrel
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

88° proof  (Jane's Saddlebag, Kentucky)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, dark chocolate, taffy, molasses, cane sugar, vanilla, honey, banana cream pie, green apple, light apple, orange, minty, peppermint patty, nutty, almond, cinnamon, tree leaves, oak barrel, bright.
Palate: Caramel, molasses, spicy hot chocolate, honey, marmalade, tangerine, orange oil, forest berries, pear, coconut, nuts, sweet peppermint, cinnamon, spice, black pepper, tobacco, tannic, woody, oak, pine, smoke, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, honey, light maple, stewed apple, apple butter, sweet tropical fruit, spice, pepper, warm clove, spunky, musty, wood, oak, smoky, perfectly balanced between sweet and spicy, nice, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



JSB Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Devils River Bourbon Whiskey
90° proof  (Devils River Whiskey, Texas)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, honey, pear, apricot, apple, orange, banana, tropical fruit, stewed pears, prune, cinnamon toast, fried plantains, oats, light rye, floral, ripe grass, dark hay, soft oak.
Palate: Caramel, sweet cream, cane sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, honey, apricot, cherry, coconut, pear, agave, stewed apple, dried cherry, buttered popcorn, corn, rye, almond, nuts, cinnamon, tobacco, woody, oak, savory, nicely balanced.
Finish: Golden honey, demerara, honeysuckle, apricot, agave, grain, light wheat, mint, almond, clove, spicy, tannic, soft, smooth, creamy.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Devils River Bourbon Whiskey



Ragged Branch Virginia Straight Rye Bourbon Whiskey
90° proof  (Ragged Branch, Virginia)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, molasses, chocolate, sugarcane, honey, clover honey, mesquite honey, vanilla, crème brulee, sweet corn, high corn, grain, green apple, citrus, dry grass, nutty, coffee, spice, pine, smoke.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, cane sugar, honey, maple, creamy, vanilla, banana, dates, orange, elderflower, mint, sherry, cinnamon, clove, spice, pepper, tobacco, wood, toasted wood, oak, complex, smooth.
Finish: Chocolate, maple, smoothie, cereal, nutty, light rye, eucalyptus, dried mint leaves, spice, pepper, sharp cherry wood, campfire, smoky, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ragged Branch Virginia Straight Rye Bourbon Whiskey



Breckenridge Blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskeys
86° proof  (Breckenridge Distillery, Colorado)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, cocoa, maple syrup, vanilla, honey, cinnamon sugar, apple, peach, apricot, mango, banana, lemon zest, blossom, cereal grains, raw walnut, coffee beans, sherry, earthy, aged barrel, pine.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, cotton candy, vanilla, cream, honey, mellow peach, corn, nutty, cinnamon, spice, peppery, licorice, sherry, woody, oak, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Toffee, creamy, apricot, light peach, cinnamon sugar, spicy, pepper, hay, funky, earthy, woody, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Breckenridge Blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskeys



Texas Gold Handmade Single Barrel
Single Malt Bourbon Whiskey

110° proof  (Whiskey Hollow Distillery, Texas)

Nose: Butterscotch, Baker’s chocolate, vanilla, toasted vanilla, sweet corn, premature corn/wheat, sorghum, honeysuckle, papaya, applesauce, grassy, almond, clove, dried hay, corn husk, deep pine, oak.
Palate: Caramel, sweet cream butter, burnt toffee, burnt sugar, spicy molasses, vanilla, earthy sautéed apples, stone fruit, peach, pear, citrus, white grapes, banana, papaya, corn, sweet malted grain, cracklin’ oat bran, wheat, almond, mild cinnamon, jalapeno, grassy, moss, almost peaty, sour mash, wood chips, oak.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, orange zest, mint, mild cinnamon, pepper, wood, hot charred oak, nice, strong.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Texas Gold Handmade Single Barrel Single Malt Bourbon Whiskey



Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
95° proof  (Rabbit Hole Spirits, Kentucky)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, molasses, sugarcane, cane sugar, cotton candy, buttery, vanilla, maple, honey, apple, stewed pear, lemon, toast, sweet grains, hay, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, tree sap, wood, pine, oak.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, fudge, marzipan, cane sugar, cream, vanilla, honey, marmalade, banana, piña colada, tropical fruit, sweet Macintosh apple, lemon, floral, mint, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, spice, black pepper, leather, woody, pine, oak, smooth, classic flavors.
Finish: Caramel, cream, demerara, honey, orange, citrus, roasted graham flour, coffee, pepper, sour apple wood, oak, smoky, smooth, explosive finish.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Ben Milam Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
86° proof  (Provision Spirits, Texas)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, demerara, cane sugar, vanilla, vanilla pudding, honey, corn, pear, floral, rye, nutty, cinnamon, allspice, pine, oak, ocean mist, fresh.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, sugarcane, maple syrup, vanilla, honey, corn, cola, Red Hots candy, fruit cake, pear, orange blossom, rose, floral, toast, rye, eucalyptus, ginger, spice, peppery, sherry, tobacco, oak, well water, perfectly balanced.
Finish: Orange, marmalade, Red Hots candy, creamy, hint of wheat, spice, tea leaves, soft wood, woody, fresh, very soft, nice, smooth, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ben Milam Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey



The Most Righteous New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey
85° proof  (Catskill Distilling, New York)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, molasses, treacle, maple syrup, vanilla, toasted cherries, candied fruit, dried cherry, raisin, filbert, cinnamon, port-like, amaretto, tobacco, aged wood, red wine barrels, pine, oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, chocolate, vanilla, sugarcane, wildflower honey, dried cherry, maraschino cherries, licorice, hazelnut candy, biscuit, nutty, cinnamon, clove, canella, spice, pepper, sherry, smoky, woodsy, oak.
Finish: Warm caramel, vanilla, sweet fruit, brown sugar, rose petal jam, botanicals, faint mint, cinnamon, spicy, pepper, nutty, faint tobacco, soft, bold.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Most Righteous New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Bighorn Bourbon Whiskey
80° proof  (Willie's Distillery, Montana)

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, demerara, toasted sugar, cocoa, vanilla, creamy, whipped cream, honey, honey crisp apple, dried fruits, coconut, toasted almonds, light sweet cereal grains, smoked maple, tobacco, saddle, leather.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, demerara, dark chocolate, clotted cream, vanilla, sugar cookies, nutty candy, honey, apricot, orange, sweet light green apples, elderflower, mint, almond, coffee, cloves, nutmeg, spice, tobacco, smoky, woody, oak.
Finish: Cocoa, light hot chocolate, cherry, nutty, cinnamon, cloves, spicy, musty, sour mash, earthy, tannic, woody, smoky, smooth, complex.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Bighorn Bourbon Whiskey



Beer Barrel Bourbon
Finished in American white oak beer barrels.
80° proof  (New Holland Brewing, Michigan)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, molasses, cane sugar, sugarcane, vanilla, dates, tropical fruit, papaya, banana, coconut, apricot, green apple, raw apples, lime zest, biscuit, raw almonds, cashews, cola, sandalwood, cinnamon, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, molasses, creamy, butter, vanilla, honey, marzipan, sweet grains, creamy papaya, dates, dried banana, candied berries, green apple, citrus, lime, elderflower, grass, hemp, cannabis, hazelnut, nutmeg, coffee, sherry, tobacco, smoke.
Finish: Coconut, figs, mild apricot pits, almond, nutty, floral, cut grass, lemongrass, spice, super-smooth, easy, pleasant, satisfying.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Beer Barrel Bourbon



11 Wells Bourbon Whiskey
84° proof  (11 Wells, Minnesota)

Nose: Toffee, vanilla, honey, tropical mango, sweet cereal, chamomile tea, mint, fresh-cut grass, green leaves, hay, farm, clove, nutmeg, sherry, leather, tannins, smoke, fresh wood, pine, high oak presence.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, butter, honey, marmalade, corn, rye, hay, almond, bitter almond, coffee, clove, nutmeg, allspice, spice, licorice, sambuca, eucalyptus, tea, light green tea, grassy, fresh lively new wood, oak, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Toffee, maple candy, vanilla, citrus, spice, clove, earthy, strong oak presence, cedar, smoky, smooth, balanced.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



11 Wells Bourbon Whiskey



The Burning Chair Bourbon Whiskey
88° proof  (Savage & Cooke, California)

Nose: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, sweet butter, fudge, brown sugar, moscavado sugar, maple syrup, honey, banana, raisin, nuts, filberts, toasted almond, tobacco, leather, woody, oak.
Palate: Caramel, fudge, chocolate, clotted cream, buttery, vanilla, sweet corn, banana, prune, berries, sweet tea, rose, licorice, nutty, roasted clove, spice, black pepper, white pepper, sour mash, leather, oak, classic flavors, smooth.
Finish: Tart cherry, prune, raisin, honey, creamy, nutty, light peppermint tea, clove, leather, balanced, easy, soft, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Burning Chair Bourbon Whiskey



Grand Traverse 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey
92° proof  (Grand Traverse Distillery, Michigan)

Nose: Caramel, dark chocolate, mild cocoa, cane sugar, vanilla, corn, pineapple, biscuit, toast, grain, rye, hazelnut, canella, dried grass, trees, soil, sea shore, seaweed, smoky, wet wood, musty barrel, oaky.
Palate: Toffee, demerara, sugar cane, cane sugar, apricot, pineapple, lemon, grass, apricot pits, corn, rye, hazelnut, cinnamon, spice, spicy chowder, wheat, tobacco, earthy, sherry, fresh cask, new wood, oak, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, honey, anise, eucalyptus, grassy, hazelnut, cinnamon, spice, mineral, salinity, musty, earthy, smoky, woodsy, oak.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Grand Traverse 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Diamond State Straight Bourbon Whiskey
High rye.
84° proof  (Painted Stave Distilling, Delaware)

Nose: Toffee, vanilla, honey, tropical mango, sweet cereal, chamomile tea, mint, fresh-cut grass, green leaves, hay, farm, clove, nutmeg, sherry, leather, tannins, smoke, fresh wood, pine, high oak presence.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, butter, honey, marmalade, corn, rye, hay, almond, bitter almond, coffee, clove, nutmeg, allspice, spice, licorice, sambuca, eucalyptus, tea, light green tea, grassy, fresh lively new wood, oak, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Toffee, maple candy, vanilla, citrus, spice, clove, earthy, strong oak presence, cedar, smoky, smooth, balanced.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Diamond State Straight Bourbon Whiskey



Missouri Ridge Distillery
Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

94° proof  (Missouri Ridge Distillery, Missouri)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, creamy, butter, brittle, apple strudel, banana, ripe fruit, prune, dried pineapple, bubblegum, perfume, fennel, saltine crackers, oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, candied caramel-covered red apple, apple, lemon, cooked prunes, corn, barley, grains, nutmeg, spicy, dried kitchen spices, wood spice, nut oil, briny, menthol, wet stones, chalk, oak, smooth.
Finish: Butterscotch, caramel, fatty cream, vanilla extract, berries, tropical fruit, cinnamon, beer, briny, stone, woody, dip a cigar in this one, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Missouri Ridge Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey



Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey
94° proof  (OOLA Distillery, Washington)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, dark muscovado sugar, sugarcane, maple, vanilla, ripe banana, dried pineapple, honey, honeysuckle, corn, wheat, almond, coffee, cut grass, oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, heavy cream, marzipan, brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, vanilla, mango, berries, apple, pear, orange zest, bitter almond, cinnamon, spice, tea leaves, sherry, scotch, light leather, nicely balanced, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, creamy, honey, oloroso sherry, clove, black onion seed, fenugreek seed, woodsy, toasted oak, well-balanced, clean, soft, very smooth, easy, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Black Button Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey
94° proof  (Black Button Distilling, New York)

Nose: Cocoa, honey, wheat, rye, cereal grains, fresh cut hay, grass, green leaves, fresh-picked flowers, eucalyptus, wet hay, musty, tobacco, leather, smoke, pine, fresh-cut oak.
Palate: Fudge, creamy, vanilla, cane sugar, maple, candied cherry, banana, orange, ginger, light walnut, rye, nutmeg, licorice, spice, leather, musty, smoke, oak.
Finish: Honey, banana, creamy, soft granular cinnamon, rye, pepper, mint, spicy, wood, oak, smoke, complex.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Black Button Four Grain Bourbon Whiskey



Church Bourbon Whiskey
80° proof  (Falls Church Distillers, Virginia)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, cane sugar, demerara, honey, maple syrup, vanilla, pound cake, banana, stewed pineapple, rye, walnut, green apple, citrus, grass, kelp, wormwood, woody, new wood barrel, pine, oak.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, cocoa, sweet cream, cane sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla, pineapple, raisins, stewed pear, grass, tea, walnut, clove, spicy, tobacco, scotch-like, smoky, woody, oak, smooth.
Finish: Chocolate, chocolate-covered almond, toffee, sweet butter, walnut, sherry, cinnamon, pepper, tabasco, musky, cedar, soft, smooth, intense.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Church Bourbon Whiskey



V5 Bourbon Whiskey
90° proof  (Smoky Quartz Distillery, New Hampshire)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, cream, cocoa, molasses, vanilla, honey, dried figs, banana, cantaloupe, green apple, grass, hay, floral, light cannabis, fennel seed, hazelnut, sherry, dark barrel, oak.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, creamy, cocoa, maple sugar, candy corn, vanilla, coconut cream, dates, figs, plantains, wheat, toast, straw, tea leaves, rose, apple, mint, hazelnut, cinnamon, spicy, coffee, briny, oak.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, chocolate-covered almond, hazelnut, nutty, cinnamon, spicy, herbal, muddled mint, pepper, tobacco, balanced heat, clean, soft, complex.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



V5 Bourbon Whiskey

 

 

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Fifty Best > Spirits > Bourbon
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